- Premium reviews
- Express reviews
- Reviews rated
- Ratings received
Recently my partner and i went to London for his birthday to see the amazing play Wicked at it's home of the Apollo Victoria theatre. Having both read the book and owned the soundtrack for quite a few years this was definitely a major treat for both of us. Even though the musical wasn't as much like the book as i'd have liked, and the songs were a lot more British than the soundtrack would imply, it was still an absolutely mind blowing experience that i would highly recommend to anyone.
What with it being a subversion of the classic, The Wizard of Oz, anyone who's read my previous reviews will know that this kind of thing would most definitely appeal to me. Especially the musical is a subversion of the subversion, as most musicals are.
Our particular showing started at 7.30pm but we did want to do the touristy stuff as well, so we got off at Euston, took the underground to Victoria station to go book into our hotel, only to find that the Apollo Victoria was right on Victoria station's doorstep. Our hotel was on Hugh Road, named Holly house Hotel. Which was also literally round the corner from the Apollo Victoria. Unfortunately the position and price (£65 for a double room for 1 night) of our hotel was the only real good thing about it, but as we were only staying for the one night it was sufficient enough for our needs.
After booking into the hotel we hopped on the bus and did our touristy bit. One thing i will recommend about London is that if you really want to see London don't bother with the tourist busses. Ordinary busses will do and they make you look like you're a proper Londoner rather than a tourist. Another recommendation is to get a day/ week travel card dependant on how long your stay is, travel cards will allow you to use the underground and busses between certain zones of London as many times as you like and don't half make life easier. For a travel card in zones 1-6 (pretty much the entirety of central London plus some) is £7.90 (at last check), though an interesting discovery is that railcard discounts count for these particular travel cards, thus, what with owning a 16-25 railcard, my travel card only cost £5.90.
So after a busy day wandering around Hyde Park, Trafalgar Square, Liecester Square, Chinatown and Covent Garden, we went back to the hotel with cheeky bottle of vino and got ready for the show. We arrived at the theatre for about 6.45pm where we sorted out our tickets (which were bought online and cost £90 for two of us). Walking in to the theatre your immediately put in the 'Wicked' mood by being engulfed in green. Green carpets, green lights, green writing on the signs, practically anything that could be green was.
We went up to wait in the bar as they disn't open the doors to the theatre until 7pm. I wouldn't recommend buying a drink there if you're low on funds however, they do these special themed cocktails that are £8 a piece, whixh i suppose is marginally understandable, it being themed and everything, but 175ml of cheap rose wine at a fiver is rather extortionate in my eyes, along with £3 for a 45g tub of Pringles. Needless to say, my partner and i waited until after we had left the theatre to get a drink.
When we were let into the actual theatre, we were in seats P13 and P14, which is the front row of the third tier back from the stage (i can't remember the proper name for it). At first we thought this was brill, but soon found people walking in front of us or even people's heads in the back row of the tier in front blocked outviee of the stage in places. But, it wasn't as bad as say sitting in the rows behind us where you had to have spy glasses to see what was going on. For the price i'd say we got a pretty good deal.
When we had found our seats, we got a proper look at the stage and had our breath taken away. A proper model of the Clock of the Time Dragon hung above the stage and looked absolutely magnificent, and the screen/ curtain at the start was a map of Oz taken from the book with a green beam pounted at the centre to represent the Emerald City. If we weren't in the Wicked mood already we certainly were now.
Of course, i knew the musical was going to be didferent from the book due to the contrast between the soundtrack and the book. However, I wasn't prepared for how much they had changed it, nor how well the subversion would be peesented. We were definitely in the best spot for sound quality, we could hear every voice very clearly and each song i found myself singing along to and being happy i could finally put images in my head to go along with the songs i'd been listening to for years. (much to the annoyance of the chinese couple sitting next to us... I don't think i'll sing along to musicals in the future).
Wicked the musical is based on the story 'Wicked' by Gregory Maguire, which in turn is based on the classic, The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum. It follows the story of Elphaba (AKA the Wicked Witch of the West) how she came to be green, her upbringing and family issues. It also follows the story of Galinda (later Glinda, also known as The Good Witch of the North) and how she came to be the good witch of the North.
Contrary to the book, which really makes you feel sympathy towards Elphaba throughout and doesn't really focus as much on Glinda, the musical focusses more so on the friendship of Glinda and Elphaba and twists a few of the other elements of the book, eg, the Fiyero complex, the Boq and Nessa issue etc etc. The result is definitely a story that's more suitable for family viewing and gives a heartwarming feel to it's audience at the end. For the purposes of the musical this works, though for those who have already read the book you can't help but criticise the changes they've made and compare and contrast the various changes to what would have worked better for the play and what would have worked better for the musical.
However, as a musical, on the whole it was fantastic. I especially liked the fact that there wasn't too much going on onstage so the you could gather what was going on from even as far back as we were, but there was always enough going on the keep you entertained. There was also enough context between the songs that definitely allowed depth to the story for both adults and children. Beautifully put together, the musical flowed nicely and was amazing throughout. Defying Gravity, Loathing and No Good Deed always being my favourites from the soundtrack were performed amazingly and really left a mark in my memory.
It was definitely an experience to remember and i would highly recommend it to anyone.
I generally have long, quite greasy hair (i say generally because quite often the hair dresser doesn't know the difference between an inch and cutting half my hair off) that conditioners in particular like to stick to, which tends to be quite a pain when washing it because quite often the hot water runs out before i manage to get all the conditioner out. This is probably why my hair tends to get greasy a day after washing it.
Alberto Balsalm apple conditioner is intended fir those with greasy hair but is also useful for all hair types. It can usually be found in most super markets on offer (quite often BOGOF or 3 for a fiver etc) and Aldi does it's own version of it (it's made by the sane company just bit watered down and with a different name) for £1.19 a 400ml bottle (at last check).
Normally in the Hoggle household we pick up products while they are on offer or when they're on the cheap, so it's a bit of a lucky dip on what products we get in the shower, but i have to say for my particular hair type this particular product has to be one of the best i've used.
The conditioner itself is a pale green rather thin liquid that easily goes through the hair and almost immediately untangles any small knots in the hair. I often apply a generous dollop, spread it between my palm then comb it through my hair with my fingers starting from the back of my head. The apple scent is subtle yet distinctive and stays on the hair for quite a few hours after washing- dependant on whether you go outside or not. I leave it in while i continue with my daily wash and rinse it out after the rest of me is clean. Due to it's thinness it washes out rather quickly, which is brilliant for me because i'm no longer using all the hot water whenever i wash my hair.
I have also found that this conditioner is also particularly coloured hair friendly. Usually, no matter what dye i use the various other conditioners that aren't particularly for coloured hair have made my hair fade almost twice as quickly as a colour protecting conditioner would. I have had my hair newly dyed for the past three weeks along with using this conditioner and my hair is only just beginning to show signs of fading in patches where the dye may have been least applied.
The conditioner allows for easy brushing experience both when the hair damp or dry after use, which is another good thing for my hair which only meeds to be looked at before it gets tangled and leaves my hair feeling clean and not greasy for at least two days after washing, which is another bonus because it means i don't have to wash my hair every day and go through as much shampoo and conditioner as i have been.
All in all this is a brilliant conditioner that is value for your money and definitely suited for those with long greasy hair.
Shrek two, along with it's other sequels, is probably one of the few series of films where the sequels are just as good as the original in my opinion.
If you have read any of my previous reviews (eg, 'Fairytale subversion at it's best,' 'Twas brillig etc' and 'That's my Dad!') you'll know that i'm mad about fairy tale subversions, and that 'Shrek' is used as a term of endearment in the Hoggle household.
So following my love of fairy tale subversion i have to say this is one if the more humorous fairy tale subversions i've seen of the Fairy God Mother (Jennifer Saunders) and Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) along with the amazingly cast Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) who also has his own film and there's rumour of another coming out in the next year or so. Along with an interesting twist on the Frog Prince.
We also gain more depth into the brief fairytale subversions we encountered in the first film- in particular The Gingerbread Man and the Muffin man prove rather useful toward the end of the film, there's a rather funny underwear scene when it comes to Pinnochio, the Three Little Pigs feature- i still can't get over the fact that they have German accents, it's very well done. We also see glimpses of The Little Mermaid, Cinderella and the Magic Mirror from Snow White still makes an appearance and plays a rather good role as a television set.
So, after returning from their honeymoon Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) return to find Donkey (Eddie Murphy) has been house-sitting for them, but before Shrek can get annoyed with Donkey (Which is quite a feat) they find a royal messenger at their door with a letter from Fiona's parents (Julie Andrews and John Cleese) asking for her to come visit now she's been rescued from her tower. The film then evolves into a hilarious take on how not to deal with meeting the other half's parents.
Meanwhile, Prince Charming has been battling blistering deserts and cold places to climb to the highest room in the tallest tower to rescue the princes, only to find a 'gender confused' wolf where Fiona should be. Needless to say he's not best pleased. Nor is the Fairy Godmother who specifically set it up so Fiona's 'happily ever after' was to be found with Charming.
While all this is going on, Shrek begins to feel he's not good enough for Fiona after gaining an insight into her life before he met her. So he sets out to find a way to make Fiona happy and happens to find it in the Fairy Godmother's factory (yes, she has a factory). And so the story continues.
Along with this, the sound track to Shrek 2 is just as good as the first film's sound track, including 'Accidentally in love' performed by Counting Crows, 'Funky Town' performed by Lipps Inc and David Bowie's 'Changes.' Not to mention other well known artists like Tom Waits and Nick Cave (i have a friend who's obsessed with these two- when i told her they had songs in this film she practically stole my copy of this film off me.) but the highlight of the soundtrack for me has to be hearing Jennifer Saunders sing 'Holding out for a Hero.'
All in all this is an absolutely brilliant series of films that has to be watched.
Once again, i don't particularly use blu tac for it's recommended means. It's more fun to see how creative you can be with simple office supplies particularly when you had to accompany your mum to her office when you were younger. Or if you're bored in your own office. (My other job is working as a computational linguist and work has been a lil slow lately so i've been filling my time with various uses for blu tac.
As you may know, Blu tac is a putty-like adhesive that sticks to pretty much anything (but is really hard to get out of a carpet let me tell you that much.) and allows for a cheap way to stick up posters etc without too much risk of ruining the walls- although i wouldn't quite trust that- blu tac doesn't always agree with certain paint types and if left on too long can leave oil- like patches in the paint work that can't be painted over easily. It's still better than Sellotape which can pull off paint/ wall paper or pins which cause holes in the wall- and quite often find their way into your foot.
It comes in blue card board thin box where the blue tac itself is wrapped in cellophane and takes a flat, decent sized rectangular shape for the money you pay. Prices vary from 70p-£1.50 across stationary shops (at last check) and is often sold with office equipment.
I tend to use blu tac in a similar sort of way to play dough. My favourite model happens to be a small snail that i stick on various people's computers while they're not looking. I also have a little bunny by my desk and i have been attempting to make a lil bird of late. Because of it's flexibility and the ability to apply detail easily to your shape of you blu tac it's quite a fun pass time. It can also prove to be rather therapeutic- a colleague of mine keeps a ball of blu tac by his desk that acts as a stress ball that can be pulled apart and put back together. Blu tac balls can also bounce- though be careful, there's a knack to doing it without it sticking to the floor that i haven't quite mastered.
Blu tac also doesn't tend to dry out too easily dependant on the conditions you put it under- if you stick it to a place that is prone to extreme temperatures it will of course dry out quicker than in the average place for blu tac. I've known cases where the blue tac has lasted up to five years in somebody's bedroom, but others where it's dried out within six months due to being on a same wall as a radiator during Winter.
Dried up or even fresh blue tac is often easy to dispose of/ move around or reuse as quite often it just peels off the surface it's stuck on. However on some occasions you can get little stubborn bits that refuse to come off. This is quite simply remedied by getting a fresh ball of blue tac and rolling it gently over the stubborn bits and that should get it of. If not a gentle scrub with warm soapy water will.
All in all a brilliant invention with many uses.
I don't know about anyone else, but my Primary school (i know, i'm surprised i can remember back that far too) decreed that a Berol handwriting pen was to be brought to all of our handwriting lessons as biros weren't good enough to teach us how to write neatly.
I can see why- i've never had particularly neat handwriting, but due to the difference in resistance biros and Berol handwriting pens have on the page, it's easier to scrawl really quickly with a biro this produces barely legible writing, whereas a Berol handwriting pen forces you to take your time with your writing, thus allows you to produce particularly neat (or at least legible) handwriting.
As you may already know, quite often Berol handwriting pens come in packs of two for 99p (at last check) thus prove to be quite a bit more expensive than your average biros. They are a red plastic pen with a rather thick white and black nib- good for particularly young children who are a tad heavy handed.
These pens were particularly good at allowing you to learn letter shapes and the right way round of letter- though i found them horrible when i was trying to learn joined up handwriting- namely because the ink would always smudge every time i tried and i'd quite often come hope with ink stains everywhere. I've also always been a horrendous pen chewer, and as the lid is rather hard plastic i took to chewing the black top of the pen itself which quite often led to a black face. The ink of a Berol pen doesn't taste nice, i'll tell you that much.
Although these pens did essentially help teach me how to write, as i've grown older i've only really found one good use for them since. They create problem when writing note for lectures and such like due to having to take your time with the pen, and as most assignments these days have to be typed up or sent electronically there isn't much use for them in later academic works. Exams and such like i often find that it's better to get everything you can down rather than focus on the examiner's ability to be able to read my work- but that's just me and might be why i lost a few marks in my exams. It's just in things like lectures and exams you need to be able to jot things down quickly without the risk of getting covered in ink and smudging everything. I know there probably is a way to do this and have neat handwriting, but i never learned that particular knack and thus stick to my spider scrawl with biros.
The one thing i still use Berol handwriting pens for is outlining my art work. Because if thick nib that can be easily wiped if it gets a bit clogged these pens provide a distinctive yet not to thick definers that you just can't seem to get with paint or other pens i've used.
All in all these were my handwriting pals when i was younger, but now are my art pals.
As a kid you always find better uses for things than what they are intended for- in fact, i still sometimes use paper plates for purposes other than holding my food for me.
So, as you all may already know, Tesco value paper plates come in packs of 60 for roughly £1.20 (at last check) and are a cheap disposable way to serve food at parties or BBQ's that save on washing up.
But did you know that paper plates are an arts and crafts dream particularly in schools or even just as a hobby. I've used paper plates to make puppets, mosaics, learn about particularly ancient Greek art, make costumes, make snow flakes, and create some modern art along with using them to draw circles. Because they are round, provide their own borders and generally are more interesting than your average piece of paper, with the right creative mind you can pretty much use paper plates for any creative means.
For example, to make a puppet you simply paint or use various objects (eg wool for hair and pasta shells for the face) to make a character, stick the plate onto a wooden spoon or stick, and you have your very own puppet.
Mosaics quite often require tissue paper bit can also be painted on if you have a good hand, along with portraits and when learning about Greek art (for they used to paint stories and patterns onto their plates, cups, jars or general crockery) the border allows for the patterns they used to be painted on albeit with a bit of texture but in a proportionate manner to the way the Greeks did.
You can make quite good chain mail and hats using paper plates- simply paint the plates silver and attach them together with string in a sort of t-shirt shape, or fold then stick the plates together in your preferred hat shape. Attaching the plates together in particularly strings of three allow for quite a modern take on various portraits or masterpieces to be put on show. Of course things like costumes and such like will never last very long but it works for things like children's plays and such like.
To make rather pretty snowflakes you simply fold the plate into 8 triangles and cut away- though you may need large scissors as the safety ones don't quite cut it (pardon the pun) and i've broken quite a few pairs of safety scissors trying to make snowflakes in this way, but the end result os nearly always good.
All in all paper plates are brilliant for arts and crafts ad well as being a cheap way to serve food.
As a cleaner for quite a variety of different clients, sometimes using the same all-round cleaning products like the Aldi ones (see my Pick and Mix review) aren't the best way to adhere to a client's needs- although Aldi's Power Force cleaning products are my preferred choice, some of my clients suffer from various ailments that don't always allow me to use chemical cleaning products. Even without this knowledge though, Method products are still a very close second in my preferred cleaning products list. The only reason i still prefer Power Force is because of the differences in price. For example, The Method Bathroom and shower cleaner can cost £4.99, whereas the Power Force Bathroom cleaner only costs 99p.
So what is Method? Method are a cleaning company that focus primarily on being green and good for the environment. As a result they try to make sure their products are free of harsh chemicals and even the packaging is completely recyclable, but still their products produce good results. As a result of this my clients with say severe asthma or very sensitive skin can enjoy quality cleaning without setting off their ailments. Each product that i use has a bit about the company and what they're about, but if you'd like to learn more about the company and their products before you buy the product the website is: www.methodhome.com or you can give them a ring on 020 7788 7904. Each product is certified cruelty free, and my favourite quote on the product is "designed and sourced responsibly from beginning to end to beginning again. That's good karma."
Method provide a variety of cleaning products that cover pretty much the entirety of your home cleaning needs. Most often i use the glass cleaner, shower and bathroom cleaners, kitchen cleaners, wood polish and the floor cleaner. Some of the things i have noticed about these products are that the bathroom/shower/glass cleaners all tend to smell of mint, the kitchen of citrus/oranges, and the wooden products of almonds- but all subtly so. Along with this the products tend to work better if you leave them for a bit before wiping them off, unlike the Power Force ones where you can pretty much wipe as you go. Quite often i have a tight schedule so you'd be surprised as to how much of a difference this makes when cleaning, but if you have the extra time to spare it's well worth it to gain an eco-friendly but stunning clean. All the products are packaged in very simple yet distinctive and stylish packaging, most often with trigger sprays or sports cap tops. Each product performs exceedingly well on their specific areas, and if you know your stuff, you can use the same product on other areas of the house to save you a bit of money.
Glass Cleaner: Has a clear plastic packaging complete with spray nozzle that allows you to clearly see the blue formula, though when sprayed the product appears on the glass as clear. Works well on windows, conservatory doors, shower units and on any glass furniture you may have. Also works exceedingly well on mirrors. This product has a fresh minty smell that doesn't really hit until you are wiping the product down. Most often i spray a generous amount over the glass surface, leave it for 3-5 minutes, then use a damp jay cloth to first wipe off the product, then i buffer the glass up with either a dry jay cloth or some kitchen towels. The result is shiny, clean glass that leaves no marks or streaks, and no harsh smells that you can get with some other glass cleaning products. (Pro tip- if you are short on cash, using old newspaper pages to wipe off this product also produces excellent results if you don't mind putting in a little extra elbow work.)
Shower and bathroom cleaner: Has pale blue opaque plastic packaging with a spray nozzle. When sprays the formula appears transparent. Works well on any ceramic surface, including sinks, toilet cisterns, bath tubs, shower units, wall and floor tiles (if you're willing to get on your hands and knees.) Like the glass cleaner has a very subtle minty smell that reminds one almost of peppermint tea or watered down chewing gum as i like to refer to it. Again, i spray a generous amount over the surface, leave for three to five minutes, wipe the product down first with a damp cloth, then often i buffer it all up with a small hand towel. If you have a rather large bathroom and want to really deep clean your tiles i would suggest spraying this product over 8-10 tiles at a time, leave them for five minutes before wiping them down then spraying the next 8-10. The result is fantastic and well worth taking your time over- though unfortunately doesn't work very well on grouting issues- for those i'd recommend either Dettol mould and mildew remover or Grot buster.
Kitchen Cleaner: Comes in clear plastic packaging that allows you to see the translucent orange formula it holds. Smells subtly of oranges and really wakes you up. Works well on all kitchen surfaces and in the oven, fridge and microwaves. This is the only product i've noticed actually leaves a subtle scent behind, but also works exceedingly well on things like grease and old food stains leaving clean, almost gleaming surfaces. Also works well on tough bathroom stains, but i wouldn't use this on tough glass stains as it can leave the glass quite streaky.
Wood Polish: Comes in an opaque brown bottle but interestingly enough also has a spray nozzle- the only polish i've ever used to do so. Works exceedingly well on any wooden surface leaving behind a subtle scent of almonds. Unlike most polishes i've used though is rubbish at polishing things like mirrors- i tried it on one small hanging mirror and it took me 15 minutes to get it back off again. This is also probably the only Method product i don't leave for a bit before wiping off for it gives the same excellent results on wooden surfaces either way.
Floor(all purpose) cleaner: Comes in a clear plastic bottle with a translucent yellow formula that also smells rather subtly of citrus. Also different from the other Method products as it has a sports cap nozzle. This product can be used neat because of this sports cap nozzle if you have only a small area to clean, (simply squeeze the product lightly over the area and mop it up with a slightly damp mop) or can be diluted in boiling water for larger areas. Works well on any floor, leaving non slippy and definitely clean floors- works particularly well on mud marks, shoe skid marks and spilled liquid stains.
All in all this is a product well worth having for it provides excellent results, is eco-friendly and is brilliant for those who suffer with particular ailments if you are willing to pay the rather extortionate price and time for it.
As much as i love fairy tale subversion i do like a well presented bible story. I'm not religious or anything, but done right you can create some fantastic heart warming messages/lesson in your writing if you use bible stories as a base- at least that's what i've found in my own writing exercises.
This particular film struck me as being a beautifully written family film that can be enjoyed by all kinds of audiences. Everything from the interpretation of the original story to the characters and settings fits together in such a way that there is something to be enjoyed about this film by everyone. And if that doesn't peak your interest the famous actors and absolutely beautiful soundtrack, along with the intriguing animation sequences, might.
This film follows the story of Moses, and how he changed from being a prince of Egypt to leading the Hebrews to a new land. It's a story that is mostly told to Christian and Jewish children, but this particular rendition allows for adult audiences to enjoy the story too, particularly with the little twists and subversions of the story here and there.
The scene starts with a load of slaves working on a monument to the Pharaoh. They sing a song asking for deliverance from their awful lives and pretty much set the scene with regards to the different treatment between the Hebrews and the Egyptians at the time. It also gives us a little insight into the history of the great Egyptian landmarks and how they were made on the blood and sweat of slaves.
So, the Pharaoh (voiced by Patrick Stewart) has heard of a prophecy that a man being born around now will cause his demise, so orders that all newborn sons are to be killed. So his army go out and literally tear the children from distraught mothers arms. While all this hubbub is going on, a mother carrying a basket with her two children in tow escape to the Nile where a beautiful lullaby is sung- this lullaby always sticks in my head as it's so sweet:
"Hush now, my baby,
Be still now, don't cry.
Sleep as you're rocked by the stream.
Sleep and remember
My last lullaby
So i'll be with you in your dreams."
I'm not sure who sings this but it's such a simple yet lovely verse that brings a tear to the eye. This is followed by a gripping scene as the basket is thrashed around in the Nile while his sister follows along the bank. Young Miriam (voiced by Eden Riegel) completes the lullaby with a really sweet prayer that the audience can't help going 'awww' to as the basket and it's contents is accepted by the Queen (voiced by Helen Mirrel) when it washes up on the palace steps. There's this beautiful little bit where as the Queen picks up baby Moses (who was in the basket) and we meet young Rameses, where Rameses tugs on his mother's dress and wants to be picked up as well as Moses, but doesn't. Pretty much sums up every older sibling's reaction to the younger sibling when they first meet, along with giving us an insight into the sibling rivalry that's to come.
So we fast forward a good 15-18 years, and see a brilliantly developed scene of a chariot race between Moses (voiced by Val Kilmer) and Rameses (voiced by Ralph Fiennes.) This scene mostly demonstrates how dangerous it is to ride chariots on the rickety wooden scaffolding the Egyptians developed when building their monuments. It is animated in such a way that could almost represent the event happening in real life- the amount of detail put in the destruction of the scaffolding and the monument's nose is uncanny and well worth looking into if you're interested in animation. I don't know a lot about animation myself, but when i showed this film to a friend of mine who's just got his degree in animation he was blown away.
Of course the boy's parents aren't best pleased with this destruction. But much to Rameses' frustration he gets all the blame and the harsher telling off while Moses gets off pretty much scott free. This scene, along with the one following is interesting for you learn rather important plot points that allow you to see certain reactions later on. For example, it is mainly Moses who ropes Rameses into all of these mischievous actions, but is always there to make Rameses feel better later on.
We also meet Moses' real brother and sister- Aaron and Miriam (voiced by Jeff Goldblum and Sandra Bullock) who are slaves for the palace- though seemingly a bit better off than the slaves we see at the beginning of the film as these two are fully clothed. The first exchange between this set of siblings is intriguing, for you're left to wonder as to why Aaron stops Miriam telling Moses who they really are, and later why he covers up for Miriam- is it because he's trying to protect both of them (being the oldest) or is it for other reasons. The audience is left to ponder this even after the film. Moses, of course, only sees them as peasants during these scenes.
Funnily enough, Moses and Rameses aren't crowned Princes of Egypt. That particular ceremony is the next scene- where we also meet Hotep, Huy (voiced by Steve Martin and Martin Short)who present to the newly named Princes Saffora (voiced by Michelle Pfeiffer) as a 'delicate desert flower' meaning they kidnapped her. This scene is rather humorous, but what else could you expect from any scene Steve Martin is in?
And so the story continues. Moses' transition from being and arrogant youth to the Deliverer is well presented, with an interesting animation technique where a dream is presented as moving hieroglyphs. After which some brilliant musical numbers arise, particularly the instrumental used with Moses' travels through the desert and 'Look through another's eyes, sung by Jethro (Saffora's father, voiced by Danny Glover) The more religious part of the story (which focusses more on God and his wrath etc) only really comes toward the end, but is still interesting to watch- particularly seeing the deterioration between Moses and Rameses' relationship as Moses' new cause drives them further and further apart, resulting in an interesting lesson on the Egyptian gods in song form performed by Hotep and Huy in a competition to see which religion is better.
And of course how can we forget the famous song 'If you Believe' sung by a Hebrew choir. This song was so inspirational to audiences it was translated into a wide variety of different languages that can be viewed amongst the special features on this disk, along with a director's commentary and an insight into the animation that went into this piece. Normally i don't tend to bother with special features but watching the song be performed in a variety of different languages was an experience to say the least.
All in all, this is a biblical subversion that is relatable in the way of family matters, educational in the way of Egyptian history and has a brilliant sound track, cast and animation style which is well worth a watch. Certified U this is suitable for all audiences, and as i said there's something in here for everyone.
*Please note that this review is not implying that the Yankee Candle Products we believe to be faulty are the fault of the Yankee Candle company, and that we do enjoy their cast range of products still.*
My mum and i absolutely love Yankee candle products, to the point that when we wen't to a Yankee Candle store in America we were in heaven. You see my mum likes the clean and floral smells, whereas i prefer the fruity and spicy smells. So much so that when you walk into our house downstairs always smells floral and clean, but as soon as you go upstairs you get hit by fruity and cinnamony smells. It's a good mix for if you want to be awake you go downstairs but if you want sleepy comfort you go upstairs, as it should be. You can imagine how much Yankee Candle stuff we brought back with us.
Unfortunately not everything always lasts, and last week we had to replenish our Yankee candle stock. Luckily we have a shop that sells them 20 minutes down the road. Now as you all probably know already, Yankee Candles are available in a variety of different sized candles, as room sprays and as wax tarts, all priced accordingly. One of my mum's favourite scents from there is the baby powder range. She likes it as it's a nice fresh scent with just a subtle sweetness to it, so she bought four baby powder tarts at £2.99 a peice (which is the English rrp of these tarts) along with large jar candle of the lilac blossoms range- which, i have to say, normally smells beautiful- not too overpowering but nice enough to create a pleasantly clean floral scent around the house- at £19.99 (again the rrp for this particular product.)
Me on the other hand, being rather low on funds, settled with a medium jar candle from the home sweet home range- a scent which comes second in my favourite Yankee Candle scents to 'cinnamon stick.' I like the Home sweet home smell for it usually fills the entirety of upstairs with a beautiful cinnamon scent with hints of vanilla and apple. Thus allows for a really relaxing feel to upstairs. I paid £16.99 for this candle- again the rrp.
So, rather happy with our Yankee Candle splurge we went home and proceeded to light our lovely candles. At first all was fine. All we really noticed was that the flame on the candles was a bit higher than normal- normally it just rises a bit above the top of the jar at first lighting, then stays in the jar as the candle burns down. This particular flame was about 2cm above the jar top and thus i had to move my candle to a slightly less risky place. But the smell was still lovely and filled upstairs like it always does, along with mum's candle dowstairs.
It wasn't until we blew our candles out that we noticed there was an oddity with the wicks of our candles- they were poofing up at the top and resembling a tiny black flower. We thought that was a bit odd, but thought it might just be something to do with it's first burning, and so just trimmed the flower like bit off and left it until the next day.
So when we re lit them the flame was still ridiculously high, and the smell of the candles started to resemble the smell of a bonfire rather than the nice scents we had paid for. Upon blowing the candles out we noticed that the candles were going down rather quickly, most likely due to the largeness of the flame, and the flower effect on the wick was still happening, to the point where mum's wick had bent, suggesting that the flame was not burning the candle equally.
So i proceeded to trim the wick even further to try and minimise the flame height, and lit the candle again. The flame wasn't affected by the wick trimming, and the flower effect happened more quickly. When i blew the candle out a lot of smoke emitted from the candle, to the point that when i woke up the next morning and blew my nose, the produce was black- as if i'd suffered smoke inhalation from a house fire. Having used Yankee candle products for quite a few years and never experiencing that kind of thing before started to make me think that these particular products were counterfeit item being sold for the full price.
Of course the thing that really confirmed this suspicion was that mum's baby powder tarts were, although still smelling really nice, actually smoking from the oil the tart produces. I've used many Yankee candle wax tarts and not once has the oil produced smoke. I still had one tart i brought back with me and had to light that just to make sure i hadn't just not noticed that the tart produces smoke, and the American tart didn't produce smoke. These items were clearly counterfeit.
Now i could understand these particular issues if we had bought them in some sort of clearance sale or cheaply online, but the fact that we paid full price in a mainstream store fir them suggests to me that shops are buying these counterfeit items, selling them at full price and allowing customers to suffer these awful knock off items in an attempt to gain a little extra profit. Now i won't name the store in question just in case my assumptions are wrong and this was a one off- but the fact that this happened over three different products causes me concern- especially when you consider the health and safety risk of smoke inhalation that i appear to have suffered.
So be aware of these counterfeit items. If any of the symptoms displayed above appear in your products i highly suggest you take them back to your nearest store immediately and demand a refund, ad my mum and i will be doing also.
Being the lover of fairytale subversions that i am, how could i resist writing a review on Shrek?
Shrek is probably one of my all time favourite films, so much so that as a term of endearment i call my dad Shrek a lot of the time. It is a term of endearment i swear.
One if the many reasons i love Shrek is because it represents one of the best forms of fairy tale subversion, a parody of fairytales themselves. It is beautifully written in such a way that allows for a great number of fairytales to be combined in a humorous 'never seen before' manner that in turn allows for great family entertainment.
In other words this film is a 'how not to do a fairytale.'
It starts with a story book opening that pretty much sums up the main story line but ends with pages of the book being used as toilet paper- much like the meme of 'New Moon' going around the internet at the moment. Thus pretty much summarising the tone of this film in around a minute of footage.
Shrek (played by Mike Myers) is an ogre who seemingly loves his life as an ogre, thanks to the montage played to Greg Camp's 'All Star.' (Performed by Smash Mouth) His character is pretty much summed up via the famous 'this is the part where you run away' scene- which is beautifully done might i add.
We then move on to how the fairytale characters (or creatures as the Wanted posters suggest) get mixed up in the scene, and in turn meet Donkey (played by Eddie Murphy) the talking donkey who just loves to natter. As Shrek says later on "it's getting him to shut up is the trick." Along with meeting Donkey we also get introduced to characters from fairy tales such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Snow White and the seven dwarfs, Peter Pan and The Wizard of Oz (more fairy tale references come later) just to name a few.
Shrek and Donkey meet when Shrek inadvertently saves Donkey from a lot of guards trying to catch him. After the hilarious "you definitely need some tic tacs or something cos your breath stinks' scene Shrek unwillingly allows Donkey to stay with him.
After which we find out why there are a lot of fairy tale characters in this film. Lord Farquad wants a perfect kingdom, and fir some wild reason believes that fairy take creatures are poisoning his perfect world. In this scene we are introduced to 'The Gingerbread Man' where the classic 'run run run' and 'do you know the Muffin Man' lines are produced. Along with this more Snow White references are made in the form of the Magic Mirror, who is used to move the plot along by telling Farquad that technically he's not a king until he marries a princess. I love this Bachelorette scene as it's a subversion on the various 'Prince Charmings' that rescue princesses such as Snow White and Cinderella. Makes you wonder if a load of princes met up in a bar and drew straws on which princess he's to rescue after hearing their 'ads' as it were.
Of course through this we hear the story of Princess Fiona (played by Cameron Diaz)- which, coincidentally is the same story from the opening (oh look it's all starting to come together now) who needs to be rescued from a tower guarded by a Dragon.
Going back to Shrek, who's had a stressful enough day as it is, bless him, who finds his swamp absolutely heaving with fairy tale characters from stories such as 'The Three Little Pigs,' 'Red Riding Hood,' 'Sleeping Beauty' and 'Three Blind Mice' just to name a handful of them. Of course Shrek doesn't like this, though has to juggle with the prospect of what is worse, a swamp full of squatters or a road trip with Donkey.
And so Shrek and Donkey set off to get Shrek's swamp back. Erupting into a hilarious wrestling scene played to Joan Jett's 'Bad Reputation.' As a result Shrek gets roped in to rescuing Fiona in exchange for his swamp. And so continues the story.
With other great songs such as Neil Diamond's 'I'm a Believer' (performed by both Smash Mouth and Eddie Murphy) and Leanord Cohen's 'Hallelujah' (performed by Rufus Wainwright) along with more fairytale subversions like Robin Hood (interesting/useless fact- the fact that Robin Hood has a French accent would have actually been somewhat accurate due to the fact that during the time Robin was alive the English language was being heavily influenced by French.) and on 'how a Princess should behave.' This is a must see, must own, must watch and all the other 'musts' you can think of because it's just so brilliant.
Being a student i do enjoy my nights out drinking. The newly dubbed 'Student' drink being Brothers ciders, i've enjoyed my fair few.
Normally cider tends to go straight through me, i can drink it til the cows come home and the most that'll happen is that i'll need the toilet a lot. Brothers ciders on the other hand tend to get me that bit more tiddly. Which is probably why when i have cider i drink these.
Brothers are actually the more diverse of alcohols, ranging in packaging, distribution, flavours and prices all over the show.
So lets start with the packaging. Brothers is most commonly sold in green glass bottles with various coloured labels defining their flavours, but are also available in cans, distinguished by the colour of the cans again according to flavour, and more recently in shot form- only sold as such in bars from what i can gather, and bar the apple, pear and pear lite versions, are again distinguishable by colour.
The distribution of Brothers is also varied, the cans are sold in supermarkets as packs of four from what i've seen, bottles are sold individually behind the bar, but can also be found in crates of 16 in shops, and the shots, as already mentioned are found behind the bar, and can be added to say Strongbow or Thatchers if you're looking for a cheaper behind the bar option or are trying different Brothers flavours (my favourite combination thus far being the strawberry and toffee apple shots mixed in a pint of Strongbow,) along with being available as the individual shot.
From what i've seen there are 8 flavours of Brothers so far:
Pear- The original Brothers cider, pleasant enough if you like that sort of thing.
Pear lite- From what i can gather, when everybody was going through that fad of having alcohol with a lower calorie content Brothers had a bit of competition and so came out with his. Although there isn't much difference in the flavour i'm still put off having it simply because it says 'lite.'
Apple- For those people who can't stand the taste of pear cider but enjoy classic cider Brothers made this for them. Again nice enough but not my preferred flavour of Borthers.
Toffee Apple- The sweeter version of apple. Good if you haven' eaten strongly flavoured foods beforehand as i've found that can really ruin the experience of this cider, which can be a bit sickly though if drank in the proper conditions is very enjoyable. This flavour goes well as a shot in a pint of cheaper cider behind the bar or as a first pint from my experience.
Tutti Frutti- Otherwise known as 'The Purple One.' Again this is very sweet and can be rather sickly if not drank in the right conditions, and most certainly does not go well with Toffee Apple in my experience. I much prefer this flavour diluted in a pint of cheaper cider than as a pint itself.
Strawberry- My personal favourite of the Brothers ciders, it has a pleasant strawberry taste that is neither too sweet nor too bitter and definitely not one i'd dilute. When i'm looking for a lighter drinking night out that still gets me rather merry this is always what i choose as it make for pleasant drinking and due to it not being too sweet i can drink about four through the night and still be enjoying myself.
Lemon- Another pleasant one, good for during meals i find due to it's not too strong but still pleasant flavour. My favourite time to have this is via a chilled bottle during a BBQ.
Ginger- Now i'm allergic to spices so i can't comment on this from personal experience, however this is my partner's favourite of the Brothers ciders as he finds it again not too strong in flavour but pleasant enough to drink through the night/ during meals.
Now the prices of Brothers are extremely varied due to the various packaging and distribution techniques. As a result there is a brothers cider for all occasions but sometimes you have to shop around to get the better prices. The majority of bars sell the bottled Brothers at around £3 per bottle, and the shots between 50p and £1, though some places will sell Brothers cheaper particularly during seasonal holidays and such like.
Shops on the other hand appear to take a slightly different approach, for example in Bargain Booze they have a deal on where you can get three bottles of Brothers for £10 (£3.99 individually) or a crate of 16 for £14. BnM on the other hand are currently selling four cans of Brothers for £1.99. Big brand Supermarket tend to vary on their deals and quantity for prices pretty much on a weekly basis, although you will find better value for money during seasonal holidays. Please note all these prices are at last check.
Now the reason Brothers appears to have become the newly dubbed 'Student' drink is because it kind of bridges that gap between alcopops and proper alcohols- being 4% in alcohol content yet in most flavours quite sweet- which is probably why they are so diversely distributed etc. There is a Brothers for any occasion and (i think) for any person, and thanks to this new ability to add a shot of brothers to pints of cider it is probably more widely consumed now particularly by students who're either trying something new or are working their way up to stronger alcohols, or are simply looking for a nice way to get a bit merry and not go the whole hog with a night out.
That is not to say, however, that other audiences can't enjoy Brothers also. If you like your sweeter tastes or your lighter ciders then this is definitely for you.
In case you haven't figured it out already, i find fairy tale subversion fascinating. One of the most subverted fairytales i've found has to be Lewis Carroll's 'Alice in Wonderland' combined with it's sequel 'Through the Looking Glass."
Granted, it could be argued that Alice in Wonderland isn't a fairy tale, for it doesn't quite follow the writing restrictions of say Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tales or The Brother's Grimm. But when i call this a fairytale i am referring to a children's book rendition of life complete with a hidden message- which in my eye's is a fairy tale- along with the story's openness to being subverted and changed.
I have seen countless subversions of this tale, so much so i had to buy the books to see what really happened. Amongst these subversions was a ballet version where the Queen of Hearts is Alice's mother, two part drama version on sky where Wonderland was in fact in the business of dealing emotions to people and Wonderland was mostly a fantasy casino, also this is one where the Hatter is rather more complex than in most of his renditions, of course there are the Disney, Tim Burton and the one where Whoopie Goldberg plays the Cheshire Cat. There is also a subversion of Alice in Wonderland in the 'Once Upon a Time' series (see my 'Fairy tale Subversion at it's best review.)
Funnily enough most of these subversions actually combine both 'Alice's adventures in Wonderland' and 'Through the looking Glass'- for example the crazy twins Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum only appear in 'Through the Looking Glass' along with the White Queen. If i had to say any of these subversions was actually accurate to Alice in Wonderland it would be the film where Whoopie Goldberg plays the Cheshire Cat- it is the only subversion i've seen that includes the very old Mock Turtle story who has an island on it's back, and the only version that includes the Duchess and her baby pig story. However the Disney version takes a close second.
All of these subversions have a few things in common- there is a girl named Alice (accept in the Once Upon a time series from what i've seen so far), a land called Wonderland, a white rabbit somewhere along the line, a blue caterpillar smoking a hookah, a Mad Hatter's tea party, and of course The Queen of hearts and her army of playing cards.
And funnily enough all of these common entities are part of the original Alice in Wonderland. So here's what really happened: Alice is sitting by a bank with her sister feeling incredibly bored, and so begins to day dream. After which she sees a rabbit in a waistcoat running along the bank with his pocket watch. Alice becomes curious and decides to follow him as he disappears down a rabbit hole. After which we have the classic 'Drink Me' and 'Eat Me' scene where Alice ends up swimming through the tiny door into Wonderland via a pool of her own tears (shown only in Disney's version from what i can remember.) After which Alice meets the Dodo and takes part in the Caucus Race. After that bit of madness Alice finds herself at the White Rabbit's house where a little munch on a biccy requires a lizard with a ladder to try and pull the monster (which is Alice Ginormified) out of the chimney. When Alice becomes tiny again she goes off and comes across the Blue caterpillar smoking a hookah who tells her the story of 'Old father William.' After more size issues, Alice comes across the house of the Duchess and her pepper obsessed cook- where she also meets the Cheshire Cat, who directs her toward the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. After a mad tea party Alice finally finds herself in the garden she so wanted to get into at the beginning of the story, which turns out to be The Queen's croquet ground. After the famous 'painting the roses red' quickly followed by a game of Croquet, another conversation with the Duchess and a walk with the Queen they hear the Mock Turtle's story, helped by the Gryphon, and learn of the Lobster Quadrille. After which they attend the trial of the knave of hearts, who stood accused of stealing the Queen's tarts- to which Alice has to give evidence. And so the story continues.
I have to say if i hadn't seen the other subversions of this story i would have probably enjoyed the book more. The writing style is a fantastic combination of storytelling and poetry and the descriptions of the settings and characters are completely out of this world and no matter how hard any of these films try they cannot compare to the imagination of Carroll. However the films have more action and are easier to understand than the book thus would probably be the more preferable option for learning about this classic story. However if you are anything like me and are interested in how stories are chopped and changing this is a must read to see how people have made this crazy story understandable to other audiences. Along with the story being a must have anyway as it is a complete and utter classic that is the source of many writer's inspirations over the years since it was written.
All in all if you want to know what really happened in Wonderland this is the book for you. I got my copy as part of a 3 for £5 deal in the Works, which includes 124 pages of Wonderland fun, seasonal greeting from Carroll himself and has an extra 27 pages of glossary explaining some of Carroll's more eccentric vocabulary. This is just a timeless classic that can be enjoyed by all generations and probably will be enjoyed by many generations to come, along with many subversions of the tale being created over time.
One day, many moons ago, i got tired of constantly nicking myself with razors and getting shaving rashes in places you need not know about and thought i'd try one of these hair removal creams everybody was raving on about. I'd been informed that this particular product was one of the best, for it's quick, easy to use, and has long lasting results.
Well that was a bit of a fib wasn't it?
I first attempted to apply the cream using the weird curved plastic spatula type thing that's recommended to use, only to find that the other end of the spatula took the cream off as i was applying it and didn't allow an equal coverage over the parts of my body i was applying it to. So i scrapped that idea and proceeded to apply the cream with my hands. It was hard to wash of my hands and created quite a bit of a mess in the sink, along with leaving my hands with a waxy feel to them which i thought nothing of at the time.
As i left the product on for the recommended three minutes i noticed an awful smell started to emit from where the cream was applied, not too dissimilar to a combination of burnt hair, melting skin (i've accidentally burnt myself a few times so know what that smells like) and plastic. Again i thought nothing of that, thinking that's just how the product worked.
It wasn't until i took the product off that i noticed things were off. For a start while using the spatula to take off the product it felt very painful, almost as if the product had taken off a layer of my skin- though there was no evidence of that on the after math. But i also notice there were patches here and there where the product appeared to not have touched even though i'd applied quite a generous amount all over the areas. The previous smell had gotten stronger and the produce was very hard to wash down the drain.
Once i had completely washed the product off my skin wasn't smooth and silky as advertised, in fact it was incredibly waxy and felt particularly tender along with having quite red patches here and there over my skin that didn't go away until about a week after i'd used it. It was not the advertised nor the desired result.
Even though i don't have sensitive skin i thought i'd try the sensitive skin version to see if the reaction on my skin was just an allergic one. This was in fact worse, not only for the smell but for leaving more patchy areas and actually bringing my skin out into blisters. I did check with my GP to see if this was just an allergic reaction, but he thought i'd actually burnt myself.
Now bear in mind i didn't leave this product on for longer than three minutes both times and washed it off thoroughly, there is no apparent explanation for this mixed reaction all over my skin, and it caused a lot more discomfort than a shaving rash did.
I think i'll just stick to razors from now on, as this product certainly does not do what it says on the box.
Everybody who has ever died their hair red knows it's blooming hard to keep it red and not ginger. I've been spending quite a bit on red hair dye, hair dressing sessions etc etc and quite often have to leave it in it's ginger state for long periods of time as i don't quite have the funds to pay for my red hair.
That is, until i found Aussie Colour Mate. It doesn't stop you becoming ginger, and initially it is quite expensive, quite often £3.99 for a 300ml bottle, which lasts 15-25 washes dependant on the length of your hair and how much you use, although can be found in Boots as part of a 3 for £10 deal or in BnM for £2.99 per bottle at last check. But it does prolong the inevitable fading effect, along with making the colour seem brighter and in good condition, faded or not, which can make you feel a lot better about having faded hair and thus allows for a lot more patience with your hair between dying sessions, thus saving you money on awful hair dressing sessions (haven't been to one hairdressers who've got what i wanted right yet) and packet dyes.
Along with doing what it says on the box it also smells beautiful and always leaves your feeling in fantasic condition. After using quite a generous amount, it creates a thick, peachy smelling lather that feels rather velvety on the hair. Unlike quite a few shampoos i've used it is also incredibly easy to wash out- quite often products i use on my hair like to 'stick' to my hair and prove quite hard to rinse out- another problem i have with most hair dyes.
Even without using the matching conditioner my hair felt really soft and almost as if it had been washed by a half decent hairdresser instead of me. The peachy smell lasts in your hair for about 2-4 hours dependant on your environment and generally makes for a pleasant experience all round.
In it's cream, orange and purple packaging it's not hard to miss in the shops. It's just a shame it is initially so expensive otherwise i'd use it all the time, for not only does it save me money, it just makes me feel better about my hair as a whole.
If you can afford it it is well worth your money, it's indulgent, does what it says on the box and leaves your hair feeling in great condition.
And now i have my Disney head on. Robin Hood is one of my many favourite Disney films. Namely because many moons ago instead of the traditional primary school nativity my year five teacher decided that we'd do our own version of Robin Hood- where we changed a few bits mainly to accommodate our rather large year group. For example, i played Lady Trinny of Woodall and was a fashion critic in the King's court. One of my lines, which always sticks in my head for some wild reason whenever i do go see a Panto, was " Tights are so last season darling." To Robin Hood.
Undoubtedly we had to watch Robin hood 'to get a sense if the story' which i now know translates as 'kepping you all quiet while i have a much needed cup of tea.' And that's when i fell in love with it.
This film is based on the old folk song which i think goes something like this:
"Robin Hood, Robin Hood,
Riding through the glenn,
Robin Hood, Robin Hood,
With his band of men,
Feared by the rich,
Loved by the poor,
Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Robin Hood.
He called his greatest archers
to a tavern on the glenn,
They bowed before the people of the king,
And for the country they marched
to an English country green
And then sat merrily down to sing.
Robin Hood, Robin Hood,
Riding through the glenn,
Robin Hood, Robin Hood,
With his band of men,
Feared by the rich,
Loved by the poor,
Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Robin Hood."
At least that's how i think it goes anyway.
Any way, this English Legend is turned on it's head by Disney and his turning all the characters into animals, and boy are they memorable characters. The story itself is narrated by a bard-like rooster who plays a mean lute and introduces us to the rest of the characters. The dynamic duo, Robin hood, played by a fox, and Little John, played by a bear and is voiced by the same person who voiced Balloo in 'The Jungle Book,' have once again escaped the 'honourable' sheriff of Nottingham, played by a wolf. They then spot the royal carriage, containing Prince John, the lion with mummy issues, and Sir Hiss, for some apparent reason is saddled with the tantrums of Prince John.
After a successful and very humorous robbery of the prince, his rage gets taken out on the poor people of Nottingham where struggles with paying their taxes and still having enough to live on is hard to keep up. Robin distributes his 'earnings' amongst the poor under the guise of a blind man and with the help of the good friar Tuck- played by a badger.
Through this we learn of Robin's childhood sweetheart Maid Marion- a vixen, who fears that Robin may have forgotten about her and ends up becoming the prize of a great archery competition to bring Robin out of hiding.
Full of crazy, funny and beautiful moments, this Disney classic is a must have in your collection, including the surprisingly historically accurate song "The Phoney King of England." Which teaches students about the time of King Richard either the II or III and Prince John- but is surprisingly misleading according to historical records about the 'kindness' of King Richard in the film and how he actually was.
But i'll leave that for you to research yourselves. All in all this is another Disney classic that is great for the whe family.