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I've been to La Tasca Deansgate twice now-once for a meal with my then girlfriend as it is constantly offering 50% off with printable vouchers online and once again because my work held a Christmas dinner party there. Both times I was distinctly unimpressed, the second time being better than the first time simply because I did not have to pay.
I love tapas, in fact, I love all food-I'm definitely not a picky eater. If food is done well, even if it's niche or weird stuff I will generally enjoy it. La Tasca failed to impress either time so I can't put it down to the kitchen having an off night.
First off, the drinks. Unsurprisingly the drinks are pretty expensive, around £3.50 for a pint with nothing much more exciting than San Miguel on offer. I'm not a wine drinker so I cannot offer any opinion of the wine selection but the beer selection isn't great and pretty pricey. Still, this is par for the course. What about the food then?
I found the food to be pretty average and occasionally unpleasant. The first time we went we elected to try the paella, as we are both big fans. We were warned it would take about 40 minutes to prepare but this was not a problem and we figured this just meant it was being cooked fresh for us and they were taking their time over it. When it arrived we were pretty disappointed. There wasn't much in the way of seafood in it, the vegetables were overcooked and it was pretty tasteless. I'm no Jamie Oliver but I can cook up a much tastier paella for far cheaper at home.
The tapas too were less than impressive. Call me a cheapskate, but if I pay over £6 for a tapas dish of prawns I expect better than 3 shell-on prawns in a dish full of oil and I was pretty glad we had a half-price voucher. The calamari was at least tasty, although again small, even for tapas, and the squid was a bit more rubbery than it should be but it was at least flavourful. The mushroom croquettes were just rubbish but then they weren't ordered for me, they were for my girlfriend who simply said they were "okay." I just thought they were unpleasant but mashed up mushroom in breadcrumb is definitely not my thing. The sausage cooked in red wine was probably the best thing we ordered but again, small and pricey even for tapas.
The experience was repeated when I returned with work but this time it mattered less as I wasn't paying. On both occasions we couldn't fault the service, friendly and attentive and upfront about any delays. Still, the food isn't good. Okay, you can't expect much from a chain but I have had far, far better tapas, both in terms of value and taste elsewhere. I wouldn't bother going again.
I've been lusting after these headphones for years but I'm a bit of a cheapskate. Recently I found myself drooling over them yet again on Amazon and ended up taking the plunge and buying a black pair with chrome detail despite the mixed reviews I had read. They arrived today and I was eager to try them out.
Other reviews I have read state that the sound quality is great but they snap at the drop of a hat. I can't say mine have done this yet but it does mean I've been extra careful with them and made sure not to yank at them or overstress the joints.
These headphones are obviously sold on their looks and you can't fault them there-they look the business. The detailing looks very slick with the logo on each ear cup, both of which swivel. They also fold up with a hinge in the headband which is useful for transportation. They feel comfortable and snug, nicely padded around the cups and cushioned under the headband, a nice touch.
I can't fault the sound either. Everything sounds crystal clear and the cups drown everything else out.
However, I was put off by reading all the reviews about them snapping ridiculously quickly and have resigned myself to the fact that they won't last long. This is because while they look and sound great they feel light and cheap. You can tell the plastic is cheapest of the cheap and very flimsy. The joints do not fold away smoothly and tend to stick and after HALF A DAY the "L" on the left cup has half rubbed off! For a pair of headphones that cost £25 quid I knew I wasn't going to be getting top of the range but I wasn't expecting them to feel so ridiculously cheap and light. If you've got £25 quid to throw away and you fall in love with their looks like I did then by all means go for it but I'm not expecting them to last long so I'm going to get all the wear I can out of them while I still can.
Clearly the appeal of the ipod shuffle is owning an ipod for less money. ipods are considered the gold standard of mp3 players to many people and the word ipod has become synonymous with mp3 player. Mine was bought as a present and I have to admit I would not have bought one for myself, even if it is cheaper than other ipods. It would be rude to ask the cost of a gift but at the time I remember seeing the same model for 49.99. Despite the lurid green colour of my model it is undeniably small and cute but comes with probably the world's worst gimmick-being completely unable to control the order of the songs you listen to. This caused endless frustration as I am the type of person who is very specific about what they listen to based on their mood. This meant hours spent cherrypicking my favourite songs at the time and loading them onto my ipod, frequently deleting everything and loading on a new selection but it grated and in the end I just caved and bought a sansa clip which was cheaper, had the same memory and allowed you to pick what you were listening to. Really, I do not know what the point of this feature, or lack of, was. I don't understand why someone would pay £50 for an mp3 player with a broken selection capability. Yes, the sound quality was good, the bundled headphones were pretty decent and the battery life caused no complaints but I hated using it.
I always get the feeling with Jack Daniels that I'm drinking a brand, not a drink. Jack Daniels is undoubtedly iconic-the t shirts, the branded glasses, the posters, the logo-they all conspire to create an ideal around the drink. This is understandable and yeah it's the sign of good marketing but it's something I've never felt is warranted because in the end Jack Daniels is just a bourbon, a decent bourbon but a bourbon nontheless and its got a lot of mileage out of its perception as a drink that's badass, one for the hard drinkers and the rockers. it's damn expensive though, 75cl is about £17 and a double jack and coke in a bar can set you back a fair bit. It's a taste that's easy to acquire though. It's smooth, one of the few spirits I can take straight but there are cheaper alternatives out there. Wetherspoons sells buffalo trace bourbon for next to nothing and for the degenerate alcoholics out there like myself it clocks in at 5% abv higher and gives you more bang for your buck. The logo is damn cool though.
The first thing to point out about this laptop is that it really isn't to be used as a laptop. It's an expensive bit of kit-mine was a steal for £300 second hand from a colleague but at about £700 new and weighing in at 3kg you definitely won't be wanting to carry this around-it's heavy and akin to carrying a sign saying "mug me." It's a big machine too, with a 17 inch screen and a numeric keypad- a rare feature for a laptop. This does mean you won't want to take it to your nearest coffeeshop. However, if you're looking for something powerful to replace your desktop and look pretty at the same time this is for you.
It's beautifully fast an extremely capable multitasker-my girlfriend was in awe of how fast she could load up photoshop and edit her artwork. The huge screen and resolution mean pictures are pin-sharp and films look great. It's also great for gaming and has loads of in built memory-a fat 500GB hard drive and a swift 2.8 GHZ processor. No problems with the built in software either, comes with office and McAffee antivirus which did the trick nicely. This replaced my junky old desktop computer without so much as a backward glance. It's just a shame that it's not really useable as a portable laptop-the battery life isn't great either. Still, very impressive.
For me, this is the ideal mp3 player. No, you can't watch videos on it and it's tiny enough to easily lose but as a straightforward no-frills mp3 player it's great. I picked up mine on ebay for very cheap, about £25. I bought a pink one as they seemed to be less popular and this cheaper, and I'm not really bothered about someone mocking my girly mp3 player when it's about £8 less than the other colours. The navigation is quick and simple, very smooth, never sticks or skips like other players I have used. The playback was of a decent quality. The battery life wasn't great and I had to frequently charge it, often lasting about 8 hours which is to be expected from such a small device but not always successful on long train journeys. The bundled headphones are rubbish and flimsy but then they always are. Usual features are all present and correct such as radio and voice recording and work absolutely fine. All in all no, it's not an ipod but you won't get a better player for such little money and its tiny size and belt clip make it great for jogging.
I picked up my GoGear for a little over £50 on ebay over a year ago and thought that was a decent price for an mp3 player with video playback capability and 16GB storage. It was, admittedly, factory reconditioned but if that knocks a nice chunk off the price then that's fine with me. I also liked the design of the device-very slimline, satisfyingly weighty and with a well-made feel.
As a straightforward mp3 player the sound quality is decent enough. I am not very demanding when it comes to mp3 players and don't require them to be brimming with features as I just use my player for train journeys and jogging, so if it works, it works. However there were quite a few issues with the player that I feel I should draw attention too.
The navigation is not fantastic. Scrolling through the menus would often jump, skip and stick in an irritating way meaning it would take a bit of fiddling to select the piece of music I wanted to listen to. Obviously for the price I wasn't going to get something as intuitive as an ipod interface but this grated.
The video playback, which admittedly wasn't my main reason for buying the player, only accepts WMA format, which none of my videos are in. As I'm no fan of squinting at tiny little screens to watch my favourite TV series anyway this didn't cause me too much of a problem but I would warn anyone buying this for the playback capability to bear this in mind as while you can convert your files to WMA the process is irritating and considering other Philips GoGear players seem to play a variety of formats from reviews I've seen it's an irritating quirk that the playback is so limited. File formats for music playback are limited to mp3 and wma as well, which is okay 90% of the time but an occasional irritation.
Like most mp3 players you can play radio and record through the device. No complaints here, both are easy to use and the recording is nice and clear.
One problem I had which may just have been my unit-my player froze 3 or 4 times when I first bought it and I had to reset it by sticking a paperclip in a tiny hole in the side like a tamagotchi. This was frustrating and I was on the verge of sending it back but in the end this suddenly righted itself. I cannot say why this happened and may be because it was factory reconditioned. However, in the long term it hasn't caused me any further problems.
The bundled headphones are rubbish but this is par for the course, it's rare you get a decent pair with and mp3 player and I had some decent ones on hand to use.
All in all for £50 I couldn't complain and it does everything I require from a player, but if you want something special from your mp3 player I'd look elsewhere and spend some more cash. For someone who wants to watch videos and have a nice amount of storage space though it's a bargain
After Final Fantasy 7 brought the series to a worldwide audience Square brought a distinctly western feel to Final Fantasy 8 in what seemed to be an attempt to appeal to wider audiences. Gone were the "super deformed" sprites of old featuring cutesy characters with oversized heads and large eyes and in were anatomically correct characters that looked a lot more like real people. While no one could claim that the characters were designed in normal costumes the western influence was clear from Zell's baggy jeans and Irvine's cowboy get up. Yet you can't blame Square for attempting to cash in on Final Fantasy's new found popularity as it had become, within one game, a truly global franchise.
Final Fantasy 8 followed the life and trials of a 17 year old cadet called Squall, a moody, dislikeable brat of a character who seemed to communicate mainly in parenthesis and terse "whatevers." Squall fights with his rival Seifer and acquires a very impressive looking scar, graduates school, falls in love, gets locked up in prison, has flashbacks and is grumpy. Despite the main character's unpleasant characteristics Final Fantasy 8 is an absorbing game with enough plot twists to keep you interested, and spread out over 4 discs, 8 is huge and contains some well done and absorbing sidequests, such as tracking down hard to kill monsters and a surprisingly fun card game.
Some niggles abound with the battle system. The over-reliance on drawing magics and using them to augment your stats mean that some precious magics take many tedious battles to stockpile and then end up being unusable in battle as depleting weakens your character, although by then you're probably doing all the damage you need with physical weapons anyway. The graphics are obviously dated, but it is 12 years old. And considering it can be picked up second hand with a PS1 for next to nothing there are far worse ways of wasting a couple of weeks. Final Fantasy 8 still plays very well today.
Like a lot of people, when I bought Final Fantasy 7 I had never played any RPGs and had never heard of the Final Fantasy series before. This is not surprising as 7 was the game that caused the series to explode internationally. Before that it had enjoyed a massive following in Japan where it had been a 2 dimensional sprite-based RPG series made by Squaresoft. Originally Square released the series solely on Nintendo consoles but with the dawn of of CD-based consoles the limitations of the cartridge format were becoming apparent and Square realised that by releasing the game on this new format they could have far better graphics and much bigger, more enriched gaming world.
Final Fantasy 7 changed my life and became the standard that I held other games up to. Through 7 I played other RPGs and went on to play Final Fantasies 8-12 but for me nothing will beat 7. This may be because I discovered it at a formative age. I was no older than 13 and had never played anything like it before. The detail of the plot, freedom of movement and well fleshed out, likable characters blew me away.
Replaying the game now it is easy to see its flaws but many of them are a product of the time the game was made in. While the graphics are still impressive considering it was made in 1997 the action mostly takes place on pre-rendered backgrounds with set paths, with only the world map offering full 360 degree freedom of movement common in today's RPGs. The music was created using the playstation's internal sound chip to save on space and while it is beautifully composed it is easy to tell that they are nothing more than very well done midi files. And the game does suffer from some bad translation ("this guy are sick.") Nevertheless the joy from this game comes mostly from the nostalgia in playing through old locations such as Cosmo Canyon and Mideel. The subplots are engaging and provide a real challenge. Defeating Emerald and Ruby weapon, extras added to make the game more challenging when the game was released in the west took days to do and were immensely satisfying. But completion of these quests are not necessary to complete the game, making it suitable for gamers of different skill levels.
Final Fantasy 7 is still my favourite game of all time. Other games may have been released since that are technically superior but for me nothing will ever compare.
The following is a list of things I consider to be the most terrible things ever.
Wasps. What is the point of wasps? Ruiners of picnics, chavs of the insect world. Nasty, stingy little creatures that should all be put into a large container which is then pumped full of Raid.
Every politician from Thatcher onwards, with very few exceptions. It is no wonder that voter turnout is at an all time low as everyone has lost confidence in their MPs to actually represent their interests as politics has increasingly become a front organisation to promote the interests of big business. Non-enforcement of corporation tax, the gradual dismantling and selling of our public services to greedy profiteers eager to make quick cash from the things we need every day, illegal wars, spin doctors, hiking up tuition fees, the "war on terror," health and safety legislation, expenses claims, lies, spin, the loss of any and all integrity from the political field...Don't vote. It only encourages them.
Smoking. It smells horrible, is expensive, makes you lose your sense of taste and develop cancer and yellows your teeth. And I can't give it up.
Rubbish, dumbed down bland comedians like Michael Mcintyre and that bald bloke off Mock the Week. About as funny as a tax bill.
Stupid, offensive for offensive's sake comedians like Frankie Boyle. About as funny as a tax bill with "AIDS" scrawled on the front. In crayon.
Train companies and the 9 bajillion pounds they expect you to pay to use their services. £127.50 for a return ticket to Bristol, Virgin trains? Really? I COULD FLY TO EUROPE AND BACK FOR THAT.
The Black Eyed Peas. Consider this lyric from their Shakespearian masterpiece, "Rock My Sh*t."
"Heat, my game is exquisite,
Flip my slang cos' you're so flang."
WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT BLACK EYED PEAS. To be fair, lots of people thought they were being offensive when they named one of their songs "Let's Get Retarded" but I just thought they were being very brave in being so upfront about the fact they are cognitively impaired. Putting full stops in your name is is not cool Will.i.am, and Fergie, calling your breasts your "lovely lady lumps" just makes me visualise a bra full of porridge. Well done on creating the most unsexy euphemism for breasts ever.
I could go on.
I've owned this phone a couple of times, once given to me after a friend got an upgrade and picked one up from ebay recently for £30. Considering the age of the phone it's excellent and is the first phone I've owned that really can double as an mp3 player and cameraphone. The camera activates after sliding back the lens cover on the back with a flick of your thumb which is a very slick feature and at 3.2 megapixels I can see no discernible difference in picture quality between this and phones with 5+ megapixels. With a memory card it has rendered my mp3 player obsolete and while the sound quality isn't fantastic it means less clutter to carry around. Some have commented that the phone looks chunky and outdated but I prefer the solidness of this model, it reminds me of the old nokia 3310 series and shares the common feature that both phones are nearly indestructible. The internet browsing capabilities obviously don't compare to more modern phones but I have no problem checking email and facebook on the go which I find is all I need from a phone. The in-built games are excellent too and there are lots of cheap downloadable games for free or cheap including a great GTA clone that kept me entertained for ages. It can be picked up for extremely little now and will always be my phone of choice. Sadly, the 4 and 6 keys on my phone recently stopped working due to e exposing the unit to strong magnets but I will be replacing it with the same model and will probably continue to do so until another phone of comparable quality becomes so affordable.
Marijuana is probably the safest legal or illegal drug in existence. Despite the scare stories in the tabloid press it has been shown to have a variety of beneficial effects, such as pain relief and appetite increase for people undergoing chemotherapy, or in treating glaucoma for example. A lot of the legalisation organisations such as NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) have focussed on marijuana's medicinal properties in an attempt to get it legalised. Yet this is not the reason why it should be made legal. Marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol-it has few to none recorded deaths depending on which study you refer to, it does not cause a person to be violent or unpleasant. Generally the effect it has on a person is only of detriment to that person and as adults we should have the right to choose what we do or do not put into our bodies. Could it be argued that marijuana is more harmful say than repeated daily consumption of fast food? Daily marijuana consumption can lead to inactivity, lethargy, paranoia and a number of other side effects and in a tiny amount of people with predisposition it can lead to schizophrenia. These should be taken seriously. But criminalising it only puts it in the hands of criminals, results in inferior product which is often sprayed with additives or in the case of soapbar hash has been linked to lungs collapsing. It is crazy to make something so relatively benign illegal, and the tax revenue could raise a lot of funds for a cash-strapped government.
After moving into a room with insufficient desk space for a computer I was in the market for a wireless keyboard and mouse to use to surf from my lap. I wasn't disappointed. This keyboard has endured spillages, knocks and severe mistreatment and has only run out of batter once since buying it in May 2009. Unfortunately the mouse did not fare as well and was accidentally knocked into a glass of rum and coke, causing its early death, however the keyboard got along just fine with the new wireless mouse I bought which was a different brand and never caused any problems. It rarely bugs me to update its software, can usually signal to the computer easily from anywhere in the room and if it is having trouble pressing the connect button on the underside resolves that problem instantly. All in all a highly recommended peripheral, if this one breaks I will certainly buy the same one. Only gripe is highly annoying sleep button! I prised this off and it bothers me no longer.
I love coffee and use a cafetiere to make french press coffee before work every morning. After a bonus payout at work I thought it would be worthwhile investing in something that could make my morning cup faster and of a cafe quality but I have to say I was very disappointed to say the least. The coffee from the machine tastes okay but frequently isn't warm enough and this means I have to boil a kettle before I pour the water into the nespresso, negating any extra speed I hoped to get in preparing my morning cup of coffee. The pods are relatively inexpensive but wasteful and overpackaged. I also tried out some hot chocolate pods and was unimpressed by the weak, watery hot chocolate the machine gave out. All in all disappointing as the machine soon found its way onto ebay and I returned to my cafetiere. I wouldn't bother buying this.
The Room is director, actor, producer and all-round renaissance man Tommy Wiseau's film debut. Dubbed "The Citizen Kane of bad movies" the room will astound you with its terrible dialogue, nonsensical plot points that go nowhere ("I definitely have breast cancer!") characters that are appear with no introduction or reason and best of all Tommy Wiseau's terrible and frequently over-dubbed acting ("YEWWRR TAHRIN MEAPARRT LEEHSA") The film embodies the phrase "so bad it's good" to the point where the film became a surprise cult smash in America with midnight showings of the film selling out and the audience participating by yelling along with the terrible lines and throwing plastic cutlery around the cinema whenever one of the many close-up shots of a framed picture of a spoon appeared. Since the film was panned by the critics but embraced ironically by bad film lovers everywhere Wiseau has claimed the film was "meant to be a dark comedy." It wasn't. It's just bad. Watch it.