Wednesday, 31 March 2010

"Blaaaaring", Road Awareness and General Nothingness.

This week, it's quite fortunate that I should have nothing better to do than waste my days playing pokemon. I know fellow students are wailing "you should be revising!", but I have only a few articles to read, and quite honestly, could not bring all my notes back home with me - there was simply no space in suitcase or rucksack. I'll just have to focus on revision properly the first two weeks back - I'll have just about a month before my exams start, and with 4 days off a week, it should be quite easy to manage. Fortunately, after week 2, I'll have nothing major to organise for the History Society until well after my exams are finished.

My brother cuts the lawns of our garden, and a fine job he does of it, too. However, he went out, in the cold and showery weather, without really wrapping up quite as much as he should have, for such strenuous exercise, and caught a cold. Not a horribly bad one - but it meant two or three days of stuffed up nose, annoying us with continuous sneezing (it was like living in Mr Men land) and then having to be taken to and picked up from the bus stop, to avoid him making it much worse. We're going on holiday next Tuesday, see, and we need to be completely clear of any small viruses, since the 8 hour plane is not only detrimental to the immune system, but it's not really very pleasant passing on or receiving illnesses from other passengers.
I've got the cold, too. I had different symptoms - sneezing, sore throat, not such a stuffed nose. Did mean though that my immune system went "lol no" to my Lasagne last night in such a violent manner that my stomach muscles are still a little bit sore. Unlike many students, I don't make a habit out of throwing up at night.

Fortunately for you readers, I was called downstairs as I was writing this, to be told of the plans for bringing me home from Uni this summer.
See, my grandfather got caught doing 36 in a 30mph (I told him off, as well) zone last month, and he got fined £60, with a penalty of 3 points on his up-til-now-clean licence. Because it was such a minor offence, they're giving him the opportunity to have the fine, and the points, waived - he's got to attend a road awareness course day in Merseyside (where he got caught). I find this rather amusing, and I'm glad he too can see the somewhat funny side of all this.
Since the petrol to come get me amounts to about £70, they're actually saving quite a lot. Plus, if he should ever get hit by a car when he's just had a glass of wine, or a beer, and get breathalysed, it saves his licence.

Anyway, my grandmother will drive him to Mersey, drop him off, come get me and pack up, then we'll go get the speeder and go home. Nice, round journey. Even if it turns out I can't go home on that particular day, for whatever reason, I'll at least be able to send all my stuff home save a bag of clothes for overnight.

Today, though, I am in mourning; my tree has been cut down in its prime. The ''tree surgeon'' came today at about 8.20, left at 9.10 having sawn off all brances, then the top half of the tree, and finally the bottom half.
It was a magnificent silver birch, and I shall miss it. :(

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Lava Roller-coasters, Hamsters, and being wanted in a manhunt by your lecturer.

The mind is a mysterious thing. I often wonder, on waking up, what the dickens it's trying to tell me. On Thursday, it was more obvious: You may want to get a hamster, but getting a bird whilst at uni at the same time is not a good idea, as you can't take two cages on the train, and there's nobody that wants to be saddled with a canary that won't shut up for 4 weeks when you go home for Easter.

This morning, however, was quite bizarre - though rather eventful and would make a good film. Well, actually, I think critics would rip the plot to shreds, but visually, it could be fun.

Thursday Night/Friday Morning:

I was in my room at uni, except that it looked slightly more like my room here - ie. more walls, even though the space ratio was as boxy as at uni. I was playing with my hamster - I wanted to clean out its cage, so I tried to put it in the ball. It was a speedy little thing, and eventually, I got the lid on the ball (which incidentally was two halves, rather than mostly complete with a small slot to take out). However, the edges of my hamster's dress was caught in the hinges. I know what you're thinking, but this hamster was wearing the dress that one of my teddies in the loft has. It's a big velvet thing, with a red apron. Anyway, eventually, I got the ball done up. I looked up at my bird cage - which was roughly the size and in the spot of my cookoo clock, and thought that I'd better feed the bird before I go home.

I went to Furness college, to browse the market, and to be accosted by my flatmates and friends, who wanted to know which train I was getting, and telling me I shouldn't be late. I thought back to my luggage, and was utterly unsure about when my train was, when I suddenly swore (yes, I swore in my dream) and thought "I've forgotten to feed the bird. In fact, how will it survive the 4 weeks I'm not there!?! I can't take two cages on the train".
I looked around and saw Malcolm, in the guise of Dead Like Me's Rube, and began pestering him into looking after my bird over the Easter holidays. It took a while, but in the end he agreed to take the blinkin' bird, and so I rushed back to my flat, and dropped the hamster's travel box (which was roughly the size of a 200pack of cotton buds from Aldi) and had to scramble up the nesting materials, whilst my poor hamster was a shivering bulge under some lettuce leaf. I picked him up, and put him in the box which fit into my pocket - why then I couldn't take the bird cage on the train as well, is still a mystery.
After that, I got the bird to Mal-Rube, and then I woke up.

Saturday Night/Sunday Morning:

Ok, can't quite remember how it all started, but:
I was on a roller-coaster in what I perceived to be the History Department. It belonged to Sandy Grant (those of you that know who he is will lol at this craziness) and some of its features were a little... weird. For instance, at one point, I remember holding my breath as the coaster went through lava - which was like thick water, and very orange, and obviously not deadly, or harmful in anyway. Fake lava? With Sandy, you just can't explain anything he does.
Anyway, we were in a seminar, and he said he hated my essays. (!) I had to run, and fast, and it turned into a creepy game of hide and seek - the house was very old, and there were nooks and crannies and stuff. I went back on the coaster to get out of the department, and I hid somewhere. He came into the room, but didn't see me. He left, but his two dogs - Labrador Retrievers - sniffed me out. They bared their teeth and growled, but I had a few bells on the end of a stick, which I walked them with, and they came to like me. I took them with me, and we left. I lived as a sort of fugitive, and went through Lancaster's streets - which weren't quite the way they look in real life, but logic says that if I'm dreaming about Grant and essays, it was Lancaster - when my dogs smelled danger. We did a runner, and we ran really fast down hill, to avoid being chased by a car full of police (much as the scene in Wind and the Willows, when Toad's being chased by train). I told the dogs which streets to take just by yelling "left" or "right", and I lifted them over a wall, into some shrubbery, and I climbed over after them. We knelt down in the bushes, and I crawled between the cavities in the hedgerow as police were looking for "The blonde girl that stole two dogs".

...Then I heard the post arrive at my door and woke up.

Pokemon Heartgold

So I've been playing Pokemon Heartgold for the past couple of days, and I think my eyes are going a little bit square. But that won't stop me. Cause I'm stupid like that.
I think it's fantastic, and a real tribute to the brilliance that was the original Gold/Silver/Crystal series; unlike Leaf Green and Fire Red, this is keeping me hooked: it's classic but has refreshed itself. The graphics are great, and the ability to have any pokemon follow outside its ball is what makes it so loveable - in the words of The Boyfriend: "I feel more emotionally attached". Ok, maybe a little bit too involved, there, but I do honestly love seeing the various sprites, and I have already got favourites, even if they weren't favourites to use before - Krabby walks sideways! And Mareep (loved it before) looks hilarious. I also enjoyed Sentret following me around for a while, as well.

The Gyms' new layouts and varying designs are also somewhat special; I hadn't noticed, but Sam saw that the Goldenrod gym's layout is the shape of a Clefairy. Each gym has its own style, rather than its own colour, and the towns within which they are situated all have a particular charm - Ecruteak being my favourite now, for the music and the style of the buildings.
The revamped music isn't obnoxious - some of it is actually very nice.

The pokewalker feature is also a nice little something - though I am not sure that I'll do much with it past it being a pedometer!
The only thing I dislike about the game, though it's my own silly fault, is that berries are very rare - they don't grow in the region. You get given 3 Oran and 3 Pecha berries with some portable pots to grow plants. I didn't pay attention to this, fed the sick miltank my 3 Orans, and of course it needs 10 to be completely recovered. I'll have to find lots of Blue Shards now, to trade them for berries from a weird juggler in a town I can't even remember! Ooops!

I didn't actually mean to end up writing a mini review of the game - I was going to briefly mention it, then move on to my new post tag section: dreams. I'll have to do that in a separate post, today.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Ye olde slogge home.

I reluctantly emerged from my bed at about 8.04, and was dressed by 9. I breakfasted, finalised rucksack packing, and then made my way to Spar at 9.50. In Spar, with my suitcase, umbrella and rucksack, I searched out lunch items. In order to get to the queuing aisle, with the crisps and biscuits, I had to make my way through a queue of builders at the deli counter. I loudly said 'excuse me' but they didn't move out of the way, and my suitcase got caught on one's builder shoes; I said "yeah, just standing there isn't good!" and huffed off, since I was concerned I'd be late for my bus.

The train from Lancs to Leeds was unpleasant. It was chucking it down at the station and very cold; the train was 3 minutes late (which extended to 10 minutes late arriving in Leeds) and there were only 2 carriages. I went in the first, and had a nice chat with some girls that live in the building behind me, when at a station two stops later was full of loud shouting, jeers and all sorts. A pack of men got on, and with bottles of beer. Wonderful. Two of them also had diorrhea. How do I know this? Because they used the toilet, near which I was sitting. It was an ancient train - the carriages were separated by a (bangy) door on hinges, and you have to wait a while for the toilet door to slide shut. 
The train got fuller, and fuller, and people moved away from the carriage with the gradually drunker-getting men - they can't have been more than 24, and the youngest no less than 19, I'm sure. It was quite unnerving, particularly as the conductor couldn't very well ask them to get off, since they weren't doing much more than making a smell and a rucous - it's arguable that whilst they were /supposed/ to be kicked off for the bottles, that suggestion in itself could have turned them ugly.

I arrived at Leeds with relief, and saw my train on the platform next to that I got off. Unfortunately, despite it being freezing, we weren't allowed on it yet, because the previous train was broken down, and so they had to degrade two 1st class carriages and sort out seat reservations in order to take previous trains' passengers, and that of this one.
I got on, though, in a carriage with no reservations (hint: look through the windows for seats with paper on) and was sat at table seat with two other people, who, though nice, slouched and took up all the leg room. Typical. It was ok though.

I texted home to say that I'd be a little bit late, and I got a call, later, saying that a man had come to quote cutting down my tree (we call it my tree, but it's been there since 1982, and is apparently "leaning too much" and "too tall".... gits) and that Granddad would be at least 15 minutes late. I actually felt like crying - not because I'd be left waiting after such a long, tiring journey, but that they'd actually got around to cutting down my favourite tree. It's a gorgeous northern silver birch, and in the summer it sounds beautiful - the wind makes it sound like the palm trees on a beach, or the tide of the ocean. And it's just beautiful to look at.

Just as the train was pulling out of Grantham, the penultimate stop for me, I got another call from home: Granddad was diverted off the A14 and onto a minor A road, which couldn't take the traffic and was therefore stationary. Fantastic.
I got to the train station 20 minutes late, and was sat in a (comfortable) arm chair in Pumpkin Pastries in the station for an hour. I played pokemon, people watched, and slept on and off for about 50 minutes. He came, though, and I got home eventually - 2 hours late!

I reckon it was punishment for murdering my tree - but then, karma shouldn't affect innocent bystanders, should it?

I truly hate the journey via Leeds - it's slightly longer, and the first half is so very uncomfortable, regardless of how many stops it has. I'd much rather change at Birmingham, as I used to,but it doesn't seem to be possible anymore. I'd even rather go through London, which I will do in the future.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Alice In Wonderland

I've read many reviews - good, bad, neutral - and generally, I agree with most. The good and the neutral; not necessarily the bad.
Apparently, the Financial Times gave it 1 star - that is harsh: 3 star, maybe, no more than 4.

People have complained that Wonderland isn't very wondrous - it's dark, it's very Tim Burton, and mirrors his general style. Hell, it's Tim Burton, and wouldn't be if it didn't have the twisted trees, slightly grey-tinted colouring, and general air of the surreal gloom.  However I disagree with the view that it's supposed to be pretty at all; for starters, there is no way that a lot of the films based on the books can be described as a pretty happy dream. Look at Disney: you've a raving lunatic and angry people chasing you; you're told you're a snotty brat, and insulted, and interrogated by an arrogant riddler of a caterpillar. How is that hunky dory?
The version staring Tony Majorino was less than a pleasant dream, either. The fact that the caterpillar even says that Alice was the person that called it 'Wonderland', and 'got that wrong', emphasises Burton's wish that this isn't the pretty fantasy story that people think that Lewis Carroll wrote (she misinterpreted it as a child, hint hint) but actually a pretty twisted, unpleasant place, with characters that are darker than they appear.

Tim Burton has managed very well the tradition of mirroring the problems Alice has to solve for herself with those that she has just encountered in the real world; though I *could* go super English Lit Hidden Meanings Critique on you, I won't. We'll just say that being brave enough to kill a fire-breathing lizard thing is enough to say no to a lot of people, rather than what was clearly going on in my and Hannah's head.
The portrayal of the two queens couldn't be more wonderful; Helena Bonham Carter (goddess) is a big-headed, misunderstood older sibling that has been forever the forgotten child, wishing to be loved. When that didn't work, she'd throw a tantrum. And so, after years of neglect in favour of the pretty, wishywashy younger sister, she takes her own back and seizes the throne that is technically hers, if we follow the laws of primogeniture.
Anne Hathaway is brilliantly flowery and flamboyant; sort of reminded me how I used to think ballet princesses had to move or did move, in real life. I think, though, under that, she probably was as dark as her sister; she probably, if she let herself go, would have been overcome and been quite as brutal. It makes me wonder what the backstory is - something which unfortunately, Tim Burton is famous for having potential for, but never managing.

Johnny Depp deserves a separate paragraph. The lovely Depp - what can I say? I'm afraid that he, like Tim Burton, has lost some of his "muchness". I am a huge fan of Johnny Depp - he's a fantastic actor, and is so very versatile, but I have to agree with some of the professionals' opinions on this one: His brogue accent was a bit dubious, and sometimes he slipped too much into previous roles. His walk, when greeting Alice the first time, was Jack Sparrowish, and I remember seeing the trailer, and cringing as I heard a hint of the loveable pirate rogue in his voice.
I do not blame him entirely - Tim Burton could have restrained him; made him not do the voice. But then it was such a contrast with his innocent (adorable) lispy voice that I guess it was almost appropriate.
I can certainly see why his performance has been criticised so much; he is swamped by the fantastic extras, but most of all by the kickass Helena, Anne and (newcomer, for me) Mia Wasikowska.

The three ladies were the true stars. We had the assuredness of the White Queen, the fearfully insecure Red Queen and Alice, who is sure of herself, and yet not quite sure what she has inside of her. Mia's performance was fantastic as she put up with being shrunk, blown up, shrunk, blown up, resized, scratched, "accused of being Alice and Not Alice", and generally being told what to do.
On a side note, her face reminds me a lot of Susannah Harker - she could be a younger sister.
But anyway. I thought she was great.
 A surprising, unassuming character did sneak into the fore though; Crispin Glover as Stayne, the Knave of Hearts. He was lecherous, smarmy and strangely menacing, but in an understated way; not in a brutish sense, nor in a brainy-world-domination-mastermind way. He manipulates everybody, but also has to appear under the thumb of his masters. His comeuppance was thoroughly suitable.

The extras; Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Barbara Windsor, Michael Sheen and so forth:
Stephen Fry, and the Cheshire Cat in general was /gorgeous/. I honestly wanted to scratch him behind his ears, and stroke him. Really. And obviously, Stephen Fry's voice is fantastic, so there were no complaints there.
Michael Sheen was better in the later scenes - he can do scared and timid and such very well. He's a rabbit, so obviously the body language has much to do with it, but vocally, I found him too like his normal voice when he wasn't busy being scared and threatened.
Mat Lucas was funny as Tweedledee and Tweedledum. I really liked what Burton did with them; I never liked the Disney version of the twins, and I wasn't too keen on Robbie Coltrane's rendition either. I guess Mat Lucas also has that natural ability to look thoroughly confused.
Alan Rickman was unrecognisable except for his voice, and played the underused Caterpillar, whilst Barbara Windsor was given a surprisingly upbeat version of the Dormouse - instead of sleeping in a teapot, and being abused by Hatter and March Hare, she stabbed people, beat up the Banditsnatch, threatened the Queen and volunteered to be the White Queen's champion. I wasn't sure if I enjoyed her vocal abilities, but as far as firing up the nocturnal rodent, I wasn't too unenthusiastic.

The film had a lot of potential, but it never quite reaches the true brilliance that could have been; Tim Burton, apparently, didn't even want to do the film, he felt peer pressured into it. Which is enough of a reason in my eyes to slap him - don't do a film you don't want to, Tim, cause frankly, if your heart's not in it, you won't get it right.
Nobody really properly likes Alice in Wonderland - the story, or its author - but he had such a lot of plastercine and used so little of it.
He scrapes away some of the surface of the relationship of the Queens, to present a vague back story, and he even critiques the common held view that Alice had a fine time in Wonderland the first time round - it looked as though, during flashbacks in the film, people were trying to make it seem wonderful for her, even though underneath there was a twisted future and reality.
Unfortunately, Tim Burton never fully allows us to see more of the characters than what the other people see - never see inside their heads or allow us to fully realise the bonds between characters, or their true fears. It was fairly basic.

It was thoroughly refreshing though to have a film where the female leads rose above the cast, and not only because Alice is the heroine (she wears armour, for crying out loud), and the Red Queen is the obvious villain or antagonist in the film.
I suspect that 3D films should be left alone by Tim Burton - particularly where live-action filming is concerned. As pretty as some of it was, it wasn't quite right in many places, probably because he filmed it in 2D and then converted it (tut tut).
People should see it if they're interested, and hope to enjoy it, but don't expect it to be on par with Edward Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd and Corpse Bride. But it's infinitely better than Planet of the Apes!

"Yeah, why /haven't/ you ever been sacked?!"

...Squealed one of the girls in our party, as our lecturer bought us each a drink.

The answer: he's liked by the students (even if reluctantly) and he hasn't properly broken the rules. Me thinks he's walking on a very fine tightrope wire though.

I'd heard of lecturers taking their students out for a drink after the last lecture, but this felt really surreal - this dude will invite me over to dinner, (with the rest of the students) if I do his special subject, so I'd probably better get used to it.

Last term I had a rant blog about this guy - he's the man that doesn't like references and quotes in his essay. It certainly felt as though he didn't care about the students, but it turns out, he's probably the only member of staff, despite wanting to set us an essay a week, that honestly thinks that the department is the enemy, and the students are suffering for it.

He isn't allowed to photocopy things anymore - he's kinda used up most of the department's budget, or so they claim, and as a result, he's been printing things off at his own expense. He tells it the way it is: the department is making cuts at the cost of the students so that those fancy gits get their all-expenses-paid trips abroad every year.
I can see why the department is always coming to blows with him.

And to top it off, he's uploading all the handouts onto LUVLE (the webpages for subjects) so that we have all of them :D

Right. I'd better get ready for my 10am lecture, after which I shall hand in my final essay, have a proper breakfast, and then sell tickets all afternoon.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Up "Bright" and Early!

sWell. Got the early part right. I was up at 6, after lying there for about 15 minutes trying to figure out nice ways of beating two girls' heads against a hard concrete floor repeatedly until they've stopped making noise....

I'm not a violent person, honest. It's just that I set my alarm for 7.30 so that I would get at least 7 hours sleep.

At about 3, my flatmate came in loudly.
At about 5, she left again. Loudly.
At about 5.45, the other one came in loudly. Dried her hair for about 30 minutes, and is currently watching t.v. quietly (she can do that right!) whilst I've put a sign on the front door, a sign on her and Eva's door, and I swear to god, I want to change the locks.

I've got  a 9, 10, 11 o clock lecture, then two more at 1 and 2, then from 3-5, I'm selling tickets, ON MY OWN, and then I'm expected to be able to stay awake and look human throughout the day. F'ing bitches have started the countdown of their life expectancy.

When I get a blunderbuss, they'd better beware.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Last Week of Term

Time has come, and Time has gone. I've written all four of my essays, one which needs polishing, and three handed in. I've spent almost the equivalent of a full working day + overtime chasing up Minibus quotes for the upcoming trip, and I've started selling tickets.

Just to show my true devotion to the essay I was supposed to be polishing, here's what I've done today:
  • Caught three Pokemon on Sapphire
  • and beaten up 3 members of Team Aqua
  • Sold a ticket for the below event
  • Created this poster to display on the sales table tomorrow, Weds, Thurs and Friday afternoon when I sit there killing time:

I'm currently, whilst writing this, advising The Boyfriend to put on "cock-blocking" music loudly, since his flatmate doesn't seem to realise that he and his girlfriends every movement can be heard through the thin walls, and it's really not pleasant to hear other peoples' intimate-time noises. 

I'm also devising the social calendar for next term, whilst trying to plot the proceedings for the History Society Party - our old Social Sec wanted to host a kids party kind of event, which sounded fun and was well received, but never happened cause she was too busy in the end. We've got some top choice games picked out, that people want, and I dunno. It'd be a nice, silly, childish way to end the term filled with exams. Plus it's non-alcoholic, so people can rest their livers and kidneys for the college "Extrav" which occur weeks 8-10 - basically a humongous themed booze up.

It'll be nice going to Kenya again - rather looking forward to it; I need the relaxation and sun, and the nice food!
I'll miss seeing The Boyfriend instead, but I guess I can still keep in touch. I'm going to have to use the computers at times to check emails and send them out from the Hist Soc account anyway, so I'll be able to chat with him - he's getting friends to stay with him anyway. So long as he doesn't turn gay with Henry, it'll be fine.  (Oh god, there's an image I didn't need...)

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

"Can't use my, can't use my, no I can't use my, PSU... ma ma ma p-p-p-psu..."

Yep, the weird humming has escalated to full on "electric razor struggling to go uphill" noises, which indicates that my PSU is indeed DYING.

I've had to copy my work over to my mp3 player, which means working in the library, struggling on horrible sticky keyboards, and putting up with having nothing to do in the evenings. Lame~
I've put The Boyfriend on the case of finding and linking me a suitable replacement, since I have limited access to resources, and time, and I've asked the grandparents, since they're visiting on Sunday, to bring my laptop up. I'll probably find that the internet will still be an issue, cause it doesn't have an ethernet slot or something. *sigh*

I'm currently stressing over damned dissertation topics, and I need to hand in my form choosing my special subject next year as soon as I can cause I really really REALLY want to do The Princes in the Tower - and whilst Grant would consider me a suitable candidate, admin apparently assign people regardless of previous experience in the topics, tutor's preferences and what people really like doing.
If not, my second choice will do... but I really don't want to do my 3rd choice, as it seems thoroughly dull.:(

Saturday, 6 March 2010

What 'Mean Girls' would like like if played by Disney characters.

This was discussed on

I've seen Disney clips put to music videos (Dirty, Beautiful, Rich works well), but this really did make me laugh.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Eee. ^_^

So I've ordered Pokémon Heart Gold, which should be arriving around the 14th, since I've preordered via Play-Asia, and got the US version. I'm a little concerned about Customs being a bitch, but in the end it shouldn't be more than £9, so it could well be waived.

It looks *so* cool! I can't wait - I loved the Gold/Silver/Crystal game, almost as much - possibly even more - than Yellow. xD

Lookie ^_^ The pokémon follow you about. Any of them! But yeah. I also think the Pokéwalker is a fantastic idea, so there's me being a nerd. I'm sorely tempted to get the cheapo accessories pack... for the styluses... but the expensive one has a pretty case. If I switch my DS for DSLite, I'll definitely buy it. I'm THAT cool, people.

...believe it or not, I do get laid. o.O

*Ahem* Enough with the TMI. I've got to go to my lecture. Stopping at Diggles on the way, cause their Chicken & Veg mini pies are DELICIOUS. 4 for a £1. <3