Friday, 22 August 2008

What A Difference!

I was thinking this morning: "Oh my god, you look awful!" I had a splitting headache, and I had no idea why, I was grouchy and sat down to grudgingly read some rubbishy magazines with my morning coffee and biscuit.

Two hours later I was sifting through looking for my earrings when I found some of my old shell clip-ons! I was still feeling rough, and thought "why not?" and put them on.

About a year ago I had my ears pierced but had to permanently remove them a couple of months ago because my ears wouldn't adjust and they kept bleeding. I was pretty sore about it because I thought that I looked good even with my studs in. I didn't even get the chance to wear the longer earrings. So the other week I bought some clip-ons and today was the day I was going to attempt to attach them to my normal earrings.

So when I fund my original clip-ons I was pleased! I put my pale shell ones on and was instantly transformed. No longer was I the rough, just-fell-out-of-bed groucho - I had suddenly become alive and pretty again. Even my fairly greasy hair (needs a wash, must get to that!) looked rejuvenated.

So it got me thinking that maybe making an effort now and then really does make a difference. Even something so simple can make you feel better about yourself on a dull day - beauty is achievable on even the most awful of days!


So last night I watched Election, a 1999 film starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick. And it was hilariously funny from the beginning to the end.

The story goes that high-flying Tracy Flick (Witherspoon) is running to be Carver High School President, something she has been aiming towards for as long as she can remember. At first she is running as the only candidate but her morals and ethics teacher Mr.McAllister (Broderick) has other plans - he gets the captain of the football team to run against her (can you see the irony here?) Things start to go horribly wrong in McAllister's life as his candidate's sister also runs, and he begins to fall in love with his best friend's ex-wife.

The film is told in a light-hearted fashion from the viewpoints of the different characters showing their conflicts of interest and their thoughts on each other (which also turns out to be hilarious, particularly when it comes to McAllister talking about Flick). The fact that all of the characters - particularly the candidates for presidency - are all so different, it means that there's some wonderful meeting of minds.

The film put me in the mind of Rushmore which was directed by Wes Anderson (who is brilliant, you've just got to sit down and watch some of his movies) as they both have similar quirky, light-hearted feels. I can see that this would be a film that doesn't wear thin quickly, and that you could watch it time and time again and still laugh! Surely the best comedies do this? If you get the opportunity I recommend you track it down and give it a go - as proof that it isn't one of those teen movies that are alienating to other age groups, my mum watched it with me and was laughing just as hard as me. Enough said!


I am such a dunce... I never knew that you could actually turn off the WiFi on Jerry the Berry. As a result my battery has been draining faster than water down a plughole. Before actually being told that you have to turn it off to make the battery last I had to charge the thing 3 times since Saturday, which probably would have been more if I'd kept it on during the night as well. So now that I've turned it off, the battery is steady eddie.

Ahem, I need to think logically about these things in future.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Slightly Dimmed Down - What Did I Expect?

So finally here's the last review - of "Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings". It's a little toned down from the old heyday of the brilliant "FFXII" but what did I expect? Absolutely amazingly realistic graphics on a console that can't handle that many pixels?

Actually, the CGI cut-scenes are pretty special. You have to kind of hold your DS about a foot away from your own body to get the full impact but it's there and it's special, possibly the most realistic graphics of all the games that were there.

I have to admit though that it took me a while to get into this. The whole idea of it being set in a world away from Ivalice seemed a little strange, since that world worked so well and was so diverse - there was a million and one things you could do with its wonderful landscape. Once you get used to the new floating world of Lemures though, it grows on you as well. I just wish there were more towns and quests - new quests are available after every chapter you complete (so for me I've been able to complete two sets of missions, since I've just completed Chapter 3 - Chapter 1 doesn't count). Although you do have access to the Sky Saloon after a certain point in the game, there aren't enough towns and people to interact with! I enjoyed the fact that there were so many people to talk to and little mini-tasks to complete in cities like Rabanastre and Archades on FFXII. Maybe I'm just not giving this one enough time to heat up.

Gameplay is a little fiddly and a little bit difficult to get a hold of. Your characters also level up very very very slowly so in order for them to be strong enough to progress, you have to undertake a lot of Monster Melees in areas that you've completed. Luckily you do have the power of little monsters known as the Yahri to aid you, although even for them to come to your aid you have to collect Auracite from the various missions in the game.

Simply speaking: it's difficult. It's a bit long-winded. But it's really fun, if not frustrating at times when your little Yahri die for no apparent reason when a massive dragon comes out of nowhere and breathe fire on them... The story is a lot less political and violent than FFXII although the DS is marketed at younger people, so they had to tone down some of the violence (FFXII was full of wars, killings and murders, so much different to the previous installments)...

When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Lemonade!

So here's the thing: I screwed up a little bit at work on something that was super-important and I went crying to my mum down the phone. That weekend I go shopping with her and dad and the next thing I know they're saying they're going to buy me a BlackBerry despite the screw-up and for getting that far anywhere.

So now Jerry the Berry and I are completely in sync, I don't have to worry about the money on my old phone running out and I can e-mail anyone I want anywhere I want and oh, I've got complete Internet access (I was thinking of writing this post on Jerry but then I thought nah, I don't want to rub it in people's faces!).

Oh happy day! Three days on from this and I keep wanting people to text and e-mail me just so I can try out the little keypad or if it's someone I haven't talked to in ages just to tell them that I have a new phone... Whee, this is so cool...

They're really supposed to be used for business purposes but I suppose as long as you've got a few friends and a bunch of e-mail addresses then you're good to go - I can still make use of the other functions somehow...

Friday, 15 August 2008

Olympics 08

After not caring for ages about the Olympics I've finally come around to watching quite a bit of it over the last few days. For some reason you get sucked in if you watch one event (for me it was the women's double diving from 10m, in which some of the smallest divers you've ever seen competed).

Yesterday I found myself watching the majority of the men's gymnastics and spending most of that thinking "how on earth do they make it look so effortless?" I have a certain admiration for anyone who is any good at sports because I've never come around to it - I was practically out of breath yesterday when I had to run for the bus. Just getting to the Olympics must be a heck of an achievement because the competition is so fierce - winning a medal in it must be a dream come true, something I would only be able to achieve in my dreams.

This lunchtime I started to gasp at the track and field events through my peanut butter sandwich. I wish I hadn't watched the unbelievable performance of Jamaica's Usain Bolt in the Men's 100m race. It wasn't human - I know it was only on the passage to the semis, but still the guy didn't break sweat and was only jogging, jogging I tell you! He even looked casually from side to side, had practically no movement in his arms and probably could have waved to the crowd and still won the race super-comfortably and under 10 seconds. A super-scary performance. A bit like Michael "Baltimore Bullet" Phelps but on land and running... Eek, you may as well just give him the gold now.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Stylus Trouble... Blame Producers...

Okay so ages ago I said I'd review the three games I bought for my new DS, and here's the second about a month overdue (what?).

"The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass" is a return to the controversial days of "The Wind Waker" where everyone was up in arms about the fact that the producers had moved away from the realistic Zelda world into a cartoonish land coloured in by cel-shading. Nevertheless, it made the whole experience rather unique. It was the funniest Zelda, and this promises to be the same. Once you got past the "dodgy" graphics, it was brilliant.

Basically, it's a follow-on story from "Wind Waker" and Link is sailing the high seas with his pirate friends, including Tetra. Tetra is curious about the ghost ship and so orders her crew to go and look for it - with disastrous consequences. She is abducted and Link washes up on a far away island after he falls in the sea trying to save her (he should be used to that after washing ashore on Windmill Island after being catapulted over the Forbidden Fortress by Helvinek at the beginning of "Wind Waker". What luck). So begins a massive quest to find and invade the ghostly ship.

Everything you do is controlled by the stylus and this is incredibly difficult. The reason why this game is taking me so long just to complete the second (yes, second) island is because the controls are so fiddly. I still haven't grasped how to make Link roll, although I'm quite good at killing the jelly-like ChuChus. Also, I was stuck at sea for a while when I couldn't work out how to make the ship move (major problem!).

I just think that the other buttons could have been used more to make it easier to control. I never want to buy easy games but then I don't want ones that are so hard I can't fathom for a month. I'm a master at the other Zelda games (although anyone who knows the locations of all the poes on "Twilight Princess" should alert me) so I won't let this beat me. The characters are funny, the story, though simple, is completely engaging and the world is rendered to the same quality of "Wind Waker" - don't let the stylus put you off. Just try your best. That's what I'm doing.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Lad Mag/Girl Mag

There's a debate raging at the minute about whether lads' mags encourage a lack of responsibility amongst young men and teach them that women are cheap and will do anything (i.e. that we're all brainless airheads!). Of course, I hate to think that these gross publications are making men believe that women are just objects - but it's true.

Then I watched Channel 4 News the other night and a former editor of such vile magazines (I'm not even going to give the names the time of day) came on and said that women's magazines do the same but use words instead of soft porn to talk to women about sex.

Then I realised that this was really true! I suppose this could be taken as a backhanded compliment that we can use our imaginations and brains instead of having it all laid out in front of us so graphically. You know by now that I hate Cosmopolitan because it's just sex, sex, sex so I wonder if these sorts of mags are sending out a bad message to women about being promiscuous?

The ex-editor of the lads mags claimed that mags like this don't shape the society we live in but then if lots of young men between the age of 16 and 25 "read" these things then they're obviously going to be affected by it. Plenty of the men I know think in this way but then so do the women - they're obsessed with getting a boyfriend, afraid of being alone and have over-active sex lives. It's all they think about.

Society must be going downhill... please tell me that this is the case elsewhere as well because it's a bit scary and it's not likely to change soon!

Music Meets... Video Games

Okay so a few months ago I published a short post about Quentin Tarantino being inspired by Kate Bush to direct Kill Bill because the lyrics of "The Wedding List" are so similar to the storyline of his cult bloodfest. Of course, it was a fat chance but fun!

So now I've come to you with another little musical mash-up: readers of Jamjarsuperstar will know that I've recently purchased "A Kiss in the Dreamhouse" by Siouxsie and the Banshees. If you examine that cover, near to where the images of Siouxsie Sioux's backing band are placed there is clearly the symbol of the Triforce, a recurring divine object in the Legend of Zelda series. Did Shigeru Miyamoto and his colleagues stumble upon this symbol on this album cover?

Coincidence? You decide...

Turning into Kate

I think over the last few years I've started to morph, fashion-wise, into Kate Jackson from the Long Blondes. I wear my little blue beret (just like the one she wears to the right) and my scarves tied into bows at the neck, skinny jeans, coloured tights, black cocktail dresses and stripy jumpers just the same as the indie pixie.

So I wouldn't be mentioning this except for the fact that it got me wondering about if, even unconsciously, we start to dress like someone we've seen before. Okay, maybe not in designer dresses or suits or anything but do we think "oh, she/he looks nice" and start subconsciously modelling ourselves on them? I think Kate has a nice style - she never seems to be trying too hard and yet still looks fashionable, totally different to someone like Kate Moss who seems to strain to get dressed the way she does (or at least that's what I think).

We get our style from somewhere and it changes over the years. I think I'm finally settling into my own fashion sense - only to realise that it really isn't my own style. I've just stolen it from other people and made slight changes...

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Liverpool: Odd Shots

So to finish my strand on my trip to Liverpool I've left my 3 daftest shots. This one perhaps the weirdest. It's supposed to be advertising "Pink" nightclub which on the window invites you to "come in and have a sherry". Anyway I think most people thought I was mad that I wanted a photo of a bright pink furry car but hey, I thought it was funny and stuff everyone else (putting it nicely!)
Ahem, I thought this was the most ridiculous name for a takeaway. Is it just me or does "Hot 'n' Tender" sound a bit, er, wrong when put in the context of food? Besides, it conjures up images of undercooked chicken - considering it's meant to be fried chicken, this isn't a good image to have. "Eat In Style" the sign says. Walk right past, I say.

Heh, now if there really was a fly in the loaf you'd complain but this makes for gold dust when you're going around pointlessly snapping pub signs. Actually, it didn't look too bad in there! They sell a beer from the Isle of Man (Babooshka? Any comment?) and have chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The red sign above this one says "Bakers to the Queen". Flies must give bread a nice taste, then.

Liverpool: Philharmonic Toilets - You'll Need Them

Ah, the Philharmonic toilets - the men's toilets. Yes, that's right, the men's. Women can go in by asking a male member of staff to check to see if there's anyone in there and they can be escorted in if no-one is, ahem, using the facilities. Very pretty toilets though, considering the women's are nothing to write home about.
Even more of the men's toilets, this time it's the urinals. They're made out of such pretty red marble that you can't help being a bit weird and taking a snap.

The room at the end of the corridor is the Grande Lounge, which is definitely the fanciest of the rooms on offer here. The "Brahms" and "Liszt", I was nicely informed, are different forms of being drunk. You're going to need those pretty little toilets after all... There's a massive selection of beers on offer - and I mean beers not just those rubbishy lagers you can get everywhere. A house ale is put up often, and I think the one when I visited was some sort of honey drink. Anyway if anyone wants to visit it's down the road from the cathedral (shown in the previous post). I was so tired after climbing the hill that I collapsed after this.

Liverpool: Architecture

This is officially the ugliest building in Liverpool - sitting right on the front of the Albert Dock, overlooking the Mersey and obscuring the view of the Liver Building. It's a monstrosity - another one is being built to the right of this photo. Whoever thought of putting this here must be a bit dense in the head. Why would anyone want to tamper with the historic quay. In contrast...
This just has to be one of the prettiest buildings in Liverpool! I love the colours and the piping. Although it's bright it's not really that intrusive or garish and I would be happy to call this piece of modern architecture my own work. You would never believe that this is actually a Costa Coffee Shop - at first I thought it was some sort of art gallery but no! Aww, I love this building.

Obviously one of the most famous sites in Liverpool is that of the Liver Birds - there's two, one male and one female. The female does all the work by watching and making sure that the boats go out safely while the male looks into the city to see what time the pub opens! Legend has it that if the Liver Birds were to ever fly away then the city would fall to ruin - that would explain why they're firmly tethered down then!

This is the Radio City Tower where Merseyside's local radio station broadcasts from. It used to be a revolving restaurant, designed in an attempt to make the city more cosmopolitan but it fell out of favour and is now used as the broadcasting tower. It has to be one of the most recognisable sights - there's not many places around the city where it can't be seen.

There's two cathedrals in Liverpool - this is one of them. The other is a bit gothic and creepy but this one is colourfully referred to as the "Witches' Hat". I didn't go in so I couldn't really comment on what it was like inside. Just like Radio City though, this can also be seen from many points in the city. Most of my hotel rooms have had a direct view to the Witches' Hat but not this time.

Finally, this is an area I like to think of as the most cultural. It's probably because there's about a thousand museums, libraries and theatres around here. This time I only went into one. I went to see the "Beat Goes On" exhibition that documented a full history of music in Merseyside, which was very interesting. I would've gone to see the Egyptian exhibition as well but you had to go through the Bug House to get to it and despite my continuing fascination with Ancient Egypt, I wasn't going to put myself through the torture of creepy-crawlies just to get there! The souvenir from this year was a sarcophagus with a little mummy resting inside of it which I found pretty cool. He sits on the side of my bed now - awwww....

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Liverpool: Foodie 2

Another food experience, this time on the second night of my stay - this was at the PanAmerican Bar and Grill at the Albert Dock where I stayed. The dish in question is South-East Asian Chicken with soy noodles and stir-fried veg. It was tasty enough. I was a bit skeptical about the noodles at first because in all honesty I've never had soy sauce before but it was actually lovely! I think sometimes you've got to take the plunge - I wouldn't eat anything incredibly readical but changing a little bit of your food here and there is okay if you're trying stuff out. Then when people ask you if you've even eaten something and you say it's horrible you can actually say you've eaten it! I suppose it gets on people's nerves when you say you don't like something but have never tried it before.

Anyway, getting back to the food, it was pleasant enough. It made a bit of a change since I ate pasta on all the other nights! I think the place needs a bit of TLC though - the furniture was ageing a bit since they haven't changed it in all the years I've been going.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Liverpool: Superlambananas

This is one of the famed "Superlambananas" that have been popping up all over Liverpool this year. Each of the mini-versions represent something about Liverpool, and this one honours the fire service. You can see the little firemen on its legs. This one is even wearing a helmet (headgear is not essential for one of these Superlambananas)

This pinky Superlambanana is meant to represent the use of WiFi in the city. At first I didn't get it but then I looked closer and thought about all the little hands reaching together and the wires being thrown away and thought it made more sense. However, I think they could have made this one clearer. If I hadn't told you this was for WiFi, would you actually say that this represents it? Thought not.

Well this one probably doesn't need much explanation but her it is anywhere: It's a mix of Sgt. Pepper's and the Yellow Submarine - John and George are in the little portholes and Ringo is the Superlambanana (at least I think - it's the big nose). Thing is, I couldn't find Paul anywhere so really it wasn't fully representational of the Beatles... This was outside the Beatles Story, which is like a museum that gives you a tape and headphones for an audio tour as you move through the exhibition. The hotel I usually stay at is right opposite here and the first time I went to Liverpool the music from the Beatles Story was playing so loudly that you could hear it from the room when the windows were shut. This time they'd turned the music down considerably. It was still audible but just not as bad.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Liverpool: Foodie 1

So on the last night of my stay in Liverpool we went to eat at the Sports Bar. It's run by Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher and is commonly known as "Carra's Bar". It markets itself as a family restaurant with a healthy twist and the only deep-fried food on the menu was the fries, which were still made out of the healthiest potatoes and cooked in the healthiest oils (which I believe is Sunseed, but I could be wrong).
The first pic is of my meal, the penne primavera. So it was basically penne pasta in a tomato sauce with chicken, tomatoes and courgettes. I was surprised to find how spicy it actually was! I thought it might have been a safe option to test the water but instead it turns out that they must have added more than a fair share of chillies or spices - not that this was a bad thing, it was a very enjoyable dish and I ate it all, despite eating three large slices of garlic pizza bread beforehand.
The second pic is of my friend's meal, the spinach and ricotta ravioli. I know she really likes spinach and ricotta anyway so I had a funny feeling she was going to pick that. Anyway, despite not looking like too much on the plate it was apparently filling and had a nice kick with the added black pepper. I think it was enjoyed, even though she eats like a bird.
To drink I had two smoothies, one a Jamaican 8 (so that just had loads of tropical fruit in it like pineapples and mangoes with fat-free frozen yogurt) and the other was a berry-flavoured smoothie that I can't rightly remember the name of. Anyway, this one had loads of berries in it (duh) so it was more like the type that I drink whenever I go to the juice bar in town.
We got kicked out a bit earlier than we might have liked because another group had booked the table for about 8-ish. But it didn't really matter, it was likely to fill up because of the match that was on anyway (the whole place had massive TV screens everywhere, some showing SkySports News and others showing DVDs of sports - our table was showing a DVD that was a combination of when motorbiking goes bad and when skiing and snowboarding goes bad. Good, cringey action.).
I'd go there again, maybe try a pizza and sacrifice the garlic pizza bread - there's a huge selection and everyone will probably find something they like.
P.S. I am sorry about the bunched up writing on some of my posts recently - I've complained to blogger but they haven't done anything about it. I'm afraid you'll just have to cope for now! Sorry -- Scarlet x