(Don't miss today's Finger Puppet Show!)
I think it's fairly important to keep up with the news, just because it's good to be conscious of the things which might affect you, your friends and others. Having said that, I'd certainly not like to suggest that it would be wrong of anybody not to do so; many people are busy and won't have the time to read lots of news articles. Plus, reading the news can be downright depressing and I can imagine there are some people who just find it too upsetting to keep up with it all. I have to admit, I tend to go through periods of reading lots of pieces of news and then of not reading any at all, just because it becomes too depressing. Sure, you can sign lots of petitions and so on, but it's really disheartening to read about the absolutely despicable things that your own government does and be almost completely powerless to do anything to stop it. But, I suppose knowledge is power and the more people who know about these injustices, the more likely people are to try and make a change... This is why I think it best to keep up with the news in some form.
(Don't miss today's Finger Puppet Show!)
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! is the fourth game in the Mario Kart series and it might just be the most innovative of the lot! However, while Double Dash!! may bring a lot of new features and changes to the series, does that equate to a high level of quality?
First, let's look at the character selection. All the characters from the previous games return apart from Donkey Kong Jr. and right from the start you also have Diddy Kong, Bowser Jr., Birdo, Waluigi, Baby Mario, Baby Luigi, Daisy and Paratroopa. Also, for the first time, there are unlockable characters! Getting new characters gives a good motivation for getting all the cups. Strangely though, one of the unlockable characters is Toad; I tell you that now so that you'll avoid disappointment when you get him. The others are good though!
I always love the selection of characters in Mario Kart games, but this time it actually has a strategic impact on the races; characters have their own unique items (which they can obtain through item boxes) and you also get two characters per kart! It's fun choosing two different characters and it means you can mix and match people based on the items you want. Plus, on top of all that, you now have a selection of different karts which you can ride, and there are more to unlock too. This adds some welcome variation to the formula.
For the first time, all of the characters who appear have full 3D models and all of the levels are full 3D as well. This is a first for the series and in terms of graphics, the Gamecube helps the series to take a strong step forward. Seeing the characters reacting to what's happening in the race is actually quite entertaining.
This may all sound well and good, and for 50cc and 100cc it is, but if you play at 150cc this game is awful. Why? Because the CPU cheating becomes so grating; you'll be constantly barraged with shells (and blue shells blow you up now!) and whether or not you win a race seems entirely down to luck. I know the first game had this too, but at least there the items weren't so bad and you didn't need to win the high up cups to unlock everything. What makes this even worse is the fact that there is an added All-Cup Tour where you have to play every single one of the game's race tracks; with such a high level of luck involved, I really hated this. I found it stressful. More stressful than my real life driving exam. To make matters even worse, at 150cc the controls feel really, really bad and I never really felt in control. It makes me anxious when Double Dash!! tracks return in later games because I am reminded of the chaos. I'm not even joking.
So on the whole, while Double Dash!! added some good things to the series, has the same top of the range multiplayer and at it's core has a lot in common with the games I like, the 150cc cups left me with such a hugely negative impression that it soured my whole perception of the game. I'm really not sure that any other game has ever had such a bad effect on me.
My recent blog post about my strange encounter with a random homeless woman has been one of my most popular blog posts; it's certainly the one whose Bitly link has the most clicks. Other than this, my most popular piece of writing is my Fifty Shades of Grey fan fiction which continues to receive positive reviews even two years after I published it online. This surprises me: while I certainly don't think negatively of either of these pieces of writing, they also are not pieces which I'm especially proud of. Yes, I'm pleased with them and value them as my creations, but I don't consider them to be amongst my best works.
I think it's quite interesting to consider that, once something is available for the public, its creator then has no control of how people will respond to it. I suppose the tools which I use to determine what is the most popular are not definitive: I can't be wholly sure about what is read and enjoyed the most. I have had pieces in magazines, so they may have been read by even more people. Furthermore, many of the pieces I am most proud of do nothing but sit in my Dropbox account; might they be the most popular if I made them available? Who knows! I think it's that loss of control that a lot of writers are scared of; once it's out in the world you have no idea what might happen. But I don't think that's bad, I think that's interesting and I think more writers should try hard to get their work out there.
Super Punch-Out!! is the second console game in the Punch-Out!! series (or third, depending on your perspective) and I actually think it's a significant step up from the first game.
Once again you play as Little Mac as he tries to fight his way up the W.B.V.A. Championships. The gameplay is essentially identical to the first game; you stand in one spot and can punch upward or downward at your foes, while also being able to duck and dodge left and right. You are also able to charge up attacks, which you should incorporate into your fighting strategies.
What I like about this one, though, is the fact that the enhanced capabilities of the SNES compared to the NES, mean that the characters are really brought to life this time. There are short voice samples for everyone and the improved graphics really emphasise their quirky personalities. What's more is that the game is a little less overt with its racial stereotypes; sure, they're still there, but they're just a bit less uncomfortable than they were in the last game. I was sad that King Hippo (my favourite fighter in the first game) did not return, but at the same time I was very fond of the new fighter Bear Hugger. There is a nice mixture of new and returning characters.
A small thing I didn't like is that Little Mac has undergone a redesign and his coach Doc Louis does not appear. For me, the change in Mac's design made it a little harder to connect to the first title. In most respects though, this is just an all-round improved version of the first game; it's the exact same formula, but they've managed to keep it fresh. Much like the first game it does get very hard towards the end though, but it is generally a little easier.
I suppose I should be clear right away: this blog is not about my love for homeless people. If you want something like that, read this old blog post instead. Today's blog post is actually about one homeless woman's "love" for me and actually covers a rather negative experience that happened to me last night.
I was walking along in Bath and just enjoying the atmosphere of a city during the night time. I really love walking around cities at night. Something about the bright city lights contrasting against the darkness. I checked the time: 8:20 p.m. Anyway, I came around a corner and then I found a homeless woman standing in the middle of the path.
"'scuse me, mate," she said, "could you possibly give me a cigarette?"
"I'm afraid I don't have one. Sorry," I said and, of course, I didn't have one. I don't and have never smoked.
"Please, mate," she said, sounding quite sad.
"I honestly don't have one," I said, apologetically.
"What do you have?" she asked.
"Well, I'd be happy to give you a pound," I said, smiling and feeling pleased that she'd not be disappointed.
"Oh, thank you, mate," she said. "I really appreciate it."
She opened her arms to give me a hug, and while I am not the most physical person I considered that I'd had much more unappealing hugs in the past and this would only last for couple of seconds. So I gave her hug for a second and then tried to release. Except she didn't let go of me.
"Well, I-" I said, hoping to say "Well, I should probably be going now" but she cut me off.
"I really appreciate this, mate," she said and then I realised she was making a kissy mouth.
She kissed me on the cheek.
"Well, you are a very affectionate person," I said, unsure of how to respond to that.
By this point, I should clarify; I wasn't hugging her back at all. Just standing there, trapped in her arms and trying to pull back.
This is when she started a frenzy of kisses that went on for some time. She would occasionally stop to say something incoherent and I didn't understand a lot of the things she said. I tried many times to say I had to go, but she always cut me off, so I had to endure it. My face was wet with her saliva quite quickly. It later took a while to get the taste off my lips.
Now, you might wonder "Why didn't you push her away?" and I have two very good reasons. Firstly, I am an absolute pacifist and don't ever like to use force on anyone, even if they are using force on me. Secondly, the pair of us had attracted the attention of a group of drunken lads on the other side of the road, who were shouting lots of things at me. Some of them were jokey in a derogatory kind of way ("Someone's desperate!") but others were more aggressive ("Oi, mate, leave her alone!") and it soon became clear to me that they thought I was assaulting/taking advantage of her. I think they were probably keeping an eye on me to make sure I didn't do anything too drastic, because they stayed and watched the whole time. Rather ironic, really! So even if I was comfortable with using force, had I done so, it likely would have made them think I had gone too far and perhaps the whole lot of them would have used force on me!
This isn't actually the first time I've found myself trapped in a stranger's embrace. Regular readers will remember I said that last time this happened to me I started shaking around like I was having a seizure, which made the woman let go in confusion, giving me time to run away. But this time, as I was dealing with someone who was very drunk and I didn't think it was work. I couldn't squirt her with my Trusty Water Bottle either, which is often a good defence, because her grip around me was so tight and I couldn't reach it. So I was stuck; held in place to endure her relentless kisses.
Towards the end of it, she put her hand behind my head and started pushing it towards her own; it was clear that she was trying to make me kiss her. When it became clear that I wasn't going to do that, she instead turned my head so that she could whisper something in my ear.
"I love you."
"Well, that was very kind of you to say," I said, "but I really-"
She then started kissing my ear and then moved back over to the rest of my face. I squirmed and I tried to object, but it was all in vain. Eventually, it did come to a stop and she told me that she lived in a nearby park. She wanted me to come and visit her there the next day. As I am sure you can imagine, I'm not particularly keen to do that.
"Well, I'll certainly be keeping my eyes peeled for you in future," I said, rather passive aggressively
She ended with one tight hug and a kiss on my chest. "Never forget that I love you."
Finally, I was free to escape! I hurried on my way, hoping she'd not want to continue our interactions. How long had I been there? It felt like very long time. I thought I had better check the time, to make sure I didn't miss my bus: 8:30 p.m. So I'd spent a whole ten minutes being kissed by a drunken homeless woman. At least it's over now.
(Don't miss today's Finger Puppet Show!)
It's not long until Halloween now and while I don't usually really do anything for the day, I tend to find that it is very good for inspiring writing. I think it's the fact that all media adopts a rather spooky theme and the fact it's always at just about the exact same time as the clocks go forward, meaning it's also going to get darker earlier. Halloween gives us what we want at exactly the time that we want it. I enjoy the spooky feeling and find that I appreciate scary stories and things in the horror genre even more; so much so, in fact, that I am motivated to write. I want to make people feel that same enjoyable spooky feeling when they read my work. I suppose it's that general feeling which is always what inspires people to write. But the point is that I find Halloween a good time for writing motivation. I hope you'll experience the same thing.
Today, I’ve been kindly invited to write my first guest blog post for the Trusty Water Blog. Adam and I are very close friends, having met at university. I feel very privileged to write for Adam. If you have enjoyed Adam’s blog, I would recommend that you consider writing a guest blog post just as I am doing today, it’s a great experience and a pleasure working with someone so friendly.
So it’s come to this. A fresh new page on a word processor begging for pixels, and my title decrees a topic that oozes a bland mac and cheese served on cardboard. Sorry Adam. But here’s a question for you, the readers – What exactly do guest posts do for the writer? Why write guest posts?
Guest posts benefit both the blogger and the writer. For the blogger – It means that their blog can contain an even greater variety of content. This in turn creates more views for the blogger. If you’re running a commercial enterprise you may consider paying freelancers or businesses to produce appealing articles for content marketing. By drawing in readers to your website, they are more likely to browse through other articles, interact with your social media accounts and purchase products.
Guest writers also reduce some of the pressure for the blogger to maintain regular updates for their blog. Illnesses, tiredness or even idea exhaustion can happen to anyone, so scheduling a guest blog post can be an excellent way to be prepared for bad scenarios.
For the writer themselves, there is an incredible amount of benefit in writing guest posts such as this. By writing articles you can promote your name and your business in a subtle manner that doesn’t put readers off. By stylising the way you write and expressing facts or opinions, you are promoting yourself as an expert, who has been personally recommended by the blogger. Do remember that some employers and clients will research your name and your company – So producing quality guest posts for the right people will develop a positive image for you.
If you are a business or a writer trying to break through the world of online journalism, I’d also recommend spreading your name across bloggers and companies who pay for the content. If someone is making a financial gain from your article – be sure to get your share! Many companies (including The Sun) expect freelance writers to hand over their precious work and time for free for the ‘experience’, but that is simply not how writers can make a living. For more information about Freelance rates, you take a look at the London Freelance website. http://www.londonfreelance.org/rates/
So that’s it for me, I hope you found this blog post interesting. If you’d like to know a little more about me please feel free to take a look at my website, www.staceyrezvan.co.uk
(Adam again: don't miss today's Finger Puppet Show!)
Battletoads is often remembered as one of the most difficult NES game, which earned it quite a cult following. Since it was so popular, it was followed up with a Game Boy game as well, but while it may have the same title, this Battletoads game is completely different from the original.
You play only as the Battletoad Zitz as the other two have been kidnapped by the Dark Queen; he is on a quest to rescue his friends and to take down the Dark Queen's forces as he does so.
What is especially appealing is that each level of this game is very distinct; the first has you moving along through a semi-3D area and fighting all the enemies you come across; the second area has you flying through the sky and avoiding obstacles and a later area has you riding through a swamp on a jet ski. This variety is something I appreciated a lot.
However, there are only really eight levels, which might make the game seem very short. The thing is, it's designed to be very hard and so you are encouraged to try many times until you are able to get all the way to the end. What I like is that, while it can be very tricky, the difficulty always seems fair; it feels like there's a pattern to learn for each level and I felt a great sense of satisfaction when I finally managed to get to the end. Although, having said that, a couple of the later levels didn't feel fair at all and, when I won, I certainly felt it had been down to luck rather than skill.
Taking a step back from the game and looking at it in the context of what came later, I liked how much of it felt like a prototype to Rare's work with the Donkey Kong series. It felt especially similar to the Donkey Kong Land series at times (both having a David Wise soundtrack and having that similar monochrome aesthetic) which was something I enjoyed; I even noticed that there's a strange tornado enemy that appears in this game and also in the first Donkey Kong Land (or at least a near identical one, I'm not 100% sure). That's the kind of thing I get quite excited about.
So if you want a tough but charming game, with excellent levels and some silly, over the top fighting, then give this Battletoads a try. It's hard, but fair and, most importantly, enjoyable.
There days, I don't have any friends. Well, I suppose that's not strictly true; I still have one or two friends, but they're all quite busy so I usually go weeks between socialising. As somebody who is very social, you can see why I am very keen to meet new people and make new friends. One website that I wanted to try was called MeetMe.
I thought MeetMe seemed pretty good, because it was just about the only website made for meeting new people which wasn't based around dating and the creation of romantic relationships. Having said that, once I was on there it seemed that the majority of people were looking for potential romantic partners anyway, which was a shame. Why not just use Tinder or something which was designed specifically to be a dating site? Nonetheless, there were quite a lot of people that I did get a chance to talk to.
So did I find it useful? Sadly, not at all. There were so, so many people on there who were hugely sexist, racist or who were just otherwise ignorant of others and a large number of people who were aggressively sexual. A lot of people lied and a lot of people were rude. It was an all too common sight to find somebody writing a fairly regular status (in many ways the service works like Facebook) only to have really harsh responses. Bullying was far too common. There were a few people who I ended up chatting to on Skype; they always tended to put a lot of pressure on me to go on camera and talk to them physically (or other, much worse things!) when it wasn't something I was able to do/wanted to do. A lot of them shared some very intense personal information with me, and I tried hard to offer good advice for their problems, but then they'd unexpectedly disappear. Finally, a large number of people just didn't reply.
Generally, I found the MeetMe community to reflect some of the ugliest aspects of humanity. If you are looking to make new friends, I would not use this; it will just be a waste of time. I don't want to generalise the whole group, but I could understand why a lot of the people on there didn't have friends. Funnily enough, I've met lots of new people in 'real life' without this website while I was on it; sadly, due to various circumstances, they've all ended up being people I only got to see once or twice and the issue of having no friends is still a problem... but at least I don't use MeetMe anymore!
As it has been a subject in the news lately, I've been thinking about the subject of nuclear annihilation and, more specifically, the morality of it. Of course, I think that firing a nuclear weapon pre-emptively is completely unjustifiable, but what about in circumstances where one has already been launched and is headed in your direction? Is it then right to send one back in retaliation? Well, no, I really don't think that it is. The majority of people killed in a nuclear attack will be innocent civilians. To be honest, if you knew you were going to be incinerated by a nuclear bomb, why would it make you feel any better to know that another country full of innocent people was also going to meet that same fate? If anything, it will only make you feel worse. What would it do, other than to make a tragedy even bigger? That's why the whole idea of nuclear weapons is totaly absurd to me.
(Don't miss today's Finger Puppet Show!)
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