Tuesday 31 July 2012

Today's Review: The Vet's Inability To Get Our Cat's Name Right

Well, I'm a couple of weeks into owning a cat, and up until now it was relatively inexpensive. Then today we took her to the vet and splashed out £50 to get her first set of jabs. Yeah, first, there's more to come. I know babies have a lot of jabs, but at least they're free. 

Anyway, our cat's name is Bibi, because her white markings make it look like she's wearing a bib. I don't know man, I didn't choose it. It's a weird name, sure, but when we called up the vets to book the appointment and enunciated the name clearly, we did not expect to be called into our appointment by a woman saying "Have you got Biddy?"

Yes, Biddy. It's even plastered all over the records they gave us. Seriously, Biddy? Why would anyone give their cat the same name as an annoying old woman? It probably should have set off alarm bells when they didn't first ask us to spell out the name, but I didn't think they could get it that wrong. I'm sure if I said the cat's name was "Arsehole" they would have double checked. Oh well, maybe we'll just have to get another cat and call it "Coot", although I can only imagine how they'd get that one wrong...

My rating: 0/5

Monday 30 July 2012

Today's Review: Biscuit Crunch

We've had a Home Bargains open up in town, and indeed there are bargains. It's like Poundland, but with less shitty but slightly more expensive stuff, or just as shitty but cheaper stuff. Amazing. One of the many items I flung into my basket was this variety of Crunch I'd never tried before. Only 49p!

It's basically your regular Crunch bar, but instead of the Rice Krispie type cereal there's biscuit. An interesting change, and I must say quite a nice one. The pieces are more filling, they have a nicer texture, it's just more of a substantial bar in general. Plus the chocolate is still as good as ever. If you're a fan of Crunch, try and hunt one of these down, I for one think it's better than the original.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday 29 July 2012

Today's Review: Leaving Blockbuster

Yes, today was my last day at the job I have worked at for over four years. The job that enabled me to watch so many movies, and made this whole review a day thing possible. Sure, I seem to have strayed more into the food review territory, but it was the movies that inspired me to start writing this. But fear not, what few dedicated readers I may have out there, I will still review some movies. It's just now I won't be able to get so many for free, and that's probably the worst thing about leaving Blockbuster. Going from ten free rentals a week to none will take some getting used to.

Not that it was awful working there. Sure, it had its bad times and problems, but what job doesn't? But I had the opportunity to work with some good people, in a relatively relaxed environment, and I'll most certainly look back upon my time there with rose tinted glasses. For now though, it's on to a new job. Not a particularly spectacular move, I'm now working at Tesco. But it gives me more fixed hours, giving me more spare time to improve on my writing and work on getting some other things done with my life. Your time gets sapped quickly when you watch movies all the time. So expect a lot more food related reviews, but don't give up hope, I sure won't stop watching movies. 

So yes, I feel good about my decision. It's a catalyst for change, one that will hopefully lead to me pursuing other things, working towards that "proper job" I should have had since leaving university. But you can't leave somewhere you've worked for four years of your life and not feel a little apprehensive. I had some good times. I was comfortable. But sometimes you've got to move on if you want to move forward. Here's to the next great adventure.

My rating: 3/5

Saturday 28 July 2012

Today's Review: The Olympics Opening Ceremony

I'm not a sporty person, nor am I a fan of sports. I don't care about the Olympics at all. But my country is so enamoured with it I feel I have to at least be aware of things. To be perfectly honest I'm not a patriotic person either, and for a while I was scoffing at people who were brimming with British pride. Then I realised that makes me a douche, and if people want to be proud of their country and excited for a worldwide event then good on them. Whatever makes them happy. So last night I watched the opening ceremony, and while my brain came up with many sarcastic comments, as is the norm for me, I must say it wasn't too bad.

Sure, the show at the start was over an hour of British masturbatory pleasure, but it was well planned,  and had a pretty impressive scope. The forged rings, the cauldron, all very visually impressive. It was good to see the best of Britain scattered around for good measure, Mr. Bean, James Bond and... Dizzee Rascal? Yeah, that whole digital revolution thing wasn't a particularly great point, since it seemed to focus on how loud teenagers use technology to meet up in clubs and listen to awful music. 

Still, we got some good music in the end. Arctic Monkeys covering The Beatles, Paul McCartney being tacked on at the end instead of with the Arctic Monkeys... That was weird. Saying that, a lot of people are hating on him for his performance. Come on people, he's 70 years old, you see if you can do better. I farkin' loved it.

There was a large part of me that wanted to cringe, to say how lame it all was, but the truth is I quite enjoyed it. There was the boring bit in the middle with the procession of the country's teams, but I nodded off during that so it didn't affect me too much. Plus it was fun listening to the commentators trying to come up with something to say for the most obscure countries. But I'm glad I watched it. It was nice to be part of something, even if I don't feel that buzz that everyone else does. I probably won't watch any of the sports, but that show, while a little cheesy in places, was pretty awesome.

My rating: 4/5

Friday 27 July 2012

Today's Review: Relentless Tropical Juiced

There's nothing that makes me more excited than trying a new energy drink flavour. Okay, that was a lie, but it's pretty cool. Especially when this one pounces upon my love of tropical juice.

It pulls it off quite well too. It's a very nice flavour, not too coconutty likes my tropical juices can be. It didn't really give my brain the kick that original flavoured energy drinks do, but it's definitely nicer than the regular juiced version. Not sure if it beats berry Relentless though.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday 26 July 2012

Today's Review: Rocky Chockas

You know how to extend the life of your biscuit bar? Change the shape slightly and package it in a different way. That's how we have Rocky Chockas, a new form of Rocky that's not individually wrapped, so you don't have to feel guilty about eating them all.

It's pretty much like a regular Rocky bar, but in fact this promises to be "chock" full of all these lovely chocolate and toffee bits, lying on top of the normal biscuity part:

Not exactly bursting out like they are in the picture, but they're there, and they are actually quite nice, making this a more substantial Rocky. Plus all those random chunks thrown in create some interesting patterns on top of the biscuit. I call this one "Cocks In Carbonite":

Cover a random arrangement of chunks in chocolate and you're bound to see penises at some point. But I'm not rating this snack on its phallic appearance, I'm rating it by taste, and these biscuits manage to surpass the original Rocky bar in my eyes. Those extra chunks make all the difference.

My rating: 5/5

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Today's Review: Mirror, Mirror

Ooh look, it's one of them fairy tales, but it's done all cheeky with real people like. I've never seen that before, except for Stardust, which probably did it a whole lot better, if only because it had Robert De Niro in a dress.

So here we have Julia Roberts as the evil queen, Lily Collins as Snow White, and a bunch of dwarves as... dwarves. But hey, at least we have Nathan Lane as the queen's advisor/stand in huntsman, and he's always delightful.

Yes, it's a rehashing of the old Snow White tale, but it's got a little something extra too. You can't have a passive, screaming, useless Snow White like you used to, no, this one has a bit of sass. It turns out the dwarves themselves are thieves, and it takes them a while to warm to our heroine, but once everything's dandy the movie takes a bit of a Robin Hood twist. I suppose it's to inject som extra life and action into the old story, and in some ways it works quite well.

It's mostly let down by the acting and the dialogue. We have Julia Roberts spouting sarcastic lines at every opportunity, which gets old after about two minutes. The prince is just silly most of the time. It seems like they rush through a lot of plot points too, even though the movie is quite long. There's some secret hideout that the queen goes to that's never really explained, we just have to take it as it is.

So yes, this isn't a great movie, but it's not as bad as I was expecting either. It held my attention for the most part, and my kids liked it, so I'd say it's a good one for the family to watch. There's a fair amount of action and humour injected into it to keep it fresh, it's just let down by a few flaws. It's not the fairest of them all, but it is fair.

My rating: 3/5

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Today's Review: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

These guys get such a bad rep. They're seen as the losers of the cookie world. Why have oatmeal when you can have chocolate, or peanut butter, or caramel or toffee or some other unhealthy foodstuff? Putting raisins in cookies is some kind of huge turn off apparently. But I disagree. I am a fan of flapjacks, granola bars, and dammit I love oatmeal raisin cookies.

There's something just quite refreshing about them. The way the dough is rolled with the oats gives a fuller yet stickier texture which fills you up more than a regular cookie. The fruity kick the raisins give is refreshing, and hey, at least you can pretend you're being somewhat healthy.

Don't get me wrong, I love a chocolate chip cookie as much as the next guy. But I would certainly not turn my nose up at an oatmeal raisin. When I bake at home, I normally whip a batch of these up, it's hard not to. Plus I love my own more because I don't put in that dash of cinnamon that seems to have become the norm. But even with that they're still good. You hear that? I think they're awesome even with cinnamon in. Now that's a good cookie.

My rating: 5/5

Monday 23 July 2012

Today's Review: The Dark Knight Rises

I've waited patiently for four years, but now it's over. The trilogy is complete, and with it my IMAX virginity has been taken. I certainly did clIMAX. Or should I say, my dark knight rose. But that would imply I have a gangrenous penis or something. Let's continue.

Yes, the caped crusader returns, striking fear into the hearts of Gotham's criminals. Or does he? I'll try and keep the spoilers to an absolute minimum, but Rises takes place eight years after the conclusion of The Dark Knight, and apparently things have been quite uneventful in Gotham in that time. But when a powerful new enemy emerges from the depths, Bruce Wayne must once again suit up and bond with allies old and new to save his city once again.

Tom Hardy plays our bad guy this time, the massive, intimidating Bane. I rewatched The Dark Knight last night, and I still can't get over how great Heath Ledger's Joker was. It's a tremendously difficult role to live up to, but I had a fair amount of faith in Hardy. Though his voice is somewhat ridiculous behind that mask of his, Bane is certainly a force to be reckoned with. The Joker's plan was merely to create chaos, he was unpredictable, and the humour he injected into the proceedings made them all the more intimidating. But Bane has a plan, and he has the power to follow it through. Throughout the whole movie he is a lurking presence, and is unrelentingly terrifying.

Yes, Bane indeed has a plan, and if you thought Gotham seemed bad under the reign of The Joker, you haven't seen anything yet. This movie is long, about two and three quarter hours, but it's suitably epic. While we start off with a relatively peaceful Gotham, and spend some time getting reacquainted with old characters and introduced to new, the action quickly builds right up until the grand finale, which sent chills down my spine several times in terms of its scope and execution.

Nolan has done it again. This man can make a damn fine movie, and after setting the bar ridiculously high with The Dark Knight it's a real testament to his skill that he's managed to craft another masterpiece, especially since he wasn't sure about it to begin with. It's beautifully filmed, the sweeping shots of Gotham, especially in the darker hours of the movie, are fantastic. The characters are tried and tested, there are changes of hearts and redemptions. The themes and motifs carried over from the previous movies are still valid and hold strong. The only slight qualm I did have was with Anne Hathaway's Selina Kyle. She just didn't feel as fleshed out as everyone else, and her inclusion seemed somewhat tacked on, but I learned to love her in the end.

But I've been reading reviews. Turns out some people didn't think this was too great, and the only real consistent complaint I've seen against it was that it was too dark, and lacking in humour. No shit, this is Nolan's Batman. Did you think you were going to see Adam West running around with a giant comedy bomb? Of course this will be dark, have you not seen the others? Sure, there was humour in The Dark Knight, but that was just part of the terror. Sure, The Dark Knight Rises may not be the most perfect movie in existence, plot holes and inconsistencies will be picked up, but that's the case with any movie. But I left that cinema knowing that I have watched a completely awesome movie. One that I will most definitely watch again, probably many times over.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday 22 July 2012

Today's Review: The Fact That No One's Ruined The Dark Knight Rises For Me Yet

I'm going to see The Dark Knight Rises tomorrow morning. It's been out for three whole days already. I was expecting to have duck and dodge from people telling me how amazing it is, or what happens, because people are generally inconsiderate douches who don't know the meaning of "spoiler alert". But surprisingly, I've been okay.

I mean, I work at Blockbuster. It would have been so easy for a movie nut to walk in and spill the beans. People have done it before, but generally for movies I don't care about. But my faith in humanity has been restored, as no one has burst in screaming the plot at the top of their lungs. So I'm gonna be okay. I'll walk into that cinema tomorrow spoiler free. It will be good.

My rating: 5/5

P.S. Anyone who wants to be a douchebag and comment on this with a spoiler, I'm letting you know you won't be effective. Once this is published I'm going dark. I'm watching The Dark Knight, sleeping, then waking up and heading straight for the movie. Take that, spoilerators.

Saturday 21 July 2012

Today's Review: McDonald's Cheddar Deluxe

Well, that sure looks appetising. Just kidding, I'm not one of those people.

It's summer here in Britain, not that it's acting like it. But now that McDonald's has forced people to buy their regular burgers so they can get Monopoly stickers, it's time to roll out the "deluxe" burgers to last us through the remaining summer months. Since this is a year to celebrate Britain apparently, this burger promises the best of British. Which means having cheddar instead of American cheese, and different kinds of onions and lettuce I guess.

All in all it's not a bad burger. The patty is significantly more juicy than a regular one, I guess you get upgraded to the better parts of a cow for your extra dollar. The cheddar adds a nice kick as well, if you're used to your rubbery American cheese this is a nice surprise. The rest of the toppings are pretty generously piled too, the only thing is that it's perhaps a little too juicy. I felt a bit uneasy while eating it, thinking it may just disintegrate on my tongue. But hey, even if it did, I'd still enjoy it. It's a tasty burger.

My rating: 4/5

Friday 20 July 2012

Today's Review: StreetDance 2

Oh dear. Oh dear. When will it end? It seemed dance movies were on the decline until 3D came along, and now they just keep coming, StreetDance 2 is the sequel to 2010's StreetDance, and in those two years no one has noticed that there should be a space between those two words. This is a sequel in the loosest sense of the word. The only connection is the character Freddie, played by George Sampson, who seems to have gained a completely different personality between the first movie and this one.

Actually, personality might be stretching it a bit. Here is the story of StreetDance 2. We open with a random competition, during which our hero, Ash, is selling popcorn. Suddenly he decides to challenge the winning group to a dance battle, falls over and gets laughed out of the place. Thankfully Freddie noticed that the whole three seconds he was dancing was actually pretty good, so he basically forces himself into the position of Ash's manager, and without any thought or explanation, they take off around Europe to pick up the best street dancers to form a crew. No mention of how these two guys, one of whom sells popcorn for a living, and one of whom is 19, manage to afford travel costs for this recruitment, but whatever. Of course, our heroes find all of the dancers they're looking for, and whisk them off to Paris to train up for an international dance battle. One of these dancers is a ten year old boy. Where are his parents? They don't explain anything and that makes it creepy.

Well, that's pretty much the entirety of the plot. You can probably guess how it unfolds, except they throw in some crap about developing a street dance-latin fusion to really throw off the competition, but only so they can put in a hot latin dancer. It's uninspired, rushed, messy, but hey, it's all about the dance, right? I can admit that there were some good dance moves throughout, but after a while of watching people throw themselves on the floor and flip around all over the place it all looks a bit samey. I don't know how these dance battles are judged, I guess the more a person can land on their spine and not break it the more points they get. 

I did not enjoy this movie. I never expected to, but it's just really bad. There are no real characters, just a bunch of people who dance and take turns to say things like "Dance battle" and "Final clash". There's a Musli mguy who literally just wears a t-shirt saying "I'm Muslim, Don't PaniK' and makes a comment about not having halal food. Never mind caring if these characters won, I didn't even cared if they lived. The story is just as non-existent, and the only saving graces this movie has is the dance moves and the 3D effects, neither of which are particularly exciting. StreetDance 2? More like StreetDance Poo. Ha! Sorry, that's the best pun I could come up with.

My rating: 1/5

Thursday 19 July 2012

Today's Review: Cushions

Cushions. Why cushions? A wise man once wrote a long winded rant about cushions that I was inclined to agree with. That man is Steven Moffat, and if you haven't seen Coupling you should probably go watch that. Or just this part to get up to speed.

I have never really liked cushions. I never sit on them, I surely do move them, as Steve up there points out. I guess I have become more domesticated though, because there's something about having a nice tidy room with some cushions laid out on the bed or the sofa. They're not too useless to me anymore either. If I want to lay myself down to watch a movie, I can use the cushion to pad my head against the stiff arm of the sofa, or to prop my head up if I'm laying across the sofa itself. So yes, cushions are not too wonderful, but to me, they are the pillows of the living room, and they look quite nice too. Except for the ugly ones.

My rating: 3/5

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Today's Review: Stella Artois Pear Cidre

Man, I wish I'd had it in a chalice like that. Probably would have made the experience more enjoyable.

I'm not really a drinker. I normally get stinking drunk on my birthday when people have to buy me drinks, but I could live without. I also don't like beer, so I should probably just give up my testicles right now. I like my alcohol fruity, because if you haven't noticed, most alcohol tastes like crap. I have settled on cider in recent years to give me an enjoyable experience, and Kopparberg is normally my go to, due to the variety of flavours they offer.

But now Stella Artois are in the cider, sorry, cidre, business, and now they have a pear flavour to compete with my beloved Kopparberg. I thought I'd humour them and give it a go. It's actually pretty nice. Even though cider is normally quite fruity, I do find the alcohol taste gets too much for me by the end of the bottle. But this was a smooth experience all the way through. So yes, I'm impressed, this is a very nice drink. Probably tastes even better in that chalice.

My rating: 5/5

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Today's Review: Domino's Beef Mexicano

Perhaps I should have given up on hot Domino's pizzas after their insane Meltdown a couple of years ago. That baby made my stomach cry. But now we have a much more mild addition to the menu. It's the Mexicana series, paying homage to that Mexican food you probably have instead of ordering pizza sometimes. The Mexicano comes in chicken, beef, or vegetarian (you know, if you hate yourself). I chose the beef, because I am a big manly man. The toppings also include a generous helping of chorizo and the various generic peppers that people chuck into things to make them hot. Plus a little drizzle of sour cream for presentation.

It's pretty nice. Not too hot, at least for my tastes. I did start to feel the heat by the end, but I guess that's what eating a whole large pizza will do to you. The toppings were quite generous and evenly proportioned, there was a nice amount of chorizo piled on top, and that added a nice juicy kick to the regular beefy spicy flavour I'm used to.

Not only did I get the new pizza, I packed it out with the new crust, the aptly named Americano stuffed crust:

Yeah, dem's chillies in there. garlic and herbs too. Just when you think you've gotten to a soothing part of the pizza, it smacks you in the kisser again. It's a nice little kick, but all these different stuffed crusts appearing from time to time just make me wish they'd go for the logical end game already and make a crust that just has a whole pizza stuffed into it. I'm sure they'll get there by next year though.

If you're looking for something to burn your taste buds, I'm sure this will satisfy you to some degree. It's a nicely piled pizza with a pretty satisfying kick that you can also carry into the crust. Have it your way. Crap, that's Burger King. I mean "It's what we do". What a terrible slogan.

My rating: 5/5

Monday 16 July 2012

Today's Review: My Kitten (First Impressions)

So yeah, we got a kitten yesterday. I've always been a dog person myself, but the kids love cats, so here we are. I've always been okay with kittens though, they're quite cute. It's just cats I don't agree with. Lying around all day, not appreciating anything you do. But my cat is quite cute at the moment.

That's her sitting on top of my Mac Mini. It's her favourite place because it's warm I guess. I don't mind too much because it's just so goddamn cute. Also I can taunt her with fish videos on YouTube.

Look how tiny she is. I mean, the Mac Mini is smaller, but this kitty is adorable (Note to Apple, new Mac Mini slogan: "It's smaller than a tiny little kitten"). Still, I'm now responsible for another life, and this seems like the most difficult to deal with. My kids can tell me what they want now, all this cat can do is meow or stick its claws in my flesh. I had dinner earlier and she literally jumped onto my plate. Even babies know that you just don't do that. I'm sure all those little things she does will get more annoying as time goes on, but right now we're having a good time. It's a new experience, the kids love her, she's small and adorable and she seems to like me. Nice kitty.

My rating: 4/5

Sunday 15 July 2012

Today's Review: Contraband

Contraband is a heist movie. Well, it's really a smuggling movie, in the form of a heist movie. Our star is Mark Wahlberg, who plays Chris, a guy who used to be top of the smuggling game until he decided to go straight and start a family. But now his brother in law is in trouble with notorious monster Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi), and the only way to settle the debt is to perform one last smuggling job. So with a plan set, Chris sails off to Panama with the intention of smuggling a buttload of counterfeit notes back with him. Meanwhile his wife (Kate Beckinsale) has trouble keeping herself and the kids safe from Briggs' threats.

Of course, as it normally does in these kind of movies, several things go a bit wrong. But the movie always has a pretty cool and calm way of getting through it. Perhaps too cool in some places. Wahlberg kind of coasts along in his role, it's never particularly too stressful because everything gets sorted out within a few minutes. Still, there are several twists and turns, and the storyline with Chris' wife and kids add a bit of uncertainty and danger even when everything is going right with Chris.

The performances are so so. Ribisi pretty much steals the show, Briggs is a massive scumbag and probably the most threatening entity in a movie that has drug lords and SWAT teams. So yeah, it's not a perfect movie, but I enjoyed it. There were enough twists and variety to keep me interested, and it's a nice take on the heist movie.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday 14 July 2012

Today's Review: Rowntree's Rock Pool

Quick, come up with a theme for a packet of sweets. Time's up. Did you get something that Haribo haven't done already. I chose space. Well, it's a hell of a lot less weird than basing a line of sweets on rock pools.

Yes, rock pools, those things that kids love sifting through on TV that I never did. Does that make me the minority? Probably, and perhaps I'm missing out on the nostalgia trip that this bag can give me. Just look at all the stuff you get in there:

Seagull! Sea shells! Crab! Jellyfish! A bucket and spade! Also, not pictured, fish! If only I'd gone rock pool fishing as a boy, I could be reliving the moments when I picked out wonderful flora and fauna and... ate it?

Okay, yes, it's a weird theme. But it's quirky, and makes for some fun shapes, so I'm down with that. They taste pretty good too. Certainly more juicy than Haribo, but they do contain 25% fruit juice. THey have a soft, almost jelly like consistency that makes them a pleasure to chew, I just think the flavour needs toning down a bit, it's a little too intense for me. I can't wait for the next themed bag, my bet's on spelunking.

My rating: 4/5

Friday 13 July 2012

Today's Review: We Bought A Zoo

When I first heard about this movie, there was a little bit of a negative vibe about it. I don't know if that was just me, but I was wrong, because this is a quite delightful film.

Matt Damon plays Benjamin Mee, a man who is looking for a fresh start after his wife dies, leaving him a single father to his two kids. When a run down zoo appears in the estate agent's listings Benjamin thinks "Why not?" and embarks on an adventure with no real idea what he's doing. Thankfully he has some faithful staff, headed by Kelly (Scarlett Johansson) to steer him along.

This really is a feel good movie. It's a celebration of adventure, new challenges, and how everything might not be perfect, but with perseverance and hard work great things can happen. Cliché I know, but it's not so bad. There's a colourful cast of characters, animals and people alike, particular praise to Maggie Elizabeth Jones, who plays Benjamin's sister. Adorable.

The only real issue I had with this movie is the lack of animals. Sure, there are a few key moments involving them, but there seem to be quite a few that are just overlooked or seen for a split second. The main focus is on Benjamin's relationship with his family and co-workers, which is fine, but it seems like the zoo aspect takes a bit too much of the back seat. Still, this is a thoroughly enjoyable movie with feel good vibes, especially as it's wrapped up in a soundtrack by Jónsi of Sigur Ros. Quite awesome.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday 12 July 2012

Today's Review: Froot Loops

Oh hell yes, Kellogg's. You're finally making a good move. American cereals are my most sought after food. Imports are pretty expensive, £8-9 a box. Outrageous. So imagine my joy when stumbling into the cereal aisle at Tesco to find these beauties staring at me. Despite being a fan of Lucky Charms, Trix, Cap'n Crunch and a few others, I've never tried Froot Loops. It's the gaping hole in my American cereal knowledge, so I was satisfied to find them at a reasonable price.

Froot loops are just that. Fruity loops. The box doesn't quite state the flavours, but we've got orange, green and purple loops, so I'll say orange, apple and grape. If you've never had American grape, in the form of cereal, sweet or soda, it's quite an experience. It tastes nothing like grape and a lot like additives, but it's truly awesome.

Sadly, this cereal lacks that punch, and in fact all the flavours are a little bland. There's definitely a hint of something fruity in there, but it's not the assault on your taste buds that Trix gives you. I wondered if this was how it was meant to be, but realised it couldn't. It just didn't seem right. Then I saw this:

Made with natural flavours and colours. Only natural? In American they have big labels slapped on their foods proudly stating that they're made with natural and artificial flavours and colours (or flavors and colors if you will). But that's the way it is in this country. Get rid of the artificial stuff, get rid of the awesome flavour. Well I say no, that's not good enough. I want my sugary, sickly cereal, and Kellogg's has delivered me a bland alternative.

My rating: 1/5

EDIT: I've had a nagging feeling in my mind ever since I wrote this review. A feeling that I was way too harsh. I've had several more bowls of Froot Loops since, and I must say they're not too bad. To dismiss them with a 1/5 based on the fact that they're not chock full of sickly flavour is a bit short sighted, especially since I've never actually tried the American version. I just chowed down on these, and I could definitely taste a bit of that good old American grape flavouring. Not to mention the loops are quite chunky and fulfilling. So yes, I take it back. I like this cereal, and I would probably buy it again. I just had a bad experience, I was angry, alright?! Here's to giving cereals the second chance they all deserve.

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Today's Review: Facebook's "Close Friends" Feature

When I logged onto Facebook a little while back and saw a banner advertising the new close friends feature, I reacted as I do with most of these things. I read it and immediately ignored it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of these people who moans at every single change of Facebook, I've been through pretty much all of them and I've learned to live with it. This just didn't interest me in the slightest.

But then my Facebook decided to say "Hey, you know that feature you haven't activated yet? Well, let me activate it for you. Have a notification every time this random selection of your friends posts a status. In fact, a simple notification isn't enough, we'll push it to you on your iPhone."

Gee, thanks Facebook. I don't know how you chose this selection of people. They are people I actually talk to though, so I guess that's a plus. It's just that I never asked for any of this. When I go into my "Close Friends" list it's actually empty, as I intend to keep it. So why am I getting notifications? Are you broken, or are you just intrusive and obnoxious? Nowadays I'd probably go for the latter. Sure, it's a nice feature for those that need it, those who accrue hundreds of friends for the sake of it and want to be able to pick the interesting ones out from a sea of morons. But I don't need that. So stop sending me shit.

My rating: 2/5

Monday 9 July 2012

Today's Review: Starburst Strawberry Milkshake

I got one of these babies the other day, on offer with the Galaxy mocha. That's two reviews from one transaction, how frugal of me. But yes, here is a Starburst milkshake, that is only focusing on one particular flavour of Starburst, going with the most likely one possible of course. You know, I'd like to try a blackcurrant milkshake, or an apple. That would be interesting. But strawberry? Yawn.

The bottle has a little disclaimer saying that it's "school friendly". There's an asterisk right after those words though, but I couldn't find the corresponding asterisk on the bottle at all, so I'll assume it means "as long as you go to this one school we know will accept it". But after spending far too long looking at the bottle I decided to open it. Therein the challenge lies.

First of all you have to open up the sports cap at the top. Why a milkshake bottle needs a sports cap, I don't know. Maybe it's so you can save some for after your exercise regime in the summer sun, if you like to reward your effort with spoiled milk. But this sports cap is not the only thing in your way. Oh no. After a few unsuccessful sucks, and looking like an idiot, I realised that in fact you have to twist the cap right off and take off the foil cap that's attached to the bottle. Seriously, Mars? I don't need that much security on my milkshake.

Well, with those shenanigans over, it was time to drink it. It's... nice. It has a good flavour, distinctly sweet, but not in a sickly way like most strawberry milkshakes I've had. It's a creamy, smooth texture, and it all comes together nicely. It's just a bit bland is all. Plus the packaging sucks.

My rating: 4/5

Sunday 8 July 2012

Today's Review: Dairy Milk Bronzed Creme Crunch

I'm not too fussed about the Olympics, but if it gives me limited edition foodstuffs to eat it can't all be bad, right? These Olympics chocolate bars comes in three flavours, there's a "Nuts For Gold" which didn't particularly tickle my fancy, and a "Sliver Creme". I went with this one though, because it promised bronzy crunchy goodness too.

It's pretty damn nice really. There's a generous amount of filling that is indeed both creamy and crunchy. It's definitely captured that bronze taste, in the style of a crunch cream, which is awesome. It's a genuinely tasty bar, and I can only assume it's the best of the bunch, but I may be proven wrong in future.

My rating: 5/5

Saturday 7 July 2012

Today's Review: Galaxy Double Shot Mocha Latte

I do like my coffee, you know. I never used to like coffee, but I just kept drinking it until I liked it, as is the mystery of the human body. I've never been too much of a fan of these chilled coffee drinks though. Frappucinos are fine, but the Starbucks in a can is a bit weird. It's not awful, it's just not how I'd choose to ingest my caffeine.

But here we have something different. It's a mocha, and it's Galaxy. Basically it's like a chocolate milkshake with some ground up coffee beans, and that's fine with me. I gulped this down. Gave me a nice little caffeine rush and a smooth Galaxy flavour all in one. So if you want a bit of a wake up call without the danger of burning your mouth, wrap your lips around one of these.

My rating: 5/5

Friday 6 July 2012

Today's Review: A Thousand Words

It's all gone a bit downhill for Eddie Murphy in the last few years. But he was quite good in Tower Heist since he cut out all the silliness. Perhaps a meaningful comedy drama could be what he needs to get back in the swing of things. Or maybe not.

Murphy plays Jack McCall, a literary agent who likes to talk a lot and be an asshole most of the time. He doesn't have time for anyone but himself, unless he can use another person to gain more success. So when he tries to coax a book deal out of a popular self help guru, said guru magically curses him by... making a tree grow in Jack's garden? But wait, this isn't just any tree. Every time Jack says a word, a leaf falls off the tree, and the hypothesis is that when the tree runs out of leaves Jack dies, because they're connected in some spiritual plane obviously. So, with running his mouth off no longer an option, it's time for Jack to reevaluate what's important in his life, and set things straight before it's too late.

Well, that's what we assume anyway. The explanation of the plot is flimsy at best. Sure, we have a magical tree in a garden that's definitely losing its leaves, but the guy who apparently made it appear seems to be pulling the rest of the rules out of his butt. He guesses Jack will die if he talks too much, but doesn't give any kind of indication as to what Jack can do to set it all straight. In fact, by making him far less able to talk, he manages to almsot screw up Jack's life completely. Imagine trying to do your job and communicate with your wife when you only have a thousand words left until your death. It's not going to go smoothly, and it certainly doesn't for Jack. In fact, the whole tree concept gets more in the way and does more damage than Jack's ego did in the first place. If a tree popped up in his garden saying "Stop being a dick" it would have been far more effective.

So yes, a very flimsy plot. But surprisingly there are a few good actors in this thing. We have Alison Janney in a bit part for some reason, not to mention Eddie Murphy. Clark Duke is there too, in one of his first film roles, but he's probably the most likeable character of the bunch, although that's not saying much. Sure, Murphy isn't prancing around in a fat suit, he actually does some acting, but most of the movie is spent watching him gurning and making weird animal noises in an attempt to be understood. It just doesn't seem like a particularly well cast role. Still, the performances are probably what save A Thousand Words from being completely awful. It's still bad, but if they had a bunch of worse actors it would have been a whole lot worse.

My rating: 2/5

Thursday 5 July 2012

Today's Review: Laminate Flooring

Let me tell you something about having kids. That nice carpet you have? It's not gonna be nice for long. That nice carpet you had your eye on? Don't get it. Of course I'm talking about spillages and the like, and you may scoff and recall the time you spilled a glass of water on your mum's carpet and that turned out fine. But you have no idea how bad it gets. You've got your standard drinks, sure. But nothing prepares you for the glue, paint, food, sauces, not to mention the accidents that occur during potty training. Soon your carpet is clogged up with all manner of stains, rough bits and sticky bits. So it's time to rip it up and start again.

That's where laminate flooring comes in. It's made of wood, laminated wood! All that poop that got mingled with the fibres before, you can just wipe that off. Drink spillages can be soaked up completely with a towel. Bolognese sauce can be cleaned up with just one baby wipe. Laminate flooring is the safe haven for parents everywhere.

Well, until your kids smack their head on it. Of course there's a flipside to laminate, in fact there are several. It's a bastard to lay, making sure it's all slotted together properly, cutting it to size, fitting the edging. Then when it's done you're left with a slippery surface that hurts you if you or your loved ones fall over. Sure, carpets aren't the softest of things, but they're better than a slab of wood. Laminate is less comfortable than a carpet too, surprisingly. Sure, it may be nice and cool in the summer, but if you lie on it in the winter you're gonna have a bad time.

Well, I came into this review thinking the bad would almost outweigh the good. But to be honest, I don't know how many carpets or rugs I would've gotten through by now if I didn't have laminate flooring. Despite the bad points, at least I can say that my floor is clean, and it's damn easy to keep that way. Give me this stuff over some sticky old fabric any day.

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Today's Review: 21 Jump Street

I've never seen the original show, but when I saw a poster for this movie, I breathed a sigh. Just another Hollywood remake, how shitty will that be? But perhaps I was too harsh. Remakes and reboots are getting good nowadays. I guess people aren't tolerating shit any more. So here we have 21 Jump Street, the buddy cop movie starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum.

Yes, an unusual pairing, and I must say that Tatum hasn't done much in my career to make me like him. But he's growing on me. Strangely, my esteem has risen for him from this movie as much as my esteem in Mark Wahlberg did with The Other Guys. I guess that's the experience I can most relate 21 Jump Street to. they're both buddy cop movies that didn't seem that great to me on paper, but actually ended up being pretty damn good.

Hill and Tatum make a good team, bouncing dialogue off each other with great comedic effect. This movie has definitely got that random improvised feel which makes for some great lines, and some of the elaborately set up jokes are awesome as well, especially the car chase halfway through. There is always a flipside to this kind of heavy improvised performance though, which is that things sometimes go on for far too long and the dialogue gets a bit silly. There are also plot points that don't feel too fleshed out compared to others, and they just seem kind of wooden in comparison to the improv heavy scenes.

Despite that, I had a good time. It's not a perfect movie, but 21 Jump Street is one of the better remakes I've seen in recent years. It has solid performances that actually changed my opinion of a couple of actors, and the jokes are witty and sharp. So if you haven't seen the original, go watch this. If you have, go watch this. I have no idea if you'll hate it, but I don't see a reason why you would.

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Today's Review: Carex Chocolate Orange Hand Soap

Oh yeah, this is getting real now. Are your kids filthy buggers? does the mere sight of soap send them into a screaming frenzy? What you need is this stuff. It's soap that smells like a chocolate orange. and yes, I can attest that it does actually smell like chocolate orange. It's amazing. Better still, after the initial scent it gave way to a sort of jelly baby tone. That's two types of confectionary in one.

So yeah, this stuff smells good. A little dangerous if you ask me though. If a kid can smell a vast amount of chocolatey goodness in their soap, what's to stop them scorfing it down? They don't have common sense. Hell, I'm a grown man and even I entertained the thought. This soap is good, but perhaps it's too good...

My rating: 4/5

Monday 2 July 2012

Today's Review: Walking Through The Park At Near Midnight

I don't know about you, but after a late train home I just want to get indoors as soon as possible, and for me that involves cutting through the park. When I tell other people that I do this in the dark, they appear to express shock that I'm somehow still alive and in possession of my wallet and phone.

Sure, my town has a few unsavoury types scattered around, and I know that bad things have happened to people in the dead of night, but I guess I'm one of those "ain't gonna happen to me" types, and I've never even seen anyone lurking in the grass and trees, let alone strutting towards me with criminal intent.

In fact, I've been writing this very review while walking through a dark park, and it's just as boring as always. It is raining though, so I should really safeguard my phone against that. But all in all, walking through the park at night is not statistically the safest thing to do, but it's fine by my book.

My rating: 4/5

Sunday 1 July 2012

Today's Review: Leaflets In Boxes Of Tablets

You know what I'm talking about. Whether it be prescription, over the counter or off the shelf, there's a 50/50 gamble when you open the box. Will you get the side that's clogged up with that god awful leaflet? They can't just fold it up neatly and slide it down the side of the pills, no, they have to wrap it right around. The aim is to get me to take it out and read it, pay attention to what I'm ingesting, but actually it just pisses me off and either makes me immediately close it and open the other side or just throw the box and leaflet away, leaving me with a whole bunch of nondescript pills lying around.

I understand the need for those mass amount of instructions. They don't want to get sued. They want to tell us about that one guy out of 10,000 who managed to grow boobs on these meds, or whatever. In all probability, the people who require these pills may well be on the wrong side of the evolutionary gene pool. You know, the ones who would be dead by now if modern medicine didn't exist. They need to know this stuff so they don't kill themselves. But do you really think they read all that small print? I sure don't, unless I'm bored and interested in what freak occurrences could happen to my body. I know you want to get the message across guys, but don't make me unravel the stuff from my painkillers when my head is throbbing. It fills me with rage.

My rating: 1/5