Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Video fail!

I just spent the last 20 minutes filming the vlog for my Christmas book loot.

Unfortunately it wasn't until I played it back that I realised my webcam is so old and decrepit that the video can't keep up with the sound. :( Fail.

Fortunately I do have a normal camcorder and will proceed to start all over again as soon as I get an energy boost.

Right now, I look like this:

Normally, a sound and picture sync wouldn't bother me too much but then I realised who my audience are. The majority of you guys, my beautiful readers, are American. My father and I recently took a trip to Liverpool, and even those guys had to ask us to repeat what we were saying.

The thing about Welsh-accented people is we speak wayyyyyyy too fast without actually realising it. Hence why my webcam video probably can't keep up with the sound! :P

But, yeah, if there was a chance that any of you guys had a hard time keeping up with my accent, at least you could try reading my lips. With this video, there's no chance. :P

Ah, well.

I'll try again in a bit.

Not to waste a post, I'm going to show you some images of what I've been up to lately (during my absence):

The snow has finally began to melt by me.

The UK seemed to have gone batshit crazy when we were hit by snowstorms just before Christmas. No-one here knows how to react to the stuff because we don't usually get it until March. And even then it never sticks.

This time there were plane/train cancellations, people being stuck on the motorways in cars for 16 hours, all that kind of stuff. Yikes! I just wanted to throw snowballs! :P

As I mentioned, I went to Liverpool with my dad. Liverpool always holds a special place in my heart as it's where my grandfather and his family come from. I was also born near there in a city called Chester.

My dad took me up there to Anfield, Liverpool's football ground, to watch a match. :D

We lost. :-(

But it was still an experience of a lifetime. Something I'll definitely do again. Oh, yeah, and it was freezing! I took a bottle of water in with me. By half-time the water was colder than when I'd bought it!

Last bit of 'news'? New piercing!

The top one. It hurt like fudge! (See how I'm trying to curb my swearing? ;-) ) It hurt worse than my tattoo. But I wonder whether that's because it's been a few years since I had some 'needlework'. I got my three other ear piercings while still in school, and my tattoo when I was 18. It's been a while.

What do you think? :)  

Sunday, 27 December 2009

RIP Borders :'-(

Ye will be severely missed. Especially now that the post-Christmas sales are on and I'd love to spend all my Christmas money on you.

Those of you not from the UK and haven't heard the news, all Borders shops across Britain were closed last week after the company went bust.

It was so strange walking past the Cardiff branch last week on my way to work.

Every day the posters on the windows screamed something new: "6 DAYS LEFT! UP TO 30% OFF!" "4 DAYS LEFT! 50% OFF!" "LAST DAY! 90% OFF! ALL FURNITURE FOR SALE!"

That's right. Even the shelves, chairs, and tables were being carted out by customers.

I popped in there one day last week to have a quick look around. It was manic! Everyone had gone nuts and all the books, DVDs, and CDs were in complete disarray.

Perhaps worst of all was the staff. They didn't bother to tidy or organise anything. Why should they?

I asked one staff member where the religion section was. He didn't even look at me. Just said, in a disinterested tone, "Should be upstairs if there's anything left."

I asked two boys at the till what would happen to them once the shop closed down. One said bitterly, "Nothing. We're on the dole for Christmas." The other attempted a light-hearted joke by saying, "I'm going to sell all my stuff and join a cult."

As sad as I am about not being able to go into my favourite place to buy books at bargain prices, I really do feel for the Borders staff. No-one deserves to lose their job on the 23rd December.

Especially when (having had personal experience with this) all jobs that start at the beginning of January would have already been interviewed for in late November/early December.

I hope they're okay and have friends and families there for them.

Months ago, Gordon Brown said the recession was officially over. What a joke.


Review: Glasshopper by Isabel Ashdown

Title: Glasshopper

Author: Isabel Ashdown

Year: 2009

Rating: 4/5

Plot: Portsmouth, 1984. Thirteen-year-old Jake's world is unravelling as his father and older brother leave home, and his mother plunges into alcoholic freefall.

Despite his turbulent home life, Jake is an irrepressible teenager and his troubled mother is not the only thing on his mind: there's the hi-fi he's saving up for, his growing passion for Greek mythology (and his pretty Classics teacher), and the anticipation of brief visits to see his dad. When his parents reconcile, life finally seems to be looking up. Their first family holiday, announced over scampi and chips in the Royal Oak, promises to be the icing on the cake - until long-unspoken family secrets begin to surface.

Review: Amongst the wave of new British writers, comes the touching debut of Isabel Ashdown. 'Glasshopper' is the story of a mother ... (click here for more)  

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Merry New Year Mas

'Tis nearing the end of 2009 and, after a predictably rushed and event-filled twelve months, we're preparing ourselves for the second decade of the millenium.

Promises of more blog posting for you beauties haven't quite been filled ... but I'm working on it.

In fact, I'm planning two book-related video logs to be uploaded in the coming week - One will be about the books I recieved for Christmas; the other will be on my 50 book challenge.

Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrated it. And Happy Chanukah to those who recently celebrated that too.

A big Happy Holidays to those of you who have become some great internet friends (you know who you are).

Rewatched Sweeney Todd today - my little brother bought the DVD for me for Christmas. I forgot how much I really do love that film.

And I'm currently reading Nightlight: a parody.

Here's a snippet from page 76 that literally made me laugh out loud:

"Besides, isn't it a little soon to cut yourself off from the rest of your peers, depending on a boyfriend to satisfy your social needs as opposed to making friends? Imagine what would happen if something forced that boy to leave! I'm imagining pages and pages would happen - with nothing but nothing but the names of the month on them."


More to come soon . . .  

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Feeling nostalgic

Book and film reviews to come, I swear. I have them stacked up and ready to post.

Until then I'm gathering my ideas together for Christmas presents (yup, Christmas shopping starts Thursday - clearly I'm very responsible) and concentrating on starting one of my new year's resolutions: losing weight! For years I've been going on and on about losing weight but never actually done anything about it.

For some reason I feel incredibly motivated now and feel as though this is something I can do. I'm 5'7.5" and my weight currently fluctuates between 12.5-13 stone (175-182 lbs). Ideally, this time next year I'd like to have lost at least 2 and a half stone (35 lbs) but, more importantly, be fit and healthy. I'm so unfit, it's almost unreal. I can't even walk fast without getting out of breath - I think that has a lot to do with my Asthma. For years I blamed not being able to do a lot of exercise on being Asthmatic.

That's a load of Bull. There are dozens of professional athletes who suffer from Asthma. In fact, getting healthy and fit and doing regular exercise might help my breathing difficulties.

I've cut out all the crap (chocolates, biscuits, crisps, cakes, etc.) and am starting myself on a slow and steady exercise routine which will gradually get more and more vigourous as time goes on. More than anything, I'd like to tone up my body. Even the thinnest parts of my body aren't tight from lack of proper exercise from the past 7-8 years.

So, yeah. Wish me luck. :)

Tonight I've been in a nostalgic mood and listening to some old Robbie Williams tracks.

Songs like Let Me Entertain You, Let Love Be Your Energy, and Rock DJ really take me back. No matter how old the man gets, Robbie will always be sex on legs.

While Millenium was his first solo number one, Let Me Entertain You was what I remember being played on the radio over and over and over and over when I was a child.

Watch the video below - Go on, you know you want to. ;-)

(Additional Note: I suddenly realised that I described Robbie as sex on legs but posted one of his weirdest videos. ... And it was also filmed at a time when his drug addiction was at its worst. Ermm ... yeah. He's still damn sexy - watch any other video than that and you'll see what I mean.)  

Monday, 30 November 2009

Twilight hysteria

I'm not going to make a huge deal of this. I saw New Moon over the weekend and I thought it was better than Twilight but not great. Kind of like the way I felt about the books.

I'm still Team Jacob if I have to pick a team. But that's pretty much it.

My feelings can be pretty much summed up here where Lainey from Lainey Gossip hits the nail on the head.

It's just my opinion. That doesn't take away the fact that you might have loved it. Good for you. :D

I like Robert Pattinson. I just don't like Twilight. From what I understand, he auditioned for something he knew nothing about, couldn't predict the outcome, and is now in a contract he'll never be able to get out of. (His lack of enthusiasm for the books during promotional interviews say a lot about how he feels about the series.)

Oh yeah, Edward and Bella's relationship has officially been declared abusive according to the National Domestic Violence hotline. Everything it lists as a cause for concern happens in the series. Check it out here. It's a must-see.

But, yeah, I'm looking forward to his next film, Remember Me. I read the script before he was cast and, if they haven't made any changes to the story, this should be an incredible film.

The trailer's been released. Do watch. :)


Sunday, 29 November 2009

GLBT Reading Challenge 2010

Woohoo! So Amanda from The Zen Leaf has managed to save me from complete challenge disaster by introducing the GLBT Reading Challenge 2010.

The same principles as her original GLBT Reading Challenge apply but this time this challenge runs for the whole year round and has three basic levels of participation.


The basic idea of this challenge is to read books about GLBT topics and/or by GLBT authors.

The challenge runs year-round, and there will be three levels of participation:
  • Lambda Level: Read 4 books.
  • Pink Triangle Level: Read 8 books.
  • Rainbow Level: Read 12 or more books.
You don't need to choose your books right away, and they can change at any time. Overlaps with other challenges are fine.

There's a reason I've been sucking at my reading challenges: At the beginning of 2009, I decided to challenge myself to read 50 books for the year (not a great amount compared to how many most of you get through). It's the last week of November and I've read 44 books so far. These last 4 weeks mean I really have to knuckle down and get six more books out of the way.

That's the reason I know I won't be able to complete Amanda's original GLBT Challenge.

Next year, I'll be challenge free, so I'm willing to give this one a go. :D

And I'll be determined to do well in it so I'm going to go for the Pink Triangle Level: Read 8 books.

I haven't decided which 8 books I'll be reading yet but this is where I'll keep a record of them:

1) Girl With a One Track Mind: Exposed by Abby Lee
2) My Invented Life by Lauren Bjorkman

Yay! Good luck everyone who decides to join in on this. :D

(P.S. - Amanda, I'm sorry. I had a brain fart and signed up for this challenge via Mr. Linky without posting a direct link to this post. I suck at life. :S )  

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Advice to a Younger Me

- Don't let your first love stop you from doing everything you always wanted to - He's your first love; Not your last.

- Becoming more confident with people is great; Just don't let it get the better of you. There's a fine line between confidence and arrogance.

- On that note, Buy black eyeliner. The moment you start using it, your confidence will soar.

- Stop listening to pop music and don't get so worked up because your favourite boybands are splitting up. In five years time, you won't give a shit and will be listening to real music like The Sex Pistols, AC/DC, Iron Maiden, David Bowie, and The Rolling Stones.

- Not being afraid to do something different than your friends is a good thing. Keep this up. :)

- Please try and smile more. And don't take yourself so seriously. It's harder to start turning things around when you're in your twenties.

- You're a big dork. Don't worry; it's more fun that way. :D

- Keep drinking all the water you've started chugging down. Having that rather than fizzy pop is going to help you drop two dress sizes.

- DON'T tell people you barely know your deepest darkest secrets. It comes back to bite you on the arse - several times.

- Teachers aren't always right. They're human too, just like you. The sooner you realise this, the better. Otherwise you'll end up having a huge problem with authority at the age of 22.

- You'll find yourself straddling two worlds when you go to university. Keep wanting more for yourself and striving to achieve your goals but never think you're better than others.

- The first person you meet in college will change your life and become one of the best friends you've ever had. She'll be the ying to your yang. Don't let go of her.

(If you could give advice/write a letter to your younger self, what would you say?)  

Friday, 20 November 2009

Cezzie Returns!

Yeah, so my blog has been pretty dead for the last month or so. Starting a new job has really impacted on how much free time I have and how tired I am. Usually by the time I sit down to look at my Google Reader, I get through six or seven and then feel too tired to carry on.

But, don't worry. I'm here to tell you, I'm back.

And I deeply apologise for not replying to comments lately, and not visiting your blogs.

I'm getting on top of that asap as I have this whole weekend off and am going to have a fabulous time relaxing and doing whatever the hell I want. :D

Christmas and Hanukkah are coming up - Yay!

Are you all looking forward to it? I am. Though I have yet to start my Christmas shopping (yikes!). Better get on that one.

Anyway, the point of this post was to say Hellooo everyone. I have returned from my 'hiatus' of sorts and I shall be reviewing and visiting and interacting more. :) Missed talking to y'all.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Review: The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

Title: The Undomestic Goddess

Author: Sophie Kinsella

Year: 2005

Rating: 4/5

Plot: Samantha Sweeting as at the top of her game. About to be made partner for the law firm she's been working at for the last seven years, she feels as though she has it all. However, when a simple mistake costs her £5 million of her client's money, she runs away and catches the nearest train to anywhere.

Still in a state of shock, she finds herself at the front door of a rich couple who mistake her for an interviewee and hire her to be their new housekeeper. The problem is that Samantha doesn't know how to sew a button, turn on the oven, dust a counter, or even get the ironing board to open.

Samantha soon realises that she must make a choice: Adapt to her new life or return to face the mistakes she's hiding from.

Review: I needed a book like this. After months of reading stories that I enjoyed but really made you think about important issues and hidden meanings, I needed a story I could just dive right into and flat-out enjoy.

I'd never read anything by Kinsella and haven't really picked up a lot of chick lit since uni, but this had been sitting on my TBR since by college days and I knew that if I wanted to pick up a better pace in trying to complete my 50 book challenge I'd need something I didn't need to think too much about. I was wrong!

Once I got into this story I couldn't put it down. It definitely didn't leave my mind and I was constantly wondering how it was going to end. It was everything I could have asked for - romance, laughter, and a bit of drama.

I understood Samantha's determination to do well in her career and her utter panic at having the world falling down on her shoulders. She was a likeable character; So was Nathaniel. Even Mr and Mrs Geiger, who were quite caricature based, were fun to read about.

Light but not too fluffy and a really interesting and gripping read. Thank you, Sophie Kinsella, for putting my mind at ease.  

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Happy Bonfire Night

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.

Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!

Happy Guy Fawkes night. Buy a load of fireworks and go nuts with them. :) I'm in work until 8pm so will probably see the sky full of them on the train on the way home. Have a good night, everyone.


Friday, 30 October 2009

Throwing in the towel

As much as I hate to do this, it's gotta be done. I'm an avid reader but not a fast one and, lately with my new job and life being slightly more hectic, I've barely had time to read.

There isn't any way I'm going to read and finish four Classic books by the end of tomorrow and, as much as I'm really enjoying it, I'm not going to be able to finish Interview with the Vampire by tomorrow.

This means I'm throwing in the towel for my Classics Challenge and my R.I.P. Challenge.

Obviously my progress isn't as impressive to those of you who devour books like chocolate (oooh, yes please) but, meh, I did what I could considering I can't really buy any new books until my TBR disappears. :)

Result: 2 out of 6

Result: 1 out of 2

Oh well. I tried and gave it my best. That's what matters. :)  

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Happy 77th Birthday Sylvia.

Sylvia Plath
b. 27th October 1932

Today is one of my all-time favourite writers' birthday. If she had lived to the year 2009, Sylvia Plath would be turning 77 today. Happy Birthday, Sylvia.

While it is not birthday centred, I thought I'd post this poem by her - about the gift she really wants to receieve.

A Birthday Present
By Sylvia Plath

What is this, behind this veil, is it ugly, is it beautiful?
It is shimmering, has it breasts, has it edges?

I am sure it is unique, I am sure it is just what I want.
When I am quiet at my cooking I feel it looking, I feel it thinking

'Is this the one I am to appear for
Is this the elect one, the one with black eye-pits and a scar?

Measuring the flour, curring off the surplus,
Adhering to rules, to rules, to rules.

Is this the one for the annunciation?
My god, what a laugh!'

But it shimmers, it does not stop, and I think it wants me.
I would not mind if it was bones, or a pearl button.

I do not want much of a present, anyway, this year.
After all I am alive only by accident.

I would have killed myself gladly that time any possible way.
Now there are these veils, shimmering like curtains,

The diaphanous satins of a January window
White as babies' bedding and glittering with dead breath.
O ivory!

It must be a tusk there, a ghost-column.
Can you not see I do not mind what it is.

Can you not give it to me?
Do not be ashamed - I do not mind if it is small.

Do not be mean, I am ready for enormity.
Let us sit down to it, one on either side, admiring the gleam,

The glaze, the mirrory variety of it.
Let us eat our last supper at it, like a hospital plate.

I know why you will not give it to me,
You are terrified

The world will go up in a shriek, and your head with it,
Bossed, brazen, an antique sheild,

A marvel to your great-grandchildren.
Do not be afraid, it is not so.

I will only take it and go aside quietly.
You will not even hear me opening it, no paper crackle.

No falling ribbons, no scream at the end.
I do not think you credit me with this discretion.

If you only knew how the veils were killing my days.
To you they are only transparencies, clear air.

But my god, the clouds are like cotton.
Armies of them. They are carbon monoxide.

Sweetly, sweetly I breathe in,
Filling my beins with invisibles, with the million

Probable motes that tick the years off my life.
You are silver-suited for the occasion. O adding machine -

Is it impossible foryou to let something go and have it go whole?
Must you stamp each piece in purple,

Must you kill what you can?
There is this one thing I want today, and only you can give it to me.

It stands at my window, big as the sky.
It breathes from my sheets, the cold dead centre

Where split lives congeal and stiffen to history.
Let it not come by the mail, finger by finger.

Let it not come by word of mouth, I should be sixty
By the time the whole of it was delivered, and too numb to use it.

Only let down the veil, the veil, the veil.
If it were death

I would admire the deep gravity of it, its timeless eyes.
I would know you were serious.

There would be a nobility then, there would be a birthday.
And the knife not carve, but enter

Pure and clean as the cry of a baby,
And the universe slide from my side.


Monday, 26 October 2009

A Bundle of Everything

I feel as though there are a bunch of little things I want to say but none of them deserve their own post so I'm going to bung them all together here. :) As a result, each section might seem a little random.

First of all, I intend to write at least one review by the end of the day for my recently read books so my apologies if I clog up your Google Reader.



Seriously guys, I couldn't have done what you did. I get very easily distracted or end up falling asleep after reading for more than an hour in one place. You all did amazing jobs - I'm in complete awe. Give yourselves a pat on the back.


I have five days to finish Interview with the Vampire for my R.I.P. Challenge. That might not seem like a lot to those of you who read at the speed of light but yikes! I'm determined to finish at least one challenge this year and this seemed like the easiest to take on. I actually forgot how heavy Anne Rice's writing is. Oh well, crossed fingers!

After that, I'll be 10 books away from my 50 book challenge. Five a month so plenty of poking my nose into pages for the rest of the year.


A few weeks ago I wrote a 'random post' that seemed to come out of nowhere about the fact that I had no idea what I really wanted to do with my life and who I was. I actually got a whole bunch of comments I wasn't expecting - you guys gave me some really supportive words and made me feel better about myself so thank you so much. :) It's amazing how great a bunch of internet friends can make you feel.

I think I weighed up all my options for what I'd ideally want in life and what I'm comfortable with:

- I'm opinionated and enjoy expressing my opinions through writing.
- I have subjects I care passionately about and would love to spend my life writing about them (film, books, class, economy, environment).
- I want the freedom to live anywhere I want and travel as much as I want.
- I don't mind working extra jobs.

Yesterday I started a part-time job at a jewellers. It's not much money and it's never going to get me around the world, but it's currently enough to support me while I explore the option of freelance writing. I like the idea of writing about different subjects for different publications/websites/blogs and I'm keen enough to just go for it. :)


Most of you know who this man is, right?

Why is he supporting these idiots who are fast making their way to the final of The X Factor? The man produces the show - if he doesn't like them, why can't he just throw them off?

Those of you lucky enough to be in the US and don't get The X Factor on your tellys on Saturday night, please, click this link (go ahead, click it) and see what the British public keep voting in to stay. *slaps forehead*


This made me laugh . . . A LOT.

This comes from a hilarious website - Lamebook. One of my new favourites. :-D


Saturday, 24 October 2009

Best of Luck!

I wanna wish all my online book buddies who are taking part in this weekend's readathon the best of luck. I don't know how you guys have the stamina to go for 24 hours. I get way too distracted ... or end up falling asleep if I'm in one place at the same time. I guess caffeine's the option, right? ;-)

Anyway Good Luck, all! Am cheering you on and will be looking forward to your updates. :-D


Friday, 23 October 2009

Why I hate the UK . . .

... Okay, I don't hate my country but, as with anything that you love with a passion, it has its downsides. It has lots of things that get right on your nerves and you start to realise that that's the reason you have a blog - to vent your demons to a lot of anonymous followers who'll probably skim over that post.

My target for today? My fellow Brits.

Not all of them. Just a handful.

Last night, Nick Griffin, head of the BNP (British National Party) appeared on BBC's Question Time.

I didn't watch it. I didn't watch it because I couldn't care less about the BNP or what Griffin has to say. That also goes for Labour, the Conservatives, the Lib Dems, the Green Party, and every other UK political party.

I don't support any political party because no politician has ever impressed me. I can find fault with them all and I can honestly say I've never stood and listened to one of them feeling a great sense of inspiration. They're all the same - they're all idiots with empty promises.

My problem with Nick Griffin's appearance on Question Time came from the reaction on Facebook and Twitter from people who were watching it.

First of all: Apparently Griffin barely had a chance to speak without being booed and yelled at. Well done, liberals. You can rest assured that any on-the-fence supporters of the BNP looked at that 'victim' Griffin with sympathy last night and are willing to attach themselves to his name.

Secondly: Lots of Facebook statuses with "Nick Griffin is such an idiot" "I hate the BNP" etc., etc., appeared last night and this morning. This makes me laugh. Whether we like it or not, there are always going to be people who are ignorant racist bastards in the world. The BNP aren't ashamed of the fact that they're white supremacist Nazis and I don't condone that for a second. It's disgusting.

But instead of bitching about it on Facebook, why don't you do something about it?

You're going to feel hate for the BNP for a couple of days, moan about it, then go back to your jobs and lives and forget about it until the next awful thing happens.

I've always been a keen environmentalist and, even in my financially crap situation right now, I still do what I can. I sign petitions, I give the little money I can to charity, and am always on the lookout for more ways to help.

Moaning never got us anywhere. Try signing a petition. Organise a debate. Go to a protest. Find out why there are people feeling this way and try to educate them about why it's wrong to react this way.

Third: People loved the fact that Nick Griffin was made to come face to face with a Muslim who asked him, "What are you going to do with me if you take over the country?"

But shouldn't we be doing that with all the politicians?

It's looking like the Tories are going to win the next election. Why don't we sit David Cameron down with a gay man? (Do you think the majority of the Conservatives favour gay marriage/lifestyles?)

How about sitting Gordon Brown down and asking him why the Labour Party are doing such a bum job of keeping up with the Kyoto Protocol?

Or why don't we ask Nick Clegg, head of the Lib Dems, whether he has any sense of reality before he opens his mouth?

People also seem to forget that this year, the BNP were voted in for two seats at the European Elections. Nick Griffin is head of a fascist party. But it's our people who showed their support for him this year.

It's a sad day when something like that happens. But we can't blame the party for the result. It's the voters who chose them.

Why does Britain want this? A few people said it could have been because of the recession - Lots of people lost their jobs and complained that they'd been replaced by "foreigners who work for a cheaper price."

What is happening to our multicultural country? Since when was there a "Whites Only" sign on the Union Jack?

I realise that even now I'm complaining about the BNP and their supporters (it's hard not to) and that wasn't my intention for this post.

My point was that the BNP are never actually going to win the General Election. There're currently not enough supporters by a long shot.

But instead of focusing our aggression on a party who aren't going to win, why don't we turn our attention to one who will?

As usual it'll be the Tories vs. Labour with the Lib Dems holding third place. These are not perfect parties. Let's challenge them. We need them to make their party one we can believe in; one that'll inspire our county and bring acceptance and understanding to everyone.

It's almost as though we're too scared to ask them. Stop faffing about Nick Griffin - he's not worth your words. We need changes in our major political parties and soon. These are the people who will be running our country.


Thursday, 22 October 2009

The Wolfman (2010) trailer #2

Yup. I think this is an even better trailer. The film looks really ready now. And amazing! Love Benicio. Love Anthony (he's from my hometown, dontcha know? ;-) ). Love the look of it. I can't even complain about the special effects - for once, they look pretty awesome. (Watch in fullscreen for the full effect.)  

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

My Top 5 Scariest Films for Halloween

So Halloween's coming up and I'm actually going to be at someone's birthday party rather than at home watching scary films and stuffing my face with sweets meant for the trick-or-treaters.

The theme of the party is 'dead celebrities' and, while I haven't decided who I'll go as yet (any ideas?), I thought I'd get myself more in the Halloween-y mood and list the top five films that scared me the most. :)

5) The Exoricst (1973)

I can't imagine anyone would discredit me for having this on the list. Regardless of what my generation and younger think of the "old-fashioned" special effects in this film (GTFO!), this is a scary film. Unlike other ignorant souls, I can appreciate a film for what it is and how it was regarded when it was released.

People were having fits and throwing up at screenings of this thing. How can you not find it scary?

I mean, a girl is possessed. Need I say more?

But this is on my personal scare list because this is one of the films that stayed with me after I watched it and that's what makes it frightening. Whenever I went to bed I couldn't shake the image of Regan MacNeil on her bed. That possessed voice haunted me and still does. She's a scary MoFo.

4) Candyman (1992)

So ... how many people avoided looking in the mirror after this one? I sure did. This film makes number 4 because I still can't stand in the bathroom, brushing my teeth in the mirror, without trembling slightly. When a film affects you like that, you know it's done its job.

Not only is Tony Todd the most frightening man in cinema but that rusty hook and the choir-sung theme music makes every moment of this film that much scarier than most. Todd's baritone voice is made even deeper in this and I will never be able to get that haunting "Heee-leeeennn" call in the carpark out of my head.

I do have to say, though, that the last time I watched this I saw it from a completely different angle. The love story that's underneath it is terribly romantic and, kind of like the way I was with vampires (before the unspoken rule was broken), I can't help but swoon now.

3) Salem's Lot (1979)

What do you know? I managed to find a picture of the scene that made me switch this film off. That's right. Regardless of the fact that I've read the book by Stephen King, a 14-year-old me sat down with her father to watch this and I had to ask that it be turned off.

I haven't returned to it since and have no intentions to. I couldn't watch it through the first time, I can't imagine managing it a second time.

Look at that image. Just look at it.

That is a little boy who was buried that day (because he's dead). Now it's the middle of the night and he's floating around outside (yeah, he's floating in the air!) the window while scratching on the glass!

Like Candyman with the mirrors, this film affected me to the extent that I still find it really difficult to look out a bedroom window in the middle of the night. Would you want to see that?

2) An American Werewolf in London (1981)

As much as I love vampires, werewolves have always scared me. I mean, really scared me. Vampires are too prim and proper and have much too much vanity to be that scary. Werewolves on the other hand? If one catches sight of you, there ain't no way you're escaping.

There's something so frightening about a creature that wipes away every trace of human thinking and just becomes a beast.

I think films have affected me a lot more than I should have let them. I've already mentioned about Candyman and Salem's Lot. The mythical creature that is the werewolf affects me to the extent that I really don't like going outside when there's a full moon. And I mean, really don't like it. I don't want to take the chance that ... you know. (Yes, I know, I'm an idiot.)

If this film taught me anything it was that both villagers and city folk can be hunted by a werewolf. No-one is safe. The scariest scene is that poor guy on the tube. He's underground, on his own in the middle of the night, and hears a growl. Next thing you know he's running through those endless tunnels trying to find a way up. Really scary stuff.

If I could have one wish it's that Hollywood drops its plans to remake this. There's no need. The groundbreaking transformation scene is still amazing to this day - you can't do anything to make the special effects seem all the more awesome.

But, yeah. Number 2. Werewolves frighten me and this really is a horror masterpiece.

1) The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Yeah, yeah, judge all you want to but this is the one film that has consistently scared the s*** out of me the most.

The feeling of actually 'being there' is probably what did the trick. I do feel like I'm in a tent with those kids. I can hear something outside the tent and don't want to know what it is. Weird stuff is happening when I wake up. And the end scene? *shudders*

I have this film on DVD and here's my confession: the only way I'm able to watch it is with the director/producer's commentary on. They take you through the film, telling you, "Oh, that was my pile of stones ... That was my stick man ... That was me shaking the tent ... Haha! He has tights over his head when she says, 'What the hell is that?' " I'm safe in the knowledge that the filmmakers are playing pranks on the actors rather than some scary witch person in the middle of the woods following kids my age.

But when I watch it without the commentary, I get sucked into the woods with the characters and end up screaming at the slightest creak my house will make.

The scariest thing about this film is that it's all in your mind. You don't see a guy in a hockey/scream mask wielding a knife around. You see practically nothing. And that's what's terrifying - the power of your imagination.

That's my Top 5 Scariest Films. Tell me if you agree or disagree. And give me your own Top 5. :)  

Monday, 19 October 2009

Tried & Failed: Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

Title: Doctor Zhivago

Author: Boris Pasternak

Year: 1958

Rating: Unfinished/Unrated

Plot: "Doctor Zhivago is the epic novel of Russia in the throes of revolution and one of the greatest love stories ever told. Yuri Zhivago, physician and poet, wrestles with the new order and confronts the changes cruel experience has made inhim and the anguish of being torn between the love of two women."

My Thoughts: I really wanted to love this book. I really, really did. And, to be honest, I didn't hate it. I just found it really hard going.

I think one of the main reasons I wanted to enjoy this book (major name dropping about to happen) is that my boyfriend is Boris Pasternak's great-nephew. One of the first things my boyfriend would tell me about, when we first met, was the stories his Pra-Babushka (Boris's sister) used to tell him and his sisters as children. From what I gathered, a handful of the family moved in secret from Russia to Britain during the war as Jewish refugees. It sounded fascinating and I wanted to learn more about my man's family history.

So I turned to the famous Boris himself.

There's nothing wrong with Doctor Zhivago. In fact, I can understand why this is thought of as a great novel: it's fabulously well-written (though my boyfriend tells me the untranslated version is much better), says a lot about Russian politics and also speaks in great detail about the human condition and a lot of famous philosophers (that, incidentally, Pasternak hung around with). On top of that, I began to uncover this great love story I'd been waiting for.

So why couldn't I get through it?

Well, I managed to read about a third of it before realising that I wasn't having fun. This novel took a lot of effort and strength out of me because, for a majority of the time, I didn't understand much about what was going on. I don't know the first thing about Russian history. I know that it's a Communist country (is it still a communist country?) but that's about it. I don't know anything about any revolutions that happened over there, any dictarships, nothing.

And I've never taken a philosophy class in my life so every philosophical theory that's referred to in passing went straight over my head.

These are subjects that I'm very ignorant about though I am willing to learn. For the last year I've had A History of Russia on my wishlist (that's more to do with my vow to learn more about countries I was never taught about in school though) and I think Zhivago's going to have to wait until I've read that instead.

Otherwise I'm going to find myself getting premature wrinkles from scrunching my face up so much at all the references I don't get.

I don't blame Pasternak at all for alluding to the history of his country - I mean, the book was written in Russian, for the people of Russia. It's just our fault that we're not taught enough about the wider world. I hope that one day I'll be able to pick this book back up and read it through properly and get captivated by the story. For now, it's going back on my TBR until I can get a proper history lesson.

From what I read, it's really well-written and the characters seem to be well-developed and interesting. If you have a pinch of knowledge about Russia's history, give it a go. Otherwise you might find yourself in my shoes and struggle.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

It's a funny ol' world

The weirdest thing happened to me over the last hour which has proven how much we rely on information from the internet these days.

Let me explain:

About an hour ago, I was browsing YouTube and noticed that one of the people I'm subscribed to (a Satanist) had a new video up. It was literally a 3 second video of a close-up of himself saying, "I'm f***ing bored" and nothing else. As I was also bored, I started messaging him and over a couple of pm's we came to the conclusion that through mutual boredom, the logical thing to do would be to get married. (If you're not following our dry sense of humour, that was a joke.)

I Tweeted and updated my Facebook status saying, "Think I just got engaged to a Satanist."

And, low and behold, within half an hour, I have messages congratulating me, and my (real-life) boyfriend has had messages sent to him. Even my little brother knocked on my bedroom door with a very puzzled expression on his face.

I think what I'm trying to say here is that it's absolutely amazing that people will believe anything that's written on the internet, right?

My boyfriend and I laughed about it on MSN. The main reason being that he's a very outspoken atheist (which we thought all of our friends knew!). If we were getting engaged, why would I write that my fiancé is a Satanist? He came up with the reasoning that a lot of people can't seem to differ between the two anyway. :P

But, like I said, it's a funny ol' world. If something's written on Facebook and Twitter, it must be true. (But it was a joke, silly noobs. :P)  

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Review: The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan

Title: The Cement Garden

Author: Ian McEwan

Year: 1978

Rating: 3/5

Plot: After the death of their parents, four children try to come to terms with their grief and relationships with each other.

Review: I've been on an Ian McEwan hiatus since I read his collection of short stories, In Between the Sheets, earlier this year. In Between the Sheets was released in the same year as The Cement Garden and, I later found out, released to coincide with McEwan's debut novel as a double publicity feat. It was rushed and not up to his usual standard of work in my eyes. I was disappointed and distanced myself from a former favourite author for succumbing to publisher's demands rather than write for himself.

I picked up The Cement Garden (gathering dust on my TBR pile for nearly a year) a few weeks ago and decided to take a chance on McEwan's writing once again. Luckily, this time, I wasn't disappointed.

Jack is our teenage protagonist, living with his two sisters, Julie and Sue, and his younger brother, Tom, after the death of their father. Unable to cope with an unmentioned illness and the loss of her husband, their mother takes to her bed for a couple of weeks before passing away too. The children realise that without parents, they will likely be taken into care so, to avoid being split up, they hide their mother's death from the world by taking her to the basement and covering her with cement.

The story then continues with each child trying to cope with their own grief and responsibilities in an adult world. As Sue begins to lose herself in her books more and more, little Tom starts to experiment with transvestism while also resorting to acting like a toddler in front his mother-ish older sisters. Meanwhile, teenagers Julie and Jack enter into an incestuous relationship.

Having read some of McEwan's later work (Atonement, On Chesil Beach) and some of his earlier (First Love, Last Rites, In Between the Sheets) it's fair to say that as time went on, he improved with his writing and found his niche. As a young author, it's clear from his work that McEwan's full of ideas that he needs to get down on page as quickly as possible. More to the point he seems fearless and not afraid to shock.

In his debut novel, McEwan tackles the subjects of death, incest, and transvestism. I imagine that in 1978 these topics were even more taboo than over 30 years later. What's interesting about McEwan's approach is that he doesn't tiptoe around these things. Jack and Julie's attraction to each other is never hidden and they are not wary or careful about what they might do. To them it is one of the most natural things in the world and, following the death of their parents, they are thrown together even more for comfort.

This is a disturbing novel, I'm not going to lie. I've been surprised at how intolerant some of the book blogging community are towards certain books - they'll quote a passage and deem it 'disgusting and dark' while I'll sit back and think, "You haven't lived! I've read way more disturbing things that that!" A lot of people will think this book is weird and strange and kooky while touching on things that can make a lot of people feel uncomfortable. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that McEwan almost seems unsure of himself at times.

Reading the novels he's written in his later years, you can see that he's taken a hold of his talent and knows how to use it. A young McEwan struggles at times with his first novel; It feels like he doesn't know how to display his talents properly and use them to their full extent yet. Nevertheless it's a fascinating read. The children don't seem relatable a lot of the time and act in strange ways but that could be McEwan's ways of showing us that these children really are alone, have no structure, don't know how to deal with their emotions and loss, and live in an isolated world that they create for themselves.

I'd recommend reading this if you don't mind unusual atmospheres and situations and aren't instantly offended by taboo subjects. While this wasn't one of my favourites of McEwan's, I still enjoyed it and thought it was a good debut from him. I'm glad I've gotten over my hiatus, will definitely be carrying on with more of his books in the future, and look forward to observing him grow as a writer through his work.