Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Getting a little dusty in here

When I optimistically wrote that this summer I would go on lots of adventures and blog more, I was fucking with you all. Turns out I like to spend my free time watching Cougar Town and experimenting with nachos.

I am now at university (mega lols) in Bournemouth and have started another blog racheldoesuni.blogspot.com in which I will mildly entertain you all with the experiences of my first year. It could get, pretty wild. Don't worry though, loyal minion, I will still write on here, will need an escape from all the FUN I'm having, right, RIGHT?

If anyone wants to come and stay, I've got two multipacks of hula hoops under my desk.

Monday, 9 July 2012

The Classics.

Put simply, life is just too short to bother. ‘The Classics’ are those books that everybody thinks they should have read. Everybody means to read at least one in their lifetime; everybody nods profoundly when they’re mentioned, but has anybody actually enjoyed one? No. ‘The Classics’ are books that appear in lists of the top 10 greatest novels of all time, lists we scan through knowledgably, yes, yes I must read more Dickens, then discard as we realise that actually, struggling through a book purely to say we have, is a waste of time.

Why do we insist on dragging ancient novels, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century? ‘They’re works of art!’ ‘A testament to real writing!’ A load of shit! Those novels, to their contemporary audiences, may well have been controversial, groundbreaking stuff, but to a class of 30 teenage students, (who took English, let’s face it, because they didn’t want to do Maths) the storylines are confusing, the language is baffling, and the whole process is a pain; from the unnecessarily descriptive start to disappointing end, where the majority of the characters will no doubt have coughed themselves into inexistence.

Bronte’s Wuthering Heights is the perfect illustration to my point. This book, is awful. Studying it for a year took me close to tipping point, I too felt as mad as Heathcliff; my copy is tear stained from silent sobs of joy as one by one the characters perished and I drew closer to the end. A whole year, wasted on one supposed ‘classic’; a novel that the majority of people will admit they never even finished, begging the question – why start it in the first place?

Because we feel we must. We feel like we can’t just read trashy romance novels, crime thrillers, or dare I say it...biographies. No, there must be substance in our reading lists, there must be classics! WHO CARES. Who cares whether or not you’ve dipped into Shakespeare or finished the complete works of F.Scott Fitzgerald? Do you read for pleasure? Do you read to escape the dullness of reality? Yes? Then you’re doing it right! YOU GRAB THAT FLIMSY PAPERBACK AND YOU READ THE SHIT OUT OF IT.

And at the end of your life, upon pondering whether it was as fulfilled as possible, do not dismay that you never got round to One flew over the cuckoo’s nest, no, be thankful that you spent your time reading books you enjoyed. Books that made you laugh or cry, think hard or zone out. Books that weren’t soul destroying Everests of anticipation, crushing your love of reading in an avalanche of disappointment and bad metaphors.

The same principle applies to music. Did you know that if you can’t name more than 5 Rolling Stones songs, you die? Yep, Mick Jagger will literally eat your soul. Plus I’m fairly sure the proportion of Nirvana t-shirt wearers is not direct to Nirvana fans. Why do people think that listening to The Smiths on repeat will make them a cooler person? I have one Smiths album; just because I can’t recite their entire discography does not mean I’m not a fan! Don’t know the lyrics to every Pulp song? So what? You probably know Common People and that’ll be enough to get you through a night in with hipsters. The artists themselves know their music is not for everyone, so why do we assume it must be?

While life is short, in comparison to, oh I don’t know, the UNIVERSE’s existence, it really isn’t that swift. You’ve got plenty of time to listen to all the music you want, read all the classics you can, and do so at your leisure. But if you’re not that bothered about the supposed elevated status that only comes with finishing a Hardy novel, then I would stay clear. They’re not worth it; there are better structured Mr Men books.

The joys of free time

Now that it's summer and I have literally nothing else to do bar finish watching Cougar Town online, I will try to write more, yay for me, possibly for you too.

Starting immediately, with this next post (see above) about classics, which I wrote at 3am Monday morning after deciding I was suddenly pissed off about it.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Was a montage too much, WAS IT

Alice Cooper's words are ringing true, school is out completely. Tesco claimed these were the best days of my life but I think they just wanted me to buy another pencil case. But cruel scams aside, these have been the best years of my life...because they've been the only years of my life. So far I haven't done anything but be in school . Maybe I will look back from my armchair in the Home and decide that these really were the good days, but I highly doubt that.

I've been to 6 schools to date so I consider myself a connoisseur of classrooms. It's enabled me to become quite good at making new friends, by the time the 6th school rolled around I was paying kids accustomed to introducing myself, giving them a compliment and hoping they'd never find out how strange I am. They all did, eventually, but miraculously continued to speak to me. It's nice to have a wide circle of friends, to know that if something went horrendously wrong with one person (which it inevitably did) I would have others to fall back on, and in fact it was these times that I developed the best friendships. There are those I've been close to since Tag was a deadly sport and toilets were at ankle height. There are those I only met two years ago but have become great friends with. There are people I'm meeting just now, and wishing I'd known them longer. Either way, school has provided a social catalyst for us all to decide who we like and who to avoid. I've made a mental note to stay away from anyone with an oversized rucksack. They will talk to themselves and carry too many dictionaries.

Luckily I was blessed with more than one brain cell so I haven't struggled too much educationally, though sport defeated me. Fuck you dodge ball. Fuck. You. Teachers seem to like me, I can only remember a handful of times I've been shouted at (what a dick). I've done well in the subjects I've chosen, though some people see that as a horrendous crime.

With school came the chance to go places. I went to France (Disneyland, to perform, no biggie) Spain, Germany, New York. The German trip was possibly the greatest trip ever, and cemented a love for German history, films... and teachers (God bless you Mr Rawcliffe) that I still have. But still the highlights of these adventures come down to the people I was with, education is almost secondary to socialising, I can't help but feel for those who miss out on it. I'm a strong believer (not the knock on your door, bash you with a bible kind) in Nurture over Nature. It worries me to think that we might have stayed in Farnborough because we lived near chav central and I would be wearing McKenzie right now instead of Topshop. School has naturally sorted me out, personality wise. I'm still an annoying dickhead but I've learnt a fair bit too.

I don't feel like school is actually over. It's all been a bit of a let down really. There was no Scrubs style montage on a screen as I walked out, no high school musical jump. It's been 7 years, shouldn't I be able to squeeze a single tear?! I think reminiscing makes us miss things more, and right now I'm still very much in the now, in the 'good lord I haven't revised ecosystems yet why god why'. Ask me again in 3 weeks.

Perhaps it's because I've still got exams, but also because I'm convinced there's a secret year between now and university in which I will learn to cook and clean and hopefully knit. Making the leap from my current lifestyle to one in which I have to separate whites from colours unnerves me. Being told from people older than you that you'll look back fondly on school time, and not to waste it, and to treasure every moment, is bullshit. There are going to be days when you could happily watch the place burn. Eventually you'll conclude that it wasn't all bad but until then, don't do anything differently.

You might turn into one of those people who use yolo seriously.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

When I grow up......I haven't planned as far as the Pussycat Dolls.

Sitting here thinking of 101 things to be doing other than revision and wondering why I'm so terrible at it when I realise...It's not the exams I'm dreading, (though heart rate does increase at the word) it's what's happening afterwards, the start of my PROPER ACTUAL LIFE.

Because what have we been doing up to now, really. Education has defined our entire life. Even if you hate it, school has been a safety net, something to do each day; an easy way to socialise and (come on, admit it) a fairly helpful thing in regards to said dreaded future. But when it's all over, when I walk out of that final exam the way Tom Cruise walks from explosions, coupled with the sheer relief will be some mild fear. I'm not one of those sickly 'live each day like it's your last' people (I'm sorry but if today had been the end for me I would not wanted to have spent it analysing poetry and eating a ham sandwich) but I do live fairly day-to-day in the sense that, University aside, I haven't really given much regard to the future.

Some people I know already have pension funds. Pension. Funds. Apparently, this is a sensible life choice and one we should all be considering. How on earth can I consider a pension fund when I cannot even defrost a lasagne?! I can't decide whether to wash my hair or not tonight let alone think about a time when, if I am not killed off by a heart attack (the crisps were worth it), I will be so old that I won't be able to work and need one of those little hand rails by the toilet. There is so much stuff to do in the future man, jobs, mortgages, kids, carpets; things I can't conceivably imagine right now but they'll creep up. Before I know it I'll be at Homebase every weekend trying to find lamps that match the curtains we bought to go with the sofas. I'LL HAVE TO BUY MY OWN SOFAS.

It's a scary thought, the future. Naturally I'm hoping (fingers, toes and other limbs crossed) that I get into University, and kick start a great career, though I'm not entirely sure I can actually be bothered... My state of apathy has spiraled out of control this year, I organised my sock drawer the other day, just to avoid doing work. I don't even have that many socks! But they're so organised now! I can see all my socks and I haven't learnt a thing about plate tectonics!

I'm a natural worrier, it's just my thing. Who knows, maybe Johnny Depp will call and I won't need to think about any of this, but on the off chance he's been typing my number in wrong (easy to hit 2 instead of 3), I'll revise some geography case studies....be on the safe side.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Big lights, Bigger burgers

New York, New York, NYC, The Big Apple, The City that never sleeps, home to Beyonce. Need I say much more? But I will, because I went there for four days recently and boy the things I've seen! (I haven't seen that much)

We flew from Heathrow to JFK, I hate flying, but I would do the flight there 1000 times over it was so fabulous. The food, oh the food! It was obvious I'd never flown with any respectable airlines before, when I almost fainted upon discovering there was a button I could press to call the steward over. And that said steward was a dead ringer for Gary Lineker. But we landed, as planes do, and wasted no time, oh no. Did I mention it was a school trip? Aka walk everywhere to save costs and don't stop until you've lost someone (which we did, more about that later).

Night 1 - Times Square. Oh have you ever seen so many lights in one place? (Actually BHS has a display that could probably rival it) It's impossible to not look up and stare like an LSD induced stoner, as impossible as not chewing a fruit pastilles. I was so taken in by the brightness of it all that I bought a pretzel. I don't even like pretzels! Indeed it was in the...trashcan (oh yes) before you could say 'good lord this is shit'. We stayed in a YMCA (and not a single homosexual in sight) which wasn't bad at all. We'd read some horrific reviews, only to discover our teacher had written the WRONG NAME on the itinerary and our hostel was perfectly sanitary. I was almost disappointed by the lack of cockroaches. Almost.

Day 2 - Took the Subway to Battery Park (nothing to do with batteries) and bought some fake Ray Bans, mission one of the trip, check! We then took a ferry to the Statue of Liberty, where we were constantly reminded of how free America is (they really love that shit) but it was an amazing sight to behold, especially from the Hudson River, and when the boat swang round and I could see the New York skyline against the Statue, well that was just breathtaking. Although that may have been the wind...
Ellis Island's immigration museum was our next stop. We visited the gift shop and waited for the others outside; the weather was too nice to waste and I can Google it all later. After returning to the mainland we began wandering to Wall St, no prizes for guessing what goes on there, I swear even the bins were made of gold. Walking further we reached Ground Zero, where the 9/11 memorial is. This was strange, I wasn't moved in any way, which sounds awful, but I think it's because it's still such a recent part of history. There are two large pools in place of the twin towers, so you can get a sense of scale, but I wasn't affected in the same way I have been walking around other memorials, perhaps because that war is far from over, I don't know.

But anyway before we all start crying, next stop was DINNER. We chose to sample the local cuisine, and so headed for a McDonald's. Apparently this is some chain that's quite popular around the world? It was nice enough, anyhow. After this our group parted ways, and a couple of others and I went to see an off-broadway production of Rent, one of my favourite musicals ever ever ever. Needless to say it was utterly fabulous and brilliant and the guy that played Roger was shit 'ot.

Day 3 - Quick stop at Rockafella Centre then, ugh, MoMA. The Museum of Modern 'Art', and I use the term loosely. This place was full of more bullshit than the Daily Mail and didn't even sell crisps. Not even posh ones. I put in a suggestion card. To tone down our hipster morning we went on a guided bus tour with Robert. Robert is my new love, as tour guides go he was brilliant. In his own words he is 'the loser friend of all the celebrities' and he knew everything. He showed us proper New York; Central Park, China Town, Little Italy, where the celebs lived, where to get the best pizza, what writers were inspired by where and everything in between. After that I really felt like I'd seen New York and I am definitely introducing the phrase 'hang a right' to England.

Dinner was at the Hard Rock Cafe, so we dressed up all smart, marched down to Times Square, were one street away when suddenly...'err where's Beth?' Yep, we lost someone. We don't know if we'll ever find her again. Lol jk of course she turned up eventually, after much panicking and I had a bacon cheeseburger and all was well again. Full of chips and pepsi we headed to the Empire State building, took the quickest lift ever (my ears actually popped) and were out at the top, looking down over Staten Island, Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. Now that is what you call a view. They don't lie about the bright lights of New York, it was incredible to think we'd just been walking down those streets and now we were gazing down on them. New York isn't even the World's biggest city but when you look out at it, you can't imagine anywhere else being so full of culture. It certain shits all over Lincoln.

Day 4 - our final full day (cue wistful sad face). We jumped back into tourist mode, visiting Grand Central Station and the National Library before shopping like our lives depended on it. Bloomingdales, Tiffany's, The Plaza, we did them all. The walk back to the hostel took us all the way down 5th Avenue (have totally got my head around the grid system now, call me a pro) and a bus was waiting on our return to take us to Newark Airport this time. The flight home was considerably less exciting, I was so exhausted and there were no football turned presenter lookalikes to amuse me. But Tubes and Trains later and I was home, but wishing to be back.

No way was that my last time in New York, oh no.

Monday, 26 March 2012

The Hunger Games film: the good, the bad, and poor Gale.

When it comes to books made into films I am very fussy. Especially when those books in question are ones as brilliant and powerful as The Hunger Games. Without trying to sound too snobby, (and dickish) I think you need something ticking away in the old bonce to truly get what The Hunger Games are about, and therefore need some sense about you to understand the films. I saw the adaption tonight, in Newark, which probably didn't help the calibre of audience; but I can't help thinking it would be lost on some people, and possibly not as enjoyable for those who haven't read the books.

But I could be reading too much into it (literally) and maybe without the knowledge you have once finishing the trilogy, you can still enjoy the action and marvel at the special effects. Let's start with the screenplay. Suzanne Collins, author of the books, said she was happy with the films, so I went in expecting a true to form masterpiece. There are a lot of things missed out and I have to accept that, it's the same case with almost every adaption; but entire characters weren't introduced - concepts like the Avox's were missed out, something not vital to the storyline, but still important to your general understanding of the plot.

After reading the books I wondered how they would structure the film. Katniss' internal monologuing moved the story along, kept pace and gave us, the reader, all the information we needed to build up the bigger picture. Without this voice over, you're left relying on visuals and other characters to explain the situations. This is evidently how Gary Ross chose to do it - several new scenes were either picked from the next books or newly created in order to bring what Katniss' muteness left the audience without. Sometimes I felt as though they were only scratching the surface of the story, but perhaps this is because having finished all three, I can reflect on things that happened in the first book with more insight. Indeed they do allude a lot to events in the next two books - President Snow's roses, Haymitch's involvement with the gamemakers and the coming uprisings to name a few.

Catering for a large audience of fans, as well as trying to appeal to a new audience is always going to be tricky. On one hand, you want to make a word perfect biopic to please the die-hards. On the other, you want to pick out the main thread of the plot and turn it into a movie that can be enjoyed by anyone. I think The Hunger Games has tackled this well, what they have missed out is just my nitpicking, perhaps the fact that it forced me to recall the books, recall what she was thinking and what happens next is a good thing. I certainly enjoy watching films knowing I have that inside knowledge that a newcomer doesn't.

One thing I did dislike immensely was the camera work. God good who gave the work experience kid a camera and let them shoot the first hour? Shaky camera work may suit amateur GCSE media films but it does not belong, for long period of time, on the big screen. Luckily they managed to find the trackers and someone came up with a tripod for the rest of the film.

And Gale, poor Gale. I have always been on his side, because I'd rather have meat over bread any day.* He didn't feature a lot in book one; come two and three his character takes a forefront and I can only hope they make the most of this, and don't cast him out as a secondary character.

So there, mixed reactions. I've pointed out quite a few negatives but overall it was excellent. Jennifer Lawrence does 'running blindly through woods' very well and Lenny Kravitz is a vision in gold eyeliner as Cinna. If you haven't read the books, do, you'll enjoy the films so much more once you know they all win in the end. Oh dear, have I said too much?

Doesn't take much to act in love with Gale really, damn.

*little inside joke for the readers there, ho ho