So, you know that song? Yeah, that one. Apparently, it has started some sort of strange nationwide craze for charity shops and bargain findings; a craze that I fully approve of. While every other retail store in Northern Ireland is closing (Lisburn have lost Dorothy Perkins, Evans, NV and The Sony Centre this month), it seems we will always have our thrift stores.
And Primark. We will always have Primark.
I thought, for this ON TIME (woo!) Sunday Review, I would tell you about my recent jaunt up the Lisburn Road. My logic in visiting this weird inbetween-Belfast-and-Lisburn-land was centered around the fact that very few of the shops around there seem to be shutting down, and it’s pretty damn fancy, so fancy people and students alike probably donate to the charity shops around there. And there’s a Starbucks, that was a massive factor, I won’t lie.
Anyway, to the point. I had money burning a hole in my pocket, I Googled tips and tricks for thrifting (because I Google hints and tips for everything, like the sad little lady I am) and I had a bag for life. No 5p charge for me, not at all. Over the space of four hours and, like, twelve charity shops, I bought….*drum roll*…two books. Two books. I wanted bags and bags of marvellous, cheap and miraculous wonders, but no, it was not to be.
The second book was an encyclopedia of treasures from Ancient Rome; obviously highly essential. I had to spell check encyclopedia like, ten times there. That’s humiliating for an English graduate.
I think my expectations were too high. I won’t even pretend to be some sort of involved fashionista, because I dress like a hobo (or, if I make an effort, a fourteen year old goth), but I was sort of expecting to see, I don’t know, something? A battered old AC/DC t-shirt? Denim stuff? Anything that didn’t smell like moths?
I did see an £8 wedding dress, but I didn’t want to get it because, well. I’m not that mental. Or Miss. Havisham.
I digress, as I so frequently do, but the Lisburn Road has always been a favourite of mine. I would’ve liked to live there at some point during my student life, but I ran out of money and had to live with my parents for the majority of my undergraduate career. It’s a nice area to stroll around, plenty of food and coffee and bars and interesting shops (including that one that sells the giant expensive poofy formal dresses, and Arcadia, with all it’s joyful American candy) and before you know it, bam, you’re in Belfast. With more shops, and more bars.
I did have a point to make, but it’s completely gone. Go for a dander up the Lisburn Road. If you find something amazing in a charity shop, send me a picture, so I can be jealous and cling to my two bargain books.
On a Sunday and everything! All hail me! Excuses if this seems short or rushed, but I do have a life. Sort of. I have a lot of YouTube to get caught up with, which is sort of the same thing…
So. Review-time-goodness. This week I bring you, not a book or a video game, but a television program. A terrible, terrible television program; that is also somehow amazing.
Catchphrase is back! This very evening, Catchphrase put out a new episode for the first time since 2002. I googled that little fact obviously, but to be honest, I was extremely surprised to discover that it was actually on for that long to begin with. It is a quintessentially ’80s program that plagued my early childhood (I was never any good at it and tonight I discovered that I am still fairly rubbish. A nice little blow to my ego), and I sort of thought that it might be better left to the tacky past. Alas, no, it has been reincarnated with that bloke off CITV. I don’t even know his name…Steve something?
Then again, I don’t remember the original dude’s name either…Clint? He looks a bit like a Clint.
And never fear, Catchphrase fans! That scary robot Chip thing is back too, only ITV’s CGI budget has thrown up on him.
While the drinking game possibilities are endless and I am screaming at my television right now (one of these women is so stupid, it’s obviously…wait…no…it’s not), something’s just not right. I think we may be over the idea of a shiny TV game show, with all the standard prizes and overly scripted jibes from the overly oiled presenter. Don’t get me wrong, it’s entertaining, but maybe somethings should just be left in the ’80s.
Yes. Somethings should be left to the ’80s.
Not even a Monday review, it’s freaking Tuesday and I am only getting around to this now. Oh, gentle, devoted readers, I am sorry. I am a but a weak willed little lady…and the chocolate eggs, they call to me. I spent my Easter weekend eating all my mother’s food (she dreads my visits, I bet), and talking to kids about Indonesian shadow puppets and Inuits.
No, really. I have a cool job, did I mention?
ANYWAY. The Sunday Review. The very, very late Sunday review.
In the past few weeks, I’ve reviewed books, movies, comics…all very serious, proper things. Wonderfully geeky and marvellous things. This week, I thought I might try and remind myself that this is a blog for those of us based (stuck) in the Northern Ireland area, and get a little bit ‘Norn Iron’ specific.
If you’re not from Northern Ireland, I apologise…but also, you should visit sometime, because it’s occasionally pretty and nice to look at.
While my own little home town mall is slowly closing down and turning into a…ghost mall (that’s definitely a thing) and Castlecourt has neglected to modernize since the mid-eighties, Victoria Square, in my opinion, is going from strength to strength. There is no other shopping centre in Northern Ireland that I take quite so much pleasure in dandering around, but most importantly, it’s the shopping centre that puts the most effort into drawing the people in and keeping them there. And not just children! Last week, there was a petting zoo! WITH A LLAMA.
On second thoughts, that might have been for children, but I enjoyed it more than they ever could have.
Moving on. The stores in Victoria Square have something that nowhere else really does (Lisburn, in particular); they have variety. If you need a quirky, fancy, thoughtful, funny gift for someone – this is the place to go. And oh, the subtle geekeries that domed paradise has to offer. Like…
Such lovely things. And such lovely shops! If you REALLY want a fancy day of shopping, it’s fun to dress up real nice and stroll around House Of Fraser or Ted Baker and pretend you can afford things…
I never do that.
p.s. If you aren’t terrified of heights, climbing to the top of the Square and squinting at things from the Dome is must. As in, YOU MUST.
I may have discovered the cure for writer’s block…and it may be snow. Seriously, I have been freakin’ prolific this week, because it’s too cold and difficult to get anywhere or do anything. Hence, a Sunday review that’s actually on time. It’s such a shame that my life is quiet and simple, and I am desperately running out of things to review. Without turning this into a movie blog, which would be dumb, because I like to watch the same flicks over and over and over and over.
Clerks and Tangled are currently in heavy rotation. I think the trick is to have insane variety. And catchy Disney tunes.
Anyway. Yes. It’s Sunday, I should decide what I’m going to review…shall I be a tad more intellectual, perhaps?
REFUGEEKNI’S 10 BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE
I always hate those sort of titles, because it’s like…your death is imminent. And probably zombie related. It is sort of catchy though, so I suppose I shall leave it. Anyway, I’ve tried not to be too obvious in my choices (I could have just picked any book from A Song Of Ice And Fire or The Hobbit and gone back to bed, but I owe you more than that).
- The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
This recommendation comes with a warning; this is one twisted, horrible book. Not one for animal lovers. Or fans of basic human decency. Banks’ novel is centered around Frank, who kills wasps (and various other small creatures) in complex rituals, believing the outcome to indicate some aspect of the future.
Gory, soul-destroying and fascinating – this is not a novel for the faint of heart.
- The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom
While my first choice is dark and terrible, my second is deep, but uplifting. I am not a religious person and despite the title, I truly believe that this is not a religious book. It’s very human, revolving around the idea that when you die and go to heaven, you meet the five people to whom your life was most influential. The protagonist, Eddie, tells the story of his 83 year long life through these people he meets – although some of them he didn’t even really know at all.
It’s a thought provoking read, and while it isn’t necessarily ‘geeky’, everyone should read this book.
- Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
Androids and bounty hunters! Strongly influenced Bladerunner. Need I say more?
- The Dice Man by “Luke Rhinehart”
What if you left everything in your life entirely to chance? To the roll of some dice? Luke Rhinehart does this, and the results range from entertaining to life-destroying. A truly intriguing read – sex, murder and psychology.
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Inspired one of the greatest movies of all time (Demolition Man. No, really, I truly believe that it is a masterpiece), Brave New World is set in 2540, in a world where psychological conditioning and ‘reproductive technology’ are the order of the day. I guarantee, you won’t be able to put this book down.
Sidenote: my cat is named Huxley. Surely, that is the greatest of all honours ever to be bestowed on an author?
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy
If you haven’t heard of the book, you’ve surely heard of the movie, starring Aragorn. Um. I mean Viggo Mortenson. McCarthy gives us the post-apocalyptic world that we most definitely do not want to think about. Zombies are all well and good, but starvation and complete and utter hopelessness? Very real fears. The novel follows a father and son through the murderous wilderness, and the massive lack of punctuation is just further testament to how THERE IS NO POINT TO ANYTHING.
Don’t expect a happy ending.
- Misery by Stephen King
I am not a huge horror fan, but this book really stuck with me. In an age where celebrities are considered public property, the scenario of a super-fan abducting an idol and keeping them locked away is not as fanciful as you might like to think.King at his very best – you’ll never want your fifteen minutes of fame, after all.
- The Great Gatbsy by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A strange choice for a geeky selection of books, I’ll grant you, but this is truly a masterpiece. I read it at least once a year, but I’m amazed every time. The characters are so real that you’ll want to scream at them (or hug them), and you’ll further lose your faith in humanity. Because everyone is a dick who is out to use and abuse you.
- The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Oscar! Beloved Oscar. Another book I consider to be extremely psychological (it would seem I do like a page turner that messes with your head…), Dorian Gray is a vain narcissist, granted immortality. While his physical self is left untouched by his years and his sins, his portrait bears the scars.
I am a massive Oscar Wilde fan, for the same reason I am a Shakespeare fan. People and their attitudes never really change; The Portrait Of Dorian Gray is as morally relevant today as it was when it was written.
- Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell TERRIFYING, because it practically came true. The government are in your homes, in your heads, watching your every move! Big Brother is watching, people. Always watching.
There! I think my book choices may say more about myself than anything else, but at least you’ve got a nice little peek inside my brain. Obviously, there are also hundreds of other books you NEED to read – I am a huge fan of the fantasy genre, and while I’ve avoided it successfully for this whole blog, I do so love a book with a nice wizard or a lost prince or an angry god.
That’s another blog for another time, though.
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Okay! I finally remembered to do one of these on time. The down side is, I don’t think I really have anything I want to review. I have literally done nothing all week, except for watch The Office (US, naturally), play drinking Jenga and eat fast food. I am an inspiration, I know.
Oh! I suppose there is this one other thing that I do all the time. Just before Christmas, I discovered Supernatural. I realize that everyone else discovered Supernatural years and years and years ago, but it is pretty new to me. Mind you, I am catching up nicely – about to start season seven, so I think I average about two seasons a month.
Which is actually sort of sad.
Anyway, if you are not familiar with the concept of the show, it’s about two brothers (who both won the gene-pool lottery and are brain-warpingly good looking) who travel all over America being monster hunters. One of the brothers is Jensen Ackles (formerly of Days Of Our Lives) and one of them is Jared Padalecki (who used to be on the Gilmore Girls), but don’t let their dodgy acting pasts or floppy hair scare you away. Given the way I feel about horror movies (why would you pay money to have someone make you scared and miserable?), it’s a bit of a surprise addiction, because at times it can be really bloody creepy. Ghost kids and piles of skin and people exploding; the works. It also happens to be hilarious. There’s this one episode where they end up in an alternate dimension, where they are actors playing themselves on a TV series. No, really.
I don’t really know how else to sell the show to people who don’t already watch it. There are hot girls, sometimes? The music is awesome (but only if you really like Kansas)? There is really no point to this blog what-so-ever, I just needed an excuse to bring up Misha Collins and my insane love for his perfect face. It needed to be on the internet, somewhere.
I have discovered, in recent weeks, that I actually have a super power that is very closely tied to this particular TV show. I am slightly psychic about it. I always know what’s going to happen, but only about thirty seconds before it happens. It’s not a great super power I’ll grant you, but I’m sure not all the X-men were that useful.
Anyway, if you haven’t already given Supernatural a chance, you really should. You’ve got a whole heap of catching up to do.
On Monday again. Drat, and after I was doing so well.
After many years of avoiding Lisburn Omniplex like the plague (I did work there for a little while, and for some reason, I rarely go back to places where I have previously worked. I don’t know why, I just find it odd), I have recently been haunting the place once again. Renting or downloading movies is all well and good, but there’s nothing quite as nice as a date night in the cinema. I like to plan it so there are no children there while I am and sneak in my own popcorn. It’s the little things.
Anyway, I have seen a variety of movies in the last month or so, of varying degrees of goodness. That was terrible grammar. Hansel And Gretel 3D? No no no, very, very bad. A Good Day To Die Hard? Entertaining, but a little devoid of believable emotion/character.
Wreck It Ralph? Bloody fantastic. And adorable. With sprinkles.
First of all, I will have you under no illusions – this is a children’s movie. It’s not like Monsters Inc. or Toy Story, where there are a ton of jokes thrown in for the adults…this is all for kids. That does not, in any way, detract from it’s sheer brilliance.
It’s about video games, so what’s not to like? Lots of retro favourites make appearances; Pac-man, Sonic, Bowser, Dr. Robotnik (or Egg-man, depending on your generation), the list goes on. Very pleasing. Metal Gear Solid gets a teeny tiny reference too, so obviously they are expecting this to be a film that fathers will end up taking their children to.
I’m not being sexist, I’m just psychic about marketing techniques.
The movie itself is colourful, funny and well-written, and the cast is huge and famous. Which is good, if, like me, you are a fan of the ‘Who’s voice is that and what else were they in?’ game. I am a particular fan of the (obviously) Gears Of War inspired marine chick, the poor, long suffering members of the villains support group, and the Sugar Rush racers, who are just too adorable. Girly moment. Sorry.
The tiniest bit of research (Wikipedia, obvs) has informed me that Ralph was nominated for a whole bunch of awards, and won a whole bunch of other ones. Oh, look at that, they’re already in talks about a sequel.
FOCUSING ON MMORPGS AND CONSOLE GAMING.
Brilliant. Bring it on.
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 have decided, in my infinite wisdom, that my blog needs to be more…regular. Steady. Organised. You may have noticed, I sort of blog and write and rant as the need takes me. Sometimes, this results in no blogs for a week, and sometimes, it results in three blogs a day.
So, now, on Sundays, I am going to review something. It can be anything. Something Northern Irish and touristy I have done during the week, a restaurant I could eat myself into a coma in, books, plays, songs, people, ANYTHING.
I thought I’d start with something I really, desperately and passionately care about, because this could all go downhill from here. At least I will have covered something that I truly believe really matters.
This week, my wonderful geeks, I am going to ramble about The New 52. Again. Shut up, it’s my blog, I can do as I please.
Yes. So. The New 52. I’m not going to explain the whole thing in detail again, because I’ve done that before, and because you can find that on the internet, but just to give you a vague idea if you are clueless – in 2011, DC rebooted fifty-two of their comic book titles, and it is glorious.
2011, you say?! That’s a long time ago, it’s too late for me to get into this!
Not at all, dear friends. You can find the start of a story arc and hop in there, or scour the internet/back issues in Forbidden Planet, and get yourself caught up. We’re on issue #15.
So far I’ve said a whole lot of nothing, so FOCUS. I will mainly talk about the issues I actually collect, because, well, I know most about them, and it seems the logical thing to do.
Actually, now that I look at that picture, it’s missing a few (this is just the most recent haul, it doesn’t actually cover a whole month…), but I digress. I am a huge Batman fan, as you should well know by now, so a lot of the titles I go for are The Bat-Family titles.
The latest Batgirl series is written by the one and only Gail Simone, who is right in Barbara Gordon’s head, and makes her the coolest chick with a cowl that has ever been committed to page. The series also has this amazing way of being really moving, which is an achievement in any comic book – they get so few pages to get the story across, after all.
While Batgirl manages to be cool, moving and all around awesome, the latest Bat-Family story arc has added another dimension to the reboot- the reappearance of the Joker is terrifying. More than terrifying. Unnerving, thrilling, painful. While some comic books, yes, even Batman, have in the past been predictable and formulaic, there is just no way of knowing where the Joker is going to go next.
His face is also held on with elastic bands and buckles – that’s pretty damn creepy, too.
Unfortunately, I’m not enjoying every title as much as I am enjoying Batman and Batgirl. Suicide Squad, featuring the fan favourite Harley Quinn, is just not grabbing me. It’s not a regular purchase for me, but the couple I have read just lack something. The art, on the other hand, cannot be faulted. Is this not one of the most amazing pictures of Harley and the Joker you have ever seen?
It’s just such a shame that I can’t get into it- I really wanted to. On the other hand, I have found myself drawn to something I never thought I would be. Batman and Robin is really quite great. If you didn’t know, the latest Robin is Damien Wayne (Batman’s son, with Talia Al Ghul).
I didn’t like Damien when he first popped up in my precious universe – I thought he was unrealistic, contrived and difficult to warm to. The reboot managed to change that, although I’m not entirely sure how. They gave him a dog? Maybe that’s it.
It also makes it more clear that everything Damien does, he does for his father. While before, he was killing and ‘didn’t understand why it was wrong’ (they have done this before – Cassandra Cain, Huntress…), now it is obvious that he loves Batman, and truly wants to do right by him.
Oh…look. I have gone on for much too long, and haven’t even really managed to make any points. I should’ve known this would happen. I’ll finish off on a slightly different, less Batman-centered note. While I haven’t read it myself, there is one title from the New 52 that is constantly being ranked as the greatest – check out Animal Man and let me know what you think?
Sorry for the rant. I’ll rein it in for next week, promise.
* You can get The New 52 from Forbidden Planet in Belfast, or order online. I trust Forbidden Planet more, personally.
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