Monday, 28 November 2016

6 Games I Wish Were On The NES Classic.

6 Games I Wish Were On The NES Classic

When the NES Classic was released I thought it was a really good idea by Nintendo and, judging by how quickly it sold out, so did they. Hopefully we will see lots more retro throwbacks from gaming companies in the future (and less people buying them just to resell them for extortionate amounts on Ebay). The list of games on the NES Classic was very impressive but for some reason Nintendo decided against asking me personally which games I wanted included so they missed out some of my favourites. Here are my top 6 games I wish had been included on the NES Classic. 

6) California Games.

California Games is such a ridiculous game. It is the only game I can think of where you can play frisbee or hackey sack. There isn't too much depth to it but it would have made a nice addition as something you can just pick up and play for a couple of minutes. I was pretty good at BMX and roller skating but all these years later and I still can't work out how to do anything on that bloody half-pipe. 

5) Joust. 

There was a time when I had some embarrssingly good high scores on Joust. They included Balloon Fight on the NES Classic but it is pretty much just a poor mans version of Joust. This is a beautifully simplistic game where you fly around on some type of giant Ostrich with the goal of knocking other people off their own giant Ostriche's. Oh, and you have to collect eggs whilst occassionally getting attacked by a Pterodactyl. They really don't make them like this anymore. 

4) Bad Dudes Vs. Dragon Ninja.
This game has two clear distinictions. One for possibly having the best name of any game ever made and the other for having possibly the best intro to any game ever made: 'The President has been kidnapped by ninjas. Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the President?'. This was a simpler time when that was all the storyline you needed before being thrown into the action. The NES port of this game is genuinely quite undderrated in my opinion.

3) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

This is a genuinely brilliant game that would have been an excellent addition to the NES Classic. It could have possibly even been number one on this list if it wasn't for one thing; that bloody water level. 

2) Marble Madness.

Another strange premise for a game. You control a marble through various obstacle courses. It sounds dull but the gameplay is so perfectly balanced and satisfying to control that it really is a bit of an underrated classic. There are only a few levels so you can complete quite quickly but other than that there really isn't much to fault about it. Definitely deserving of more attention that it gets.

1) Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers. 

Disney made so many great games back in the day. The Lion King, DuckTales, Aladdin and many more. However, for me, Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers is the best of the lot. A platformer so perfect I honestly rate it as being almost as good as Super Mario Bros. 3. Maybe I'm biased due to the nostalgia of being a 90's kid but I think the 90's were the greatest decade for Disney in regards to both films and video games.  

Honourable mention: Tetris. How did they not include Tetris?

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Great Films You May Have Not Seen Yet.

Great Films You May Have Not Seen Yet

When I am trying to choose a film I often feel as if I have seen most of the 'classics' I want to watch. Therefore, I find myself looking up; 'best films I haven't watched', 'best unheard of films', 'best under the radar films' etc to try and find something new that I might find interesting. 

Due to my own reliance on these types of lists I thought I would have a go myself at writing a small list of films that I really enjoyed but don't think everyone will have watched. I based my choices on films that I had not heard much about myself before I watched them. 

If you have already watched all of these, well...sorry. 

#6 - Blue Ruin.

This film is about a man attempting to take revenge for something that happened to his family a long time ago. What makes it a bit different is that, unlike most films like this, the main character isn't brave, tough, cool or even well prepared. It is his unusual character that kept me so interested in the story. 

#5 - Blue Valentine.

Carrying on the theme of having blue in the title this is possibly the most well known film on the list. It looks at a couples relationship by switching the story between two very different time periods in their relationship. It is probably the best acting I have ever seen from Ryan Gosling and he and Michelle Williams feel very believable as a couple.

#4 - Choke. 

The only film on this list that doesn't have great reviews. I only watched it initially because I love Fight Club and this is also based on a novel by Chuck Palahniuk. It is a dark comedy and I like how it switches between seeming completely ridiculous and somewhat believable. Does have some gross out humour but also has a good amount of substance to it. 

#3 - Lilya 4-Ever.

I'll warn you now, this film is REALLY bloody depressing. However, it is about human trafficking so if it is upsetting then it is doing its job right. Really can't think of many times that I have felt more sorry for a character than I do for Lilya in this film. Parts of it are very difficult to watch but it is a strong example of fiction shedding light on a real issue. 

#2 - Shooting Dogs.

Really surprised that I haven't heard many people talk about this film. It is about the Rwandan genocide and another example of a film that creates true empathy for its characters. Lots of extremely tense moments where you don't know what will happen next. Also important because it is one of the few films tackling this important piece of recent history. 

#1 - Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About His Father.

This film. Wow. Only just watched it today and was amazed at what a good piece of filmmaking it is. It is a documentary about the true story of a man, his son and his parents. For me, it was an exploration of how evil people can be but also how much people can love each other and how much of a positive impact one person can have on the lives of the people that knew them.

Bonus - Lizzie & Sarah.

Not a film but a pilot episode of a dark comedy that never got a series starring the awesome Jessica Hynes. I watched this not knowing anything about what it was going to be like and thought that it was genuinely hilarious. A real shame that it never got a series but the pilot episode is definitely worth a watch. 

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Brexit, Trump and Celebrity Big Brother.

Brexit, Trump, Easy Opinions and Bad Predictions

I was absolutely convinced that Britain was going to stay in Europe but, then again, I also thought England might do okay in the Euro's so what do I know? Evidently, not much. Why did I think this? Because almost everything I read on the internet was supportive of staying in Europe. Mainstream media seemed to largely agree that leaving Europe could potentially have negative consequences. Even some newspapers from the right who had previously spent many articles moaning about the EU weren't being particularly vocal in supporting brexit. As for social media, I genuinely only saw THREE people I know write that they wanted us to leave. That is in comparison to the literal hundreds of people I saw posting articles, rants, blogs, videos and opinions of how awful it would be if we did leave. 

It's pretty much how things seem with Trump. Except, instead of having three people I know supporting him there are zero. Not one single person on my social media has shown any kind of supportive opinion towards Trump. I mean, the guy is so easy to hate that it feels like you're booing Jafar at the panto, everyone is joining in and there is a sense of camaraderie in doing so. At this point, writing a blog post about how awful he is and all the terrible things he has said would honestly seem too easy. The challenge would be finding something nice to write about him (ummm, he has good teeth?). Don't shoot me for that compliment by the way. Even the mainstream media are having a field day with him. Journalists have probably never had it so easy because Trump practically hands them negative material to write about him. 

So, if you had asked me before the 24th June when the Brexit vote was announced, I would have said that Trump has absolutely no chance of winning. However, as seen with Brexit, the public still has the ability to surprise us and go against the general consensus shown on the internet. So why is this? It's possibly because the kind of people who would vote for Trump are less likely to share their opinions on social media. They might be older and have less access to social media or they might be worried that if they openly supported Trump they could be made fun of and/or labelled as being prejudice. Therefore, his supporters exist in higher numbers than we realise because we just don't hear from them as much.

Another possibility is that Trump could win because everyone is talking about him. Most people from the right to the left are spending a lot more time and effort talking about Trump than they are about Hillary. Me included I guess seeing as I only just mentioned her. Take reality television for example. It might seem a bit of a stretch to compare American politics to reality television but it really isn't. If you have two finalists people can vote for and one is a bit of an arsehole but provides entertainment whilst the other seems nicer but is a bit boring, there is a good chance that the entertaining areshole will win. This is pretty much what happened in Celebrity Big Brother 2016. Again, it might seem a bit tenuous to compare Celebrity Big Brother to the presidential race but when you watch the debate between Hillary and Trump which was basically an hour and a half of immature name calling rather than political debate, it really isn't that difficult to make the comparison. Unfortunately, divisive opinion might just get more votes than indifference. 

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Revisiting Albums I Loved When I Was Fourteen.

Revisiting Albums I Loved When I Was Fourteen

When I was fourteen I wore clothes that looked like this: 

If you were also a teenager in the noughties then you can probably accurately guess what kind of music I listened to based on that picture alone. I no longer own a black, tribal hoodie three sizes too big for me and my music taste has diversified out of only listening to angry, shouty men. I have decided to take a look back at some of the albums I most loved when I was fourteen to see what I think of them now.

#1 - XX (Mushroomhead):

Mushroomhead were basically Slipknot. From what I remember they were doing the whole 'scary' mask thing before Slipknot but never got as famous for it. Listening to it now...yeah, it's pretty awful. They have made some attempts at using different musical styles but after a while it all just blends into one, long growl.  

Low point: 'Episode 29' - A song consisting of repetitive drumming accompanied by a woman literally just screaming.

My rating now: 4/10.

#2 - Hooray For Boobies (Bloodhound Gang):

Bloodhound Gang were the musical equivalent of the 'American Pie' films. Basically, an album made entirely of rude jokes and double entendres. I like to think that if the album were released nowadays it would be boycotted by people chanting trendy, liberal slogans and they would be made to apologise for their misogynistic lyrics on a serious chat show. Of course, if you can realise that it's all very tongue in cheek and is making fun of itself then it is still as amusing now as it was when I was fourteen.  

Low point: The shame of still knowing most the lyrics to 'The Bad Touch'.

My rating now: 7/10.

#3 - L.D. 50 (Mudvayne):

Again, kind of like Slipknot except this time they wore face paint instead of masks. Nowadays there are very few songs here I find bearable and I'm quite impressed that my fourteen-year-old self managed to listen through this whole album so many times. Good for testing your mental resilience.

Low point: Feeling old when an album is capable of giving you an actual headache. 

My rating now: 3/10.

#4 - Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls (Murderdolls):

This album is ridiculous but in a 'so bad it's good' kind of way. One of the songs is called 'B-Movie Scream Queen' and a lot of the material here is testament to the old, camp, B-movie horror films they have clearly taken inspiration from in many of the songs. The fact it is so over the top and doesn't take itself too seriously means I still find it somewhat listenable. 
Low points:  Realising that 'Love at First Fright' is literally a love ode to Regan from 'The Exorcist'.

My rating now: 5/10

#5 - All Killer, No Filler (Sum 41):

If you owned the large, black, tribal hoodie I mentioned previously then you SURELY had this album in your collection! The songs on the album are very repetitive but it was still enjoyable to listen to today. Also, that album cover is still amazing. The vocals are a little painful but evoke nostalgia for a sound/style that was so indicative of its day. 

Low point: No longer being able to keep up with the lyrics. 

My rating now: 7/10.



Sunday, 24 July 2016

Goodbye Summer! Best Summer Memories.

Goodbye Summer! Best Summer Memories

I have very recently left teaching and realised that this will be the first time in...EVER that I won't have the summer holidays. It's made me look back on all those summer holidays I've had since childhood with rose tinted glasses. I say rose tinted because there were actually times as a kid where I got a bit bored during the summer and actually looked forward to going back to school. I know, I know, what a geek! Anyway, here are some of my favourite summer memories from childhood to adulthood. 

1 - Playing 'Army'. 

For the first twelve years of my life I grew up in the beautiful town of Bishops Castle. One of my favourite things to do during summers here was playing games of army in a local woodland with my friends. For those of you who were deprived of such an amazing game during your own childhood, army is where you get sticks that look vaguely like guns and pretend to shoot each other. If you get shot, you have to pretend to be dead for 5 seconds before getting back up and carrying on. Oh, and the 5 second rule was taken VERY seriously. It sounds ridiculous (and it is) but we would genuinely spend hours playing this without getting bored. 

It is now banned from every school in the land but if they find a stick that looks vaguely like this they will still start making "pew pew" sounds.

2 - Dens.

Another very important part of childhood summer in the countryside was making dens. There was another wooded area we used to go to that we all called 'The Dingle'. I have absolutely no idea if that was what it was actually called as it sounds far too silly and slightly rude. Anyway, I used to go there with my friends and spend long days making dens that I remember looking much more impressive than they probably actually did. Dens were a brilliant memory from my childhood and every child should definitely be given the opportunity to make at least one den in their life.

3 - Spending far too much time at friends houses.

Nowadays, I can't imagine going to a friend’s house and just staying there for a week. I would miss my own home and space too much! However, when I was a teenager, it seemed perfectly acceptable. Whether it involved hundreds of games of Fifa, missions to obtain alcohol or endless prank phone calls, it always seemed a better option than just staying at home. 

4 - Reading in the sun.

Reading is always great but so much better when you can read in the sun without having to worry about the alarm clock the next day. I know people who have no interest in books the rest of the year but will still read a novel or two every summer because it's such a good feeling. I plan on spending my retirement living somewhere hot and spending most my time reading as many books as possible. Brexit making my retirement to Spain more difficult is one of the many reasons to be disappointed with it.  

Monday, 6 June 2016

Daily Mail Allows Extreme Islamophobia During Ramadan.

Daily Mail Allows Extreme Islamophobia During Ramadan.

I was genuinely quite amazed when I read this article from Katie Hopkins in the Daily Mail today. It is usually quite easy to ignore anything she says because she is too much of an idiotic caricature to take seriously. However, when an article starts with something as offensive and inflammatory as,

''Tis the season of bombers and Uber drivers who haven't eaten for 20 hours - welcome to the Midsummer madness of Ramadan',

it suddenly becomes quite difficult to just scroll past without stopping to marvel at the sheer level of prejudice being presented by a highly paid columnist for something that claims to be a reputable newspaper. 

She later tries to cover her obvious hatred of Muslims by pretending that she is writing from the viewpoint of somebody who is concerned about health and safety during fasting. However, this does not explain her need to refer to Muslims as 'bombers and Uber drivers' as well as all the other language that has been carefully chosen with the obvious intention of being as hurtful and derogatory as possible towards the 2.7 million people (approx) who are fasting during Ramadan in the United Kingdom. In a twist stranger than the ending of 'The Sixth Sense', she finishes the article by saying that she is only criticised for what she says due to unfair prejudice. Yeah, i don't get it either. 

In conclusion, The Daily Mail should be held fully accountable for the decision to allow such extreme Islamophobia during Ramadan. Inexcusable. 


Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Hodgson's Choice.

Hodgson's Choice and the Angry Masses

Hodgson has made his decision about the team going to Euro 2016 and it has mostly been met with:


This is because people tend to focus on the negative rather than the positive when it comes to English football. This attitude of 'we're completely doomed' is something you see before pretty much every single tournament we are involved in and something that separates England from many other countries in regards to support for the national team. It's no wonder that English players seem to have such lower confidence compared to other players when performing on a big stage. 

Before you get the pitchforks ready, I do completely agree with the general masses that Drinkwater should have been picked over the likes of Wilshere or Henderson. I mean, he is in incredible form and Wilshere is inconsistent at the best of times.  

However, there are also some positive inclusions. I'm really pleased that Rashford has been chosen. He is a player of genuine quality and his pace and eye for goal could make a real impact (as long as he doesn't just sit on the bench). Also, with an average age of 25, it is the youngest team to ever represent England at the European championships! This makes such a nice change from the same old, tired teams we have seen in recent years. Anyone else trying to ignore the fact that they're now older than the average England player? Plus, at least Delph was prevented from being picked (sorry Delph). 

In conclusion, when my fragile enthusiasm is inevitably proved to be horribly misplaced, at least we have a manager with a face capable of creating many a high-quality meme.   


Sunday, 1 May 2016

Watership Down and other Traumatic Children's Television.

Watership Down and other Traumatic Children's Television

I saw recently that channel 5 got into trouble for putting Watership Down on television on Easter day and subsequently got into trouble for traumatising a new generation of children with the violence, struggle and heartache that is endured by Hazel, Bigwig and the others rabbits looking for a new home. Then it got me thinking, which things do I remember watching on television as a child that were technically suitable for children but I still found somewhat traumatising myself? Here is my list but let me know which traumatic kids shows, films and adverts you remember from your childhood. 

5 - The Animals of Farthing Wood.

A happy story about a group of woodland friends? Absolutely not. This series featured a group of animals trying to find a new home (similar to Watership Down). However, on their journey it felt as if more characters were killed off than in a series of Game of Thrones which is a bit surprising considering it was made for children. I remember some of them meeting particularly gruesome ends at the hands of humans or other animals. Still, it was actually a brilliantly written series that I remember vividly to this day. 

4 - 'Hush' episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

Whilst Buffy The Vampire Slayer may not have been made specifically for children it was still on early enough for me (and many other kids I knew) to watch it. For the most part this was fine. It was a well written show with decent humour, lots of action and strong female characters. That is until the 'Hush' episode which featured a group of ghouls name The Gentleman who steal peoples voices so they can't scream whilst they cut their hearts out. What most disturbed me as a child was the creepy way the glided silently just a few inches above the ground. Oh, and they looked like this,

3 - Are You Afraid Of The Dark?

This was a show for children in which each episode was a different horror story. Unlike the Goosebumps show which was largely ridiculous and funny, this was made to seem just that much more believable. There were many genuinely creepy episodes, the one that stands out to me was when a girl realises she is the dead girl from an urban myth she has heard (anybody remember it?). Also, the intro with the music and the swing swinging by itself!

2 - The Playstation advert with the weird girl.

As a kid who desperately wanted a Playstation I would latch onto anything on television that mentioned it. That was until I saw the advert with the girl who had the creepy face and the Scottish accent. I've just looked her up and, yep, it's still just as creepy now as it was back then.  

1 - Paperhouse.

This was a film that my Mum put on for me because it sounded like a nice kids film. Basically, a girl discovers that whatever she draws comes to life. [Spoiler alert]. So, she decides to draw herself a friend. Problem is, she forgets to draw his legs so he can't walk and has to drag himself around the ground. That's okay, she can draw him a Dad to cheer him up. Problem is, she forgets to give him a smiley face so he is an abusive psychopath. That's okay, she can just scribble him out. Problem is, that just means he is now an abusive psychopath with no eyes. Nightmares ensued.  

Special mention goes to the episode of The Fresh Prince when his Dad walks out on him. Man, childhood was tough for a 90's kid! 

Monday, 11 April 2016

Duchess Foot Shocker.

Daily Mail does it again

I previously wrote an article about the Daily Mail publishing an article about a bubble that looked vaguely like the Virgin Mary as being the most ridiculous 'news' article I had ever read in a 'serious' paper. However, they may have finally outdone themselves with this article which is literally about the fact that the Duchess of Cambridge didn't wear nail polish on a recent visit to the Gandhi Museum in India. 

They stretch out the article by somehow claiming that her lack of nail polish is proof of how down-to-earth and humble she is. This isn't one of the tiny articles hidden near the bottom of the website, it is genuinely almost headline news. As for Gandhi, he is lucky enough to get a mention after they have finished giving us the intricate details about Kate's feet. 

I can't help but wonder if William is now kicking himself at missing the opportunity to show the nation how humble he is by choosing to keep his socks on.



Sunday, 13 March 2016

"It's just a prank bro."

"It's just a prank bro."

I recently watched this video (about prank videos) by h3h3 productions. In this video, he comments on a 'social experiment' by two Youtubers called MoeandET who, in this video, convince a woman that she is going to be assaulted by a group of men in balaclavas so that they can 'teach people' about the dangers of meeting someone from Craigslist. This is a recent trend by Youtube pranksters to do increasingly awful things to people by putting it in the guise of a 'social experiment' that is apparently supposed to exist for the purpose of educating people. By pointing a camera phone at someone and claiming "it's just a prank bro" or "this was a social experiment" they justify to themselves and their fan base that worrying levels of harassment are completely fine. Lots of the pranks are staged but many aren't. 

Examples of things that Youtubers have considered it okay to do because "it's just a prank bro" include: this video where Sam Pepper gropes the bums of random women. This video in which Joseph Costello mocks a homeless woman and this video where Roman Atwood 'tricks' black people into thinking he has said a hugely offensive word. I should point out that many white 'pranksters' specifically target black people in their videos, I guess having a camera also excuses them of racism. 

The only thing I hope to see from prank videos in the future is when karma prevails and these people get a little taste of their own medicine, isn't that right Jack Jones?