Monday, October 2

The History of The Western Genre through 8 Must-See Films


Although settings, costumes, and tropes remain consistent throughout the films of the Western genre, the values, lessons, and heroes of the genre are constantly changing. In many ways, Westerns serve as a perfect window into how America has viewed itself throughout the twentieth century. Through 8 films, we'll take a journey through these changes to understand how Westerns have evolved, and how this evolution has been shaped by history.

"Stagecoach" and The Traditional Western
With arguably the genre's most quintessential director, John Ford, lead actor, John Wayne, and scenic location, Monument Valley, this black-and-white classic employs every trope of the genre in a tight 1 hour and 40 minute package. Storywise, it's the subplots and the humor that make this movie great. Many playful vignettes, featuring expert character actors of their day, paint life on the frontier as cheap, justice as obsolete, and morality as ambiguous. This lighthearted humor juxtaposed against sobering reality would be used to full effect 30 years later in the "Spaghetti Western" subgenre.
The plot's main protagonists and love interests, an outlaw and a prostitute, are morally corrupt by civilized societies standards, yet pure of heart. The story hinges on a classic revenge story, in which John Wayne's character, the outlaw, carries out vigilante justice against his brother and father's killer. This is complicated by the friendship between him and The Marshall, representing formal law and order, who empathizes with the outlaw's motivation, but is bound by duty. This conflict between civilized and frontier justice is a hallmark of the genre.
The film also features a perilous journey, a cowboy vs. Indians shootout (more on that later), a deus ex machina by the U.S. cavalry, a fixation on whiskey, and the pursuit of the American Dream in a hostile lawless land, all traditions of the Western model. And, spoiler alert, the story concludes with the obligatory ride into the sunset.


"Seven Samurai", "Yojimbo", and the Eastern Influence on the Western
It may come as a surprise to lovers of the great American Western that no artist had stronger influence on the next evolution of the genre than Japanese director and visionary genius, Akira Kurosawa. Kurosawa's films "Seven Samurai" and "Yojimbo" transposed Western archetypes onto a traditional Japanese backdrop. Both were swiftly adapted into classics "The Magnificent Seven" and "A Fistfull of Dollars" in the 50s and 60s.
Samurai for hire in feudal Japan, or Ronin, were the perfect avatar for the mercenary gunmen of the classic Western. In "Seven Samurai", a group of Ronin are hired by a poor village for protection from an impending raid by bandits. The ragtag group of caricatures are reminiscent of the passengers in "Stagecoach". In "Yojimbo", a Ronin exploits the greed and corruption of a village overrun by gangs and warlords, playing them against each other to their mutual demise. Clint Eastwood would later recreate actor Toshiro Mifune's archetypal character playing a drifter, a man with no allegiances who can rely only on himself and yields to no code but his own, stoic, deft, and deadly. Both characters are presented as having no name.


The Spaghetti Western: "Once Upon a Time in The West" and "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly"
The next major movement of the Western also took place outside The States, in the mid-60s. Often directed by Sergio Leone, scored by Ennio Morricone, and starring Clint Eastwood, these Italian-international films were made on a low budget, starred local actors, filmed in a desert in Spain, and synched in English in post production. In "Once Upon a Time in the West", a revenge story runs parallel to a bloody race for a valuable piece of land. In "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly", three money-hungry gunmen wheel and deal one another in pursuit of a dead man's treasure.
The name "Spaghetti Western" mirrors the cookey irreverent ironic humor these films often employ, not unlike "Stagecoach", in their treatment of death, greed, poverty, and war. Leone's Westerns, much to the distaste of the old school, exploit the mythos of the genre to reveal the hypocrisy beneath. In Leone's West, life is cheap, death is waiting around every corner, and loyalty is precarious, even for his heroes.
This depiction of the Wild West reflected the American counterculture's view of Vietnam, a lawless land, where good and evil are blurred, and hypocrisy reigns. This period coincided with films like "Bonnie and Clyde", "Easy Rider", and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", quasi-Westerns with similarly anti-establishment themes. Characters in Spaghetti Westerns appealed to Americans yearning to start over, reinvent what it is the to be an American, seeing the new frontier as a blank slate. It's worth noting here that cultural awareness surrounding the genocide of Native American tribes would soon become problematic for the genre.

Things Get Weird with "El Topo" and "Dead Man"

(Caution: Spoilers below.)
Inspired by the Spaghetti Western, the counterculture took the next logical step, fusing it with 60s psychedelia to create a subgenre known as the "Acid Western", a movement that would begin, yet again, outside The States. Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky's seminal midnight movie "El Topo", produced in Mexico, founded the genre. The story follows a black duster and wide-brimmed-hat wearing semi-nameless hero, who goes on a transcendental quest culminating in a god-like transformation set against a desert sandscape. The cryptic story, taboo even by today's standards, is told through a mixture of spiritual symbolism and classic Western tropes. In the latter half of the film, our newly transformed hero attempts to save a colony of deformed people victimized by a morally corrupt town, ultimately leading to his death. This new kind of Western hero can no longer remain passive and self-serving in the face of injustice.
25 years later, the second most influential film of the genre, Jim Jarmusch's "Dead Man" from 1995, was released. Like "Dances with Wolves" 5 years earlier, "Dead Man" begins to offer reparations for the highly offensive misrepresentation of Natives central to the genre since its beginnings. As in "El Topo", the protagonist undergoes a spiritual transformation, ultimately leading to his own death, as well as the deaths of his spiritual mentor and his blood-thirsty mercenary pursuer. As in "El Topo", his transformation draws him out of passivity. Although the protagonist seems to find inner strength through connection with a higher power, the plot eventually concludes nihilistically.

"Unforgiven" and the Defiance of the Genre

In post-Vietnam America, stories of American triumph over indigenous cultures or clear-cut tales of good conquering evil were harder for moviegoers to stomach. The next iteration of the genre, known as "The Revisionist Western" would grapple with guilt, consequences, self-reflection, escapism, self-abuse, and PTSD, abandoning the romanticism of the Old West in favor of sobering realism. In "Unforgiven" from 1992, directed and starring Clint Eastwood, an older and wiser version of who is essentially The Man with No Name attempts to redeem himself for the sins of his past, but finds he can't escape it, in some ways representing American nationalism itself. Our new hero can say things like "I'm scared of dying" and not appear as weak, but rather, as wise and morally mature.


Guest Post: Tori Galatro is a freelance writer based in Austin, TX who would love to write about film for you. 

Monday, August 7

The Ultimate Guide for Cleaning your home

The magic thing about home is that it feels good to leave, and it feels even better to come back” - Wendy Wunder


Home is the place we long for after a day long work or a long planned trip! It is the second best place to heaven, should say! A clean home is the most welcoming thing for everyone. Imagine, you return from home and find a huge pile of mess in the living room. Don’t you deserve something better?

House cleaning is not an enjoyable task for many. But, believe it or not, it is the most satisfying task ever. The result is right in front of your eyes!

Where do we start?
Cleaning is so much fun when you involve everyone in the family. This makes everyone be responsible for the things they have at home.

1. Things back in its place
Any cleaning task should start with putting the right thing in the right place. This would avoid a lot of confusion and makes your home clutter free. You could relate to this more if you have a young child at home. Putting things back to its place would start by,
  1. Putting the toys back to the toy basket
  2. Arranging the newspapers & magazines
  3. Arranging the shoe rack
  4. Putting the laundry clothes to the basket. (if not done)

2. Dusting
Dusting is not something anyone would like to do. But, a monthly dusting task would save you a lot of time. Dusting, if not done regularly would make your home look messy. It would also turn out to be an unhealthy ambiance. For this purpose, dusting your home could be categorised as follows
  1. Daily dusting: This would involve, dusting the couch, living room TV units, wall shelf. Just wipe down every day with a cotton cloth.
  2. Weekly: Dusting the mattress and changing the covers.
  3. Monthly: Clearing the cobwebs, dusting the vents, window panes, doors, fans and lights

3. Kitchen Cabinets
How often do you have to clean the kitchen cabinets? It is up to you. If you use the kitchen properly, believe me, you need to clean the cabinets only once a month. With a weekly wipe on the doors you can maintain the rest intact for one month. For this, keep these points in mind
  1. If you have planned your modular kitchen well, then things would be ergonomically placed. Use the kitchen mindfully: Put things back in its place to avoid chaos and this would also help in saving a lot of your time. Having done this, you know where exactly things are
  2. Do not stock too much of groceries in your kitchen. You can buy whatever you need at the beginning of the month. And before buying any new supplies, check for what you already have and also the expiry dates.

  • DIY Cleaning Tip For Kitchen
To clean the kitchen counters, mix 4-5 drops of liquid dish soap in one litre of water. Add this to an old spray can. Use this spray on the kitchen counters as well as the counter tops and wipe down with the help of a cotton cloth. This solution helps in getting the oil deposits out.

4. Refrigerator
Cleaning refrigerators every week would help you save a lot of time. You can clear out the leftover food items and clean the trays every week. Once in a month clean the fridge completely.

  • Tip for Cleaning your fridge
Use 1 tbsp baking soda or lemon juice in one litre of water to wipe down the fridge. This would get rid of the odour.

5. Laundry & Wardrobe
As a routine, do the laundry routine everyday and have an extra load during the weekends. The weekend extra wash would include the bedsheets and the pillow covers. Whereas, the everyday routine would include your everyday wears. If you have a pile to be hand washed, have it in a separate basket, which could be postponed to weekends as well.

Cushion covers and curtains could be washed once in every six months.

6. Bathroom
One of the most important places in your house. This involves a good amount of time. Clean the bathroom floor, wash basin and WC everyday with the help of a bathroom floor cleaner and a toilet cleaner. For wash basins you can use a mild soap powder.

  • DIY Cleaning Solution for Bathrooms
Baking soda 1 cup, vinegar (white) 1 ½ tbsp, water ¼ cup and liquid soap ¼ cup. Mix all these in a bowl. Use a scrubber to clean the bathroom floor and also the WC with this baking soda solution. This helps in getting rid of the scales in the bathroom floor and the toilet. Do not forget to wear your gloves!

  • Bathroom walls
Add a few drops of floor cleaning liquid to one litre water, add this to a used spray bottle. You can use this simple solution to wipe down the bathroom walls.
Source: Google images


7. Walls
Walls get very dirty. Worse if it is painted in white or half white. As walls mostly get painted in neutral colours, you can’t help it. The places under the switches and the kids doodle on the walls look bad if not cleaned regularly.

  • DIY Tip for Cleaning the Walls
To clean the walls use a sponge and some baking powder. In a sponge, sprinkle some baking powder and some water. Wipe on the dirty walls, leave it for five minutes. Use another sponge, dip it in water wipe down the places. This would instantly clean up the walls without taking out the paint.
Source: http://www.blog.myiconichome.com/home-decor/diy-cleaning-project-sparkly-clean-home/


Cleaning Routine for everyday
  1. As soon as you get up, make your bed. This would take roughly ten minutes. But it is really worth it.
  2. Before getting to your kitchen, turn on the washing machine. Once you are done with the kitchen chores, the clothes would be done.
  3. As soon as you finish cooking, clean up the kitchen counter top.
  4. Clean the bathrooms before taking bath.
  5. Load the dishwasher or if you have a domestic help, arrange all the used vessels in the sink. You can add some water to the used vessels which would speed up the cleaning process
  6. By this time your washing machine would be done, so it's time to dry the clothes
  7. Floor - sweeping the floor after the days work is the next
  8. And the last thing would be folding the dried clothes

Cleaning is the most tiring task in the world. But, to make our place the best place to live, we have to make it an everyday practice. This would help us have a clutter free and clean ambiance.

Guest Post by Savitha Sampath:
Savitha is from Chennai and works as a freelance content writer for various blogs.


Monday, July 24

Abstract watercolor painting-flamingo

I love colors and geometric pattern. These geometric pattern when used in interior designs, just uplifts a humble space to being classy. When used in painting it somehow makes even the simple sketch look unique. They are so versatile. I love the circles and the triangles. I try to use them in most of my doodles and also DIYs.

I wanted to paint in my new watercolor mini art pad for quit sometime now. I love the way the watercolors takes its own form in the watercolor pad. It is very therapeutic. I wanted to use colors, so I just started painting without any thought of what the final product was going to be.

I used several bright colors, let the colors take it's own form. Once the base coat was done, there was a page covered with beautiful watercolor patters. The only design that could lift the base color was few geometric designs. So I just used my favorite triangles to add some glam to the colors and inserted a geometric flamingo in between. I love this abstract art that I came up with under 15 min. What do you guys think!?



Monday, May 22

How we did universal studios and islands of adventure in one day!

It's vacation time and Universal may be up on the radar as one of the must visit places. Universal studios and islands of adventures are two of the most popular parks in Orlando, Florida.
It is totally possible to do both the parks in one day if you are tight on money or are short on time without using fast pass or getting early access.



Follow these tips to have a wonderful day at universal studios and islands of adventure.

Tips:

1.Wear comfortable shoes. You should be ready to move quickly and comfortably
2. Reach at least 15 minutes early.
3. Try to visit The parks on a weekday if possible.
4. Stay somewhere closer to the parks.
5. Pre-book your tickets online.
6. Don't forget to get the park to park tickets.
7.try to go in single person line. It sometimes moves faster than an express line.

We went to these parks on a Monday following a long weekend. So the crowd was drastically less as compared to a long weekend or a regular holiday. We reached the park at around 9. Had to wait at the counter for 10 minutes to change the online ticket to a universal pass. Then we headed to universal studios.

UNIVERSAL  STUDIOS:

There are few amazing rides that you must not skip and few not so great rides in both the parks. Here I am listing those rides that we loved going along with my ratings. So you can choose what rides to go on and what to skip.

1.Terminator2 - 3D 
2.The Simpsons Ride 
3.Men in black 
4. Diagon allay- If you are a harry potter fan like me, you will love the place and will spend solid 3 hours here. 

TIP:
Don't miss the butter beer.

5.Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts-
6.The Tales of Beedle the Bard.
7.Gringotts Money Exchange 
8.Ollivanders-
9..Knight Bus-

Then we took the Hogwarts Express from King’s Cross Station to Islands of adventure. You will need a Park-to-Park admission ticket or Annual Pass is required. We completed the rides that I have mentioned under the Islands of adventure and took the Hogwarts train back to Universal studios.

TIP:
Don't forget to ride the Hogwarts express from both Kings cross(Universal studios) and Hogsmeade( Islands of adventure). You will not be disappointed.

After completing the rides in Islands of adventure we took the hogwarts express back to Kings cross and did rest of the rides.

10.Despicable Me Minion Mayhem - 
11.Shrek 4-D - 
12..Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit- 
13.Revenge of the Mummy-


ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE:

1.The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade.
2.Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey 
3.Hog’s Head pub - Don't forget butter beer 
4.Three Broomsticks - we had our lunch here.
5.Flight of the Hippogriff 
6.Ollivanders - Visit the show where Mr Ollivander will help you choose your wand.
7.Jurassic Park River Adventure 
8.Skull Island: Reign of Kong 
9.The Incredible Hulk Coaster- 
10.Storm Force Accelatron- 
11.Doctor Doom’s Fearfall- 
12.The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad 

We skipped Toon lagoon ( just went for one ride here) and Seuss land. Just walk through these places to experience color and cartoon nostalgia.

These where the rides that we did in one day. Great isnt it? Share your experience here.

Monday, April 24

Remodel your Bedroom and patio for a fresh look-Bedroom Patio Ideas

Upgrading your bedroom's existing windows or replacing the blank walls with new windows will dramatically change the room's appearance. Windows make the room bigger and allow for a lot of natural light.
A great way to upgrade a patio is to use concrete pavers which add to the look and also easy to maintain and replace, and also perfect for outdoor entertaining.
The pavers and cozy seating area transformed this nothing special outdoor seating space into a stylish outdoor space.

Here is a mood board design to Remodel your Bedroom and patio for a fresh look
Upgrading your bedroom's existing windows or replacing the blank walls with new windows will dramatically change the room's appearance. Upgrades can be expensive, but there's always options for personal loans

Tuesday, March 28

The Seven Myths Of Being A Travel Writer

The dream for many writers is to travel the world. After all, writing is one of the most portable professions in the world. Why not combine it with your desire to get away? If you've ever considered, you may well have heard of the following seven myths. Here's why they aren't true, and how you can achieve your goals.


1. You can't balance travel and writing
This is very much dependent on the individual. Some people struggle to manage their time, and so find themselves ignoring work in favour of enjoying themselves, or missing the sights because they're so busy working. If you can balance your time, though, it's easy to do both. It sure beats working in a bar or as a tour guide if you're traveling for an extended period.

2. You can't work overseas
Yes, you absolutely can. It's easier than ever to make money when you're working abroad, thanks to the internet. All you have to do is make sure you have the right working visa for the country you're going to. It's completely possible as long as you plan properly.

3. You won't earn enough travel writing
Many people say that you can't make enough writing online in order to fund your travels, but that just isn't true. You can, with a little bit of planning. Michael King, a writer with UK Writings, was able to make enough for his travels. He was earning $9 per hour writing with them and saved $14,000 for his trip before he even left his own country. 'It was definitely worth it, and it was paying better than most minimum wage jobs' he says. He also states that there are plenty of ways to earn for your travels.

As you can see, travel writing is indeed doable, and much easier than you'd think. Take these tips and busted myths to heart, and you'll be able to fund your travels with your talents, no problem.

4. The destination is the only thing you can write about
If you're traveling, you may think that you must write about where you're traveling to. Says who? Our planet is a pretty thoroughly explored place at this point, and we've explored just about everything. Instead, mix it up. Talk about the process of traveling itself. Pick a niche that no one else has talked about.

5. You must write long stories about your travels
You may feel as though you must write long and involved stories about your travels. In fact, internet readers often don't have the patience to listen to what you have to say. Online readers are known to stop reading much more quickly than they would if your text was in print. They want answers about the place you're visiting, and they don't want you to beat around the bush. Keep your writing short and succinct. Give the reader what they came for.


 6. You can only write about your actual travels
There's no reason why your travels have to dictate what you write about. Of course, if you're jetting off to exciting climes, then why not write about what you're seeing on the way? If you have wi-fi access, though, there's no reason why you can't write about anything else at all. For example, writer Harry Pool used to be a travel writer but found the work too restricting. He says, 'I switched to writing for assignment writing service, as I've always been a good academic writer and I can still do that while traveling through my favourite countries.'


7. You can write in English wherever they speak the language
This myth isn't totally correct. You can write for English speaking countries, but you'll need to be aware of differences in how they speak and write in the language. There can be differences, and you'll have to make sure they don't sneak their way into your own writing. Keep track of your own grammar by utilizing online tools to check your work.

Guest Post By Brenda Berg. Brenda is an amazing author and here is here google+ page. 

Friday, March 24

Mood Boards- A welcoming and relaxing living room- How to create mood boards.


Mood Boards are a great way to convey our ideas on design and fashion which can be difficult to communicate sometimes. So if there is difficulty in expressing some idea, the best way to go is creating mood boards.

What is a mood board?

"A mood board is a combination of images, texts, colors, quotes that define the mood and the style of the project". It is a tool to bring out the ideas inside our head and to present it. Mood boards come in different forms. There are also 3D mood boards that enable us to design a 3-dimensional view of a room. This is very convenient if you are planning to remodel your house.

All you have to do is use the mood boards to see how the room will look like or if the furniture that you have been dreaming to buy, suits your living room layout.

Types of mood boards:

Digital:

Creating a mood board digitally using illustrator is easy for most as it can be done even online using several free online mood creators, and also managing the pictures online or digitally is a lot easier.

Source: Slideshare


Physical:

Having physical format mixed with printed photograms gives a very crafty feel to the whole process.
It is more like a mixed media art.

My Mood Board:  A welcoming and relaxing living room

I decided to do a mood board design project and decided to work on the living room. I wanted to create an inviting, peaceful, fun space that would be great to entertain friends and family.

This is what I came up with for the living room. These mood boards are 3D boards Which are based on a theme.

Pic: Sahithya
This is  a more classy, chic living room with a pop of color.
Pic: Sahithya


For more inspirations on Living room ideas check here: arhaus