Friday, 28 February 2014

Fancy Things Friday: If I were you; Jake and Amir

Welcome to Fancy Things Friday, where I talk about things on a Friday that I think are fancy!!

I was in two minds about whether I should talk about this particular fancy thing this week. Not because I doubt they're at all fancy, but rather because I haven't quite finished working through everything that they've done and so it may not be a well rounded review. 

Having said that, because this thing has taken over my week completely, I have not had time to discover any other fancy thing so I've had to just go for it. 

Okay, so this week my fancy thing is a podcast I discovered. They've actually been going successfully for like a year now, and I'm really behind in jumping on this particular bandwagon, but considering I barely knew what a podcast was about two months ago, I think I can be given some slack. 

The podcast is called "If I were you." 



It's hosted by two American guys called Jake and Amir and has been responsible for all of my public displays of sudden barks of laughter for this week. I'm not kidding guys, they just get funnier and funnier each episode. 

What attracted me to them in the first place was that they have the entire backlog of their work available to listen to, which is awesome for me as I have a lot of commuting time to kill. So basically I've been ODing myself on their work for about 5 days now. I'm about two thirds through and haven't quite caught up but have definitely listened to enough episodes to know the general concept. This concept is as follows: 

It's an advice podcast. Only neither person giving advice is actually qualified and work as comedians for a living. As you can imagine, this is obviously a perfect set up for hilarity to ensue. Basically, they have listeners email in with their problems, they pick five to answer and then just rip into these people for 10 minutes, ending with about a minute of some form of actual advice. It is really very awesome and leaves you with this self deprecating urge to write in yourself with a question, just to hear them make fun of you. I don't know why, but with every episode, I'm more and more tempted to email so that I can be ripped into... that's probably not right... Ah well. 

Of all the podcasts that I listen to, and I listen to a lot, I have to say that this one is in my top two. They also have this crazy loyal fan base who send in theme songs for Jake and Amir. They receive so many of these that they are able to air two new songs every episode, and they do a new episode up to twice a week. 

They are both Jewish comedians who self confess to being from the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to dating, which is about 98% of all their email questions. Jake, being ginger, naturally has all the play with the ladies, which I fully understand. Reading back on that, for those who don't know me at all might think that this was me being sarcastic. I'm really not. The best looking men out there are ginger as Jake clearly proves by all the sexing he's doing... that's how people refer to that, right? Amir, on the other hand, tends to overthink things and doesn't really do the whole multiple dating thing... which means that they work really well as a duo. 

Before you all think that I've become this really insightful person who's just going ahead and assessing two blokes I don't know from across the pond, based solely on them talking at me on a podcast, you couldn't be more wrong. I pretty much just quoted them in the above paragraph. They said it, I copied what they said and then made myself look clever/slightly obsessed with them by making it sound like I had come to these conclusions myself... until this paragraph where I confirmed my ability not so much to come up with my own thoughts and opinions, but to copy others like the sheep that I am. 

They occasionally have guests on the show with them, mostly people they know from their job at College Humor. For those of you out there who are fans of the show Girls, this has included Allison Williams, who plays Marnie, twice appearing on a podcast. 

They have opened my eyes to a few things. Mostly Tinder, which I have been using for a couple of months now in the "hoping to strike a date" sense, and have now been informed that apparently it is more of a "let's hook up" app... probably explains why not much has happened so far for me on it.  Also, I have this overwhelming urge to "Seize Cheese" all the time and do impressions of a pissed off goose... all of these references will make sense should you check them out, but in the meantime just trust me when I say that it is all #Dope.

So, if you want something to listen to whilst you sit around doing nothing, then look no further! This is the podcast for you. WARNING: Spontaneous outbursts of laughter will occur and, once again, cause people around you to wonder about your sanity should you find yourself sitting alone on public transport. I can totally understand how that would be embarrassing, as it used to embarrass me, however this has happened to me so often now, I've just learnt to embrace it and, when people look at me oddly for seemingly laughing at nothing, I just throw them a thumbs up and a wink. At least it stops any strangers from giving you unwanted pervy attention, you're welcome world. 

I'm off to spend the night in Hag Heaven as I hit Soho with a friend I haven't seen in over 10 years. Words cannot express how excited I am about tonight. Have a fab weekend everyone. 

Peace out my lovelies. 

Thursday, 27 February 2014

A night of desperately trying not to do the White Girl Dance.

I went to my first salsa class on Tuesday night. I had turned up thinking that it was going to be in some dance studio somewhere, however when I got there, I found it was a Cuban bar full of couples throwing each other about all over the place.

The class was really good. People were separated into their beginner/intermediate/expert groups and I'm always a fan of exercise that also includes alcohol. Naturally, being our first time there, One-And-Only-Daniela and I were in the beginners class. We basically stood in a circle, learnt a move and then changed partners. I think I did okay, although my complete inability to be able to tell my right from my left became a massive problem throughout the lesson. I just about got the footwork right, but then they expected me to know the rights and lefts of my hands at the same time! I think we can all agree that that may be just a little too much to ask of a person.

Having said that, I picked it up well, although immediately regretted my choice of clothes. Firstly, being a bar/club atmosphere, the ladies were all dolled up and looking sassy and what not. I, on the other hand, had run home, ripped off my work uniform and picked up the first thing I had laid my hands on, which had turned out to be baggy trousers and a top I have had for at least 6 years, which I'm pretty certain had holes all over it. Also, my face was completely devoid of make up which always gains a "you look tired" or "you don't look very well" comment whenever that happens, and my hair was thrown into a bun on the bus to the bar. All in all, if we had to choose a word to describe my image on Tuesday night, we would choose "rough." I've definitely looked better and I pretty much looked terrifying in comparison to every other lady there.

I went to the class with One-And-Only-Daniela and Working-On-A-Nickname-Tshepiso, both of whom were dolled up and looking awesome. I kinda liked that I hadn't made an effort however, as it meant that, once the class was over and the freestyle dancing began, I was pretty much left alone and not forced to make a fool of myself as I was thrown around the dance floor with some form of Cuban God. Instead, I snuggled into the corner of my table, hugged my glass of rose and watched the others do it.



Don't get me wrong, I'm completely on board with the whole dancing thing. I just would prefer to do it when I have the slightest idea of what I'm doing because that dance floor was carazy! There were so many bodies flying around the floor space, I genuinely feared for my life when I had to walk past it. If I had been dragged up that night, all that would have happened would have been the following:

1. Man spins me
2. I fall flat on my face
3. Man picks me up
4. Man attempts armography with me
5. I twist and pull a muscle, crumpling to a heap on the floor
6. Man picks me up
7. Man spins me out
8. I lose grip of man's hand and go flying into the four couples behind me
9. We all fall to the floor
10. I look for man to pick me up again
11. Man has run away

I think, for the sake of not only my own health, but of those around me, my choice to hide in the corner for this week was a wise one.

However, One-And-Only-Daniela and Working-On-A-Nickname-Tshepiso did manage to convince me to dance with them towards the end. Although, they had both decided that they were just going to teach me the basics in any other type of dance than the 'White-Girl-Dance' I am so good at.

One-And-Only-Daniela has been trying to teach me to Wine since she has known me, which has been 5 years now. I thought I had made progress in this area, however, trying this with these two ladies on Tuesday night, I had never felt so much like the classic White Girl Who Can't Dance.

Having said all of this, I am going to leave on a positive note. I will not give up on this. Next week, I'm going to put on some make up, wear something that wasn't designed to hide as much of my figure as possible, and just go nuts! Hell, I might even splash out and brush my hair... possibly... if I can be bothered. Also, I'm going to bring silly amounts of chewing gum/mints, due to the closeness that I apparently need to get to other people. Seriously, I couldn't concentrate on anything else due to the fact that I was acutely aware I had just had a Disoronno and Coke before starting to dance and I had nasty alcohol breath. All my interactions with all partners in my class consisted of a simple smile, nod or shake of my head. It became all I could think about.

But I had to say, I totally was able to get close to strange men and not completely freak out or giggle, which was where I was at about two years ago, now that? That is what we call progress. Just another two years and I might actually learn a dance move or two. I can wait, I'm not doing much.

Peace out my lovelies

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Wind Back Wednesdays: The time I was a vampire

Wind Back Wednesdays, where I choose a memory from my childhood and talk about it.

When I was in Primary school, I pretty much lived for imaginary play games. Every lunch and break time consisted of me roping a friend into some make believe story and insisting that no one breaks character for the entire time. I'm sure you all can relate to this, we all did it between the ages of 5 and 11. In fact, I may have even tried to get friends to do it past this age, but it got a lot harder to be able to do this... although not impossible. 

I found that there was a large difference in the make believe games I would play with people, dependent on whether they were boys or girls. If I was playing with other girls, it would always consist of some Disney movie of some kind, where I was forced to play the guy in every game and we all instinctively broke out into American accents without previous discussion, it was the unwritten rule. You couldn't play Disney characters without honing in on the American accent that went with it. Although these games would be fun, it did get quite annoying that I always had to be Prince Eric instead of Ariel or Aladdin instead of Princess Jasmine. I had one friend who insisted we play Aladdin every day and always had to include a moment where we would both sit on a bench, pretend it was a magic carpet, and sing A Whole New World as loud as possible. Although Aladdin always had more to sing, this friend would usually insist that we started the song when Princess Jasmine started singing, because otherwise she got bored. She also always justified her playing the Princess instead of me because she had black hair and I had blonde hair. It never occurred to me to make the argument that Aladdin also had black hair, although if I had, I very much doubt it would have made any difference at all. Also, this rule went completely out the window when playing Sleeping Beauty, as she would always insist she played Aurora because her hair was longer or something. No doubt about it, I had no say whatsoever in that particular friendship. 

Due to this, I found myself wondering off to find a new person to conduct imaginary worlds with, which is when I found the joy of playing games with boys instead of girls. Sure, the games with boys became less Disney and more action based, but I adapted and actually found out I enjoyed these more. It was just so much more exciting! 

One friend that I played a silly amount of these type of games with was my friend Andrew. Around this time, Power Rangers had come onto our TV and so quite often our imaginary games would strongly resemble this show. We'd fight baddies and use over the top movements to look like we were karate chopping the air, it was awesome. 

As our play became more regular, we went down a new route which was based on vampires. I don't know how we got to this point. It was way before vampires became the popular and "sexy" thing that they are now. I'm not even totally sure how we knew about vampires to begin with... but nevertheless it became a bit of an obsession in our playground games for a good few months. 

...

I feel I need to put in a disclaimer here. I contacted Andrew recently to ask if he minded that I put up this story, he said that he didn't, but that he really couldn't remember much about this game. Although he said it vaguely rang a bell, he couldn't remember much else. I, on the other hand, have a ridiculously detailed memory of this, which I've been told in the past suggests that I might have made it up. I'm like 98.6% sure that I haven't made this up, but I thought I'd mention it... just in case. 

...

And back to the memory. 

To say that this game became a little obsessive is the teensiest bit of an understatement. As far as I remember it, we took the game very seriously. The rules behind it were simple; whilst in the classroom or anywhere away from the playground, we were simply Lisa and Andrew, 8 year old human friends. However, the moment we hit that playground, we were vampires. We were never allowed to break character or deviate from the story. We never spoke these rules, but we knew them to be true, and we took them very seriously. 

The storyline to the game was, although repetitive, still revetting and again pretty simple. Only one of us could be a vampire at any given time and the purpose of the game was to try and make the other one a vampire instead... Basically it was like the game of tag, but with mystical creatures and fantasy worlds. Our way of turning the other into a vampire was a little more simple than the "biting of the neck" technique that seems to be so popular. We were eight and, although friends, also found the prospect of biting each other's necks icky so found another equally effective way of turning the other would be to press two of our fingers onto the other's neck instead. Once one had pressed the other neck, they were no longer a vampire and had transferred their vampire state into the other. 

The way I remember it was that we played this game for months, although it might not have been nearly as long in reality. All I know is that I loved it, as well as finding it absolutely terrifying. I can't speak for Andrew on this point, as we never spoke about the game when we weren't playing it and never referred to it as a game when we were playing it, but the reason that this game terrified me was that, after a while, I managed to convince myself that what we were playing might actually be real. 

I remember vividly one lunchtime, both of us staring out of the school gates and seeing a woman standing across the road with her shopping bags. Somehow we both managed to convince ourselves that we were the only people in the world who could see this woman, due to being vampires. This was down to one of us suggesting that she was vampire as well, asking someone else in the playground if they could see the woman, that person saying that they couldn't, and my mind being completely blown. I started to freak out that we had played the game too much and we had actually managed to turn into vampires in the process. It wasn't until the next day, when we saw this woman again and asked another person if they could see her, to which they replied that they could, that I began to calm down a little... 

Although, by this point I had begun to feel special in a "I'm actually a mystical being" type of way and, given that I was only just getting over the fact that I wasn't secretly able to alter my past with my lies, I was desperate for another awesome power. As such, I think we both justified the fact that this kid could see the woman as proof that they too were secretly a vampire. 

This day to me, marked the beginning of the end of this game however, as this shizzle was just getting too real for my liking and I was convinced The-Parents would be really angry at me if they found out I had imagined myself into a real life vampire, even if it was completely by accident. 

The final nail in the coffin happened when we were playing the game not long after and it was my turn to turn Andrew into a vampire. I was chasing him around the playground as usual, hissing and threatening to drink his blood, whilst flapping my arms like a bat. Finally, I reached him, stretched out my fingers and pressed it into Andrew's neck. Andrew became the vampire, but as he was also playing a power ranger when infected, he became part vampire, part power ranger. As such, he turned, karate chopped into the air and smacked me squarely in the stomach. 

I keeled over and all breath left me, completely winded. Andrew looked mortified although didn't want to break character, you know, because of the whole unwritten rule thing, so asked me in his most evil vampire way if I was okay. When he saw that I was struggling for breath, he ran off shouting something about getting a teacher to make me better as he didn't want to turn a wounded person into a vampire... ever the method actor. 

The teacher came and took me to the medical room. I sat outside the room in the corridor, and suddenly Andrew came bounding in, looking entirely human and not in the least bit vampire.

"Are you okay?" He asked, sitting down next to me. 

I had begun to breathe normally again, although felt a little sore from the experience, however I nodded. 

Andrew smiled. "Good."

Despite the nasty accident, I still couldn't bring myself to break from the game so I looked at him quizzically. "What happened to you? Why would a vampire care if I was hurt?"

Andrew seemed prepared for this question. "As soon as you were hurt, the vampire realised that he could be found out so he left me before anyone worked it out."

I nodded. This made complete sense to me as I'm sure it does to all of you... 

However, I really don't remember ever playing that game again after that. It would appear that the vampire who used to transfer itself between the two of us became so spooked that he never came back... We completely rocked at playing power rangers though... that one never got old. 

Peace out my lovelies. 

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Being funny with Sam and Dean, a wedding premonition, killing procrastination, and wiggling one's bottom.

Sup dudes! How's it ahanging?

I'm in a slightly good mood today. My reasons are as follows:

1. Last night I wrote out a list of all the geniunely funny episodes of Supernatural, then went on a binge fest of all the comic genius within. 

Fans of Supernatural will be aware of the general rule of thumb when it comes to that programme. As a whole, the storylines are generally angsty and dramatic, focusing on the bond of brotherhood and how this is strengthened or damaged when mashed in with a world of demons and angels... pretty much it in a nutshell, I feel. However,  about 2-4 times a series, they take a break from the "If I don't save the world by sacrificing my life in a, if not new, then slightly adapted way from the last time, then no one will and we will all fall into the pit of hell/heaven (which, in this case is a bad thing)/ other dimension etc and so forth" and just get silly instead.

I kinda live for these episodes. Not that I don't love me some over the top dramatic angst, but you do need to have a little balance in order to get through sometimes... hence why I am struggling to finish Breaking Bad. Don't get me wrong, I freakin' love the show, but it is just too much drama and pain for a full on marathon and I'm kind of wishing that one of the episodes do that classic "turn it into a musical" thing soon, otherwise I might fall into a depressive coma... take a moment to think about that. How awesome would it be if Breaking Bad did a musical? I know it's finished now and all that, but I reckon they could do a one-off...

Starts singing:
How do I make this meth?
Without subjecting myself to death?
I like doing stuff with breath...

Catchy, no?

Anywho, Supernatural. They do do the whole funny episode once in a while, and 9 times out of 10, they do it perfectly. So, having finished my marathon catch up with them by watching the entire season 8 and all that has been aired of season 9, I found myself at a loss until I realised I could just go ahead and watch every one of their funny episodes. It's kinda perfect because normally these episodes have very little to do with the overall storyline, so work as stand alone episodes. So, being the geek girl that I am, I made a list of the funniest Supernatural episodes and began my marathon last night. I laughed, I perved over Jensen Ackles, it was lovely and put me in that "can sleep happy" mood that all women subject to nightly nightmares are dying to achieve. Which then lead to a not bad dream, and my next reason for being happy today...

2. My first dream about Older-Brother-Glyn and New-To-The-Family-Amy's pending wedding.

Yes, it has been on my mind for long enough now that my subconscious has begun the dreams about Older-Brother-Glyn's wedding. Last night, I experienced my first subconscious impression of how it is going to pan out. There was alcohol, an old creepy house, a few bitchy people and a dragon involved. But do not worry readers, I completely slayed the hell out of that dragon, despite the bitchy girls saying I couldn't. I slayed him hard and good with this mystical sword that I found hiding in the grass.

I'm going to go ahead and assume that this was a simple weird dream rather than an actual prophesy dream or anything. Although I have made note of how I slayed this dragon... you know, just in case it actually happens. You can never be too sure and I hate to rule anything out...

3. I am becoming queen of the pro-active and positive choices in my life.

Remember last week, when I said that I had done a bunch of grown up and pro-active things that could only improve on my life? Well, I've just not stopped in the grown up stuff!! I mean, yes I did also spend my entire weekend in a mystical world where shape shifters and the Winchester brothers exist, but in amongst that I totally rocked at sending out important emails and making vital plans in ensuring that important things happen and stay happening. Yes, I managed to do all the things I was meant to do without actually letting procrastination win. Which I then rewarded myself with a pat on the back and at least five minutes of me smiling in the mirror to make myself feel good that someone wants to smile at me for so long... I know what you're thinking, but yes it was endearing and sweet and didn't once get at all creepy.

I'm also trying out Salsa classes tonight with One-And-Only-Daniela, which I'm pretty certain I'm going to love because A: I'm just going to pretend I'm on Strictly Come Dancing (best competition show ever) and B: I'm actually doing something on a weekday evening... I can't even remember the last time that happened.

And my last, but certainly not least, reason for being happy is:

4. I am writing the most exciting and terrifying section of my book at the moment.  

It is the end point of Book 2 in my writing journey and so much excitement is happening within me, I swear I'm going to burst. I have been thinking about this particular ending to the book since I began writing Book 1. I knew how this book would end before I even knew how Utopia was going to end. It has been the one thing that has been keeping me going in finishing it. I have been buzzing and I cannot wait to write it. In fact, waiting to get to this point has been almost torture for me. But now it's here, and I began to write this particular section on my way home from work yesterday. Such was my happiness over this, I fear that the people on the train with me were slightly disturbed by the sheer amount of wiggling in my bum region that was taking place.

Also, for those who have read book 1, I really hope that you didn't think it was too long, I don't think anyone did, or if they did, they haven't said anything to me.... anywho, book 2 has just reached the word count of book 1 and still has a bit of a way to go, so I can exclusively reveal (to the four people I know have read it) that it will be longer than book 1. In fact, I can safely say that I am going the way of JK Rowling in the lengths of my books... at least that's something I can boast as being similar to her genius.

And that's all I have that explains my happiness. I hope that is enough.

Peace out my lovelies.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Bad phone skills and brain thieves

I had to speak to an automated service on the phone this morning. Well, I say speak, I did have a few choice words to say to this recording, but apparently this wasn't something that was required. What I actually wanted to do was to talk to a real life person, which I eventually managed to do, but not before being subject to one recording after another.

There were two things wrong with this particular recorded response system.

1. The length.

If you are under some kind of illusion that what I was listening to was the standard "Please hold the line and someone will be with you shortly" motif, you would be wrong. No. Every single option I picked then led me to same recorded voice with a new and highly mundane thing to talk about in the form of some kind of speech. Each speech lasted about 3 minutes in length and felt like they lasted a much longer. Also, the stuff that was being said was in no way useful to the option I had picked.

2. The voice

I have a generally high tolerance for all people, voices and accents. There are occasions where I might not understand a particular person due to volume, accent thickness etc but I generally find that I can get by. In terms of annoying voices, with the exception of Nicholas Cage (whose voice is only one of the many things about him that makes my skin crawl) I haven't really found a voice that makes me violent or generally unwell since my music teacher in Secondary school.

Today, however, I found one. Such was the cadence of her voice, and proximity of her mouth to the receiver when she had recorded what she had to say, that every word felt like someone had sharpened their finger nails, reached into the very depths of my brain and just started scratching away from the inside. No word of a lie, I had the phone held at arms length from my ear and was not only still able to hear every word, but she still managed to leave me with a full on headache once I had hung up.


Now I know what you are all thinking, with that being the case, it was clear that the intention of the automated recording was to dramatically reduce the amount of calls that lasted before they reached an actual human being. A very clever tactic that I would normally understand and accept. However, this wasn't just a sales call centre that I was trying to get through, but rather one for a GP service. Suddenly a whole world of flaws around the "just make them go away" technique this surgery had undertaken was exposed. Forcing people to run and hide, or at least put them in a pissed off mood by the time they get through is not really something a medical service should be doing.

But that is by the by. Because this isn't even the thing that I wanted to talk about today, only the lead up to the thing. My thing is all about my announcement of this woman on twitter, the conversation that was then had between myself and Internetual friend Heinakroon and the emotional mine field my brain then went into.

The conversation went as follows:

Me: Just listened to a woman's voice who sounded as if someone was scratching their nails on the inside of my brain. I now have a headache.
Heinakroon: But on the plus side: You know you have a brain
Me: It's a relief to know, I have to tell you. It's been one of my biggest queries in life. Although now it's a brain with holes...
Heinakroon: All the better for all the thoughts and ideas to move about, surely?
Me: But what if a really good thought leaks out through my ear and someone steals it to claim for their own?
Heinakroon: (Damn. I was hoping you wouldn't notice that...)
Me: I'm just going to have to say everything I think as I think it from now on... And then immediately copyright it. This is going to get pricey.
Heinakroon: You should start your own patent service company. And then lease the services to yourself. That'll make it tax deductible.
Me: See, now why didn't I think of that? Or did I? STOP STEALING MY THOUGHTS!!!

And that's when my world collapsed around me. Needless to say that Heinakroon had nothing else to say after that... clearly he was all too aware that I was onto him and his black market thought stealing business so has thus gone into hiding. Who knows how far into it he is. What if he was the one who recorded the voice first so as to cause the holes and then hovered around me, without my knowing, with a massive net for catching...

*takes a moment to check under the desk and out on the window ledge*

Okay, I can't see him anywhere, and yes he doesn't even live in the same country as me, but I'm still reserving the right to look left and right repeatedly in a suspicious nature... take that Heinakroon!

Although, if my thoughts are escaping out through my ear, I'm going to have a lot of other people to worry about as well. I mean, technically anyone within my immediate vicinity could be exposed to my particular brand of thought, which isn't good. How the hell am I supposed to know if I've had a really good idea if it falls out before I've had time to process it? What if someone comes up with a way to get world peace, cure cancer, or just earn a boat load of money, and it had always been my thought but I never knew it? ... How would I ever know?

I guess with the world peace and cancer cure thing, it really doesn't matter who comes up with it, as long as someone does and then tells people about it... although it must just feel nice to know you were the one to fix something of that scale...

Perhaps, if it ever happens, I'll just smile quietly to myself and revel in the fact that I probably was actually the one to come up with it. I might even brag about it to One-And-Only-Daniela until she starts to believe it. It's really easy to win hypothetical arguments like that... just keep on pressing on with the conversation with just two words "Prove it" until they can't anymore and then lean back, grin like a cheshire cat and say, "Then I guess we'll never really know." It's pretty much how I justify all my belief systems, and why I still eat everything in even bites for fear that my stopping this will result in the end of the world.

The one that would piss me off however, is the money one. If someone was to better their life in some way, due to the callous stealing of the only good and worthwhile thought I am capable of in my lifetime, I will get pissed. In fact, I am now suspicious of any new thought that is created from this point on. I will ban Dragon's Den (not that many good thoughts really get through on that thing). If anyone creates anything and makes money off it from today onwards, you had better believe I am taking them to court for copyright infringement. And in case you're wondering how I plan on winning these courtcases, might I refer you to the last paragraph. Seriously, with this tip you will never lose an argument again... you are welcome.

Additionally, I would like to take a moment to encourage everyone to check out Heinakroon's page, if you get a chance. As opposed to this blog, he actually talks about clever things and uses science and information to educate you in an awesome way that doesn't feel like you're being educated but rather entertained. Just click on his name and you'll see what I'm talking about... just be aware that for all future posts, if it's exceptionally awesome, he probably brain thiefed it from me.

Peace out my lovelies

Friday, 21 February 2014

Fancy Things Friday: "About Time" I talked about this.

Welcome to Fancy Things Friday, where I talk about things on a Friday that I think are fancy!!

Excuse me whilst I take a moment to lol a little over my word play from today's title...

Oh lol lol lol lol lol. Lisa, you crack me up. 

Aaaand I'm done. 

This week, my fancy thing is going to be a movie, thus combining a Fancy Thing Friday with a Reviewing Shizzle post in one harmonious union that is accepted worldwide.  

Today, I will be discussing the awesomeness that is Richard Curtis' latest movie, About Time. 



Just take a moment to look at it and marvel. Because, if you have already seen this movie then it will bring back all the fond memories of why it completely rocked your world, and if you haven't, it will spark up the beginning of a love affair that will take you to completely new worlds beyond your wildest dreams. You are welcome world. 

About Time is an example of Curtis at his best. For those of you who don't know who he is by name, you should be more aware of his reputation...


Yes, that's right, I do have the complete collection of Richard Curtis rom coms just casually packed into my bag for instant use at any given moment... why? Don't you? 

So, for those of you who can't quite make out all the above DVDs, the list of his greats are:

1. Four Weddings and a Funeral
2. Notting Hill
3. Bridget Jones
4. Bridget Jones 2
5. Love Actually

He also did The Boat that Rocked, but I don't include it on the account of it not actually being in the same genre, although still fairly enjoyable, if not quite at the level Curtis is usually at. He is the writer of all of them (screenplay only for the Bridget Jones ones; I am aware that they were books first) and the Director of Love Actually and About Time. 

My reasons for loving About Time as much as I do are down to multiple reasons. The first one, and most important, is that Curtis has had a massive hiatus from movies recently, his last rom com being back in 2004. Me, being the hardcore Curtis fan that I am, struggled immensely with this. Also, I wasn't allowed to complain about it, because he was doing worthwhile things instead, like saving third worlds and shizzle. It left me in quite a moral quandry about the whole thing. 

So with the 9 year gap in which I had had to wait, you can imagine the anticipation and expectation that had been built into the lead up to About Time. I absolutely insisted that One-And-Only-Daniela make sure she had reserved time in her schedule for watching this movie, about 4 months prior to its release date and almost sprinted to the screen when the actual day of showing arrived. 

I will admit I was worried with my excitement over this. Such was my expectation of this movie by the time the opening credits started, that nothing short of perfect would manage to satisfy me... Somehow, in amongst all of that, Curtis delivered, and I came out of that movie with my jaw dropped and my emotions all over the place. For someone to actually achieve the impossible of meeting my ridiculously high standards for this film just proves how awesome it was. 

Now, I want to take a moment to address all the people who haven't seen this movie yet and have been encouraged so far by my review. You need to understand what is so amazing about this film in order to fully appreciate it. 

It is not an all out action movie. There will be no explosions or massive twists in the plot. What makes this film the masterpiece, in my opinion, that it is, is the subtle and beautiful traits that Curtis has, shining through the movie. 

It's a British Romantic Comedy, so please do expect a laid back tale with more focus on the relationships of the characters, above all else. If you are of that mind frame, you should be good to go in terms of enjoying the movie. 

My favourite thing about Richard Curtis and the way that he writes, is that he manages to find the subtle balance between a romantic movie that is full of beautiful and 'big gesture' moments, and the very real and exciting aspect of what real life relationships are about. 

About Time is about a man who finds out from his father that he can travel in time and how that then effects his life after he meets the woman who he ends up marrying and starting a family with. It's basically a much better version of The Time Traveller's Wife (the movie, not the book) and this is highlighted by the fact that they have cast Rachel McAdams as the wife character in this movie as well (she was also the wife in The Time Traveller's Wife). 

I'm pretty certain I've talked about this before, but in story telling there are two directions in which the writer can go in terms of their focus in the story. The story could be predominantly plot based, focusing on the twists and turns of the storyline throughout, which is generally the direction most action movies go, or it could be character based, focusing on the development of the characters within and their relationships with each other. Curtis is, by far, my favourite character based writer. Even when he writes a film with a plot about time travel, thus suggesting that it could easily become the focus of the movie, he still manages to formulate it so that it plays second to the relationships within. 

About Time's focus is predominantly about two relationships. One: The relationship between our main couple and their life together, and Two: The relationship between a man and his father. Both of these relationships are written and formulated in such a way that just thinking about them gives me shivers. 

In addition to the beauty that is Curtis' storytelling, we then have the actors who bring this story to life. Needless to say, given my fetish, I was first on board when I heard our main character would be played by a ginger man, and a beautiful example of one at that; Domhall Gleeson. Gleeson is fairly new to the movie scene, but everything I've seen him in so far, I've liked. You might recognise him predominantly as Bill Weasley in the last two Harry Potter movies. However, if you would like a really good example of how amazing he is, apart from the featured film that is, then get yourself a copy of Black Mirror, Season 2 Episode 1. You don't have to have watched any of the others, as they all stand alone on their own and have no connection to each other. However, if you want to, then please do, each episode is awesome, if not slightly disturbing and scary. They're each like one mini movie. Gleeson plays a character called Ash, he rocks in it, no more needs to be said. Just watch it and thank me later. 

Alongside Gleeson is Rachel McAdams, who completely redeems herself from the appalling Time Traveler's Wife movie with this. It felt to me that it was almost like her saying, "See? I can do a good movie about Time Travelling, let's forget that other one ever happened." And then there's the ever genius of Bill Nighy, who I love for reasons I cannot understand or comprehend. He's just awesome. He plays Gleeson's dad, and I can't even go into why that relationship is so perfect, except to say that it is and you need to find out for yourself the reasons by watching the movie right now.

All in all, it was my favourite movie of last year. One-And-Only-Daniela and I came out of that cinema and couldn't talk except to say "It was just..." "... I know" at each other for about an hour. Last weekend we watched it again on DVD for Valentines and the magic of the awesomeness was still very much there. 

I don't know where other countries outside of Britain are at in terms of the release of this movie, but if you are able to get yourself a copy of this movie, do it. Trust me on this one. 

... 

Usually I worry that I oversell a product so that it can never live up to the expectation I've now given you, but I'm not worried this time. Curtis can handle it. He's freakin' awesome. 

Peace out my lovelies.

Just in the nick of time... or not. Dammit!

It's 11:30pm, which means I have just 30 minutes to write a post for today. Apologies for the delay in today's post. My usual writing schedule, being my lunch break at work, was taken up  making important grown up decisions about debt consolidation and rubbish like that.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not swimming in an ocean of debt or anything. I just have a few really pesky "paying back this is getting me nowhere, due to rubbish interest rates" areas that needed to be sorted out. This all thanks to a whole different "50p still left on an old credit card I had thought I had paid off and then moved house so that I didn't receive any notifications of this 50p until a year later" problem that screwed up my credit rating about four years back.

*sighs*

Yes, that's right, even when I'm fighting against the man in a statement against the travesty that is the recession, I'm doing it accidentally and without any knowledge of it happening. Power to the people? I don't know.

Anywho, today I decided to do something about it by actually trying to get myself out of this whole situation. I have to say, it has been a very productive day... I'd even go as far as to say that I have possibly been more productive today than I have been for the entire three years prior combined. All that it entailed? Asking for help. Not being stubborn and believing that there are people out there who don't mind fixing other people's problems. Man, I love people.

So that's why I didn't post anything earlier today. I was being a grown up. And as exhilarating as the whole experience has been, I am really looking forward to going back to the old "barely mature" me tomorrow, all the while patting myself proudly on the back as I congratulate my ability to actually do sensible things once in a while. I mean that has to buy me at least a couple more months of ridiculousness as a reward, right?

Also, the lovely woman who helped me be all grown up was so impressed when she heard I had written a book, that she said she was going straight away to buy herself a copy... So not only did I sort out debt stuff, but I was awarded £5 from an additional booksale as a bonus.

Talking of my book. I received an email from amazon today suggesting to me a series of books that I might enjoy reading... the top of that list? Utopia by Lisa J Harries... Clearly not as much research as I had thought goes into that collection of suggestions. There goes my theory that each email is hand crafted by a cheerful little Amazon worker who does nothing all day but sit behind a desk and scroll through each individual buyer's likes and dislikes and then put together a comprehensive list of the best chosen books for them... unless this person does exist and they are either

A: Just a little bit stupid

B: Think I achieved the impossible by writing a book without actually reading a single page myself, thus making me completely oblivious to anything included in it's contents. But at the same time realises that if I just gave the book a chance, I might actually enjoy what it's about and so therefore has been placed not just in my list of suggested books, but right at the top, earning itself the title of the email.

....

My money's on B. To which I respond to this eager little Amazon worker; many thanks for the awesome compliment on my mad skills at being able to detatch myself from my body and I wish more than anything that it was true.

And now, due to trying to upload a picture of my email and failing miserably, because my computer is coughing out and dying on me at the moment, being massively overdue on a complete cleanout, I have missed the midnight mark and so am posting this on Friday, instead of Thursday. To those who care enough to be upset about this, (I suspect it may only be me) I am truly sorry and will try to be less sensible and adult like from now on.

Peace out my lovelies.


Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Wind Back Wednesdays: My teenage experience of romance

Wind Back Wednesdays, where I choose a memory from my childhood and talk about it.

In the spirit of this being the day I wind back on my life, I have been re-reading some of my previous posts from a couple of years ago. I have had some weird thoughts in my past. Although it's been a good way of looking through my previous years and solving that pesky problem I appear to be having, whereby I can't remember anything at all. At least my last 4 years have been well documented... except last year. I had no idea just how rubbish I was at posting in this thing until I realised that I have already written more posts this year, in the first two months, than I had in the entire year of 2013.

In fairness, I had spent a lot of last year doing the soul searching thing, so that I would be bright eyed and bushy tailed for the world of my blog in 2014. And I plan on fully redeeming myself this year. You're welcome/I'm really sorry.

Anywho, as my Wind Back Wednesdays are based in a period of my life that happened before the world of the blog, re-reading these posts have done nothing to help aid the desperate need for a tale or two from my adolescent years. As such, I have opted for a more generalised Wind Back this week. Today, we will delve into the complexities of my teenage years that made me the person I am today. As this is a pretty large topic to cover in just one post, we will focus on one area of my angst; the world of fancying people... or, as I saw it at that time, love. Man, I knew how to fall in love back then. I'm like 99% sure there was no actual love involved, but if you dared to try and tell me that at that age, I would have unleashed a world of hurt on you. I not only fell in love, I fell into unrequited love, which just allowed for a whole series of pain and chances to grab all manners of attention, which I naturally gravitated towards.

When it comes to who I liked back in my school years, there is one golden rule that you need to know about me. 80% of the guys who caught my attention, and indeed I dated, are all now very much gay. It would appear that word got around the school in the (at the time) closeted gay community within that I was the most ideal beard available for them, and so they all jumped on board, and little old me, who had no clue what was going on, but adored each of their fabulous and outlandish natures, welcomed them and fancied them with all my heart.

I don't totally know what it was that created this connection, the only thing that I can think of is that I did share many qualities with that of a diva back then. And, not meaning to play on any stereo type, but I was constantly in search for guys who would dance, sing and generally perform with me, and the guys that seemed to be interested all turned out, in the end, to also be into men.

It safe to say, however, that not just cluelessness but a large amount of denial was involved in my falling for these boys. Quite often, people would tell me that the current guy I liked clearly was gay, but I would wave them off with a line something similar to "You have no idea about the type of connection that we both hold with each other. Trust me, he's not gay."

And in fairness to me, the guy that resembled closest to a high school sweetheart to me (now gay) was awesomely romantic at times. Throughout our whole school years, we were very much that annoying couple who seemed to fancy each other at different times and kept missing each other. We did date each other a few times. And there was even this period when we were about 14 years old, where I wasn't sure if I liked him and he decided that he would tell me he liked me and ask me out at least three times a day.

During this period, SMTV Live was massive. To the people outside of Britain, you missed out totally on not seeing this programme. It was a Saturday morning kids show, consisting of three presenters Ant and Dec, and Cat Deeley. They would do sketches and bits, things like a British version of Friends, which they called Chums. It was hilarious and all any of us could talk about. On this show, there were some regular TV programmes, one of these was Pokemon. Now, if it hadn't been for SMTV Live, I would never have watched this programme. It wasn't exactly my cup of tea. However, as I didn't want to miss out on a single moment of the show, I would find myself watching Pokemon most Saturday mornings.

One Saturday however, an episode of Pokemon came on and, within it, Pikachu decided to leave Ash. I can't really remember anything else about it, other than that, but before I knew it, during their emotional goodbye, I found myself crying uncontrollably. Feeling slightly ashamed, I mentioned it via text to my Sort-Of-High-School-Sweetheart. Later in the day, I met up with him and he came running up to me, excited, and saying that he had a present for me. When I asked what it was, he said that he had felt so bad for me that I had found Pikachu's leaving sad, that he immediately got on the phone to Pikachu, because he knew him well, and asked him to do something to show me that he was okay and I didn't need to be sad anymore. With a grin, he said that Pikachu had then sent something immediately over to him with strict instructions to give it straight to me.

My-Sort-Of-High-School-Sweetheart then thrust a piece of paper in my hands. I opened it up to see an A4 picture of Pikachu waving up at me, with the words above his head that said simply "Hello Lisa!"

It was freakin awesome. I loved it. When I eventually got over myself and let my friends know that I now liked him, so that they could tell his friends, so that they would then tell him, he decided to ask me out in the middle of the field at lunchtime, getting down on one knee. Oh my days, the attention was amazing and my young self lapped it up... So, you can see how I lived in denial about his sexual preference, deciding to focus on all the above awesome things, rather than noticing that he worshipped Britney Spears and would come to mine and spend hours organising my nail varnish colours into order of preference...

As we got older, and were no longer together, but best friends, I entered into the world of pining after him more than I had ever done before. This is the period I refer to when I say I was convinced I was in love. Oh my days, I have diaries from this period that make me laugh/cringe equally. I gave a whole new meaning to 'drama queen.' Each page would be full of different ways I could describe my pain and hurt for having unrequited love and the martyr I was for carrying this pain, unselfishly and alone, so as not to make anyone else uncomfortable. Of course, I didn't carry the pain completely alone. There were friends who were aware and notes that were passed in class where we would complain about our individual loves for the boys in our lives. It was a very special time...

In amongst and after the loved up times with My-Sort-Of-High-School-Sweetheart, I occasionally drifted off to other boys... unfortunately a lot of these boys also turned out to be just as gay. I have asked one of these guys why it is that I currently hold the record on being a lot of gay boy's first (and, in some cases, only) straight kiss. He looked at me, shrugged, and said simply "I think you may have manly boobs."

I reckon that's as close as I'm going to get to finding out the answer to that one.

A lot of people might see my first attempts at romance as embarrassing, mortifying or completely scarring on my self-esteem. I don't though. In a strange way, I'm sort of proud of it. Also, there are some ex boyfriends in amongst my past who are still very much straight today... so that's something! Huzzah for me!

It is a source of humour now, when with The-Parents and we are comparing Father's ridiculously over-protective nature of his only daughter compared to the types of guys I was actually seeing at the time. There were a lot of rules around not going to boys' houses and, if they came to my house, the door would have to be open... you know, the usual. This, in normal circumstances, would be highly wise and a good way of ensuring one's daughter's innocence... although, when all that was happening within the room was my boyfriend painting my nails whilst we both talked about how fierce Buffy The Vampire Slayer is (true story), there really was no protection of innocence required... ah, good times.

It was awesome, whatever it was. He took me to prom and was the only guy out of our group to have bought his date flowers. A massive bouquet of red roses. I enjoyed thoroughly rubbing that one into their faces.

And that's the story of romance and teenage me. Not exactly hot and racy, but awesome nonetheless.

Peace out my lovelies.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

A night of family fun for Marmie's birthday

Marmie came over from Ireland yesterday for work related stuff. It was her birthday on Saturday. Older-Brother-Glyn, New-To-The-Family-Amy, Younger-Brother-Daniel and I met for food yesterday evening.

It was nice. Since The-Parents moved to Ireland, the amount of time spent with them is pretty minimal and limited to the odd moments when they are required to come to London for work. We met in Leicester Square, which is in central London. Due to Older-Brother-Glyn and New-To-The-Family-Amy running a little late, Younger-Brother-Daniel, Marmie and I decided on a restaurant. A decision that Older-Brother-Glyn was disgusted with, as we had chosen Garfunkels. Cheap and cheerful. However, Older-Brother-Glyn apparently was very excited at the prospect of eating somewhere a little more exciting, given Father's absence from the evening. Father has always been the more picky eater of the family. As such, when he is with us, we are usually unable to eat anywhere more interesting than a restaurant that didn't originate from England or America. Older-Brother-Glyn was ecstatic at the prospect of being able to use London to it's full potential, by finding a far more interesting place to eat. However, when Younger-Brother-Daniel announced to Marmie what his intentions were, Marmie suddenly picked up pace and suggested that we go to Garfunkels now, to stop Older-Brother-Glyn from making us eat somewhere out of her comfort zone.

When Older-Brother-Glyn arrived at the restaurant, he attempted to get us all to leave, but we had already sat down and were comfy so refused, much to his disgust.

Once everyone arrived, the topic quickly moved onto the upcoming wedding between Older-Brother-Glyn and New-To-The-Family-Amy. Given that it is now only 5 months away, everything is getting to that exciting part where venues have been booked, hen nights have been arranged, dresses have been bought and save the date e-vites have been sent. This, incidentally, is something that Older-Brother-Glyn was in charge of creating and has been incredibly proud of. The Save The Date basically consists of a fork digging into the food version of a date. It was very clever and ever so slightly amusing. However, there has been some confusion as not many people have realised that the prune shaped image is, in fact, a date, and so have been inquiring as to why a fork is digging into a raisin/poo. However, when the e-vite has been explained to the multitudes of people who didn't realise what it was, there has been a moderately amused response to the comic aspect of it.

Now, it's safe to say that Older-Brother-Glyn has gone against the stereo typical version of a groom and has been very hands on in terms of the plans for the wedding. The whole day is going to be ever so slightly different and quirky, and not at all a traditional take. It sounds awesome, reflecting both their personalities perfectly. Older-Brother-Glyn has been incredibly excited in the planning and preparation involved in this. However, I think it's safe to say that New-To-The-Family-Amy has been a little more proactive when it has come to actually putting arrangements into actions. An example of this is that she organised bridesmaids and her dress and, well, pretty much everything that is limited to the Bride side only, months ago. The only thing left is to find the bridesmaid dresses, but it's safe to say that everything else is done. Older-Brother-Glyn on the other hand, mainly due to being his normal indecisive self, is just about getting round to organising the groom side. An aspect that I should have realised, given that I have known him my entire life, but unfortunately I was not totally clued onto last night.

So last night, I may have ruined two very special moments between my brothers. First, Older-Brother-Glyn was talking about his groom party and how he was just going to have a series of ushers rather than one particular best man. I happened to ask the question, "Is Daniel going to be one?" To which Older-Brother-Glyn then looked at me as if I had just killed his cat, and turned to Younger-Brother-Daniel.

"It was going to be this big moment," He said, in a monotone. "But, Daniel will you be one of my ushers?"

Daniel shrugged. "Sure." He said.

I looked at Older-Brother-Glyn sheepishly. "Sorry." I said. "I thought you would have asked him by now."

In my defence, New-To-The-Family-Amy had asked me to be a bridesmaid back in September...

Later, the conversation moved onto the topic of wedding invitations. Younger-Brother-Daniel is a kick-arse graphic designer and artist. He's amazing, seriously, like woah...



And those were things he did back in 2009, he's even better now... yeah, I'm proud, and also his number 1 fan.

Anywho, due to this, I made the natural assumption that Older-Brother-Glyn would therefore have asked Younger-Brother-Daniel to design the invites. It makes sense. And apparently, I was correct... with one minor correction. Older-Brother-Glyn was planning to ask Younger-Brother-Daniel to do the invites, but hadn't done yet. So, when he brought up the topic of these invites and I naturally asked if Younger-Brother-Daniel was designing them, the look he gave me will probably haunt my dreams for years to come. Turning to Younger-Brother-Daniel, in the same monotone he had held before, he said:

"As our sister clearly wants to ruin any chance of sentimental moments between us in the preparations of this wedding, would you design the invites?"

Younger-Brother-Daniel shrugged once more. "Sure, why not?"

I know there should be a part of me that feels a little ashamed I had ruined any romantic notion Older-Brother-Glyn had towards these special moments with his only brother, but in fairness, if I hadn't interjected, Older-Brother-Glyn would probably have left asking Younger-Brother-Daniel both of these questions until the day before the wedding. I have therefore helped the process, even if Older-Brother-Glyn doesn't see it that way. Points to me.

Also, as was confirmed last night when I asked if either brother had read any of my latest posts that had included them, it's a well known fact that neither of them read this stuff. Pushing past the dejecting and lost feeling their lack of support ignites in me, I'm choosing to see this as a positive. It means that really, I can say pretty much anything about them on here and neither would ever know... it feels freeing and is causing me to feel the slightest bit drunk with power...

*Stops for a moment to think of something evil and equally amusing to post about her brothers*

Dammit. Nothing. I'll sleep on it.

Peace out my lovelies.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Weekly Review: EE BAFTAS: An overview

I stopped watching award ceremonies several years back. The reasons for why I had, I had forgotten... until I decided to watch the BAFTAs last night. 

Don't get me wrong, overall I enjoyed the night. Stephen Fry, the host of the evening, was on point and threw out more hilarious comments than bad ones, making me love him even more than I had previously, which I had thought was impossible. The highlight of his comments had to be his introduction to Oprah Winfrey, with the following line: "Her performance in the Butler was so moving, it almost convinced me to give my own butler the afternoon off." I promptly laughed like a fool and naturally retweeted the line. Being 100% British, there's nothing I love more than when our celebrities embrace their Britishness with pride and embellishment. To me, there is no one that signifies being British more so than Stephen Fry, the man is so awesome, I can barely stand it. I also enjoyed his introduction for Emma Thompson, one of his closest friends, where he simply and very affectionately insulted her onto the stage, to which she responded with a proud air and took the insults as the endearing affection in which they were intended. I loved it. 

I also was, on the whole, in agreement with the winners of the awards. Although I felt that 12 years a Slave could have done with a few more awards than what they were given. This was slightly redeemed by winning Best Film, but there were two awards that they were ultimately robbed of, namely Best Director and, most importantly, Best Supporting Actress. 

Let me take a moment to talk about the amazingness that is the supporting Actress for 12 Years A Slave, Lupita Nyong'o, who played Patsey in the film. I saw this film back in January with Younger-Brother-Daniel, Older-Brother-Glyn and New-To-The-Family-Amy. It was every bit as amazing as it had been hyped up to be; portraying a real and very visual account of slavery in the Deep South. Stephen McQueen, Director for the movie, created shots that looked as if they had been painted onto the camera. Striking colours and picturesque backgrounds that overwhelmed the viewers, in stark contrast to the grotesque and ugly way the slaves were being treated within the film. The balance was powerful and every bit as effective as I'm sure McQueen had intended it to be. 

In amongst the cinematography of the film, was a cast of actors who held nothing back in bringing to life the story of Solomon Northup, a free man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. The cast chosen was a strong one, delivering powerful performances throughout. They were also, in large part, actors who were giants in their particular field. Big names were cast such as Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch, to name a few. 

As amazed and in awe as I was over the performances held by all these names, for me they all almost paled into significance when, a third of the way through, the character of Patsey was introduced to the film. Every dialogue she held, every performance she gave, sent shivers down my spine. She was 100% riveting from beginning to end. This in itself would be amazing enough, but to then realise that this was in fact her first movie performance, my mind was blown. 

In a cast of giants, to be able to not only stand alongside them and hold her own, but, in my opinion, shine above them in certain scenes, shows just how much talent this woman holds. I came out of that film with her performance at the forefront of my mind, not to detract from the others who also delivered stellar performances. The first thing that I then said to both brothers was that if that woman didn't win an Oscar for that performance, there would be something entirely wrong with this world. 

Now, I appreciate that last night was only our small Island's version of the Oscars and, although reputable enough, doesn't quite hold the standing of the Queen of all award ceremonies, but it has been known in previous years to be the thing that foreshadows the winnings of the Oscars. Granted, this isn't verbatim, but an inclination is definitely made from that night. 

Lupita didn't win the supporting actress BAFTA, she lost it to Jennifer Lawrence, for her performance in American Hustle. I'll admit I haven't seen that film as of yet, but I do struggle to believe that my mate Jennifer could have possibly topped the performance Lupita gave. And I say that out of complete love, as we all know how much I love that woman. What made it all that more heartbreaking was that Lupita, being new to the award ceremony scene, hadn't quite mastered the "Don't look disappointed but clap appreciatively to the person who had actually won" pose. Her disappointment at not winning the award was clear on her face upon losing out on the Supporting Actress award, but even more so when she also then lost out on the Rising Star award as well. I just wanted to reach into the TV screen and hug her tight. 

It makes sense that she would have wanted it that little bit more than some of the others in that audience. The majority of the other nominees were seasoned actors who had quite a few awards already under their belts. This was all far too new and novel for her. However, the actors and directors who then went on to win awards for that film, all made a solid gesture at giving her talent the recognition it deserved, which seemed to take the edge off some of the disappointment. 

There were other highlights to the night as well. Prince William, when presenting the Fellowship Award to Helen Mirren, referring to her as his Granny (due to her performance in The Queen) was freakin awesome, as well as Cate Blanchett's fond dedication to Philip Seymour Hoffman in her acceptance speech for Best Actress, referring to him affectionately at the end with "Phil Buddy, this is for you, you bastard, I hope you're proud" ... I've not mentioned my reaction to Philip Seymour Hoffman's death, for reasons that my mind hasn't quite formulated a full response, but needless to say, the man was a talented and amazing actor and his death was a travesty on all accounts. 

Anywho, overall, I liked the show. There were, however, two small aspects of it that made me cringe and, as mentioned above, reminded me why I stopped watching shows like this. 

One: The night was littered with one liners from actors and actresses whereby they had tried to be funny and had failed miserably. Thus leaving me with this deep cringe within the pit of my stomach and a need to throw up, just to get the awkwardness out of my system. I can't stand watching people failing to be funny, it makes me feel sorry for them whilst simultaneously wanting to run away from where they are and pretend I had never seen it. There were quite a few of those moments scattered throughout the evening, made worse when my own opinion of not finding their lines funny were matched with those in the audience who, instead of laughing at the attempted joke, all just sat there in a tumble weed type motion and the awkwardness made me cover my ears until the moment had passed. I hate it. For some reason, I have a complete irrational fear of the whole thing. 

Two: There was a constant underlying biased opinion towards those of the British persuasion throughout the proceedings. I get it. It's set in England, thus things will be done in the British way. And that in itself I have no problem with. In fact, I applaud it, being stupidly patriotic in that way. However (and this may be observations formulated completely by my own imagination), I felt that the winners tended to be biased towards the British nominees as well. It wasn't anything too obvious and nothing that would cause controversy and outrage, but it was there, that little underlying thing that seemed to say "Hey Americans, come to our country, where we will show loads of shots of you sitting in our audience, thus making us look like a successful award ceremony, and then proceed to make you watch as we Brits take home all the awards." 

Before you say it, I know all the winners weren't British... but very few were American. I know I could be making something out of nothing here, given that 12 Years a Slave and Gravity were ultimately the winners of the night due to being awesome films, and they were both directed by non-american men, but even within those films, the few awards that an American had been nominated for, didn't seem to win anything... I don't know, perhaps I'm still just bitter about the whole Lupita losing out thing, and it's not as if I'm announcing that I'm a sudden American advocate in Britain, but it just goes into the underlying issue that seems to be within most award ceremonies... politics. There is always that crap going on. It bugs me. Not just with BAFTAs but with all of them, to a certain extent. 

And on that note, I'll love you and leave you before something else about last night pops into my head, and I end up going off on one about that as well, despite this already being far too long. 

Peace out my lovelies.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Fancy Things Friday: Pentatonix

Welcome to Fancy Things Friday, where I talk about things on a Friday that I think are fancy!!

So this week, I'm heading back to the world of Youtube. This will probably mean that, as the main bulk of my readers are Internet Junkies, you will all already know about what I'm going to talk about, however, my love for who I'm going to talk about has multiplied this week, due to me overexposing myself to them... and of course, by 'overexposing' I obviously mean that I have OD'ed on watching their videos, rather than sending them explicit photos of myself or anything... just in case you were confused. 

So, as the title suggests, today I will be talking about the amazingness that is Pentatonix.

I was first exposed to Pentatonix about this time last year, when The-Family I was living with at the time showed me a video they did on the Evolution of Music. This video can be found at the bottom of the post. I was blown away by what they did. For those who don't know, they are an acapella group, consisting of five people, Kirstie, Scott, Mitch, Avi and Kevin, who have managed to find a way to do things to their voices that, quite simply, makes my brain explode. They are also so creative with their arrangements of songs, to the point where I have regularly shouted at their videos with phrases like "How are you even doing that?" or "I want to live inside your body and be you!"

Anywho, after seeing this video, I became a tad over-obsessed with them. I found myself going into work and insisting that Work-Buddy-James watch their entire collection of youtube videos whilst I sat by him and highlighted to him all the ways in which they are awesome... needless to say, after about the second video, Work-Buddy-James suggested that he just go away and watch them himself, explaining that he might enjoy the whole experience a lot more if he was able to actually hear what they were singing without the constant commentary... Each to their own, I guess. 

Equally, when preparing for a night out with One-And-Only-Daniela, I would replace her usual RnB playlist with that of their album, and get offended when she didn't immediately want to hear each song at least five times (although she was impressed with them, she made me turn the album off after it started to play for the second time, for reasons I will never understand). 

Whilst on a holiday car ride with The-Parents over the summer, I took over the music and introduced Marmie and Father to Pentatonix and the awesomeness that they were. Marmie was overly indifferent to the whole experience, although Father at least feigned interest. In particular, when I played their arrangement of Carol of The Bells, despite Christmas being a whole 5 months away.

As you may have realised by now, I'm one of those people who, when finding something I passionately love, will not rest until my entire social circle is also in love with them. This usually works, but in times where my passion takes over and I forget to at least reign it in a little, it can then have the opposite effect on the people around me. They have been known to get freaked out by my excitement and therefore get put off by the thing I am ramming down their throat. If I'm honest, I had thought I'd done this with The-Parents. 

Then, a month prior to Christmas, Father posted their version of Little Drummer Boy (see below) onto Facebook and I almost cried with happiness. This may seem weird, or it may seem completely understandable, dependent on how hard you fandom people (can that be used as a verb? Well, it can now). My reasons for being so happy however, is that there is nothing more amazing to me than when I manage to convert a person to a thing I love. I get this massive sense of happiness, knowing that their lives have now been enriched that little bit more and I have one more person to get all excited with, when said thing comes up in topic. It happened the day I got One-And-Only-Daniela into Doctor Who (although she has fallen behind with that now, I need to rectify that) and it will equally be amazing, once I have managed to get her to watch all of Sherlock... Which I plan to start tonight, when I see her. I've even strategised how I will get her hooked. I'm thinking of leading with the video of the kiss. Anywho, I digress. 

Back to Father. He had posted this video onto Facebook, gushing about how amazing Pentatonix were in this rendition, and I immediately commented, telling him how happy I was that he had actually taken my advice on music. Needless to say, this is a topic that we haven't always seen eye to eye on, given that he is Salvation Army through and through, and so has a tendency towards the Brass Band genre...

It wasn't until Christmas however, that we sat around having Christmas dinner and I thought it would be awesome to play Pentatonix's Christmas album. Father looked at me in surprise and said "Oh! So you've heard of them too?"

I gaped at him for a ridiculously long amount of time. Was he being serious? He knew I'd heard of them. I had sodding introduced him to them. When I tried to explain this to him however, he claimed to not have any memory of this. According to him, he had found Pentatonix all on his own, and with no help from me. I don't know why this upset me so much, but I felt outraged. It wasn't often that I was able to influence Father in the way of music and have him accept and enjoy my tastes. I had, for the past month, built this imaginary solidarity between the two of us, whereby our love for Pentatonix had bonded our relationship as Father and Daughter to a new degree, and it was us against the world. It felt as if this was all falling away from me now. 

This then seemed to be worsened when Younger-Brother-Daniel asked for more information about them, not having heard of them before, and I went into a speech about how they became popular by creating youtube videos. 

Father cleared his throat and said, rather smugly, "Actually, I think you'll find that they became famous thanks to winning a singing competition called 'The Sing-off'. If I'm honest, this rang vague alarm bells in my memory and I was certain I had also heard that from somewhere. However, I had hit stubborn mode and in my desperate plea to still come across as the person who knew the most about this group, I told him that this wasn't the thing that made them famous. It was youtube. 

A little tip when arguing a point with my Father, should you ever bizarrely find yourself in this situation, in the future. Since the world of iphones was created, he has stocked his phone with a whole range of apps that allow him to prove how right he is in every argument. What's more, he is not afraid to use these apps at any point he can. Which is what he did on Christmas day. 

Once finding the proof of their participation in The Sing-off, he turned to me with an overly smug smile and said, "I do believe that this proves I'm right." I, of course, tried to justify my own argument by saying that they are famous now because of youtube, and it was predominantly their youtube followers who are their main fanbase. The argument sizzled out eventually, largely due to the constant "I'm right, and you lose" smile Father kept on his face, despite my attempts to justify myself. 

After Christmas, I continued to follow their music, and love them massively. I have even spent a day of my life breaking down Carol of the Bells into their relative vocal parts and learnt all of Kirstie's parts, with the view that all I needed to do was find four guys who then wanted to sing the other parts, and then I would be the happiest person alive... If anyone's interested, let me know. 

This week however, it seems like I have re-caught the bug. I have spent hours relistening to their songs on repeat and was up until 2am this morning listening to every song they did from The Sing-Off. I have become a woman possessed, and these are the reasons why: 

Basically, their talent is out of this world. They are always completely on point with every one of their arrangements, and constantly create new and interesting arrangements of songs that cause me to usually end up preferring their version. I am blown away by their musical prowess. Being a gal who studied Music right through school with my voice as my main instrument, I can fully appreciate the level of understanding and skill that goes into creating what they do. It's something that I could never do, nor most other people. And they just continue to do it, over and over, with new arrangements and new ideas. Quite simply, I am in awe of them. 

Now that I've talked non stop; how about I show you what I mean. Below are a collection of my favourite videos, starting with the three I've mentioned above; Evolution of Music, Carol of the Bells and Little Drummer Boy: 











I've overloaded you with them. Pick whichever you want to listen to... might I suggest all of them? And there are loads more, if you follow this link to their youtube page. 

Also, I couldn't talk about Pentatonix on youtube without also making reference to Scott and Mitch's Super Fruit page, where they vlog and stuff. One more channel I've recently added to the 'Distract myself from ever doing anything worthwhile with my life' follower list on youtube that I have. Check that out here

That's it for today. Happy Valentines Day and you are very welcome for the awesome music tip. 

Peace out my lovelies. 

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Valentines advice from a Plum: Here, have some happiness

Sleepy today... my leg has also gone to sleep. I've been sitting at my computer trying to think up something to talk to you guys about, and I'm well and truly drawing a blank. I've got a Fancy thing lined up but am restrained by my own strict rules... it's not Friday so I'm not allowed to talk about it, otherwise the world might end or something... Before you scoff, you have no idea that that won't happen. No one does. If someone can give me strict scientific proof that my breaking free of my routine won't result in the world ending, then I might consider being rebellious and trying it out, but until that happens, I will still live in eternal fear of destroying the world with my actions...

...

I'm really beginning to see the side effects of spending all my free time making up scenarios and storylines based around a post-apocalyptic world. Apparently paranoia goes hand in hand with it. However, I'm resigning myself to this lifestyle, realising that I had better get used to it, given that I am only just finishing my second book, and have at least another 6 books in my head, ready to be written... Wow, if I wasn't tired before, that thought has well and truly sent me over the edge. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing more amazing to me than writing these books, but still... that is a lot of work.

How's everyone feeling about Valentines? Happy? Sad? Annoyed? Indifferent?

Me? I'm my usual indifferent. I know the media and, indeed, world, dictates that I, as a single woman in her 20s should either be depressed or overly feminist about the whole thing, but sorry to disappoint. Truth is, I just really don't particularly care. Sure, it's nice for people in a relationship to spend time with each other. I mean, technically they can do this at any point and don't really need a a particular day to dictate to them that they should, but I guess there's no harm in celebrating the act of mutual love and/or like.

I have tried, over the years, to form an opinion over this particular 'holiday.' You know, get on board with whether I love or hate it. However, as the years go on, I find myself becoming more and more 'blah' about it. Most years, I find I can forget that it even happened. At most, it serves as a nice reminder that it will be Marmie's birthday the day after. (Happy advanced birthday, Marmie).

Should I ever find myself in a relationship over this date, I don't think I'll become that fussed about it. If I choose to put so much pressure on this one day, then I am essentially limiting the romance to a few choice days a year, and thus causing myself to lose out on all the other days that I could guilt my significant other into doing nice things for me... think about it, it makes sense.

Looking back, the only time I ever really used to get upset about the whole thing, was when I was a teenager. This was mainly due to being best friends with a girl who would always be overflowed with endless presents and flowers from secret admirers. This was only made worse by the fact that she shared the same first name as me, therefore filling me with false hope whenever I entered a classroom, made my way to our shared desk, saw my name on a card, began to dance inside, and then noticed that pesky second name that didn't belong to me. Also, I was all angsty back then... as you might have noticed from yesterday's post.

But this wore off as I entered my 20s and all puberty ridden angst fell to the side lines, to make way for my laziness. Also, I didn't spend any valentines with the afore mentioned friend anymore which saved any problems of having my face rubbed in it.

My main reason for not caring about the whole thing however, despite what the world might expect of me, is that I have become this fiercely independent woman who likes the idea of a relationship but has also realised that not being in one really doesn't mean the endless pit of loneliness and depression, Hollywood films would have you believe.

Guys and gals, permit me to let you into a little secret that you might not be aware of... being single actually isn't that bad. I mean, yes, there are perks and loveliness involved in being in a relationship, and I am no way advocating against that, but if you find yourself without that special someone this year, that really is okay. You are still able to live your life and have fun and enjoy things and even laugh and have a good time. I know it may seem ridiculous, but I can assure you, it is possible.

Also, if you are single, there are other things that you can do for fun that don't include desperately trying to find someone else to share your life with. It seems to me that the general consensus is there are two types of ways of having fun: Either be in a relationship and have fun that way, or be single and have fun trying to get a relationship... I'm sorry, what???? Don't be ridiculous. People are obviously underestimating the pure joy associated with the quirkiness you are able to come up with when you have those moments completely devoid of people and the scrutiny they hold.

This isn't verbatum, but usually when you are with people regularly, they might look down or even worry at your ability to make yourself fall into hysterical laughter when you make a joke to yourself that you find uncontrollably funny, or when you get home to find some old body paint, feel bored and decide that you'd like to paint your entire face silver, just because you can. *COUGH* One-And-Only-Daniela *COUGH*

Being on your own and just being content and weird within your own skin is possibly the most awesome thing there is. It doesn't matter that you don't have anyone for the moment, the world won't end (okay, I can't back that up with science, but it hasn't ended yet, so that has to be a good sign), and most of all it doesn't mean that you can't be happy. In fact, if you find that you can't be happy without being in a relationship, perhaps this is the perfect time to not be in one. At the end of the day, significant others will come and go, but you are stuck with you for the rest of your life, so it might be worth finding out how awesome you are.

I can't offer advice on how to be in a relationship, at least not good advice anyway. Truth is, I just don't have the experience to back it up. What I do know about, however, is how to be single. Freakin' hell, I have a lifetime experience of it. I have also been through the entire range of emotions associated with being single. All of them are as important as each other, and none of them should you be ashamed of. At the end of the day, if you are feeling them, then they are important.

However, I just wanted to offer a possibility of another way of thinking for this particular valentines period. If you are single, alone, without a date, or without any plans, then make some plans. These could involve friends, calling that special someone that you've been feeling a spark with, or just simply make plans with yourself. Regardless of what "They" say, making plans for one person alone, is not the be all and end all that it seems to be. You don't even need to go anywhere. You could just stay at home, but make plans to watch a marathon of your favourite films. Treat yourself to a pampering session of your favourite foods and clothes, phone a friend that you haven't spoken to in a while. If you have a bit more money, take yourself out, maybe a massage or an indoor picnic (I say indoor as I want you to have fun, not freeze your nips off). These are just simple suggestions, but overall what you should do is think about what you enjoy to do, something that doesn't necessarily have to involve another person (see sawing or cat's cradle may be a little hard) and decide, "That's what I'm going to do." Then DO IT. And most importantly, enjoy the hell out of it.

And once you've done that, and realised that you had an awesome time doing it, wake up the next morning and realise that, just because it's no longer February 14th, doesn't mean that you can't do it again. Pamper yourself silly and find the fun in the small things. When watching a movie, react to it the way you would if others were in the room, shout at the screen, laugh and make jokes. Hell, I do that all the time. Sure, my housemates may very well think I've lost my mind, but I can deal with that.

I'm actually spending Valentine's this year with One-And-Only-Daniela and a marathon of Richard Curtis' full movie works. I know that might sound in contrast to what I just said, watching soppy romantic movies. But it's not really. As I said at the beginning, I have no problem with the concept of a relationship and I know it's freakin' awesome, and when it happens for me, I'm going to enjoy the hell out of it, but until then, I'll be damned if I become some half-shell of a woman waiting around for my life to start. My life has already started, it started 28 years ago, and the longer I wait for something to happen, the more of my life I am wasting. Screw that. I only have one shot at being 28, I don't want to look back and think I could have experienced it so much better.

Overall message for today? Be happy. That's all. And if that's hard (and believe me, I know how hard that can be) then don't reach too high just yet, instead of trying to be happy all the time, find something that can make you happy for a couple of hours. Do that thing and then find the next thing and repeat.

Remember, you are the only person like you in the world. Therefore no one can contribute to the world like you can. And that? That is pretty awesome.

...

Huh, I guess I did find something to talk about.

Peace out my lovelies.