Eurovision Reaction 2012

28 05 2012

This past weekend saw the return of one of my favourite events of the year, The Eurovision Song Contest. Since 2004 it has been a major part of the year for me and I am always looking forward to it. This year it was held in Azerbaijan with me still remembering Sweden’s entry from last year which is the one I voted for last year, well it is one of my favourite songs from the contest since I have been watching.

First off let me just point out something about the UK entry. The last few years have not been so good for Britain with us usually appearing somewhere near the bottom. This year we had Engelbert Humperdinck who came second to last with 12 points. Now this does look bad but on the bright side we did get more than 10 which is pretty good for us since the 2003 incident. So in a way the UK is starting to come back with some recent entries including Jade Ewen and Blue even though it could be a while until we win again (to be fair I do think the tune was a bit grim, if it was lighter we may have done better). I did see a bit of the second semi-finals and did like Belarus’s song (which failed to get into the final), this is the second time a Rocky/Metalish from Belarus did not get into the final as far as I can remember, the other time was the brilliant 2009 song which I would have voted for if it got into the final. Several songs in the final looked like competition for Engelbert Humperdinck. The first song that stood out for me was Iceland’s entry which looked almost like a folklore song, a bit like the Bulgarian, Finnish and Moldova entries from 2007 (Apologies if the below video is not working, it was playing up on my computer, here is a link for you).

Then came the Sweden Entry, I saw a bit of this earlier in the week and I was unsure about it, there was something about it. It was one of the favorites of the contest this year and so when it came to voting it was hard to choose between Iceland and Sweden, so I voted for both. While Iceland did not do so well, Sweden won and this was a big moment for the country and for me. It is the 5th time Sweden has won and the third time since I have started watching that I have voted for the winner, the last time I voted for the winning song was 6 years ago for Finland (it was nice to see the lead singer calling out the results for Finland). The first time was in 2004 when I voted for Ukraine. The Swedish entry is actually one of the most successful in the contest history achieving 372 points. So with another year gone I now have to wait just less than 365 day until the next one, already looking forward to it (now I have voted for Sweden 2 years in a row, previously I voted for Finland 4 years in a row).


Movie Preview: Prometheus

24 05 2012

Next month one of the biggest films of the year gets released. It came in 10th place on my list of Most Exciting Films Of 2012. From the director (Ridley Scott) of the original Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator and Robin Hood comes his first Sci-fi film since Blade Runner. However this is more than just a Sci-fi film, it has a connection with one of the most legendary of all film series, a film series he started, if you have not figured it out yet, it’s Alien. It is important though to point out that while this film will have an essence and DNA of Alien, it is not Alien, it is something else. I bet it is more than likely that there will not be a single Alien Egg, Face Huger, Chest Burster or even The Alien Creature itself in the film. There may be the odd Easter egg pointing towards this that only the die-hard fan will notice (a sort of nod) but it is important to realise that Prometheus is its own film entirely. Technically the only potential sign of The Alien Creature that has been so far is something that is spotted in the trailer.

While there is no sign of The Alien itself there is another Extra-terrestrial. In the original Alien there was a scene where a creature was discovered in a derelict space ship. The Creature has come to be known as the Space Jockey, throughout the trailer scenes can be seen of this creature, so it is fair to say that this is the alien creature in Prometheus, an additional creature is also spotted attaching itself to one of the characters arms. The film’s premise is (according to Wikipedia) “In the late 21st century, a star map is discovered within the archaeological imagery of several otherwise unconnected cultures, including Magdalenian, Mesoamerican and Mesopotamian civilizations. The crew of the vessel Prometheus is sent on a scientific expedition, sponsored by the Weyland Corporation, to follow the map to find the origins of mankind. Exploring the advanced civilization of an extraterrestrial race, they soon face a threat to humanity’s existence”. This is backed up in the trailer as a group of people find an Invitation to the Stars and then a Big Spaceship (which looks kind of familiar) is found which is heading to Earth.

The film’s main stars are Noomi Rapace who is better known as the original Girl With The Dragon Tatoo and Simza Heron in Sherlock Holmes: AGOS. Then we have Michael Fassbender who recently appeared in X-Men First Class as Magneto. Then we have Charlize Theron who was in Æon Flux as the lead character (I really enjoyed that film). There is also Guy Pearce who seems to be almost appearing in everything, including The Count of Monte Cristo, The Road and The Time Machine. But the Big Star for me is the Fantastic Idris Elba (or Big-Dris as I like to call him) who of course won an award at the Sam’s Rant Film Awards, has appeared in The Wire and is the lead character in the Fantastic BBC Crime Drama Luther (one of the best Dramas in recent years) Prometheus is shaping up to be one of the cinema highlights of the year. While it is based on a previous film series it is going to delve into its own mythology and who knows maybe this film will be the start of a legend in it’s own right (and not because it is connected to another film series, which more than likely is how it will be remembered instead of being remembered as its own film, however there is a similarity between the trailers for Prometheus and the original Alien). One thing I need to mention before you watch the trailer is that everytime a new trailer for Prometheus come out it gets even more terrifying, this is the most terrifying to date.


XWA 2012 – War On The Shore VIII Photos

17 05 2012

This past weekend it was XWA War On The Shore 8 at the Hexagon at Lancaster and Morecambe College. So I thought I would share some of the photos I took. Now I am not going to comment on the matches, I thought I would do that with another My Week post, Enjoy.


Where Has The Hulk Been All These Years? – The Avengers

9 05 2012

What would happen if you were to get some of the biggest action heroes together and put them in the same film in the hope of making one big action film. Well that happened with The Expendables but from what I have heard (seeing as I have not seen it) it is a bit emotional. What it should be is Kurt Russell, Bruce Lee, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steven Seagal, Sylvester Stallone, Mr. T, Wesley Snipes and Chuck Norris. Well who knows seeing as Bruce Lee is sadly no longer around. So I suppose we could turn our head towards Super Hero’s instead and that’s what we have here.

Avengers Assemble (if you saw the UK version) is a film based on the comic book Super-Group from Marvel Comics and it is made up of a group of mostly single heroes who only work together if the threat is big enough. We have Captain America (well they are mostly American and one bloke from Asgard, no sign of anyone one from Britain, so I take it that if Britain was threatened The Avengers would not lift a finger), Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, The Black Widow and Hawkeye. Now the only thing I really know about the Avengers is from what has happened in recent comics of Essential X-Men. When it came to films it would only be a matter of time before the characters would meet up. However I was a bit worried about this film before going to see it, I will explain why later.

The film starts off at a scientific base (well, in space technically with a strange race of creatures) which is undergoing an evacuation. Due to a small blue box the fallen Asgardian Loki emerges from a portal and takes control of several Shield Employees (including Hawkeye) and escape with Nick Fury in pursuit and Fury’s female aide stuck underground trying to get people out. Well Fury can see there is a problem and brings several super agents together onto a giant aircraft carrier. It begins to submerge (which is kind of similar to something I made up in my head to amuse myself) just as I am going to the toilet so I lost about 3 minutes of film about here.

I come back into the screen and plans are made to capture Loki. A fight begins in Germany with Captain America and Iron Man fighting Loki after Loki tries to get a crowd to submit to his rule, Loki surrenders. On the way back to Shield Headquarters Loki is snatched by Thor who tries to find out why he is doing this. A fight breaks out between captain America, Iron Man and Thor before they agree to go the base, while the Black Widow and Bruce Banner are already there. Iron Man and Banner set to work with gamma radiation science while everyone else try to find ways of socializing. It is later revealed that Shield wants the blue square to create weapons to fight people like Thor. It is also revealed that Loki wants the Hulk to come out and cause Havoc. While Fury tries to fight his corner he also tries to keep Banner calm and this whole scene almost becomes a cross between bullying and someone trying to section somebody. Well Hawkeye and some soldiers attack the carrier which causes havoc by destroying an engine keeping it in the sky. The Hulk is unleashed while Iron Man and Captain America try to fix the engine. Eventually the Hulk falls towards the earth and so does Iron Man. Agent Coulson gets killed by Loki and it is through his inspiration that causes some of the team to work together while a couple of them have disappeared.

Loki opens a portal above New York thanks to the blue square from Stark Tower (an interesting piece of special effects due to the fact that there is no real building in new york that is shaped like that) and releases an army of supernatural soldiers and Dragons. The team fights the enemy until the arrival of Thor who goes after Loki and Bruce Banner. Banner turns into The Hulk at will when he reveals his secret for keeping him suppressed. The Avengers fight together with the Hulk going after Loki and beating him into submission. A council of mysterious people launch a Nuke at New York in an attempt to destroy all the freaks, Iron Man manages to direct it into the portal and destroy the remaining forces, he then falls through the Portal before it is closed. Now Heroes the Avengers go their separate ways with Thor taking Loki and the blue square to Asgard. Fury then tells his aide that the team will come back together, because they are all the earth has.

The film is very good and manages to get a good story out of the characters. As I said earlier I was a bit worried about this film, the thing I was worried about was the Idea of all these characters coming together. I was worried that the film was going to be too good, in other words, bad, like it was not going to work, however it did work and bringing in emotions to the characters cemented this.

It is a good cast of characters. I did not see Captain America because to me it is not captain America. He is supposed to have wings on either side of his head gearsticking out not painted on. That’s why I did not go to see it, in protest. However it was a good delivery of the character in this film.

Samuel L Jackson is an amazing choice for Nick Fury. He has both an action style to him while still being wise enough to be a leader. Scarlett Johansson is similar but more action than Jackson and is a bit more respectful towards the other characters and knows how to treat them properly, like when she tries to keep Banner from turning into the Hulk. Robert Downey Jr. is as fun as always as Iron man and is always a treat to see him as Iron Man. However there are two shield agents who need particular mention. Agent Coulson in the previous films was a bit more comic relief than serious but when Thor comes into the picture you can see a more human side to him and a sort of friendship with Thor and so when he dies it is that more powerful, especially seeing as you have only just got to know him. Possibly the most underrated character in the film is Maria Hill (Fury’s female aide played by Cobie Smulders). All her scenes were good; her character is like the background job who keeps the engines running. Technically without her Fury would be out of control and so while the other characters are fighting the enemy on the carrier she is focused on making the carrier stay in the air by coordinating everything. It is a shame she does not have more of a part in the film and so with that in mind I hope she gets more of a part in any future sequels.

However the main attractions are Thor and Hulk. Firstly out of all the previous films to feature the main characters, Thor is my favourite (and won several awards at my film awards). Thor has more depth to his character and is a serious force to be reckoned with, he is not a man he is a Norse God. He also speaks proper English (where as everyone else speaks American) so you can easily understand what he is saying. However, people who may not have seen Thor previously may be a bit confused about him which could be difficult. From the start he keeps the film credible (at least for me as I stated earlier when I said I was worried). Then we have The Hulk. It has been 4 years since the last time The Hulk was on the Big Screen. Mark Ruffalo is the third person to play the character since Hulk came out in 2003. I liked Edward Norton as the Hulk and Eric Bana was good (also because his last name is pronounced Banner, which makes him almost perfect for the role in terms of character………. and name). However Ruffalo is good as Banner but the real treat comes in the form of the big man himself. During the city scenes when he is destroying everything it is Amazing and when you mix that with his comedy pieces included (including clobbering Loki and punching Thor) you kind of start to wonder why Marvel have not produced a film in the last four years, it is time for another Hulk film. At the point in the film when Fury is trying to keep him calm (and supposedly get him into that big round jar, a bit like sectioning) I did start to really connect with the human character……… and the green dude as I almost became The Hulk because it was making me angry at the bully (Fury) was treating him. This also raised an interesting question which I will cover next month. However, there was one thing missing, I wonder what it was?

OK Captain America says it but The Hulk is supposed to say it.

It is also good to see several supporting characters from previous films including Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig and Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts. The Avengers as a whole is a very Good film and is currently sitting as my second favourite film this year, so not as Fantastic as a certain film I saw a couple of months ago. However there are several big films still to come out this year including Prometheus, Snow White and the Huntsman and of course The Dark Knight Rises. So while it is a Good film, enjoy it now because it may not last. It is worth seeing and really enjoyable with some really good characters but remember to keep Fury’s aide, Coulson, Thor and The Hulk in mind because their parts are the most enjoyable.


Oreo Cake

1 05 2012

Yes, your eyes do not deceive you, it says Oreo Cake, it is a cake with Oreos in it and looks like an Oreo. The Idea came to me a few months ago and after some experimentation the cake is Brilliant. So if you would like to make it you will need the following ingredients.


6 oz. Self-Raising Flour                                   6 oz. Margarine                                 1 oz. Cocoa

6 oz. Caster Sugar                                            3 Eggs                                                    1 Full Packet Of Oreos

Now this recipe is very similar to the Chocolate Cake recipe but it is a little bit different so pay attention. You can make your cake a bit bigger by doing 8 oz. ingredients (except for Cocoa – either keep it the same or increase, but not too much) and 4 eggs if you want to.

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4/5 on the middle shelf or top shelf if you are brave enough, or if you are using a fan assisted oven it is about 160-170° (please refer to your user manual for which shelf and temperature to be sure). Weigh out your ingredients (except the Oreos) and put them into a large-ish bowl and then mix together using an electric whisk on a slow speed until it is all nicely together, then put it up to full speed until the cake mixture is nice and soft and a light brown colour. Stop the whisk, then using a knife go around the edge of the bowl and take any of the mixture that is stuck to the sides of the bowl and move it into the rest of the mixture. Then whisk again on full speed for a few more seconds to make sure it is all nicely together.

The right consistency to go for is simple, take a spoon and (using the spoon) pickup some of the mixture and then plop it back in (the mixture), if it plops off the spoon naturally without any help required then the mixture is at the right consistency, this also applies for the chocolate cake (but I forgot to mention that, MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA).

Now get a food processor (machine with blades in that can mix food up) and then get your Oreo packets, make sure that when you open it that it has Oreos in it. Then break them ALL (it is important that you use ALL the Oreos in a full packet, if it is not a full packet – get a full packet) up and put them in your food processor. Turn the Food Processor on (you may want to put a lid on if it does not have one) and then initially pulse the Oreos until they are all nicely broken, then hold down the button (no longer pulsing) until the Oreos are in tiny pieces (almost like a fine powder). Then pour in the Finely Powdered Oreos into you cake mix and then stir them into the mix, what you want to achieve is a granite like effect (if you have a granite work surface, look at it and then imagine it brown), you can use the electric whisk if you want to but it may be better to use a spoon.

Once it is nicely mixed together pour the mixture into two greased cake tins (thin with a big diameter, refer to Chocolate Cake recipe on greasing) and then place them in the oven. After about 30 minutes check on them and do the skewer test, if they are ok take them out of the oven and let them cool in the tins for a couple of minutes and then take them out  the tins and put them on a cooling rack. After you have let them cool down for a while it is time to do the icing.

Icing Ingredients:

1 Tub Of Betty Crocker Buttercream Style Icing Vanilla (refer to picture)

Take one half of the cake and make sure that the flat bottom is facing up. Then take out all the icing from the tub and smoothly spread it around evenly. Then take the other half and place it on top with the flat bottom facing down (towards the icing). Then smooth the icing around until it is all nice and tidy. Your Oreo Cake is now ready to eat.


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