Northern Ireland based geekery & nerdisms

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I know what you are thinking…I haven’t reviewed a movie in a long, long time, and when I finally decide to, I review Monsters University. I don’t feel like I have to defend my recent movie choices, but if I had to, I would say;

(a) It’s about monsters, so it is technically a horror movie,
SO IT’S FOR GROWN UPS.

(b) Nathan Fillion, the most chiseled jaw in Christendom, voices a central character,
SO IT’S FOR GEEKS.

(c) Baby Mike is the cutest thing I have ever seen,
SHUT UP.

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Hear me out here…this movie is funny, cute, well written and colourful. I realize the ‘colourful’ thing is only really a deciding factor if you are under 18 months old, but it is really nice to look at. Sort of like Hugh Jackman, but more aimed at children.
Monsters University, strangely enough, follows the basic plot of any movie you have ever seen about a little nerdy guy starting his first guy of college. Except with less casual nudity and beer pong.

I’m not judging the kind of movie you may or may not have seen, I’m just saying, most of these movies are basically the same film.

Mike is small, not scary and smart, while Sulley is scary and kind of dim. Gosh, what a great team they would make, if only they could put aside their petty rivalry! The story-line is essentially that – our favourite little monsters start off as rivals, before assembling a rag tag group of squishy, adorable humanoids to win the Scare Games.

My favourite is the little pink fat guy.

My favourite is the little pink fat guy.

There. I avoided spoilers nicely.

Any Pixar fan worth their salt (is that a saying?) will also appreciate the ENORMOUS amount of Easter eggs and hidden references scattered all over this flick, as well as the ever present ‘Pixar short’ at the beginning of the film. This one is about umbrellas in love. Seriously. Nearly as good as the last one about the man who really liked paper airplanes and women.

I guess I’m not selling this tremendously, but it really, really is worth your time. The fact I’ve seen both The Wolverine and Monsters University in the past week and a half and vastly preferred this film to the actual comic book movie says an awful lot, don’t you think?

Word of advice, though. Don’t go on a Saturday afternoon, because, for some reason, the cinema will be full of children.

S.


Ahhhh, I am so bad at keeping this blog up to date, I have just been so seriously busy. Sorry, sorry, sorry. Sorry.

I DO keep meaning to sit down and write movie reviews, but (a) I don’t like the ever present risk of spoilers and (b) that’s not really very specific to Northern Ireland now, is it? I realize I occasionally veer off this very strict path I’ve set myself, but I think it’s okay if I’m trying not to. At least. Maybe.

SO. Here are some marvelous Etsy finds for the month of July. And oh, it has been glorious! Have you been enjoying this seriously un-Northern-Irish weather? I decided to backtrack to July, since I will probably run out of things to talk about later in August and then I can pull out the Etsy Finds card again. Genius.

As per usual, all these AMAZING crafty treasures are made by buyers/Etsy stores based in and around Belfast. It never fails to surprise me what local people are capable of. Not because I think you’re all rubbish (I don’t!), I’m just that impressed by the handiwork.

First up:  look at how topical I can be. Since they have just revealed the new Doctor, here is a wall decal that every fan of Doctor Who should rush out and buy immediately. Except that you don’t even have to rush out, because you can get it on the internet, by clicking that picture right up there.

Speaking of mysterious creatures from other worlds…

My obsession with Adventure Time continues. I just think I would’ve been a much better adult if I had been able to watch that cartoon as a child. Or I would’ve turned out like Lumpy Space Princess and somehow taken over the world. If you are feeling particularly crafty, this is actually a PDF download for a crochet pattern. Click on the picture to pay and download.

If you DO make it, send me it. Or at least a picture, as proof.

I apologize, gentleman, but excuse me for just one moment.

OH, HOW CUTE ARE THESE SHORTS? I just realized I could have put an “eat my shorts” joke here, but I’m too lazy and hungry to think of one right now.

Welcome back, men folk. Don’t worry, I saved the very best for last.

How amazing! And also awful. I’m crying, but also impressed. These are hard emotions to understand. Again, you can click on this to find and buy it.

You’re welcome. I will try to be better with the blogging situation, but if the sun comes out again, I will make no promises…

S.


I don’t know how it’s never occurred to me to do a blog on Bookends before, because it is truly one of my favourite shops in Northern Ireland; but I have been struggling to start (and more importantly finish) blogs these days, so I’ve been digging in the very hidden recesses of my brain for inspiration.

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Also, I was there today, so I am feeling super inspired and babbley. Shut up, it’s a word.

Anyway, Bookends is a very hidden treasure, tucked away down the side of Bangor train station. That’s Bangor, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland…in case any of you are from Outer Mongolia and there happens to be a Bangor there, too. Or Wales. There’s a Bangor in Wales.

You’re welcome for the valuable trivia.

Back on topic; it’s a second hand book shop. The greatest second hand book shop I have ever been in, and trust me, I have been in many. I venture here about twice a year, but today was hands down the most successful visit I’ve ever been on. I GOT SO MUCH STUFF.

And then I made my wonderful other half carry my very heavy bag of books back to the car. I am a lady, I don’t do no carrying.

I can’t really tell you about their stock, because there are many, many, many books, in all imaginable genres, and I only ever really make a bee-line for the Fantasy section…also, it changes A LOT. I can tell you that the shop itself is like something off TV; Black Books really does come to mind, but the staff are much nicer and less likely to scream at you in a drunken rage. Much less likely, I’m sure. Both the owner and his bearded colleague were happy enough to help us dig through PILES of books and comics to find something that suited us, and oh, did I find stuff.

We stumbled in on a good day, too – 50% off loads of different genres (including Sci-Fi/Fantasy) and comics for 50p! 50-freakin’-pence!

Bearing that in mind…here’s what I came away with on this particular visit.

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I am a huge David Eddings fan (go read The Belgariad!) and this giant, GIANT book was only £5…minus the 50% from the sale. Wow, right? The teeny picture below is to give you some idea of just how big it actually is. Glorious, but maybe not one for reading on the train. Shoulder ache.

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As much as I love David Eddings, my heart will always truly belong to Raymond E. Feist. I quite own a lot of his books, but being the literary hoarder that I am, I figured I might as well start aiming for a full collection of magical and wonderful works.

 

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The eagle eyed among you may have glanced your eyes over the last picture there and noticed ‘Gosh, you have books one, two and four, how silly of you!’, but they didn’t have book three and I can’t turn down a bargain (£1.50 each, including discount, I think). If you happen to come across ‘Rage Of  A Demon King’, make a girl’s day and send it this way?

Oh, that rhymed. Neato.

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Similar situation here, book two of two, and I don’t own book one…but see that little sticker on the front there?

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OH YEAH! Now, I know it’s not actually worth any money, given it’s not a first edition and isn’t in marvellous condition, but it’s a sentimental thing, really. I’ll enjoy owning it and showing it off to people who appreciate my Feist collection.

Like, erm, my Dad.

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Finally, I got myself Hannibal Rising, but I reckon the boyf. will get in there before I do. I’m addicted to the Hannibal television series, although I was never a Thomas Harris fan before! Just finished Red Dragon, I couldn’t put it down. I did call in to find Silence Of The Lambs, but it wasn’t there. That’s my excuse for the giant book haul.

As well as books, I had a good rifle through the stacks of comic books that Bookends had to offer. The lovely gentleman working there had me pre-warned that these stacks have been rifled through a lot – but I wasn’t really looking for anything of real worth, just little things that would appeal to my odd collection.

If you are a Marvel fan, get yourself down there- they had boxes upon boxes of Avengers and Mighty Thor…but alas, I would not know where to start with any of these titles, and I’m trying (and failing) to devote myself and my budget to my love of Batgirl.

Oh, also Uncanny X-Men. So many mutants.

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These are the comics that I did get. IS THE PICTURE BIG ENOUGH? HUH? Two from the mid-Eighties and one from 2001. Again, nothing I really collect, but these were all the Detective Comics that they had, and for 50p each, I didn’t want to leave them there to gather dust and never know the love of a real home.

Side note: check out the chick on the top issue there…Nocturna. Apparently, her only real reason for becoming a villain was that her skin was slightly paler than that of your average human being. She’s still got nothing on me.

Before this starts to get too long and babbley (still a word), I’ll wrap this up. If you are looking for a nice little day trip, Bangor is well worth it. Some parts of the town look like they exist somewhere out of time and space (could do with a dab of modernization, is all I’m saying), but there’s this incredible little book cave, a brand new shiny CeX and the freakin’ Pickie Park.

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They’ve done the Pickie Park up loads since I was a kid. I had a go on a pedalo swan, but I think it’s maybe more for little children. That’s not to say it’s not a whole bunch of fun.

Off to settle down now to read one of my lovely new books…they have that great second-hand, pre-loved smell. Get to Bangor before the weather turns and freezes the marina into a giant iceberg of misery. It’s well worth your time.

S.

 


I love ASOS. I make no secret of this; over the years I have found some weird and wonderful little things on the site. Mind you, they are, like most regular non-geekcentric websites, slaves to trends. I don’t approve of trends. They are too much like change, and I hate change.

Anyway, the ASOS sale is bloomin’ marvellous. Here are some things I want that you should want too.

Rawr.

Rawr.

Dinosaur t-shirt! Okay, maybe not “geeky”, but adorable and lovely. And I really like green and everyone knows dinosaurs were green. Plus, a steal at £8. It’s only a bargain if it’s under £10.

Subtle, no?

Subtle, no?

Sticking to the girly items for  a moment, this little bangle. Sometimes it is necessary to hide your true, nerdy inner child self under a blanket of maturity and normal-ness (job interviews, weddings, funerals, murder trials), so it is necessary to be a little more subtle in your choice of accessory. This bangle has a teeny pair of geek glasses for a clasp, but I’m sure no one will notice that unless you feel the need to point it out.

Which, of course, you will.

Batman. Always, Batman.

Batman. Always, Batman.

Don’t worry, boy people, I have not neglected you. Batman vest! Vest with Batman on it! Ignore the generic model with generic model head tilt, focus instead on the wonder of the cowl. ASOS mens’ stock has been a little bit disappointing of late, unless you like dressing like a rainbow threw up on you, but every now and again, you get a little gem.

 

Squee.

Retro.

No affirmation necessary. Go get this.

Nom.

Nom.

This came from the men’s section, but I like to think it’s fairly gender neutral. In honour of True Blood making it’s way back to our screens (erm, well, America’s screens) recently, it seems only fair to include some vampire themed bits and bobs. Although, it seems they have fallen slightly out of vogue in the past few months (Twilight is all over and done with, after all. And thank god), Sky is screening teasers and trailers for the Dracula series they are gifting us in Autumn…so I see fangs making a big comeback.

If you are really into the child-of-the-night-but-not-a-hooker look, there’s also this gothic bling.

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ASOS delivers quickly, does not mess you about with returns and exchanges, and the quality of the stuff is beyond decent. Highly recommended. If you do buy something, or see something wonderful that I’ve missed, let me know! I like to know I’m helping someone somewhere in someway, somehow.

S.


RIGHT. I AM GOING TO SIT HERE AND NOT MOVE UNTIL I MANAGE TO WRITE A BLOG.

Thank you for bearing with me, but I’ve had sort of a crazy month; the idea of sitting down and writing something for the pure enjoyment of it just didn’t seem to be happening. I hate chores and sometimes, blogging feels like a chore.  Not today though. Today will be magical and productive, as will everyday that follows it. Can you feel all those positive vibes I’m throwing out there? Marvellous.

So, writer’s block has been the worst thing ever, and it has affected far more than my ability to blog (unfortunately), but that’s a whole other thing you don’t want to hear about. What’s that? You do? Tough, I don’t want to talk about it. I want to talk about movies and comic books and the many adorable geeky things I’ve bought in the past month. Those are better things to talk about, don’t you think?

This is to distract you from my negativity.

This is to distract you from my negativity.

Onwards and upwards towards the actual subject. You may have noted the title of this blog is, in fact ‘Man Of Steel’, and not ‘Let’s Watch A Geek In Her Early Twenties Experience Her First Mid-Life Crisis’. The first one if catchier.

I can’t believe I let Man Of Steel come out without the appropriate amount of adoration and hype from the RefugeekNI corner. I am, after all, a complete DC nut, though I have to admit that I am not a HUGE Superman fan – mostly because he’s a boy scout and everything Batman is not, and because Smallville did nothing but bug me for the however many years it managed to cling to my television. I am, however, a Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan fan, and they did not let me down. This was the Superman movie I really wanted to see.

Henry Cavill played Mr. Kent as moody, confused and conflicted (and he was often topless, which, to the heterosexual female eye, was an art form in itself), while Russell Crowe made Jor-El a complete hard-ass. I loved the armour, and it was interesting to see how Zack Snyder envisioned Krypton. It’s not, not in a million years, how I would have pictured it, but it worked. I guess. I don’t know, maybe I wanted more from such a famous, ill-fated planet. It’s like the Titanic of planets, there should’ve been more…pomp? Circumstance? I don’t know, but I wasn’t disappointed, not really. There were a lot of new ideas about Krypton thrown in there too, ideas that I liked. The idea that they are all bred to serve a certain purpose, and that Kal-El was the first baby born of natural (sexy) means in over a hundred years adds a whole new depth to the character, his civilization and the sacrifice made by his mother (which was heartbreaking to watch, both awful and brilliant).

Thank you, universe.

Thank you, universe.

There are two things that did disappoint me. First of all, I do not think Amy Adams was Lois Lane. Sure, she was spunky and determined, but I felt for most of the movie, she was just sort of…there. Being useful and female. The love story aspect was not convincing at all, it was just rushed and there was no chemistry. Not in my opinion, at least. There needed to be a spark – a spark between Lois and Clark, a spark in Lois at all…for me, it just wasn’t there.

The other aspect of this movie that disappointed me almost to the point of laughing was the RIDICULOUS product placement. Seriously? Did they think we wouldn’t notice?

“Hi there, I’m Lois Lane and I HAVE A NIKON CAMERA.” Pfft. PFFT. Between that and the Ihop that manages to survive an extra terrestrial super battle? C’mon Hollywood, we’re not stupid.

Also, who is going to clean all this up, eh?

Also, who is going to clean all this up, eh?

Before I start to sound too negative, I just have to…Zod. Wow. Michael Shannon was a piece of casting genius, he captures the frustration and anger and ruthlessness of the General perfectly. I know he’s appeared in COUNTLESS Superman shows and movies and comics, but for the first time, I found him scary. There was an awful lot of Bane (circa The Dark Knight Rises) and just a little bit of Heath Ledger’s Joker thrown in for good, manic measure. Teeny bit gutted he never said ‘Kneel before Zod’…just me? Okay.

Over everything – over the casting, the costumes and the script, there was an overall highlight from this movie. The sheer scale of it; the visuals, the CGI…Man Of Steel was absolutely mesmerizing to watch. Captivating. The way his cape sways in the breeze, his first faltering attempts to fly, the Fortress Of Solitute. Incredible to watch. I’ve talked to a lot of people who found the actual story to be a let down, and, when I think about it, maybe I did too, but the joy I got from watching this film distracted me from that. That’s no mean feat.

I’ll draw this to a close, because LONG. Well worth a watch.

Just like this blog is well worth keeping an eye on, now that I am determined to be back in business.

S.


You may have noticed, if you notice such things, that I am not quite as prolific in my blogging as I have been in the past. I apologize, but the thing is, on any given day, I HAVE FOUR HUNDRED THINGS TO DO.

In fact, I am only doing this blog now because I’ve just done an hour and a half of uni work and I need a break before my brain explodes and redecorates my bedroom. With brain gunk.

On the plus side, for those of you that dabble in the reading of blogs, I shall be much, much easier to keep up with. Instead of, like, eight blogs a day about what I’ve just eaten or the episode of the Clone Wars I’ve just watched.

SO. I did, in a past blog, promise you that I would go to the Game Of Thrones Exhibition over the weekend and then tell you about how great it was. I assured you it would be face-melting (or something to that effect), so HOLD ONTO YOUR FACES.

First of all, I would  like to say that getting tickets for this free (that’s my favourite word) event was much, much more difficult that it should have been. I mean, the internet is all powerful, surely ‘click and possess’ is a fairly straightforward concept? Alas, the website was crashing all over the show and the phone lines were busy and I was starting to hyperventilate and stress. I did a mean, awful thing – don’t judge me. I was scared I would end up with no tickets at all, so I sent a nasty email to Titanic telling them to wind their neck in and make things work better.
I am a mean, bad person. I am ashamed.

To make the shame even worse, some lovely bloke from Titanic Customer Services emailed back immediately, with an apology, and then offered to book the tickets for me. Eek. I still feel bad about being a grump.

Good on you though, Titanic, your people are marvellous.

Ticket drama aside, I was so excited about this. The little clip advertising it was immense…and WordPress still won’t let me embed videos. I had forgotten that. Oh well,here’s the link.

I had never actually been inside the Titanic building before (I know, I know, I am a museum geek and a touch patriotic, so I really should go for a proper visit), but it’s pretty flippin’ cool. And busy, which is always nice to see. The guys at the coffee shop thing were dressed like ye olde times paper boys, and the toilets were ultra clean and shiny. What more can you ask from anywhere, really?

Wisely, when booking tickets for the exhibition, you had to choose a time slot – this sounds kind of like hassle and a bit odd, but it meant the displays weren’t too crowded and you didn’t have to queue for too long to get a good look at anything. AND OH, the things there were to look at.

The exhibition was divided up according to family – the Starks, Lannisters, Baratheons, Greyjoys and  Targareans all had their own little areas, as did the Nights Watch (although characters from North of the Wall were stuffed in that display too, which makes sense, I guess). There were videos playing all around the place too, and although they were really just behind the scenes videos from the DVDs, always worth a watch. Some of the main characters did little ‘Welcome to the Game Of Thrones Exhibition’ clips too, which was a nice feature.

I don’t want to trawl through every single item I saw, but highlights included some of the Starks’ costumes (all lined up beside each other, like in the first episode before they all shoot off in opposite directions all over Westeros), Ned Stark’s head on a spike (which I only noticed because I tipped my head back to yawn – it was pretty high up), Ice and Needle (among LOADS of other weapons) and the dragon eggs and scale models of Drogon. All in all, it took around 40 minutes to see everything.

So neat. Some of Emilia Clarke’s costumes were out on display along with said dragons, and man, that chick is TINY. The detail that does into all the costumes in mind blowing – small stitches and teeny details that a camera would never pick up, just proof that this show takes itself seriously! As well it should.

I think that’s more than enough of my talking, here are some blurry, dark, badly taken Iphone photos. You’re so welcome.

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You may notice that there are only two dragon eggs here; one of them hatched! Teehee, I kid, obviously – the third egg was given to George R.R. Martin as a wedding gift! I thought that was a nice gesture.

The exhibit is in Belfast until June 17th, but there are no tickets left now. If you are elsewhere in the world, see where it goes next on their site!

If you’re heading down to the exhibit, or if you have already been, nip over to Facebook and tell me if you liked it!

S.


And the Paris blogging, it continues. Apologies if you don’t care about my holiday, but I want everyone to know how civilized and cultured I am.

So, yes, Day One was all about the Eiffel Tower and Day Two was Notre Dame, the Pantheon and Shakespeare & Co. Day Three was another geeky one, particularly if you’re into museums and red light districts.

Some people are geeks for prostitutes, right? Maybe geek isn’t the right word…

Anyway, we started with a ridiculously early morning (6:50am, to be precise, although I had been awake from 3am because of all the excitement, so I don’t think it really counts as an early morning. More like a super late night), and got to the Louvre before it even opened. The freakin’ Louvre. It is amazingly awesome to look at, the former palace is beautiful and the pyramids are iconic…although I’m not really sure whether or not I like them. It’s like the Eiffel Tower. You’re told it’s beautiful and you’ve seen it so much that you think you like it, but you don’t really know because, well, it’s Paris and it’s magical. That made more sense in my head.

First up, obligatory bee-line to the Mona Lisa, before the room gets swamped with Asian tourists and you can’t actually see anything. It’s nice to look at, but again you don’t know if you like it, or if it’s the Mona Lisa, so you just think you do. Italian Renaissance paintings aren’t really my thing (and there are really a whole lot of them), but the sheer scale of some of them are astounding. I couldn’t paint something like that with a lifetime to spare, and some of these artists were churning them out like Mills & Boons novels.

I mean, what’s a Mills & Boons novel? Urm, anyway.

After Mona Lisa admiring, we made the executive decision that our morning would be best spent focusing on the Ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian sections. You see, if you briefly glanced at everything in the Louvre, it would still take you 100 days (that’s like, four months, without a break), so you really do need a game plan. Game plan in hand, we got lost among the statues (Venus de Milo!), pottery, mummies, armour and oh, oh everything. It was history nerd heaven. The first room we were in took us an hour (it was about gladiators, the bestest and most gory part of ancient history), so we sort of made a little shove on for the rest of it to be out for lunch and off to our next adventure.

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After pretending to be Tom Holland for a little while, we made the slog to Montmartre – where the French Can Can was born, and, perhaps, best known for being the area the Moulin Rouge is in. It’s a strange little place, I can tell you that much. It’s all sex shops and sleaze, and not in the nice fun way like Amsterdam. It feels dirty and dodgy and sort of icky.

Until you make the GIANT climb to the highest part of the city and see the Sacre Coeur, that is. It is a hike to get to, but it is worth every leg cramp and sob…the view is unbelievable.

The church itself is worth going in for a look, too. There was next to no queue when we got there right in the middle of the day – although you aren’t allowed to take any pictures inside, and you’re meant to maintain absolute silence while you’re walking around. I guess the guy who stands and shouts ‘NO PICTURES’ at people has a different set of rules, mind you. Ruins the moment a tad. It’s not as grand or ornamental as Notre Dame or the Pantheon, but again, the scale is astounded. And there are real life nuns, which totally adds to the experience.

Once you are out of the church, sit for a bit, and just look out. There are so many places to stand and look at Paris from a great height, but this view is a whole other thing. It’s just incredible. So pretty and crazy romantic. This area of Montmartre feels less tacky than the sex shop street, even when you take all the many, many souvenir shops into account. It’s quaint and lovely, and exactly how your brain pictures Paris when it’s left to its own devices. Cobbles and all.

Hard to think it was a whole week ago, I truly believe I left my head there, because I can’t quite get back into the swing of things back home! Maybe I should stop eating pain au chocolat and drinking Orangina, to be fair…

S.