Thursday, 31 July 2008

Liverpool: Capital of Construction Workers

Now as you've probably noticed I've been away. On holiday. To Liverpool. Some of us can't afford a foreign holiday, and I had my very occasional foreign excursion last year to Paris which was lurvely until I went down with something terrible (and I'll not go any further than that, I don't know how many of you are eating). But I went to Liverpool last year as well, and I've been going for a good few years now.

This year though Liverpool is European Capital of Culture so I had to go: a.) early and b.) with an open mind that I wouldn't be one of only a couple of tourists wandering around snapping everything. The camera was at the ready this year too and the image above is meant to represent the only thing that I regret not being able to snap: construction workers!

Right now construction is under way of Liverpool One, a big complex that includes a Hilton Hotel, 5 acres of parkland and a multitude of shops. But every time I passed through it to have breakfast or to return to my hotel (it's easier than climbing up and down the hills like I used to: flat is best) the workers were all sitting down on their coffee break (or tea break really).

Mostly they eyed up the women, and gathered around the Greggs bakers that was down one of the little passages there. Like pigeons! I expected them to flap their arms and coo before pecking their sausage rolls and pasties - not one had a supposedly "healthy" roll. Not that Greggs has ever served anything healthy.

It's no wonder that they haven't finished everything they were supposed to if they've been given such long and liberal breaks. The cree, by which I mean the construction site, was normally empty or filled with sad looking worker-pigeons desperate for their next sit down on the stairs. Poor things. I bet they haven't had a tea for 20 minutes...

Friday, 25 July 2008

Simon's Cat

There's nothing quite like a great animation to perk up your day - after seeing the third installment of "Simon's Cat" on the Culture Show a couple of weeks ago I felt that I had to go out and check out the other two little masterpieces. They're simple, only really line drawings, but it's hilarious. I'll just let you check out "Let Me In!" - if you watch to the end you can also check out "TV Dinner" and "Cat Man Do" by clicking on the little boxes:

Thursday, 24 July 2008


So today was the fairly dreaded visit to the hairdressers - the cut/style bit isn't bad at all and some of the chat is quite nice. It's the dye; the smell pierces everything. You're sitting there even if you're just getting your roots done waiting for the colour to set in all the while wondering if it's toxic. My hairdresser says she doesn't notice it anymore - lucky her.
To combat this I nursed a cup of coffee for more than half an hour.

Luckily this was in a polystyrene cup so it didn't burn my hands. Every now and then I'd wave the cup and what was left of the coffee (hey, can't let good beans go to waste - they're jam packed full of goodness if you remember one of my first ever posts here) past my face to try and get rid of the smell of dye. It worked, thank god.

To alleviate more boredom they always give you some magazines. I don't know how rich they must think I am but for some reason Vogue and Elle are always given to me. I gag at the prices. More than five hundred smackers for a pair of jeans? You've got to be joking.

In Vogue there was an article that was effectively a battle of the decades, asking "can you really be old and stylish". "Of course you can!" I protested in my head. Then lots of pictures of celebs in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s were shown (all women) and I thought that some of the older women looked better than those in their 20s. Perhaps those celebs just have no style. Actually, they don't. "Unique" and "a style of their own" would be some phrases that mags like Vogue might throw at you to put an opinion in your head but I'm not so easily convinced.

Now I do like people who have a quirky style, so Lovefoxxx, lead singer of CSS, does come to mind (she doesn't really take any rubbish from anyone) but I can't say I admire the style of Agyness Deyn or Alexa Chung. "It Girls" might be used to describe them - but let's face it, one's a model who wears what her best mate makes for her and is practically famous just for her haircut and the other is best known of dating Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner. I think people have just picked up on their style because they're in the limelight - would anyone actually look at Alexa Chung in the street and say that she was a style icon if she wasn't famous? Nah, I didn't think so. You see plenty of people in high-streets everywhere wearing leather jackets and black minis. Big whoop.

Most of the older women shown were obviously wearing designer but not one looked like mutton dressed as lamb. At the same time, none of them looked drab or ancient. Conclusion: yes you can definitely be old and stylish - it might not be the latest trend or the most cutting-edge of designs but it's still fashionable. The fact is, young doesn't always mean good-looking or attractive. I'm sure some of you will agree.

Oh, and reading it meant that I passed most of my dye-time. Hooray.

Thanks to for the pic!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Tactics People!

So yesterday I was ecstatic over the fact that I am now the proud owner of a Nintendo DS. Now I'm going to start reviewing, or at least commenting on, all three of the games that I bought (because of course one game is just not enough for a gaming freak like myself)!

Let's talk about Final Fantasy Tactics A2. There's really only two things you need to know about this game. Number one: it's absolutely massive with over 300 missions, more than 50 jobs and tons and tons of job combinations, and ways that you can evolve your clan members - it'll keep you occupied for hours. Number two: it's addictive from the moment you start playing it.
Your main character is Luso who is sent, on the last day of school, to clean the library as a punishment for turning up to class late nearly every day of the term. While there he finds a mysterious book that contains mostly blank pages. When he writes his name in the book as hero of Ivalice, he is transported to that world and must find a way home. On his way he meets different races and tons of different people, and must complete certain missions to write pages in the book so he can reach home safely.
It's really hard to train your chracters up because unlike most of the FF series, there are no random enemy encounters. Instead you have to accept a quest in order to fight. Basically, if you want to be powerful then you're going to have to complete lots of quests - nearly all of the jobs can only be accessed this way (for instance, I've just gained the Assassin job for completing a quest).
I love this game. It has a simple premise but is none the worse for it. Just trying to make your characters powerful enough to win a fight is hard enough - and I'm hardly any way through the game!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008


Yay! I've wanted a Nintendo DS for ages! Now I finally have my greasy mits on one! I'm so happy... So, the games I bought for it were:

  • Final Fantasy: Revenant Wings
  • Final Fantasy Tactics A2
  • Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

I think I'm going to need that cooking one where it takes you through the different stages of cooking a meal little bit by little bit. I'm a rubbish chef. I need something like that to keep myself from either burning down the house of making a blackened mess on the plate. Okay, I'm not that bad but still... A little assistance would be nice.

I think I'll review these games in time... So far I've played "Tactics" the most, but that'll change. Oh, and did I mention that it's red, just like my hair and the colour of my team's strip? Oh, happy day!

Thanks to for the pic!

Bender's Back

Yep the Futurama team are creating 4 new feature-length tales over the next year or so. The first, "Bender's Big Score" was released late last year and I've just got my hands on it (just as "Beast With A Billion Backs" is released).

It starts particularly cheekily, with a dig at Fox for pulling the plug on this wonderfully funny cartoon from the creators of the Simpsons. Alas, while the Simpsons are still flourishing, Futurama has become the inferior little sister. And that's a shame! It's just as funny, especially whenever the beer-binging, loudmouth, aggressive, robot-porn-crazy Bender Bending Rodriguez is in a scene.

The storyline is typically preposterous: Bender is infected with a virus while downloading porn from a spammer and is sent back in time repeatedly to steal various priceless artifacts from through the ages using a code placed within a tattoo of the robot that has somehow made its way on to Fry's bum. But when he steals everything of worth and enables his nudist masters to become supreme rulers of the universe, Bender is sent on a mission to kill Fry so that no-one else can get their hands on the time code.

Mix into this a story about Hermes trying to win his wife Lebarbara back from Barbados Slim after he loses his body in a limbo contest and Leela falling in love with Head Museum employee Lars and it adds up to be one of the silliest tales ever. Splashes of Evil Santa and a small serving of painfully funny space hero Zapp Brannigan and "Bender's Big Score" becomes a wonderful escape from reality. Literally. I'd urge anyone to enjoy the new tales while they can - there's no plans to make any more Futuramas after these episodes! It's a travesty!

Thanks to for the pic!

Friday, 18 July 2008

Some People Have Better Things To Do!

In my madness the other night I actually read last month's issue of Cosmopolitan - my lord, what a load of.... but, nicely, I'm not a fan. I'm more of a Company kind of woman and consider it to have more decent articles - it promotes women being independent but safe and doesn't donate nearly all of its pages to sex.

Okay, the fact that Cosmo is so filled with sex is not the point of this post. No - it is Denise van Outen who made me think "what the heck?"

Ms. van Outen said that if a man is still single in his thirties and hasn't settled down with at least one kid then there must be something seriously wrong with him. Er, riiight. Surely, all you men, that there are much better things to do out there? In essence, isn't this a bit like saying that a woman should stay at home and tend to their partner's every need instead of going out and forging a decent career? Her other "advice" wasn't too bad, despite all relating to relationships.

I don't think I'll touch a Cosmo again.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Stuck In A Phantasy World

So at the minute I'm busy playing "Phantasy Star Online" for the Gamecube. Only offline. So basically I'm running around trying to complete all of the quests of hard mode thinking that my Force character, not unlike the one to the left, will inevitably die if I manage to reach very hard mode. Not even my Level 70 Hunter was able to reach ultimate mode. How will my little mage cope?

Maybe I should explain. On this game you have to create a character and then you'll be transported either to Episode 1 or Episode 2, depending on what you really want. Episode 2 is a nightmare to complete even on normal mode, so you end up on on the first episode, on Level 1 ready to kick some monsters where it hurts. You find that you can only explore the forest at first with its easy monsters, but then you can explore the cave, mine and ruins after you defeat the boss of each area (as you do on any game really).

You'd think that just going along defeating monsters left right and centre would get boring after a while but actually it's highly addictive and you find yourself wanting to defeat more and more monsters until you're so strong that you just have to progress somehow. On to the next difficulty level, that is.

Then you have to raise your "MAG" who is like a little guardian angel. Sometimes they'll heal you and if you raise them to a certain level they'll evolve and learn a summon spell which you can cast after you've gained 100 points of Photon Energy. Phew... Some of the "MAG"s are so ugly though (like mine, a horrible little thing called Garuda. Yuck.) that you start to wonder if it was all worth it. Only in my case it was because Forces (one of the classes you can chose when creating your character) are so weak its unbelievable.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that even though some people might think that this is a repetitive, pointless game that it's actually not, it's rather fun and your character becomes lovable. Most of the time. I've had some real failures before I raised this one to Level 55. Oh well, back to my Force...

T: The Final Frontier

Turn over to Jamjarsuperstar now for coverage of T in the Park, to be updated regularly over the next couple of days! I'm working on it right now but for some reason my hands won't work as fast as my brain...

Anyway, feel free to leave a comment, disagree (constructively), agree (constructively) and talk about the bands/festival (constructively!). You get the feeling I'd like some constructive comments being posted, right?

Saturday, 12 July 2008


Well to some shame I watched "Gok's Fashion Fix" on C4 on Thursday. I used to like "How To Look Good Naked" because of Gok Wan's caring and not insulting way of talking about a person and the way they looked - far better than the "god, you look like you've been dragged through a hedge backwards" approach of Trinny and Susannah.

Well what annoyed me about this is the fact that Gok kept going on about how good designers had the best fit and that they never showed where different sections had been stitched on. So imagine my surprise (okay, not) when a supposed stylist picks out an asymmetrical Felder Felder dress not unlike the one to the right. Granted, it didn't have the bow and the sleeve (which I'm finding quite appealing - how much!?). Instead it was rather like a canary-yellow elongated boob-tube with a tacky little strap hooked on at what seemed to be the last minute.

When the model wore it down the catwalk, the body was nicely fitted but the strap looked out of place and was ill-fitting - it didn't touch her arm once. Even my £10 asymmetrical graphic print dress from H&M fits me better than that atrocity. Are people really willing to spend hundreds and hundreds of pounds for something that was so... shoddy? Gok's creations looked expensive and yet he had spent less than £200 on each outfit; that includes skirts, dresses, shoes, socks, belts, bags, hats, bangles, rings... everything!

In another section of the programme, it-girl Alexa Chung went to meet Karl Lagerfeld i.e. top man at Chanel. Each dress there can be made to measure but at the store, at least the coat-dress she tried on fitted nicely and looked like it could be worth €31000! I thought maybe it had too many crystals on the front, but it was a lovely fit. But only in my dreams....

Still, are we actually thinking that a brand name = good quality? If this is the case then no wonder people are getting themselves into debt because they're shopping excessively and trying to look as chic as possible. My philosophy is that you can look just as good in some bargains at the sale as you can do wearing tens and thousands of pounds worth of designer clothes.

Thanks to for the pic!

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Indy IV - The Last Reflection On Earth (Or Maybe Not)

I must have been one of the last people on the planet to see Indy IV, right? Okay, that was an exaggeration. There are probably plenty of people who haven't seen "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull", right?

Anyway, when I did see it I enjoyed it. Just like I enjoyed the first three Indy films. Still, despite a friend once telling me that it was the worst Indy movie, I prefer "Temple of Doom" - it has this strange quality to it that makes me really enjoy it even though the story is so farfetched and so stupid.

So enter Indy IV and a new quest for ageing action man Harrison Ford. After a shaky opening sequence where Ford doesn't really look up to the job, he settles back into his role, possibly because renegade sidekick Mutt Williams (aka Shia LeBoeuf, of "Disturbia" fame) is busy doing the acrobatic vine navigating with the monkeys for him. Yes, there really is a scene where monkeys save the day. Young audiences everywhere would be pleased, I was less easily impressed. While we're on the subject of silly, only-in-an-Indy-based-romp sequences, how about the bit where he survives a nuclear explosion? In a fridge! A fridge people! Duck and cover, eat your heart out.

Ahem, daftness aside, it's not really a bad movie at all. The plot is a bit ludicrous but then there aren't any loose ends and everything is tied up in a nice little package by the denouement. The sequence where all the little ants come out and start eating the Russians is perhaps to be expected but at least it wasn't horrible like, say, Peter Jackson's giant head-eating maggot things in "King Kong" (I think I should get brownie points for being one of what seemed like few people in the cinema to watch that scene, albeit with a horrified face). Still, the best bits come out in the conversation. Probably strange little conversations between people, such as Indy and one of his students at Marshall College library about three seconds after he crashes Mutt's motorcycle. But it's great that after months of saying to people "What kind of a name is Mutt?" that Indy actually comes out and says it himself in the film! Hooray! Luckily this is just a nickname that he's given himself, not a silly name that his parents placed on him as a haunting joke that would plague him for the rest of his days. Poor kid.

Since this is probably going to be the last Indy film though, I expected more from his fear of snakes. Instead, only one semi-gag was made about Indy's lifelong hate of the cold-blooded reptiles and I found that disappointing. Surely the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull should have been swarming with them, just to make it even more perilous for the protagonists.

Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable film. Probably not one I would consider buying when it goes to DVD but then I'm quite picky. If I had to buy one Indy DVD, it would still be "Temple of Doom" no matter what people say. Despite good performances, Indy was better in his younger incarnation, not this older and supposedly wiser form. Ford's co-stars save the day, particularly LeBoeuf and Cate Blanchett as Russian agent Irina Spalko. If you haven't already seen it, you could go just for a couple of hours of enjoyment. Don't expect to be particularly enlightened though.

Thanks to for the pic!

Monday, 7 July 2008

Dex Is Back!

Yay! After a couple of months of waiting Season 2 of Dexter was here last night! Oh how I've wanted to know what happens to everyone's favourite serial killer after he murdered someone very close to him at the end of last season and then began being stalked by Dokes, who hasn't stopped calling him a psycho since the last time we saw the pair interact.

Well, it hasn't disappointed. Actually, it seems to be even wittier, filled with you-can't-say-that humour ("Behold! The Eighth Wonder of the World!"). Deb is still annoying though. I wish she retired from the force and left last season. Even wet-blanket Rita is more bearable than her - at least Rita has some guts about her, especially when faced with her ex-husband Paul.

But unfortunately poor old Dex is on the verge of being found out. A diving team has found his rubbish bags filled with dismembered bodies. Surely he isn't going down? We need a cunning plan to keep him on our screens.


Danny Boyle directed "Sunshine" last year, a sci-fi set 50 years in the future with an almost apocalyptic feel. In "Sunshine", there's always a threat, whether it's the sun dying out and consequently killing all life on earth or the little disasters that happen to the crew of the Icarus 2.

Seven years after the Icarus 1 fails to deliver their payload and save the world, a new crew is sent to deliver another payload in the hope that they will succeed. Robert Capa, a physicist played by Cillian Murphy, is the main character. He's in charge of the payload, making sure it works and deploys when the Icarus 2 reaches its destination.

As you'd expect though, things don't go to plan and the crew is jeopardized by a massive fire in the oxygen garden, so they come to the conclusion that killing off other members of the crew is the only way to ensure that they make it to their destination. One by one the crew succumb to increasingly inventive deaths, but the remaining members are finally faced with a new threat...

The whole film becomes increasingly claustrophobic, particularly, and somewhat ironically, when the characters are floating in space. The cameras are always positioned close to the characters so although you feel more of a connection with them, you also feel increasingly trapped inside the Icarus 2. This probably ties in with how trapped the crew are becoming in space and the fact that they will probably never return to Earth.

The lack of action at the beginning of the film is successful at establishing the characters and their personalities but the movie probably takes a little too long to heat up (pun not intended). However, when it does pick up the pace, "Sunshine" is gripping and at times disturbing. You find yourself rooting for Capa and the remaining crew members to finish their mission and slightly frightened that they could fail against the danger of the mysterious blurred figure.

At times poetic, at others almost disturbing, "Sunshine" doesn't fail to capture your attention. But then, you'll need it to work out exactly what's going on.

Friday, 4 July 2008


So last night, it was not only the finale of House, but also the finale of Heroes! Oh, what am I to do on Thursday nights now?

Ahem, getting away from that mini-meltdown both of the finales were particularly spectacular but surely House doesn't need so much soppy music in one episode? Surely Jose Gonzales' version of Massive Attack's "Teardrop" could have been the closing song instead of.... whatever else it was that played (can't remember and it was only last night!). Okay, so it was quite sad for Wilson - think they could have done something super, super dramatic with his plight though, like have him resign - but hey, House survived having electricity pumped into his brain and falling into a coma as a result! Best 1 out of 2 right?

Moving on to Heroes, I'm so glad Hiro survived that one. I was really worried at the end of the penultimate episode that Peter was just going to kill him off because he's been brainwashed by Adam but luckily he lives to fight for another volume! But why didn't he just kill Adam instead of somehow burying him underneath the graveyard? Surely killing him off entirely would have been the safer option since it seems as if he can live forever. What if Sylar wants to join forces with him? Hmmm.... actually I might be on to something there. Let's hope Sylar doesn't kill too many people off though. Unless it's Peter. Then I don't mind.