Friday 30 November 2012

Today's Review: Mopping

I've touched upon how much I like having laminate flooring before. If I had carpets all around the place they'd be dirty and matted right now, but with laminate I can just sweep stuff up, or mop up any stains. It's all good stuff, apart from one thing: I hate mopping.

Sweeping is fine. There are bits of food, rubbish, dust, or whatever, you just sweep it up with a broom and dump it in the bin. But sometimes those things don't come off the floor. Sometimes there's a stubborn stain that won't come off, and then you have to bust out the mop. Not just the mop, but a bucket of soapy water that you will then wipe all over the laminate flooring, making it even more slippery than before.

Sure, running a mop over the floor a few times isn't all that bad, but it's when you get to those stuck on bits of dirt that annoys me. Once the mopping has been done, these little bits are free to roll around the place, taunting me with their "sweep me up now, bitch!" Then there's those stains that won't come off, you need to scrub over and over, and then probably get down on your hands and knees and pick it off anyway. Once I've hit enough of these annoyances in one room. I just want to give up. But even if I do that, the floor's wet, and it's all uncomfortable to walk on, so I'm left with a half wet, half dirty room with no desire to clean anymore. Mopping sucks.

My rating: 1/5

Thursday 29 November 2012

Today's Review: McDonald's Winter Warmer

HEY, THAT DON'T LOOK LIKE THA PICTURE! Well, no, it doesn't, but it still tastes like a burger, so I'll forgive it. Here we have McDonald's attempt at a festive burger, which isn't really festive apart from its name. It's all in the cheese really. We have smoked cheese, and a cheese topped bun, to go with the regular old beef patty, slices of bacon, lettuce, and not one, but two sauces.

Did I feel like Christmas when I ate it? No, I can't say I did, but that question doesn't really make sense. It's a nice burger though, the sauces make it quite nice and creamy, and the beef is certainly of a better quality than the Big Mac. It's just the name that I find a bit strange. It implies that this is the burger that'll warm you up for winter, which in turn would imply that all their other burgers are a bit on the cold side. I don't think that's really true. Still, if you're looking for a McDonald's experience above the value meal tier, you can't really go wrong with this one. A little bland for a special burger, but it hit the spot.

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Today's Review: Monster Slippers

Since I was entirely unsatisfied with my slipper purchase a couple of weeks ago, I was ecstatic to find a pair of chunky monster feet slippers in a charity shop for the measly sum of £4. Now my feet are wrapped in these awesome furry wonders, and are a lot warmer than they were with those stupid half slippers I had.

They're not perfect though, I have to admit. Since I now have oversized monster feet, I find myself kicking a lot of things when I'm walking around, because my feet are more than twice the width I'm used to. Sure, it's not painful to bash into things with my furry claws, but it certain;y disrupts my walking a little bit. Also, seeing as the top of the slippers are completely covered in fur, for some reason they have neglected to put any inside. If these babies were fur lined I'd probably never take them off.

Still, they're a nice, warm pair of slippers, the slippers I have been waiting for my entire life. I can get used to the added foot width, because now my real feet are saved from those cold winter nights. Thank you, monster slippers.

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Today's Review: Board Game Themed Tissues

Have you ever been playing a game of Cluedo or Monopoly and thought "I love this game so much that I'd like to expel mucus into it"? Well, Poundland have you covered. Because now, instead of wrapping that game board around your face to catch the fluids streaming out of it, you can use tissues from these board game themed boxes instead.

Really, why would you want these? I guess it would be nice for when you're playing the corresponding board game. Like if you mercilessly beat someone at Monopoly, and they start crying, and then you offer them one of these, and you're like "Oooooh, burn!" But then you'd just be a douchebag.

So there you have it, board game tissues. For douches and people who want to murder Colonel Mustard in the nasal cavity with a giant bogey.

My rating: 1/5

Monday 26 November 2012

Today's Review: Galaxy Gift For You - Truffle

It's Christmas soon, well, in more than a month's time anyway. So obviously the Christmas themed treats are lining the shelves. Galaxy have stepped up the game from last year's caramel filled present, and provided us with a truffle version, which is good news for me because I love chocolate truffle.

Since the day the Galaxy Truffle disappeared from the Celebrations box, there has been a hole in my heart that only truffle can fill. But now I can tuck into it again, if only for the Christmas period. What we have here is a present shaped chocolate. One half is just plain old Galaxy chocolate, but the other conceals a smooth truffle centre that is just as good as I remember. I did feel a little ripped off at first, thinking they should have made the whole thing truffle, but having eaten one it feels like just the right amount. Any more would be quite sickly. This is definitely a delicious little treat, let the Christmas snacking begin.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday 25 November 2012

Today's Review: People Who Ask For A Buy It Now Price On My eBay Auctions

I'm not what you'd call a serial eBayer, but I do use it quite often. I tend to start my stuff off at 99p, because then I don't have to pay insertion fees, I'm cheap like that. But a lot of the time this seems to invite a few people to message me asking what the Buy It Now price would be, or would I take x amount if I ended the auction now.

Okay, okay, I often have a rough figure that I expect my stuff to sell for, but clearly if I wanted that figure I wouldn't have ignored the option that asked if I wanted to add a Buy It Now price. I have almost 400 feedback, it's not like I'm new to the site, I know what my options are. But still I get the questions asking me to add one. I don't like Buy It Now prices. They're normally too high, and I prefer an auction style where I can watch people battle it out at the last minute to increase my figure to a more than desirable level. Hell, the first thing I bought on eBay I ended up going about £50 over what I first wanted to spend, I want people doing that with my stuff. 

So no, people, I will not add a button to my auction so you can click it and give me whatever measly sum you are offering. I want to make you sweat, I want the person who buys my stuff to be the victor of a glorious last minute battle of the bids. Survival of the fittest. Or survival of the richest? Survival of the clickest. Survival of the guy who bids good.

My rating: 0/5

Saturday 24 November 2012

Today's Review: Holes In Clothes

There are currently holes in most of the clothes I'm wearing. I feel like a hobo, although I'm currently in my own home. Sure, ripped jeans can be something of a fashion statement, but if you carry it over to your socks and t-shirts it's not a good thing, and that seems to be what has happened to me.

Socks are easy to replace, sure. I tend to throw them away when I find a hole or two. But t-shirts are expensive, especially the ones I get sent from America. One little hole is not going to stop me from wearing it, or force me to drop £15-20 on a new one. But that doesn't stop me from hating holes. Why do they exist? Why do fabrics have to pull and tear, and wear out? In a perfect world we'd have indestructible clothes, but then I guess we'd have trouble putting them on, or we'd sweat a lot or something. So now we're stuck with lousy holes that appear as if from nowhere, and they suck. They ruin the whole clothing experience.

My rating: 0/5

Friday 23 November 2012

Today's Review: Prawn Crackers

Prawn crackers are strange things. You'd think they're crisps, but they're not, they're just prawns mixed with tapioca flour. They literally mash up prawns, add some starch, and leave them to dry for several days. That's some dedication to get a nice crunchy snack. But I have to say that they are tasty, so maye it's worth it. Despite being made from mostly prawns, the flavour isn't too overwhelming. As long as you eat them within a few hours of opening the packet, the crunch is pretty satisfying. Sure, there's probably going to be some grease involved, but all the best crisps leave some kind of residue on your fingers, why should prawn crackers be any different?

They're a perfect accompaniment to a Chinese meal, or as a standalone snack. Light, crunchy, and flavoursome, I definitely love me a bag of prawn crackers.

My rating: 5/5

Thursday 22 November 2012

Today's Review: Killer Joe

Chris (Emile Hirsch) is in a spot of trouble. He owes some money to the local drug baron, but can't quite afford the amount required to stop him being murdered. Thankfully, his mother has a life insurance policy that could get him out of this mess, and there's a man around town named Killer Joe (Matthew McConaughey) who can off someone with no questions asked. A deal is made, but Chris soon finds out that it's not too clear cut, and things don't always turn out rosy in murder and insurance fraud.

Killer Joe is a dark movie, and not just in terms of plot. It's physically very dark and murky to look at, in the few scenes with sunshine I felt slightly blinded. Still, the bleak visuals certainly match the tone of the film, with twisted characters and sadistically violent scenes. There's just a complete sense of anguish and foreboding that's present throughout the whole thing.

The performances are what make this though. McConaughey is great, drawling his way through his well crafted speeches, turning into a psychopath at appropriate intervals. It's a very different role from any I've seen him in before, he didn't even take off his shirt. Just kidding, of course he took off his shirt. Hirsch is also pretty good in the fact that he makes me want to punch his snivelling character in the face. By the end you kind of want everything to go right for Joe, because he's the coolest one of the bunch.

So yes, Killer Joe is a dark, violent movie with some really great characters, but it still feels a little empty. The plot isn't too complicated, and even at just over one and a half hours it still feels significantly padded. It really shows that it's based on a play, as while the dialogue is pretty good most of the time, it just goes on for too long. Still, I enjoyed the movie. It just didn't hold my attention at times when a lot of random conversing was going on. If you like your movies dark and dingy, this definitely fits the bill.

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Today's Review: Rice Krispies Honeycomb Crunch Squares

While I have enjoyed Squares a few times in the past, I can't say they're one of my favourite snacks. But now there's a honeycomb crunch flavour, and I always have to try new flavours, especially when you can get some free with your Tesco shop.

There's a lot of stuff packed into this tiny bar. Not only does it have the Rice Krispies and marshmallow that give it the Squares name, but there's honeycomb, chocolate drizzle and crunchy bits thrown in for good measure. Still, the flavours all complement each other quite nicely. What's particularly good is that the honeycomb flavour is woven into the marshmallow itself, so there's an even spread of honey goodness. The crunch, on the other hand, just seems to be in the top half, but I'm not too sure how I feel about that part anyway. Squares are by nature soft and chewy, so to encounter a few crunchy pieces while eating is a little bit of a jarring experience.

Still, these Squares are certainly tasty, more so than the original variety I think. But hey, I'm a sucker for honeycomb. If you are too, give these a try.

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Today's Review: Facial Hair

I know I touched upon the subject of facial hair somewhat when I reviewed eyebrows a couple of months ago, but I really shouldn't have stopped there. Sure, eyebrows are weird, but you know what else is weird when you think about it? All facial hair. In fact, most bodily hair, but I'll just stick with the facial for now, because that's the weirdest.

I get the appeal of facial hair, really, I do. As men, or women with extra testosterone, we can choose to grow thick patched of hair all over our chins and under our noses. In the past, great men have found ways to use this hair to look distinguished or bad-ass, while women have used it to become a staple attraction in circus sideshows at the turn of the 20th century. Goatees, full on beards, swirly moustaches, erratic sideburns, the possibilities of facial hair styles are endless. But why do we have hair there at all?

I can't say I've ever felt that my chin or my philtrum have been too cold, nor have I been suffocated by runaway dust or dirt particles that have found their way into my face for lack of hair to ensnare them first. There seems to be no evolutionary reason as to the reason we still have facial hair, apart from the fact that some ladies go crazy for a well formed 'tache or a scratchy beard. It's just one of those oddities of the human body that I guess we'll be stuck with until the end of time.

But I guess it's not exactly a bad thing. I can appreciate how cool honest Abe looked back in the day. I for one am not a fan of facial hair, especially the stubbly phase, but it's nice to know that if I ever decided to grow a handlebar under my nose, I can.

My rating: 3/5

Monday 19 November 2012

Today's Review: Cadbury Clusters

While I have reviewed a few of these Cadbury bags on this blog, I haven't touched upon the good old fashioned line up. I picked up a bag of Clusters today in Poundland, and was instantly reminded of how awesome they were.

Yes, before pretzels and popcorn we had Clusters. It's a generous helping of that classic Cadbury chocolate, mixed in with cornflakes and raisins. The result it a bunch of misshapen chunks of various sizes, but the taste is awesome. It's creamy, crunchy, chewy and fruity all at the same time. The cornflakes may start to feel a little scratchy at times, but the raisins are on hand to moisten up the experience. They may look and sound like a bunch of random ingredients thrown together, but Clusters are delicious.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday 18 November 2012

Today's Review: Magnum Chocolate Ice Cream

Have you ever had a Magnum, and just wished that you could eat the same thing, but have it crushed up and put in a tub for you? No? Well, you can anyway, with tubs of Magnum ice cream. It comes in two varieties, your average vanilla, with chocolatey bits, or chocolate with chocolatey bits. I chose the latter, because you can never have too much chocolate. Or so I thought.

Don't get me wrong, it is nice, but it gets a little too sickly as you chow down. tHe Magnum chocolate bits are very generously heaped into the mix, so there's always a nice crunchy texture in each mouthful. The ice cream is nice too, it's just a little too thick and fudge-like in consistency for my liking. But maybe that serves me right for being too greedy. In smaller portions it would probably be more manageable. Still, a very nice ice cream, I'll have to try the vanilla next.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday 17 November 2012

Today's Review: Men In Black 3

I certainly enjoyed the first Men In Black many years ago. I also watched the second one once, but I don't remember much about it except that it kinda sucked. I wasn't sure what to expect from this third instalment ten years later, but it was certainly better than I thought.

We rejoin agents K and J (Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith) as they're still working hard at their job, keeping alien scum from destroying our planet. Trouble is, Boris (Jemaine Clement) an enemy from K's past has just broken out of prison, and is intent on getting revenge, even going as far as to go back in time to eliminate him. J wakes up in this altered future, and finds himself travelling back in time to 1969 to stop a young agent K (Josh Brolin) from meeting his demise.

Yeah, time travel. Everyone loves a bit of time travel. But Men In Black 3 doesn't really explain the mechanics and branching timelines and such, it just uses it as an excuse to show us a bunch of 60s people doing 60s things, including a retro MIB headquarters. There are some funky new gadgets too, which you'd expect from a Men In Black movie. There's also an excuse to weave the plot into historical events, and the final scenes in particular do this very well.

Probably the best thing about this movie, though, is the performances. Josh Brolin does a great job taking on K's role, but Jemaine Clement knocks it out of the park by playing a truly menacing villain. Boris ain't no cockroach, sugar water drinking weirdo, he's an evil, unrelenting killing machine, and when I found out he was played by goofy Jemaine I was pleasantly surprised.

So yes, I enjoyed Men In Black 3. It's not without its faults though, some set pieces and characters seemed too tacked on, and perhaps not enough of the plot was as fleshed out as it should be. But I certainly enjoyed it more than I remember enjoying the second movie. Here we have some great performances, some nice action sequences, all wrapped up in a wibbly wobbly timey wimey bow.

My rating: 4/5

Friday 16 November 2012

Today's Review: Slippers With No Backs

The other day I bought a new pair of slippers to replace my current deteriorating ones, further cementing my progression into old age. As I was looking at the selection available in Primark, I noticed something odd. None of the pairs had a back to them, you know, like normal footwear does.

But I didn't have much choice. I bought a pair, and as I sit here wearing them I definitely miss the lack of cover for my heel. Where once my heels were toasty and warm, they are now exposed and cold. Plus the backs of the damn things flip flop around when I walk. And why? For what purpose? Why is it so hard to add a bit of material to the back to provide total foot comfort? I don't know, but these slippers just feel inadequate.

My rating: 1/5

Thursday 15 November 2012

Today's Review: Cleaning The Oven

I cleaned my oven today. It's something I haven't done in a long while, because it never really crosses my mind that my oven is slowly being covered in filth and food splats from energetic cooking. But the doors were no longer quite as see through as they used to be, and who knows what kind of stains lurked on the dark interiors? I looked upon my task with the greatest apprehension. Surely I would be on my knees for hours scrubbing and getting covered in filth.

But it turns out the best way to make the job easier for you is to get a nice effective oven cleaner. I theorise that the best choice of cleaner is the one that warns you the most about how much it will fuck you up if you so much as touch it. With that in mind I chose a Mr. Muscles cleaner that advised me to run any contacted area under water for 20 whole minutes before seeking medical attention.

So once the spray was laid down, with the ventilation fan and an open window to make sure I didn't poison my entire family, I must say that cleaning the oven wasn't as bad as I first thought. Sure, the water I used to sponge it down was almost black, and I found my hands covered in all sorts of grime, but my oven is squeaky clean, and not in need of another scrubbing for a while. So yes, cleaning the oven is a disgusting job, but with a good layer of corrosive cleaning materials, it can be made a whole lot easier.

My rating: 2/5

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Today's Review: Grape Soda

Whether it's Welch's, Fanta or any other drink with the same flavour, grape soda is probably unlike anything you've had before. Especially actual grapes. I like to eat grapes from time to time, they have a nice juicy, fruity flavour that isn't too intense. Drinking a can of grape soda, however, is like being punched in the mouth by a grape clone gone wrong that has escaped from a sugary dungeon. I'm not sure exactly what grape soda tastes like, so I'll just say... purple. It tastes like purple. It's an intense, sugary hit, that almost seems syrupy in nature. While the cans of all these drinks insist that I'm ingesting grape soda, I don't quite buy it. Instead I'm getting the best that American excess has to offer, a drink pumped full of additives and artificial flavours that leaves my taste buds reeling. I certainly wouldn't drink it all the time, but on the odd occasion that I pick up a can I enjoy every tooth-rotting mouthful of the stuff.

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Today's Review: Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World

What would you do if you knew the world would be destroyed in a few weeks? If you're Dodge (Steve Carrell) the answer would be to sit in stunned silence while your wife runs away without saying a word. So begins a countdown to the end of civilisation for our hero(?). With his wife gone, Dodge doesn't really know what to do with himself, until he has a random encounter with Penny (Keira Knightley), a girl who lives upstairs. She wants to get back to see her family in England before the end, and Dodge wants to seek out his childhood sweetheart, so they decide to help each other out and start off on a road trip to fulfil their final wishes.

But the world isn't exactly a normal place at the end of times, so Dodge and Penny find themselves up against many obstacles on their journey. This is very much a comedy drama, and the happenings in the first half of the movie regularly had me laughing. As the end approached, though, it took a more serious yet life affirming turn. It must be difficult to take a world on the brink of destruction and make it genuinely heart warming, but Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World succeeds. The chemistry between Carrell and Knightley is fantastic. Both have proven themselves to be great actors in recent years, and it certainly doesn't let up here, and they steal the show in amongst a plethora of quirky characters and events.

I liked the look of this movie from the moment I saw the poster, and the end product didn't disappoint. It's a funny, heart warming movie with a tight script and two great leads. The apocalypse has never been more wonderful.

My rating: 5/5

Monday 12 November 2012

Today's Review: Skyfall

Bond is back, and moodier than ever. The latest instalment in Daniel Craig's humanised Bond story is probably one of the most interesting that I've seen, taking the time to explore some of the past of some key characters in the franchise.

Instead of concerning a plot to take over the world, Skyfall presents us with the villain, Silva (Javier Bardem) threatening a very personal attack on MI6 itself. While seeming perhaps a little silly at first, Silva turns out to be a very formidable and cunning opponent who always seems one step ahead. Forget "I've been expecting you, Mr. Bond", there is some very unexpected stuff going on in this movie. But as brilliant as the movie was, it was hard not to make instant comparisons with The Dark Knight's Joker. If you watch it I'm sure you'll pick up on them too. It's not necessarily a bad thing, I still really enjoyed watching the plot unfold, but it does jar the experience somewhat.

As always, though, the meat of the movie lies in the action scenes, and Skyfall delivers perfectly in that respect. Taking place in several exotic locations, there are chases, gun fights, crashes, explosions, every action scene seemed different and exciting, and was always accompanied by some fitting Bond style music. Despite being almost two and a half hours long, I didn't find myself wishing it to be over anytime soon.

Skyfall is certainly a well made movie. There are some awesome action scenes and stunts, coupled with a well thought out villain and a Bond who isn't as perfect as he seems to have been over all these years. This movie does go to some length to bring certain aspects back in line with the Bond movies of old, but when the pieces fall together at the end, there's a sense that it's not quite the same. Now we have a more mature, broken Bond, and I look forward to seeing what happens in the coming movies.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday 11 November 2012

Today's Review: Oreo Dairy Milk

It's an almighty union of snack foods, it's an unprecedented chocolate achievement. Some glorious bastards have gone and put some Oreos in a Dairy Milk bar.

If that doesn't sound delicious right off the bat, then it won't be long before you change your mind. Under a nice thick layer of Dairy Milk chocolate lies a creamy centre of crushed up Oreos. While the cookie part is present, it's the cream that really takes over the senses, with the cookie pieces and chocolate combining to create a melt in your mouth chocolatey experience. It was over too soon. If I didn't have to pay £2.50 for just one bar I would definitely stock up on these bad boys. Oreo Dairy Milk is awesome.

My rating: 5/5

Saturday 10 November 2012

Today's Review: Wonka's Watermelon Laffy Taffy

The Wonka company have done pretty well for themselves. Instead of focusing too much on the chocolate aspect so associated with old Willy, they've managed to introduce some pretty delicious treats to the sweet market. Nerds, Runts, Sweetarts, all good stuff. But here we have Laffy Taffy, which I hadn't seen around before today.

Laffy Taffy is basically a bar of taffy. Much like the chewy Refresher or Maoam bars you see around supermarkets and newsagents in the UK, but a lot more stretchy and chewy. Laffy Taffy comes in a number of flavours, but I went with watermelon, as it's one of those American flavours that I love. The flavour is certainly very intense. Coinciding with that fact that the bar is mostly corn syrup, eating Laffy Taffy is a somewhat sickly experience. But the soft, chewy texture is nice and I found myself polishing off the bar with no problem. It's very nice, but a little too sickly to get full marks from me.

My rating: 4/5

Friday 9 November 2012

Today's Review: Pizza Cheetos

I like Cheetos. I like pizza. So by all accounts I should like Pizza Cheetos, right? Well, not necessarily. As is the case with a few flavours of crisp, it's not an exact science.

Here we have triangular Cheetos that taste slightly like pizza. They're still a little cheesy, but it's more of a herby taste than anything. They're quite nice, but not a patch on the originals. There's still that powdery texture and residue that's expected from eating Cheetos, but it's just not quite the same. Perhaps if they kept the regular Cheeto shape and consistency it wouldn't feel so alien, but this feels like a different snack altogether with the Cheeto name slapped onto it. They're good, but Cheetos can be so much better.

My rating: 3/5

Thursday 8 November 2012

Today's Review: Lipton Raspberry Ice Tea

I don't see Lipton Ice Tea in many places around here, after all, we're British, the only type of tea acceptable is hot. Leave this cold, fruity stuff to the Americans. Still, I'm not overly British, and whenever I find a bottle of peach Ice Tea I tend to snap it up. Today I found a raspberry version, so obviously I wasn't going to pass up trying it.

While I do enjoy the peach flavour, it does feel a little dry in the throat, which I guess is one of the side effects of effectively drinking cold tea. This raspberry flavour has the same effect, but it feels more at home here, as drinking most raspberry flavoured drinks leaves a little bit of a dry aftertaste. The raspberry itself is quite a bold and nice flavour, it's just the tail end which is isn't too great. Still, I think I prefer this to the peach version. It may not be completely refreshing, but it is a tasty drink.

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Today's Review: Spilling Black Nail Polish

Nail polish is nice, when used properly. It can make your nails all kinds of pretty colours, with all kinds of pretty patterns. But if it doesn't stay between your nails and the bottle, you're in trouble, as I found out today when I managed to somehow snap the lid off a tiny bottle of black nail polish while looking through a basket full of them. It started off small, leaking from the bottom of the basket onto my bed sheet, but as I tried to stop the leak by digging through and finding the offending bottle, it went everywhere.

Soon my hands were covered, and any initial attempt to rub it just spread the darkness all over my fingers. Thankfully I soon deposited the basket in the sink and found the bottle and the snapped off top. But it was far from over. We have some nail polish remover in the bathroom cabinet, so I went to work pouring that over my hands and rubbing. Problem is, my bathroom has no windows or other means of ventilation, so soon I was gagging on the smell. So out came the cotton buds, and after 12 buds and minutes of scrubbing, my hands were in an almost normal condition. But I never want to touch the stuff again. Nail polish is nice to look at, but a bitch to clean when spilt. Plus it ruined my sheets, and my jeans, of course. Everything I spill ends up ruining my jeans.

My rating: 0/5

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Today's Review: The R2D2 Cookie Jar

I bought this a while back for £6 when my local comic book/merchandise store was closing down. Basically, it's an R2D2 cookie jar, and what makes it awesome is that it's an R2D2 cookie jar. It's ceramic, with some great details, and the head opens up to reveal delicious cookies, provided you've put them in there that is.

Probably the best thing is that it doesn't have to hold just cookies. At the moment mine has malted milks, rich teas and fruit shortcakes. You could put any kind of biscuit in it. I suppose you could put other things in there too, but that's just not right. This is a cookie jar, shaped like R2D2, and it deserves your respect.

My rating: 5/5

Monday 5 November 2012

Today's Review: Assassin's Creed III

Wait a minute, 3? This is the fifth game in the series, what's going on? Oh yes, of course, we have to be bombarded with a new iteration of the same franchise every year, or else we'll forget it. You know, like what happened with GTA, or Half Life. So yes, we've been treated with an elongated three game arc following Ezio Auditore's adventures in the renaissance, but now Ubisoft have finally delivered something fresh, somewhat.

Yes, it's the same old Assassin's Creed, but this time it's in Colonial North America. This time around you play as Connor, whose real name is long and Indian like. His peaceful village has been threatened by a member of the Templar movement, and soon he finds himself joining the ranks of the Assassins, to save his village, and maybe even the world, from destruction. Along the way he gets tangled up in the Revolutionary War, brushing shoulders with the likes of George Washington and Ben Franklin. Yes, Assassin's Creed continues to be like the Forrest Gump of games, our assassins get everywhere and seem to meet everyone of historical importance. But, the level of detail provided here is as great as always, setting the scene with several real life historic battles and providing encyclopaedic entries as you go along.

That's not the only place that's received great attention to detail. While we're used to sprawling Italian cities in this franchise, this game provides significantly different scenery. Now we are treated to the young but flourishing cities of Boston and New York, but also the wild Frontier, a sprawling wilderness full of trees, streams and wild animals to hunt. You can spend many hours running around here, jumping from tree to tree, setting snares for rabbits to kill themselves in, and it all looks gorgeous. Throw in the new addition of weather effects and this game simply looks stunning.

As far as gameplay goes, it's pretty much the same as always. The story is divided into several sequences, each one putting you on the trail of one of the people in the chain of command of the Templar group. As you work your way to the point where you can stab these people in the face, you'll find yourself trailing suspects, stealthily assassinating guards and taking part in thrilling foot chases. There's a good narrative in place, and Connor is a strong leading character, but if you just play through the story missions then the game is over quite quickly, and you miss out on a lot. There are optional objective for each mission that add an extra layer of difficulty, and while most are quite simple, some can be really fiendish. There are also, as before, some segments scattered throughout the story where you can play as Desmond for a while in various locations. It's a nice idea, but these segments are a bit short and lacking in anything particularly engaging. I just found myself wanting to get back to Connor.

The real differences in this game are in the side missions. Most notable are the naval missions. At some points in the game you get to commandeer an impressive ship, and when you sail out to sea you are given control of the ship's wheel, as well as the cannons. While a few story missions place you on the ship, there are a multitude of side missions that have you sailing out to sea. This sailing sim is actually mightily impressive. The waves are realistic, cannonballs fly and fires burn beautifully, and there are multiple methods and tactics to use to sink enemy vessels. If Ubisoft took this mechanic and developed it into a fully fledged pirate game, it would be amazing.

There are also several side missions that take the place of the typical "upgrade your mansion" side quests of previous Creeds. About a third of the way into the game you find shelter in a Homestead just off the Frontier. It turns out there are people being oppressed by the English in the cities and surrounding wilderness, and once you save their hides they agree to come and live on the property and craft items for you. As you recruit more people these missions overlap and create a nice little story of the community you have built. As you help the citizens out even more they can craft better items for you, which you can send off in convoys to earn some decent money.

So yes, these new side missions are a really nice addition, but the problem with them was they felt very separate from the actual story. In previous games it felt like liberating parts of the city and buying up different stores really helped to make your journey through the cities a bit safer. In this game, the Homestead and naval missions are provided on an entirely different part of the map. There appears to be no benefit at all for completing the naval missions, other than a couple of achievements and a new outfit, and while the Homestead side missions give you better materials for selling via convoy, I never found myself using it, as I didn't really need any money at all to get through the story missions. Still, for the completionist, these missions are a nice breath of fresh air, with the Homestead missions giving a nice injection of a friendly atmosphere, and the naval missions being completely badass.

So yes, Assassin's Creed III is not perfect. I haven't mentioned the abundance of glitches that I encountered during my playthrough, mostly in the form of mission start points and other symbols failing to appear on the map. It is quite frustrating when it happens, but I'm sure it will be resolved whenever a patch comes out. This game may not be as perfect as I'd hoped for, but it's a refreshing change from jumping around as Ezio, and the addition of extra modes and missions make this a well rounded package. I look forward to what comes next in the franchise, even if it's another Connor based Creed, I think there's still a lot more to be done in this time period.

My rating: 4/5

Sunday 4 November 2012

Today's Review: Water

Ah, water, good old H2O. The whole world is covered in it, we're mostly made of it, without water we would all be thoroughly dead. We drink it, wash ourselves with it, swim in it, travel on it, clean things with it, squirt it at each other, use it to make oatmeal and gravy, the possibilities are endless. Water is just amazingly versatile. There's not a bad thing I can say about it.

Apart from how bland it is, obviously. I know we need it to survive and I shouldn't really complain, but I can rarely stand to drink water by itself. There's just no taste, it's a soulless experience. I want a bit of flavour in my water, is that too much to ask? I know there are easy methods of adding flavour, but if it just came out of the tap tasting slightly like strawberries it would be amazing. 

Also there are massive storms, tidal waves, all those kind of watery things that end up killing people. That's not cool, water. Just because you giveth life doesn't mean you can take it away. But despite all the murder and lack of flavour, water is a pretty cool guy.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday 3 November 2012

Today's Review: Cadbury Cinder Toffee Cake Bars

Well, Halloween is over, and now we're blowing up stuff in the sky instead. But Halloween things still linger, and now at a much more reasonable price. Today I picked up a five pack of these cinder toffee cake bars for 50p. My, what a bargain.

I can't say I've ever eaten cinder toffee, but the name sounded delicious. The internet informs me that it's a honeycomb toffee, which also sounds delicious. So it's a good thing these bars are delicious too. You've got your standard Cadbury chocolate coating, covering a moist toffee flavoured sponge, with a very generous layer of cinder toffee topping. The topping itself is very creamy, and indeed has wonderful hints of toffee and honeycomb, giving a tangy, almost smokey flavour, which I guess is why they call it cinder toffee. These bars are a lot better than I was expecting. The liberal amount of topping really lets them melt in your mouth and unleashes a quite intense but delicious flavour. Or in other words, om nom nom.

My rating: 5/5

Friday 2 November 2012

Today's Review: Things That Don't Quite Fit In Your Wallet

You know what I mean. You receive a voucher, or a cinema ticket, something that should by all rights be kept in your wallet for easy access in the near future. But when you go to put it in there, it doesn't fit. It's not credit card sized, or maybe it's even too big to fit snugly in the note pocket, so it always pokes out of the top, and makes your wallet look untidy. My wallet should never look untidy. Even if these evil items are short enough to fit into the note pocket, they're regularly too long, so when I close my wallet up I get tickets with a massive crease down the middle, or a wallet that just refuses to stay in a comfortable shut position.

I don't see what the problem is. I know there are all different kinds of wallets, but the credit card size is universal. Just make everything like that, and we'll all be happy. We can all walk around with our perfectly organised wallets, and the world would be at peace. Probably. But we'll never know, because people keep making stupid things that don't fit in wallets properly, when they damn well should.

My rating: 0/5

Thursday 1 November 2012

Today's Review: Ice Age 4: Continental Drift

I've barely seen any of the other Ice Age movies, though my English teacher did play the first for us during a lesson. Apparently it's the perfect example of the multiple character types you find in a typical narrative. Not sure if I completely agree...

Well, here's the fourth one, and after rescuing babies, meeting dinosaurs, and whatever the second one is about, the animals now have to deal with the formation of continents. As the ground breaks apart, Manny the mammoth, Sid the sloth and Diego the smilodon are separated from their herd, and Manny's determination to get back to his family knows no bounds. So when they come across a giant chunk of ice fashioned into a ship and commandeered by menacing monkey Captain Gutt, the trio must use their wits and brawn to escape and find a way back.

I must admit that this movie wasn't as bad as I was expecting, but it's still pretty bland and formulaic. There's only so much of watching some animals drifting along on a chunk of ice or walking away from a destructive wall of land I can take, and there really wasn't much else to keep me entertained. A few battles that were over pretty quickly, a bit of slapstick thrown in for good measure. The performances aren't anything special either. As you can see on the poster up there, four of the seven main names are musicians, and it kind of shows, the acting is all so-so.

So overall I thought Ice Age 4 was just okay. It's certainly watchable, it just lacks any real depth. Still, the kids enjoyed it, so maybe yours will too.

My rating: 2/5