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.
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…
Oh, I have so many blogs to write. My brain feels all busy and heavy and full of words. It should be full of more important things, like getting myself healthy (yes, I have been ill again, shock shock) or university work or learning to speak Italian.
Maybe not that last one. Anyway, I thought I would start this huge wave of blog-productivity with one about my holiday. From Friday until Tuesday, I was in Paris! And oh, it was amazing. So beautiful and wonderful and picturesque. Between my boyfriend and I, we took around five hundred pictures. Of each other, of buildings, of…everything. I loved it, I really did. I have been sulking like a child since we came home, because I would much rather be in Paris than Lisburn.
Rather than do one blog 2394728934729347289374 words long, I thought it made sense to split my Paris blogging into separate days. That way, I can go into more detail before I get bored and dander off to internet shop or cuddle my cat.
So, day one. Mostly full of airports and waiting, as day ones of holidays always tend to be. Belfast International Airport is not a bad airport, all things considered, but I have one piece of advice. Avoid The Lagan Bar, because it is ridiculously over-priced and bursting with stag and hen parties, who don’t really care that you are trying to have a conversation BECAUSE THEY JUST WANT TO SHOUT AT EACH OTHER. Instead, go and chill out in Fed & Watered – it looks much fancier, but a bottle of Corona will only sting you £3.50, instead of a freakin’ fiver. Rant over.
So, yes, on day one, we arrived in Paris. We stayed in Cambronne, about a ten minute walk away from the Eiffel Tower, with lots of little shops and restaurants around the place. I highly recommend it. Our hotel was TINY. Like, no floor space TINY, but very, very clean. I am not a picky person when it comes to hotels – the boyfriend wasn’t too thrilled with our hotel choice, but I thought it was nice. Cosy.
I am a silver linings sort of lady.
We arrived, dumped our stuff and made a bee line for the Eiffel Tower, expecting to queue for two hours or so. Joy of joys, we got there and there was literally zero queue. Straight to the top (very windy), lovely views, crazy romantic. I had been to Paris before and hadn’t bothered going up the tower (madness, I know), but it really is as incredible as people say it is. The funny thing is, the next morning when we walked past, the queue was ridiculous. Right around the bottom of the Eiffel Tower and out on the road. Take that, American coach tours, we are much smarter than you.
Have some pictures.
The park around the Eiffel Tower is pretty damn lovely as well, no one ever mentions that. Erm, that about sums up our first day though. We had dinner and went to bed, where I did not sleep. I did not sleep the whole time we were there, in case you were wondering. It’s strange though, the sleep deprivation has actually made me a productive hyper wonder-bug.
Day Two was much more interesting…I’ll get right on that, shall I?
Oh. My. God.
This is one of, if not the, greatest episodes of Game Of Thrones so far. It had everything that a fan wants out of the show – intrigue, new characters and dragons. All three of them, at once! That, like, never happens.
I shall start my praise like I usually start – with a confirmation of my love for the Tyrells. Yet again, Margaery shows herself to be a genius little minx, leading Joffery around by with his own ego while his mother watches haplessly. Olenna, too, is well clued into the games that go on in King’s Landing, enough to even catch Varys off guard.
Sidenote: Varys’ revenge on the sorcerer who ‘cut’ him as a child was not in the books (at least, not to my recollection?), but I liked it! It made about a dozen points about his character – he’s powerful, patient and his arm stretches a very long way indeed.
And he’s from Ballycastle!
The episode starts with a bit of a recurring theme – pity for the bad guys. Both Jamie Lannister and Theon Greyjoy were main protagonists in seasons one and two (killing children does not really make for a hero, does it?) and now…well, comeuppance has never been so completely soul wrenching to watch. We’re meant to hate these guys, right? So why does seeing Jamie pushed in the dirt with his severed hand tied around his neck make me so very sad? And why isn’t watching Theon cling to misguided hope feel more satisfying?
Curse you, George R. R. Martin, you are causing me inner turmoil.
This week we finally, FINALLY, got a look at one of the new characters that I have been looking forward to the most. Berric Dondarrion, head of the Brotherhood Without Banners has finally got some screen time – I’ve been expecting him since episode two! He looks a little bit the worse for wear, which is not surprising considering…well, if you’ve read the books, you’ll know he’s had a tough time. He made a rousing little speech about the role the Brotherhood had to play in the war (justice!), and sentenced the captive Hound to trial by combat. Awesome.
I’m going to say something really weird, but give me a minute. Look at both those pictures. The details that go into the costumes and make up and accessories and…everything! These characters are perfectly constructed – Olenna could not be more like how I imagined her if I’d cast her myself. I did picture Berric as being younger and hotter but, well, that’s just me, I suppose.
Anyway, there were, in my opinion, two main scenes in this episode, an icy one and a fiery one. DID YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE?
While we got some nice new characters, we lost one. Mormont, the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, was struck down in cold blood during a mutiny. Sniff. Poor, poor James Cosmo. He was at Heroes and Legends in W5 this year, y’know. He wasn’t there when I was, or else I would’ve given him a preemptive hug. Craster had his last moment as well, which was well deserved, obviously. During the ensuing fighting and killing and dying, Sam grabs Gilly and her son and slips off into the darkness.
Slightly different from the scene has they had it in the book, but as I has said before, this doesn’t really bother me, as long as everyone is still pointed in the right direction. On the other hand…aren’t we getting anymore white walkers this season?
Meanwhile in Astapor, Daenerys is kicking ass. The moment she was all like, “Yeah, I speak Valyrian, I AM DAENERYS STORMBORN, IT IS MY MOTHER TONGUE”, I screamed. Yes yes yes, I’ve read the books, but I sort of forgot that little detail. And it was so well done!
She’s definitely becoming a queen in her own right, I like how it’s been a gradual change too, and not a haphazard montage or something.
The closing scene of the episode was literally the greatest scene in anything ever, and it goes without saying but I really can’t wait for next week. *
*Next week, I shall be watching a recorded Game Of Thrones on Tuesday night, because I’ll be in Paris for a long weekend. It is a hard, hard life.
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.
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.
p.s. I have a Facebook page. It needs your love.
SPOILERS. There. I warned you.
I am a huge Batman fan. Huge. Before Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale even moon-walked onto the scene (hand in hand, is how I best like to picture it), I was already dressing up as Batman villains at Halloween.
I was the kid who always wanted to be Batgirl when we played Batman in the playground, whenever other girls thought Catwoman was cooler. My first boyfriend once told me Catwoman was cooler than Batgirl, and while I’m not saying that’s the reason I dumped him…
Well, yes, it probably was. Deal with it.
So don’t underestimate what I mean when I say that I am emotionally involved with the Batman franchise. The villains are, perhaps, the best written ‘bad guys’ in any universe, the supporting characters are downright lovable (Commissioner Gordon is the original silver fox) and the Bat-family…well, they are MY Bat-family. I care about them, too much. Mock me all you want, but the New 52 has been a roller coaster for me. Barbara Gordon got her cowl back (and Gail Simone continued to make her beautiful and clever and BRILLIANT), and Death Of The Family had me on my toes. I was so sure that they were going to kill someone off. I was so sure that I was going to lose Nightwing.
Then…no one died. It was an anti-climax, sure, but I was so relieved. And, after weeks of demanding someone take me to Forbidden Planet, I thought…comics can wait for a week. I have essays to write, work to do…I will be responsible, and mature, and my comics can wait.
This is when it happened. No, not even in Batman or Batman and Robin, or one of the titles I even collect, but in Batman Incorporated. In Batman Incorporated, they killed off Damian Wayne.
I am not happy. Not happy at all. Like everyone else, I despised the child when he first popped up in a Robin costume in 2006; I thought he hadn’t earned the right. I’m not a great Grant Morrison fan either (blasphemy, huh?), I just don’t think he can put any heart in his characters. It was the other writers who swayed it for me – Tomasi (New 52 author), made Damian a real ten year old boy, who just happened to be a super ninja millionaire vigilante. With a doggy.
A doggy always helps give a character some heart, don’t you think?
Typical. I soon as I start really loving a character (enough to start buying the Batman and Robin title, even!), they squish him. Like a bug under a windshield wiper; quick, quiet and pointless. Don’t you think Batman deserved some happiness and a little bit of family, Grant Morrison? Why did you take that away, Grant Morrison? Just because you’re done writing Batman Inc.? Was it so important to take your character with you?!
Sorry. I realize Mr. Morrison will never read this, and if he does…well, I’m very sorry, but I’m a wreck. It’s been a very hard week. We had a death in the family.
p.s. You can find a better, slightly less creepy and emotional article on the subject here: Requiem For A Robin.
Must. Make. Blogs. Happen.
I thought I might take a serious note. I’ll try and be reasonably brief, but something in the local news recently has really bothered me, and I was wondering whether or not it had annoyed anyone else.
In case you hadn’t gathered from an earlier blog, I live in Northern Ireland. Lisburn, to be precise. I used to really love my hometown. Every now and again, I still have a tendency to get a little bit defensive if anyone tries to talk it down. Mind you, these occasions are getting much, much rarer. The recent news that has annoyed me so much, regards John Lewis (the lovely department store) and Sprucefield (a shopping…area, just outside Lisburn city centre).
This development has been in the works for around nine years, and it has cropped up in the news in this time, so I’m pretty sure everyone was aware of it. Alas, it was not to be.
For god knows what reason, the genius Minister for the Environment has decided that, no, Sprucefield will be restricted to bulky goods, like furniture. I don’t understand, I truly don’t. It would seem, as a friend on Facebook suggested, that this Alex Attwood creature has forgotten that Northern Ireland exists outside of Belfast. Which, at this rate, it won’t. Lisburn is already dying on it’s feet – Bow Street is practically empty, Lisburn Square is an economical failure and the mall is filling it’s stores with cheap market stalls, peddling their cheap market wares.
John Lewis have said, many times, that they are not interested in putting a store in Belfast, and that they are more likely to put their development over the border. Or not at all. So, perhaps, the plan to have the store built closer to the ‘capital’ is not the motivation behind this ridiculous turn of events. I am becoming a conspiracy theorist in my old age, and suggested to family that, perhaps, another large, upscale store in that area (cough, M&S, cough) had put in a word to have these plans scuppered – but my clever boyfriend pointed out that a large, recognizable store could only be good for business, in attracting people over the border, and from all around the country.
So, that is my rant. This place is stagnating – there are people who really could’ve used those jobs (a store that size would have a crazy wide variety of positions available, something to suit all ranges), and the city desperately needed this extra pull; a reason to visit.
Maybe, just maybe, if we show our disdain for this situation, things might turn around, who knows? If you want my advice though, emigrate. I hear Canada is beautiful at this time of year.