I’m going to be honest…sometimes, I forget I have a blog. Other times, I remember I have a blog, but am far too busy doing something else to actually pay any attention to it. So much for new year’s resolutions to be committed to things, huh?
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I started ‘The Sunday Review’, which I fully intended to be a weekly thing. Alas, various family dramas and events (my little brother can now legally drink in America, hurrah) distracted me, and I haven’t quite got there. Curses. Rather than be lazy and leave it another week, I thought I would, instead, provide you with a slightly late Sunday review. On Monday. Monday Review doesn’t sound as snappy, does it?
So, for this review, I thought I would tell y’all about something else that has been seriously distracting me this week. I have finally discovered Star Wars: The Old Republic. It seemed appropriate, given the recent re-birth of media interest in this most glorious of franchises. JJ Abrams is on board, and all that.
Before anyone dares say anything, I have played World Of Warcraft in the past, and really enjoyed it, but my financial situation currently calls for a MMORPG that is free to play. And a diet consisting mainly of Tesco Value baked beans, but that’s irrelevant. While SWTOR is constantly reminding me of the treasures and boons that could be mine for a small monthly fee, I have managed (so far) to ignore this temptation, and carry on, merry and penniless. Admittedly, I haven’t been playing for that long (less than a week, really) and I never really get an awfully long time to immerse myself, because (a) I do have a life and (b) my laptop heats up to the point you could fry an egg on it after about twenty minutes.
Asides from the begging for money the game does and the huge amount of memory you have to sacrifice to please it, I highly recommend this game. It lags something shocking, and needs to update once every three days (apparently), but once you do get into the actual game play, it’s clever, well-written and reasonably challenging. The graphics are nothing to write home about, MMORPG’s rarely are, but the Star Wars universe is well represented, and the characters usually look vaguely like how you imagine they are supposed to.
Let’s talk classes. As with WoW, you start off by picking your allegiance (Imperial or Republic) and then pick a class designated within these parameters. I picked Imperial, of course, because it is so much more fun to be a bad guy. Rather than be swayed to using the dark side of the Force, I picked a Bounty Hunter character.
“No lightsaber?!” you cry. Not yet, although a second character is pretty inevitable later on, and I will probably go with Jedi. I felt I had to be a bounty hunter, as my boyfriend recently told me I couldn’t be Boba Fett. I don’t remember the context, but I assure you, it was not a compliment. I could be Boba Fett if I wanted to be Boba Fett, see.
Anyway, rather than divulge the intricacies of my story line thus far, I will instead encourage you to give up a considerable portion of your life to give this a go. Good luck, and may the force be with you.
I can’t believe I just said that.
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I did warn y’all I would be blogging my heart out for a couple of days. We are effectively snowed in, see. I thought it would be a fun novelty, but I am already crawling the walls, and craving all the foods that aren’t in my house.
So! I know I’ve already done my January Etsy finds, but that was before the snow started, and I do so like to be topical. I tried to hunt for local crafts, but I could only find a couple without making the links too tenuous and iffy, but I’ve made it very clear what is from Northern Ireland, and what is from elsewhere.
Anyway, first up, I am (yet again) promoting the very lovely jewellery of a very lovely friend. She didn’t even have to bribe me or anything, this time.
As per usual, click on the picture to be chucked over to Etsy, for prices and details and pictures and things.
From HearHoofBeatsThinkZebras, I give you this deluxe charm bracelet, all themed around Disney classic, Snow White. See? Snow themed! I particularly like the tiny snow flake and the little cameo charm with Snow White in all her animated glory. One of the store’s pricier pieces, it’s still a bargain, and the antique/vintage style is really pretty. You may see a few pieces like this floating around Etsy (and elsewhere), but I can promise you – best value, best quality, best seller.
Okay, I’m a little biased. So sue me.
This little guy is also local to Northern Ireland, and look at his little beak! And the cheeks and the feet, awk. I love anything unique and wonderful, and this kawaii penguin charm is both those things. And penguins live in snow, so my theme is still going nicely.
While these extremely geeky earrings are NOT local, I can definitely vouch for the seller, having ordered (in reasonable bulk) button badges from her before. Emma Frost (frost! Frost is like snow!) is one of my favourite X-Men, if you ignore the slightly sexist and annoying portrayal of her in First Class, just check out that pout.
Again, NOT local, but it gets a really big picture so you can see, it detail, just how awesome this is. It may be the best lighter that has ever existed. And Winter Is (not only) Coming, it’s here.
Theme complete. 20G for sticking to theme.
I am house bound because of the (bloody) snow, so do excuse me if I inundate you with blogs for the next three days. I thought, since I have literally nothing better to do (except for two weeks worth of ironing and uni work, but yeah, whatever), that I would share a great little anecdote with you. I am constantly going on about how Northern Ireland (especially Lisburn) is too small, as well as complaining that every man I meet has been an extra in Game Of Thrones, and I can’t get in there because I refuse to bear all to the world.*
*People always seem to question my devotion to HBO because of this, but hey…my Dad watches that show.
Anyway, both these theories were further proven recently, when I was on a driving lesson. Yes, I know, I’m 23 and can’t drive yet – that’s not the point I’m making. The point is that even my driving instructor is embroiled in the Game Of Thrones web that has covered the country.
It came up in conversation perfectly normally, of course. I mentioned I like Twitter and that my blog had been re-tweeted by my favourite comic book writer. I may have been gloating about how I felt famous for all of twenty minutes. Anyway, Phil (that would be the driving instructor) asked what I blog about, and I said, “Well, Game Of Thrones, mostly”.
I was trying to reverse around a corner at the time, by the way. Do you know how hard it is to talk and do that for the first/second time? I managed it. I am a driving god. Or at least, I will be, when I pass my test.
Anyway, Phil told me a little story. In this story, he was standing outside The Cloth Ear (an apparent haunt of all peoples of Westeros), when he started talking to the chap standing beside him. Phil is a friendly bloke.
And I can’t pull of saying ‘bloke’. Conversation went on, everything was very friendly, and said chap mentioned he was in Northern Ireland shooting a pilot for a big HBO series. For some wonderful reason, phone numbers were exchanged.
About half way through Phil telling the story, I was seriously veering around the road, demanding a name.
IT WAS ALFIE FREAKIN’ ALLEN. Urm. Theon Greyjoy.
My driving instructor has not only met, but possesses the mobile number of one of the stars of my favourite TV show. I begged, I truly did, but alas, the number has not been forthcoming. So, it is with great regret, that I tell you all – I am going to have to kill my driving instructor and steal his mobile.
At this rate, I will never pass my driving test.
p.s. If you are local, and like Game Of Thrones, you can sign up here to be an extra!
p.p.s. If you like me, you can sign up here, for my love and devotion.
I’m not sure when it happened, but sometime in the recent past, ‘geek’ became a trend. I am not about to go on a rant about how this is disgraceful and how I hate that people are wearing Batman t-shirts when they probably don’t know a thing about him (I do hate it, by the way, but that’s a whole different thing). Instead, I thought I would take a more positive look at this trend, and how it affects ‘us’.
‘Us’ being the geeks who got bullied in school for our strange ways and lack of fashion sense, of course.
Where before, we were mocked and poked for liking superheroes more than real people, for playing Xbox more than dating and for understanding the meaning of the word ‘cosplay’, now we are highly desirable, fashionable figures of wisdom, and everyone is dying to know what we thought of Avengers Assemble and The Dark Knight Rises.
Oh! How the times have changed! Northern Ireland is usually so gloomy and stuck in it’s ways (see, for example, any thing on the news about the country, ever), that I had resigned myself to the fact that I would forever be considered ‘odd’. That I would bump into people from school, and they would walk away whispering about how I haven’t changed a bit, and isn’t that a shame?
Instead! Suddenly my Captain America t-shirt is the most admired thing in my wardrobe, my comic book collection actually played a huge part in getting me a boyfriend and my job as a history geek makes me ten times more interesting.
I’m not sure entirely where I’m going with this rant, but surely, I’m not the only one to notice this? It’s sort of a great thing – people are getting into comic books and video games in a way that they never have before, especially women, because these things now carry more of an air of normality and acceptability. Video games are now part of social events (my house has weekly Halo nights, it’s about as much socializing as we actually do), Halloween is now an opportunity to whip out your cowl (rather than yer baps, yeo), and geeky girls are not recognised as being a wonderful, hot commodity (rather than a rare, skittish, basement-dwelling creature).
I love this. I know it’s just a trend, and it will all be over soon, but in the meantime, I am content to bask in the adoration that my huge knowledge of Batman has earned me, and to take advantage of the geeky t-shirts and pyjamas popping up all over the high street.
RIGHT. Blog. Blog, blog, blog. I have been suffering from serious writer’s block – not only here, but in any aspect of my life in which I am required to string together a sentence. I’m deeply concerned my brain has finally given up, because of the hours I have spent wasting it’s energy on Fruit Ninja.
I thought I might try my hand at being a little more positive than usual, and talking about more productive ways to spend any spare time you might find yourself with. Not that Fruit Ninja is a waste of time, it’s freakin’ amazing.
Anyway, I know I go on a lot about how you should be out and around the country having day trips and adventures, but I’m thinking on a more regular scale here and, not to sound suddenly all moral or preachy, but I truly believe that volunteering for ANY charity is the best use of your free time. If you have any, that is. It just so happens at the moment that I am blessed with a great deal of it.
SO. Ideas for worthwhile volunteering activities in our beloved Northern Ireland.
Guides & Scouts
You might be aware that I am a Guide leader, and have been for a surprising number of years. You may look me up and down and think ‘really?’ (god knows some of the parents certainly do), but I love it. Kids are great. So sweet and funny – and surprisingly smart and aware of what’s going on around them. If religion isn’t your thing (it’s really, really not mine), then Guiding is definitely worth looking in to – the entire organisation seems to be moving away from the church more and more.
You can find information about volunteering with Guides here, and for Scouts here. There are hundreds of kids waiting to join a unit, but the majority of packs are understaffed, overworked and underfunded. Some might also appreciate donations? Just a suggestion.
I’ve put this in because it’s so obvious, but I have tried it in the past, and didn’t really enjoy it very much. I found working in a charity shop to be quite dull, and the other volunteers to be a few generations ahead of me, and very stuck in their ways. BUT. I would love to be proven wrong – if you are into helping out at a local charity shop, tell me about it, and call me a nasty person for bad-mouthing such valuable fundraising efforts. Or even better, if you agree with me, let’s petition charities to get younger faces in their stores and administration!
I’m pretty sure I could make a living out of planning fundraisers, I am such a freak for organisation. I’ll take paperwork and coloured pens over an alcoholic beverage any day.
That was a lie.
I admire anyone who has a hobby and occasionally uses it to raise money for a cause they feel feelings about. If I could get someone to sponsor me to read comics or play Kinect, I would be the Richard Branson of Northern Ireland by now. Unfortunately, I have no hobbies that are worth any attention at all, really. If you do, stick your neck out and do something? Someone, somewhere, will appreciate it.
Besides, people who do charity work are so much more attractive and wonderful than people who do not. If you ignore the large percentage who turn out to be serial killers looking for an alibi, or something.
I am so into this at the moment. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to make it down to any of the peace rallies around Belfast’s City Hall, but I just think they are fantastic. I wish they could make the news as much as the riots and politics, because they truly deserve to. Northern Ireland is not all idiots in balaclavas, we are a great little country, full of amazing, smart and modern people. These rallies show the world that, and encourage the locals to remember that it’s is 2013, AND WE ARE SO PAST RIOTING AND PETROL BOMBS.
I know this is technically not charity work, but it is political activism, and we need it so badly right now. Peaceful protesters – I salute you. I sincerely do.
I could say so much more about charity work, but I don’t want to go on and on. I just wanted to remind people, like me, who can’t get the full time job of their dreams, that they could be making the most of their time – you can help someone in a very direct way, while adding more and more to your CV. Selfish? I don’t think so.
Please do let me know what you think about the opportunities to make a difference in Northern Ireland – on a local, or international level. Or, let me know what you do to change your world. I’ll admire and adore you, I promise.
I have this friend, Kyra. Kyra is a bit of a geek, and she makes jewellery. I constantly tell her she is my most useful friend, which is about as nice of a compliment as anyone has gotten from me in years. I’m such a great person.
I’ve flogged HearHoofBeatsThinkZebras‘ jewellery on the blog before but over Christmas many more magical trinkets have appeared, so I thought it might be worth drawing them to your attention.
Also, I was bribed with a certain necklace. I’m not ashamed to admit that my love and admiration can be fairly easily bought.
First up, Lord Of The Rings things and bits. Makes perfect sense, given that the trilogy (and The Hobbit, for that matter) are essentially about what happens when jewellery develops self awareness and becomes evil. I can’t promise that this jewellery won’t do this.
Personal favourites include the Thorin’s map necklace with teeny dragon charm (see previous comment about bribery – this is what I got), and the Eye Of Sauron necklace (which I can’t believe I have never seen done anywhere else before, such a great idea).
OH! Also, the ‘Not All That Wander Are Lost’ cameo necklace. I love The Riddle Of Strider, Tolkien was an underrated poet, if you ask me.
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
Harry Potter quotation cameo necklaces, obviously. I have to admit, I’ve sort of been over Harry Potter since the final movie came out, it’s hard to get excited about something that a) you got into when you were eleven, and b) is totally and completely over. That is, of course, just me, I get the Harry Potter love, and I love the lace-edging on these pieces, they look so fancy.
BATMAN! I love Batman, did you know? There should be a Batman symbol on all jewellery, this is my honest belief. Grumpy Cat is also brilliant, because I’m pretty sure if I was a cat, I would look much the same.
Sidenote: if you haven’t seen How To Train Your Dragon, you really do need to. Kids’ movies are not just for kids, y’know.
Anyway! Go buy things. You can find Kyra and her booty (ha, I worded it like that on purpose) here:
There’s a lot of variety – Firefly, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Dr. Horrible, Batman, Moulin Rouge, shots from tunder the microscope, tiny bottles of booze…seriously. The list goes on.
While you’re on Facebook, you can find me HERE. And I would like very much, if you were to click that little ‘Like’ button for me. Go on. Please.
If you are anything like me, you have approximately two hundred and fifty things to do in any given day. And, if you are anything like me, you make the executive decision to ignore all these things so that you can watch cat videos on YouTube.
YouTube is the ultimate enemy of productivity – vast, varied and endlessly entertaining; in my student days it was not unknown for me to skip the occasional lecture or tutorial to watch videos that have little or no educational value.
However, there is no avoiding some serious YouTube love, and as such, I thought I would share with you some of the channels/videos that I timetable into my week.
Geek & Sundry
Of course this has to come first. Geek & Sundry was launched in 2012, as part of a YouTube ‘original channel’ initiative. Fronted by actress and personal girl-crush Felicia Day, the channel (and internet community) is centered around all those things we hold dear – comics, games, books and hobbies.
I am a huge fan. They host a number of weird and wacky shows, but here is a run down of my favourites.
The Flog – Felicia Day’s video blog, in which she does marvellous things, like fall in love with CPR dummies and milk goats.
Written By A Kid – They take a ten year old’s story and turn it into a mini-movie! Too cute – and Joss Whedon has popped up in an episode.
THE GUILD! – Can’t leave this out. No way. Although it pre-dates the creation of Geek & Sundry, The Guild is now hosted on the channel, and revolves around Codex and her guild, who play a MMORPG called ‘The Game’ more than they do anything else.
If you haven’t had a Geek & Sundry marathon yet, go do it now. Catch up, and become a complete addict. If you click on the marvellous picture of Felicia Day above, you can find all the goodies Geek & Sundry have to offer.
Given that I am a relatively young woman, I am a bitter old crone. I don’t like anything. Or anyone. And anybody younger than me is loud and inconsiderate. I have found my internet soul mate, in the form of Yahtzee. Through his show Zero Punctuation (hosted on The Escapist), Yahtzee reviews hundreds of games. Which is interesting, given that he doesn’t seem to enjoy any games very much at all.
With the exception of Batman: Arkham Asylum (and City) and Portal 2, obviously.
So, if you don’t mind your favourite games being slated and your IQ being continuously called into question, go check him out.
I know everyone in the world is familiar with Simon’s Cat and his adorable cartoon adventures, but I just can’t get enough of these animated shorts. And, as a reasonably recently new kitty owner, I can totally sympathize.
Neil’s Puppet Dreams
Hosted on the Nerdist channel, and starring Neil Patrick Harris (the one and only Dr. Horrible), this new web series is bizarre, fluffy and musical. With guest appearances from Nathan Fillion and Neil’s trouser weasel, I am already a huge, huge fan.
These are just a few of my favourites – obviously I don’t feel like I need to mention Jenna Marbles and My Drunk Kitchen, because everyone watches those, right? Also. Cat videos. Hundreds of cat videos.