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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Guest entry by Neil

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’ was one of the most critically lauded and highly anticipated shows in the fall line-up. It was so hyped up that its premiere delivered 11.9 million viewers – made S.H.I.E.L.D. TV’s highest-rated drama debut in nearly four years. Despite all this, it was one of the most disappointing new shows last autumn, losing almost half of its viewership in the first couple of weeks. Those who, like me, stuck with it against their better judgement were eventually rewarded. After this week’s finale, ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ ended up being one of the best new shows I’ve watched this year.

How did it go from terrible to awesome so quickly? Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a boring start but, what you don’t realise is that it is taking its time to let you build a relationship with the characters. Although it does this with some pretty tedious and contrived story lines in the beginning, I’m happy to say the investment eventually pays off. 

The show does exactly what the best of Whedon’s projects all do, and that is having a group of people who are more than just a sum of their parts. Like Buffy’s Scooby gang, or the crew of the Serenity, the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. become characters that you’re invested in and boy, do they go on a journey.

No worries, no spoilers, but pretty much everything that you’d hope for from a show by Joss Whedon about a shady government agency set in the Marvel universe actually happens… except for superhero cameos. But Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders do show up a couple of times, which is almost as good.

It has been picked up for a second season, and with the first season finale behind us it is shaping up to be intriguing.

Watch the trailer here:

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Valtari Mystery Film Experiment

 

In music, there’s no such thing as old news. Do I just use this line to get away with writing an article about something that was released almost two years ago? Yes, of course. Doesn’t make it less true. The collaboration I want to bring to your attention happened almost two years ago, I saw it a year and a half ago, and it has been on my mind again the past couple of weeks. Whether you’ve seen it two summers ago or are just discovering it now: it will not be less impressive.

Sigur Rós is an Icelandic band, active since 1994. As most music coming from this strange and inspiring island, it takes you on a journey to places you’ve never imagined before. Just recently they made a cameo appearance in the popular HBO series Game of Thrones. In 2012, Sigur Rós made a new album, ‘valtari’, and gave fourteen film makers the same modest budget and asked them to create whatever comes into their head when they listen to songs from the band’s album. The idea was to bypass the usual artistic approval process and allow people utmost creative freedom.

The results are beautiful, funny, melancholic, and a whole other list of words to describe a broad spectrum of emotions. Just click on this link and see for yourself which video (and song) takes you on that special journey only Icelandic artists can take you on.

Isabella Blow exhibition

Isabella Blow

Isabella Blow

Who is Isabella Blow? Allow me to introduce you to this mysterious and tragic woman in a nutshell. Isabella Blow was an English magazine editor with an uncanny sense of style and fashion with a great love for extravagant artwork in an elegant and sometimes strange-beyond-belief way. Her style choices are a great influence of Lady Gaga’s general appearance today, and she is credited with discovering fashion designer Alexander McQueen. Towards the end of her glamorous and influential life, Blow suffered greatly from depressions and eventually killed herself in 2007.

Just recently, an exhibition showcasing her legendary wardrobe opened at Somerset House in London. The collection was originally bought by the style maverick’s friend Daphne Guinness. Co-Curator Shonagh Marshall, who created the exhibition with Alistair O’Neill explained to Vogue UK:

She was once quoted as saying, ‘It’s about the craft, not the crap’, and that was something she stood by. The exhibition pays tribute to her idiosyncrasies, her quirks, her wit, her dark humour and also her love of grandeur. You don’t get characters like that any more – there’s no one of her infamy around in fashion now.”

As well as displaying over 100 pieces from Blow’s wardrobe, many of which are styled exactly how the fashion editor wore them, the exhibition is also littered with double-page spreads of her work. You may like her style or not, but the exhibition seems to give a wonderful insight into how she viewed the art that comes with high fashion in a deeper sense than what Lady Gaga has managed to pull off.

Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! is open at Somerset House from until March 2 2014.

James Jowers photography New York

Avenue A and East Seventh Street, 1967 | James Jowers

Avenue A and East Seventh Street, 1967 | James Jowers

New York. A place of mystery and glory. The city has managed to keep the mystery and glory that started out in the sixties and seventies, a melting pot of both culture and creativity. Of course we all wished we would’ve been there when New York went through this fascinating transformation, and now we, sort of, can.

 

Photographer James Jowers was in the midst of this mystical time in Manhattan in the ’60s, capturing images of strangers going about in their everyday business. Jowers’ collection is on display in the George Eastman House, a photography and film museum in Rochester, N.Y., but since we don’t all have the means to fly out to the place to be, the museum has posted many of the photographs online, allowing us to travel from our screens into our minds, and onto the old streets of Manhattan.

 

The black and white images drag you in like no movie can, making you feel like you’re a bystander on the side walk, taking a glimpse into the lives of different people. The stills seem to come alive somehow and will take you on a journey from the safe confines of your home (or, if your naughty, from behind your desk at your office).

 

See a selection of my favorites below.

 

See all the online pictures here.

Sylvester Stallone art exhibition

Sylvester Stallone

Sylvester Stallone

It’s easy to put labels on action actors such as Sylvester Stallone as brainless muscle men who can convincingly kick people’s asses without breaking a sweat and make a machine gun look like a third arm they acquired at birth. At age 67, instead of slumping and aging like a normal person, he seems to become even more bad-ass; in 2010 he reportedly broke his neck while shooting a scene for The Expendables with Steve “Stone Cold” Austin after insisting on doing his own stunts, and has over the last few years gotten a few tattoos to cover up his scars that he has collected filming action films throughout his life.

Stallone has always explored his talents besides acting: he wrote and was nominated for an Academy Award for the screenplay of Rocky, and is the co-writer, leading role and director of the first of the Expendables films. Stallone has now revealed a totally different, softer side to him. A collection of paintings created by the Hollywood star have gone on show at The Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. The exhibition titled: Sylvester Stallone. Painting. From 1975 Until Today, is a selection of works produced by Stallone over the past four decades. At the show’s opening, the star reportedly said that if he had the choice, he would spend his life drawing instead of acting. He said:

I think I’m a much better painter than an actor. It’s much more personal and I’m allowed to just do what I want to do. Quite often in acting you have to play a certain part, you cannot speak as much as you want to speak. I suppose the heroes don’t talk much, you have to be very stoic.”

Museum director Vladimir Gusev said Stallone’s paintings “show the character of a passionate man” and were not simply “the work of an amateur”. The exhibition will be on display until 13 January 2014.

Movember

Sean Connery

Sean Connery

If at any point this upcoming autumn month you wonder what the f*** is up with all these moustaches, find yourself prepared right here. My second favourite month after October, is November, or, slowly starting to be known as ‘Movember’: the month where thousands of men shave off their facial hair in order to let it grow back in the upper lip area – sometimes wildly and unkempt – for an entire month, to raise money and awareness to combat prostate and testicular cancer and mental health challenges.

Starting as a small movement in Melbourne, Australia, in 2003 Movember has turned into a cult event, inspiring more than 3 million Mo Bros and Mo Sistas to participate across 21 countries. The programs, directed by the Movember Foundation, are focused on awareness and education, living with and beyond cancer, staying mentally healthy, living with and beyond mental illness and research to achieve our vision of an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health.
The rules are simple:
1. Once registered at movember.com each Mo Bro must begin the 1st of November with a clean shaven face.
2. For the entire month of Movember each Mo Bro must grow and groom a moustache.
3. There is to be no joining of the Mo to your side burns. That’s considered a beard.
4. There is to be no joining of the handlebars to your chin. That’s considered a goatee.
5. A Mo Bro must conduct himself like a true gentleman.
Want to participate, donate or just check out this awesome cause? Check the website http://www.movember.com
Not sure if it would suit your baby faced features? Check out these fabulous celebrities who have totally pulled off a moustache at one point or another in their career.

Pearl Jam Week on Fallon

Pearl Jam in the Nineties

Pearl Jam in the Nineties

I remember the first time I heard Pearl Jam like it was yesterday. It was only few weeks after I started my new high school, I had just turned 15, and one of my new friends gave me a disc man with earplugs and had me listen to the album ‘Ten’ during lunch break. I was into popular rock and ‘pop punk’ at that time (Limp Bizkit, Sum41, Lit – you know the drill) but this was the very first time, besides Nirvana, I had ever heard grunge. I didn’t understand anything from what was happening musically and didn’t really care for it at first, but as soon as Eddie Vedder started singing, the rest of the world seized to exist and I completely and irrevocably fell in love with his voice.

To celebrate the release of Pearl Jam’s tenth studio album ‘Lightning Bolt’, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon will present Pearl Jam Week this week, starting tonight. The show will host a series of appearances by the band and other musicians performing songs from Pearl Jam’s catalog.
The kick off will be tonight with Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell (my favourite singer after Eddie Vedder! <3), who used to be in a band with Eddie Vedder back in the early nineties called Temple of the Dog. Chris Cornell will be performing “Footsteps” (originally a Temple of the Dog song called “Times of Trouble”) with members of the Avett Brothers.

On Tuesday Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes (backed by undisclosed special guests) will be there to cover “Coduroy”, followed by Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready with country star Dierks Bentley and the Roots on Wednesday. On the final two nights, Pearl Jam will be there to wrap up the week with new music from Lightning Bolt.

To get into the mood for these amazing days – which will be one the musical highlights of my life since I will be seeing Chris f*cking Cornell acoustic live in a solo show in Chicago!!! -, watch this legendary video from Pearl Jam in 1992, on the Dutch festival “Pinkpop”, closing the show with one of my favourite songs “Porch”.

What do you mean ‘rock is dead’?!

Shpock – flea market app

Flea Market, source: Wikipedia

When I first bought an iPhone last December I was SO stoked. Finally a real smartphone, not only pretty but an extension of my Apple collection (I’m hooked since my MacBook), and well regarded in the smartphone world. It did however take me forever to get used to the sheer comprehension of possibilities. Of course, Spotify, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook were no-brainers, but I’ve only added a handful of other Apps since then. Super-useful-can’t-live-without-them-Apps (Evernote <3) for sure, but only a few.

Exactly three weeks ago I was scrolling through Facebook, as you do, when a promoted post caught my eye. I generally really hate promoted posts and try my best to train my eye/brain coordination to skip and ignore, but this one somehow popped out. I clicked on it, downloaded it, and fell in love.

The app is called Shpock (as in Shop in your pocket) and is described as a ‘flea market app’. The app finds your location, you can choose a category (or not) and it shows you what people are selling within one kilometer from your house, the further your scroll down, the bigger the range. You can then see pictures of the offered products and offer a price. The seller sets a price, but it is always negotiable. The seller can then counter offer, or, if you’re lucky, immediately accept. After the acceptance of your offer, you enter a private chat screen to make arrangements for the exchange.
The beauty of this app is that it actually feels like a flea market minus the dodgy people and awful smells. Yes, you scroll through a lot of crap but the hunt for good/interesting cheap stuff and bargains gets you hooked in no time.

In the three weeks I’ve been a member, I have sold a dress and a pair of shoes, snatched an awesome coat for just €10,- (talked my way down from €12,-, see below), and will exchange another dress of mine for a blouse and a gilet tonight, only having to pay €9,50 at the exchange. Cleaning out your closet while making a few bucks, then using those freshly made coins for buying something from someone else who is not wearing it anymore but feels like a new addition to your own wardrobe, and the simple act of negotiating and coming out (as seller or buyer) on top and satisfied is a definite new, addictive hobby.

I’ve only used it for the category ‘fashion and accessories’ so far, but you can also find furniture, electronic devices, books/music, etc.