Friday, 27 June 2014

The Fault In Our Stars-Review

So, I saw it. The film. The film of the book that is basically my An Imperial Affliction. (And I love you if you get that reference.)

Oh and in case you thought I was cool, I went to the cinema with OKAY? OKAY scrawled on the backs of my hands. No, seriously.

It's probably not a surprise to anyone that I love the film, but it was probably a bigger surprise to my friend that she loved it. She'd never read the book and she typically hates teen romance drama but I dragged her along anyway. She was sniffling by the end of it and the Fault in Our Stars religion had another devoted follower.

I don't need to recount the plot again because I've basically already summed it up in my All of the Stars post. But Ansel Elgort as Gus is absolute genius and that's not exaggeration. No, seriously. It's not even to do with the fact he is attractive in that kind of innocent teenage-crush kind of way.

Though that does probably have an effect.

Anyway, I read the Fault in Our Stars last summer and weirdly enough, Ansel Elgort basically is how I pictured Gus in my head. I don't even know if I knew who he was at this stage so maybe I'm joining Lorde in that weird prophetic thing. Trelawney would be proud.

                                         "Please don't take my job."

Shailene Woodley's great as Hazel, who is probably more difficult to bring to life than Gus, who is definitely the more flamboyant of the two and Nat Wolff's kind of adorably huggable as Isaac. Oh and just like in the book, I wanted to climb into the story and drag Monica about by the hair for dumping him right before surgery. News flash for anyone about to lose their eyes: if you can't handle it for a bit, that's OK. If someone else whines about how they can't handle it, you're better off without them. It's my head canon that Isaac finds some girl with a totally awesome voice who he loves to bits and who he gets to spend a life with and that Hazel goes to their wedding. Don't anyone dare tell me that something sadder happens.

To be fair, everyone else is great as well, plus Willem Defoe as Peter Van Houten is kind of a gem of assholery that you want to cheer Hazel for screaming at. My friend's expression when he started playing his rap song was pretty priceless, as was Hazel's retort at the door. Yeah, it wasn't in the book but it still made its' way onto the list of awesome.

Oh, and spoilers. Gus's decline and death is hard to watch. I could hear everyone around me crying as he sat in the gas station, sobbing at the wheel. Even my friend, who'd been convinced she'd sleep through the whole thing, was sniffling next to me. I was not, on the basis that I have a heart of rock and kind of wonder if I am capable of producing tears. But the bit that came closest to squeezing tears out of me was Hazel's flashbacks to a diagnosis and her mother's line "I won't be a mom anymore." It's like a punch in the chest and Laura Dern is awesomely heartbreaking as Hazel's mother.

Even the soundtrack is good. Soundtracks are hilariously easy to get wrong (I remember one time on a TV show, they actually soundtracked an emotional birth scene with a fast-beat techno song and I actually screamed with laughter so hard I woke next-door's baby up.) But the soundtrack here is just right. It works, really works. I mean, I already wrote a whole post about Ed Sheeran, but the other songs are just as good. (There's Jake Bugg. I mean, Jake Bugg. I don't care if he hates interviews, he's like Bob Dylan's little brother.) And there's Charli XCX and I'm sorry, I cannot disrespect her, she's like this goth-pop princess thing that makes my vision go purple red.

Oh, and it's directed by Josh Boone. Josh Boone. I kind of have a hero-crush on Josh Boone, he's that good a director. (Stuck In Love is like this cool little pocket of a story that I want to grab something out of again and again. It's so indie and cool and sweet, I just want to, to quote Gus "take it to Vegas and marry it.) And he's directing Paper Towns.

One of the reasons I love Josh Boone's films is that they just tell the story. They're almost unobtrusive in how cool the direction is, they just make you forget about it and focus on the story and the characters. And then you think about it afterwards and you realise how clever it was and how cleverly the film focused at the right moments and how much thought went into it and it's like a really nice gift that Josh Boone made just for you. And that sort of back-to-the-story mentality really suits The Fault in Our Stars.

Oh, and it's John Green who wrote it, and he's another person I have a hero-crush on because it's John Green. I think the phrase "It's John Green" should qualify for most explanations.

    "Like, I had to just randomly scream about hurricanes and drizzles because it's John Green."

It's John Green and the film is awesome. I mean, I know there's been some whining about blah-blah-they-look-awfully-healthy-for-cancer-victims but seriously, they get most of the details of cancer right. Hazel's cannula's always there, we see Gus's leg and for the people who said it was inaccurate Gus didn't lose his hair, it's perfectly accurate that some forms of chemotherapy, including the one they used for Gus, would not make him lose his hair.

It was a great film. It was great, it was funny, it was sad, and it was hilariously sobbingly I--Love-This and this thing is brilliant and one of the things that make you think about everything endlessly  and wish the characters were real and-it's great. See it.

Plus, in one scene, Hazel has Calvin and Hobbes books in her room. Just in case it couldn't get any better.



Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Pride and Prejudice-Jane Austen

It says something about how popular Pride and Prejudice is that I actually had to specify I was looking for the novel version when I typed it in on Google Images. I mean, it has to be some kind of record for the amount of times it's been turned into film, TV-I've even heard about an anime version of it. I can barely imagine how that would pan out, and I've got a pretty wild imagination.

It's also one of those books that pretty much everyone knows and quite a lot of people have a strong opinion about, so I have in no way wandered into dangerous territory by choosing this for my first book review. None at all.

   "Just let me borrow the Invisibility Cloak to hide from the Internet hate and we're cool."

Since this is my first book review, I think it might be wise to point out that it's going to vary how I review books. This basically means that sometimes I'll kind of recap the whole plot and sometimes, I'll just review the key points, and leave the ending spoiler-free. In this case, I'll recap the thing, since pretty much everyone knows how Pride and Prejudice ends, or at least has some idea of it. (If you are one of the minority who doesn't, then well done on your avoidance of the mass media.)

Pride and Prejudice is the story of the five Bennet sisters-specifically, second-oldest and deadpan snarker Elizabeth Bennet. This being the past and feminism not being around, their only option in life is to get married, and hopefully to a rich husband, and their mother's main ambition in life is to get them all married off successfully. They each have their own personality type-Jane, the eldest, is the pretty, kind, sweet one, Elizabeth is the witty, snarky, cleverest one, Mary is the overly-moral book worm, Kitty is-a follower (OK, maybe her personality isn't that distinct) and the youngest, Lydia is flighty, selfish, impulsive and not the sharpest. Thanks for giving me that name.

Anyway, Mrs. Bennet basically spends her days planning their weddings and Mr. Bennet spends his days in his study trying to ignore her. (He apparently married her for her looks, which he now realises wasn't the wisest idea, but this being a different age, he's stuck with her.) One day, Mr. Bingley moves in nearby and Mrs. Bennet basically bursts a blood vessel when she finds out he's single. After sending her husband to talk to him first-I can barely imagine how that conversation went-

Mr. Bennet: So welcome to the neighbourhood.
Mr. Bingley: Why, I thank you, good sir!
Mr. Bennet: Lovely weather we're having.
Mr. Bingley: It certainly is!
Mr. Bennet: My wife wants you to marry one of our daughters.
Mr. Bingley: .........

 "Arranged marriages after two days of acquaintance are the norm around here, my fellow."

Anyway, they end up at  a ball which was the traditional way of meeting people back then. I'm still dying to see a modern day adaptation in which they all go to a nightclub and we get Elizabeth throwing a drink over Darcy's head. I should clearly be writing one, as you can see.

Bingley's a nice enough guy but it's at this ball we meet *cue the sound of a thousand women passing out on the floor* Mr. Darcy, the originator of the dark brooding handsome guy, and the template for thousands of male characters in literature today leaving women panting through the simple act of being a complete jerk. It's easily done.

                    "I and my high collar are to blame for this phenomenon."

Anyway, Bingley and Darcy couldn't be more opposite despite the fact they're good friends. Bingley's a nice guy who talks to everyone, Darcy sits in his emo corner and sulks, Bingley dances all the time and finds everyone charming company, Darcy's that person who constantly reminds you that the world could end and thinks everything's a waste of time. It's like going to a ball with SpongeBob Squarepants and Morrissey.

Anyway, Bingley gives Darcy the equivalent of "Get up and dance with someone, for God's sake, you miserable git" and Darcy continues to look like Squidward in a suit, before Bingley-who's kind of smitten with Jane-points out Elizabeth to him, probably in the hopes of getting two for one offers on their double dates. Darcy then manages to describe her as "tolerable but not handsome enough to tempt me" which is kind of the nineteenth-century equivalent of referring to her as the DUFF. Which Elizabeth overhears. Obviously, this doesn't endear Darcy to her though she sadly doesn't give him a slap.

Anyway, Jane and Bingley hit it off and she gets invited over to his HUGE house which impresses her mother no end. Unfortunately, a huge storm hits and she gets sick, and therefore is forced to stay at the house, with Elizabeth going a few days later to check that she's all right, and presumably to check that Bingley hasn't tempted her to bring the family name into disgrace or anything. Elizabeth discovers that Bingley's still sweet, but his sisters have an essence-of-bitch quality to their behaviour and Darcy is the object of Bingley's sister, Caroline's, affections which he pretty obviously does not return. However, he is becoming more intrigued by Elizabeth simply because she is different from the other girls and knows her own mind. And, you know, is more than halfway interesting in a society where women's chief occupation is sewing and walking around the room is considered exercise.

However, when they return home, they get a surprise in the form of their visiting cousin, Mr. Collins, whom I'm pretty sure is one of the original boasters of the term "brown-noser". Unfortunately, they have to be polite to him because he's going to get the house when Mr. Bennet dies and they'll lose everything they own. Unless of course, he marries one of them. (Back then, you could marry your cousin. If you didn't mind your kid having an extra thumb or something.)  And with Jane and Bingley hitting it off, guess who's next in line? Elizabeth, who has about as much interest in Mr. Collins as she does in the nearest doorknob.

But he ain't the only guy hanging around as we also get introduced to Mr. Wickham, a soldier from the battalion that's currently in town and that Kitty and Lydia spend their time hanging around and giving One Direction fangirls a run for their money in the giggling stakes.  Mr. Wickham and Elizabeth get on pretty well-particularly when it's revealed that he grew up with Mr. Darcy and is able to corroborate her already pretty established view that Darcy's a jerk. Mr. Wickham gets out his violin and starts crooning away the sad story of how Darcy's father loved him as a son and left him a load of money for him to be a priest but when he died, Darcy wouldn't let him have it and so Wickham had to become a soldier. Elizabeth is shocked to death by this but is pretty pleased her view of Darcy seems to be correct.

But Mr. Collins is still lurking around and decides to propose to Elizabeth in words positively dripping with affection.

"My reasons for marrying are first, that I think it a right thing for every clergyman in easy circumstances (like myself) to set the example of matrimony in his parish."

Romeo and Juliet, eat your hearts out.

Elizabeth understandably isn't bowled over by this or any other of his reasons for wanting to marry her and offers him a no. He's the persistent type, however, and like the idiots who keep ringing asking you if you've got time for a survey, can't seem to get the word "No" through his head. And then he says this:

"In spite of your manifold attractions, it is by no means certain that another offer of marriage may ever be made you."

Tell me you wouldn't be grabbing the ring.

Elizabeth says no AGAIN which sends her mother squawking around and appealing to her father and Mr. Bennet tells her, in one of the best lines, that her mother will never see her again if she doesn't marry her cousin and he will never see her again if she does. Mr. Collins isn't too heartbroken and promptly marries Elizabeth's friend Charlotte instead, who's desperate to avoid becoming an old maid. Because she's twenty seven, you know, practically on her death bed.

Anyway, all isn't rosy for Jane and Bingley as he's cleared off to London for a bit and Jane's sad because she hasn't heard from him while his sister Caroline's still sending letters implying she'll end up married to Mr Darcy and that Bingley will marry Darcy's younger sister. Elizabeth's convinced this is just wishful thinking but Caroline keeps harping on about it like a worryingly obsessive Oh No They Didn't commenter. However, Elizabeth then goes off to stay with Mr. Collins and Charlotte along with Charlotte's father and sister for a few days which shouldn't be awkward at all given that she turned the guy down-though it does confirm her view that he's an idiot. They also get a visit from Mr. Darcy's aunt, Lady Catherine, whose picture should really be in the dictionary next to Decaying Snob.

Meanwhile, Jane goes to stay in London for a bit and is pretty hurt when Caroline's cold to her and Bingley never even visits her. Jane's one of those people who if a dog bit her would blame herself for walking in front of the thing, so it takes her ages for her to realise what Elizabeth worked out several eons ago-Caroline's basically the ancestor of Regina George and didn't want Jane with Bingley. This distresses her. However, Elizabeth uncovers something pretty shocking when Mr Darcy's cousin turns up and inadvertently reveals that Darcy apparently convinced Bingley to forget about Jane. Understandably, given how upset her sister is, Elizabeth is furious.

This is pretty bad timing when Mr Darcy chooses to propose to her. It probably wouldn't have gone well anyway, given she currently wants the guy's head on a plate, but then he manages to make the whole thing worse when in the middle of his proposal he also manages to make reference to her family's "inferiority" and it being a "degradation." Seriously, does it never occur to these guys that maybe a proposal isn't the best time to start insulting the girl's family? Jeez, no wonder everyone thinks Darcy's a douche.

Elizabeth turns down a second proposal, which is like spitting in a guy's face in the nineteenth century, but also tells him why and the two erupt into a huge argument, in which Darcy admits that yeah, he split up Jane and Bingley and doesn't feel any remorse for it. Who wants to guess Darcy's the sort of guy who'd tell you quite honestly that your dress made you look obese? Elizabeth hurls the Wickham accusations in his face and Darcy basically goes ballistic and storms out. However, he writes her a letter explaining the truth. Firstly, that he genuinely thought Jane wasn't interested in Bingley or at least, not for more than his money, and second, the whole story of Wickham.

Wickham, it turns out, is a complete liar who Darcy's father loved like his own son and who squandered his inheritance and then had the nerve to demand more from Darcy. When he said no, Wickham seduced Darcy's younger sister Georgiana-who was fifteen, so Wickham's giving off creeper vibes-in the hope of gaining access to her fortune. When Darcy found out, Wickham ran off, leaving Georgiana heartbroken, after promising everything and giving nothing. Today, he'd probably be a good politician.

                "Promises and lies-much the same thing! It's all good!"

Anyway, Elizabeth reads all this and has pretty much the biggest uh-oh moment of all time, and then remembers how she was taken in by Wickham and feels like a complete idiot. Well done there, Lizzy. To be fair to her, she is usually pretty good at not being taken in and Wickham seems to be a consummate liar.

She returns home and gets invited on a trip to Derbyshire with her aunt. There's a pretty hilarious moment where they're out with Kitty and Lydia and Lydia offers to treat them to something and then reveals she'll have to borrow their money to pay for it, and becomes yet another person to sign the Doofus Register. (Which is pretty good foreshadowing.)

But while Elizabeth goes off with her aunt, Lydia gets invited to Brighton with all the officers and is allowed to go. This comes back to bite everyone. Meanwhile, Elizabeth ends up visiting Mr Darcy's house, Pemberley and has that awkward moment of confronting the guy who insulted her family and whose proposal she turned down. Everyone can relate.

However, he's actually really polite and she finds herself softening towards him, especially now that she knows the truth. She meets his sister Georgiana, who's basically a shipper on deck for the pair of them, and things are going well, especially as they start hanging out more.

But then disaster strikes when Elizabeth gets a letter from home, revealing that Lydia has run off with Wickham-Lydia is sixteen. I was half-joking about the creeper vibes earlier but now my skin is really starting to crawl. Oh, and Wickham is also interested in her for the potential of her money. Wickham's the type of guy who'll do anything to make sure he wins, kind of like Luis Suarez on the football pitch, minus the biting. It says something when the biting guy has more principles.

                "Biting someone? That's so twenty first century."

This would be a pretty big deal today, presumably involving the police, but the bigger concern for the Bennets is not for Lydia's safety-it's for the fact she'll have ruined her and the family's good name. As you can see, the nineteenth century was a really good time to be a woman. But everyone's freaked out and their uncle zooms off to search London for her, along with her father. Lydia herself has absolutely no remorse for what she's done and even leaves a note joking about it. I imagine she'll be feeling the effects of her family's annoyance, come Christmas time.

Darcy comforts Elizabeth and has a pretty strong reaction himself, given the obvious memories this brings back and Elizabeth goes home to find her mother hysterical. Oh, and Mr. Collins sends them a condescending letter that contains the comforting line "The death of your daughter would have been a blessing in comparison with this." I was reading this on a plane and I actually choked laughing at this line, which prompted everyone around to stare at me. I tried waving my copy of the book and mouthing "It's funny" but I don't think it had an effect.

But anyway, since they haven't been fortunate enough to have their daughter die, they speculate with increasing horror that "Lydia is so lost to everything but love of him, as to consent to live with him on any other terms than marriage?"

Their main concern isn't for Lydia's safety, here, by the way, it's once again for her reputation and I wish Joan Jett would burst in and sing.

But then again, Lydia's a thoughtless little brat and eventually turns up, engaged to Wickham, which is a huge relief. Her mother's promptly thrilled that she'll be married at sixteen and I'm sure modern readers are passing out cold at this values dissonance. She eventually turns up for a visit with her husband, having ignored everyone's lectures and truly cementing her place as one of the most ungrateful little brats of all time. Wickham quite clearly doesn't love her and has been forced into the marriage and Lydia is convinced he's the human form of God. She could be forgiven, given she's only sixteen, but then she completely brushes off the fact she worried everyone sick and sees absolutely nothing wrong with the whole scenario and you forget the forgiveness and just want to shake her or at least show her a picture of divorce statistics for teenage marriage.
                                "Behold, your future."

Anyway, Lydia also manages to reveal that Darcy was at the wedding and Elizabeth figures out the truth from her aunt-it was Darcy who forced Wickham to marry Lydia at his own expense, despite loathing the man, and so saved their family's reputation. He overcame his own pride because of his love for Elizabeth and Elizabeth has to admit she's been wrong about him, due to her prejudice. And we get the title drop.

Anyway, Bingley and Darcy return and Bingley proposes to Jane, who he now knows does return his feelings. Jane's over the moon and Mrs. Bennet promptly collapses at the thought of two daughters being married. Meanwhile, Elizabeth gets a visit from Decaying Snob, who has the nerve to try and put Elizabeth off accepting Darcy's proposal, should he offer one. The old hag is totally stunned when Elizabeth tells her where to go with that idea and that she wouldn't take her opinion into consideration at all. All this leads up to where the readers probably guessed this was going from the first moment Darcy insulted her-Darcy and Elizabeth apologize, he proposes and she accepts. She and Jane both live happily ever after in their marriages, Kitty and Mary are well influenced by them, Mrs. Bennet can die happy, and Lydia-is sort of happy in her marriage, too, even if that's through being an idiot.

Pride and Prejudice is basically one of the foundations of British literature, and it's a cool book. It's great-particularly for the time-to see a strong willed heroine who doesn't allow others to tell her what to do. The characters are interestingly flawed and even the prominent view of Darcy as the Dark Good-Looking Jerk is misconstrued-Elizabeth only really truly falls in love with Darcy once he starts acting like a decent human being. Plus, you do get an exploration of the whole idea of a woman's entire life being about finding a husband which was pretty progressive for its' time and the whole idea of women's virtues. It was pretty feministic for the age it was written and arguably it's spawned probably one of the highest number of adaptations of any novel. Plus, the writing is hilarious, as in brilliantly tight and witty. It's a good book, if you're prepared to read it closely and not scream at the values dissonance every few pages.

And if you're going to watch the film version-there's a few dozen to choose from. And be warned-don't start an online debate about which is best. You'll be there for hours. Don't even start comparing the Mr. Darcy's.

                                     "Matthew....Macfayden....or....Colin Firth?"



Monday, 23 June 2014


I actually kind of skipped all the buzz around this song when it came out. I knew it was a big deal and that Lorde was apparently pretty young but somehow, I just never learnt that much about it. I've got to admit, this was probably some kind of reverse-popularity trait I was exhibiting at the time, where I made a big deal of refusing to listen to the thing that everyone in the known universe seemed to be listening to, simply for the happy label of being ALTERNATIVE. I've since given up on this idea on the grounds that a) It's kind of arrogant and b) It's completely pointless. I mean, some of the things I like best in the world are popular. If I gave up all popular things, I'd be giving up the Beatles, which would be like giving up breathing. (One of my friends refuses to watch Breaking Bad on the grounds that it's really popular at the moment. *shrugs* I can't judge.)

But anyway, it was actually a few months later that I went online and found the Internet was STILL exploding about this new singer-songwriter. This time, I learned she was only a year older than me and got kind of intrigued. But it was only when I typed her name into Google, that I realised just how crazy everyone was going for this hit song she'd released, titled Royals.

I think I'd heard the song vaguely a few months back when it was getting major airplay and had just kind of zoned out probably because zoning out seems to constitute a worryingly big part of my life. But then I got a thousand comments online from people who basically seemed to want to marry this song and shove an eternity ring on its' finger. By the time I clicked on the Youtube link, I'd heard so much about how revolutionary this song was,  I was practically expecting to see Jesus resurrected halfway through.

I've never seen a diamond in the flesh
I cut my teeth on wedding rings in the movies
And I'm not proud of my address.-Lorde.

When my mother walked into my bedroom a few minutes later, she found me dancing around the room with the song on repeat as I sang along to the chorus waving my hands in the air like the Harry Potter kids when they sing the school song. It says a lot about me that I know all the words to that song. I then promptly started screaming at her about how Lorde was my new goddess and how had we not been exposed to this genius before. She looked concerned and told me to keep it down before she left the room, which is most people's standard response to me. I spent the rest of the night with the song on repeat.

But everybody's like
Gold teeth, grey goose, tripping in the bathroom,
Bloodstained ball gowns, smashing up hotel rooms
We don't care, we're driving Cadillacs in our dreams-Lorde.

That verse alone is pretty much one of the bedrocks of the song. It's a song calling out the constant standards pushed on everyone by the rich and famous who act as if everyone in the world can afford tigers on gold leashes and their own personal jets. That's the pretty basic message and you could argue that it's been done before.

But there's something pretty cool about the fact that it's a sixteen-year-old girl-or sixteen at the time-that's pointing this out, and that it's someone who's part of the very generation that's grown up with all this media marketing. It's cool that it's her, this girl from New Zealand who made her own way and apparently has a reputation for doing things her own way, that pointed out the hypocrisy of holding everyone to the financial standards that only a few can reach. Oh, and also she points out that she and her friends? Are JUST FINE with the fact they might not reach those standards.

We aren't caught up in your love affair
And we'll never be royals
It's not in our blood
That kind of lux just ain't for us
We crave a different kind of buzz-Lorde.

Oh, and I love the fact that the lyrics are kind of hip-hop. Not hip-hop precisely but sort of edged with hip hop. Because a lot of hip hop songs are the ones that project this image of fame and money and riches-though it's a big thing with mainstream culture in general. There's a big thing with "We know everyone should be equal but it's so awesome to be rich" in the media, I think most people would agree.

                     "We sing about buying sports cars- so everyone can relate."

And of course, Lorde herself has pointed out the irony of the song-because this was the one that got her the big hit and that got her access to the hidden world of fame and money and excess riches. Heck, she could probably own a few islands herself if she wanted. But-and here's the cool part-she's still the same person-apparently.

And that's kind of the other message of the song. Look at these lyrics:

And everyone who knows us knows
We're fine with this
We didn't come from money-Lorde.

You can call me Queen Bee
And baby, I'll rule, I'll rule, I'll rule
Let me live that fantasy.-Lorde.

That kind of serves as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Lorde's talking about living her fantasy in the future-which being a successful recording artist, I guess she is. But she's "fine with it." The money isn't important to her, or at least it's not the main deal. So in spite of entering this world of "gold teeth, grey goose, tripping in the bathroom"-she's still not caught up in the love affair with riches, and she's still the "Queen" of her own world-where the things that are important to her matter.

Oh, and that's another thing that makes me want to eternally scream about Lorde to strangers in the street. "You can call me Queen Bee." She wants to be Queen. She wants to be the best. She's not shy about wanting to be the best. She's honest and upfront about it. Yeah, she wants to be the best. So what?

This might not sound that earth-shattering but there seems to be kind of a trend that girls shouldn't be honest about being ambitious. Although we've come a long way from being seen as potential housewives whose ideal wedding present is a blender-shout out, Father of the Bride-there's still this niggling little implication that girls shouldn't be confident. No, they should be shy. Should downplay their abilities. They shouldn't be honest about what they want. This song basically takes that idea, screws it into a ball, spits on it and chucks it out the window. Lorde wants to be Queen Bee, and by God, she's going to be.

And then you get these lines.

We're bigger than we ever dreamed
And I'm in love with being Queen-Lorde.

Again, weirdly self-prophetic. I reckon Lorde could take over from Sybil Trelawney any day. She could do her own chorus on how Snape killed Dumbledore.

 "Severus fired the Avada Kedavra, Albus fell back, wasn't heard from after-"

                                 "I see a queen-and a bee. Is that a Grammy?"

But just to make her cooler, Lorde basically predicted her own success. And what's more, she predicted how she'd kind of react to it. By being queen of her own career-and not buying into all the expectations placed on her for being a singer or a public figure. She's kind of in love with doing things her own way-and kicking the expectations in the teeth. Which is cool.

Oh, and I love the beats to the song. They sound kind of like someone clicking away their fingers the entire time. It just adds to the whole do-it-yourself vibe. It's awesome.

So, that's Royals and it's basically the song that introduced me to Lorde. Which means that it's on top of my adored things list for all time. Overall, this song is pretty revolutionary. It challenges the ideas that we've taken for granted for a pretty long time. It's even got some feminist vibes as well. That's a lot for a first pop song.

And I'm still listening to it 24/7. So there's that.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

A Few Things About Me

So I've only written three posts and I've just realised they haven't really been that informative or overly detailed. So, here's a few little things you might want to know:

My name's Lydia and I'm seventeen. I don't give my full name out usually because of the fact I've been warned about Internet safety basically since the time I was first aware of the Internet's existence. But anyway, this is my blog.

I kind of had a lot of difficulty deciding what this blog would actually be about. I think in the beginning I just wanted one to chronicle interests. But I'm going to be reviewing things on here. Mainly books, films, songs and music videos but sometimes some TV shows as well. And I'll be doing stuff I like and stuff I'm-not so keen on. I'll also be occasionally posting stuff about my writing, and just random stuff about me. I don't know if that says I'm the sort of person who's outgoing or the sort of person who's just self-centred but I'd put a pretty large wager on the latter.

Now, just to clear a couple of things up about this whole reviewing thing; I'm doing it for fun and if it's something I'm not so keen on, then I'll try and be constructive about it. But I go by the Nostalgia Critic's motto for films and apply it to most forms of media-there's no such thing as good or bad, there's just things you like and things you don't like. Most of art's pretty subjective anyway, and there are plenty of things I like that I know other people don't and some books/films/songs, etc. that I can't be in the presence of for more than five seconds and everyone else seems to love so much that they're  practically marching them to the altar. So, it's just my opinion.

If I post any pictures, unless I say that I took them or that they're my own, you should probably take it for granted that I don't own them or anything. To give you an idea of what my photography skills are like, I'll tell you that the first time I tried taking a picture with my phone, I managed to get about fifteen shots of half a tablecloth and then managed to illuminate the entire table with the flash which was bright enough to give my little cousin a headache that led to her spending the rest of the party curled up with her thumb in her mouth. I took it as a bad sign.

Anyway, I don't have any set plan for what I'm going to review at the moment. For now, I'm just getting started. But anyway, I hope you-whoever you are, reading this-will read it and I hope you'll find it kind of interesting.

So until next time,


Thursday, 12 June 2014

All of the Stars-Ed Sheeran

I don't think I need to tell anyone what the Fault in Our Stars is at this point.

Just in case there is one person out there who's just sort of blinking confusedly right now, going "What?" here is one-very quick-overview of the Fault in Our Stars.

Hazel and Gus are two teenagers who are sarcastic, intelligent, funny, and happen to have cancer. They meet at a cancer support group and fall in love. That sounds like it could be the most clich├ęd, contrived thing ever. It completely isn't.

The book will make you laugh, cry, and shove it into the hands of complete strangers on the street, gasping "READ IT NOW" and possibly incurring restraining orders. But seriously, it's THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. IT MUST BE READ.

"Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book."-John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

That's another great thing about the Fault in Our Stars, the fact it actually referenced how people would feel about the book inside the book. I don't know if that last sentence even made sense.

But. This isn't just talking about the book. This is talking about the movie.

Specifically, the movie soundtrack-all of which seems great.

But specifically, one song.

When I first listened to All of the Stars by Ed Sheeran, I was pretty sceptical. I'll admit it. I actually kind of sat there, with my eyes closed, in case the song was cheesy. I love Ed Sheeran but it felt like my entire brain was screwed up in apprehension, curled up against a corner of my skull dreading the song potentially being cheesy and ruining it and my whole mind was screaming NO CANNOT BEAR THAT.

I did not have to bear that.

"I saw a shooting star and I thought of you"-Ed Sheeran.

The second I heard that line, I opened my eyes. I sat up and stared at the computer screen.

"If you were here, I'd sing to you"-Ed Sheeran.

I was basically tearing up at this point. I was in that great moment when you know you're hearing a great song for the first time and you know you're going to play it over and over.

"And I know these scars will bleed
But both of our hearts believe
All of these stars will guide us home"-Ed Sheeran.

I literally sat there at this point and listened to the entire song. Then I played it again. And again.

Both my parents have read the Fault in Our Stars. So has my cousin. So have my friends. It's one of those books. So obviously I ran to my father, who is basically one of those people who knows all the great music and almost screamed at him that the second he finished the book, he had to listen to the song. He agreed that it was great. I should mention he has a pretty strong radar for anything that's not good music, and he used to be a musician partly, so this just certified my already solid opinion that this was One of the Greatest Songs To Listen To Ever.

The world is not a wish-granting factory-John Green, The Fault in Our Stars.

Part of the message of the Fault in Our Stars-for me, at least-is Hazel's realisation that she's not a grenade. (Makes sense if you've read the book and I'm trying not to spoil anyone who hasn't had that brilliant experience yet.) Or that even if she is, you can't unlove a grenade. She can't unlove Augustus and Augustus can't unlove her. And they wouldn't want to. Which is stated. But another of her realisations is that she can't refuse to live life, just because it might end for her. She can't just tread lightly because despite what happens-and I'm not going to say-it was still a privilege for her and Augustus to be together. To get that time. And she can remember it.

It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.-John Green, The Fault in Our Stars.

She got to have that experience. And even if something ends, you don't forget it. It doesn't vanish, as long as someone is still there to remember it. That's what I took away from it. Even if something ends, it doesn't mean it's gone. It's just there in an entirely different way. If you still think of it, still care about it, it's still there.

And then there's the last line of the song.

I can see the stars from America.-Ed Sheeran.

And that last line pretty much sums it up for me. Even if you won't see the stars from Amsterdam again, you can still see them in America. (Read book=makes sense.) Even if you're not seeing them the same way, they're still there. And you can still see them.

I don't think I need to say I loved the song. I don't think I need to say this isn't the last time I'll mention the Fault in Our Stars. I don't think I need to say I can't wait for the movie and READ THE BOOK IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY.

But I do need to say, thanks Ed Sheeran for writing and performing this song. And thanks everyone in the film, for giving us the film.

And thanks John Green, for giving us the book.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

RIP Rik Mayall

So, I've just heard that Rik Mayall died yesterday.

I won't pretend that I watched the Young Ones, or even that I knew a great deal about him. But I did know he was a really, really great comic actor, who died at a pretty young age-only 56. Currently, the cause of death is uncertain, but there've been tributes pouring into him from all over the Net. The one film I was familiar with him in was Drop Dead Fred, which is probably due to a pretty irritating lack of cultural knowledge on my part. Though the fact he was in Blackadder at one point endears him to me for all time.

Anyway, RIP Rik Mayall. You gave us all a lot of laughs and you brought entertainment into a lot of lives. Rest in peace.

                                                              Rik Mayall
                                                   7th March 1958-9th June 2014

Monday, 9 June 2014

Getting that New in Town Feeling

Hey, there, world.

So, I'm new to blogging. Which probably isn't coming as a big surprise.

I'm not even precisely sure how to start a blog entry, which I'd like to think is a universal difficulty, but is probably just something unique to me and my awkward little brain.

I always kind of had reservations about starting a blog. You know. Blogs were for people older than me and smarter than me, and people who were good at the Internet (not like me.)

But, I wanted to start one so here we are. Just a quick note; apologies if my blog looks kind of weird at first or it's difficult to follow or comment or something. I am still leaning how to navigate the whole thing so apologies if it looks kind of weird for a while.

But this blog is kind of...sometimes a bit about me. But mostly just about the stuff I'm interested in. I'd like to think this is a sign I like to share things with the world, but it's more likely I'm just kind of arrogant.

Oh, and there'll be stuff about writing. Because I write a lot.

I'm just reading this over and I'm stuck in this sea of what-the-heck-are-you-doing-ness and my mind's swimming with the helpful thought of No-One-Is-Ever-Going-To-Want-To-Read-This. Don't you love those type of thoughts?

But anyway, this is my blog. And welcome to my kind of weird little world.

Oh, and the name? Well, it doesn't refer to me (though I got the idea from something someone said to me.) It's just kind of how I think of the world. I mean, when you think about it, it's kind of a weird place. A little enigma. And I tend to think of a lot of things like that. You can't really explain them, and you can't really describe them, but you're glad they're there. Little enigmas.

Anyway, hope you read my blog. Just to get any copyrighty things out the way, the image in the background and the image in my profile are not mine. They're just images I like, I don't own them at all.

Happy reading