Saturday 31 December 2011

Sweden, the Girl and The Journalist

Well we all know the risque poster with the half naked Rooney Mara and her pierced nipple and the fact it is yet another US remake of a brilliant Swedish film but all that guff aside, the film is really rather good. I should warn ye now, I haven't read any of the books but I am a big fan of the three previous films. I find I cannot read a book of the film if I have already seen the film, I have to read the book before I watch the film and that rarely happens. Anyway the new 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' film directed by David 'Fight Club' Fincher is really quite something.

For those who don't know the story and haven't even seen the amazing Swedish films, the story is about  a disgraced journalist, Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) who is asked to find out what has happened to a girl who has been missing for 40 years, and who may have been murdered. He is helped by Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a young woman with a disturbing past, she becomes his research assistant and together they try a solve the crime.

After the beyond amazing opening titles including the amazing cover of 'Immigrant Song' by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross featuring a favourite of mine, Karen O, the story begins. Having seen the other films, I knew what was going to happen and so tried my best not to compare. The story was the same with a few changes but the film is not like the Swedish version. The violence seemed less vulgar and more staged, the villain at the end was more menacing (if that's possible) and Lisbeth's background was barely touched upon. The latter annoyed me as I felt she needed to be explained in depth but this might have taken a back seat in terms of story as it wasn't relevant to this part of the trilogy. But having less background knowledge did have an affect on the way I viewed Rooney Mara who played Salander. She was good, but not as convincing as Noomi Rapace who played Salander in the original films. Rapce had an edge about her character, she acted evil but not because she wanted to but because she had to. Mara played Lisbeth as a stone faced evil assassin which is not what I felt Lisbeth was, but that is my view.

Another aspect of the film I wasn't sure about was the relationship between Blomkvist and Salander. They seemed too intimate towards the end and the actually end, I did not agree with or like as it went against who Salander was. I don't want to say anymore in case I let something slip. Saying this, I thought the film was fantastic and I have a craving to see it again. The acting was superb and it was great to see less than four Americans in the film, using European and British actors gave the film a clear tone and made it sharper than it would have been if it was made with American accents. I recommend this film to anyone and urge those who love the original to go see it. I'm not saying it is better, I'm saying its different.

On a last note: Fincher has let me down in the past with a literary adaptation. I was really excited about 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' and the first time I saw it, I was impressed but a little bored in parts. I broke my rule about reading the book and read the short story by my favourite F.Scott Fitzgerald and oh my was I disappointed. The story is brilliant, better than the hack job the film. I saw it in a different light and considered several times (actually I still do) about selling my copy of the film. I was that disappointed. They changed everything in the film apart from the fact he ages backwards otherwise NOTHING is the same. I understand they needed to stretch the story a tad but with the material in the book they could have easily done this. And I would just like to add, there is no damn dying Daisy in the book, the one that took up half the film dying in bed, she was added in and named after another character in The Great Gatsby (also by Gerald). So after this, I do not dare read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, just in case I go crazy again.

Thursday 29 December 2011

Playing Cards, No Sales and Hobbits

Christmas day. After working from 8 til 5:30 on Christmas Eve and then staying up to drink Baileys and finish a few quiz questions until 1am, I was VERY tired for the next few days.

But I did (as usual) get up early and open presents! We just couldn't wait to open and give out presents, just like the boy from the John Lewis advert. We only opened a few, otherwise we wouldn't have had much to open later.

After nibbles, plenty of port and lemon drinks and a quiz from my Mum (which my aunty and I won), we all sat down and ate a delicious Christmas dinner as well as some strange trifle and the good old christmas pudding (I didn't partake in that). We pulled the crackers, moaned at the awful jokes and laughed at the fact more than two people ended up with eye patches (I think my Nan had been conned by the Garden Centre, which is where she got them). We had another short quiz and then dived into opening all the presents! But the day was not over until we played cards! First my Nan bumped into me spilling coffee all over us, then we argued about the rules of 'Sweat', played a few games of 'Shithead' which produced the quote of Christmas from me. Having helped my Nan with her hand of cards, I saw what she had, so by the next round I was able to get her out or whatever and shouted 'BAM! You ain't got it!' then I realised who I was taking to and everyone burst out laughing. We played a few games of 'Donkey', with my aunty mainly ending up the donkey and then we retired to the living room for more tea and biscuits. An excellent day!

Boxing Day. This will be short. I had work that day but left slightly early so I could have a look round HMV, shouldn't have bothered though, practically nothing I wanted, shelves were empty. The whole shopping centre wasn't actually that busy either, especially where I was working. The shop was so empty I was able to do half the close before I even shut the shop. For the first ever time I was able to leave on time (well 10 mins over is nothing compared to 4 hours over). But while I was at work, my family were all having dinner together, I barely got to say goodbye to my aunt and uncle.

Lord of the Rings Day. I had been looking forward to this day for weeks, in fact ever since I found it existed. By chance I had been walking near The Prince Charles (marvelous) cinema and picked up the postcard advertising all three Lord of the Rings films being shown. Of course I bought my ticket straight away.

Luckily I wasn't alone, Foxo and her family also bought tickets. We all came prepared with plenty of food but in my case a pasty, coffee, many biscuits and an apple. Seeing the films again after 10 years since they had been in the cinema was amazing. The feeling was like the first time (except I knew what was going to happen) and they could not have been better. The films were as epic as they were. And whenever I watch one, I always want to watch the rest but never do. But this time my craving was fulfilled. I even found myself mouthing some of the words and songs to myself, I got more emotional than I did when I was younger (back than I couldn't cry at films) and I laughed more at things that weren't funny, but I still said 'bint' out loud whenever Eowyn was on screen, and cheered for Boromir (its Sean Bean, so why wouldn't I) and of course I cherished all the moments with my favourite characters Merry and Pippin. By the end I couldn't believe it was over, I was sad all over again, but as I own all three films, I can always watch them again, yet nothing beats the large, cinema screen.
I love this, its the only time you see the brother of Gondor (Faramir and Boromir) together

I have a lot to thank Lord of the Rings for, it was the film that made me want to make films. And all you anti nerd and anti LOTR people out there, I don't care that you all looked down at it while I was at school saying they were a boy's films because you were all wrong and naive and didn't know anything beyond frakin 'Legally Blonde' and at that age your taste was basically 'chick flicks' (its true so do not deny it), but I hope now you are all older and I hope wiser, that you'll give Lord of the Rings a chance.

Next up, both Ghostbusters films being shown, back to back. Who you gonna call? The Prince Charles Cinema so you can book a ticket!

Saturday 24 December 2011

Mammals With Pouches

Last week, my friend and I ventured to London for a marvelous day out, as we hadn't seen each other in a while.  We went to the Natural History Museum, ate at Ed's Diner, watched 'On The Town', wondered around of Covent Garden; visiting our favourite Tintin and drank lemonade on a street corner. An awesome day it was!

We started the day looking at dinosaurs and remembering school trips, then bought the best dinosaur themed thing ever, dinosaur shaped biscuit cutters! We wondered around the mammals, admiring this creature (on the left) and attempted to see how much we weighed compared to an elephant, but alas the machine wasn't working so we moved on to look at the birds. We especially enjoyed the penguins and the ostrich's feet, but I found the bird I was looking for, the Dodo, soon to be appearing in the upcoming film 'Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists'.

We then went on to the main exhibition, The Wildlife Photography of the Year and it was amazing. Photographers from all over the world documenting wildlife in various categories including young photographers aged 11-17. As well as these photographs on display, there was a slide show of other photographs that didn't quite get in to the exhibition but were still amazing, my friend even spied a seal in there somewhere. Visitors were also given the opportunity to comment on the photographs using interactive screens. Of course we signed them 'Foxo and Foxo from The Great Oak.

Here are a few of our favourites:

Then on to Ed's Diner for some very delicious food and then an attempt to go to the Poetry Cafe for a coffee but alas dear friends it was closed. So we settled for Starbucks until a creepy puppet selling couple sat too close.

We went to see 'On The Town' at the BFI and oh my was it hilarious. For those who don't know the story, 'On The Town' a musical from 1949, directed and starring Gene Kelly is about three sailors who have a days shore leave and basically meet girls, dance around and sing in familiar New York sight seeing tour stops but it was such a laugh. I had only seen the beginning when the sailors sing 'New York New York' and knew the basic plot and who was in it and I was so glad we saw it.

After the film we casually hung around streets, drinking lemonade and talking for ages, you know how foxes are. It was a super day out!

Here is the website for The Wildlife Photographer of the Year, go and see it before it ends:

Now go and watch The Muppets Christmas Carol! MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

Wednesday 21 December 2011

An Expensive Addiction

Again this is just another silly post while I'm sort of working from home. I thought I should get this poem out before Christmas is over otherwise it becomes irrelevant.

To be in control at the weakest point,
Is the most important thing
My soul is vulnerable
My mind is strong

The risk is too great
For just this one thing
In the future, the long term,
It won't do me any good
But for that one moment
That feel feeling of euphoria
I would do anything

But the temptation is too great
With such convenience
I can give in too early
Then that control I have gained
Has evaporated in just
That one moment

All for that taste
That thing,
That expensive thing,
That Eggnog Latte

Told you it was silly!

Monday 19 December 2011

Don McCullin, Photojournalist, Feature Film

I am working as a researcher on this particular project and relying on my faithful followers and casual readers to either donate and help the project or pass on this message, retweet, share and just generally spread the word about this film.

Follow on Facebook:

Don McCullin worked as the star photographer on The Sunday Times from 1966 to 1983, when it was widely acknowledged to be at the forefront of global photojournalism. He covered wars and humanitarian disasters on virtually every continent. His work has stood the test of time, evidenced by the fact that ten of his books are currently in print.

But there is a dimension to Don’s work that transcends photojournalism. The way he sees the world is very rare; his vision is distinctive and insightful even when trained on the supposedly mundane. The wounded people he photographs are not all on battlefields. Through Don’s eyes we come to understand that the thousand-yard stare of the shell-shocked American soldier in Vietnam, is a cousin to the despair on the face of the destitute old lady in London’s Chapel Market. Like the visionary William Blake, who saw the world around him with a hidden part of the spectrum, Don sees differently.

Why We Need Your Support
We started this project independently, and we want to remain so.
Your investment will allow us to not compromise the film’s message by having to accommodate traditional funders.

So we have self-funded where we could and we’ve created this film through monumental personal commitment to the story, and the generous in-kind donations of time and skills from industry professionals.
We want to enter our film into high-profile festivals, but to do this we need support in the final stages of post-production. You can donate through the crowd funding website below:

Sunday 18 December 2011

Black & White Photography From the Good Old Days

I finally managed to scan some of the best photographs I took when I was in College and when I was still allowed to use black and white film. I uploaded them (most of them) to my Ideas Tap profile but here they are just in case you're not on that website:

There are plenty more but I have dig those out which might take a while, so watch this space after Christmas.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

This Is My Lemon Torte

Anyone remember that song Last Resort by Papa Roach? Well I just came up this baking friendly version:

Cut my pie into pieces
This is my lemon torte
Salivation, yes, no bloating
Can’t use a pan
If I want to carry on baking
This is my lemon torte

ok, its not great . . . but not bad for a 5 minute  thought and its better if you sing along.

One of the Greastest American Classics Soon To Be a Motion Picture, Again!

"Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known." - F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Ch. 3

The Great Gatsby is my favourite novel and has been since I studied it back in College and had to write a really bad essay on it. During class I did well, I followed what was happening and actually was interested in the themes and the characters but the essay I wrote was so bad, I think I got a B for it (to me that's bad).

The Great Gatsby (1925) is one of the greatest American classics. The novel was written in Paris by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and it has come to be seen as a representation of the Jazz Age. The Great Gatsby captures post war disillusion and the moral failure of a society obsessed with money and status.  It tells the story of the eponymous Gatsby and his tragic pursuit of his dream and long lost love, Daisy. The story is told through Nick Carraway who relates the story.

There was a film made in 1974 with an amazing cast with Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby, perfect casting for the time. But for me, the film lacked something. The story was like the book, the settings and locations near perfection, but to me the story felt empty despite the good acting and how it looked. This is why I was so excited when I found out there was another adaptation of the novel, directed by Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet, Australia). Judging but the unauthorised photographs and official ones too, the production is in good hands. Plus with Leo DiCaprio as Gatsby (again perfect casting) and Carey Mulligan as Daisy I think this film with fulfill my dreams of my favourite novel coming to life. Apart from the fact Baz is shooting the film in 3D, a story like this needs no gimmicks.

Tobey Maguire is playing Nick Carraway, Joel Edgerton is playing Tom, Daisy's husband and Isla Fisher is playing Myrtle Wilson (but I don't think she is right for that part)

Here are a few photos from the new production for you to enjoy:

The film is said to be released in USA December 25th 2012 but no word on a UK release date. But until then, go and read the novel and if you've already read it, read it again!

Monday 12 December 2011

Cake and Death: Part 3

Mother and daughter sat side by side on the yellow sofa, each with a cake in their hands.
-Was this is all in the dream?
Her mother spluttered with a mouth full of cake.

-Yes Mother. It was quite strange. It was as if I was watching it all happen but it was also as if it was a story, like a fairytale or something.
-Well yes, the way you’re telling it sounds like a children’s story.

She took a bite of her cupcake as her Mother sipped from her mug, a worried expression on her face.
-I’ll continue shall I?
-Please do dear.

The little girl’s mother sat by her daughter’s bed in Hospital. She had been sitting there for what seemed hours. The little girl hadn’t moved, spoke or done anything since eating that cupcake. The doctor said that she was had been poisoned and ‘she just needs to get it out of her system’. So they had had her on a drip for a day, but nothing.

The doctor walked holding a clipboard with a serious expression on his face. He looked at the mother, she stood up suddenly with hope in her eyes but all hope was taken from her when the doctor simply shook his head. The mother slowly sat down and took her daughter’s hand and held it in hers as tears began to fall from her eyes.

Meanwhile at the Bakery, the news had reached the Baker that the little girl had eaten a poisoned cupcake and was now in a coma. He looked at the almost empty tray of that day’s cupcakes. He wondered if he had sold a poisoned one yet and reached for a strawberry flavoured one. He half hoped that it was filled with poison but the other half just hoped that it was plain strawberry. He took a deep breath and bit into the cake.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Important Pieces of the Past

Whilst rummaging through some boxes I found an important document.

According to this document I weighed 4 stone, my favourite colour was orange and I was going to be a trampoline star. My how things have changed, my favourite colour is now purple if I was pushed to choose.

Age 7 me also drew a rather fancy picture of me too but it won't see the light of day, the eyes are just too accurate for an age 7 year old me to get right. Some more incriminating evidence in the document is my birthplace, place of residence, eye colour, hair colour (which I said, and I quote "drack brown") and favourite food, which was Corn Pops, whatever they were.

Worryingly the only questions I didn't answer were my height and my favourite TV programmes. At that age I watched many awesome 90s shows and have had frequent conversation with people about them. So why did I leave it blank?

Along with this 'passport' from when I was 7 I also found 3 boxes full of old cards from my christening to my most recent birthday. The ones that were missing were from my 16th birthday as they all ended up on a bonfire by accident at a house party I had. But the others, I didn't have the heart to throw them away so I've decided to do what I always do. Make a piece of art work out of them. Watch this space!

Monday 5 December 2011

The Death of Whitton

Alas poor Whitton, I knew it well.

If we were to compare Whitton now to Whitton then, we'd all become nostalgic and ill, especially me as there used to be a cinema up the High Street.

But now, all there is up the High Street are charity shops, coffee shops, empty shops, so called convenience places and various awful bargain bin shops. Its hideous and depressing.

And now that a Lidal has opened (the sign of all respectability has gone) it feels like the last straw. I and and many others have been saying for too long now that Whitton is becoming more like Hounslow and that place is simply, as Liz Lemon would say, 'the worst'. I have nothing nice to say about that place, that borough in fact. Except that the theatre in Hounslow Treaty Centre used to be good but its now being shut down. I remember watching pantomimes at the Paul Robeson Theatre when I was younger and I even performed some Shakespeare there with my school. The community doesn't make use of it, a whole theatre gone to waste. And to add to it now that the HMV has also shut down there, I have no reason to go to Hounslow.

I see this happening to Whitton. I was gone for three years and everything has changed for the worse. And I have to add, what the hell is going on with the Christmas decorations this year? Every shop used to put up a tree, then it was flags because the trees were too expensive but this year its just bits of bunting?? Very disappointed with my home town. I just hope that next Christmas things will change but everything I know will just be awful.

I do try to be upbeat in these posts but Whitton, you've let me down.

Wednesday 30 November 2011

The Day I Missed My Train For a Sandwich

Have you ever been in a situation when you've had a long day or you're just plain tired and by the time you get to the train station or bus stop, you're really hungry? Then you spy a place to get a snack or a drink or just something to eat on the train/bus home. You look at the time your train/bus is due, calculate if you have enough time to go get your snack and be back in time, hesitate, waste time deciding then just go for it. You pick what you want but then the queue is longer than expected but its still ok, you have enough time if you run. You're happy you've got the snack, you run down the station/across the street and get to the platform/stop but then you look at the time and you've just missed it by 1 minute.

This is incredibly annoying.

It happened to me today. Usually I only got get a drink or a sandwich if I have at least 20 mins until my train departs and I haven't eaten for 7 hours. Otherwise I ALWAYS miss the train or bus. Though today I had been looking forward to this particular sandwich from M&S and had included time in my journey just so I could go get it. I had to get up at 5:30 today so naturally I had breakfast very early indeed and by the time I got to Waterloo at 13:00 I was very hungry. I had 15 mins before my train departed and it was the slow train so I really did need food for this. I got to M&S and searched high and low for this amazing sandwich but couldn't find it. (Every time I mention the sandwich I feel I sound like Liz Lemon, but really you have no idea how amazing this sandwich is. It has pear, cheese, salad, some kind of chutney in it and the least amount of mayo, so good.) Anyway I couldn't find it and I was very disappointed so I just picked up the next best thing, Ploughman's. The queue wasn't too long and then walked quickly back to the platform only to watch my train leave.

When I eventually got on a train (again a slow train, most annoying) I ate the sandwich I bought and it was the worst. This was mostly because it was moist and way TOO MUCH frickin mayo. I hate mayo in sandwiches it ruins it. I've even been known to be very sick after eating a simple sandwich with too much mayo inside. I hate it. And all this happened after I had had a pretty good morning.

So if you do find yourself in the situation, always think, is this sandwich worth it . . .

Monday 28 November 2011

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea


Friday afternoon I went to see The Deep Blue Sea and like every time I go to the cinema, there is a problem, incident or annoyance. It was the latter this time.

I thought I had struck gold when I found out the film was showing at Richmond Curzon, it meant I didn't have to trek up to London to see a film and it also meant I didn't have to rush anywhere. I got there just on time (or so I thought). Not many people were there and so I could settle in anywhere I fancied. Three in from the end of a row, I set my coat out, put my things down, ate my raspberry muffin and sipped my eggnog latte and felt ready to watch the film. Only bad part of it was I kept sneezing (I had a cold coming on) and my eyes kept watering. But it didn't matter I was settled. THEN. Literally as the film was starting, these two idiots came in, looked around at the empty rows in front of me and decided to sit in my frakin row. They didn't say anything they just looked me and gestured for me to let them pass. I said out loud "Really?" then quickly tried to pick up all my stuff but this wasn't quick enough for them, they just fumbled around and then sat right next to me. I looked at them again with my stuff in my arms and tutted at them and slumped back in my seat. Then I remembered how annoyed I got when I saw Drive so I moved all my things along, grabbed my coat and dumped it on the floor and moved up a seat. I made my point when I mumbled under my breath 'for god's sake'. I did my best to settled down again and only then could I watch the film, in peace.

It was worth all the fuss. The film was beautifully filmed, it looked like 1950's film. Everything felt and looked like it had been made in the 1950's (apart from the quality, so good). Rachel Weisz was brilliant. As were Tom Hiddleston and Simon Russel Beale (even thought he was hardly in it). The story is about Hester (Weisz) who is married to Lord Collyer (Beale) when she meets RAF Pilot Freddie (Hiddleston) and falls in love with him. But like her marriage where she cannot love her husband in the way he loves her, Freddie can't love her the way she loves him.

I was pleasantly surprised by the story, it was depressing like all the articles said, it was sad. Hester was an extremely sad character and she was looking for something that know one could give her. For me, there was very little to the story, originally a play, and I could see that, but it didn't matter, the long silences, looks and music were the most affective parts to the film. I favourite scene was were everyone in the pub are singing 'You Belong To Me' and just after this, it is just Hester and Freddie dancing to the actual song. Its just such a beautiful moment just because a really sad scene and you can tell its coming after the dancing part. So go see this film, its not depressing its about unrequited love.

Also here part of that scene I love:

Thursday 24 November 2011

How to Talk to People on the Telephone

Waited all morning for a Tintin competition prize to arrive and nothing. My mum waited all afternoon, after I went into a rage and decided to go out, and still, nothing. Very annoyed with you Dego for saying DHL would deliver today and they didn't!

While waiting in the morning there was a phone call. I stupidly thought, ooh maybe its DHL calling, why the hell would they call? It turned out to be some guy from UK Accident Helpline.

-Hello I'm calling from UK Accident Helpline-
-What? Sorry, who did you say you were?
-UK Accident Helpline
-Oh. Er . . . right er, I've got nothing to do with this . . . er bye.
And then i put the phone down.

I couldn't think what to say so I said that. I heard the guy sighing before I put the phone down but I was too busy thinking how suspicious and weird I sounded.

Another strange reply/blunt reply I've given on the telephone was yesterday. I was annoyed that the phone kept ringing in the middle of a TV show. Usually someone else will get the phone first but this time it was me. When I answered, they asked if they were speaking to Mrs Hogan (my mum) and I just bluntly said 'No, you're not.' Then there was silence. My mum walked past at that point, so I just yelled 'MUM, someone on the phone for you.' She asked who and I said "A man." Handed the phone to her and walked off. I suppose this is a bad habit of mine, I (usually) never ask who is calling. But when ever I call someone else I always ask for a person and then say its me calling.

I think one of the best phone calls I've had though was when I was working at a Pharmacy. An obviously elderly woman called and I ended up arguing with her on the phone for about 15 mins and in busy pharmacy time that's a long time.

-Hello good afternoon Minal Pharmacy-
-Is that the Pharmacy?
-Yes, Minal-
-Do you have loyalty cards?
- Yes we do-
-Are you a Lloyds Pharmacy?
-No this is Minal Pharmacy-
-Then why do your cards say Lloyds?
-They don't-
-I tried to get points with my card at Lloyds but it wasn't working.
-But we're not a Lloyds Pharmacy-
-Then why does your loyalty card say Lloyds?
- (Pause) I don't know. I don't know why.
-Well that's not good is it?
-Well all I can say is that we are MINAL Pharmacy, you must have a different card or another phar-
-But it says Lloyds on your card.

And I think you can get the idea of kind of person I was dealing with. Eventually I just said yes to whatever she said and told her I was busy and had to go, I almost put the phone down on her. I should have. Learn from this, if the person on the other end of the phone is wrong, just make a dull tone sound then actually put the phone down.

Monday 21 November 2011

The Graduation

Since June I think everyone (everyone on my course that is) had been waiting for that day. And after registering for tickets, ordering photos and robes the day arrived.

It was a 5am wake up call and a 6am leaving time. Got to the Butterfly House car park (don't ask) and waited another half hour for the bus. Journey was quick but then we had to wait outside the Arena in St Albans where we got our robes and things for another 20 minutes. Wouldn't have been that bad if it wasn't freezing cold!

No matter though, once instead everything ran smoothly-ish. Got my robes and hat (can't remember the technical term) both were too big then I went off to have a my photo done. I have to say, it looked terrible. I had three choices, they all looked the same and I looked bad. Could have been better but isn't that always the way.

After everyone was sorted and I had drank half my latte, we all walked through St Albans to the cathedral. At first it was strange walking around town in our gowns, it looked like a mass migration, a sea of black and grey. But since I wasn't alone it didn't seem so strange.

The Cathedral was packed with family and friends and since all the graduates were on the sides and couldn't see the front/stage we all enjoyed watching the ceremonies on TVs. Jan Harlan gave a speech as he was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Arts. Then the agonisingly long part pf the ceremony took place. You must know the drill, each graduate's name is called out, you shake hands with the Vice-Chancellor, get handed a piece of paper and then you have to walk through the middle of everyone watching. It over in a second. Now I am a graduate.

After the ceremony we all went out and took photos and yes we got to throw our hats in the air! Lunch with our parents and then drinks in the pub, not forgetting shots. I had dreaded this day but it turned out to be awesome. And yes, I want to frame my piece of paper.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Cake and Death: Part 2

Once Upon a Time there was this Baker who liked to poison his cakes.

He was a tall quiet man who the colour green almost everyday. He didn’t have many hobbies or many friends. He worked everyday alone in his bakery mostly because he preferred to be on his own and also to avoid hiding secrets from potential employees.

He liked to poison various pastry products and certain cakes and sponges. Not too much that it would kill someone, at least not all the time. Not too little that it had any effect on someone, so that it was obvious that something was wrong. In every 12th baked product he would pour arsenic either as a filling or icing.

The effect the poison made on someone would only take effect on someone several hours after consuming the food. This made it impossible to pinpoint where the poison came from and the baker was never suspected.

One particularly rainy day the Baker made a batch of cupcakes, each with a fruity filling, Strawberry, banana, peach, raspberry, plum and pear. Each flavour had its own colour coordinating icing, all were bright eye catching colours which made each customer that came in notice them and instantly want to try one.
The twelfth customer on this rainy morning was a woman with red hair and her two children, a boy and a girl. She was a regular customer who always bought a loaf of bread and sometimes a few cinnamon swirls. On this day though, the children noticed the inviting cupcakes and pleaded with their mother to buy some. After to being assured by the Baker that there was fruit inside she agreed to get them one each. The boy ate the pear flavoured cupcake and the girl chose the bright yellow banana one. The woman thanked the Baker and went back outside into the rain.

The Baker went about his business. He started to wonder which cupcake had the poison and hoped that the children hadn’t eaten that particular one. Because even some bakers whose randomly poison their products feel guilty about poisoning children. Then he suddenly remembered which cake had the poison.

Meanwhile, the woman with the red hair was in her kitchen making lunch. The children were in the living room eating their cakes. The boy eating his pear flavoured cake, the girl eating her banana cake.

The next thing that happened, the boy ran into the kitchen looking worried. When his Mother asked what was wrong all he said was “I think she’s sick”.

In the living room, the girl lay on the floor, coughing and spluttering, the half eaten cake in her hand.

Tuesday 15 November 2011

A Guilty Pleasure From Childhood

I don't know why but when I was younger I absolutely loved the 1954 musical 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers'. But when I look back at it now, I don't think "what the hell was I thinking?" I wonder "why did a child enjoy this film so much, the story is insane and there is only two good songs in it".

 I think what attracted to me to the musical was the brightly coloured shirts and the amazing dance sequences, especially the barn building scene. And maybe because I'm fan of Russ Tamblyn, he was great in The Adventures of Tom Thumb. But when you look at the story its basically about a man who wants a wife to do all his cooking, cleaning and taking care of his six younger brothers. So he goes into town, meets a pretty woman, says he loves her, marries her then takes her into the mountains to his cabin/farm where he and all his brothers live. But oh the dream is shattered, he's an arsehole and his brothers are dirty and a tad disgusting. She cleans them up and they all go into town (in their bright shirts) and meet nice girls, dance with then then are convinced (by the older brother) to kidnap them and make them marry them. Fool. But with musicals, there is usually a happy ending and some great songs on the way so I won't say anymore about that. It is worth seeing at least once if not for the ludicrous story but for the songs and dances. Oh and the shirts. You really have to watch it to understand how amazing the shirts are.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is definitely one of my guilty pleasures and there aren't that many, as  I don't feel guilty about liking things.

I actually haven't seen it all the way through since I got it on VHS for Christmas in 2006. I loved that VHS tape. I still want it on DVD but I'm picking my moment. And I finally buy it, I will relish the childhood memories.

Sunday 13 November 2011

TV Show Conundrums and Roller Derby Update

Last night I not only thought up a new story (Cake and Death) but I also realised that I still hadn't finished Six Feet Under season 2. Is this a bad thing? I really enjoyed the first season then became less bothered with the story in the second season. I enjoyed it but there was less need for me to know what happened unlike how I am with Pan Am and Boardwalk Empire. I still have it sitting on my self hiding behind my earring tree and every now and then I think, 'Maybe I should watch this because if  I don't, I know I'll sell it if I need money'. I bought season 3 at the same time thinking I'll get hooked like I always do but now I'm starting to think I'm better off just selling it and reading the story online . . .

 I have also missed quite a few films over the past three weeks such as The Ides of March, Anonymous and I have a horrible feeling that I have missed Miranda July's new film, The Future, which I have waited years for. But I will not miss The Deep Blue Sea as I plan on booking a ticket so I can't miss it. So look out for a blog about soon.

Anyway, this Saturday, after missing quite a few games, my sister and I went to Roller Derby for the start of the new season. First was game was the London Brawling team against the Sioux Falls Roller Dollz all the way from South Dakota, USA. After a brutal game the scores were London Brawling 307-19 Sioux Falls Roller Dollz. Then after hiding our smuggled in beer from the security guard, we enjoyed a charity donut and watched our team, Steam Rollers, the defending champions play the Suffra Jets in the first league game of the season. Of course my sister and I were cheering for our favourite players including best jammer, Fox Sake. This season featured quite a few new team members and they were  awesome players. Steam Rollers won the bout 217 -128. It was a great day overall, just hope I can make it to the next bout.

Short post today.

Thursday 10 November 2011

Cake and Death: Part 1

A woman lay on her sofa. She lay perfectly still not even blinking. She stared at the yellow ceiling. She had been staring this ceiling for hours without moving, almost, without breathing.

SMASH! The woman blinked. She looked around then sat up suddenly. A sudden rush of pain went through her head. She could hear someone in the kitchen moving around, broken something being swept away. She got up slowly and walked gingerly to the kitchen, her hand holding her head even though the pain was gradually deteriorating.

In the kitchen was another woman, at least twenty years older than herself, sweeping up glass and coffee from the floor. She looked at her and smiled.

-Are you all right darling?

She took her hand away from her head, the pain completely gone now and sighed.
-Yes Mother, I’m fine. What are you doing here?

Her Mother smiled again and continued sweeping up the glass.
-I wanted to come round and see how you were; I haven’t seen you in while and thought I’d just pop round-
-Yes yes ok Mum.

She sighed again looking at the coffee on the floor.
-Did you have to break my coffee jar? I haven’t got any more.
-Sorry darling, I had wet hands from washing up and it just slipped.
-You washed up?
-Well you weren’t going to were you.
-Wait, how long have you been here?

Her Mother looked at her watch.
-Oh, quite a while now. A couple of hours?
-I came and said hello, but you were dead to the world.
-I didn’t even notice you until you dropped the coffee. How strange. I wasn’t even asleep.
-Well whatever you doing you didn’t acknowledge me. Do you want tea?
-Er, yes, some strawberry please, its over there-
-Ah yes, I see it.

She wondered back to the sofa. She looked up at the ceiling once more. There was a reason why she had stared at it all day, but couldn’t remember why.

-Here you go.
Her Mother handed her the tea sat down next to her. She looked around at the practically empty room. Apart from the sofa the only other objects were the television, a small wooden table and a bookshelf.
-Not thinking of getting more furniture then?
-No Mum.

They sipped their tea in silence for a few minutes then her Mother got up and quickly ran into the kitchen. She came back with a box.

-I made these yesterday. They should ok still, I kept them in the fridge.
She put the box in her lap and sat back on the sofa. In the box were four cupcakes, each with yellow icing on top.

Something clicked. She recalled some vivid images and realised what she had been trying to remember all morning.

-Do you not want one? Pass it here; I’m going have one if you won’t.
-You know Mum; I had the strangest dream last night.
-Oh yeh. What was it about?
-It was about cake . . . and I think murder.
-What? Cake and Murder?
-Well actually it was about a baker, I think he was the murderer. I just remember bits and pieces.

She reached inside the box and took out a cake. She carefully unwrapped it and took a bite. The cake was delicious. As she chewed, the dream started to come back to her.

-So what happened with this baker?
-Well it all started like this:

Once Upon a Time there was this baker who like to poison his cakes . . . .

To Be Continued

Sunday 30 October 2011

Great Snakes, Thundering Typhoons and One Amazing Film!

Here are two links to the Belgium Premiere and the UK Premiere (I hope they still work): 

Yes! That's right its the long awaited Tintin post. On Tuesday this week I finally, after weeks, months of waiting, I finally got to see The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. And it was AMAZING! I was literally laughing my head off, it was truely that funny and I am not just saying that because I am a HUGE Tintin fan. I saw it in 2D and the animation was near perfect. Both my sister and mum (on separate occasions) complained about the size of some character's noses but then I reminded them that that was how the drawing were like in the original comics. I loved every minute of it. I should mention that the opening credit sequence was beyond inspired. Using drawings from the comics and (my sister pointed it out) the actual font they use in the comics as well. Everything was thought of right down to the very last detail. It was excellent casting, Jamie Bell would have been my choice too, especially as he is also a huge fan of Tintin.

For those who aren't familiar with Tintin, he was created by George Remi, born in Brussels, Belgium. Remi wrote all his stories under the name Herge, which is how everyone remembers him. The first Tintin story appeared in a weekly children's magazine called Le Petit Vingtieme in 1929. There are 23 complete Tintin adventures and they have been translated into over 50 languages. The film is based on three of them; The Crab with the Golden Claw (where Tintin first meets Captain Haddock), The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham's Treasure.

I got to see the film again, this time in 3D and at a really awesome cinema, The Ritzy in Brixton. First I had seen a film in the cinema and it was the first time I had enjoyed a 3D film even if I had to wear the glasses on top of my glasses. The film was even more amazing second time around and I laughed at the jokes more it seemed. Everyone in the room seemed to love it too. I have no idea what those critics were watching when they gave the film odd reviews. They obviously are not Tintin fans.

Other than see the film this week I finally finished a book, Tintin in the New World by Frederic Tuten. After reading the last page I kind of wished I hadn't. The end was so unbelievably depressing but I can't explain it any better or I might spoil the end. The story is about Tintin growing up and exploring his own mind and how he is looking for something more than an adventure. Any die hard fan should read it but I warn you, its nothing like the comics, its slow.

I'll end this post saying GO SEE THE FILM and this amazing bit of animation by a guy who was offered a job by Steven Spielberg after he saw this:
I did also have a link to an article about whether Tintin is gay or not but The Times newspaper has deleted it or won't let me access it. Oh well its out there somewhere.

I can't wait until the next Tintin film!!!

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Basking in July & Roasting marshmallows at a BBQ

This weekend more films were consumed, marshmallows eaten and sparklers lit!

After buying simply superb hat which Dunia said I should buy (excellent advise) I took it out for its first outing to London Southbank. I was early for the Miranda July talk so I basked in the sun and ate an apple while listening to Fred Astaire. A very good moment.

So then I went to my long awaited Miranda July Masterclass and I was sat in the front row feeling very awkward. I don't usually go for the front row, mostly because they are always sold out or because I know I'll feel uncomfortable.This time though, was really good. Annoyed at first as the Masterclass started really late which meant I couldn't go see The Artist after, but then when it started I forgave the poorly timed events and sunk into Miranda July world.

I thought after she denied me permission to adapt one of her short stories I wouldn't forgive her (I haven't) but listening to her talk about all her projects (she is a performance artist, writes fiction and makes films) she held my attention for the entire two hours. She mentioned briefly that she is writing her up coming novel and how she planned to make a film where the audience participated. She wanted to have words on the screen where all the men in the world talk to all the women in the world. All awesome ideas. I am yet to see The Future as I missed it at the London Film Festival and the screening at the Tate Modern but after seeing a few clips from the film I can't wait! After the talk I wanted to run home and draw on my shoes and watch You Me and Everyone We Know but instead I strolled home and got ready for drinks for my friends birthday. And it did it all while trying to search for the film's soundtrack.

After a very hectic, drunk, expensive but very good previous night I woke up early on Sunday and made cupcakes. Like you do. Then I got the tube to a pretty awesome unusual Autumn BBQ. Unusual because we all sat outside in blankets and coats in the cold weather and watched The Addams Family while roasting marshmallows. We also lit some sparklers and some fireworks. Halloween was thrown in too with some carved pumpkins in the garden.

After that awesome weekend I had the worst day at work and I found out something awful. I had missed the UK Adventures of Tintin Premiere, I had missed Jamie Bell. But more on that later.

Saturday 22 October 2011

We Really Do Need To Talk About Kevin

I haven't read the book, I know I should, but after seeing the film I don't think I want to. I'm one of those people who either reads the book before the film or not at all. Sounds bad but if I read the book after I will be forever comparing it to the film and can't see the characters as anything other than those who played them in the film and I need to imagine. But I am forever saying there is one exception, Little Children by Tom Perrotta, loved the film, loved the book.

I have been looking forward to seeing this film because of all the buzz that was around it at Cannes and also, it has a female director, Lynne Ramsay. I got to the cinema a tad early and waited a few moments then, as the cue got longer for the ticket booth, I started to panic. I don't why I panic for such things but I do. Then I saw a notice on the door saying they had sold out of the showing I was meant to see with my friends. I panicked and tried calling then. No answer, still on the tube. Then Dominic Cooper, British actor, walked into the cinema, walked out again. He was also on the phone. Then for a good 5-10 minutes it was just the two of us making frantic phone calls and looking up and down the street. It was quite amusing. Then I decided to go in and buy the tickets but it was also Dominic Cooper had decided to do the same thing. So of course I couldn't follow him in, it would have looked like I was following him. Anyway we got to see the film on time, sat in the font row and enjoyed a harrowing film, just as the poster and adverts had promised.

The film is about Eva (Tilda Swinton, who was amazing) the mother of a teenage boy, Kevin (Ezra Miller) who went on a high-school killing spree tries to deal with her grief and feelings of responsibility for her child's actions. The film is told in flashbacks mixed with the present day. It is a very good film and I know I keep saying that when I talk about films but it is true these films are very good. This film is of course different from the rest. It wasn't depressing for a start and it had me on the edge of my seat in the way I didn't know what Kevin was going to do next. I thought it was great casting especially all the Kevins, they all looked like they were same child and they did all look like they could be Tilda Swinton's. Casting aside, after seeing it my mum asked me (she read the book) how did Eva come across? For me, I felt sorry for her then I started to not understand her, why did she visit Kevin in prison after what he did, especially after the awful reveal near the end. From start to finish I felt sorry for her, being punished by her own child who she only tried to connect with. Go see it, its out now and see what you think.

Monday 17 October 2011

Feeling Restless in London & The Rules of Pedestrian Rage

While walking to the tube station in Hounslow I did not enjoy the countless stares of confusion and disdain. I suppose people were not prepared for my comic art themed tights or they were just weird. These strange stares continued when I got on the tube. I didn't understand, I wasn't wearing anything crazy or acting crazy. Worst part was when a middle aged couple sat opposite me kept staring at my tights. They may not have seen them before but there's no excuse for obviously looking at my legs/tights.

When I got to Piccadilly my pedestrian anger kicked it. I am not too fond of over crowded places especially on a Saturday night in central London. I really hate it when you are walking as fast as you can yet its not quite fast enough for the person behind you so they take over. Then as soon as they're in front they slow down so they walking next to you and so you slow down to get rid of them which makes you late for whatever you were hurrying for. The universal rule is you either take over the person in front and walk much faster or you just frak off! You can tell that these people on Saturday did not know this universal rule. In the end I weaved in and out of groups talking in my normal voice "get out of the way fool!'

Finally got to my destination, Ed's Diner where I had an amazing burger and a milkshake with some awesome friends. We were all going to see Gus Van Sant's new film Restless at the BFI London Film Festival.

The story was tragically beautiful. Centered around Enoch, a funeral crashing dropout with a ghost for a friend and tragic past. At a funeral he meets Annabelle, a Darwin enthusiast who has cancer. From there the two fall in love but as with all stories there is far more to it than that. I really loved the characters, I can't remember the last time I had seen a film with such in depth characters. What I mean by this is that their personalities are given depth and were unusual. When was the last time you saw a film where the main character was a teenage naturalist? I really enjoyed this film and story even though it was depressing but not in the way Melancholia was. I strongly recommend this film when it is released.

After a few delicious cocktails I ventured back on the tube and thankfully, less stares this time.

Friday 14 October 2011

The Scandalous Affairs of Barbara & Boris Hoganstein: Final Part

Like all stories, this one has come to an end. And like all stories this one ends with heartbreak, death and a cleansing fire.

As Kitty lay on the ballroom floor crying her eyes out, the police were called. With all the confusion inside, a few guest went outside for fresh air. There they found Devon Cain's body and there was more screaming, though this time from other guests. The staff tried their best to calm people down and corner off the areas where the bodies were.

Throughout this confusion and mayhem Boris Hoganstein sighed and quietly slipped away from the crowds. He calmly walked upstairs and went into a deserted room. He had taken a case of alcohol with him, taken from the bar downstairs and placed into the middle of the room. He sighed again and paused for a moment.

Barbara waited downstairs near the front entrance. She looked at the people in the ballroom, Kitty on the floor, Jonathan's body covered by a table cloth and closed her eyes. She had hoped that it wouldn't have come to this but there was no other way out.

Boris began emptying the bottles, pouring the liquid on the curtains, on the furniture and on the carpet. When all the bottles were empty he reached into his waistcoat pocket and took out a box of matches. He struck a match and dropped it on the soaking carpet. It lit up immediately.

Barbara opened her eyes. The police had arrived and were taking Kitty away, she didn't struggle. Other police officers were talking to other guests, getting statements about what happened. She looked up at the stairs to where her husband had gone. She thought about what he had said just before Kitty had shot her husband. Their secrets would come out sooner or later. Who knew what that P.I had found out, his notes could be in the Empire house, the police would find them and then what? He had said there was one way out of this. She had nodded, kissed him and whispered in his ear, 'Do whats best my love'.

From where she stood she could see one of the room light up with flames, smoke began to fill the air, people looked up in awe. Someone shouted FIRE and soon everyone was charging for all the available doors. Barbara didn't move. She couldn't, not until she saw him. The lower floors began to blaze and still she waited. Smoke filled the air, she could hardly see. Then she felt someone grab her hand a pull her towards the open door.

Outside, hundreds of people stood staring at the house on fire. It was incredible to see. Boris pulled Barbara out of the house and onto the green grass and away from the crowds. She turned to face him, embraced him as if she would never let go. He whispered in her ear, they both took one last glance at the fire and disappeared in the darkness, hand in hand.

So ends this tale of Boris and Barbara Hoganstein but for this strange couple their affairs are not yet over and there are far more scandalous tales to tell . . .

Tuesday 11 October 2011

The Scandalous Affairs of Barbara & Boris Hoganstein: Part 9

When the gunshot was fired both Hogansteins were at the bar. They were already in shock from the evenings previous events. Barbara dropped her glass of wine, Boris only spilt his drink. The glass shattered causing a few others to turn and look. The gunshot in the distance had sounded like a cork popping so no one made a fuss. The smashing glass got their attention but as it was a ball no one seemed to mind apart from one of the waiters who has to clean it up.

Outside, Jonathan and Kitty were standing face to face. Jonathan had fired his gun but not at Kitty. Devon Cain, who had been standing behind her, stumbled over and fell to the ground. Shot in his thigh. Kitty gasped and collapsed on the ground next to him. She started to cry hysterically while Jonathan blamed her for this and that he'd known all along about their affair. How could she betray him like this, how could she bare to look at him after what she had done, after what he'd made her do. He stood there and calmly said all this. Devon looked up and quietly spoke. He knew this would happen but he never imagined that Jonathan was the sort of man who would shoot someone. Jonathan answered that when the woman he loved and married betrayed him, it made him change.

Boris and Barbara by this time in the confrontation had moved over to the open window. Hiding behind the curtain they heard everything.

Still on the ground, bleeding, Devon asks Jonathan about his friend, George McJanet and did he know about the blackmailing. Jonathan smiles and says of course, who else would it be, but even his Private Investigator couldn't find proof.  From behind the curtain, it all makes sense now for Boris and Barbara. Devon's heart sinks. His mind wonders of the events earlier that evening when his friend had come to see him to tell him the truth about the debts, the blackmail and yes, the Hogansteins. He remembers how he had gone into such a rage. He couldn't believe his own eyes when he looked at his hands covered in George McJanet's blood. Looking up at Jonathan he wished that things had been different. He wished that he had never let go of Kitty, that he had never leant George the money and that he could have stopped that fire, all those years ago. Yes, as Devon Cain was about to die, not happy memories but regrets flashed before his eyes. With a few final words from Jonathan, you deserve this, and a cry of desperation from Kitty, Jonathan pulled the trigger. This time a bullet to the head. Kitty cries out. Jonathan Empire begins to walk away until he hears a click. He turns around, Kitty stands there, her dress covered in Devon's blood, holding a small pistol. Her face is stain with tears and make up. Her hands are shaking but she knows what she wants now. Jonathan springs into action and runs through the open door back into the ballroom. But as he passes the bar, he trips over the waiter cleaning up the glass from the floor. He fall onto the fall, people stand back and gasp. Kitty runs in and before he can stand up straight, Kitty shoots her husband three times in the chest.

Chaos follows. Kitty drops her gun and breaks down into tears, people rush around her, waiters check Jonathan's body and the Hogansteins, quietly disappear.