Ariellalphabet’s Week- Back to Blogging

I’m so glad to be back blogging again! As much as I was grateful for a bit of time off during summer, I really missed doing it. It was a good way to set myself goals and stick to them. I’ve been playing around with my blog schedule recently (on account of having class on Mondays and Fridays) so hopefully in the following weeks I can get into a decent writing schedule. We’ll see!

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My classes on Monday are the best. I’m studying Contemporary American Horror Films as part of my course, and I LOVE horror films. Not just the fact they’re scary, and reflective of cultural worries and fears, but because I like scaring myself. I love scary games, scary films and scary books, and I always have, so getting to study scary films at an academic pace and analysing the subtext of American horror films is absolutely fascinating. In my first week I watched Night of the Living Dead, George Romero’s first zombie film. The only other times I’ve seen it were on tiny TV screens (one time preceded by a ‘horror host’ one night on a random Sky channel) so getting to watch it on the big screen was amazing. The second week’s film was Last House on the Left, but I elected to skip because I honestly cannot stand that film. It’s incredibly hard to watch (which is kind of the point) but there’s a limit. This week, I had to confront my fears and watch the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I didn’t find it as scary as I expected, but my heart still raced at the end! Watching old, classic horrors like Texas Chainsaw Massacre shows how influential they are. As many Resident Evil fans know, Leatherface is the inspiration for Dr Salvadore in RE4 (and thus the reason why people with obstructed faces wielding chainsaws scare the bejeesus out of me) and the chainsaw majinis in RE5, as well as inspiring countless remakes and rip offs.

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Aside from dissecting horror films this week, I’ve jumped on the MMORPG train and started playing World of Warcraft, as well as starting a new blog series to accompany it. Because the new expansion is coming out, the previous games were going for a super cheap price, so I decided to snap it up, and I’m glad I did! I’m having tonnes of fun on it, and I’m currently adventuring a bit on my own. In case you’re wondering (or didn’t read my post, Confessions of a World of Warcraft Noob #1) I play a Blood Elf Warrior on the Chamber of Aspects server. If you want to add me, send me a message and I’ll send you my Battlenet ID!

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I’ve also been preparing for my mini-holiday of the year- my best friend Gina and I are going to London MCM next weekend! We’re cosplaying on the Saturday (I’m Carlos, and Gina is Cecil from Welcome to Night Vale) and on the second day we’re dressing up in Lolita. I bought a new dress especially, and I can’t wait for it to arrive! I haven’t been to London in years so I’m really excited for it! If any of my friends and readers are coming let me know in the comments section and I’ll keep an eye out for you and say hi. Roll on Friday!

It’s been a mostly quiet week for me with lots of video games involved, but that’s just the way I like it. I’m also working hard on my script (an urban fantasy!) and reading Lord of the Rings. It’s such a long book, but JRR Tolkien’s beautiful descriptions makes it more than worth it.

Also, the lovely Mariko over at Gamerwife included a picture of my dumb cat Chet in her Caturday post! Thanks Mariko!

As always, you can find me on Twitter.

 

Confessions of a World of Warcraft Noob #1

Even if you don’t consider yourself particularly nerdy or geeky, you will have heard of World of Warcraft. According to the stereotype, it’s played predominantly by overweight fedora-wearing virgins in their Mum’s basements, but obviously, that’s not true. It’s been a part of nerdy culture for a long time, and WoW itself celebrates its 10th birthday this year. There’s an entire webseries loosely based on it in Felicia Days’ The Guild (which is mostly what made me want to play an MMORPG), there’s documentaries, and South Park have done a parody of it. It attracts thousands of fans worldwide who attend BlizzCon, and were I not poor and living in the UK, I would be right there alongside them. Generally WoW is considered as one of the more hardcore nerdy things to do.

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As many of you may know, I love video games, and I’ve played a lot of them in my time (check out my 30 Day Video Game Challenge for some of my best) but I’ve predominantly been a console gamer, mostly through ease. It’s always been a hell of a lot easier for me to buy myself a console than it is to buy a PC and all the bits you’d need. As far as PC gaming goes, all I’ve really played is Facebook Tetris, Catlateral Damage and the odd Facebook game here and there. My main reason is that I’ve always had a pretty naff laptop. My old laptop was pushing on four years old, regularly blue-screened and the track pad didn’t work. After my laptop was so kindly burgled from my house, I decided to buy a new laptop, and it is so much more powerful and slicker than my old one. Ever since I’ve lived with Daryl he’s been quietly nagging me to start playing WoW with him, and the Boyfriend-Wonder Iain has been saying the same. With a shiny new laptop, I thought, “why not?”

As a quick bit of background, Iain and Daryl have been playing World of Warcraft for six years, and they’ve pretty much seen it all. They’ve watched the new expansions come and go, they’ve beaten the raids, got the epic loot. They’re the most experienced players I know, and basically the best people to help me out on the game. It’s partially been Iain showing me the Warlords of Draenor cinematic (I mean seriously, how good does it look?!) and various other things from the games that has made me want to play it so much, as well as a love for RPG style games that made me jump on board. So, after seeing that Blizzard had put the core game and all expansions going up to Mists Of Pandaria for £9.99 and including a month of free game time, I cracked my knuckles, reached for my bank card, and bought it.

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So, I paid up and got a Battlenet account. Sadly, I picked Patch Day as the day to download it, and so I encountered many technical problems. First it wouldn’t recognise a default language to install in, and then when I fixed that, the download wouldn’t initialise due to ‘network problems’. I put the problems down to strains on the servers and whatnot, and continued trying to download it. Eventually, Daryl managed to fix it with some computer wizardry and it finally installed, and my grand, mega-nerdy World of Warcraft adventure began…

After a bit of research on class and race (thank you Beginner’s Guide!)  I eventually decided on a Blood Elf Warrior. Blood Elf mostly because they look pretty (I know, I know I’m predictable) and Warrior because my main method of playing games is running and dealing damage as quickly as possible. I played a lot of Diablo 3 and Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls on Xbox 360/Xbox One and played as a damage Monk and really enjoyed it. Obviously, Diablo on console is very different to World of Warcraft and a lot more watered down, but I found it to be a good introduction to the game and to the battle systems.

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I’m pretty unfamiliar to general PC controls, and it took me a while to get used to the WASD directions, but I was able to pick it up pretty quickly… I guess you have to when you play for four hours non-stop! After logging Wém in, I began my first quest- killing Mana Wyrms. However, because everything was still up in the air because it was Patch Day, and the Mana Wyrms were killing everyone in one hit. Thankfully, Iain swooped in with his Tauren and took them out for me, so I was able to start the game properly and explore and pick up quests.

That’s more or less what I did for the next hour. I ran around, killed monsters and did quests. Kill Lynxes to get Lynx Collars. That kind of thing. When I finally hit level 15 in the Ghostlands, Iain and Daryl took me through some dungeons which were super fun! There were enemies everywhere, and bosses around every corner. I managed to level really quickly and I finished the night on level 34, with tons of better gear and a better understanding of how everything works in WoW.

I’ll be on again tonight, levelling and doing more dungeons. If you want to add me as a friend on Battlenet, drop me a message on Twitter  and I’ll tell you my ID. Otherwise, I play on the Chamber of Aspects server.

5 Fandom Friday: Characters I Would Love to Dress Up as for Halloween

Huzzah! I’m finally able to make a post for Kristen (SuperSpaceChick) and Megan’s (The Nerdy Girlie) blog link-up project! I’ve missed the last two weeks as I’ve been elsewhere, but I’m super excited to jump on board for this.

I love Halloween. I love it so, so much. It’s not really that big of a deal in the UK though. You get the themed club nights, you get the parties, and of course, you get the costumes and sweeties. Kids trick or treat, but rarely over the age of 10. Last year I spent Halloween hanging out with my friends Gina and Charlotte and watching a frankly dire burlesque performance, and eventually going to a bar ad drinking cocktails like fancy ladies. I’ve been to Halloween/dress up parties, but I’m never anything more exciting than a cat (whiskers drawn on with eyeliner for the win!) and there are tons of characters I’d love to dress up as for a Halloween party…

  • Princess Bubblegum from Adventure Time

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Most people who know me know that I ADORE Adventure Time. I’ve got graphic novels, figures, t-shirts and made most of my friends watch it and love it. I actually bought a blonde wig with the intention of cosplaying as Peebers one day, but I never did, and the wig is still sitting in my wardrobe. I love P-Bubbz because she’s sweet, smart and sassy when she needs to be. Her entire kingdom is super cute candy and it suits me right to the ground! I’ve seen internet queen ALBinwonderland do an amazing Princess Bubblegum cosplay and I’d love to replicate it. However, if I get invited to a Halloween party this year, I may well have to dress up as her…

 

  • Ash from The Evil Dead Trilogy

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I have a mega soft spot for horror films. Whether it’s because I grew up reading and watching Goosebumps and pretty much any other creepy story I could get my hands on, as an adult, I have an undying love for horror films. I watched the Evil Dead Trilogy for the first time two years ago and I completely fell in love with how brilliant the films are. I prefer the second film to the first one mostly because it’s more like comedy-horror and Bruce Campbell does some of the best and funniest body acting I have ever seen! Not only that, the film is packed with hilarious one-liners and Ash’s costume is a classic. Plus, it’d be a super easy costume to get together! I’ve seen an amazing pin-up, female cosplay version of it and it is gorgeous.

 

  • The Lone Wanderer from Fallout 3

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I have played Fallout 3 a lot. My old save file had something like 130+ hours game time, and I consider myself to be a big Fallout fan. I haven’t played the original games yet, but I’d still consider myself to be a pretty big fan. I love the post-apocalyptic open-world exploration in the games. I’ve played New Vegas as well (with roughly the same amount of playtime) but I much prefer Fallout 3, partially because there’s less glitches. I love the story in Fallout 3, and how everything unfolds bit by bit, as well as the amazing 40s/50s music. As much as I love New Vegas, Fallout 3 was my first Bethesda love and so I’d love to dress up as the Lone Wanderer, Pip-Boy and all.

 

  • Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter book series

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Harry Potter was my first fandom. I fell utterly, hopelessly in love with the books when I was a kid, and it’s partly what contributed towards my love of books and the speed at which I read them now that I’m an adult. When Order of the Phoenix came out, I spent the entire summer sat on my doorstep re-reading the books. When I first came across the character of Luna, she was so quirky and funny and adorable I instantly fell in love. I was one of the ‘weird kids’ at my school, so I identified with her a lot. I’ve been a complete Potterhead from the ages of 7-15 she became my literary hero, only just beating out Hermione Granger.

 

  • Classic Jean Grey from X-Men

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Given that my blog is called Comics and Cookies I figure I should include at least once comic book character! I did actually dress up as a casual Kitty Pryde to a fancy dress party a few years ago, but now, I’d rather go Jean Grey. Especially classic, 1960s Jean Grey. That iconic green dress! The yellow belt! The hair! All of these things are what make her a classic. That, and the fact she was one of the most powerful X-Men in the original line-up. Sure, Cyclops could shoot lasers from his eyes, but Jean Grey could move things with her mind, read minds and more. Sure, the whole love story between the two got extremely convoluted, and in the whole Emma Frost vs Jean Grey thing I am so on Emma’s side, it’d still be cool to dress up as Jean, and you can get some really cool themed dresses from We Love Fine.

So what characters would you like to dress up as? Tweet me or comment below!

 

Review of Wytches #1

For me, October is the best month of the year. Everything gets a little bit spookier and darker in the run up to Halloween, and comics are WYTCHES-Cover-1-Final-7cd41absolutely no different. There are a lot more creepy comics coming out, and Wytches from Scott Snyder and Jock is the latest offering from Image Comics. It’s the epitome of what horror comics should be; eerie, creepy and subtle in its scares, not relying on ultraviolence or gore to get its point across. One of the best horror comics I ever read (The Dreaming, by Queenie Chan in case you were interested) stayed with me for so long because the art and story was extremely creepy and eerie. There was one particular panel I couldn’t get out of my head for days, and it always scared me, even though I knew it wasn’t real. That sense of being creeped out for a long time stays with you when you read Wytches, as Snyder and Jock capture horror comics perfectly.

After being subject to a year-long assault by bully Annie and following a violent confrontation, Sailor Rooks and her family decide to move. New school, new scenery, new start, right? Not quite. Sailor is a nervous young girl who’s main way of staying calm throughout the day is keeping to herself, and playing a silly game word game with her Dad involving the slaughter of mythological creatures. While Sailor is at school, her parents stay home; her mother is in a wheelchair, and her father is a graphic novel illustrator, struggling to complete his work. At school, Sailor is asked an awkward question which brings the bullying back up t the surface. Meanwhile at home, the Rooks’ find themselves with a strange visitor in their house… You’ll never want to go into the woods again.

Snyder is no stranger to writing dark comics (He’s been on Batman since the New 52 relaunch, and wrote the incredible 10-issue series The Wake) so Snyder is right at home in this genre. While horror comics are ten-a-penny at this time of the year and in general, Wytches stands out a mile. It presents what feels like a very real threat (who hasn’t been in the woods and felt scared?) and creates superb atmosphere. In one single issue Snyder effectively fleshes out the main characters, establishes the extremely scary threat and manages to throw some of his humour in for good measure. All of the dialogue feels extremely natural and well thought out, and the issue has some incredible moments. The scene where Sailor faces off against her bully is incredibly dark, but it captures how incredibly horrible and twisted bullies can be, and it also made me feel sick to my stomach. Snyder’s taken the kid gloves off with Wytches, and I can’t wait to see how it progresses.

Jock and Matt Hollingsworth’s artwork… What more can I say that hasn’t already been said? Jock’s trademark artwork which is a combination of broad, painted lines and minute detailed ones combined with Hollingsworth’s excellent eye for colour make this comic drop-dead gorgeous. Jock’s frenetic artwork works superbly during the actual horror moments of Wytches, and the two make the nighttime scenes look incredible. It gives off that feeling I haven’t had since I was a kid; it looks like there’s something out there, but I’m not sure what. That feeling of almost infantile fear at what may or may not be there is something that Jock and Snyder capture expertly and bring to the page.

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Wytches is absolutely not for the faint-hearted. It’s a dark, dark story illustrated incredibly by Jock and Hollingsworth, allowing the world to come to life in more ways than one. With only one issue out so far and it successfully selling out in its first print run, expect something amazing from Snyder, Jock and Hollingsworth.

Kickstarter Awesomeness #6: 7String Volume Two by Nich Angell

Welcome once again to Kickstarter Awesomeness, where I provide cool Kickstarter projects with extra coverage!

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This has been my first Kickstarter Awesomeness post in quite some time, but I can’t think of a better project to raise hype for. Nich Angell, the writer and atrist for 7String is a lovely, lovely guy and his work with Jon Lock over on their comic crossover is nothing short of brilliant. Angell’s 7String story is a combination of music and Eastern mysticism, and reads like Dragon Ball Z but with cooler character and weapons. In Angell’s 7String Volume One there’s a degree of classic legendary hero storytelling which perfectly fits the narrative. It’s an extremely cool, creative story, and Angell shows a gift for fantastical storytelling.

However, it’s not volume one I’m raising hype for. If musical fantasy stories are your thing, or you want to see more of Angell’s delightful artwork, read on to find out more about his latest project, which is a sequel to volume one.

In volume one, we follow our hero Zachary Briarpatch as he struggles to control the power of his one of a kind epic guitar sword, the 7String. At the end of volume one, tragedy befalls our young hero at the hands of evil dictator Lars Troubleclef, leading Zachary to vow revenge against him and begins a worldwide journey to hunt him down. However, in Zach’s utopian world, not everything is perfect, and the illusion is beginning to shatter for some people. As the world of Melodia descends into an all out war, Zachary must learn where his music truly comes from and team up to fight a truly colossal evil, which is bigger than Zach, and bigger even than Lars Troubleclef…

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For 7String volume two to go ahead, Angell is currently running a Kickstarter campaign which has been an unprecedented success, reaching almost 75% funding in almost two days of being live. With your help, it can see 100% of funding and come to fruition. There are some pretty neat backer rewards, including digital copies of both volumes of 7String, signed physical copies of both books, posters, the in-book game Bells, and you can see musical immortality and be included as a character in the book, as well as thanks.

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This is Angell’s major graphic novel project, and he calls it “a loveletter to battle-comics, manga and french sci-fi albums, a fusion of emotional storytelling and action, Saturday morning cartoons and a whole new world to get lost in” which is incredibly emblematic of Angell’s approach to 7String and his artistic influences. He goes on to say, “World-building is a major love of mine. I’m a huge fan of any story that bothers to map out its world, specify cultures and their history, to think about the details like currencies and flags… all that stuff makes these places real. World-building is a major defining aspect to 7STRING.”

If you’re interested in supporting the project, you can find it on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/234373302/7string-volume-2-ready-to-launch

You can also find Nich on Twitter if you have any questions: @nichangell

You can find more information about his other work on his website: http://www.nichangell.co.uk/

You can buy volume one of 7String on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/7STRING-Volume-Graphic-Novel-Manga/dp/1927384087/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386520465&sr=8-1&keywords=7string+comic

If you’re in the Nottingham area this weekend, you can come and see him (and me!) at Nottingham Comic Con.

 

The Day of Dredd

Us comic geeks are pretty rabid fans. If one thing isn’t quite the way we want it, we can orchestrate an online riot. Sure, it can be pretty dumb sometimes (I once saw someone advising fans to boycott The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug because reasons) but other times, it’s allowed a large group of people to bond together over a common cause and put their man- and woman-power into something that’s important to them. There’s been pages and pages of conjecture about what the Fantastic Four film is gonna be like, or who’s gonna be in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but it all pales in comparison to the Dredd fans and what they want.

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Dredd. This British-made 2012 film stands as being one of the most faithful comic book adaptations out there. It succeeded in capturing the dark, dystopian world of 2000AD’s Judge Dredd, arguably one of the most successful properties to come out of 2000AD. Judge Dredd strips have been on the go since 1977, and he appeared in #2 of the weekly British sci-fi anthology and has been one of the most enduring characters to date, with annuals, 24 strip collections on Amazon, toys, two films and countless fan films. As well as this, Judge Dredd and 2000AD have been a rock within the British comics industry and have proven a jumping point for many famous comic writers and authors, with people such as Grant Morrison and Alan Moore finding their feet there. Judge Dredd and his world have had a huge influence on the world (and not just because I’m named after Psi-Judge Cassandra Anderson!) and that is how we came to have two films about Judge Joe Dredd.

However, those two films are very, very different.

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For an example of how different the films are, just look at the costumes. LOOK AT STALLONE’S HORRIBLE CODPIECE! No-one needs their eyes drawn to that.

On the left, we have a still from Judge Dredd, the 1995 flick starring Sylvester Stallone. On the right, we have a still from Dredd, with Karl Urban as the eponymous character. The outfits are enough to see the differences between the films. Judge Dredd was a horrendously campy buddy-cop film which acted only as a vehicle to progress Stallone, and let him show off his ‘acting chops’. With only one shot in the film even vaguely resembling the true world of Judge Dredd from the comics, you can see why so many fans are bitter. Sure, it was the 90s. You can’t really blame anyone for anything to do with that trainwreck. At least, that’s what I tell myself when I hear Stallone slur “I am the law!” and I shudder, as if the ghost of a potentially great film has walked over my grave.

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However, that’s where Dredd steps in. Made by people who truly love the source material which is clear from the film itself which has layers of easter eggs aimed at fast-eyed viewers, it stays true to the source material whilst also creating a new story. The story itself was set-up in 2000AD, with a brief comic explaining the history of the main antagonist, Ma-Ma appearing online previously, and a comic-novelisation of the film being released earlier this year with art by the inimitable Jock, Dredd was able to cross the line between comic and film extremely easy. You didn’t have to know a huge amount of the back-story of Dredd to enjoy the film, and you could enjoy the short-comic as it was- a short comic with some downright dark origins.

Part of what makes Dredd as a film so good to fans is that is simultaneously captured the dark, dystopian world of Judge Dredd, whilst still maintaining some of it’s more overtly sci-fi factors. It streamlines everything down, and makes it a believable, futuristic cop film about law and justice. Everything is slick, functional and no-nonsense. It’s not excessive, and it’s beautiful in its minimalism. Because it’s been a runaway hit with fans around the world, it’s been designated a cult classic, having received huge DVD sales and streaming records. However, with so much source material existing, why isn’t there a sequel for this incredible film?

Well, that’s a good question. There’s sequels for every other dumb comedy (Dumb and Dumber To, just as an example), and there’s adaptations, or at least rumours of adaptations, for pretty much every property out there (the recent news of a Tetris film just has me shaking my head) but there’s nothing about a Dredd sequel. There are so many stories that could be adapted for it. A Dark Judges film, with a more dark, supernatural leaning would be fantastic. A film about the rise of Judge Death ending in the Pyrrhic victory for Dredd would be superb. However, it’s the same story with a lot of other 2000AD properties. There was an adaptation of Hardware, a Future Shocks strip which was alright. There’s been rumours of an adaptation based on Arthur Ranson and John Wagner’s epic Button Man story for years, but nothing ever came of it. It’s certainly not that there’s no interest in the film; a quick google of ‘Dredd’ or ‘Dredd sequel’ offers dozens of fans writing about how they want a sequel, and how the film-makers want a sequel.

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However, to the average layperson, what’s the big deal? What is it that makes Dredd so amazing?

There’s a number of things. As I’ve already mentioned, it was made by people who loved the source material, and that shows through in the impeccable cinematography, creative camerawork, and pretty ace story. Even if you don’t know the world of Dredd, you can appreciate it as being a cool, futuristic cop film with guns that explode if picked up by someone other than their owner. What other film are you gonna find that in? Furthermore, dystopian films and properties are very in right now. While it kills me to admit that the dystopian society of Dredd can fit right alongside the other films that are like that right now, this subgenre gave it promise. Except, whereas in other dystopian films we’re cheering for the ‘good guys’ in Dredd… It’s kind of questionable. Everyone’s morals are at question, and that’s what makes it interesting. Another pull for Dredd  is that it represents a horrible possibility. It’s no big secret that the world is getting paranoid with CCTV on every corner, and slowly becoming an Owellian wonderland. Police are getting harsh; in the world of Dredd, the police are judge, jury and executioner and being harsh is their bread and butter. Simply put, it doesn’t take a conspiracy nut, a genius or a film student to note the comparisons.

As well as all the cool subtextual stuff (I’m a film student, I go looking for this stuff) it just looks cool. I saw it in cinemas in 3D, and my only regret is that I didn’t catch it in iMax. Every action scene throughout the film, every fist fight, every gun fight, everything has spectacular choreography, which when coupled with the stunning cinematography, makes it amazing to look at. Everything is done with care and attention. Unlike a lot of other action films, although still alike British action films, it’s gritty. It’s unbelievably gritty, and this adds to the effect. At it’s heart, Dredd is about two cops going into a drug-dealers land and fucking shit up. Right up. And it looks great. You find yourself cheering for Dredd and Anderson, only because their wrongdoings and morals are better (but how much better?) than Ma-Ma’s.

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It is most certainly a cop film, and to an extent, it’s buddy cop film, but an unwilling one. That said, the female character, Psi-Judge Anderson may be a rookie, but she is by no means harmless and pathetic. She’s strong, she’s powerful, and she does it in her own way. She can take a guy out using her mind just as quickly as Dredd can with his lawgiver. Yeah, she’s feisty, and funny, and Dredd ends up saving her at the end, but there’s no tacked-on romance. It’s work between colleagues, and life will go on afterwards. Olivia Thirlby plays her excellently, and combines a certain degree of naivete with quiet determination. The interactions between Anderson and Dredd (Karl Urban) work spectacularly, and both actors show off what they can do. Obviously Karl Urban’s role as Judge Dredd requires him to keep his helmet on at all times and restricts vision of the face, but he works around it, and he makes Judge Dredd work. Dredd is strong, powerful, and threatening all in one, and Urban plays him perfectly.

Yes, the film is gory. It’s violent, it’s bloody… But it couldn’t be any other way. It’s a reflection of the world that Judge Dredd lives in, a dark, dystopian America where everyone is guilty until proven innocent, and heavy-handed and violent is the way it has to be.

Day of Dredd is a day of petitioning, of buying the film, of streaming it in an attempt to get it noticed and to further the petition to get a sequel made.

Now are you with me, creep? Or do you need some time in the iso-cubes to decide?

You can buy Dredd on Amazon here:

You can stream it on Netflix if you’re in the UK.

You can read mine and my Dad’s reviews on Dredd here and here.

Sign the petition for a sequel here.

You can find more information about the petition and numerous memes featuring ol’ Stoneyface here on Facebook.

Life + the Last Three Months

Hello everyone! Wow, it’s been a while.

 

If you follow/ed me on Twitter in July, you’ll know that my house got burgled, and my laptop, games consoles and video games got taken, basically limiting anything I wanted to do or could do. I can quite honestly say that coming downstairs one morning and finding my things gone was one of the most surreal and humiliating experiences of my life. To be fair, I was in dire, dire need of a new laptop (I’d had my old Vaio since 2010 and I’m frankly impressed it’d lasted so long!) but it was enough to make me feel paranoid within my own home for quite a while. It’s not a pleasant experience to live through, and sadly law enforcement couldn’t really help us very much, so my housemate Daryl, the Boyfriend-Wonder Iain and I just carried on with our lives, albeit a hell of  a lot more concerned about our security.

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So, what else have I been doing without my laptop and Xbox 360, my two main sources of activity? A bit of everything! There was still one 360 left in our house (thank god for Daryl having a messy desk!) and he bought us Diablo 3, one of the most addictive games I have ever played in my life. Throughout the summer I have played it a whole lot. Daryl, Iain and I managed a 19-hour marathon one day, which looking back, is frankly impressive and worrying! As well as Diablo 3, we got the expansion Reaper of Souls, and then eventually upgraded to Xbox One, which is my current console of choice! I don’t have many games at current (I share Titanfall and Destiny with Iain currently) but I am looking forward to getting The Evil Within, the new release from Bethesda.

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As well as playing video games, I’ve had varying temp jobs at university. It’s nothing permanent, but hey- at least it’s experience. Throughout September, I’ve been helping new students that come to university and handing out lollies! However, I did get to do some promotion work for Lou Lou’s Vintage Fair, the monthly vintage fair that comes to Sheffield. It was exhausting work (holding a sign up for five hours in baking July heat was not fun) but I got to dress up in my best vintage dress, and despite the fact that I was boiling and had the worst sunburn I’ve ever experienced in my life (I couldn’t even lay on my back, it was so bad) I got a lot of compliments. I’d do it again, but I’d definitely consult the weather forecast first!

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Iain and I also invested in Netflix, and have subsequently lost many an evening thanks to the autoplay function. We’ve almost finished watching the first season of Orange is the New Black, I watched all of Archer, and we’ve recently started watching Bones. When I was younger, I used to watch a lot of crime dramas. CSI, CSI: NY and even CSI: Miami were some of my favourite shows, but I pretty much overdosed on them, and got very, very bored with the formulaic cop show. However, after chatting to Iain one evening about  cop shows, we ended up putting Bones on and it rekindled my love for it. It’s such an easy show to pick up and watch and the cases and the science behind the show are always super interesting.

I made my usual trip to Lincoln Steampunk Asylum and had a wonderful time! However, my dumb camera decided to break that weekend, and I didn’t like to use my phone camera, so I took a teeny tiny amount of pictures. I went with my best friend Gina, but we didn’t end up spending much time together as she was seeing other friends. We weren’t in that many pictures either (compared to previous years, where we’d been approached by the same photographers) so I wasn’t able to show off my cool outfit, which Gina described as ‘part engineer, part bodyguard’ which is more or less what I was going for! However, I did get basically the best selfie ever (which is adorning all my social networks) which I’m pretty happy with. It can be so hard to get a good selfie!

Now, classes have started back at university. I’m studying American Contemporary Horror Film this semester (basically my main cinematic love) and I got to watch Night of the Living Dead on a 35mm print today and apart from some technical problems, it was incredible. I can’t wait to watch the rest of the films that are being shown! I have a shiny new laptop now too (it’s purple!) so I’ll be back to blogging. I’m working out a schedule to fit in and around my classes and social life in the foreseeable future and will hopefully be averaging 3-4 posts a week. I can afford to get comics again now too, so I have some catching up to do! What decent comics have I missed? What do you want me to review? Let me know in the comments section or on Twitter.

This week I have a post planned for  Dredd Day on October 1st, and one covering Nottingham Comic Con, which I’m hitting up this weekend. Hope to see you there!

In the meantime, you can always catch me on Twitter, nerding out over something or being confused by men’s hairstyles.

100 Days of Being Geek Chic and Healthy: Motivation! 

Today’s post isn’t a handy app review, introduction, or step-by-step guides. Today’s post is essentially a repost of something I saw on Tumblr which always makes me feel a bit more motivated to get up and do stuff. If you replace Thing in the following passage with housework, it still works, which neatly fits into this week’s theme- the home!

Reasons why you should do Thing (*ω)

1. Every hour you spend doing Thing right now is an extra hour you will get to sleep. (◡‿◡✿)

2. Every hour you spend doing Thing right now is an extra hour you will get to read or talk with friends or watch that new episode of your favourite TV show or do something else you really love doing. ヽ(‘ ∇‘ )ノ

3. You will have to do Thing eventually whether you like it or not! Face Thing head-on and get it over with. You will look back and say to yourself, wow, I am so glad I did Thing three hours ago.  ∩( ・ω・)∩

4. You will spend the same amount of time doing Thing whether you do Thing now or at 4am. You might as well get Thing done earlier! ≧(´▽`)≦

5.  Every time you do not do Thing or do Thing really late when you’re tired and cranky and stressed out you feel like crap about yourself. If you do Thing now, you can avoid that stress and crankiness. Future you will be happy! °˖✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧˖°

6. It is midnight in a scary house and all of a sudden you see Thing! It is huge and scary and it has lots of teeth and you want to run away and hide. But then Thing meows and you realize that Thing was just a little kitty cat and you were seeing its shadow reflected on the wall. You should not dread doing Thing because your mind has made it seem a lot bigger and scarier than it actually is. Once you start working on Thing, you will realize how silly it is to make huge scary monsters out of kitty cats!  ヽ(‘ ∇‘ )ノ

7. Do not curl up into a ball and think about how horrible you are for not getting Thing done earlier! You are not alone. We all do it! We all procrastinate and avoid doing Thing. It is alright. For now, try to numb yourself and just focus on doing Thing. It will be okay. (*´・v・)

8. Stop every half hour and remind yourself of all the reasons why you should not procrastinate and do Thing earlier. I promise you that you will be able to gather the courage to do Thing. Good luck! (´ω`★)

 

(Sadly I couldn’t find a link to the OP!)

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If Nic Cage can get work, you can clean your house/do your work/rule the planet!

Check out other posts in this project here:

http://nerdy-birdieblog.blogspot.co.uk/

http://melificent.com/

http://truegeekchic.wordpress.com/

http://emmpossible.com/

http://6ftinheels.blogspot.ca/

Advance Review: Blood Blokes #4 by Adam Cadwell

Vampires have more or less fallen out of popular culture. Sure, there’s True Blood, the news that Anne Rice is writing another Vampire Lestat book and Twilight still exists, but it is shunted to the outside. However, the vast majority of vampire media is all about romance and complicated love triangles and that assorted lame-ness, so it seems pretty rare to find a diamond amongst the rough.  I’m as much a fan of vampire media as the next gal or guy, but the love stories bore me to tears. Give me violent, blood sucking vampires. Give me down to earth vampires. Give me vampires chilling in the modern day watching dumb films. Adam Cadwell (known for autobio comic The Everyday and being one of th minds behind publishers Great Beast Comics) has been working on a comic which pretty much fills every criteria in a comic about vampires that I could possibly want.

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Vince had quite possibly the worst New Year’s Eve. He loses his job, loses his girlfriend, and due to an errant vampire bat accidentally released by a clumsy goth girl, loses his life and loses his humanity. Issues 1-3 of Blood Blokes have dealt with Vince adapting to the never-ending afterlife with new room-mates Arianna, Mike and Douglas, a trio of vampires who are making the most of being vampires.  Blood Blokes #4 deals with Douglas trying to teach Vince how to hunt and get blood, high among the streets of Manchester. As well as Vince making his first shaky steps into chasing down human blood, it deals with Vince’s unresolved issues with his ex as he makes a narrow escape after going home to retrieve his most prized possessions (some CDs, band tees and a fully completed save of Goldeneye, obvs) and is saved by Ari after he learns an important lesson about vampire physiology. Meanwhile, a strange vampire is going around the local goth clubs trying to find the owner of the vampire bat and piece together Vince’s story together…

Written and drawn by the awesome Adam Cadwell and with back cover art by Paul Duffield and some totally ace pin-ups by Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, Andy Bloor and James Lawrence, Blood Blokes #4 is the latest instalment in Cadwell’s superb vampire-slacker story. Plus, it totally wins plus points for having a character named Ari in it. Jus’ saying.

Dancing goths!

Dancing goths!

This issue focusses more on surviving and the necessities of living as a vampire. While the preceding issues have been light-hearted and a bit silly (watching trashy 50s pulp sc-fis with a bunch of vampires? Count me in!) #4 taps into the emotional and dramatical vein of storytelling. Cadwell readily demonstrates how to balance humour and progressive storytelling with #4, and makes the long wait between issues so worth it. The storytelling itself is superb, and #4 balances a variety of subplots in such a way all of them feel necessary and important, as well as continuing in the same vein as the rest of the story. The dialogue and character interactions are absolutely hilarious and well-written. All of the vampires and side-characters resolutely have their own voices and they all stand out in their own way. While Douglas’ speech may be a little outdated, it merely adds to the fact that he’s an old-as-balls vampire, and knows the most out of this little crew. 21st Century Vamp is now in part four of its first storyline, and if the rest of the series continues in this way, I’ll be super excited to see where it goes. I’ll need my fix of lazy slacker vampires! I really like how this issue focusses on the interactions between vamps, humans and other vamps, and I really enjoyed the scene where Douglas taught (or tried to teach) Vince how to attack humans and drink blood. While it may follow the same story of inducting the new vampire into his/her new life, Cadwell makes it new, different and exciting with his unique storytelling and artwork.

I absolutely adore Cadwell’s artwork. Blood Blokes is in simple black and white which Cadwell uses to the maximum effect, and calls to mind the Hernandez brothers work on Love and Rockets, with his simplistic-but-still-complex character design, and use of shading and block colours and backgrounds. All of the panels throughout #4 are hugely detailed and look incredible, even with a lack of colour. No two people in Cadwell’s work look the same, not even when a vital scene takes place in a goth club; Cadwell has clearly taken the time to draw each and every character uniquely. I’ve been a fan of Cadwell’s artwork for quite a while now (having followed The Everyday religiously and checking out his various other pin-ups and artwork) and it’s on absolute top form here. He excels at drawing laidback domestic scenes as well as action-packed scenes and that’s what is so important about the book. The artwork flows from panel to panel, and above all else? It looks absolutely ace.

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Blood Blokes is like Spaced meets Lost Boys with a dash of Interview With the Vampire thrown in for good measure. Cadwell’s superb storytelling combines epic action and high-octane drama with strong plot progression and gorgeous artwork. Blood Blokes is one of the greatest, funniest comics I’ve read in a long time and breathes new life into the tired genre.

Blood Blokes #4 debuts this weekend at MCM Manchester (19th-20th July) and the digital copy will be available on the 21st July, with physical copies shipped on the 23rd.

You can preorder it on the Great Beast site for £2.99, or pick up the bundle which collects issue 1-4 for £10.

If you want to see more of Adam Cadwell’s ace work, check out his site: http://www.adamcadwell.com/

 

100 Days of Geek Chic and Healthy, Day 2: Task Hammer Review

So, I’m kicking off the Geek Chic & Healthy challenge with a review of one of my favourite apps. To explain briefly, I’m super scatterbrained. I have used lists to help me organise everything in my life (there was a time in my life I’d make weekly to-do lists which would often consist of 40+ items) since I was a young teenager. I find that making lists of chores helps to keep me focussed on things and usually helps, and that’s where Task Hammer comes in.

Home screen

Home screen

Task Hammer is a free app for Android phones (sadly it’s not available on iOS) and is an RPG organisation game/application. That sounds like a mouthful, but it’s incredibly simple. You make yourself a character (you can be an Unknown Stranger, Barbarian, Rogue or Sorceress) and get started. You input tasks you need to do (wash the pots, walk the dog, go the gym etc) and designate their importance (this governs how much EXP your character gets to level up, and is low, medium, high, or highest), their attribute (you can choose from strength, vitality, intelligence, perserverence and charisma, which makes me think of Dungeons and Dragons SO much!) when it needs to be done (you can pick any date between now and forever) and finally, you can add any notes, with no character limit.

My task list. When you've done each task, you check it off to gain EXP.

My task list. When you’ve done each task, you check it off to gain EXP.

Aaaand that’s basically it. It’s an organisational app which lets you roleplay as someone from a video game. The EXP you get from completing each task makes your character level up, which while giving you nothing in the material or digital plane, gives you a damn good sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Sure, there are ways to cheat the app (creating a task to make a cup of tea and designating it highest to get a big burst of EXP) but I found myself barely doing it.

I’ve been using the app since about March and I’ve had absolutely zero problems with it. Every morning, I open it up, input the tasks I want to get done, and it helps me keep track. It’s never crashed on me, and it has minimal settings, so there’s practically no hassle. The only niggle I have with it is the character editing. All the other roles are guys looking badass and the sorceress is a busty gal giving come-hither eyes- it’s not really a fair selection. It took me a while to completely understand the task designations, but there’s an FAQ included within the app to help explain things a bit, but it’s still fairly vague.

While there are other apps like this on the market, this is definitely one of the easiest to use, and is super helpful.

For more posts in the 100 Days of Geek Chic and Healthy, check out this site: http://nerdy-birdieblog.blogspot.co.uk/