Monday, 17 December 2012

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It -

I'm starting to understand why my older friends and family dislike winter. A couple of weeks ago I turned 22 and, in the 2 years since I've seen snow up north, I've developed a dislike for it. I still like looking at it, that stuff is pretty, but it's very dangerous. I guess it's not so much the snow that I've developed a dislike for, as the ice that inevitably accompanies it. 

Why do I dislike it so much now, I hear you ask? Because last Tuesday morning, I slipped on the ice as I was leaving my flat. Normally when you slip, your legs shoot forwards and your butt cushions the fall. But that day, my right leg (the one that had landed on the ice) shot out to one side and the momentum sent the rest of me spinning, eventually landing left-side first on the ice. For the next couple of hours, the pain in my arm just got worse, resulting in me spending four hours in A&E (not that long if I'm honest) and coming out with a sling and a fractured elbow. There were a whole lot of people in the A&E that day, presumably injured the same way I was.


I'm even starting to lose enjoyment in putting up the faithful old christmas tree. But in my defence, I was paranoid that it was going to fall over for quite a while because of the unsteady old base. But I was happy with the finished result.

Maybe all hope is not lost...

To all those injured people I saw in A&E, condolences and I hope you all feel better soon.

Once again, that's all I have to say...

The Horror, The Horror!

WARNING: This post may contain spoilers.

Because of the fact that I'm currently finishing up a module on horror film and the fact that I haven't made a blog post in nearly 6 months, I decided to do an analysis of the horror villains that I've come across during the course. Even though some of the films kept me up at night, allow me to present... the 2012 Horror Movie Antagonist awards.

*cue fanfare*


First off, oddly enough, is the Award for Most Civilised Killer:

Gold - Carrie White (Carrie): Heck, she's just a normal girl with an odd power. Her mother is ten times more psychotic than she is.The only time she's remotely scary is at the end of the film, and the sequence where her bloody hand breaks out of the ground was enough to make me jump but just for the simple reason that I didn't expect it. For the rest of the film, it feels more like a teen drama.
Silver - Daniel Robitaille (Candyman): Yeah, I know he's not referred to by his real name until the second film but I already put in an award where the killer's name is the same as the name of the film. Anyway, why is Candyman on this list? Put simply, I don't think Daniel is that bad a guy. Even though his undead appearance is unsettling to say the least, if you can look beyond that, his clothing actually makes him come across as a pretty classy gent. And if I'm being brutally honest, he only kills people if they tell him to.
Bronze - Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs): I'll admit it feels a little strange to place a cannibal on a list about civilised people but hey, they're all killers in one way or another, and Hannibal Lecter is certainly more civilised than some other horror villains I could mention. But if you look beyond that psychosis, Lecter had a pretty high-class job as a psychiatrist, and was pretty dang good at it (ironic when you think about it). Not to mention Anthony Hopkins manages to bring a touch of class to almost every character he plays - especially Don Diego de la Vega - and Hannibal is downright normal when you compare him to the other serial killer in that movie.

NB: Now that I think about it, Anthony Hopkins may well be my second favourite aged media personality, after Bruce Forsyth.

Getting back on track, next up is the Award for Funniest Antagonist:

Gold: Zombie Horde (Dawn of the Dead) I'll be blunt about this. The zombies in the original Dawn of the Dead are barely even a threat! Seriously the asshole biker gang that shows up near the end of the film were pretty much put there for the sake of letting the zombies back in. They were the real bad guys of the film. The zombies are uncoordinated, single-minded and slow. Normal people could hold their own against them as long as they were fast enough...
P.S. Night of the Living Dead is racist.
Silver: Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th Part 2) Admittedly, this is one of the many films I haven't seen but just the briefest description of Jason in the second film was enough to crack me up. I know enough to be sure that this film took place before Jason got his infamous hockey mask (if I remember rightly that was the third film). All I know about this film was that Jason spent it with a paper bag covering his face. Let me tell you... I can't take that visual image seriously, even when it's applied to a mass-murdering psychopath.
Bronze: Freddy Krueger (Nightmare on Elm Street 3 onwards) Once again, I'm no expert on the Nightmare on Elm Street films as a whole, but I've seen Dream Warriors and read all the plot synopses. Even though Freddy is half the reason for my sleepless nights (seriously, I was up til 3 the day I watched the film) the wisecracks he comes out with are pure gold, if creepy.

Finally, we're getting to what really makes a villain. Third, is the award for Most Gruesome Kills:

Gold: Nightmare on Elm Street I'm not going to lie, I loved watching Dream Warriors, purely for how creative the kills were. But to keep this speech short, I know a lot of kills in the earlier films were accompanied by fountains of blood and it took weeks to get the mental image of Phillip as a human marionette out of my head. Primarily because the tutor kept showing it every lesson. Aw crap, there it goes again.
Silver: Dawn of the Dead I can tell this is making me sound horrible, but Dawn of the Dead was another one of my favourites. My definition of 'Grusome Kill' pretty much boils down to a lot of blood or raw flesh on display, and Dawn of the Dead certainly provides in the latter category. The sight of one of those jerk-ass bikers having his torso torn open and eaten made me want to throw up.
Bronze: Candyman Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a contender for this spot but it lacks in the two things that, for me, define gruesome. But in Candyman, the blood is plentiful. As with Dawn of the Dead, there is one single shot that sticks out in my mind and that put the film on this list. After Helen's first meeting with the real Candyman, when she wakes up in the flat covered in blood and ventures out into the hall. That shot where we see the disembodied dog's head on the ground? That's the one.
Honourable Mention: Texas Chainsaw Massacre Kicked off the top 3 for most of it's main kills being censored and all the corpses being dried out.

Second from last award for this year is the Award for Creepiest Looking Villain:

Gold: Jigsaw (Saw) Clowns. Creepy. Clown dolls. Very creepy. Talking clown dolls controlled by psychopathic but creative killers? I'm sleeping with the light on. That is all.
Silver: Regan (The Exorcist) The best way I can think of to describe this one is just the sight of a little girl possessed by a powerful demon, either spasming uncontrollably or with her skin split wide open and evil eyes or just with her eyes rolled all the way back into her head. There's just something very much not right about it.
Bronze: Daniel Robitaille (Candyman) Again, this one is a little hard to explain. As I said way back up top, Daniel actually looks pretty civilised, but when you notice the hook sticking out of the open wound, his coat sleeve matted with blood and especially when you see his chest cavity full of bees, that's yet more nightmare fuel, guaranteed to have you throwing out every mirror you own.
Honourable Mention: Samara (The Ring) Do I even need to explain this one?

Last up (I ran out of ideas, sue me) is the Scariest Looking Villain Award:

Yes, this is somewhat different to Creepiest Looking, but I made it separate for the Gold Spot.

Gold: Leather Face (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) If there was ever a look that just screams deranged psychopath, I'd say this is it. I don't want to know who he got that mask from and for quite a while, I thought part of the female look he took on near the end incorporated the face of the girl he'd already killed. His grandpa is pretty scary too.
Silver: Regan (The Exorcist) In this case, the application of 'scary looking' also applies to the demonic idols that we see near the start of the film. And the appearance of possessed Regan can also be pretty deranged. The occasional shots where she wiggles that tongue of hers all over the place is just scarily disgusting.
Bronze: Freddy Krueger (Nightmare on Elm Street 3) You guys already know that I haven't seen most of the films in the franchise, but that doesn't matter too much because, as far as the synopses go, it seems like this film has the most alternate forms. Whether you want to take his normal humanoid form, the penis snake (that's not just a stupid innuendo, the film makers thought it looked too phallic at first), the sexy nurse with tongue-spitting powers or the living but obviously CGI-ed skeleton, they're all scary in their own little way.

I hope all of you enjoyed this year's awards. To be honest, there probably won't be another one next year a) because I'll forget and b) because I have every intention of staying away from horror films for quite a while.

Expect another post very soon (I need to catch up) but for this time, that's all I have to say...

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Gay Oreos

Okay, I want to start off by posting a comment I found on a forum while browsing the internet earlier:

"People... hate a cookie.
People are hating a cookie.
They are showing their hate... of a cookie.
Yeah, I'm trying to get my head around this hate of cookies and their manufacturer, but...
People are boycotting... a cookie."

Yeah, that was too much mention of the word cookie. Good thing I picked up some Oreos earlier or I'd be craving them right about now.

Anyway, I'm getting off topic again.

I'm sure a lot of you will have already heard about this but on Monday, Oreo put a supporting image for Gay Pride on their Facebook page, featuring a six-layer, rainbow-coloured oreo. It attracted a decent amount of publicity but unfortunately, not much of it was good. While some were against the politicization of the gesture, a significant amount of haters were just being straight up homophobic.

A whole lot of people posted on Facebook that they were going to stop eating Oreo's because of this advert and implying that there was apparently something wrong with the people who work for the company, calling them sick.

Now, let me get this straight, just like the comment I posted earlier, the source of these people's hate is essentially a freakin' cookie?!

I'm sorry, I'm all for right to free speech but, in my opinion, there's something wrong with these people. I'm just going to be blunt: There Is Nothing Wrong With Being Gay! Just imagine something for me. Imagine we lived in a parallel reality where straight people were discriminated against. How do you think those obviously straight haters would react then? They'd think it was ridiculous, am I right?

Well haters, now you know what I think about what you're doing.

Seriously, it's like the haters think that homosexual people are somehow different from heterosexual people.  They're not. Newsflash: humans are born equal.

Are politicians born politicians? No.
Are gay people born gay? No.
Are straight people born straight? No.
Are dark-skinned people born that way? Well yes, but the point I'm trying to make is that every human on this planet is made up of the same basic elements.
Even though members of the royal family are born into aristocracy, their genetic makeup is no different from anyone elses.

It's discrimination that makes things these people the minorities in society.

Plus the way that the haters chose to go about declaring their opposition is just nuts. By not eating Oreos? That's not going to make people think you're boycotting against gay rights, it'll just make them think you don't like cookies! I'm genuinely not exaggerating here. Let me give you just a taster of what was said in reaction the the advert:

"I no longer like Oreos"
"I hate Oreos now"
"Yeaa... no more oreos"
"Will never eat another oreo"
"Hmm & they WERE one of my favourite cookies"
"Well, I just lost all respect for oreos now"

I think you get the point.

And oreos are so dang popular with people who don't have a problem that the company is barely gonna notice the drop in sales figures (although their resolve might crumble, no pun intended, next time Oreos are on sale at Morrison's).

Like I said, I'm one of the first advocates of right to freedom of speech, but I'm also in favour of a little tact people. I mean come on guys, the fact of the matter is, I don't think it's gay people you're hating against here, I think it's a company that makes cookies

I just don't see what the problem is. Some of my best and oldest friends are gay, that doesn't make them any different from the rest of us.

But that ... is about all I have to say.

P.S. Seeing the forum thread about this issue and how many people were talking about their sudden craving for oreos or how much they wanted to eat a six-layered rainbow Oreo was quite possibly the highlight of my day (it's been slow in the office).

Friday, 1 June 2012

Third Time Is Most Definitely Not The Charm

Okay, I'm not trying to turn this blog into lifecasting but, you know that old saying; "everything comes in threes"?

Well this past week, the bad stuff in my day-to-day routine has most certainly followed that rule. 

Let's start from the beginning shall we?

Well, last weekend I was back home for a few days to celebrate my friends hen party (for those who don't use that term, it's the womens pre-wedding night out). Don't get me wrong, the night out itself was great but the next day, I was in the car on the way back from picking up some food for a house party from a couple of towns over. Well, as we drove home (I was with my mum and godmother) along the motorway, the car broke down. Now for a good part of both last week and this week, the weather has been amazing and this particular day was no exception. But when your car door is locked and the electrics aren't working meaning you can't lower the window, trust me, you don't want the good weather to be there. 

Long story short, we were stuck at the side of the road for around about an hour before a recovery vehicle turned up, most of which I spent in the car listening to music with my trouser legs rolled up. 

But that's not so bad right?

Well, the very next day, after I came back to my student home, I was back at the doctors for a second consultation about my breathing problem. And not only was the news I received bad, but the experience itself wasn't fantastic either. The week before, when I had gone for my first appointment, the nurse practitioner had needed to look under my t-shirt. Embarrassing enough, especially if you're me (and quite by chance, I happen to be me). But at this second one, I had to remove both my shirt and the stuff underneath. You know, with it being a chest-related problem and all? 

Hoo boy, it's going to take me a while to live that down. 

But then, by the time the appointment was finished, I had been diagnosed with a pretty high probability of a displaced sternum, which is throwing my breathing out of whack. I'll have to get my x-rays next month to know for sure but considering I've suspected that's what's wrong for quite a while now, I don't expect the verdict to change.

And I'll admit it, this last one isn't really all that bad, but after all that other stuff, it was pretty much the poisoned cherry on the stale cake if you catch my drift. See, a few weeks ago I finished up my assessments for the summer, the last of which was a media law exam. Getting the result back, I got a ... 37. And the pass mark is 40.

... Yeah. 

I would go more into that but I think I've ranted enough for one day. So, thanks for reading and that... is all I have to say.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Film Review: Dark Shadows

WARNING: This review contains spoilers.

Okay, I want to start off by saying, I don't know what all those critics are complaining about. Dark Shadows is by no means a bad film. Admittedly its got its fair share of flaws, but what film doesn't. I can certainly think of more films with problems than films without (the Twilight Saga springs instantly to mind).

But, we're not here to talk about Twilight, we're here to talk about Dark Shadows.

Starting with the cast, Johnny Depp was amazing as he so often is as Barnabas Collins. I can only think of one film that he stars in that I didn't like. Helena Bonham Carter didn't appear or have as significant a role as I thought she would playing the drunk psychologist Julia Hoffman. But I'll get to that in some more detail later. Eva Green as Angelique Bouchard, not a big fan of her, but I guess if you don't like the antagonist, they're doing their job right, so kudos. I guess time heals all wounds doesn't apply in this case.

And the prize for biggest reversal of opinion in this film goes to Chloe Moretz as Carolyn. For most of the movie, I didn't like her, I don't know, her character just didn't seem to fit the time period that well. But then, at the climax, she instantly came very close to being my favourite character in the movie. Attitude problem + werewolf = hell yes in my book. At least in this case.

As for some of the more minor characters, or at least minor actors. Bella Heathcote as Victoria Winters, I was a bit 50-50 with her. If I remember correctly, she was the first character you see after the prologue, which in most films, identifies someone as a main character. But after the introductory arc, she barely ever appears which made it a lot harder to set up the romance between her and Barnabas (but for the most part, they still pulled it off). On the other hand, I loved her back story. Jackie Haley as Willie Loomis, probably the funniest character, besides perhaps the lead. Gulliver McGrath as David, fantastic. Michelle Pfeiffer, another good one. At first I thought she was going to be the good one that turns bad after she saw the fortune in the basement but no, she stayed loyal. Like I said, I liked her. And my absolute least favourite character in the entire movie, Roger Collins played by Jonny Lee Miller. Asshole, plain and simple.

Now for the movie itself. There's only a couple of especially good scenes that I want to point out here and the bad points that I've got probably outnumber the good. That doesn't mean there's more bad stuff than good stuff in the film, it just means that I haven't got the time or space to talk about every good scene. So just assume that everything I don't talk about here, I liked, okay?

The big climactic fight scene at the end, great. Especially the revelation of Carolyn as a werewolf and the paintings leaking blood. I liked everything about the fight scene but those two parts especially. Right after Barnabas gets released from his coffin the first time, particularly when he attacks the last guy but apologises in advance. I guess the 'taking back control' montage was pretty good too. It's been a few days since I saw it so I don't remember everything.

And now for the downsides. Mostly these are just what I consider plot holes. The main one, at the end after Victoria has jumped off the cliff and Barnabas has gone after her. Once he bit her, why didn't he try to turn them around so he landed first? Barnabas obviously wouldn't have died and Victoria might have survived cos she had another body to cushion her fall. And the curse never specified that the victim had to die, just that they had to jump off so she probably wouldn't have tried to do it again. On a related note, why was the curse still active after Angelique was dead? Still linked up, the porcelain body and crystal heart thing seemed a bit daft to me. Wasn't a big fan of the sex / fight scene. I think this is the last one, why didn't Angelique lock the coffin the second time around? Sure Barnabas couldn't move so there was no chance of him getting himself out and it was unlikely that anyone was going to go looking for him but still, if she was trying to trap him a second time, you're going to take extra precautions right?

I think that's about all I've got to say on Dark Shadows. If I forgot anything, too bad. But I have one final point.

This film definitely hinted at a sequel to me. The very end of the film when you see Hoffman's eyes open underwater? A definite cliffhanger. Okay it was always obvious she was still alive, or undead or whatever, as you saw her fangs when Barnabas killed her. But honestly, as much as I enjoyed the film, I hope there isn't a sequel. Dark Shadows is perfectly fine as a stand-alone movie.

Sure it's not quite as good as the only other film I've seen recently, Avengers Assemble but that should be pretty obvious. Avengers was amazing. Dark Shadows is good. I can recommend it but the film probably isn't for everyone. Definitely a niche movie. But it was certainly good enough to cause my friend to be a complete fangirl for it.

And that... is all I have to say.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Time Flies

Well, just like I said in the title, time sure flies. I didn't even realise but it's been five years and one day since I stood down from secondary school (and five years exactly since the first time I saw Bryan Adams play live). And now I think about it, a lot has changed, not just in the general community but to me personally.

Of course, even though I stood down as a school student on May 11th 2007, I still had plenty of exams to go, prom in July and exam results in August. They weren't bad if I remember correctly. And then... I was straight off to college in York. I seem to remember wanting to burn my school uniform and text books the day that I finished my final exam. Literally set them on fire.

But like I said, I've changed a lot in the last five years, mostly for the better although some changes haven't been easy. I guess one of the best things is that, at college and uni, people are actually mature enough to not resort to bullying.

Man, writing this is harder than I thought. I don't know if some of the stuff I say is gonna sound zetta corny.

Stuff it, I made this blog to say what I really think and feel so here goes.

I will say that, through college and especially university, I've made some of the best friends I've ever had or will ever have. I keep in touch with people from school and I still care about them just as much as the friends I've made since then. But, as my mother always told me, the friends you make at university are the ones you keep for the rest of your life.

At the risk of going a little over-board a good deal of my friends feel as close as family to me. And right now, I'm kinda getting scared that, now I'm coming towards the end of the educational career, I may never hear from some of them again. I really hope that won't turn out to be true but it's still a genuine fear I have.

As for me as an individual, I know I have changed but it's hard to say how. I guess I've become much more of a tomboy in the last half decade (a tomboy, not an actual boy, so many people confuse the two). I have my hair so short these days that it's shorter than most of my male friends, no exaggeration. I guess I'm more confident than I used to be but I still keep quiet unless there's actually something I want to say.

Wrapping up, I guess more has changed in the last five years than I realised until I actually thought about it. But the things that have changed, some of the admitted screw-ups I've made. I would not change those for anything. I find it scary to think about how different my life would be if I hadn't made the choices I did. Say, if I'd left college after 2 years instead of 3. I might not have ended up at the university I did, and made those amazing friends.

Who knows what my life will be like five years from now? Certainly not me.

Assuming the Mayan's prediction doesn't come true in December that is.

But I look forward to finding out.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Game Review: Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7 (Nintendo DS)

Yeah, I know the game has been out for a while but I just got around to buying it last week when my student loan came through and only got a chance to play it last weekend. And let me just say something before I start the real review. I really liked the prequel. It was a good way to kill time on my longer breaks at work (although buying it did kill about 10 minutes of the break). And I loved doing the transfiguration spells. Really, I liked using the touch screen to cast all the spells.

But sadly, with Years 5-7, that all changed. The first thing I noticed about the game is that Oh My God the cutscene animation is absolutely awful. I know you can't expect much from a literally blocky animation but seriously, those things gave me one hell of a headache. I hate to think what they're like in the 3D version. The colours get so distorted in some of them that it's hard to tell what's going on.

Like I said before, I miss the touch screen spell activation, sure some of them got repetitive towards the end of the last game but still, I enjoyed it. In this one, it took me ages to figure out how to activate Lumos (and I was a little embarassed when I finally figured out you only needed to press A).

But some things I did like that I'm fairly sure weren't in the last game. You can take control of the pets to find hidden areas and items (I know they could find hidden items in the last game but that was just a flashing indicator in the corner of the screen). And personally, I think there's a couple of Layton standard puzzles kicking about in this game. It took me forever to figure out how to progress in the cave chapter of year 6. The new duelling system is pretty good too. It took me a while to get the hang of blocking and it's much easier to use the button commands rather than the touch screen but I think it gives the game somewhat of a difficulty curve.

Although one of the best things and what I often looked forward to was the wall walking segments with those Weasley shoes. I don't know what you'd call them but I got a kind of childish glee from walking up velcro walls. I never did find out if the shoes could vanish while you were still on the wall though.

One last problem I have with the game is how much of each year it cuts out. I know it's trying to fit three years worth of content into one game but there's only four chapters to each year. And because the cutscenes are so bad you can barely figure out which bit of the books it's translating it just makes it look like even more content has been lost in the translation from page to console.

The biggest culprit of that was in the year 7 part 1 section. It never showed Ron leaving! We see them disapparating from the Ministry but when they get to the forest, Ron isn't injured (although it might have been difficult to show that in Lego animation without removing his whole arm) and he just walks inside the tent looking grumpy then when you get back to gameplay he's just not there anymore. Come on developers! I know most people that played this game are going to have read the books or at least watched the films but give us a little more than that. Please?

It might not seem like it but I do have a little praise for the cutscenes. I love the moments of slightly dumb humour that they put into quite a lot of the animations. Probably the best one is near the end of Year 5 when Sirius is dying (spoiler alert!) and falling through the veil but Harry is trying to pull him back out but he only succeeds in tugging his legs off. Then after Harry has run off Sirius re-appears behind the veil and asks Lupin for his legs back.

As for the gameplay, something that bugged me about the levels was the fact that you could switch to playing as a character that had nothing to do with that part of the story in the original text. Think Ginny in the year 6 Room of Requirement level and Ron in the underwater level. Speaking of that, way to take the drama away from that sequence. The characters are clothed and there's nothing about the necklace trying to stop Harry from taking the sword by strangling him. That was a big part of what made that scene so tense in the first place!

Anyway, I'm wrapping up now. I still have a chapter or two to go before I finish the game but I think I've experienced enough to get a pretty good idea. Overall, it's not really a bad game, I was just disappointed by some of the glaring flaws in the game.

Two last points though. One, why does the water in the cave level kill you?! I doubt the water was good for the characters but I don't think it was instant death. I think it would have worked much better if, I don't know, they made the health bar slowly deplete while you were swimming.
And lastly, the section inside the Gringotts vault where you're trying to climb up the treasure chests without landing on the burning gold was surprisingly tense. And it took me way more attempts to complete than it should have. I got to the top a first time to find out that you needed the deluminator so I went back into the dragon chamber to find a light source then when I eventually got to the top again the light had disappeared because I had changed rooms. It wasn't till after that I noticed the lamp at the bottom of the hill. So overall, three successful climbs and more failed attempts than I can count.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

SOPA Retrospect

Okay, let me just start by saying this: I know the SOPA issue is in the past. I know I'm jumping on the bandwagon too late. But I just submitted an op-ed on SOPA recently so I might as well post a retrospective now. And don't worry, I'm translating it back into casual terminology, not all the official lingo the assignment called for. But the joke I used at the start was so good / awful (depending on your perspective) that I had to leave it as it was. Alright, here goes.

For those of you not in full knowledge of SOPA, allow me to explain. Soap is a cleaning agent found in the average household bathroom. SOPA is a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that, if passed, would disrupt free expression on the internet.

(Aside) Sorry. I know that was terrible. Now onto the casual part.

If you were to look up the objective of SOPA on Wikipedia or something, it sounds like a good development. "No more illegal download websites putting viruses on my computer right?" Well yeah, maybe SOPA could help out with that, but those aren't the only websites that would feel the effects. At the time, the general consensus of internet users and online organisations, among others, was that the act would mainly affect websites with a lot of emphasis on user generated content. Think YouTube and MemeBase.

Now, don't get me wrong. I can see the innovation behind SOPA. The act was intended to protect intellectual property and prevent online piracy. For example, Doctor Who could legally be hosted on BBC iPlayer as both the website and TV show are owned by the BBC and programs are only added to iPlayer after being shown on a BBC television channel. But on the other hand, if the same show were to be hosted by and watched on a different website, such as putlocker or Mega Video, the BBC would receive no benefit from those views. Hopefully SOPA could prevent that.

As I'm sure many people will remember, on January 18, 2012, many websites and internet users staged a mass protest against the looming bill. I'm pretty sure the Wikipedia blackout ticked off a fair few students who needed it for research. There were well over 700 votes of approval for the blackout and a comparatively minor 104 opposed the opposition. Try making sense of that one. And like I said, it's not only the websites moderators who made their opinions clear. Internet figureheads like Mark Zuckerberg and Chad Hurley sent formal letters identifying their opposition. Even the online community joined in on Facebook, Twitter, discussion forums and the one I remember most, YouTube. One of the channels I'm subscribed to posted a protest video that was just a black screen for ten minutes. I'm a little ashamed to say I didn't watch the whole thing. But it's actions like that that make me proud to be a part of the online community.

But on January 20th the House Judiciary Committee made the decision to postpone passing and consideration of the legislation until something closer to a compromise could be found. So for now, no SOPA.


Foreword: You may be pleased or disappointed to know that this post will be plenty shorter than the others.

So, I went to give blood for the first time last week. Didn't hurt nearly as much as I expected although I still have a small scar in the crook of my elbow. That doesn't bother me in the slightest, I'm a slow healer. But whatever, I'm going off topic again.

Everything went fine until it was time for me to go lie down on the bed-stretcher thing (I probably should know what they're really called) and give blood for real. First off, the nurse had trouble even finding the vein in my arm. When she eventually did find one in my right arm the needle went in with no difficulty. The sample tubes and test bag filled up as quickly as I thought they should but once the main blood bag was attached, my blood flow seemingly slowed down. The nurse ended up giving up when the bag was only half full. Apparently my veins were just too thin that day to let much blood through. I still feel guilty, like I cheaped out, even if it wasn't under my control. And I can't help but wonder why. I still really hope that what blood they got from me will be able to help someone.

P.S. I still find it rather amusingly ironic that 'Another One Bites the Dust' came on the radio right as the needle was being put in my arm.

Sea Monkeys?

So, since first year I've been under the strong, and probably pretty accurate, impression that the general public really don't like journalists. I mean, in some parts of the world, that job gets you killed. But the other day I came to realize that the job has perks too. You know, beyond the standard stuff. Let's face it, anyone who would willingly go into a job they know they'll hate doesn't have their head screwed on the right way. And this is probably going to be the first post to make me sound like a superficial ass, assuming I didn't do that already.

Anyway, getting back to the point. The other day me and some friends / course mates / colleagues went to shoot some background footage for a news story at an aquarium a few towns away. I won't even go into how much of a pain in the neck it was getting there. Let's just say it took my colleagues 20 minutes in the car and me over an hour on the bus and walking the rest of the way (there was no room left in the car for me). So, by the time I caught up, the others had finished shooting the interview and the relevant cutaways we needed. Sigh. But we were still going to walk around the rest of the aquarium and film some shots of the other fish and other critters (check the title).

Now, entry to the aquarium is usually £7.50 for students. We got in for free. And let me tell you, there aren't many things better than going to a coastal town, when the weather is close to what you'd expect in May or June, and watching adorable seals and otters swimming around and spending no more money than what a return bus fare costs. And I will quite happily say that that aspect of being a journalist is awesome.

P.S. There were monkeys in the aquarium. Land-dwelling monkeys. What the heck were they doing there?
P.P.S. If you were wondering what an aquarium has to do with news, the staff there were rescuing and cleaning the shells of a bunch of illegally imported turtles.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Do We Shut Ourselves Off From The Rest Of The World?

Okay so, I was playing online scrabble in a lecture the other day (I know, sue me) and I got to thinking, how much do we really cut off our senses without realising it? And in doing so, make the rest of the world not want to approach us (with the exception of those guys that sell the big issue).

If you're like me (for your sake, I hope not) then there's some times that you can't help but listen to your iPod at full blast - to the extent that I don't realise I have it at sound distortion levels until it's too late. I've actually had someone complain to me on the bus before that they could hear the music coming from my iPod. My bad. But it's not just that, the sight of someone with headphones in their ears doesn't exactly encourage someone to approach them. Which leads me on to...

... sunglasses. I don't have as much to say about this one but like with other things (which I'll get to in a minute), sunglasss obscure your face and it means that other people can't make eye contact with you. Now, I know a lot of people find it awkward to make direct eye contact during a conversation, I'm one of them, but they also find it just as awkward to not be able to see the eyes of their conversation partner at all. Basically what I'm trying to say about sunglasses is: you can see them, but they can't really see you.

Now for another stylistic criticism. I don't know how much you guys out there in internet land know about motorbikes but there's a specialist scarf that's sold alongside specially adapted motorbike jackets and jeans called buffs. I'm just guessing here but they're probably used to keep the wind off biker's faces when they have their visor up. Like I said, just a guess. But last year, a variant of them came out called hoodie buffs, basically the same thing but with a hood attached. Now the thing that differentiates buffs from your workaday scarf is that you can pull them up over your nose and mouth. Like I said, keeps the breeze off. Now, picture someone with their hair, nose and mouth covered. Definitely not approachable. I own one of these things and even my friends say it makes me look like some kind of mugger-ninja hybrid.

I was going to say about how gloves cut off your ability to touch stuff to an extent but this entry is getting to be a bit too long so for now, I'm out.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

What's the Big Deal?

Okay, I'm not trying to start any kind of controversy here but, I'm a student, and I really don't see what you'd call the whole appeal of partying.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but the main staples of a night out at the bars and clubs are: too much to drink, making out with random strangers and losing a load of money (usually on aforementioned drinks). Oh yeah, and often either throwing up afterwards or waking up with a terrible hangover. When did throwing up come to consitute fun? And making out with people I've never met before (which I've never done and never will) seems like one heck of an invasion of personal space. I prefer to spend my money on things I actually need like say food, rent and maybe the occasional DVD or video game.

Yeah, call me a loser if you want but, as far as I'm concerned, I can have just as fun a night, if not even more fun, by staying at home with my housemates and friends with some home made pizza, multi-player games on the Wii and a few DVD's. Aand maybe some hilarious karaoke every once in a while.

And don't think I'm dissing all those people who do like to go out and get smashed every time they've got a night off. You guys do what you want. But me? I just don't see the appeal. Sorry.