The Ultimate Christmas Food Face-Off

White and silver decorations on a black background with the title text 'The Ultimate Christmas Food Face-off' and illustrations of snowflakes.

Hey everyone! I’m so excited to write this post because I ADORE Christmas food. Today I’m going to pit against each other the foods that my family and I eat around Christmas and December to find the ULTIMATE CHRISTMAS DINNER PLATE. However, first I would like to credit the Wonderful! podcast by Griffin and Rachel McElroy, because this format is very heavily inspired by their Thanksgiving food episode. (And what a fun episode it was.)

So ‘how is this going to work??’ I hear you ask. Well, I’m going to be organising the foods I normally eat at Christmas dinner (or have eaten at some point in time) into their various categories and picking a winner from each to give me my final ULTIMATE CHRISTMAS DINNER PLATE. Let’s get started!

centrepiece

turkey v fish

(Listen, I didn’t know what to call this section.) If my vegetarian cousins come over then we have fish as well, but although I do try to not eat meat… I have to go with turkey here. It’s just such a classic Christmas thing for me and it is also EXCELLENT as leftovers. (But I love fish too.)

WINNER: TURKEY

sides

sausages v roast potatoes v stuffing v bacon

Okay, this is SO DIFFICULT for me. I like sausages, but I do eat them at other times so…sorry, they’re going. Roast potatoes are one of my favourite foods ever and I can’t imagine a Christmas meal without them — plus they’re great for leftovers. However, I can’t eat stuffing at any other time and both sausage and parsely stuffing are so tasty. I love the bacon that we put on the turkey because it’s just! So good and crispy! (It’s one of the first things to run out at Christmas dinner.) UGH. But I just love crispy roasties so much that it’s going to have to be potatoes.

WINNER: ROAST POTATOES

veggies

carrots v parsnips v turnips v sprouts v sweet potatoes

I mean, vegetables are cool and all, but I thought they would get obliterated in the sides category, so. Carrots are such a good option as lots of people like them and they go well with everything, as are parsnips and turnips (which I can’t really tell apart, oops). Sprouts are not my favourite vegetable ever, but they’re so good when cooked well and absolutely ICONIC as a Christmas food. Sweet potatoes are also a solid choice, but I do eat them at other times. It’s a close one for me, sprouts are such an important part of my Christmas meal but at the end of the day I would prefer to actually eat carrots.

WINNER: CARROTS

sauces

bread sauce v apple sauce v cranberry sauce

I never really have bread sauce so that can go immediately, oops. I do love both apple and cranberry sauce, hmm…. But I think that cranberry sauce makes the best leftover turkey sandwich.

WINNER: CRANBERRY SAUCE

desserts

christmas pudding v christmas cake v yule log

Anyone who has talked to me about Christmas foods can probably guess what I’m picking here, and that’s christmas pudding. The others are good too but dude, Christmas pudding. I love making it every year with my grandma, I love when you get to set it on fire (!), I love finding charms in your slice. Also it just TASTES SO GOOD. Especially with rum butter.

WINNER: CHRISTMAS PUDDING

wild card

pigs in blankets v mince pies v bacon sandwich

This section is just the stuff that wouldn’t go anywhere else, haha. Pigs in blankets are great as party food, a bacon sarnie is a such traditional breakfast Christmas food for my family but I just love mince pies too much to let them go.

WINNER: MINCE PIES

That leaves my ultimate Christmas plate as: turkey, roast potatoes, carrots, cranberry sauce, Christmas pudding, and mince pies as a wild card. I’m very happy with that! I hope you enjoyed this post, and that even if you don’t celebrate Christmas you’re having a good December. (It is VERY COLD where I am at the moment, brr.)

do you have a favourite food for a particular celebration? how is your month going?

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My Music Taste Through The Ages

my music taste through the ages

My music has gone through a LOT of evolution. I find it difficult to tell people exactly my favourite music because I LOVE A LOT OF DIFFERENT MUSIC. I just go through…genre phases where I will listen to a ton of one kind of music, and then a few months later move on. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still enjoy some of my old music! I take my favourites with me.

Pre-Music Years

In primary school I didn’t really listen to or take an interest in music. ABBA was actually my favourite band, haha. (Though they are still amazing.) Selections from this era include Love Story by Taylor Swift and Replay by Iyaz, which were probably both what was on the radio at the time. What a throwback…

Formation

Some developments of okay stuff. I bought as many iTunes free singles of the week as I could — which I still have — including Lauren Aquilina, Orla Gartland, twenty one pilots and Rudimental. Man, I miss that feature. Free music is the best.

Soft Guitars: the First

I started listening to study playlists on 8tracks with kinda country and guitar songs like The Paper Kites and Angus and Julia Stone. I still use the playlist I made at this time for chilling around the house! Man, I really miss 8tracks. Since it stopped working with soundcloud I don’t use it much anymore.

Indie Rock Things

I read a book about a girl who’s really into, like, 80s indie rock? (It was called This Song Will Save Your Life. I still have it on my shelf.) And thus, I made a playlist of 80s bands including things like The Smiths and The Cure. Some of those songs have made it through, but not many. Considering that playlist was like 120 songs or something.

Bubblegum Guitar

Another find from 8tracks as I was looking for summery playlists! I also still really enjoy this genre — not exactly guitars, but not exactly pop? Just. Summery bubblegum guitars. I don’t know how to describe it. Includes stuff like Knox Hamilton, Misterwives, the Two Door Cinema Club, and Holychild. My playlist is called ‘neon sneakers’ and I like that.

Fandom-related

A brief interlude in which I listened to lots of fan playlists, mostly for Les Mis and Harry Potter, and hence made my own. I actually discovered some cool stuff this way! But I also formed super strong character associations with certain songs — I can’t listen to Hang Me Up to Dry by the Cold War Kids without going HEY GRANTAIRE DON’T BE SAD. Blame it On the Girls is also still The Most Courfeyrac song.

Loud Guitar and Drums

I’m pretty sure someone stayed at our house and made me listen to some stuff? Update: IT WAS MY COUSIN’S AUSTRALIAN FRIEND. We saw him again the other day after like two years which was wild. Anyway. Stuff like The Black Keys, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, Cold War Kids. A bunch of stuff I still listen to, actually! Also, Vampire Weekend got in there somewhere even though it’s not super related.

Electro Pop

I got pretty into more electronic-y pop kind of thing during the summer Halsey’s Badlands was released — so I listened to a lot of Halsey, Ryn Weaver, Banks, Lights, Pvris, Verite. Basically ALL THE COOL LADY ARTISTS. I actually just went to look for the playlist and I COULDN’T FIND IT so maybe I deleted it which is super annoying

Summery Electro pop

Some stuff happened in between these two. I probably just listened to old stuff. I can’t really remember but, yeah, a weird mix. Maybe this was my musicals period. ANYWAY the summer of 2016 I started listening to more summery pop! And kind of actual pop pop. Honestly I’m pleased that I am finally able to embrace that I JUST REALLY LOVE POP. Highlights include Shura (What’s it Gonna Be? is still one of my favourite music videos ever), Troye Sivan, Years & Years, Aurora, Hayley Kiyoko & Lauren Aquilina because YOOO SHE IS MY FAVOURITE AND THIS WAS WHEN SHE RELEASED HER LP. IT WAS AMAZING & YOU SHOULD GO READ MY REVIEW.

Soft Guitars: the Second

More pop & musicals happened between these. Then I had a bit of a renaissance with the soft guitars, and actually bothered to make a new background guitars playlist with people like Sufjan Stevens, Dodie & The Lumineers.

Summery Chill Pop, Also Other Stuff

AND THUS WE HAVE REACHED NOW. What is my current taste in music, you ask? To be honest, I don’t know, because I just listen to a mix of everything. But my summer 2017 playlist — which you can listen to here — includes stuff like The Japanese House, HAIM, Christine and the Queens, Tegan and Sara, and Lorde. So…some pop? But also some guitars and electronic-y things? I DON’T EVEN KNOW, DON’T ASK ME.

You can check out my spotify account if you like, but it doesn’t cover all of these music phases haha. (Thank goodness.) I don’t know if this is quite a definitive list, but it broadly covers what music I have liked…well, ever, discounting musicals because THAT IS A WHOLE OTHER THING. Maybe I should just write a post screaming about musicals. Anyway, this has been very nostalgic and fun for me, what about you? I’d love to chat!

My cover photo for this post is by Alphacolor 13 on Unsplash.

do you go through phases like me? what are you loving at the moment? i’d love to hear any recs!

 

Les Mis: A Crash Course

les mis a crash course.jpg

This April marked two years since I fell down the rabbit hole of Les Miserables, and by extension many other musicals. TWO YEARS. It feels like a long time ago. I’ve changed a lot since then. Les Mis became, and still is, a really important part of my life!

Thus, to mark the occasion I bring you my guide to Les Mis, for people who know nothing about Les Mis. I am currently listening to the musical and I am READY FOR THIS.

so what is it???

Les Mis refers to the book Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, covering a failed revolution and a reformed convict in 19th-century Paris, and its subsequent adaptations, most notably the Broadway/West End musical.

les misérables, the book

les miserables book

Our journey begins with the novel Les Misérables-with-the-e-acute novel by French author Victor Hugo, published in 1862. The main characters are:

  • Jean Valjean, an escaped convict leading a life of extreme coincidences. Stole a loaf of bread.
  • Javert, the policeman hunting him for breaking parole. He was born with scum like you. Lawful but…well. Misguided.
  • Fantine, a kind & lovely girl who got abandoned by this guy and ended up in prostitution.
  • Cosette, her blessed daughter and my wife. Sappy, but hates not being told stuff. Deserved better from the musical.
  • Marius Pontmercy, a rich boy who get thrown out by his family and then lives as a poor student in Paris. He’s an absolute nerd and he loves Cosette. One time he hit his head for two hours against a tree.
  • Eponine Thenardier, a girl born into a not good family but doing her absolute best to kick your ass and overcome her unrequited crush on Marius.
  • Also some students called Les Amis de l’ABC. If you’ve seen the musical, you’ll probably only know their leader, Enjolras. (He’s the guy in red.) However, if you go into the book internet fandom, you’ll probably find it focuses more around these students. If you only know the musical you probably haven’t heard of them, but never fear. I’ll cover them in more detail later.

It’s a pretty long book, but I do think if you love Les Mis then it’s worth it! Lots of people call it The Brick due to…well, its very brick-like nature as a book. (That is to say, it’s very long.) Other things you might need to know are the Infamous Waterloo Section, which is an essentially an essay about Waterloo,  and the time that Valjean broke out of a convent in a grave. There are many different translations, ranging from modern (Donougher, ose) to old-timey but free (Hapgood). You can even do a Les Mis tour of Paris in which you visit the original sites. DON’T WORRY, I’M COMING TO THE STUDENTS.

les amis de l’abc

Yeah, I’m giving them a separate section because I LOVE THESE KIDS. The main things you need to know are that they have an extremely minimal/sometimes even non-existent part in the musical and…still quite a comparatively small part in the book. HOWEVER THEY ARE VERY IMPORTANT SYMBOLICALLY. (Or so I hear.)

Anyway. They all like jokes, and their name is a French pun (for l’abaisse which is apparently like the abased/degraded, thanks internet). They have so many French puns. I don’t even understand them most of the time. From the sometimes few information Victor Hugo gives us, the fandom has sort of interpreted personalities, which somehow absorb into one’s brain through Collective Fandom Knowledge, which is pretty epic.

  • Enjolras, who as Victor Hugo goes to great pains to tell us about is Very Very Handsome. His girlfriend is France. (I’m telling you. This is a canon joke.)
  • Combeferre is very chill, but will outsmart you. His main book attribute is just be SUPER SMART.
  • Courfeyrac sometimes acts like a douchebag but has a good heart. (This part is also actually canon. Maybe paraphrased, but.) Probably would be the lead singer of an indie band if he was alive today. Ray of annoying sunshine. These first three make up the ‘triumvirate’, which seems to basically just be a fancy word for group of 3.
  • Grantaire, the drunk cynic who goes on long drunk rants about intellectual things that I don’t understand. In unrequited love with Enjolras. (I don’t want to spoil you, and you know, interpretation and all, but there are some pretty gay moments.)
  • Jean Prouvaire, or Jehan, is the shy poet who actually has Many Opinions, probably would wear a flower crown.
  • Bahorel, who would probably either get in a fight or do other dumb stuff for the memes.
  • Feuilly, an optimistic orphan who works super hard. (Not actually a student, but still part of the group.)
  • Bossuet, whose name is based on another obscure French joke and can’t grow any hair. Always smiling but has terrible luck. Also known as Lesgle, L’aigle de Meaux… I mean, I don’t eve know how we got here.
  • Joly, a hypochondriac medical student who is a cinnamon roll.
  • Musichetta, a ‘superb and literary girl’ whom Joly is wild over. She can wreck you.
  • Oh yeah, Marius is also part of this gang but he’s definitely not the leader as the musical suggests. He’s a TERRIBLE revolutionary.

Excuse me whilst I feel a bit emotional here. This hasn’t included Eponine, Gavroche, and Cosette, who I sometimes group with them just for ease even if they’re not technically of the ABC, but OH WELL. MY KIDS. ;-; And just for good measure, here is an amusing post of “Les Amis as stuff the students living next door to me have done”.

les mis, the musical

les mis musical.png

This is probably the more well-known and accessible form of Les Mis. It’s a very popular sung-through musical now, but when it was released the critics were like OMG NO IT’S TOO SAPPY AND TRAGIC. I Dreamed a Dream and Do You Hear the People Sing? are among the best-known songs. The Confrontation, a duet between Valjean and Javert, is also very much a jam in my personal opinion. However, the musical does cut a lot of the book, in particular Les Amis, the details of Valjean’s life and Cosette being an absolute badass.

Some things you should know about various different forms and productions:

  • The original French concept version is SUPER different and even features a…disco version of Red and Black? Which is pretty hilarious to be honest.
  • Original cast is rad. I would recommend.
  • Other cool things to watch/listen to are 10th anniversary and 25th anniversary, although a word of warning: Nick Jonas plays Marius is 25th anniversary and he is nOT GOOD.
  • The 2012 movie made the musical a lot easier to follow than just listening to a cast album, which is great! Personally I think that after listening to cast recordings, the musical singing definitely isn’t as good *coughs*Javert*coughs* but you can get a solid idea of the story. (I saw this before I saw anything else.) I actually think Eddie Redmayne is a solid Marius. Sadly they cut some parts from the musical, but. Grantaire has a veeery small part in this but his actor George Blagden appears to be, like, a complete Les Mis nerd? which I still find amazing? (Like, is that an Enjolras/Grantaire fansong on Youtube? IS IT??)
  • It did produce this TRULY EXCELLENT VIDEO, which I am just going to embed for good measure:
  • I’ve also listened to some of a Spanish version, Los Miserables and I liked it a lot! I still think this version or Red and Black is super excellent. (I’ve fallen into the hole of watching Les Mis in different languages, and now I’m watching Daniel Diges in Les Mis Brasil? I mean, who even knows anymore.
  • I haven’t watched many Les Mis Broadway things since of course I’m nearer to the West End production, but this performance at the Tonys is wonderful! I particularly think Eponine, Marius, Enjolras, and Valjean are great. ❤ (That was like…half the people haha. THEY’RE ALL GREAT.)
  • There’s probably a lot more stuff I could say, to be honest, and I will undoubtedly regret not putting something in later, but OH WELL. Here’s an In The Heights/Les Mis mashup.

tv series???

Last year the BBC announced they were making a (non-musical) Les Mis miniseries, written by Andrew Davies, and in February this year he stated that he had just finished writing the first draft. It’s due to air next year, and for one I am very interested to see what it comes up with! I even wrote about the stuff I’d love to see them put in if you want to check it out. 😉 Other Les Mis-related content of mine includes a Jehan cosplay tutorialLes Mis v Hamilton fandom battle, and the Les Mis book tag.

There are, of course, many other adaptations, including several movies, radio plays, and TV series, and it’s very easy to fall into the hole of internet searching. As you can perhaps see by my myriad of links and 1.5k post on this topic. (Me, a Les Mis fan? I mean, maybe a bit.)

do you like musicals? what do you think about les mis? is there a particular fandom which is important to you?

7 #Relatable Clarinet Things

7 relatable clarinet things.jpg

I’ve played the clarinet for a couple of years now, and I love talking to other clarinet players about all the clarinet things. So HERE ARE A FEW. Also, whilst I was writing this post I I realised that this was kinda similar to An Overthinking Teenager’s #Trumpeterproblems post so do go and check that out, it’s excellent! I mean, I’m not actually a trumpeter, but I DID ENJOY IT NEVERTHELESS.

1. Wait, how many ledger lines?

As you can see here, you can get a whooole bunch of ledger lines on the clarinet. I’ve got a pretty solid hold on the lower ledger lines, but in the higher register? (The weird altissimo one.) Yeah, just no. I am that person who sits there counting them all out. TOO MANY LEDGER LINES, GUYS.

2. There are approximately 30172907 other clarinet players out there

Don’t get me wrong, I’m eternally glad so many people choose to play the clarinet, because clearly the best instrument out there. *coughs* It just means that there’s a lot of competition for the few clarinet spaces there are in orchestras. (Like, at least there are about a million violins. Compared with THREE CLARINETS, I tell you. THREE CLARINETS.) (This especially sucks when you have, like, a clarinet prodigy at your school. RIP me.)

clarinet-gif
3. Playing 3rd clarinet in the school orchestra

Even when you do manage to get a place in orchestra, if it’s a lower part then it’s often just minims or crotchets plus 40 bars rest. I’m still pretty bitter from my 3rd clarinet days, to be honest. But it means that you can be SUPER HAPPY when you move up a part.

4. Trilling over the break

Some composers obviously just…do not understand how the clarinet works. BRO, I CANNOT TRILL FROM AN A TO A C. I JUST CAN’T. For non-clarineters: that means going from leaning on one key with your index finger to having all your fingers down! Plus another key! THE HORROR. I mean, there probably is a trill key for it. (See below.) But when you have to do it in like a scale of really quick notes going over the break and it’s just asdgyjhakeflkw.

nope gif.gif

5. SO MANY DIFFERENT KEYS

I’ve played the clarinet for a good while now, and even I don’t know what all the little keys along the side do. (I think I know most of them. But I might have to experiment a bit if you actually asked me to tell you.) It also means that if you knock one of them slightly, it can send your entire instrument off kilter and then you have to improvise with cling film and blue-tack to try and get the notes out.

6. Cleaning your clarinet is just…no

There are a variety of different clarinet cleaning things out there that you can use, but I have a weird cloth with a weight on the end. It used to be white, but now it’s brown and ripped and just in general extremely disgusting. I used to barely ever clean my clarinet, so when I did it would come out with loads of brown stuff, but now I try and clean it every time I play to minimise that. It’s still pretty gross.

7. Your one good reed always chips

Reeds are just really weird and mostly out to hate you. (It always seems like they’re especially out to get you when you are a wee tiny clarinet player.) They’re dry and they chip really easily and sometimes you find a 2 year old one somewhere and it is super super manky. And then when you get out the one reed you trust to play it at the concert…IT GOES AND CHIPS. Because of course.

glares gif.gif

do you play an instrument, or would you like to? (the clarinet maybe?!?) can you relate to any of these struggles?

Are YOU the Chosen One?

ya fantasy post.jpg

Think that you might be the protagonist of a YA Fantasy? Find out here, and discover whether you actually need to save the entire world or not!*

You’ve always been a Normal Plain Jane. You’re totally average looking, which is to say that you could be a supermodel. Which is to say that you are a straight white female with dramatic red hair living in the USA — and you have an improbable name like Satchel. Or Canada. Or Sage. Because why not. You’re kind-of-but-not-really in love with your quirky guy best friend.

If you are not a Normal Plain Jane-slash-supermodel, then you are likely to be Harry Potter 2.0. (Because every fantasy novel ever must be compared to the first fantasy series ever. Obviously.) This time around you are a straight white male with green eyes and messy dark hair living in the USA. You might have a slightly less stupid name, but you can’t be sure.

Anyway. Whether you are Normal Plain Jane-slash-supermodel or Harry Potter 2.0, you have recently been thrust into a brand new world at the tender age of 16. Whilst looking through your recently deceased grandmother’s attic (you just inherited her grand old house) you found a mysterious magical item that suddenly caused strange things to happen around you. Well, strange things have always happened around you, but you’ve only started realising it now because you’re super smart.

The strange happenings build up. Something dramatic happens that tips the scales. You can’t lie to the people in your tiny boring town anymore. You run out of your kitchen with tears streaking down your face. But just when you think everything is beyond fixing, a mysterious, beautiful, brooding boy with green eyes turns up to help you. (Only you’re Normal Plain Jane-slash-supermodel. Harry Potter 2.0 does things all alone and kisses the pretty girl at the end. There are no options except outdated gender roles and m/f couples.) He saves you but is also very rude to you. He told you that you should mind your own business and he doesn’t know you can see all the magical creatures. You’re confused and distressed — you insist that you’re just normal. Despite his rudeness, you find him mysterious and intriguing. You think that he probably has a tortured backstory that causes him to be this way.

You feel guilty about your guy best friend who you’re kind-of-but-not-really in love with. Whoops. But Brooding Boy is just awfully intriguing. You think that you might be the only girl to get behind his snippy façade.

Anyway. Somehow along the way here you manage to pick up a wizened mentor. This old bearded dude tells you that you’re actually the prophesied chosen one. You’re not any normal kind of magical being — no, you are a Special Combination that allows you to save the whole magical world from the Raving Evil Villain. The wizened mentor possibly gives you a bit more advice, but as soon as it’s convenient he dies.

Who even knows where your parents are at this point. Oh no, I remember: you’re an orphan! You’ve been living with foster parents all your life. Except they’re not around either… huh. Weird. Oh well, you have bigger fish to fry right now.

Like that dramatic prophecy. You have no idea how it could be true. You’re just a normal teenager! How on earth will you save the whole magical world? Ah, now you remember: the wizened mentor instructed you to find the a special magical object that will be integral in your defeat of the Raving Evil Villain. (He’s really evil, is this one. Wants to take over the entire world. What an original plan.)

You embark on a long and dangerous journey. Although this probably takes up a decent chunk towards the end of the book , it’s mostly walking and sexual tension with the Brooding Boy. The boring/mysterious forest just outside your boring/mysterious town is a lot further away than you had thought. But let’s just gloss over that because it’s not particularly interesting. (Though it would have been a lot easier if Wizened Mentor hadn’t conveniently died, to be honest.)

Yes. Once you find said special magical object, the Raving Evil Villain appears. Your heartbeat gets so loud that you are sure he can hear you from your hiding place. But it doesn’t matter, because you selflessly decide to reveal yourself and save everyone else. There is a dramatic showdown.  Potentially you are injured, but odds are that you live. (There are still another 2 books in this series for you to star in, after all.) The Raving Evil Villain explodes in a poof of darkness and evilness. Exhausted, you fall into the arms of Brooding Boy. Just as he professes his love to you, everything fades to black.

When you reawaken, you are preparing to leave. You have been unconscious for several hours but experience no serious health effects, which is dubious considering most people only faint for a few seconds. Anyway. Then you return home in a way quicker time than it took you to arrive. Everyone hails you as a hero, except for a few token pessimists who think you’re a fraud. You have been changed forever. You’re still struggling to deal with your whole situation. But whatever’s wrong inside you can be instantly fixed by the love of the Brooding Boy. Somewhere in all of this your best friend found his soulmate and he is happily dating her. The book ends on a final bittersweet domestic scene as you are recovering with Brooding Boy. Turns out he does have a heart of gold after all.

are you the protagonist of a YA fantasy? (if so, WHAT ARE YOU DOING STILL HERE?! you should be saving us all!)

*Not entirely serious. I am, in fact, a big fan of YA fantasy. 😛 If you enjoyed this, you may also want to check out its YA Dystopia counterpart! And just as a reminder: this is a scheduled posts, and I am currently away with no wifi.  But I would love to meet any potential Chosen Ones when I return on 4th August!

7 Languages I’d Like to Speak // struck by linguistic love

seven languages to learn2

I HAVE SO MANY LANGUAGES APART FROM ENGLISH THAT I WANT TO LEARN. Literally all of them. There are way too many languages in the world. And let’s remember that I’m still on my way to learn English. I just…LIKE LANGUAGES A LOT. ❤ I have such a busy summer ahead of me. Even though I probably won’t end up doing all the work I want, but hey!

1. Spanish This is probably my favourite language at school! I want to be able to read the Spanish copy of Eleanor & Park I bought. Don’t ask. There’s also a lot of Spanish literature I’d love to read in its original language, but… HOPEFULLY. Someday. I’m going to make this happen.

2. Old English The language of Beowulf, Merlin, and the maybe the basis for Elvish. (Which makes an appearance later.) I have basically no knowledge of this language at all, unlike most of the others on this list, but thank Maggie Stiefvater. The Raven Cycle inspires unknown language-learning, okay?

3. Japanese Yes. I am in theory learning this, but I’ve basically only learnt the hiragana and katakana so far. So I can read some things phonetically! But I can’t tell you what they mean. The hope and the dream is to watch a Ghibli film in its original language (and without subs). Because I am a nerd, and I like Studio Ghibli.

4. Latin The textbook we have is kind of silly — yeah it’s the Cambridge one with Caecilius and everything, hi to anyone else who knows what I’m talking about — but this would be awesome to be able to know it a bit better. I could be Ronan Lynch. With a bonus of obscure words definitions.

5. British Sign Language Obviously BSL is different to the other languages here! There are no opportunities at all to learn it at school, so I think I should at least learn some basic phrases. It’s really cool. And then you can speak in all sorts of situations where you can’t vocally say stuff.

6. French I just handed in my options to give this up next year. *sighs* I have to many subjects that I want to study and it’s awful. I still hold my Les Mis/living in Paris fantasies in my heart, though, and I AM GOING TO MAKE THEM HAPPEN. Even if it means visiting with another person who, you know, actually can communicate. I will not give this up.

7. Elvish I’m not going to lie here: I went through a phase of researching constructed languages (i.e. made up languages) and it was all very nerdy and academic. But being able to speak Elvish would be awesome, no?| IT WOULD BE LIKE A SECRET CODE. I wish I could learn Morse Code as well. I know it’s not really a language, but can we just put that as the honorary eighth? I don’t want to break the seven tradition, guys.

do you speak more than one language? which ones would you like to learn? are you torn in WAY too many different directions like me? 😛

 

Starting Revolutions in Dystopian YA: a 7-Step Guide

revolutions dystopia ya

Revolutionaries, are you secretly the protagonist of a YA dystopia? Find out by checking yourself against the symptoms below!*

You have always played by the rules. You know everything you do is for the good of society. You are going to do your parents proud. Your think your life is going to be nothing special, predictable, and you will probably marry your nothing-special, predictable best friend whom everyone thinks you are in love with for no apparent reason.

But you are Different. Nothing about your actions or thoughts suggest it, but you know it deep in your bones. You go along with the others, yet you are somehow…not like them. You try to quell this individuality. Because if you try hard enough it will go away.

You are about to come of age. Soon you will be that magic special number which means you are a functioning adult in society. A little like a debutante. In fact, you might actually be a debutante. During this coming-of-age-ritual, something important will probably happen in relation to your love life. (Because the government holds a deep interest in the love lives of teenagers.)

But now something has gone disastrously wrong and ripped a hole in your nice predictable life plan. The nice plan that you didn’t really trust anyway went wrong — how is this possible?!? Well, anyway, you have now seen the light and know that you’ve been living under oppressed rulers all your life. You have vowed to get out of that dark place.

The Different and brooding love interest — possibly the same as the ‘something disastrously wrong’ — has awakened a flame inside of you. Your latent Differentness has started to show itself. You are In Love, now the most beautiful and amazing couple anyone has ever seen. You are made for each other. Your love is far more powerful and Different and world-changing than any other teenage love. You are, of course, just like every other teenager in love.

Some fighting happened, but other people did it. You didn’t get to see that much actual revolution-ing. You were probably too busy making moon eyes at The Love Interest, or maybe feeling guilty about spending too much time with The Love Interest. Anyway, one of your dearest friends who you only met like a week ago died in the fighting. You have spent the required amount of time crying and being meaningful, and currently you are angry enough that you might even do something reckless. (Like the reckless thing everyone told you not to do.)

You have done the reckless thing and freed the country in one heroic blow. Despite not actually doing anything other than the reckless thing everyone told you not to do, you have been greeted as a hero. the whole world is free and peaceful and happy. Suffering will never again happen, all thanks to you. You said you were only doing what your instinct told you, and The Love Interest congratulates your modesty but says you really should get some kind of reward.

You finish on a bittersweet note, standing over the grave of tragic friend holding hands with The Love Interest as the sun sets. Finally, you realise that you need to get over the death of tragic friend and move on in your life. To show you have done this you kiss love interest. You ride off into the (improbably still setting) sun. The End.

*This is not a medically approved list. (It also does not apply to all YA dystopian novels ever.)

7 (Mostly Stupid) Nostalgic Computer Games

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So, when I say ‘nostalgic’ games, I’m not actually referring to Pac-Man kind of games. Sorry. I AM NOT OLD ENOUGH TO CLAIM PAC MAN IS MY CHILDHOOD. And I am also still in my childhood. But luckily for me, the internet changes fast enough for this to seem Sufficiently Old. *nods*

Don’t tell me I’m the only one who knows that coolmaths.com is the site to go to if you want to fool the system into thinking you’re on an educational site. (Let’s just pretend I’m not writing this list during NaNoWriMo. I HAVEN’T BEEN PROCRASTINATING AT ALL, what are you talking about?!?)

fireboyandwatergirl

1. Fireboy and Watergirl Oh my goodness this game was my favourite. It’s…still my favourite two player game. It’s pretty much the only decent one, in my opinion. 😉 Because I’m really bad at Minecraft and ‘Actual Video Games’. The two-player element was especially useful when there was practically a bloodbath over the two computers in the library after school. (In retrospect: why is the boy the fire? But anyway, yeah.)

bloons td5

2. Bloons Tower Defense The sound of computerised balloons popping is weirdly stress-relieving. The best part is when you get, like, the robot laser eye monkey right at the end and raze through all the rainbow coloured balloons. (It was actually quite a violent game, to be honest. And who even thought of ninja and sniper moneys? Are they a metaphor for humanity? What did those weirdly sentient balloons ever do to the moneys? Is there a whole backstory to this game? *gasps*

cookieclicker3

3. Cookie Clicker SO SO POINTLESS. Probably the most ridiculous game on this entire list. I don’t know. But it’s really fun. Just. Even more pointless than all the others. I think there are copies of it with other items, too? Ah well. Someday I’ll look it up.

papa louie

4. Papa Louie Evil pizza monsters, duh. And what is more important than delivering pizzas whilst being attacked by evil pizzas??

circle the cat

5. Circle the Cat This is actually a pretty clever game, even now. Stopping the cat from getting out requires actual thinking. (Some of it is luck where the starter squares are placed. But it’s more intellectual than, say, Cookie Clicker.)

celtic village

6. Celtic Village AHAHAHA. This game is the weirdest. It wasn’t ever really a popular-at-school thing like some of the others, but my cousin and I would play it at Christmas at the same time and see who could last the longest. It’s weird as hell, and it has terrible graphics, and it glitches all the time from what I can remember: random children would just turn into green aliens?? And then, like, the gods would come and age all your people up? Who even knows? *shakes head* Anyway, I just liked naming all my villagers. I had some pretty cool ones. Even if they all ended up dying at the end or something.

shopping street

7. Shopping Street OH MY GOD the competition with this. Way to introduce children to the retailing market. It was another kind of stress relieving one, though — maybe listening to money chink from all the little people pass is less good than balloons popping, but hey. (Not that balloons are particularly normal either. Oh well.)

What computer games did you used to play? Recognise any of these? I’M SO BAD AT ALL VIDEO GAMES NOW PERSONALLY. Except for Wii Sports. 😉

7 Pointless Ways to Procrastinate

7 pointless ways to procrastinate

Procrastinating is an art. Though social media is excellent, to be a true procrastinator you must also be able to perform your art in a variety of different ways – and if you have yet to embrace these during the joyful exam period, then here! Have a list that will effectively finish all productive revision!

(If you, like, me are actually in exam period right now then I’d probably advise not implementing any activities mentioned. Just saying.)

1. Play some oldey-timey games
Don’t tell me there wasn’t a fight for the one library computer in after school club. Seriously. That one with the green pipe and the bouncy ball one was my childhood (I’m very upset that I can no longer find it). If your memory is mysteriously blank then I’d suggest starting with Fireboy and Watergirl, Circle the Cat or Bloons Tower Defence. The sound of popping virtual balloons is strangely therapeutic.

2. Do some dumb calculations
‘How many books are in the library?’ ‘How many DVDs do I own?’ ‘How many teachers are teaching in my school at any one time?’ etc.

3. Find out dumb records
Again, the nostalgia from endless Guinness Book of World Records. What, you don’t have the newest edition? Never fear. The internet is your friend. My search history favourites include ‘longest piece of literature in the world’ (a Super Smash Bros fanfiction that clocks in at over 4 million words) ‘most married person’ (Linda Wolfe, with 23 marriages) and ‘farthest squirting of milk from the eye’ (279.5cm by Ilker Yilmaz).

4. Visit some pointless websites
My suggestions are Dot on the Horizon, Click to Remove, How Many Goats Are You Worth? and Please Wait.

5. Watch Pointless
You can say you’re watching ironically and because of my excellent pun, but we all know the truth. Pointless is the only game show worth any one’s time.

6. Find a playlist for every single action of the day
‘Saturday morning’, ‘Saturday breakfast’, ‘shower’, ‘getting ready’, ‘homework’, ‘making lunch’, ‘Saturday lunch’, ‘Oh look it’s started raining’, ‘Good job I don’t have to go out now’, ‘Let’s stay inside and watch Doctor Who instead’ ‘Wait, I have to publish this blog post first’ etc.

7. Learn how to say something in a language you’re not fluent in
This is probably the most productive items on this list. Quotes from your favourite books are especially fun – if you don’t want to buy a whole book and compare editions then you can get lots of sample chapters from Amazon.

I’m getting along well with my revision, as you can see. 😉 (No, seriously. I really am sorry for the lack of posts and such. It looks like this month is going to continue in this direction, unfortunately.)

Are any of you revising for exams at the moment? Is your studying going better than mine? 😛

7 British Words (That Aren’t ‘Bloody’)

British words that aren't bloody

(WordPress is really not liking me at the moment. I hope this posts. Otherwise, come over to my actual blog page and view everything from there.)

I am tired of ‘bloody’ and ‘mate’ being the only words used to identify a person with a British accent in books. I hate to tell you, but there are actually other accents in Britain and not all of us drink tea. As such, I have a compiled a* list of words used by a knowledgeable Londoner such as myself, which authors should endeavour to use in their writing.

*(not entirely serious)

1. Naff Ooh, I’m feeling quite urban here, aren’t I? Naff is a curious word which means the opposite of tasteful, but not the same as distasteful. Synonyms include gaudy, trashy, a large proportion of Camden market.

2. Term I know I’ve said this before, but THE AMERICAN SCHOOL SYSTEM IS VERY CONFUSING. (And maybe other places too. I haven’t read enough books to make judgements, really.) In this wonderful country, we have three terms instead of, like, two semesters, or whatever they have across they have across the Atlantic. I’m not really sure.

3. Converse It took me several re-reads and a film to discover that when Hazel Grace wears Chuck Taylors, she means converse. I just call all of those shoes converse, even if they’re actually £4.99 fakes from Primark.

4. Nick Something that will happen to your Liberty bag if you leave it on the bus, i.e. get stolen.

5. Train Do they even have much public transport in America? Characters seem to drive or fly everywhere. I know the USA is crazy big, but I managed to take an 8 hour train from London to Aberdeen. (On which I left my pencil case and books, by the way. Never going on it again.) And, just to confuse everyone, you’ve got the Tube and the Underground and the Overground and the Eurostar and the DLR. Fun times.

6. Shops Yes, I am going shopping to the shopping centre to visit the bookshop. IT’S IN THE VERB.

7. Lessons Because school does not deserve to be classy.

Oh, and one more: “Isn’t it just chucking it down?”

Dear authors, I hope you have taken note and will do your best to include these in your next novel, undoubtedly set on this glorious island of ours. Old chaps, thank you for reading, and cheerio; for those fellow Britons of mine, are there any I have missed out?