Doctor Who 50th Celebration: The Good, The Bad and The Damn Cute

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When we found out we had won tickets to the Official Doctor Who celebration in London, we were over the moon. I was particularly excited to meet Matt Smith, and have our photo taken with him, so much so that I paid the £50 entrance fee to get in. We were told on the event website that if we turned up early on the day, we could pre-book our slot to meet him.

So imagine our disappointment when they suddenly changed that information to “sorry, we gave all the opportunities to the first raffle winners. We’ve sold out now. You won’t meet him or the other doctors. Oops.”

I was devastated. I sent angry emails to the BBC about how they don’t care about the fans, only the fans’ money (£50 entrance fee, £20 cast photographs, £13 TARDIS console photographs, £15 autographs, and not to mention everything else).

But nevertheless, we went. We had a good time, and some of the costumes people wore were great. The majority (including myself and a friend) dressed up as Matt Smith’s Doctor and the TARDIS. There were several David Tennant’s, some of them spot on, and a few Claras. We saw the occasional K-9 (there was an adorable little girl with a K-9 head, crawling along with her Dalek dad), and a few Davisons or McCoys. There was even a John Hurt cosplay, which I have to say was pretty awesome.

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And on the way into the main building, people had written in the condensation things like, “Don’t blink!” and “Badwolf.” I love this fandom so much.

The official Doctor Who merchandise shop was a big let-down. They were selling rubbish toys, boring T-shirts or expensive photos. That was basically it. The retail area with the stalls from other shops were much more interesting. My boyfriend bought an RPG based on the Whoniverse, my friend bought a bust of Jabe from Series One, and I bought a hoodie and a beautiful painting of Matt Smith.

But the best part by far were the talks. It began with Nicholas Briggs (the man behind the Daleks) talking with Baker, Davison, Baker and McCoy. All of them were funny, but none as much as Tom Baker. He came on stage pretending his microphone wasn’t working, and then he banged his cane on the ground and said, “is that better?” just as a poor stage hand ran on with a microphone. Bless him.

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Someone in the audience asked him what he remembered about Jon Pertwee, and his answer was, “absolutely nothing.” If there was ever any actor of the Doctor who embodied the character the most, it’s Tom Baker.

Straight after that talk, Jo Wiley interviewed Stephen Moffat, producer Marcus Wilson, Jenna Louise Coleman, and the man himself, Mr. Matt Smith. He looked so cute in his too-short skinny jeans and clearly visible stripy socks.

I was tempted to ask questions when the time came, but I was too cowardly. The majority of the questions were directed at Matt, and there was a particularly cute one where a little boy asked why Matt had wanted to be the Doctor. Matt replied, “Do you want to be the Doctor, buddy?” Naturally, the little boy nodded. Matt continued, “well then you’re the next Doctor!”

Some other details we discovered:

  • The 11th Doctor is based around The Pink Panther and Some Mothers Do Ave Em’s Frank Spencer.
  •  Matt was sulky and grumpy because Stephen Moffat initially wouldn’t allow him to wear a bowtie with his costume.
  • If Matt could say anything to his past self, he would tell himself to “keep going” but also to “moisturise more.”
  • Matt’s ideal companion would “of course be Jenna Louise Coleman! …But if Jennifer Lawrence was up for it I wouldn’t say no. But definitely JLC, she’s the best.”

SAM_2168I wanted to see more of Matt, but we were only allowed an hour with him. The privileged people who had pre-bought the chance to see him went up the stairs. We longingly watched them as we went back to the main hall.

The next talk was from the special effects team. The blew up a Dalek, covered us in snow foam, blew an industrial sized fan at us, and let a little boy shoot a massive gun at a Cyberman. It was full of surprises, and more than once I jumped out of my seat.

The special effects leader told us Matt is a nightmare to work with; in A Christmas Carol, when the fire blasts out of the fireplace, it wasn’t apparently supposed to happen. Neither was Matt’s pain when his screwdriver explodes – he was told to hold closer to the bottom – so naturally he held it higher up and burnt his fingers.

All in all it was a good experience. It’s nice to mingle with people who are passionate about the same things you are, and to see the people important to the show in the flesh is amazing. The episode itself was good too. A bit confusing at times, but I liked John Hurt’s role, and Tennant and Smith jelled together beautifully. Now I just have to prepare for the heartbreaking end to number 11.

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Winter Is Coming

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Get ready to say goodbye to the beauty of Autumn and hello to the cold harshness of Winter. No more bonfires and fireworks to entertain us for another year, no more pumpkin pie or Halloween costumes. Now we have to embrace the night and the cold, and be forced into looking forward to Christmas.

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There is something beautiful about the leaves scattering over the pavement, peppering the grass with reds and golds. It ironically reminds me of Christmas tree colours; a sign of what’s to come.

But let’s face it, whether we’re five or fifty, we love to crunch leaves under our booted feet. We see a pile of fallen leaves and we can’t resist diverting our course a little so we can walk through it. It’s one of my favourite times of year; when the leaves are crisp and untouched, and the trees are still crimson and orange and yellow. There are few sights prettier.

And the smells! Cinnamon and hot food and the linger of fireworks on the air. My ideal Autumn night would be homemade Chilli con carne,  a public fireworks display (not too busy), playing with sparklers, and then going home to my onesie, a good film and a hot chocolate with marshmallows and cream.

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The scent of cinnamon continues on with us at least, only to be joined with the other smells of Christmas; roast turkey and pigs in blankets and Bucks Fizz. You see, the end of the year may be dark and cold and depressing, but these occasions of warmth and comfort make them so worthwhile. Summer is by far my favourite month, but Autumn and Winter are strong contenders for the social aspect and the scenery.

In a way I’m sad to leave Autumn behind. I should definitely have taken more pictures and baked more. I made my first pumpkin pie at least! It may have tasted like egg custard, but it was edible! Halloween was fun too. I mean, who doesn’t like getting to wear a cape without being called weird or socially awkward?!

 

Kingdom Hearts: Here’s To Hoping

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kingdom hearts sora 1280x1024 wallpaper_www.wallpaperhi.com_80One of my all time favourite game franchises is Kingdom Hearts. The storyline, visuals, music and voices are all beautiful and awe-inspiring. Plus, Disney – who doesn’t like Disney?! The games have been getting better and better, and I – like all the other fans – can’t wait for number three.

Here is my list of the Kingdom Hearts games in order of my favourites:

  • Birth By Sleep
  • Kingdom Hearts II
  • Dream Drop Distance
  • Kingdom Hearts
  • 358/2 Days
  • Re:Coded

I haven’t listed Chain of Memories on here as I am yet to play it… My mum bought me a PS2 copy and unfortunately it was the wrong region (Why don’t they do a PAL version?!) I chose BBS as my favourite game because it was just perfect. The only thing I didn’t like was the Rumble Racing, but seeing as that was mostly optional it didn’t matter much.

But I found the combat, magic and melding system brilliant. It gave you a much wider and more interesting rang of spells, other than the generic “fire, water, aero, thunder, cure” abilities. It got a bit boring in older games when you’d maxed out thundaga and had nothing else to do.

The finish commands were also interesting, with loads of different ways to unlock them. Not to mention the split timelines, which would be useful in Kingdom Hearts III… I want to play as Riku again!

And as much as Donald and Goofy annoy me, I’m glad to see them returning to the third instalment. I just hope they make the combat system more like BBS than any of the other games. And hopefully Sora, Riku, Kairi and Axel/Lea will FINALLY save Aqua, Ven and Terra from their slumbers. I shall most certainly be fangirling if they do.

Scribblenauts Shenanigans

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My boyfriend told me I would enjoy Scribblenauts Unlimited due to its wordiness and creativity. He was completely right.

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Super Massive Black Hole

I bought it when it was on sale on Steam for about £3, and it was certainly worth it. I’ve immensely enjoyed creating the most random objects I could to try and complete the objectives. From hydras to dead babies to black holes; your imagination knows no bounds (Well… other than the ‘no profanities’ thing).

And then on top of that, you can give them adjectives! Suddenly you have a fire-breathing dog, or a blind security guard, or a massive angry rainbow unicorn. It is extremely beneficial for you to give Maxwell – the main protagonist – the adjectives “superfast” and “flying.” Failing that, just give him a jetpack: you’ll need to fly to reach some missions.

But let’s rewind back to the plot; I got a bit overexcited. Your grandparents were great explorers, who discovered a magical notepad and a globe that transports you anywhere. These were passed down to you and your sister Lily. One day, a magical man curses you for not showing him any kindness. Over time, Lily will be encased in stone, and you need to do good deeds to get ‘Starites’ which somehow help unpetrify her. The magical notepad creates anything you want, so long as it doesn’t involve genitals, real people’s names, or curse words. The fast travel option is extremely handy seeing as half the time I got a bit lost.

The storyline isn’t that intriguing, but the gameplay is so fun you don’t really care – it is a kid’s game after all, and it’s all about the morals. Though how many kids know what adjectives are these days, I don’t know.

So who is the most powerful game protagonist of all time? My vote lies with Maxwell. Who’s going to oppose a boy who can summon a Cthulu, dragon and nuclear weapons, whilst making himself immortal and overpowered simply by writing that he is? Oh, and there is the little fact he could just fuck you up by giving you adjectives like “limbless” or “dead.” Failing that, he could just make you non-existent. I shit you not.

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The missions to get Starites can get a bit repetitive over time. They all consist of, “I want something that does job X. Create it for me.” And it is ridiculously easy to complete these tasks, so much so that I had completed the overall objective of achieving 60 Starites to free Lily before I’d even covered three quarters of the map.

However, there are so many types of people in various settings that you forgive the same-but-different missions and just try to complete them with the most random things you can think of. From pirate ship to haunted house to swamp – they have almost every setting you can possibly think of. They have ninjas, Santa Claus and Paladins wanting you to do something for them.

To name just a few, I’ve pulled a cart along with a hamster, fed a sociologist to a mutant amoeba, and given a religious nut God’s toenail. All of these completed their missions, and sent me into fits of hysterics when they did.

However, they don’t always work. When Neptune wanted something to help him rule the oceans, giving him a dictator wasn’t good enough. When the mountaineers wanted to find something at the summit, apparently God wasn’t what they were looking for. It is quite subjective, but in most cases it will allow you to choose amazing things.

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Invisible Penguins and Blind Security Guards

They have some great references in there too; if you type in “nerd” you are given Napoleon Dynamite. You want to Rickroll? Sure, summon Rick Astley. You also meet a certain Hobbit in a volcano who’s forgotten what he’s meant to be doing, and a penguin with a rubber glove on its head, trying to steal a diamond from a museum. It’s little touches like this that make me happy.

So overall, I give this game 6/10. It’s fun and inventive, but repetitive and the storyline is a bit drab. There is a creator system where you can create your own objects and put them on the Steam Workshop, but that too is quite limited, and I found it tricky to get the hang of.

For more in depth detail on my Scribblenauts shenanigans, visit my other blog: http://scribblenautsshenanigans.blogspot.co.uk/

Kthnxbai!

Education: Does It Really Work?

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Before I begin, I should point out I loved going to school during my time of education. I loved the atmosphere, the teachers, the things we were taught. But if someone asked me what I actually learnt there, the answer is very little.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m more knowledgeable. I know how to apply Pythagoras’ theorem and what happens when you burn magnesium, and I’ve read books I never would have normally picked up. But education is about 90% memory test and 10% actual learning. We get told things we need to remember for exams and coursework – enough to get us to get decent grades. But even the exams are just timed memory tests. Remember as much as you can within two hours and, on occasion, try to use what you’ve remembered to find an answer.

The only lessons where we truly developed our personalities and styles were whilst writing stories in English or painting pictures in Art: the two subjects I decided to continue on into higher education. I understand there is only so much schools can do – there are so many rules now for teachers to follow and I admire them to no end for doing their jobs – but all we are doing in schools is learning things that the internet could now tell us. In University we are at least taught by professionals in the fields, such as journalists, psychologists, etc. They can tell us things we can’t necessarily find on the world wide web: their personal experiences.

And on the topic of University, in which I am currently studying, my fellow students have similar views on the methods in which we are marked. As a Creative Writing student, our work is marked on many things, and most of which have to be to our tutor’s tastes. For instance, if we were writing a comedy, and our tutor didn’t understand the joke, it is highly likely we would be marked down. When we are paying £27,000 or so a year, we don’t want to fail purely because one person didn’t understand our work.

There is also the matter of referencing. We lose marks if we don’t do it, and yet too much is practically plagiarism. I am told from my trusty Criminology student friends that they have to include at least fifty journal references in their bibliographies. I mean, in a 2500 word essay, how much of that is actually going to be their own work?

And then there’s fitness. The current education system seems to think it is enough to have two sessions of PE in a week… just two hours of exercise is enough for children with limitless energy. And then people complain Britain’s children are getting seriously overweight. Surely it would be better to have an hour of compulsory exercise a day for these kids? After all, exercise is meant to keep the brain active, and that’s exactly what they need.

I realise there isn’t a lot that can be changed in schools without creating some form of uproar from teachers and parents alike. But surely something needs to be done? With a growing number of children playing truant, dropping out of school and being unemployed because school is “boring” and they’d rather do something else, surely we should find a way to make schools fun and interesting whilst at the same time useful in preparing them for the outside world?

How to talk to people,  how to pay bills and how to cook easy, healthy meals? Nah you’ll never need them in real life. Here, let’s learn about sin, cos and tan instead!

Would You Kindly Read My Bioshock Review?

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I never considered playing BioShock until I heard about Infinite. It was such a pretty, novel concept and I found myself eager to play it. I got hooked, and enjoyed every moment. The storyline was especially gripping, which not all decent shooters manage to accomplish. It persuaded me to try the previous two games.

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BioShock

The underwater city of Rapture is – in my opinion – nowhere near as pretty as Columbia (though I can forgive it, seeing as Rapture was invented five years prior), but the storyline is much darker, and fifty shades of fucked up. You get thrown straight into the action after surviving a plane crash, only to be attacked by psychopaths in bunny masks.

You get introduced to a guy named Atlas… and I fell in love with him straight away. Not just because of the picture on his recording, but that suave Irish accent was beautiful. I was willing to do whatever he said.

I love the recordings aspect of BioShock; I like the noise it makes as it plays them, and it gives good insight into the plot and the minor characters we never really see (in their sane state). There are some pretty nasty ones too, like Dr. Suchong’s experiments with mind control – we hear him telling a young woman to break a puppy’s neck, and her compliance several moments later.

The Little Sisters and Big Daddies are adorable. I hate having to kill the Big Daddies to save the girls, but it’s necessary. It gives you the option to acquire more ADAM to spend on upgrades by harvesting them, but I don’t know how anyone could be so cruel. Especially after hearing her say, “nooooo, Mr. Bubbles!” Besides, they leave you teddy bears with 200 extra ADAM for saving them, so you don’t need to harvest them. The only difference is a different ending… where you are horrible and practically take over the world.

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Little Sister

The camera idea was quite cool. It reminded me of the Dead Rising system, and it was an interesting concept that taking pictures gives you bonuses against enemies. However, I quite often forgot about using it. Similarly many of the weapons I didn’t bother using. They were superfluous when I have Plasmids, a pistol, machine gun and shotgun.I hardly used the grenade launcher, chemical thrower or crossbow.

The abilities were cool too. Admittedly I found some quite useless, like Enrage (which never seemed to work for me) and Security Bullseye. But the shock, fire, ice and wind Plasmids were all good. It was quite annoying that you could only carry so many of them at a time and had to go to your nearest gene bank to swap them, but I just left off the ones I disliked.

There were a couple of things I wasn’t keen on in the game. The hacking system was a right pain in the ass and no fun at all. It’s basically a timed puzzle, and you have to switch the panels round until the tubes align. Most of the time the liquid moved too quickly and the machine short circuited. It was easier just to find automatic hack tools.  Secondly, the wallet limit was annoying. 500 dollars wasn’t much when 40 rounds of machine gun ammo cost 60 dollars. Thirdly, those damn security cameras and their autobot flying turrets. They’re not very powerful, but they’re certainly annoying. However, without the cameras the game is much too easy.

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The Dublin Dreamboat

I had been growing a sneak suspicion that Atlas wasn’t necessarily the good guy he was making out to be. But I hoped for the best so I could continue listening to his lovely voice. However, when I finally met Andrew Ryan, the so-called main antagonist of the game, he explained the truth to me: Atlas wasn’t all he claimed to be. He had brainwashed me with the phrase, “would you kindly?” A wash of realisation hit me and I realised he was right – the game had literally brainwashed me into not noticing the phrase. I was amazed. It’s probably something to do with me falling in love with him saying, “would ya coindly?” Yes. Yes I would. And then his voice was replaced by the rough American accent of Frank Fontaine. I had lost my lovely fictitious Irishman.

Although I was happy the Little Sisters helped me out and then led happy lives, nothing REALLY happened. The end of Infinite (I won’t ruin it for the people who haven’t finished it yet) had me reeling with shock with its ending. At least they’ve improved since Bioshock’s ending I guess.However, despite this shock revelation, I found the ending severely disappointing. Because they had this big reveal, the ending had nothing to give and it was very anticlimactic. I had to fight the League of Legends Brand character that my Atlas really was. Sadly, this was achievable with only 8 crossbow bolts, 4 injections to drain ADAM from him, and 1 first aid kit. It was one of the easiest final bosses I’ve ever faced.

Overall, I’d give this game 7/10. It was really enjoyable to play through, but the ending totally let it down. It had an intriguing storyline, good combat system and I liked the moral choice of saving the Little Sisters. I managed to complete the storyline in nine hours, but that was with thorough looting for diary entries. If they sorted out the hacking system too, I’d have given it higher, and I would have liked achievements to be available, but there weren’t (I played on PC). Definitely worth the time though.