30 Jun 2015

Monthly Playlist: June 2015

Another month has passed (we're halfway through 2015 now what the hell), so it's time for another playlist! This month I've started making my playlists on Spotify, because it's more convenient (soz, 8tracks). If you don't have a Spotify account then you really should get one. It makes it so much easier to find new music and figure out whether you like it enough to buy it. And it's legal! Yay!

You'll probably notice that there is again a lot of K-Pop on this mix, because I apparently just can't stop myself. Some of it's in Japanese this time though, which is fitting, considering that's a language I can actually speak.

If you caught my previous post about about my finals procrastination favourites you'll know that I've been listening to Muse and Florence + the Machine's new albums A LOT. Mercy, Reapers, Queen of Peace and Which Witch are some of my favourite tracks off of them (I loved Which Witch from the second I read the title let's be real), although there are so many more. I could basically put the entire albums on this playlist, but what would the point of that be? If you like the tracks on this mix, go check out the albums too!

I've been trying to become more of an "album person" by listening to whole albums in the order that it was intended by the artists. I'm very guilty of just picking some songs from albums and putting them on shuffle (which is cool and makes me happy), but I think albums can be viewed as a whole as works of art, and I want to appreciate that. So, whole albums will probably influence these little favourites playlists well into the future.

I just want to take a moment to talk about Hayley Kiyoko's "Girls Like Girls", because the US Senate legalised same-sex marriage nationwide at the end of this month. This is such an amazing step towards equality, and even though there's still such a long way to go (like the legalisation of same-sex marriage in so many other countries, like Australia, my own home), it's still something to be celebrated. "Girls Like Girls" is a really wonderful song, and I've seen the music video for it around quite a bit, and it's really wonderful. I recommend you go and watch it!

I hope you like some of the songs on this mix!

1. Powerful (feat. Ellie Goulding & Tarrus Riley) - Major Lazer // 2. Reapers - Muse // 3. Work This Body - Walk the Moon // 4. Queen of Peace - Florence + the Machine // 5. Bang Bang Bang - BIGBANG // 6. Mr. Mr. (Japanese Version) - Girls' Generation // 7. Birth In Reverse - St. Vincent // 8. Which Witch - Florence + the Machine // 9. Girls Like Girls - Hayley Kiyoko // 10. View - SHINee // 11. Mercy - Muse // 12. Oh! (Japanese Version) - Girls' Generation // 13. Growl - EXO // 14. Number 9 - T-ara


24 Jun 2015

Japan Flashback! Part 2: More of Tokyo

Here we are again, reliving my Japan memories. If you missed the first part, click here to read it!

Day 4: End of Homestay, Harajuku and Akihabara (原宿と秋葉原)

The morning of day four went quite quickly. I woke up, had a traditional Japanese breakfast and started to pack. I was also starting to get ill on this particular day (trust me to get sick the one time I really didn't want to), so my host mum made me some kocha (Japanese red tea) for the trip, which really helps sore throats, as it turns out. My three host sisters came with us to the goodbye meet-up, and they were so adorable, clinging on to my arms the whole way. All the families reunited and told some stories about what we'd done, and then we all said goodbye! I got a little teary. I'm so happy that I had such a nice experience of homestay. It just goes to show that doing things that scare you doesn't always turn out badly.

After we'd all said our farewells, we went off in the rain to Harajuku! The first place we went was Kiddyland, a five storey toy store which was incredible. I had to hold myself back. I bought mostly gifts for my friends, but I nabbed myself a Tanooki Mario plushie like a colossal nerd, which is super cute. I wish I could go back there and go absolutely nuts.

We unfortunately had to skip out on our plan to go to Yoyogi Park and see some of the amazing cosplay that's usually in the area because of the rain, but that just gave us more time to shop down Takeshita street (yep, the one everyone goes down). I didn't end up buying anything (clothes shopping in Japan doesn't really work out when you're tall and have giant feet), but it was interesting to see the kind of shopping experience that is considered normal in Japan, like just casually putting a model of a plane in a shop because that just makes so much sense, right?

After dark (and crepe eating, yum), we got on the train to Akihabara. Akihabara is amazing at night because everything is lit up. We went to a bookshop, where I bought some manga (in English, because I didn't feel like breaking my poor brain), and went through some of the arcade areas. I really wish I'd stopped to at least try and win a Rilakkuma plushie (y'know, because I need more soft toys, apparently) because I now have a small obsession with it, but alas, I'm two years too late.

We ended up eating pizza for dinner like disappointing tourists. I think we were all just sick of miso soup for breakfast. Then we walked back to the hostel (I'm surprised my feet hadn't fallen off yet. There is nowhere to sit and take a load off in Japan), and tried to get a semi-decent night's sleep before DISNEYLAND, the day of our dreams. 

Day 5: Tokyo Disneyland (東京ディズニーランド)

I didn't take all that many photos at Disneyland because I was too busy going on rides, but I got some of our arrival and just before we left. Tokyo Disneyland is the first (and only, so far in my life) Disney park I've ever been to, and it was a pretty magical experience, even if a lot of it was in Japanese.

Some of the rides we went on were: It's a Small World (it really is creepy, trust anyone that says so), Pirates of the Caribbean (which was really quite beautiful), The Haunted Mansion (the ghosts were amazing), Splash Mountain (we literally waited in line for two hours and I'm still not sure if it was entirely worth it) and Space Mountain (because I was obviously feeling brave, even if it didn't turn out to be that intense).

The whole place was decked out for Halloween, which I personally didn't really enjoy that much. I'm not a very Halloween-y person, and I feel like all the themed merchandise took over all of the regular fun Disney-themed stuff. But I guess that just gives me an excuse to go again at a different time of year.

Overall, I had a really nice day, despite being sick, sore and sunburnt by the end of it. We stayed late for the fireworks show and for some last minute gift-shopping. Everything looked so beautiful under the evening lights, and I managed to find a little Minnie Mouse plushie (another one, I know), to commemorate my time there. I just wish I'd been able to find some Minnie ears that weren't Halloween themed. I guess I should have looked harder.


That's it for Tokyo! Tune in next time for my adventures in Hiroshima.

I hope you're enjoying this little series!


19 Jun 2015

Favourites Friday: Finals Procrastination Edition

I haven't done a Favourites Friday in a while, and that's because of FINALS! Yes, everyone's favourite thing. Also everyone's favourite time to procrastinate, myself included. So now that my exams are over and I'm free to live a stress-free life once again (mostly, I'm a language major, it never ends), I'm back with a (rather nerdy) list of things that I've been avoiding study with.

1. Florence + the Machine's album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
I've been a massive fan of Florence since just after the release of Lungs (which was like six years ago what), and I'm constantly impressed by every single one of her songs. Ceremonials was my favourite album for years, and now this new one is frickin' incredible. It makes me want dance in a field (you know the feeling). I keep finding time to just sit down and listen to it from beginning to end.

2. American Horror Story Season 1: Murder House
I've always been one to shy away from anything that could be labelled as "horror", despite the fact that I'm a reasonably logical person that doesn't scare very easily. I've always thought that I just wouldn't be able to handle it. I'd been hearing people talk about how good American Horror Story is, and I was craving something a little different, so my aversion from horror no longer stands. AHS isn't really scary at all, it's just very intriguingly...creepy. You want to keep watching so you can figure out what the hell is going on. No wonder everyone keeps raving about it.

3. Ouran High School Host Club Anime (桜蘭高校ホスト部)
I've been wanting to get into anime again recently, but it's a hard thing to do when there are hundreds of them. I started watching Ouran a while back in English and thought it was quite good, but only made it through a few episodes before I got busy and forgot about it. This time I'm watching it in Japanese (because it would practically be a crime for me not to), and I'm still enjoying it! The characters and plots are all a lot of fun, but you need some knowledge of tropes and anime to fully understand it (there is basically no fourth wall half the time).

4. Dan and Phil Games
If you've looked at the bottom few things on this list, you've probably figured out that I like video games. I also really like Dan and Phil. Put them together and BAM it's the ultimate form of entertainment. I literally binge watched the entirety of their Sims 4 series in one day. That's like, at least five hours of viewing. That's how good it is. You don't even have to like video games that much to enjoy this channel! Dan and Phil try to make it as entertaining and genuine as possible, so it's fun regardless.

5. Portal 2
I've played Portal 2 before. You've probably (definitely) heard of it and how good it is. So naturally my finals brain thought "let's do it again!". Portal 2 is just a really enjoyable few hours. It was easier for me this time, obviously, because I'd already completed it, but living the story again was a nice experience. (And the end credits are epic).

6. Muse's album Drones
So many albums have come out recently that I've not really had time to listen to but have anyway. Drones was so highly anticipated that I couldn't not take time out to listen to it, several times, in fact. The more I listen, the better it seems to get. It's such a political album, and every song captures you're attention in different ways. I feel like I've got my hands on a really significant work of art.

7. Mario Kart 7
(Nice numbering on my part, there.) You're probably thinking "Lauren, Mario Kart? Really? Of all the things you could be doing?" Yes, my friend. Because I am low-key addicted. There's something about getting aggressive towards babies driving karts in a physics-defying fashion that I love. Half of it is probably that I'm not half bad at it. I'll probably be playing every Mario Kart game that's released from now until my death. It's cathartic.

There we go! That's all the things I've been spending time doing over the past month or so. Now I'm off to do basically the same thing until uni goes back.

I hope that any of you that had finals got through them okay. (I'm sure you did).


15 Jun 2015

Curly Hair

Yes! That is a picture of my hair! It's curly, it's messy, and it's mine. I was born with really curly hair. It runs in my family. It straightened out for a little while when I was around four or five, but otherwise, it's always been that way.

Your probably thinking "oh hey, that's cool", or maybe you just don't really care. I don't mind. But, believe it or not, I've received quite a lot of nasty offhand comments about my natural hair from as young as eight years old. Self-esteem is a fragile thing when you're young. All it takes is a few words to make you feel bad about something, and you don't yet know that it shouldn't matter. 

I started straightening my hair when I was thirteen. I'm now almost twenty, and I've only just stopped frying it every single time I wash it. Finally, after seven years, I realised that my curly hair is beautiful. After years of looking at advertisements and TV shows and glossy magazines filled with pretty girls with slick, straight strands, I was finally able to look in the mirror and think "hey, it doesn't matter if I don't look like that. I still look good."

I can't help but think of all the little girls (and boys, too!) out there with wonderful, curly hair that are wishing desperately for it to be straight, that get teased about it, that want to look like what society has deemed "beautiful". It makes me really sad. I know that in the grand scheme of things, being self-conscious about your hair is pretty low on the significance scale, but I want to one day live in a world where embracing and wearing your natural hair is accepted everywhere, for everyone. Imagine, if that can happen, what other amazing things we can move on to. 

If you have curly hair, try not to hate it. Take some time to look in the mirror and find a way to work it. If you still don't like it, then that's fine, too. It's your choice. I still like straightening my hair sometimes. I think it looks nice. But, just remember that no one else should have anything to do with it.