Friday, 19 June 2015

Matariki - shine bright you beautiful stars

I chose to blog about Matariki as I knew very little about what it actually meant and the history behind it. Which is totally embarrassing as I have been living in New Zealand for over 10 years.

All the information I talk about in this post was found by researching on different sites I found through Google. It was a good learning experience for me and Matariki is such an interesting topic.

So, for those who are like me, here is a quick low down on what Matariki is all about.

Matariki is the Maori name for small cluster of stars called the Pleiades in the Taurus constellation that rise during the New Zealand winter. For early Maori Matariki was strongly connected to the seasons and was an indicator of the forthcoming year.

The Maori New Year signals a time for connecting with, and giving thanks to the land, sea and sky. It's also a time for the community to farewell those departed and acknowledge the year gone by, and to turn to the future and celebrate new beginnings.

As Matariki is all about getting involved, how about checking out the events that will be happening across Auckland Libraries? We have some really neat children's events planned. Click here for the Auckland Libraries Matariki events page.

Also, how about checking out this page on how to find Matariki, click here to take a peek. If you do happen to find it, please share your photo's with us, we would love to see them.

And lastly, you have to check out Dayne Laird's photos of Matariki from 2014, they are absolutely amazing. Check out his beautiful photos by clicking here.

Your Favourite Media, second edition

As promised, here is the next exciting installment of Your Favourite Media, in which I interview someone who is not me.

Hello Tim and welcome to popculturAL! Tell me, what is your favourite kind of media?

Hi! I love vinyl records and music in general. I like to have music around as much as possible so mp3 is a good portable option. Vinyl at home is the best place to listen to music though. I enjoy movies, TV and books as well.

Where do you get your records from?

Real Groovy, Trade Me, plus sometimes Discogs and Ebay. I haven’t been to a record fair for a while but they’re great fun and you always find something there. I buy from op shops too but less often, it’s harder to find good stuff there but a good dig can be rewarded if you’re lucky.

How do you get ideas of what to buy/listen to next?

Tangents. Someone played with someone on some record… The internet.

What kind of music do you mostly listen to?

I'm a rock and blues fan. Mostly guitar-based music, but not exclusively. I like twangy guitar and I’m into great country artists like Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. A friend gave me a Mickey Newbury record recently so I’ve been listening to a lot of him lately. I’ve been thrashing the song “If You Ever Get to Houston (Look Me Down)” for the last couple of weeks. Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Multi Love is on high rotation at home at the moment too. I’d love it if all the Mutton Birds albums got released on vinyl.

I totally agree! Did you ever buy a record that you ended up not liking?

Yes, a Patsy Cline record with 80’s overdubs. I love Patsy Cline, she’s one of my all time favourite singers, but those overdubs really suck.

What do you use the library for?

Books and DVD’s mostly. It’s a great place to rent DVD’s from and books are good to have around the house. My missus gets out a lot of design books which I like to look at too. Our five year old daughter is asking a lot of questions about 'the olden days' right now so we’ve got some history books with photos out at the moment.

What is your favourite record?

That changes constantly, earlier this year it was Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk then their self titled album from 1975. It’s also been Sentimental Hygiene by Warren Zevon and Aldous Harding’s LP recently. Right now it’s Lovers by Mickey Newbury and the new Unknown Mortal Orchestra album (pink vinyl with a photo print and embroidered patch). The Clean’s Boodle Boodle Boodle (with the comic book) and Neil Young’s Eldorado are a couple of my more valuable favourites. I have more Neil Young records than any other artist (about 46).

How many records do you own?

About 1200 LP’s and 12 inches and around 200 45’s.

Wow. Do you keep track of all your records?

Yes, but I’m a bit behind. In more recent years I started including additional information on my list like label, year, country, catalogue number, condition.

What upcoming music events are you looking forward to?

Next week my missus and I are going to Sam Hunt with David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights at the Kings Arms. Then Fleetwood Mac in November. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing Haruki Murakami at the Writers Festival recently too.

I hear Murakami is also a serious record collector. Would you like to share anything else about your music habits?

I’m a bit addicted. I really love acquiring more music, especially the hold-in-your-hand format of vinyl. It’s really hard to not buy vinyl.

We all have our addictions! It's all fine as long as no one gets hurt, right?


Tim, thanks so much for sharing your love of vinyl records here at popculturAL. Stay tuned, readers, for the next exciting installment of Your Favourite Media in which I interview someone about something that they love and are possibly addicted to, but in a totally healthy and reasonable way.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

New Old Music

I love discovering new music and even better -  discovering new old music,  You know the thing. Songs that have been around for years if not decades that you never really paid much attention to until suddenly you find yourself playing it over and over and over again just because of some movie or TV show.

Or at least you do if you're me.

Soul bluesy music it is it seems my latest fad with a touch of 70's pop.  Because you can never have enough of 70's music... even if it is a pop song.

There's a touch of James Brown with It's A Man's, Man's, Man's World a song that only someone like him could sing, all pleading cries and desperation and a beautiful soulful love song in the form of It's A Thin Line Between Love And Hate.  There's also two foot-tapping Stevie Wonder songs Higher Ground and Upright (Everything's alright) and two songs from the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack, just because it's so awesome, really you should just check out the whole soundtrack but my 2 favourites are a boppy, feel good 60's tune Ain't No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell and a 70's pop/rock song Hooked On A Feeling which always puts a smile on my face.

And finally for something a little more modern there's the superbly bluesy rock song Blood On My Name by the Bright Brothers which I have been playing on constant replay.

So what new old songs have you discovered lately...

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

I'll have my books with pictures, thanks - the anatomy of things you didn't know you needed to know

One of the great joys of working in a library is getting to see all the new books come in for people, which lets me get my name on the hold list early (as I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, That New Book Smell). One that passed through my hands was this charming little book by Julia Rothman, called Nature Anatomy. Full of simple but lovely illustrations, Nature Anatomy is little fountain of knowledge, for the readers who want to know a little bit about the world around them, but not the entire periodic table. Of course, it had a few holds on it already, but I patiently waited until I could get my own hold into my grubby paws.

Rothman takes us on a journey through the limited green spaces she wanders in NYC and shows us the tiny details of nature that are usually so easy to ignore - like the differences between a brook and a stream, what happens in the water cycle, how to tell when a storm is coming, what the different edges on leaves are called and why, or which bees are the ones you have to look out for! With adorable but recognisable illustrations and sketches, Rothman pairs design and science together to make this book a memorable read.

It was a quick read, but that was okay because it turns out she had written one previously, Farm Anatomy. Similar in style, this one is more about the different machinery farmers use, what actually happens on a farm and different facts about the animals and plantations (as well as info on soils and growing etc). She's also written a few others, which I have yet to read, as well as some collaborative books (one which I have read, where artists partake in an arty Exquisite Corpse, and others that focus on science and historical figures).

I love arty, sketchy, doodley, comic-key books, and Rothman's books were no exception. Definitely must reads if you feel like you learn best when there's lots of pictures involved (like me!).