Saturday, 30 November 2013

The dictionary of Haggi

'Haggis wednesdays' (not every wednesday, nor always on Wednesday) are a thing in my flat. We have also named all of the Haggi (plural haggis) that we have consumed thus far. Here's the list:

  1. 'Ping': He was the first haggis we ever bought. (We being me and my kiwi flatmate, the only two consistent members of haggis Wednesdays). It was also shared by one of our French flatmates. Ping earned his name by exploding in microwave. Obviously. we then relocated him to the oven to finish cooking safely, without sticking to any mircowave walls. He was still pretty tasty.
  2. Roy 1.0: The original Roy. All Haggi are in fact called Roy, this is beyond dispute. We oven cooked him with potatoes and onions. This was a mistake as the potatoes took around 2 hours to cook. Not even joking. Anyway, this resulted in a blackened, crunchy Roy which was not atheistically pleasing. Although, once you got through the pure ash layer surrounding him, he was pretty fucken tasty. 
  3. Roy 2.0: again, burnt tae fuck. Precisely the same problem, only this time he went a bit rabid in the oven. White froth and shit. Not pretty. He also flaked apart as soon as we touched him, leading to the immortal quote "I'm just flakey like a Haggis". 
  4. Roy 3.0: We branched out into a more expensive, yet smaller Haggis. We assumed you 'get what you pay for' in terms of haggis (and meat in general). We also avoided the burnt/rabid haggis syndrome by actually cooking it the way the packet suggested. He was tasty as, but the problem was that he was less finely mashed than our usual, and therefore we could find identifiable parts of lungs and such. bleugh. 

Thursday, 31 October 2013

On the Accessibility of Classics

Alright, so I'm now a first year university student (sweeeeeeet as mate) majoring in Geography. But as I'm at a Scottish uni (Glasgow) I take two other subjects as well, one of them being classics.

Why choose classics? You may ask. It's a reasonable question. I don't live up to any of the stereotypes- the stuffy public school guy who's been to all of the sites spoken about on his summer hols. Naaah, I'm from inner city London (FPK all up in this!) and I had no real idea what classics even was until I picked as a dare for one of my a-levels. 

Yes, as a DARE. It was probably one of the best decisions I've ever made. As well as gaining 20 quid, I made some of my best friends at sixth form in my classics class. We all loved classics, and none of us had ever studied it before. 

Why did we love classics? Because of the stories, the characters, the myths. They were all so crazy and yet relatable. It was like seeing all the familiar plot lines in their first stage, it allowed me to glean so much more from popular culture, and most of all, it allowed for A LOT of banter. "Stop being such an Ismene!" Was a regular saying passed around our group while studying Sophocles' Antigone, and we nicknamed one of our non-classcist friends apoxymenos while studying Greek sculpture. Classics was probably my most enjoyable subject, and I assumed this would continue into university.

It didn't. 

Suddenly my lectures and tutorials seemed to be full of the kind stereotypical classics students. The people answering questions in tutorials use so much unnecessary terminology I'm unsure whether they even know what they're talking about. I feel like my not-posh-london accent is possibly causing people to look down on me. It's not as though we're covering any new ground in terms of the texts we're studying- the Odyssey, which I studied in my first year at sixth form, Theogony and Works and Days- at college we read the Theogony, and Greek Lyric poetry- which we were aware of in sixth form, although didn't directly suffer. 

The problem is the tone. The lecturers still seem to aim at the haughty public school student, although university is now accessible for a far wider range of people (in spite of this government's best efforts), and I cannot imagine any lecturer even trying to make these texts more approachable. I'm not asking for simplified versions, I'm just asking for some effort to be made for the teaching to move from the 70's into today.

Once you know how amazing a subject like classics can be, it's painful to see it reduced to it's old stereotype.   

Saturday, 13 July 2013

High Expectations

Some people say that films or television have given them overly high expectations of people. But surely music is the ultimate example of this. It leads to expect that everyone is as torn up and soulful and expressive as the great composers, that everyone is as passionate as punk vocalists, as intense as speed metal guitarists, as joyous as the choruses of the best pop songs. The list could go on. 

But surely, as I've previously stated, music is a shared experience. There's something intrinsically relatable about the music we listen to. Who's to say we aren't all as torn-up, soulful, expressive, passionate, intense, and joyous as the musicians who have set our expectations 'too high'? I'll keep believing in the average joe until he tells me not to.

On the other hand, the lower you set your expectations, the less likely you are to be disappointed. There's always that.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

26 song lyrics (part 1 for 2013)

So basics, I write a song lyric per week in my diary, usually from the song I've listened to most that week. As we're now halfway through 2013 (where does the time go etc. etc.) I thought I'd continue last year's tradition and post them here.

Bitch the end of your life is near,
We built this city on rock n roll,
Fuck your romance I wanna pretend that Jenny Lee Lindberg is my girlfriend,
I got you babe, (babe) (babe)
Diamonds are a girl's best friends,
I'm a man of means by no means,
Well I feel, I feel alive,
She's an indie rocker and nothing's gonna stop her,
He was a skater boy, she said to you later boy,
I'm a survivor, keep on surviving,
Everything is A-O-K cos I'm as strong as an O-A-K,
I am a shaky ladder, intergalactic matter,
She is the dancing queen,
In 5 years time we might not speak,
You've done too much, much too young
It's a long road up to recovery from here,
We were born to be alone, everybody all alone,
Get up and get down and get outside,
She makes me feel like I could see for miles,
I'm walking on sunshine,
It's the circle of life and it moves us all,
I'm on my way down out of the woods,
I crashed my car into the bridge, I don't care,
Let's spend the night together now I need you more than ever,
If you're so special, why aren't you dead?
Pass me a glass and a half-smoked cigarette, I've damn near got no dignity left.

It's odd how these few words evoke the week/day they were written about. The power of music mate.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Books/Films in March


Divergent by Veronica Roth
My sister recommended this book, and surprisingly, it wasn't half bad. It requires a suspension of disbelief, however, as do most dystopian novels, and it's got nothing on the hunger games, but hey. In the future ravaged Chicago of the book, people are forced to chose one of 5 societies, whose rules you have to live by. It's a pretty weak premise, and it's not brilliantly written, but boy, does this woman know how to increase tension so much that you will need to read the sequel. 
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Hence this book's presence on the list. Again, the tension peaks perfectly at the end, and the third (and motherfucking final) part of the series isn't published until the end of this year, which I'm actually kinda upset about. 
Hippolytus by Euripides 
AKA the last greek tragedy I have to read! Rejoice! Although I actually like them. So there. This is the most ridiculous of all the plays- and the others feature dragon wagons and eye-gouging, but this has two petty goddesses and a giant sea bull, so it wins on the weirdness scale at least. 
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley 
I actually really enjoyed this. Aside from me getting to feel better than you for actually having a read a classic, it was really well written, plotted, and pulled off the trick of making all the characters dickheads, but still making you care about them. Goddamit Huxley!
Post Office by Charles Bukowski
this book was nang. It's the story of this don (basically Bukowski in disguise) who has terrible jobs, has terrible sex, and has terrible hangovers. It's really not as depressing as I've just made it sound, due the badass dark humour running through it. Seriously, I'll never look at geraniums the same way. 


The Skin I Live in 
This was a really great film. It had a lot of stuff I like in it- creepy characters (seriously creepy), a twist, and a director that I rate (my babes Almodovar). I can't say too much about the plot, because that would kinda ruin it for you. But if you don't like subtitles, then you can leave, cos this is in Spanish. 
The Kid with a Bike
AKA pretentious Belgian film. That's how pretentious it is, it's from fucking Belgium. Nothing other than chocolate and needless dead bodies from ww1 is from Belgium. It's quite good, but if the idea of a French language film about poor people doesn't interest you, then sure, there's no glamour there. 
True Romance
 I LOVE THIS FILM. Like, genuinely love it. It was written by Tarantino and stars Christian Slater, with a cameo from Gary Oldman that is the most ridiculous thing I've seen. Do I actually have to say more to make you watch it? Good.
How the FUCK this won best picture I don't know. It's entertaining, sure, but so is Easy A, and I don't remember that winning any oscars... It's not even vaguely accurate in terms of plot, and American actions were the reason Americans were stuck in Iran anyway, but let's not mention that. U-S-A, U-S-A!!! Lol jk, but that pissed me off a bit. It's not like I hated it, and I might just casually drop "argo fuck yourself" in conversation every now and again.
I'm not entirely sure why I watched all of this. The entire premise is just incorrect- that we only use 11% of our brains or whatever. In which case, why are head injuries so dangerous? Why is a brain tumor one of the most dangerous things to have? Pls, hollywood, pls author of original book, try harder. Don't bother watching this, it might even be good, but I spent the entire time thinking about the basis of the film being SO FUCKING WRONG. 
Ok, this is gonna make me sound really weird, but I'm really intrigued by the Zodiac killings in and around San Francisco  so this was the perfect film for me! Well, not exactly, I'm not the biggest fan of Mark Ruffalo. But from an impartial point of view, this is a good film, well directed (take a bow David Fincher), so yeah, tis good. 
 The Angel's Share   
Ok, this is a left-wing film about whisky making/stealing in Scotland. This is the perfect film for me!  I really, really enjoyed it, obviously. They steal the best whisky in the world by filling Irn Bru bottles with it. It what way could this not be the best thing ever? I've just made it sound really patronising, which it surprisingly isn't. It's all good. 
This is a film about code breakers in Bletchley Park during WW2, and while I am veryveryvery happy that there is a film about breaking the enigma code (FUCK YEAH, THE DEVELOPMENT OF MODERN COMPUTERS) I'd have appreciated it more if wasn't about a rather boring love quadrangle and more about science/beating the nazis. Jus' sayin'.   

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Books/Films in February


Antigone by Sophocles: Yeah, read this for classics. It's not even the best play I read this month. All the characters annoy the fuck out of you and then die. Much fun. 
Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan: A good book about a niche subject- the jazz scene in Berlin as WW2 broke out. I don't think the whole flashback POV didn't work for me, but hey. It was pretty awesome. 
Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo: Read this for geography really, works on theory that large amounts of aid = dependency on aid. True story. While I agree, I don't think Moyo's idea of withdrawing all aid is a good idea- it would be better to restructure the aid that is given, so that it is given to the people who need it, rather than to governments (although I agree that investment in Countries is more important than aid. 
The forever war by Joe Hallderman: Badass sci-fi book. There's a reason it was number one in the sci-fi masterworks series. It is both exciting (there's a lot of explosions) and raises actual important issues e.g. what is the point of war? Why do we fight for a society no-one particularly enjoys? 
Love is a mixtape by Rob Sheffield: Like, oh my god, it's me in the future! (Hopefully my wife won't suddenly die, though) this is a true story of one guy and his tapes, and what the songs on these tape mean to him. It's pretty awesome. 
The Man who was Thursday by G.K Chesterton: This book was really weird and philosophical and cool and I still don't think I understand it. It's a pretty interesting meta-physical thiller, so if that sounds good, read it. 
Medea by Euripides: Bitches be crazy. She kills her own children to get back at her dickhead husband. Standard. And definitely better than Sophocles on the Greek Tragedy scale. 


Dogville: This film is pretty awesome, but it is also really long and will make you hate humanity (but restored my faith in Pasha's film taste)- also it made me actually like Nicole Kidman. So yeah, it's good. 
Top Gun: I hate to say this, because I know a lot of people really love this film, but it's crap. It's not even exciting. I'm sorry. 
Heathers: THIS IS AMAZING. It's like a violent mean girls- the main characters go on a darkly hilarious killing spree. The line "oh, fuck me gently with a chainsaw" in the first ten minutes. Winona Ryder is so fit. Christian Slater is so fit. And even better: THEY CAN ACTUALLY ACT! "Dear diary, my teen angst bullshit now has a bodycount." WATCH IT. 
Rampart: A film about a corrupt cop, which isn't very good, but it's certainly better than the 5.9 out of 10 on IMDB, I don't even know how that happened. It's more of a seven, though I probably wouldn't recommend it. 
 Zero Dark Thirty: I actually really liked this (though I still think point break is my favourite Bigelow movie, hands down). Jessica Chastain gives an awesome performance, and the script is excellent.  

Monday, 25 February 2013

A story about Alaskan King Crabs

This is what it says it is. Originally written for my friend Pasha, but y'all get to enjoy it too. 

 “I declared war on the Alaskan king crab the day it took my dad. It took many people that year, crab fishing. The most dangerous job in the US, apparently (I'd like to see what the drug mules make of that). At the time, I didn't care. I wasn't ready for the 40 hour fishing trips, miles from port. The Ice, the Wind, the Waves destroying everything you thought you knew. I just wanted to say I had killed an Alaskan king crab.

I had killed hundreds of pounds of crab before I saw it. The King of king crabs. The white crab. We hauled up the traps, one tonne each, as usual. As usual, pitiful catch. Fucking Russians. They'd been exploiting our waters again nothing but kelp and water flooding down.

But in the corner, a monster lurked. Huge, all of them are huge, but this one had a Hugeness to its huge, a fixed point of hugeness. And the colour, the shining white, whiter than the expanse of clouds above us. This was the Moby Dick of crabs.

We heaved the traps upwards and inwards to our boat. Hydraulics screaming. We fell back as the monster fell out. It pulled itself out of our cage and bolted across our boat. Loose crabs are dangerous, ask anyone in this town.”

I knew this already, I had asked the bartender who had given me my first lukewarm beer of the night what happened to her three-fingered hand. She replied with “crabs” and I had to choke back laughter over images of carnivorous pubic lice. I'm new here.

“It didn't scurry like the over crabs do. It sauntered with a purpose. It owned the boat, and people in it. I swear to sweet Jesus it reared like a horse as it came past me. It leered at me. None of us touched it. We could have ended it there and then. We didn't. The bastard simply jumped back in the sea.

It was like coming out of a trance. The imagined silence was broken and our crab was gone. We've been looking for it ever since, and we need more men.”

The end of his speech was like coming out of a fucking trance, the guy's mad, but we're all mad, and I'm a little drunk. “Yes.” 

Friday, 1 February 2013

Books/Films in January

Here we go. 2013: A knowledge Odyssey. (Yeah man, getting all pretentious up in here.) Let's start before I break anymore grammatical laws:


Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad 
Basically, humanity is evil. So there's this guy, wants to make his name in the world, goes to Congo (because YOLO) driving river barges, all kinds of problems arise. Locals decide they don't like these pretentious steamboats, the steamboats decide they like sinking etc, etc. Anyway, Kurtz, this amazing centre-of-your-universe guy (and ivory trader), has gone crazy, has given himself to his/humanity's "heart of darkness". THE HORROR, THE HORROR. So y'know, it's pretty good. You should read it.

The World's Wife by Carol-Ann Duffy
(AKA "that dumb lesbian") Look, I like Duffy. Ite. These poems are good. They're accessible, they're witty, funny, actually vaguely relevant to life. It's all good maaaaaaan.

Fade by Robert Cromier 
This was a weird and disturbing book about a kid who can turn himself invisible. Basically, everyone he knows has terrible secrets. TWINCEST. And he's in love with aunt. Like, properly in love with her. It's compulsive reading, you don't want to, it's a kind of horrible book, but it comes off. Oh, and I knew what to expect, I've read other Cromier books, man's messed up. In a good way. Probably.

Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
Classics, bro. I love that I can get an A-level in this craziness. So Oedipus, kills his dad, shags his mum (has four weird sibling-children with her as well), but he doesn't know it yet. He spends pretty much the whole play making things worse for himself, then works out he's the killer and gouges his own eyes out. FUN FUN FUN. It's a play, so you should go see it, don't read it. Unless you're studying it. Then you should probably read it.

A Very Short Introduction to Geopolitics by Klaus Dodds
It may say it's very short, but this is so tediously written it may as well be the size of the freakin' bible. IT SITES WIKIPEDIA AS A SOURCE. Mate, I don't do that anymore and I'm a child. Please. Also, it was written in 2007, not long ago, but in terms of geopolitics that is fifty thousand years. No green revolution, no arab spring, no Obama, no South Sudan, etc. etc.

Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho 
Damn, this book was bad. So some random Slovene decides to die because she's going to get old. COOL STORY BRO. Then she wakes up, falls for some random Brazilian (oooh, is that you in disguise Paulo? Oh, wait, you already used yourself as a character in this book because you're a dickhead). Then she's found love and decides she doesn't want to die. COOL STORY BRO. Basically, in case Drake hasn't properly drilled it into you, You Only Live Once, so don't waste your time reading this pile of steaming bollocks. Or you can, whatever, peace love and understanding.


Ewan MacGreggor is sad. His Dad has died, so fair enough (especially when your Dad is as much of a boss as Christopher Plummer) but then he falls for a random, mute girl at a party (it is Melanie Laurent, so fair enough. I may also be slightly in love with her). Things go well, things go badly, the dog has subtitles, life goes on. It was good, though not exceptional, and I reckon Plummer only won the oscar for it cause he gon' die and they don't want a Richard Burton situation on their hands (look it up, Burton's an absolute ledge). 

Freakin' badass man. Yeah, Mel Gibson is a dick, but this is still a good movie. C'mon how many movies do you know featuring Mayans? And how badass were Mayans? 'Xactly. And the main actor, Rudy Youngblood, is really good in this, and I wish it was possible for him to have a film career, but apparently that's not allowed. Peak times bro. Watching this film is like actually being transported back to those times, it's mad. 

Weird, low budget, Spanish, mind-fucky, time travel film. If that doesn't put you off, then you should totally watch it. Solid performances, a good idea, well carried out. Worth watching. 

Les Miserables
REALLY? REALLY? Ok, so there were eight things I liked. Here they are:

  1. That song "at the end of the day it's another day over"
  3. That first song by the crazy innkeepers
  4. That second song by the crazy innkeepers
  5. That random trampy kid
  6. Eponine was hawt
  7. The *CRACK* Sound effect (if you've seen it, you know what I mean)
  8. Anne Hathaway was actually good (it almost pains me to admit it)
That adds up to about half an hour. THE PIECE OF STEAMING OSCAR CRAP LASTS FOR TWO AND A HALF HOURS. It's a musical that takes itself seriously. Ain't nobody got time for that. 

Blood Simple
Now this is my kind of film. A twisty, twisted neo-noir mystery, that involves a guy being kicked very hard in balls. Good. Oh, and it's the Coen brothers' first film. So there. Watch this instead. 

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Now this is how you do a musical. It's freaking funny, it's not up it's own arse, and it manages to raise actual questions while still being tongue-in-cheek. Also; Jane Russell. Not just Jane Russell, also Marilyn Monroe. So yeah, this film wins the January battle of the musicals. And I don't even like musicals! (You can add this to the list of musicals I like. Singing in the Rain and this.)  

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Ancient Heroes' Musical Taste

As I am a serious classics A-level student, with my friends (Team Penelope bro) we have come up with an idea of the modern music that Greek and Roman characters would have liked.

  • Calypso, the nymph who keeps Odysseus on her island for seven years: She digs motown, all those ballads and love songs. Bet she would have been blaring out "Stop! In the Name of Love" when Odysseus leaves her.
  • Aeneas, hero of the Aeneid and kind-of founder of Rome: Coldplay/Snow Patrol, all of those miserable boring bands- so he can seem dramatic as he sails around.
  • Agamemnon, the leader of the Greek forces in Troy, later stabbed to death in a bath tub by his wife: Arrogant rap. You know what I mean, Kanye West etc. 
  • Oedipus, you all know Oedipus: Glam rock- bad glam rock. E.g. KISS (who actually have some tunes, not gonna lie).
  • Penelope, wife of Odysseus: She likes depressing stuff, sung by women, a la Joni Mitchell (I got love for Joni, that wasn't meant to be an insult) and break-up music like Rumors by Fleetwood Mac.
  • Odysseus, the man himself: The general consensus was that he would have "sick taste"- I agree, though I reckon it would be good stuff from the 70's e.g. Raw Power by Iggy and the Stooges. I totally see that. 
  • Telemachus, Odysseus' less manly son: He likes 90's stuff. Pixies, Breeders, bit of Nirvana etc. 
  • Tiresias, a prophet who appears in Oedipus Rex and the Odyssey: Psychedelic shit. But, like, reaaaaaaaally psych. The kind of stuff mortals can only survive when on the weirdest of acid trips.
  • Dido, tragic heroine: You know. You just know. Yep. Dido listens to DIDO. How unexpected was that?!?!
  • Jocasta, wife and mother to Oedipus (yep, it's that gross): Mum music, e.g. Florence and the Machine, Emeli Sande, Adele etc. 
  • Antigone, Oedipus' daughter and sister: PUNK ROCK! Cos she's rebellious  with a big focus on riot grrrl due to her disrespect of the patriarchal society (FANCY ESSAY POINT ALERT).
  • Ismene, Antigone's sister: She's the complete opposite of Antigone, so bubblegum pop, like Katy Perry etc.  

Sunday, 20 January 2013

On having haters

Ok, so yesterday I got my first (and so far only) piece of hate on youtube. A lot of more interesting and fun things happened to me yesterday, but I'm going to stick to the negative here. The comment was as follows:

"Possibly the dullest video I have seen on YouTube. Could you attempt to speak like a human." 

Nice, right? Here are some things that puzzle me about this troll:

  • The video this guy chose to look at currently has 26 views (it's not like it was on the popular page, is it?)
  • The video was called "It's Been a While" and when you write that in to YouTube, you get 24.5 million hits. (How the fuck did he end up on me?)
  • The video was uploaded 7 months ago, and I had to watch it back myself to remember what it was about. (It's hardly a milestone in YouTube history.)
  • The troll himself seems to have reacted to only 3 videos in his two-and-a-bit years on YouTube, one of them being me. (I've joined a very exclusive club here.)
I'm not going to pretend this comment isn't bothering me, because it clearly is. However, I am proud of my reaction (not just my reply to the comment, which was "thanks babe.") But also the fact that I'm hardly scarred for life by this moment, and if it had happened two or more years ago, I would have been shaken to the core. 

I was incredibly under-confident and bullied (irl, I don't think I really knew how to use internet well enough to get cyberbullied) for two things: My looks, and my voice (which sucked, cos it's not like I can really do much about them). The fact that this guy has singled out my voice would have probably made me extremely angry (I've never been a crier, more of a puncher) and made me even less likely to speak among strangers. Seriously, it would have messed with my head. 

Now though, I couldn't give less of a shit. Maybe it's called growing up (though I doubt it, I spent half of yesterday in awe of stuffed animals) or perhaps I've stopped being so angry and actually started to feel sorry for a guy who spends his life hating on someone he doesn't know. Because honestly, at the time that comment was posted, I was out with one of my best mates looking at freaking AWESOME photographs and having my mind exploded by nature. I feel sorry anyone at home watching a past version of me talking about radio 1's big weekend at that time.

And the final thing, that video is SEVEN MONTHS OLD. The girl in the video isn't me anymore, she's been immortalised on video but no longer exists. That whole immortalising thing is part of the reason why I film, why I write, and maybe part of why everybody who makes things, makes things. I want to look back on that video ad be like "ha, I'm better now", the same way I want to re-read this and be embarrassed by how crap it is. It's comforting knowing you've improved, and that troll of a comment would only have got to me if I knew it was my peak. It isn't. (Although it isn't the dullest video on YouTube, thank you very much.) 

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

The other 26 song lyrics

Remember how I write down a song lyric for every week of the year? Well, I do. I've already written up the first half of 2012, and now it's time to put of that year behind us. Here we go:

Come on baby, play me something like here comes the sun,
In your life you have some trouble, if you worry, you make it double,
I have built a treehouse,
The band are fucking wankers, I'm not having a nice time,
My love is like a Cuban plane,
If I ain't dead already, girl you know the reason why,
God only knows what I'd be without you,
Ca plane pour moi,
I just held you in the doorframe through all the earthquakes,
Psycho killer, qu'est que c'est,
keep on trying to remember that nothing is lost in the end,
I am young, and I am lost,
You and I, divine but not devout,
If I could see all my friends tonight,
My time, like water down the drain,
It's too late to apologise,
But it's Friday, Friday I'm in love,
I set my body on fire so I could be free,
Go, go, go if you want, I can't stop you,
But you'll go out fighting all of them,
This town is coming like a ghosttown,
And I plan to be forgotten when I'm gone,
I love you, oh no,
Roll it up, light it up, smoke it up,
you scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot,
I wait with good intentions

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Book/Films in December


Augustus by Allan Massie 
This was a weird book, written as an auto-biography of the first Roman emperor- except really written by some Scottish guy 2,000 years later... storytelling techniques aside, I found this book (or at least part one) too dense. It takes for granted that you will have a lot of background knowledge of Rome (err... not really) and also a really good memory of names (nope). However, the second part, when everything seems to be unravelling for Augustus at the end of his life, is a lot better- Augustus seems more human and more things are happening. I read this book to get more background for my classics course, and that's the only thing I'd really recommend it for.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov 
This is the most difficult book I've ever read. Not saying it wasn't good, but I felt like screaming "STOP SPEAKING FRENCH YOU PAEDO" every few words. I guess I'm kinda jealous of Nabokov, a Russian writer capable of writing better English sentences better than pretty much everyone, while simultaneously freaking out the society it was written in (and to a lesser extent, current audiences). It is well written, with exceptional turns of phrase, but the first part is exceedingly boring, you are just waiting for Humbert Humbert to do away with Mrs Haze for at least 50 pages. The ending is a little unsatisfactory as well, but it's the two-year travel of HH and Dolores that is the best. I recommend reading it, just so you can impress people with it.

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks 
Ok, so I wasn't disturbed by this as much as I thought I would be / wanted to be. I knew what happened to Frank already (thanks, last year's English students!) but I didn't know about what happened to Eric. JAYSUS WHAT, pretty much sums up my reaction. Anyway, the book is grim, good, and manages to be both character and plot driven. Don't read it if you're expecting long words and elegance, this is first class weirdness.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman 
My sister got me this for christmas, aww cute! It's the only Gaiman I haven't read, since I watched the film first (I don't like doing that), and the book is so, so different. In a good way, mainly (but I missed the transvestite pirate...). It was good, but I wouldn't recommend it if you've already seen the film, which I know a lot of people have.


Sliver Linings Playbook
It was a solid drama, with some genuinely funny moments, and an occasionally banging soundtrack (see white stripes). The only thing that pulls it above average is Jennifer Lawrence's performance, which is actually oscar worthy (she won't win, my money's on Naomi Watts in "we were actually hispanic", sorry, I mean the impossible). 

Looking For Eric
I LOVED IT. Look, it's a feelgood film about Eric Cantona, starring Eric Cantona! HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE IT? He plays a trumpet and everything!

Brokeback Mountain
Look, it was culturally important and everyone in it acts very well etc. etc. but the thing is, I don't really care. I got a bit bored. The only bits that really stood out were the turkey-carving-incident, Michelle Williams leaving Ledger, and Ledger's big speech part. It wasn't amazing, it was a bit disappointing.

Terminator 2
Badass. Watch it man, stuff blows up, it's exciting all the way through, Sarah Connors is actually an interesting, well-written character, and the only problem is that the kid can't act. Seriously, lets the film down a bit. But watch it, it's 80's James Cameron, so you know it's a superior action film. Cameron again makes a sequel better than the already amazing first film (e.g. Aliens). 

Life of Pi
I'm sorry, it was a bit shit really. I just found the script a bit pretentious (so is the book, to be fair), it's an interesting idea, but the whole "twist" is just so annoying (book and film) and UGH. It's just annoying, pseudo-philosophical bullshit. It does look nice though. My problems were just with the book really, I don't know why I dragged myself to watch it. Sorry to everyone who was with me and liked it. 

Godfather part 2
I...I... prefer part one. There, I'VE SAID IT. It was just to long for me, with my tiny brain and short attention span. Ok. It's still a landmark film, and you should watch it, but yeah... sorry. 

Seven Psychopaths
It wasn't as good as I wanted it to be, or as it could have been. I kept waiting for a proper belly laugh moment, like the other McDonagh bros. films manage. This one just ends up sub-tarantino as doesn't quite work. Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell are still great though. Maybe I'm being overly harsh. 

Being John Malcovich 
OH MY GOD IT WAS SO GOOD. So funny, so surreal. Genius, ridiculous film. I love it. Just watch it. Now. Just get past the first, weird puppet scene, and then you'll love it.

Jane Eyre 
The new one with Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska. Now, look, I hate costume dramas with a bit of a passion, but I actually liked this. Wasikowska is actually amazing in this. I have a massive crush on Fassbender too, and he is gorgeous and brooding and *sigh*. Ok, now I'm talking about guys in period dramas. I'M NOT AN OLD LADY, HONEST. 

Happy 2013, wankstains!