How our histories interweave

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This weekend I finally got around to watching the pilot episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and, despite really wanting to enjoy it, I’m afraid I found it less than legendary. In fact, I didn’t even make it through the second part.

I don’t want to upset any big Legends fans, so I’m at pains to point out that this is only my opinion, and I’d advise anyone to watch the show for themselves before they make their mind up about it one way or another.

I’m a big fan of Marvel movies, but for some reason I’m generally altogether more lukewarm on DC’s cinematic offerings, I find them all a little bit too sincere and serious, especially when you compare them to Marvel movies, which I find to be smarter, wittier and more fun. Having said that, I am intrigued by the new Suicide Squad movie, and I may check that one out. Batman v Superman is not on my radar at all – practically nobody cares about Superman and, let’s face it, Batman is a bit of a douche.

But even with my love for Marvel movies, I’ve found the TV shows way more hit and miss. I desperately wanted to like Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, but only struggled through four episodes before giving up on it, because I found it about as easy and enjoyable as trying to run through a swimming pool full of treacle while carrying a lead weight. On the other hand, as far as I’m concerned, Agent Carter can do no wrong. It’s a great, fun, stylish show, and Peggy Carter is a goddess.

When it comes to DC’s TV roster, from the clips I saw I never fancied The Flash or Arrow, but I gave Supergirl a go, and really enjoyed it. I gave Gotham a try, but really didn’t like that. It was an odd mix of gritty and serious, versus really campy comic book, which didn’t work for me.

I’ll be perfectly honest, my main, very shallow motivation for giving Legends of Tomorrow a go, is this right here.

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I was a big fan of Arthur Darvill in Doctor Who, especially after the break between series 6 and 7 when he suddenly got really, blisteringly hot. I also liked him in Broadchurch, where I think the character he played was called The Very Handsome Vicar. You get the picture, I think Arthur Darvill is an attractive man.

I’m not 100% shallow, the trailer for Legends did also look good, and I went into it quite hopeful that it was going to be a fun, action-packed time travel romp, but it seems like Arthur Darvill is the only thing in this show that is worth watching, and even he is not enough to keep me struggling through it.

The thing that struck me as very strange to start with was the scene where Rip Hunter, in his long flappy coat which has a distinct whiff of David Tennant about it, went before the Time Master Council to ask their permission to pursue Vandal Savage. Everything about this scene was so reminiscent of the Time Lord High Council in Doctor Who that it made my head spin. As much as I like Arthur Darvill, it seems like such a weird decision to me to make something so thematically similar to Doctor Who, then to compound the issue by casting someone in it who is arguably most well-known for being in Doctor Who.

I’m afraid I found almost all the characters really flat and two-dimensional. I was not a huge fan of Hawkman and Hawkgirl right from the start. Their costumes look quite good, but I found their acting a bit clunky, and there is zero chemistry between them. White Canary and Firestorm also left me a bit cold, I struggled to care about anything they were doing.

By far my main complaint with the pilot episode though, was Wentworth Miller.

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DC’s Legends of Tomorrow — “Pilot, Part 1” — Image LGN101d_0158b — Pictured (L-R): Wentworth Miller as Leonard Snart/Captain Cold and Dominic Purcell as Mick Rory/Heat Wave — Photo: Jeff Weddell/The CW — © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

What. Is. He. Doing.

Please, someone explain to me what it is that he’s going for in this show.

All the other actors are playing it pretty straight, so the overall effect is quite realistic in terms of characters and their interaction. There’s no Joker or Penguin-style mugging with the rest of the cast, even the villain is not particularly over the top. But then Wentworth Miller comes out and starts chewing the scenery with such a ferocity that you wonder how there’s any set left. It’s embarrassing to watch, it was genuinely making my toes curl every time he was on the screen. He cannot act. At all. Not even a little bit. Who told him to ham it up to that extent? He certainly seems to come from the Andrew Scott school of “acting”, and I use the term very loosely (don’t get me started on Andrew Scott’s apparent decision to take Graham Norton as the inspiration for his portrayal of Moriarty. Just don’t.). Watching Wentworth Miller over-enunciate his way through his lines was like watching some awful amateur dramatic production in a village hall somewhere. In the end, most of my decision to turn the second part of the pilot off was because of Wentworth Miller. I’d never seen him in anything before, and I’d quite happily never watch him in anything ever again. He is not allowed on my TV any more.

I really, really wanted to like Legends of Tomorrow, but it fell so far short of what I was expecting. I think I’ll stick with Agent Carter and Supergirl, the ladies seem to have got the TV gig under way more control than the guys do.

 

 

 

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As I wrote in my last post, I saw 105 new movies this year. Even though they weren’t all new releases, it seems like a fitting way to end my movie mission by looking back at the movies which were released this year.

Let’s get the negativity out of the way first by discussing some of my least favourites. I saw Into the Woods because I love a bit of Chris Pine, plus my movie buddy, Ellie, wanted to see it. Musicals leave me cold at the best of times anyway, so I wasn’t really expecting much. The song Agony is pure cinematic gold, but I could honestly have done without the rest of it, especially the dreaded James Corden. Victor Frankenstein was silly and entertaining enough, but not exactly a hard-hitter. It also contained the spittiest performance by an actor in cinematic history, thanks to James McAvoy and his saliva, and its only saving grace was the fact that I suspect this movie spawned more slash fiction than I could possibly imagine. The biggest disappointment, however, would have to be Fantastic 4. I love Marvel movies, and I love Miles Teller, I’d watch him in anything, but this movie was more terrible than even the worst reviews could describe.

Now on to happier thoughts: my top 15, in reverse order. The order might possibly shuffle slightly depending on my mood, but it’s roughly right. I’ll try to be as spoiler-free as possible, but read on carefully if you’ve yet to see these movies. Also, I apologise in advance for my shallow fan-girling.

15. The Theory of Everything

A little bit sentimental, but it was lifted by Eddie Redmayne’s stunning Oscar-winning performance. I predictably cried at this one.

14. Jurassic World

This wasn’t ground-breaking by any stretch of the imagination, but it was exactly what I was expecting. It was a dumb action movie about dinosaurs, and a lot of people got eaten. Props to Bryce Dallas Howard for running around in those heels, even if her character was a bit of a pathetic damsel in distress at times. Chris Pratt looked glorious.

13. Everest

I enjoyed this movie way more than I expected to, despite coming out of the cinema with a major case of what me and Ellie call ‘stressface’. It’s just a catalogue of people making terrible decision after terrible decision, but it’s set against a stunning visual backdrop and it’s a compelling watch. The inspiration for the movie makes an interesting read too. Bonus points awarded for Jake Gyllenhaal’s face.

12. Steve Jobs

This movie was another one which I enjoyed more than I thought I would. I loved the way it was filmed in three distinct parts, and the cast was excellent, including Seth Rogen, who I usually detest. Michael Fassbender is a gift to the human race.

11. Star Wars: the Force Awakens

Some people will be aghast that this is so far down my list. I suffered greatly from seeing this movie about five days after it came out, and after having listened to everyone who saw it before me raving about how mind-blowing it was…and it just wasn’t. It was great, don’t get me wrong, but I was expecting much more than great after hearing people wax so lyrical about it. I feel like I need to watch it again now my expectations have been reset to a more realistic level. Having said that, there’s so much to love about this movie – Poe Dameron, awesome female characters, Poe Dameron, a multi-cultural cast, Harrison Ford (who is still a total babe), and Poe Dameron. Wait, did I mention Poe Dameron already? I’ve been a fan of Oscar Isaac since I saw him in Inside Llewyn Davies and I’ve sought out as many of his movies as I could since then, but I was not physically ready to see him swashbuckling all over the big screen in a pilot’s suit. He’s ruined my life and my expectations of men forever.

10. S.P.E.C.T.R.E.

I love Bond, so I was very excited to see the latest installment. I loved the helicopter stunt from the beginning of the movie, and aside from a slightly disappointing final climax with a pretty weak dastardly plot from Christoph Waltz’s villain, plus a rather improbable romance with the Bond girl, Lea Seydoux (it felt like she fell in love with him after approximately 13 seconds), this was exactly what I’ve come to expect from the Daniel Craig Bonds. They’re darker and more serious than previous Bond eras used to be, but that’s no bad thing.

9. Ex Machina

It’s Oscar Isaac again. Seriously, I would watch this guy paint a wall for two hours. He’s spellbinding as a sociopathic genius in this uber disturbing movie about AI, which contains the creepiest dancing scene I have ever seen in my life. I watched it on a plane and I really hope the other passengers clocked my uncomfortable/horrified face when it got to that scene. But still, Oscar Isaac’s got some pretty sweet moves.

8. Birdman

I loved this movie, despite it being a little bit pretentious at times. It was smart, funny and it felt really fresh and different. It also feels like an awfully long time ago, so I’m sketchy on the details.

7. Whiplash

Miles Teller is awesome as budding jazz drummer being terrorised by JK Simmons, who is absolutely terrifying. This one’s particularly memorable for me as there is a sequence in the middle of the movie which is almost identical to the recurring anxiety dream I have, so that was fun.

6. Legend

Two Tom Hardys cannot ever be a bad thing in my book, even though at first I was slightly worried at the prospect of him playing twins. It had a certain daytime soap cheesiness to it, which made me a little wary. I needn’t have worried, as I quickly forgot that Ronnie and Reggie Kray were being played by the same person. It was a lot funnier than I was expecting, and I cannot big up Tom Hardy enough.

5. Mad Max: Fury Road

More Tom Hardy! This movie was utterly bonkers and inexplicable and ridiculous, and I loved it. The choice to use physical stunts over CGI made it extremely fun to watch, and the fact that the strong female characters upset a few meninists made it even better.

4. Big Hero 6

I unashamedly loved this, and I thought it was far superior to Inside Out, which I think was another film which suffered from being hyped up way too much. It’s adorable, funny and cute, and I desperately want a Baymax of my own. Another one which made me cry.

3. Avengers: Age of Ultron

I love Marvel movies, and I love the Avengers more than any other franchise. Captain America is one of my many fictional husbands, and the scene where Chris Evans pulls a log apart with his bare hands is one of the most masculine things I have ever witnessed, and was worth the admission fee on its own. While this movie wasn’t as good as the first Avengers movie for a number of reasons (no Tom Hiddleston, for one thing), it was still a fun, action-packed super hero romp, and I was fully on board from start to finish, despite seeing it at a triple bill midnight screening and being so tired by the end of it that I was possibly hallucinating. It’s set the scene well for the next batch of Marvel movies, which I am tragically excited about.

2. Ant-Man

I wasn’t all that bothered about the prospect of an Ant-Man movie before I actually saw this, but I loved it, and I definitely think it was better than Age of Ultron. Michael Pena almost stole the show from Paul Rudd, who was funny and likeable; the script was smart and witty, and the post-credit scene caused much excited arm flapping from me and Ellie.

1. The Martian

When it comes to recent space movies, people seem to either love Gravity, Interstellar or The Martian. I found Gravity quite dull, and I’ve never seen Interstellar because every time I go to watch it I catch sight of the running time and then chicken out. I fall squarely into The Martian camp, I loved it. Matt Damon is plucky and hilarious as Mark Watney, Michael Pena is adorable yet again, and Sebastian Stan is just so attractive I would be happy for him and his excellent face to be in every film ever made. Predictably, I cried.

So, that’s my top 15. If you’re still reading my inane ramblings, thank you very much!  You’ve got reading stamina. Now go and do something more useful with your time.

I’ll see you in our usual seats at Shrewsbury Cineworld in 2016…

 

 


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Despite being a grown-ass woman with a mortgage, I still love spending my money on pointless, nerdy things. I go around to my friends’ houses, and their homes look like they just picked them right out of the Dulux catalogue – they look like places where grown-ups live. My house is full of tat and action figures. But hey, it makes me happy to be surrounded by my treasures.

The current craze going around my office is Funko Pops. I’ve liked these cute little figures for ages and I always like to look at the Funko Pops for sale at conventions. I’d bought some as presents for people before, but I didn’t buy my first one until I watched Guardians of the Galaxy last summer and decided I had to own a Groot in some form or other. Then I happened to win one in a game of pass the parcel at a New Year’s Eve party (yes, that’s how I like to party), so that brought my collection up to two. I still wasn’t all that bothered about taking up collecting them though, as I don’t really collect any specific item, I just buy stuff I’m interested in as I find it. But I happened to find a tiny Marvel keychain Pop on holiday in Florida (little baby Thor), so I bought that too, bringing my collection up to three.

Last week, one of the girls in the office started looking into Pops and their value as collectibles, then she bought a couple, and it kicked off some sort of Pop fever in the office. I don’t know what it is about them that gives me the compulsion to own more. They’re all super cute, they’re nerdy, and you can buy Pops of almost every movie and TV character you can think of. One of the other girls in the office bought a Mary Poppins one, and I bought another two to add to my collection. This is my current line-up:

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They’re a little bit of a mishmash of all the different Funko Pops which are available. I love the Marvel movies, so Groot, Loki and Thor were must-haves. I won the He-Man one (and now must get She-Ra to go with him) and then I had to have Snow White because I’ve recently become obsessed with her, and I am dying to dress up as her for a convention at some point. I will be adding to my collection very soon, but I don’t know who I’ll be getting next.

Me and three of my colleagues have all signed up to popinabox.co.uk. It’s a subscription service that sends out Pops every month to its subscribers, even sending out some of the rarer and more expensive ones. You can choose how many you get, from one to six a month. I just went for one, as a nice little monthly treat for myself. I’ve had a totally rubbish couple of weeks, so this was exactly the sort of pick-up I felt like I needed. I don’t think I’m going to go too crazy over avidly collecting each series like some people do, I think I will just get the ones I like. Some people have gone crazy for these little suckers, the leaderboards on popinabox show the top collectors as owning over 1000 of them. Some of them re-sell for over £100 each, which blows my mind a little bit.

You ‘thumbs up’ all the Pops you would like to own, and ‘thumbs down’ the ones you are not interested in, then once a month they send you a cute little surprise in the post. I am a sucker for blind packaged things where you don’t know what you’re going to get until you open it, so this is the best of both worlds – I get a surprise, but I know it will be one of the ones I definitely want. And, who doesn’t love getting post? We are all SO EXCITED to receive our first Pops, the reaction yesterday when we all saw that our bank accounts had been debited was ridiculous, I don’t think anyone’s ever been so excited to see money leave their accounts before. My mum will not stop making fun of me for getting so excited over what is essentially a little dolly.

Now I have a couple of weeks to wait before my next little desk buddy arrives in the post. Please let it be Captain America, please let it be Captain America, please let it be Captain America…….

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Being a crafty type who knits, makes sock animals, cross stitches, etc., dressmaking is something that I always felt I should be able to do. I made a dress in GCSE textiles, with a lot of help, but since then I hadn’t really attempted to sew any other clothes.

About two years ago, I very confidently bought two dress patterns – a McCall’s sleeveless dress and the infamous Walk Away Dress, and immediately set about on the McCall’s pattern. One wasted weekend later I was left with a dress that could have clothed three of me, and with it being a lined bodice, I just couldn’t figure out how to make it fit me. It is still hanging in the wardrobe unfinished. I will probably hack it to pieces at some point and use the fabric to make something else. It really knocked my confidence and it was a long time before I had another go at sewing.

After being inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee, I bought the book which accompanied the series and had another bash. I made a top from the book which I’ve never worn. It looked alright, I’ve just always been a bit self-conscious about wearing it. I also made a skirt with an elasticated waistband. It looks OK, but an elasticated waistband really does nothing for me. I’ve worn it a couple of times, but it does make me look lumpy.

Eventually, I signed up to do a dressmaking course at my local college. I didn’t actually learn that many skills on the course, because there were a lot of us all doing different projects, so the teacher had very limited time, but more than anything it gave me the confidence to have another go. I made a grey pencil skirt. In hindsight it’s a little long for me, but I have worn it, and I was going to wear it again tomorrow, actually.

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This is not the best photo, but then it isn’t a very exciting skirt!

With newfound confidence, I decided that my challenge for 2015, as well as learning to cable knit (which I haven’t done yet), was to make a wearable dress. My mum gave me a sun dress pattern from her Prima magazine which looked quite simple, so I had a go. I made it out of a cotton fabric, and despite a few faults, I was really pleased with it. The zip is a shambles, and I also managed to pull a hole in the fabric in the process of unpicking some tacks, but it is wearable. And I have worn it!

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Please forgive the crappy phone pictures. I live alone (forever alone) so I don’t have a designated photographer. Maybe I’ll do an update with better photos at some point. Anyway, here is my wearable dress. TA-DAH! It’s a dress! With sleeves!

Actually the sleeves were the trickiest part, aside from the shambolic zip insertion, because it turns out I just don’t think in 3D. I pinned the sleeves in three times before I got them right, I kept pinning the wrong edge, or pinning them inside out. Such swears. Many angry.

Once I’d cranked the dress out, there was no stopping me, and I decided in a fit of excitement to turn a Marvel duvet cover I bought off eBay into a summer top. It’s basically two rectangles sewn together, and some straps. No pattern required! Hopefully it will come in handy for my upcoming Floriday (Florida holiday).

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It does make me look a touch pregnant, but then that’s not exactly a challenge.

Fired up with even more sewing enthusiasm, I went into Waterstone’s and had a look at their sewing books. I absolutely fell in love with the aptly titled Love at First Stitch by Tilly Walnes. I couldn’t quite believe it as I flicked through the pages – I would wear every single thing in the book, so I trotted to the counter and bought it, then spent the next few evenings poring over the patterns. The projects are featured in order of expertise, so I decided to skip the beginners’ headscarf project, and go straight in with the Margot pyjama bottoms. I’m not really a wearer of headscarves, and I figured my sewing machine-wrangling was at least already up to the standard required for the Margot pyjamas.

I’m so impressed with this book. The pattern was true to size, the instructions were very clear, and there were some great tips. It would never have occurred to me to slide one PJ leg into the other in order to sew the crotch, but it worked like a dream. And so, I have ended up with some very cute cotton PJ trousers. Please forgive the scary rolls of back fat in this picture. Also, my boobs are NOT that big, I was just breathing in for all I was worth.

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So, my next project will be Tilly’s gorgeous Delphine skirt, which is a little A-line number. I’ve bought some super cute red denim, which I am absolutely terrified to cut into. But cut into it I will! I will not, however, be doing an invisible zip, as the pattern asks for. I can barely do a normal zip, there is no way on this fair earth that I am capable of getting an invisible zip in yet. I know my limits. I’ve seen some other people online who did the Delphine with a regular zip, so that’s what I’m going to do, and show my zip with pride! I will post some pictures once I’ve made it….


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I’ve been back from my holiday for two weeks, so I’m very tardy at writing a blog about it. I went to Florida for the fourth time with my bestest mate Jo. We booked it in August, so I have been looking forward to it, and saving up for it, for what seems like a very long time.

Our itinerary was very hectic for this trip, I don’t think we’ve ever attempted to pack in as much in one holiday before. Despite a few days of rain which cocked plans up somewhat, we managed to visit Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Busch Gardens, Universal Studios, Universal Islands of Adventure and Seaworld theme parks; plus Aquatica, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach water parks. On top of that we had about three shopping trips and drove to the middle of nowhere to swim with manatees.

The swimming with manatees was an incredible experience. Being the pessimist that I am, I was convinced that we wouldn’t actually get to see any. They’re wild manatees swimming in freshwater springs, you’re not guaranteed to find any who are willing to tolerate a load of tourists swimming by them. The first time our captain spotted a manatee, we got all togged up in our wetsuits and snorkels, got off the boat and swam around in the murky water to no avail, the manatee had gone. So by the time we got off the boat in the second location I’d given up hope. I was actually beginning to get very frustrated as other people could clearly see a manatee (Jo included), and I couldn’t see a thing. That’s when I felt something pretty substantial bump me from underneath. I was right above it! These things are monstrous, up to three metres long, but they are so serene and gentle. I feel really honoured to have patted one and swam beside one. There was another one later who came up for air right in front of me, and looked me square in the face as it went back down. It was a pretty spine-tingling moment. This is one of the cuties we swam with!Image

Here you can see Jo (with the red swimming noodle) trying to get a shot of one with our underwater camera.

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New experiences this time included the Cheetah Hunt rollercoaster at Busch Gardens, which has three high speed launches. It was OK, but the ride in between the launches was pretty slow. The Aquatica water park was also new, but it was nowhere as good as the Disney water parks. They make a massive fuss over the fact they have a flume that goes through the dolphin pool. I went on it, and I couldn’t see a thing.

Another new ride was Universal’s Hollywood Rip Rocket rollercoaster, which has a vertical lift. It. Is. Terrifying. The ride’s gimmick is that you choose a song to be played to you as you ride. I picked the Beastie Boys both times I rode. The second time I went on, I got put right on the front, which was awesome, but really scary. The first bit is the most terrifying. This video doesn’t even do it justice!

I’m not going to waffle on for hours and hours about my holiday in tedious detail. But here are some things I saw that are worth remarking on:

* a roadside stall selling “peachs” and gator jerky. Frankly, I’m not going to buy a meat product from someone with such a bad command of plurals.

* a man wearing a Florida (the “Sunshine State”) T-shirt that said, “Welcome to the Gunshine State”, and some charming slogan about shooting first and asking questions later. Mind-boggling.

* Denny’s diner’s new range of bacon desserts, including ice cream sundaes and milkshakes, all complete with bacon. *retches*

My favourite park by far is Universal islands of Adventure, especially the Marvel Super Hero Island. This year I was a sad loser and had my photo taken with all the characters. My favourites were Captain America and Wolverine.

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Next time we go (hopefully 2015) the new Transformers ride will be open, and the Harry Potter expansion will be complete. I can’t wait!