On today.

Bad days. Ugh.

Do you ever feel as though you should really have been forgiven the stresses of existing for a day because it was so damn shitty? Today I do. And so, inspiring the raw and bitter pissed-off-ness that I’m feeling right now, it’s time for a reviewski on today. Please find below a checklist of the reasons today stank.

  1. Woke up very tired. The kind of tired that you know will never leave you. It’ll stalk you like a hyena, taking advantage of your tiredness to stoke all the negative feelings and make any problems ten times worse than they would be if you felt not tired. My eyes currently feel like tiny concentrated balls of sandpaper that are receding into my skull.
  2. Public transport. In this case, Southern Rail trains. They’re always fun, and especially so when you’re already in a foul mood. It was late, as per Southern’s guaranteed shitty service, and when the doors opened it was so packed that passengers were practically spilling out of the carriage. Great, gotta wheedle my way beneath some guy’s smelly armpit. Thank god it’s only a 10 minute ride. As it lurched and squealed away from the platform, I wondered whether it would even reach town under the weight of so many resentful commuters.
  3. Work. It all went tits up. As you’d expect when you’re already feeling grouchy and tired and not ready for the day. We’re currently having an absolute hell of a time getting the stupid credit card machine set up and it is driving me NUTS. We’ve tried every possible solution, but the bloody thing still won’t connect. It’s a new terminal too. I think I’ve lost part of my soul to either being on hold or explaining the same thing again and again down the phone line about the problems we’re having. And then there are the other things that can easily go wrong in a normal working day too, but wouldn’t have if the universe had kindly been less of a douchebag.bang head.gif
  4. Cake. I bet that was the last thing you thought I’d be mentioning as a bad thing! But yes, cake let me down. I signed up for what I thought sounded like a great event. And it is really. A charity event where you get to make a cake based on your favourite computer game! What could go wrong? Depending on how ambitious you are, everything and anything… I made a Teensie from the Rayman Legends game yesterday, which started out OK but ended up being very stressful for various reasons. One of those being the head. Teensies are very face heavy, and having secured as best I could the massive head to its body with cocktail sticks and edible glue, I had a sneaking suspicion that it would eventually fall off. These are the measures I took to try and keep the head up: 20050041_10210398255173738_27668966_oAttractively positioned, huh? Who knew that tea bags and tissues could be so handy! And it actually worked for a while; look, he stands freely!19893860_10210398254653725_1446013059_oHowever, it was not to last. The car journey into town was enough to loosen his head. Fully expecting to be disappointed, I was not disappointed with what I expected to see. Yes, Teensie head fall down. Ripping the icing with it. Hey ho, maybe I’ll get sympathy points for it later.
  5. Dinner. Normally, I don’t have a problem here. I love cooking and am quite a good cook, and usually I don’t drop stuff. But not today. Somehow, I ended up with half of my beany pasta sauce mix all over the floor. A few loud four-letter expletives may well have escaped my lips. It was the last thing that I needed. Especially as that kind of stuff always splatters far further than humanely possible. I think some reached the hallway.
  6. It’s been grey and miserable and rainy all day.
  7. I’m even more tired and dreading going out now. Which is a real shame as I was so  looking forward to the evening.

*Sigh* A baker’s gotta do what a baker’s gotta do. Here I go. Grumpy and wishing I were tucked up on the sofa in my PJs watching something easy. It’ll be interesting to see what other people have made though and how creative they’ve been with their baking.

In terms of ratings, today gets a half drunk glass of rubbish red wine that sounded so good, with its promise of hints of vanilla with a rounded, plum flavour, but turned out to taste like an old man’s smoking jacket soaked in vinegar. Yuk.

Aliens (1986)

Action-packed, intense and gripping: Aliens takes sci-fi to a different level.

I know, I know, some of you will be thinking ‘Why is Becs reviewing Aliens now? Like, everybody has seen the Alien films and knows how great they are!’. You may well baulk in disbelief, but at the stout age of 28, I have only just seen the first two of the Alien Quadrilogy. I am ashamed to admit that there are several classic cult films out there that I’ve yet to see. Somehow they’ve passed me by with their vital lessons in suspense, overacting, and brilliant monster designs and animatronics. I fully intend on catching up with famous movies that I should already know (it just might take a while…) – don’t worry, I won’t be reviewing them all! So, on Aliens:

Sigourney Weaver really kicks ass, doesn’t she? I mean, seriously. Her character, Ripley, has the most balls out of all the crew there put together. She damn well knows how to teach those Aliens a lesson and sets right to it – no namby-pambying around, no false macho bravado, no nonsense.

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And NOBODY listens to her warnings about how dangerous the creatures are. I realise that that is a vital part of the plot insomuch as it results in all the crazy action, fighting, and revelations from the crew sent out to destroy the aliens that Ripley wasn’t lying about how there is no other way to deal with them except by destroying the seemingly unstoppable face-sucking parasitic wily beasties. (Please pardon the awful sentence structure, sometimes rambling is the only way to express yourself.) But it seems pretty unprofessional to me not even to acknowledge the dangers ahead put forward by Ripley. These guys are the military, after all.

It’s funny how certain character styles come and go with the film eras. Like the military guys, for example. The team that are dispatched with Ripley to investigate the colony are overly bigheaded, immature, and disobedient – entirely the opposite of what a soldier should be: responsible, calm and level-headed. I get that there is sometimes an element of competitive macho-ness amongst military men and women, but it’s pretty well milked in Aliens and at times cringe-worthy, especially watching Private Vasquez (the only female military member sent on the mission) constantly flexing her muscles and over-playing the tough gal role. In modern movies that involve members of the armed forces, the characters tend to be a lot more mature on the whole and a lot less raucous. Sure, a bit of ignorance and egotism resides in some characters (like Sully in Avatar), but they either get what’s coming to them or learn to grow up. Privates Vasquez and Drake, however, are particularly insufferable with their muscly strongman/woman banter and carry on regardless without learning a great deal. Watching them made me want to give them both a good slap, tell them to stop acting like jerks and grow some real balls like Ripley’s.

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There was one other thing that I didn’t much like about the film. It’s pretty big, very predictable, and an unavoidable move in such a classic film. Ripley’s altruistic heroism as she returns to the now completely alien infested colony to rescue Newt.

You’ll all be shouting at me, saying ‘But how could you be against that?! Ripley just HAD to go back for Newt! She’s the hero and Newt is the only surviving kid from the colony and Ripley loves her like a daughter and Newt helped them escape’ yadda yadda yadda… But come on, people: Newt went under, the aliens had her in their nest stuck in who-knows-where on the sticky mucousy wall, Ripley and Corporal Hicks get out with only minutes before the colony blows up, Bishop had the ship ready for them to escape to safety…. But the inevitable was coming: ‘I have to find her’, shouts Ripley as Hicks is bundled onto the ship. *Sigh* of course you do Ripley, and what really are your chances of finding Newt? Thankfully for her, the fact that they’re both part of a big blockbuster movie make them very high. So yeah, unavoidable part of the plot, but nonetheless I found myself shouting ‘What are you doing? Don’t go back, the colony is going to blow up in minutes! You don’t have a goddamn clue where Newt is!’ Alas, there was little I could do but watch on as Ripley yet again cuts it fine with the whole rescuing and escaping just in the nick of time.

It did, however, lead to the best final battle with the alien Queen. I just loved the edgy, silent negotiating that went on between Ripley and Queen as she stumbled face-to-face with her in the heart of the nest. The tension, the subtle movements and apparent understanding between two females protecting their young – yet both want the other dead. A frantic escape ensues, and then of course the ultimate head-to-head with Ripley commandeering the power loader as battle armour and weapon against the savage Queen.

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She takes no shit from anyone, does Ripley. Not even from alien royalty.

Another aspect of the sequel that I did appreciate was the extra mile they went with the alien models and costumes themselves. They are seriously sinister, everything about them reeks of sly aggression, and there is a cleverness in their movements that suggests a malicious mind. And the face-suckers are downright creepy, like the spider of your nightmares on steroids. The way that they scuttle across floors and unexpectedly leap out of nowhere ready to give you the kiss of slow, parasitic death is truly chilling. It all looks a lot slicker than Alien too, with fewer clunky shots of scaled-down spaceship models flying through the galaxy (I have to say, those scenes in the first film did look a lot like the intentionally clunky space scenes of Red Dwarf).

All in all, even with those couple of frustrations noted above, I actually loved watching Aliens and found myself captivated by the action and plot itself. It’s a much more involved film than its predecessor, and really worth a go if you thought that Alien was too slow to get going. (I actually quite liked Alien, my other half found it lacked a bit and was too centred around suspense.) On that note, Aliens doesn’t lose the knack of keeping you ready and waiting for things to jump out – a masterful technique that any successful thriller couldn’t be without.

So I think Aliens stacks up a good few pints of strong, dark ale, or perhaps Guinness to marry the night-black skins of the aliens – either choice would be sure to see you through!

One last note, entirely unrelated to the review of the film: anyone else think that Sigourney Weaver looks kind of like Michael Jackson with that haircut?

 

The Wolf Among Us

Time for a game reviewski: plot, character design, artwork – The Wolf Among Us has it all.

The folk at Telltale Games are geniuses. (Hold that thought: is that the correct term for the collective of ‘genius’? For an intelligent word, it sounds terribly messy. Geniei [djee-nee-i] sounds better, but looks confusing.) They really are though. I have now played through The Wolf Among Us twice and absolutely loved every moment of it. From the opening credits, which are sexy and mysterious like a comic book film noire, to the superb character design, each complete with a damaged background and attitude to match; and, of course, the brilliant story writing that keeps you on the edge of your beanbag (personal choice of gaming seat) in eager anticipation for the next plot twist to reveal itself.

The Wolf Among Us is a storytelling game, and it seriously plays with your morals. It’s kind of like you’re making the decisions for a film’s main character, so for example, you’re faced with the option of being the tough guy and punching them in the face during an interrogation, or perhaps being sympathetic and getting the best out of others by listening to them and telling them what they want to hear. There isn’t a huge amount of actual manual game play – it’s not a free roaming format – but that really doesn’t matter because making decisions can be very difficult. Second time round of playing, after initially playing through making the decisions that are closer to my own morals, I thought ‘I’m gonna play the No Shit Badass Hardcore Cop’, but it actually proved to be quite difficult. Even though it’s fictional, even though it has absolutely no effect on you as a person in the real world, I defy anyone to make Bigby (YOUR character) hit a woman and not feel guilty about it. I couldn’t do it. Plus, there’s the whole consideration of how this helps or hinders you/Bigby in your investigations. You want the other characters to be on your side, and if you blow it by overreacting, the folk of Fabletown might not be so forthcoming in future.

On a note of violence, you do get thrown into some brutal fight scenes – be warned, you need to be quick on your toes with your reactions for them! They can be pretty intense, sometimes quite graphic. Be ready to pump that A button on your controller to access your full strength and heave other characters off you or bend something until it breaks. Some of those battles do require a bit of thought about how far you take them… Your own actions can come back and bite you later on…

So, here’s the set-up for the game: you play Bigby Wolf, AKA the Bid Bag Wolf from such fairytales as The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood. Except in this world, Bigby Wolf is the Sheriff of Fabletown, which is a place in the real world where fairytale characters (known as ‘Fables’) have to disguise themselves as humans using ‘glamours’ – a much-sought-after and pricey magic spell used to conceal their non-human identities. Working alongside Snow (yep, the classic once-upon-a-time princess), your job is to keep the business of Fabletown in order, make sure everyone has a glamour and generally keep Fables out of mischief.

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Just take a moment to admire the glorious detail of the characters: Snow’s iconic jet black hair and pale skin, the snowflakes on her blouse nod to her roots; the rough, worn and linear form of Bigby with wild-looking long hair and stubble, suggestive of an animalistic persona.

After dealing with some relatively day-to-day stuff to start with, like dealing with Mr Toad (who is literally a toad – bit of a freeloader, always claiming that he can’t afford to get a glamour. Kind of likeable with his blunt Cockney accent). But pretty soon, you find yourself in a fight with the Woodsman who’s found attacking a young woman. I’ll say no more on that, but not long after a severed head is discovered on the doorstep of the tower block that Bigby and Snow work in. Who’s head is it? I hear you ask… Turns out it was the girl you saved from the Woodsman earlier. But that is definitely not all there is to it – it’s merely where the real plot begins…

Through a whole myriad of moral dilemmas, fights, confessions and daring character design (I have to mention Georgie, as in Georgie Porgie from the nursery rhyme: tough-guy owner of the Pudding & Pie brothel, covered in tattoos, one of which quite brilliantly reads Kiss the girls, rough Manchunian accent and speech littered with profanities – this is twisted character design at its finest), you find yourself utterly under the game’s spell, dying to know more and play through the next chapter. The game climaxes with a final fight against one of the most sinister bad guys (who is actually a gal) I’ve come across and ends with the chance of acquiring justice for the whole town.

I will definitely be playing this exquisitely crafted game through again – even if only for the pure joy of seeing the artwork again. I find it inspiring, the style makes me want to draw every character and scene! I’ll also try on different attitudes for the Wolf and see how it affects the gameplay – it’s endlessly fascinating, I can’t imagine how complicated the writing for this game must have been.

If I’ve inspired you to check out the game for yourself, you can purchase it on Steam (be aware, you’ll have to enter your date of birth to access the link as it’s a violent, sweary and slightly nudey game). Brace yourself, you won’t want to put your controller down!

Booze rating: several measure of the finest Bourbon in town. On the rocks.

Seriously, you Telltale guys are awesome.

NB: I hear rumour that there’s a Season 2 for The Wolf Among Us underway too…. I have every faith in Telltale Games to make it just as awesome as the first one – maybe even more so! Watch this space…

Time for a little reviewski…

We do a lot of things in life. I’m here to review a whole bunch of them.

We do a lot of things in life. Tons. Some good, some bad, and some that leave you non-plussed (and that can apply to both senses of the word, be it bemused or just not bovvered, innit?). But how often do we really get down to the nitty gritty of our experiences and document them in word format for the whole world to read? (Or at least provide the world with an option to read all about it – I wouldn’t want to be pushy with my drivel.) I’ve been wanting to start writing reviews for a while, with my own spin adeptly on them (she says). I don’t want to just write TripAdvisor comments or Amazon star ratings, I want to translate feelings, stories, sentiment and internal arguments about the things I feel strongly about (which could truly be anything, so be warned).

Fear not! I won’t be reviewing all the things I get up to. Heck, I may not even publish my thoughts some of the more special experiences I encounter and just reserve those for thrilling and enticing conversation. I’m here to dabble in the art of reviewing all manner of things: films, music, restaurants, alcohol or other more classic subjects prone to a good slating or applause. But I aim also to document life’s simplicities, like maybe a really, really fine mug of PG Tips (a good cup of tea can be the saviour of many a crisis, or the humble reward after a few hours’ hard graft – it all boils down to context and quality of the brew), or the satisfying way that the rain cascades down the window panes to create endless watery ravines and channels in that fascinatingly drippy way that we all notice once in a while when lost in a grey-rainy-day-daze. That may sound dull and pointless, but I swear to you that should the day arise when said review is written, I will make it pleasing and humorous and oh-so charming for you, lovely readers. (I hope.)

Oh, and there will definitely be game reviews. With. Out. A. Doubt.

So basically, whenever the mood takes me or something, for some reason or other, has struck a chord of review-writing inspiration, here I will be, voicing my opinion and rating a recent experience. I hope to do so in a mildly entertaining fashion at the very least. If I’m performing below par, please accept my profuse apologies in advance. The internet should be full of eloquence and intelligence at least as much as funny videos of goats leaping with glee! Though I’m not sure that even as a global collective we can outdo Trump’s prolific ineloquence and unintelligence…

But I digress. Wherever I see fit and have the unstoppable urge to let the world know just how surprisingly good Aldi’s own brand houmous is or what a car crash of a film the latest Pirate’s of the Caribbean was (NB: I’ve not actually seen it, and doubt I ever will, but I think it’s a fair assumption based on the third one, At World’s End, which was a poor follow up considering its two predecessors), I’ll be there with a little reviewski…

One final note: I intend on devising my own rating system for the various topics of discussion that will arise in this blog. It could quite possibly be alcohol related. For example: that boiled egg gets a four out of five pints from me! Or perhaps Ed Sheeran’s single ‘House on the Hill’ gets an irritating dregs-of-an-old-bottle-of-sour-white-wine-that-really-needs-chucking-out rating. It’s a work in progress, but bear with me on this.

So, here’s to a future more judgementally dissected and scrutinised by yours truly. I hope you enjoy my ramblings – cheers!

cheers-beer