Water has to be one of my favourite things to photograph. Due to its fluid nature, it can look completely different in different circumstances and all of them look lovely and natural. There aren't too many, but here are my favourite photographs I've taken of water.
Ice and the ocean are things that I must get around to photographing...
I find it a little annoying when people say that it is somehow worse to hit women than it is to hit men. People who say it seem to think that this belief is somehow beneficial to women too, when it is actually the opposite, being damaging to both men and women. The strangest thing, for me, is that I've heard people who call themselves feminists say this too! I don’t understand why it’s such a widespread belief.
Every time somebody says 'don't hit girls' they're also saying other things too, namely "Women are weaker than men" and "men are more violent than women" two views that do nothing to help anybody. There are, in fact, lots of women who could probably handle a fight a lot better than lots of men, and lots of men who'd suffer much more psychological trauma from a fight then lots of women. Notice, also, that people don’t say ‘don’t hit girls’ to women? Because they’re assuming that a woman must be so weak she can’t harm anybody anyway. Or is it because women are innocent creatures who never hit anybody and only a violent man would start a fight? So why is it that we so often hear "Don't hit girls" but not "don't hit anybody"? Clearly the latter is a much better rule to follow! But instead people insist on the poorer, gender roles enforcing rule...
This game is the second in the Paper Mario series. But aside from a few small references to the first this game is pretty much entirely standalone, so, you needn't worry if you want to start the series with this game.
One thing I love about this game is the storyline; Peach and Toadsworth go away and have a holiday at a place called Rougeport. While there, Peach finds a mysterious treasure map and then sends it to Mario along with a letter inviting him to come and join her there. When Mario arrives, he finds that Peach has mysteriously disappeared. He then meets a young Goomba girl named Goombella and finds out that the treasure map he has shows the location of various crystal stars which must be found in order to access a mysterious ancient treasure beneath the city. Bowser finds out that Peach has gone missing too, and so also heads to Rougeport in order to try and find her himself. As with the first game, he comes across a whole range of strange and loveable characters along the way, too. Luigi also has his own off-screen adventure, which you can find out about by chatting with him.
Gameplay-wise, the lovely mixture of platforming and RPG gaming is the same as it was in the first, though there are some minor changes. Mario's various partners now have their own health gauge like Mario does, which is good, I think. Mario also gets some new power-ups, ones which make use of him being made out of paper; he can, for example, be folded into a paper aeroplane in order to cross chasms or turn sideways so he can fit through paper thin gaps. The segments where you play as Peach return as well, though, sadly, they aren't quite as good as the ones in the first game, though this is only instance where this falls short of its prequel. One thing I absolutely loved was the fact that you get to play as Bowser from time to time too, either as he explores the areas Mario has already visited or in some fantastic side-scrolling levels made to imitate the style of the original Super Mario Bros..
On the whole, this game comes close to being one of the best Mario games ever made; there's a lovely immersive world to explore, a large cast of excellent characters and a wonderfully dark storyline. The only real downside is that the game seems quite limited in terms of story by being 'for kids'. I don't want to spoil anything, but there are several times when something pretty dark happens and then later on it basically says "Don't worry! Nothing bad really happened" which detracted from it somewhat, I felt.
(I do not own the copyright of the title screen)
(Also, it's Friday so don't miss today's Finger Puppet Show!)
The time was 2:55 p. m. and the school day would be over in five minutes. We weren't working right up to the bell either, the supply teacher (who I had had problems with before) had let us sit at the tables and casually chat while we waited for the end of the day to come. To keep an eye on the time, I had my phone out, there were no clocks on the walls after all. With my phone out, I decided to pointlessly scroll through the menus in order to pass the time.
"Right," she said as she came up to me, "either you can give me that phone, or you're going to have to stay behind at the end."
"Okay then," I said, "I'd rather you'd keep me back at the end because I don’t want to have to give you my phone, I might well need it at some point."
"Give me your phone!" she shouted as she snatched it from me.
While I was disappointed about having my phone taken at least, I thought, I wouldn't have to stay behind at the end.
The bell rang and she said "Everyone can go..."
I got up and headed towards the door.
I turned round and sat back in my chair.
Once everyone had left, she stood in silence looking at me.
"I thought you said that I could give you my phone or stay behind, not and stay behind," I said.
She walked towards the door and said "Follow me."
As we walked down the corridor I asked "Where are we going?"
She kindly told me that we were going somewhere called "Shut up."
Before long we had arrived at the school's main reception. She had a quick quiet chat to a woman behind the desk and then turned back to me.
"You're not getting that phone back for a long time," she said.
"I thought you could only keep confiscated phones for a week?"
"I can keep your phone as long as I like!" she shouted.
"But that's stealing," I pointed out.
She said nothing.
"I guess I'll have to buy a new phone then," I said sadly.
"So you think you're better than me? Is that what you think?" she said, rather aggressively.
"I don't remember saying anything that implied that," I said.
"Well, you can go and explain yourself to Mr. Williams now."
Mr. Williams was the head teacher of the school. I wonder what exactly I had to explain as it all seemed quite simple to me.
We went in, and I took a seat on the opposite side of the desk he was sitting at while my supply teacher stood in front of the door.
"Why have you brought Adam here to me?" he asked her.
"Well, first he had his phone out in class, then he wouldn't give it to me when I told him to, and he's just been constantly rude since then. Just a minute ago I told him we'd have to confiscate his phone and he said 'Oh I don't care I can just buy another!'," she said, her voice quite strained.
I frowned. That wasn't quite how it happened..
"Do you like your teacher, Adam?" he asked.
I looked at her, and then I looked at him. I didn't want to lie, but, then again, I didn't want to her to start shouting again.
"Well, she's not my favourite teacher," I said, "but she's alright, I guess."
"So why have you been treating her like this then?" he asked.
Well, that was a tough question to answer. I'd much rather he'd ask her why she was treating me like that. I paused for quite a while and, for some time considered pleading my case and pointing out all that she'd done, but I eventually decided it would be a lost cause. It seemed that I would have to start lying.
"I've been very stressed lately," I said. "I guess I was inadvertently letting it out on her."
Since I was a teenager, and a lot of teenagers are stressed, I hoped that'd be a good enough answer.
He asked the teacher to leave the room and said that he wanted to speak to me alone for a few moments.
"What grades are you expected to get in your exams?" was his first question.
"Mostly Cs and Bs," I replied.
"Do you realise that, without this attitude problem of yours they could all be As?"
"Could they?" I asked, inwardly groaning.
"Yes, they certainly could. I have another question for you too."
"And what's that?"
"Do you know what the word 'arrogant' means?"
I didn't want to sound arrogant, so I said "No, I don't. What is it?"
"I could've been a professional footballer, you know? I was just going up and up. But then I realised that I thought too much of myself, I was getting too cocky, I was too 'arrogant'. So I packed it all in and became a teacher," he said.
"Oh I see," I wonder what exactly he wanted me to say.
"I think you're too arrogant, Adam," he told me. "Tomorrow I want you to find your teacher and to give her a heartfelt apology."
He let me go then and I went home. Later on I sent an email to a friend of mine telling them about what had happened. This friend of mine happened to be the daughter of one of the English teachers and she told me that she'd already heard about it, because that supply teacher had come into her Mum's room and been complaining about me. I was told, through my friend, that the reason she was so angry was because I had been 'really sexist' and, in fact, it seemed to me that even my friend was a bit annoyed at me over that. I was pretty unhappy about this because, I'm always extra sensitive about these things, I'm a feminist, and to accuse me of sexism was rather ridiculous. Clearly, as she'd not mentioned it in the meeting with the head teacher, she'd just made up some lies about me afterward just because she hated me so much. I honestly can't think of another explanation. Luckily my friend believed my side of the story in the end, saying she always trusted me, which was nice.
The next day, I went through my lessons as usual with no intention of giving any apology. Unfortunately, I was called out of my fun Science lesson to go and see the head teacher in his office about the apology. He wanted to know 'how it went' so I told him I was saving it for the end of the day. I found her at lunchtime and gave the most meaningless and forced apology I'd ever given and hoped it would sound sincere.
"I saw you apologising to that teacher earlier," a friend of mine said to me shortly afterward, "it just sounded like you were being sarcastic the whole time."
One week later I got my phone back.
And so that's the story of the worst teacher I've ever had, I still find it hard to believe that anybody would be so unprofessional.
Over my years in education, I've liked most of the teachers I've had. Several teachers of mine were actually especially good and gave me some fantastic pieces of advice/help that were crucial in the development of my writing. But, sadly, there was one teacher in particular who was especially bad.
Back in 2009, I had a GCSE Media class, and the teacher for that class was quite nice, but a couple of times she was away and her replacement was the worst teacher I ever had. In one of the classes she covered we were all given the easy task of getting on with an essay that was due. I sat next to my good friend George Moore and, while we worked, we also happily chatted to one another. This was something she didn't like, as she insisted we worked in silence, so we only talked quietly.
After a few minutes of silence George said quietly to me "Watch this." He then pushed some buttons on the keyboard which did something strange and funny to my essay. Importantly, what he did was something which could easily be restored by pushing undo.
"What're you doing?" she asked menacingly as she suddenly appeared behind us.
"Oh, it's just a thing George was showing me," I said.
"Well, clearly you haven't been doing your work!" she said angrily. "You can go and sit at the table over there and write a report for your normal teacher to explain to her exactly what happened today!"
"Well, I should really be getting on with this essay," I said.
"Get off the computer now!" she shouted.
So I left George and the computer and went over to one of the tables where she gave me a pen and a piece of paper to write my report.
"Today I was happily working on my essay while I sat next to George," I wrote, "the pair of us were both getting on with our essays in a happy and relaxed atmosphere. After a while George showed me something funny that could be done to Word documents and the pair of us both enjoyed a small laugh about it. After this, we'd have both gotten back on with our essays but, sadly, the supply teacher came over and insisted I write this pointless report on what had happened. I've been put aside at a table with no computer and I have to stay here for the rest of the class. During the time that has been wasted by putting me here, I probably could have actually finished my essay."
Towards the end of the lesson, the supply teacher came over and took my report.
She read it and then said to me, "And you're sure you want me to show this to your normal teacher?"
"Oh yes," I said with a smile, "it's quite a fair assessment of what happened today, I think."
Since I never heard anything about that report again, I'm assuming it wasn't passed on. Unfortunately, however, it wasn't the last I heard of this especially bad teacher; I had her for one more Media class, and my experiences with her only got worse. You'll find out about that when I post another anecdote about her on Wednesday!
(While there were a few previous instalments in Japan for the Nintendo 64 and the Gamecube, I don't think that I'm ever likely to get a chance to play any of them so, for this review, I will be treating this as the first game in the series.)
I'll start by giving you a very short, but accurate description of what this game does: Animal Crossing gives you a new life. If you want a game that has clear goals. levels and bosses to work your way through, this is certainly not the game for you.
The game starts with your character riding on a train on their way to their new home. A cat named Rover comes over and starts chatting to you, asking your name, sex, and the name of the town you're headed for. Once you write them all in they stick with you for the rest of the game. Before long the train pulls up at the train station and then shortly after you make a down payment on your new house. For a while you work for the local shop keeper, Tom Nook, to pay off some of your debt, once you're done working for him, your debt won't be paid off, but you're free to do as you please.
You can get yourself a fishing rod and try and catch every type of fish, which you can then keep in your house, sell to Tom Nook, or donate to the local museum. You can also get yourself a bug catching net and catch every kind of insect, which you can use in just the same way as the fish. It will take a long time to get them all though, because they don't appear all year round due to the fact that the game follows the real life seasons. Plus you could also buy a shovel and find buried treasure, such as dinosaur bones and mysterious Gyroid statues. Another nice feature is that you can head to the Able Sisters' shop and design yourself a unique outfit to wear. Tom Nook also has a fresh set of items available in his shop every day,, all of which can be purchased and then used to decorate your house. Speaking of your house, once you've paid off your initial debt, you can then have your house expanded to fit more into it... Though that will put you back in debt. There are lots of rare items to find too, which, amongst other things, include playable NES games such as Balloon Fight and Donkey Kong Jr. Math.
The world is also full of various memorable characters. As well as those I've already mentioned, there's always a large number of people (or, in this case, talking animals) who live in your town. There are literally hundreds of different villagers you can have living in your town (but not all at once) and you can speak to them to get to know them, help them with problems, or, if you really want, just bash them with a bug catching bet and push them around. There are also travellers who visit your town from town to time, such as K. K. Slider, the musician who plays outside the train station on Saturday nights, Crazy Redd, who runs the black market and Joan the turnip seller (who can help you to earn a lot of money). Plus, if you play on specific days, things will be happening in the game, such as Jingle the reindeer visiting on Christmas Eve and the mysteriously pumpkin headed Jack who visits on Halloween.
In conclusion, this an excellent game which is full of content and which can be played at your own pace. There's so much to do and I feel bad for missing things out, but to tell you everything would take far too long. I heavily suggest you try this game and have fun living the luxurious life of an Animal Crossing villager.
(I do not own the copyright of the box art)
(Also, today is Friday, so don't miss this week's Finger Puppet Show)
This novel is a brand new adventure for the Fifth Doctors and his companions Tegan and Nyssa. When Nyssa begins to struggle with night terrors, they realise that they are being caused by an external influence; an external influence that they intend to find on the moon Akoshemon.
One thing's for sure, this is a story which could never have been shown as a television episode because it is so dark. There are small things like, some of the characters swear, but the main thing is that the story is very, very creepy. Now, I'm not somebody who's easily scared; I've seen loads of horror films with no effect, but I found much of this to be genuinely creepy and since this is only a book, I consider that a very big achievement! And, as well as spooky ideas, parts of it are downright gruesome...
The Doctor is just fantastic in this too. The Fifth (who is one of my favourites) is known for being one of the most vulnerable Doctors and this book takes his vulnerability really far, I've never seen the Doctor shown in such a weak state anywhere else before, and I love it. Plus, this Doctor is always really nice to people, and, the fact that he keeps up his extreme politeness, even though utterly horrific things are happening all around him, makes him very endearing.
But the Doctor's not the only good character in this. It's very interesting to see how Tegan and Nyssa respond to the situation too, but there are also some very well developed original characters. Cadwell, Stoker and Bunny are all very different people and you'll want to find out what happens to all of them.
You'll notice I haven't said very much about the storyline, or, indeed, what it is that makes the novel so creepy, but I think it's best if you go into it without knowing. There are lots of shocks, twists and turns, making the whole thing a thrilling read. I would, in fact, say that this is the scariest novel I've ever read! Rating: 9.3/10
(I do not own the copyright of the cover image.)
Last night I was searching on Google for a picture of all the playable characters in the main Pokémon games together, but I couldn't find it. There's something about comparison pictures of that kind that I really like. Since it didn't exist, I decided to make that picture myself, so here is every 2D Pokémon protagonist. Also, the good thing is, with the release of Pokémon X & Y bringing the series into 3D, this image won’t become outdated!
(also, regarding today's title saying 'Pokemon' and not 'Pokémon': Weebly now gives the ability to put é rather than e in a title, but when I do, it then posts this entry with no title at all. How annoying.)
I was given a small piece of homework for my Planning and Writing a Novel class, and that was to write up a childhood memory. As such, I thought that this would be the best place to write and post it. Though I must say before I start, that I'm not entirely sure that this ever happened. To clarify, this is a memory of something that I do believe happened, but since what happened is impossible, it must have happened differently in reality.
When I was about four or five years old, there was somebody I knew, a male about fifteen years older than me, and I didn't like him at all. I don't even remember what he'd done wrong, but I certainly didn't like him. Well, having said that, I don't even remember disliking him, but I can quite clearly remember a conversation I had where I said that I disliked him and so I'm going by that.
"Do you want to know who my enemy is?" I asked my Nan.
"I don't want to know about enemies!" she replied.
And that's all I remember of that conversation. I do have one memory of interacting with him though.
I was playing with a ball by myself behind the flat that my family used to live in. It was a pretty quiet place and it was mainly used by vans and lorries which would come and make deliveries to the shops beneath the flats. I was by myself at first, but he came after a short while.
"I bet I can throw that ball higher in the air than you," he said, and being only a child, I couldn't resist the challenge.
I threw the ball up, and it went moderately high and then was pulled back down to the ground by gravity.
He grabbed the ball and then said "Watch this."
He threw it upward and, unlike me, he didn't seem to be limited to the laws of physics. The ball went up and up while I watched in awe. Before long it had gone so high that it could no longer be seen.
"Will I ever get it back?" I asked.
"No," he said.
And it turns out he was right. I never did see that ball again.
Now, I imagine you'll say 'Well, of course it must have just been a dream that you mistook for a memory as years went by!' which is a perfectly valid theory. But on the other hand, I can remember lots of times where I was at school around the same time, where I was trying to throw the ball into the air and get it to never come back. I can see myself mistaking a dream for reality after fifteen years (or however long it's been) but after such a short period it seems unlikely. Unless, of course, me trying to throw it into the air was all a dream too?
Also, it's only now that I've come to write this up that I wonder to myself: why did I have a twenty year old enemy when I was five? Where would I even meet a twenty year old at that age? I suppose these are all things that'll remain mysteries to me, still nice to think about, nonetheless!
(Also, today is Friday so don't miss today's Finger Puppet Show)
Nowadays, whenever there is an Olympic event, video game producers, Nintendo and Sega are sure to release another instalment in the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games series. This is all well and good until we get to the next one due for release: Mario & Sonic and the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014.
Why is this an issue, you ask? Well, the laws in Russia are shockingly anti-LGBT and they're not afraid to hide it. Many don't believe it is right for the Olympics to be held there, as it can be seen as a passive form of approval of their discrimination. By extension, people don't think that Nintendo should promote this game, because they would also be approving the discrimination by not acting against it.
But, on top of that, having these loveable characters okay with this kind of hatred is completely incompatible with what we already know about them. A good example would be to take one of the most loved Mario characters: Yoshi. Yoshi would be thrown into prison under Russia's laws due to the fact that he is happily in a relationship with Birdo... Who is a transgendered woman. But that's not all.
Mario himself should feel quite guilty taking part in these games. Sure, Birdo was originally a villainous servant of the evil tyrant Wart, so he may not be too bothered about her going to prison. But what about Mario's old pal Vivian? Vivian is another transgendered female who, actually, was a villain at first as well, but she eventually saw the error of her ways and stood by Mario when nobody else would and basically saved his life. Surely he'd feel at least the tiniest pang of guilt, knowing she'd be arrested if she wanted to join him at the Olympics?
To take the idea of love only being moral between one man and one woman would actually mean that several more of our heroes would also be thrown behind bars. Sonic once shared a romance with a human being, and Bowser and Peach... Well, they get married in one of the games, and I don't remember it being annulled. It’s Adam and ‘Eve’ not ‘Animal Eve’ after all.
Finally, it just feels so wrong for these heroic characters to stand by and let this evil happen. For many young people just discovering their sexuality, video games could be one of their escapes when things become too stressful. To have Mario and Sonic happily running around and having fun, while innocent people are beaten and murdered on the streets just a few miles away would be a permanent smear on their characters.
(I do not own the copyright of the image)
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