Thursday, March 31

Dynamic Views Now Available Click for more info

If you haven't already seen it in your own, blogs hosted by Google should now have Dynamic Views enabled. You can check out mine here.

I'm not sure how useful or functional it is particularly seeing how relatively photo-light I am on these pages, but you do get an awesome picture of Emma Singh on the majority of them and for that alone it's worth checking out.

New Music

Jugni - Tanu Weds Manu

Who knew such a so so film could bang out another decent track? I was resisting but Kangana Ranaut is so damn adorable in the video it just finally grew on me.

Yaar Anmulle - Sharry Maan

Mesmerising stuff. Who said repetition was boring?

Mit Jaaye Gham - Dum Maaro Dum

No surprises here. No it's not as good as the original but it's blummin' catchy, especially after the 15th play. And no, this has nothing to do with the item girl in the video.

Wednesday, March 30

Game: Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth Click for more info

Despite the name and new protagonist, make no mistake: this is the fifth in what is most certainly my favourite series on the GBA/DS and most definitely up there in my top ten somewhere.

Which makes this review really easy to write. Still the same is the evidence based contradiction mechanic, sometimes working and sometimes making you tear your hair out in frustration (although that said, I found this the easiest to figure out so far).

So let's focus instead on the differences. The main one, of course, is that you no longer play a defense lawyer, instead controlling his arch-nemesis-but-not-really, Miles Edgeworth. Although this affects plot more than gameplay (despite not being in a courtroom you still get to press-present) it's really important since plot and story is part of what makes these games so awesome.

The other differences have, as was the case in the previous games, been brought in to literally add something new. So now you can walk around an environment in third person, you can use logic to link existing fact to create new ones, and you can deduce contradictions while in first person explore mode. Although complicated at first they show themselves up to be pretty straightforward mechanics and not at all as obtrusive as they sound.

But ultimately none of this really matters - it's the story and charm of the game which once again makes this so, so good. Recommended just like the other four were, and I'm ecstatic that there's another chapter still to come.

Friday, March 25

Film: Limitless Click for more info

Limitless was all about charm. It felt like everything, from the plot to the actors to way the film itself was shot was full of that magical something that you can't quite put your finger on. And as such, it was a total pleasure to watch, not too taxing (well not if you didn't want to bother with the intricacies of the story) and as compelling as the drug at the centre of it all. Limitless is the best kind of superhero fantasy since it allows all watching to relate - I certainly now want a pill that would allow me to access all of my brain.

Of course Bradley Cooper was as awesome as he usually is, fitting perfectly in a role that called for someone with the muted confidence he has in spades. And although the look of the film was a little rough around the edges (I almost felt dizzy at some points), all in all it was very well put together.

Although not a classic, Limitless is certainly fun and engaging enough for me to recommend it.

Doghouse Diaries Click for more info

This is why I want to be big. So I don't have to compete with all the other average regular joes out there - not that frikin' Gap help things.

I honestly don't understand why they just don't order more items of the popular sizes.

Thursday, March 24

Abstruse Goose Click for more info

See? This.

It's not because I'm hating on ugly guys for being able to pull and I certainly don't think it's unfair or anything. Good on the two of them if it did work out. But what if it doesn't? Think of the fall out: the guy might (and when I say "might" I mean "will") leave, and all other men will now be spoiled for the poor chick. So no Mr Good Looking, you're NOT doing the girl a favour by being with her.

And that right there is why dating is Bad.

Tuesday, March 22

Rehabilitating Mr. Wiggles Click for more info

When people tell me how nervous they are for an interview or rishta meeting or party with randoms or the like, I always respond with "why? What makes you think anyone will actually care about you five minutes after you leave?". Well not in those words, but thereabouts. I'm not being cruel; in fact it's a mantra I follow and I can honestly say that it's quite enabling and has done me more good than bad. Lacking any kind of pride as well is a similar quality but perhaps a little damaging.

So there you have it, I'm not the only one who thinks this way. Although yes, it is kinda scary being validated by a cartoon teddy.

Saturday, March 19

Abstruse Goose

Many of you probably won't get this since you're all such newbs, but hey, I'll give it a go anyway:

For those on whom this is wasted, I would explain the joke but I'd rather you just bugger off back to Facebook instead. Thanks.

Thursday, March 17

Goodbye Cineworld, We Had A Good Run

After a whopping nine years on the books, I have today cancelled my Cineworld Unlimited Pass. This is quite the big deal. Even the guy on the phone found it incredible that I had been a member for so long.

For those who don't know, the Cineworld chain of cinemas had a membership scheme where a fixed fee per month would allow you unlimited entry to any screening of any film at any location (within certain restrictions). I would have to say that of all my direct debits, this was the one I held the highest value for: during the good times I would watch an average of 1.5 films per week, and over a typical year I would catch over fifty movies. That's around 450 films over the course of the card.

And that was genuine usage, rather than "just because I could". Before the pass, we were watching films at the same rate (albeit for the price of a student ticket), and I think I would have continued even if I didn't have the card. This is proven by how I stuck with the scheme despite various price rises over the years. I started off paying a tenner a month, then eleven, then twelve, then £13.50. Last week I got a letter telling me it was being raised to £15, and for some reason that hit a psychological limit which meant I would no long pay.

To be honest though, it's not really about the money. I mean, sure, it is expensive (and that's regardless of how it's still "just the price of two tickets" - that just means the price of a single ticket it too high), but it's still the most efficient way for a cinema-goer to watch films.

And therein lies the problem. I just can't be bothered any more. It takes too long, the people who go there don't seem to appreciate the need to keep themselves (or their babies) quiet and, to be quite frank, the films I'm watching just aren't as enjoyable any more.

Of course this is more about me than recent film. I guess I just have better things to do now. Either that or I'm just becoming old and anti-social.

Of course this means that I'll be reviewing films much less now (which you may find either a good or a bad thing), but when I do go to the cinema it would be for less risky films; those I know I'll enjoy or have to see. Who knows, perhaps going less will make the whole thing special again?

Thursday, March 10

Shak's Choice: Emma Singh Click for more info

Despite the evidence to the contrary, I'm not a shallow person. Okay sure, I do like pretty people, but I most certainly don't think it's the be all and end all or the only quality of a person that gives them value or spark; for example I talk more about attitude and personality than I do looks on this blog. And when I do pick someone to become Shak's Choice, it's always a decision based on more than just looks: I do also dig a little deeper and talk about personality and stuff, even if that's only of a character. I most certainly haven't ever picked, I dunno, a straight up model or anyone.

Until today. Quite shamefully, I know nothing about Emma Singh apart from how she looks:

First seen on GV's medley video, she's so pretty that I actually find myself not caring about what she's like. How awful is that? I'm sure she's nice though, and apparently she's doing a degree of some sort... Erm. And that's all I can say about Emma.

Anyway, excuse me while I go jump off a cliff now in shame. Totally worth it.

Monday, March 7

New Music

Aaj Ki Raat - Don

Old I know but oh so funky, retro and seductive. Alisha Chinoi at her best in my opinion.

Saturday, March 5

Food: Roka Click for more info

I was impressed with Roka before I even sat down. From the breezy and roomy, yet intimate, atmosphere to the clean lines of the place, I knew I was in for a treat. And I wasn't wrong.

We each went for the set menu, which at £22 was deceptively expensive but proved to be quite the bargain considering the amount and quality of the food we received. From the sushi to the deep friend tofu, everything was spot on... and I'm salivating actually thinking about it.

Even though the service on the ground was above average, it was disappointing considering the food served and aesthetics of the place. We had obvious mistakes like incorrect orders being fulfilled and food being taken away before we were done with it. Still, I must give top marks to our server who took time to talk me through my order and ensured all my dishes were alcohol free.

After drinks (but no dessert) and a couple dishes a la carte, the bill was pushed to a healthy £35 quid per head; definitely top end stuff, but in my view just about worth it. Recommended if you want to treat yourself.

Crossroads of the Ancient World Click for more info

Unlike some of the other exhibitions I've had the chance to visit over the past few years, the British Museum's current one on Afghanistan is different in the way it spans not just centuries, but millennia. This in itself places it apart in terms of the variety of themes and artefacts, but the show also does a good job of stating the importance of the region both over time and geography.

Paradoxically though I didn't really have much trouble visualising Afghanistan over the ages covered. Whether it was due to the excellent condition in which the items displayed were in, or the possibly overuse of visual aids (reconstructions and CGI), it was easy to see how life was in the area during its various stages of war and development.

In some ways this collection was richer than the Book of the Dead one being held in the room below it, and that despite being much smaller. So Crossroads of the Ancient World is definitely something worth visiting, particularly if you feel you have links to the region.

Thursday, March 3

Book: War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy Click for more info

War and Peace is an intelligent book. There's ample signs of this; from the difficulty in reading it to the language used and themes covered there's not much doubt about it: this book is quite the slog.

But around 200 pages into the 1300 page edition I read and things did start to settle down a bit. I guess this is a book where you need to fall into the flow and rhythm over time - but once you do it's actually very enjoyable and rewarding.

War and Peace is also a book of many faces. It's both fiction and not, prose and biographical, a novel and scientific volume. Of that last one it covers history, military strategy, religion and philosophy. I lost count with the number of layers presented across the five volumes.

With hundreds of named characters (some who shared names and others who had pseudonyms) and places, there was a lot of raw information to take in - often resulting in a bit of an overload for the reader. I sometimes had to "turn off" and let things go over my head just to make progress in the book; to understand it fully I would have had to keep notes or something. Add to that the continued repetition and redundancy and I did question exactly how much of the book was of substance. After reading though I realised that the trivial parts were needed to bridge the major ones, and that repetition was a tool used by Tolstoy to make a point.

As usual, the main point of interest for me was the extent of characterisation found in the story. Of this there was plenty; between the two of them Pierre and Andrey were so alive I'm left struggling to believe they weren't people in Tolstoy's life. In fact the notes in the Penguin edition (well worth a read) do make the point that they're supposed to represent the spiritual and logical side of Tolstoy himself, so perhaps that's where the power of the characters came from.

And indeed by the end it's clear that this is really a book about Tolstoy rather than any of the characters he created. This is shown by the not infrequent dips into pontification and lecturing - although I don't mean this in the bad way these words imply since I did enjoy a lot of it. Not to disrespect it too much but it was almost like the stuff he would have put on a blog or something, with his arguments on quite tricky and abstract topics being laid out so completely and precisely and logically that I couldn't help but be mesmerised by it all (and if you happened to have been sharing the commute with me these past six months you would know why I was randomly smiling).

It's a skill that I've spent years trying to develop both in speech and writing myself, and perhaps one borne out of making a habit of talking to oneself. Internal dialogue, self-argument and critical thinking are all explicit methods used to build confidence in your own thoughts, and it's clear to me that a lot of the book was Tolstoy simply saying out aloud things he had spent a lot of brain time thinking about alone. That's not to say I totally came to the same conclusions as he did; he seemed a little too fatalistic for my liking, but the cynicism and presumption of humanity in plural being inevitably flawed were two themes that struck home with me.

As much as I loved my six months with the book, I'm still undecided if it's one I can recommend. Yes, it's rich and extremely rewarding but considering the time and effort spent extracting those things there are more efficient ways of achieving the same. What other books will not give you is a physical and mental challenge (I literally had back pains due to holding the book for extended periods of time), so if you're into that kind of aspect of reading then you should give it a shot; just be prepared not to receive anything back straight away and you'll be fine.