Thursday, 30 June 2011

Today's Review: Unknown

Hey, look, it's that movie with Liam Neeson, and he's holding a gun. What, it's not Taken? But it looks so much like Taken. Taken was really good, it had loads of guns and murder and that, so this movie must clearly be awesome, because it also stars Liam Neeson and has guns in it. 

In fact this movie isn't really like Taken, and I am annoyed at the extent of which this is being made out to be the next Taken, because it's a pretty good movie in its own right. Unknown stars Neeson as Dr. Martin Harris, a botanist who is visiting Berlin to give a presentation at a summit, only instead to have his taxi crash and leave him in a coma for a few days. When he finally wakes up and finds his wife, however, she claims to have no idea who he is, and someone else has assumed his identity. Ooooh, freaky.

So off Dr. Martin Harris goes to find out what the hell's going on, but it seems someone is intent on stopping him from knowing the truth. I call him Dr. Martin Harris because that's all he calls himself. Never Martin, or Dr. Harris, always "Dr. Martin Harris", and he shouts it around enough that it seems he thinks people will just believe him if he says his own name enough.

But, in a place where no one believes who he says he is, there is one person Dr. Martin Harris can turn to, the driver of the taxi, Nina, played by Diane Kruger. Nina is an illegal immigrant, so doesn't particularly want to get tangled up in this, but she agrees to help anyway, because she's a kind soul I guess. Why they cast a German actress to play an illegal immigrant in Berlin, I have no idea, but she fits the part quite well, even if that character doesn't end up doing too much except being some good moral support for Dr. Martin Harris. 

To help dispel the assumed similarities between Unknown and Taken, I shall start by saying that Taken was a pretty good movie too. But all it was about was a guy killing loads of people because they took his daughter and pissed him off. Unknown is a little bit deeper than that. There are several twists and turns in the plot, including a massive plot twist at the end that was actually pretty cool. The first half is predominantly concerned with following Dr. Martin Harris as he wanders around confused, and Neeson does a good job of getting you to empathise with him, you really just want to know what the hell is going on. But as the story progresses it does move a little more into Taken territory, with Dr. Martin Harris managing to dispatch and evade the people who are out to get him. Still, the plot is well paced, maybe getting a little too over the top near the end, but overall it's a pretty good movie. 

If you did like Taken, you'll probably like this, although you may get bored in the first half if you're just there for killings and guns and such. But both are good movies, and they both star Liam Neeson, so if you're the type of person who like all their movies to be the same, knock yourself out. But Unknown is a good movie in its own right, and would be even if Taken didn't exist, so could everyone please stop comparing the two?

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Today's Review: Amelia's Tantrum

Another day of working the evening, another day that I had yet to review something before I got home. "What shall I review tonight?" I thought, getting closer to home, "Not much time to write it, it'll have to be something quite small". My thoughts were promptly cut off by the sound of a child crying. "Whose brat is playing up now?" I pondered, "My kids go to bed wonderfully and sleep through.

But lo and behold, approaching my front door, I realise that it is in fact my child screaming. In I went, to get the lowdown on the situation. We tend to put a movie on for the kids when they get into bed, call that bad parenting, but I have no idea how it is. Amelia had watched a Barbie film before bed today, and gone to sleep quite nicely. However, when she woke up later that evening decided she wanted to watch it again. At half 10 at night. My wife-to-be wasn't particularly open to that idea, so after many of an exchange of "I want Barbie on" and "No" the Barbies were promptly taken away, and Amelia was told she could not have them until the morning. This is where I came in.

Amelia decided to fill me in on her current state as well, by trying me with an "I want Barbie on". "No," I said, "You need to go to bed". I managed to calm her down enough that I could make out what she was saying, and attempted to explain that the sooner she goes to sleep, the sooner she can wake up and watch Barbie again. Unfortunately Amelia said her sleep was all broken, so the only option I could see was for her to fix it or stay in bed awake all night. She wasn't too pleased with that, and was convinced that the only solution to her problem was more Barbie.

So the tantrum continued. Various negotiations were attempted, but all met with resistance. The sleep was clearly broken. After a while I decided that taking her TV away would drive my point home, and having issued the threat I had to straddle the stairgate to get in and unplug it. It certainly made her cry more, but it didn't quite convince her that bed was the best place to be to not have her stuff confiscated.

Alex was stirring. With more screaming he would wake up, and it would be hard to get him back to sleep again. So I had to go to the last resort. Over the last couple of months Amelia has taken a toy dalmation around with her wherever she goes, lovingly named Pongo. I explained to her that if she did not get into bed at the count of five, Pongo would be taken away and she'd never have him again. Didn't work either. Persistent little bugger she is. So now Pongo is beside me, and although much more screaming took place afterwards, demanding the return of Pongo, at present the room is quiet. Amelia is sitting in bed now, and after I let her stew for a little while I shall return her toy. Fortunately, while my daughter is a very stubborn and persistent person, she takes after me, and I've had more practice. Soon she shall go to sleep, all that screaming probably made her tired. Then she'll wake up in a wonderful mood, because that's what children do.

This is probably the worst tantrum we've had in a while, but probably not the worst ever. I've rarely had to go as far as taking away Amelia's favourite toy, but it seemed it was the only option this time. Negative punishment is often an effective behavioural method, my dad used it on me when I was a kid, and although I hated him at the time, I can see it was a good thing. It sure wins over beating the crap out of your child anyway.

My rating: 1/5

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Today's Review: Microblogging

Microblogging is stupid, you can never say anything meaningful in a tweet. What a pile of monkey butt fuck. 0/5

Monday, 27 June 2011

Today's Review: The Lord Of The Rings Extended Edition Blu-Ray Boxset Packaging

I've had the Lord Of The Rings extended edition boxsets on DVD for a very long time. I watched the movies when I bought them, all 12 hours of them, and I always told myself I'd get round to watching the 26 hours of special features, but I never did. But now they are out on Blu-Ray, so of course I had to buy them again (but only 'cause I had some credit on my Blockbuster account, I wouldn't drop £50 out of the blue for it). There's no way I'll be watching everything this boxset has to offer anytime soon, but I can at least review the packaging.

The box is immense. It pretty much reflects the immense amount of stuff that's packed into it. These films and the extras are probably the most lovingly put together set for fans I've ever seen. While the extended edition DVDs had two discs worth of features for each movie, the Blu-Rays have three, with an extra behind the scenes documentary on the last disc for your viewing pleasure. But let's get back to the box. It's very shiny, with a big picture of the ring on the front. It's very nice. It's made of sturdy stuff too, and it feels hefty and solid, which I like. There's a flimsy paper outer cover that tells everyone that these are actually pretty good films because here's a list of awards they won, but the cover stops you from opening the box, so that had to go.

Inside is a nice map of Middle Earth, it's also shiny, and some pictures of the characters. The nicest thing to see is that the movies aren't all lumped together in one piece of packaging. Every one gets their own cool box, and each one has its own barcode on the back, presumably so you can sell one if you're a bit mental. The cover of the main box snaps shut with a little magnetic force, and the gilded patterns all over are slightly raised which really turns me on. But inside the Blu-Ray boxes themselves is where the magic happens. 

So. Many. Discs. I mentioned before that there are three extras discs per film, which of course means that the movies themselves are split over two discs each. Many people have said this is ridiculous as it's Blu-Ray and a Blu-Ray can hold loads, but they're just assholes. These movies are over four hours long each, and to put them all on one disc would severely hamper the video and sound quality you'd expect from Blu-Ray. Not to menton that each movie has about five different audio commentaries. The amount of stuff on these discs is absolutely immense, and it shows that it's a real labour of love from Peter Jackson. My only quibble with the discs themselves is that the special features discs are still only DVDs. But hey, my PS3 will upscale them, and I'm not sure I'd want to spend several hours counting the individual hairs on Jackson's straggly beard.

So there you have it. This boxset is magnificently put together, and while it's the Blu-Ray boxset of The Lord Of The Rings that should have been brought out first instead of the shitty theatrical one, it's good to see it finally come out, and in excellent packaging too. It does stand slightly higher than the other Blu-Rays on my shelf, which is annoying, but I like to think it's just commanding the respect it deserves. It's awesome looking. 

My rating: 5/5


Sunday, 26 June 2011

Today's Review: Glee Live

Glee is huge. It's probably a lot more successful than anyone thought it would be. I'm gonna go into this review assuming that everyone at least knows a bit about Glee, but forgive me for rattling off names and scenarios you don't know, but this is a review of the live concert, not the TV show itself.

The least you probably know is that Glee has songs in it. Lots of songs. I'm actually very impressed with the way the show is made. Instead of just churning out song after song, the script can be absolutely fantastic, and I'll openly admit to welling up on a few occasions. The songs are great though. They fit in with the theme of the episodes, are suited to the characters who sing them, and there are always full versions of the songs in each episode ready to go online for fans to buy after the show. Albums have been churned out at an alarming rate, so it was only a matter of time before a tour was put together.

It could have been a half-assed effort. They could have just trotted out the key members of the cast and gone methodically from number to number, maybe even set up a "Glee Experience" if they were feeling especially lazy, I'm sure people still would've paid for it. But not Glee, oh no. This show is put together with love.

Every single member of New Directions was there in full force, completely in character. Props and dances were transferred over to the stage with great precision, there are the T-shirts from the "Born This Way" number, Brittany's Britney outfit, and even a nice little slushie throw at the audience. Everyone got to perform a number of their own, and it was good to see a mix-up of big group numbers and solos or duets. There's even a mini set from The Warblers, which I farkin' loved, because I've always had a soft spot for a capella groups, and The Warblers were an awesome addition to season 2.

The songs themselves were flawless. I always like to keep an ear out for whether vocals and backing tracks are live or not, and while backing tracks were present in quite a few songs, there was a full band behind the club when they did their big group numbers. Puck and Sam got their guitars out for their numbers, and Finn even had a go on the drums. Everyone in this show really can sing too, at times I was in disbelief that they were signing live, because the songs sound just as good as they do on the show. This show really elevates the Glee cast members to new levels of esteem for me, they're not just well rehearsed television actors, they truly are full-fledged stage performers, able to sing, dance around and change costume with perfect timing.

To put it simply, I had a blast. The show only lasted an hour and 20 minutes, which kinda sucked, but the songs were perfectly balanced between chart hits, show numbers, solos and group songs. There were flawless performances all round, and no one character shined through more than anyone else, they were all equally amazing. If you like the show, watching Glee live is awesome experience.

My rating: 5/5

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Today's Review: The Wait In O2 Nando's

I'm about to see Glee live in the O2. Haters gonna hate, but I bloody love Glee. But before all that, we decided to go to Nando's for some food, 'cause we bloody love Nando's too. But we ordered 30 minutes ago. I want to get in and take my seat, but nary a piece of chicken has touched my lips. Why, London? Why are you so busy? Why must a restaurant situated near a concert that is highly anticipated by Gleeks everywhere be so full?

But the wait is not too bad, I'm just antsy because I'm about to go watch something awesome. Waiting for Nando's isn't too bad, they have a good system here. So good that it seems they sensed me writing this review, as my food is here now. See you tomorrow people.

My rating: 3/5

Friday, 24 June 2011

Today's Review: Public Toilets

I went into a public toilet today, something I rarely do. This certain public toilet was the manifestation of every reason I do not go into public toilets. There were flies buzzing round, the lock on the cubicle door was broken, there was no toilet seat (not that I ever number two anywhere than my own home), and the smell was, well, generic public toilet smell. And by generic I mean awful.

It's okay if you go to the toilet in a fast food place or something. It still might be a little bit awful, but at least they have people go in there and clean them, bless their souls. But real public toilets are just plain bad. You'd like to think there's someone in charge of restocking toilet paper and cleaning and whatnot, but there's absolutely no evidence of it taking place, and you just want to get out of there as soon as possible.

But why do public toilets get so bad? It's simple. People are assholes. Public toilets are basically an early form of the internet, but instead mostly based around bodily functions and the occasional sex act. Okay, they are exactly an early form of the internet. In a public toilet everyone is anonymous, especially if they are there on their own. While a person may be respectable and well trained in his own toilet and in the toilets of people he knows, in a public toilet he just goes crazy. "Fuck it, no one knows who's doing this", he thinks, waving his penis erratically at anything but the urinal. Hacks are carried out on toilet seats and toilet roll dispensers, rendering them useless to other users, and locks are broken on cubicle doors, invading the privacy of anyone within. Messages are scrawled on the walls, like pop-ups that interrupt your peeing pleasure. Most give numbers and promises of gay sex. Are they genuine, or are they messages from trolls, waiting to snap up innocent victims for the lulz? Either way, just like the internet.

But while the internet got a little better with Web 2.0, we have yet to see Public Toilet 2.0. I suggest there be put in place a kind of social network of toilets, where graffiti is accompanied with a name, like a status update, and anyone caught unleashing indecent materials on the floor is reported and blocked. They probably already have crap like that in Japan, I don't know. But now all I can think about is Mark Zuckerberg plunging a toilet.

Public toilets are disgusting, but only because people are disgusting when they're not held accountable for their actions. Join me in my fight to make public toilet checkins on Facebook a mandatory action.

My rating: 0/5

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Today's Review: The Adjustment Bureau

Last year Inception proved how a complete mind-fuck of a movie can do pretty damn well in the cinema.  I've had a lot of people ask about The Adjustment Bureau at work, probably because it looks just as mind-fucky. The Adjustment Bureau follows David Norris (Matt Damon), a politician running for senate who just so happens to meet a beautiful and intriguing woman, Elise (Emily Blunt) who gives him just the motivation he needs to turn his career round when he's at a low. By chance they meet again a few months later, but he is soon interrupted by mysterious men in hats, the Adjustment Bureau, who are intent on keeping David away from Elise because that is not part of his life plan, and their job is to make sure nobody strays off-plan.

Yes, The Adjustment Bureau have special powers. No, their nature is not fully explained. But I like that. There is an air of mystery sustained throughout, and you don't get too clogged up in the details of why this is happening. As David gets more and more involved with the strange men, they are forced to provide him with more information so he'll just drop this whole "girl of my dreams" thing, but they only really tell him exactly what he needs to know. The best part about the mystery is that everything that we find out about The Adjustment Bureau, David finds out about too. It helps you to identify with his character, and you're pulled along with him experiencing as much confusion as he is. A suspension of disbelief is required for this movie, there are no real moment where you can stop and think about what's happening, or any times where things are really clearly explained. Things just are the way they are, but the movie does a good enough job of sucking you in that you don't care about not knowing much of the mystery.

This is mostly due to David's relationship with Elise. While The Adjustment Bureau clearly operate on a global scale and attempt to control everyone, the love story woven into the narrative is a great way to pull the audience back into a very personal place. The scenes with Damon and Blunt together are very well inserted between the more action and science fiction based scenes of the movie. The chemistry between the two characters really shows well on the screen, and the scenes are well scripted and don't include too much lovey dovey dialogue. David Norris knows The Adjustment Bureau are out to stop him seeing this girl, and he wastes no time in making the most out of their time together. 

But of course, with every love story, there is danger of cliché, and The Adjustment Bureau does cross into that territory a few times. I was really rooting for this couple though, something I rarely do with couples in movies nowadays, but I guess in most movies nowadays couples aren't being chased by shady men in hats who are intent on breaking them up. There's also a fair few moment of deus ex machina, and even though we're dealing with deus-like people, it's a minor kick in the face for Elise and David to be striving so hard to stay together only to have something swoop in and let them carry on for a little bit longer.

The Adjustment Bureau is not a perfect movie, but it's one that I really enjoyed. It's basically a standard chance meeting style love story, but with a really interesting sci-fi twist that adds in enough action to really keep you on your toes and feel the constant, if light, menace that the all-present Adjustment Bureau add to the proceedings. Perhaps sci-fi mindfuckery is the way to go in movies nowadays. Personally, I love my minds being fucked. Feels good.

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Today's Review: Nyan Cat

Nyan Cat is a cat with a cherry pop tart for a body who flies through space and poops rainbows while saying "Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya" ad infinitum. Nyan Cat makes me happy. 

There is nothing wrong with Nyan Cat, there is only something wrong with the people who hate Nyan Cat. Nyan Cat is a shining beacon of light in this dark world, as he poops rainbows over everything he touches, and leaves it smelling slightly of cherry toaster pastries. So marvel at the wonder of Nyan Cat, for he shall always be watching over us, pooping rainbows in space.

My rating: 5/5

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Today's Review: The Rate At Which Hair Grows Out Of My Face

Once upon a time I was a young boy, and I knew not the personal hazards of creeping facial hair, and the shaving thereof. Beards were a thing of wonder, to be looked up to. A beard was the epitome of manliness, topped only by a beard accompanying a moustache, or maybe a styled beard accompanying a styled moustache.

But as I got older, the hair started to creep onto my own face. "But wait," I thought, "I'm not ready yet. How can I live up to the sense of righteousness that a massive beard thrust upon its wearer?" So I started shaving, at first with an electric razor, until I found out they sucked. Besides, sliding a sharp object along your face is much more manly. At first the hair was very manageable, it was merely stubble that was easily cast aside. But now, at the age of 24, the hair is starting to win.

I can get away with shaving every two days, but on that second day I really start to look a bit unkempt. Shaving daily will be the final nail in the coffin of my youth, and I'm sure a large portion of my wages will go towards the newest Wilkinson Sword razor that promises more shaving power because it has 15 blades and vibrates even more erratically than before.

At the moment I'm a terrible shaver. This is probably because I use Tesco value razors and shaving foam, and I really should be kinder to my face. My face clearly deserves it however, with its constant sprouts of monobrow hair, and even some strands above my cheeks. My face is intent on turning me into a monkey, and I don't like that one bit. My sideburns are always creeping up on me too. I think I'm keeping them in control, but I always end up with furry clumps that threaten to grow into my ears and prematurely turn me into a pensioner.

But I will continue to shave. My facial hair growth is not completely out of control. I partook in Movember last year and didn't manage to grow a respectable bushy moustache in a month, so the rate has to increase significantly if I'm to ever grow a beard to use as a quick disguise. Still, all this shaving is getting tiresome, so it could soon be high time to just throw in the towel and let it grow wherever it wants. Sure, I may look like a hobo, but with a bit of work and styling I could look like a hippy, or a pirate. Pirates are cool.

Who am I kidding, I'm no pirate. My facial hair could grow far beyond what I'm comfortable with, which at the moment is the look of a slightly alcoholic person. But while the rate of hair growth is an annoyance to me, it's good to know that one day I can give everything up and have a nice full mane by the time I hit the high seas.

My rating: 3/5

Monday, 20 June 2011

Today's Review: Brighton Rock

I haven't seen the original Brighton Rock, or read the novel, so excuse me for not pointing out how unlike those two this movie is. Besides, a film should be judged in its own merit, not in comparison to what it's based on. You can never have a truly faithful adaptation of something.

So, Brighton Rock is a gangster movie. The original was set in the 1930s, but this version is set in the 1960s, 'cause why not. We follow our leading man, Pinkie (Same Riley), a bit of a nutcase who's intent on rising up in the gangster scene in Brighton. When his mob's leader gets accidentally killed by a rival mob, he goes crazy on the perpetrator, only to be caught in the middle of the cover up so the rival mob and the police don't take them all down. Trouble is there was a witness, Rose (Andrea Riseborough), so Pinkie decides to court her to keep her close and her mouth shut.

The main crux of the film is based around covering up the crime, and it seems quite a flimsy premise to work on when a lot of gangster films nowadays span a whole range of different storylines and tangents. But in this case it makes for a nice little self contained film that allows for some proper character development and a story that doesn't feel too rushed. Still, it did leave me wishing for a little bit more story wise, as it did get a bit stale after a while.

Riley really steals the show as Pinkie. He has to be one of the biggest assholes I've ever seen in a movie. Most people who are total dicks always seem to have some redeeming point to their personalities, but Pinkie just sneers and snarls all the way through Brighton Rock, and just when you think he's going to do something nice he tops himself on the bastard chart. The multitude of scars he gathers throughout only make him more menacing.  Riseborough does a great job of playing Rose too, and the relationship between her and Pinkie is fascinating to watch as it goes through its ups and downs. 

Brighton Rock may not be the best gangster movie out there, but it's certainly worth a watch. The characters are well rounded and well played, and while it's not the most gripping of storylines it's enough to keep you interested, with some great settings in and around Brighton throughout. 

My rating: 4/5

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Today's Review: Flake Allure

Oooh, how alluring. Cadbury seem to be going all out to get our chocolate money lately. We've had Chocos, Bliss bars, and now the Flake Allure. Much like Bliss, this chocolate bar is all spruced up with some lovely truffle. Chocolate truffles are a particular weakness of mine, especially the vanilla ones from Thorntons.

Excuse me, I was just wiping drool from my mouth. Let's focus on this chocolate bar though. Everyone loves a Flake, right? I know I do. I admire Cadbury's for their marketing of Flakes, they flat out tell you that it's probably the crumbliest, flakiest chocolate you've ever eaten, but they make it sound like a good thing. "Tastes like chocolate never tasted before" they say, but that doesn't necessarily mean it tastes better than chocolate tasted before. Especially if half the bar crumbles onto the floor en route to your mouth. But on this ocassion they are right. There's just something about the construction of chocolate bars that makes them taste different. Fillinf your chocolate with air can only be a good thing, just look at Aeros, Twirls, Wispas, Ripples, etc. But can the Flake Allure be better than the regular Flake?

Well, it looks a little bit weird. It certainly looks a lot more flakey than a Flake, and was evidently so from the remainder left in the packet after I pulled it out to take a picture. For a chocolate bar called "Allure" it certainly doesn't look too alluring. The truffle in question is just encased around half of the bar, leaving the top open so you can see its exposed crumbly brains. Why only cover half the bar? I don't know, but covering the whole bar would certainly be a good thing in my eyes, especially as it would contain all the stray chocolate crumbs. The taste isn't too great. There's really not enough truffle there to encroach on the prominent classic Flake flavour, but there's a certain amount you can pick up. It's certainly not as different to taste as a Bliss bar is to a regular Dairy Milk. 
The Flake Allure is nice, but only really because a Flake is nice to begin with. I feel a little bit cheated by the half-assed coating, and I wasn't really left wanting another. Just give me a classic Flake and I'd probably be just as satisfied.

My rating: 4/5

'Cause it's still a Flake.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Today's Review: Duke Nukem Forever

I know, I know, Duke Nukem Forever has been out for a week now. But I like to finish a game before I can give it a review. I've really trying to finish this, but it's become a bit of a chore. I, like a lot of people, have followed the production of duke Nukem with baited breath, throughout its 15 year long development schedule. Yes, 15 years. Duke Nukem Forever is infamous as the game that never was. It went through various overhauls and changes, but never got close to being released. Until Take-Two Interactive got pissed off and sued the developers for taking so damn long and gave the game to Gearbox, who managed to get it out pretty damn quickly. Many fans probably ejaculated when they heard this game was finally coming out, just before their heads exploded. But would it be any good? For some reason being in production for so long gave people the impression that it would be the best game ever, and its predecessor, Duke Nukem 3D is often hailed as a massively awesome game that can only get better with a sequel. I wasn't quite convinced though. How could this game live up to so much hype?

The answer is that it doesn't. I wasn't going into Duke Nukem Forever expecting too much, and for a while I was very much enjoying myself. It was great seeing the toilet humour, the updated enemies, including the all famous pig cops, just really playing a game that really followed in the vein of a classic first person shooter. Sure, it has some of the hallmarks of the Call Of Duty age, like regenerating health and only being able to carry two weapons, but hearing Duke's voice really brought me back to my early gaming days.

I played Duke Nukem 3D quite a bit as a teenager. Mostly the first few levels before I got bored. Sure, it was an enjoyable game, and seeing pixelated ladies swinging their tentacle nipples was enough to excite me at the tender age of 10. But it wasn't the best game of all time. I often got bored because I got a bit stuck, wandering through levels with no real clue of where to go. |I could probably figure it all out now my gaming brain has matured for over a decade, but while I probably didn't enjoy it too much while playing it, the long ass production of the sequel has made me look back and think "Ahh, those were the days". Well, it's good to see that this game follows in the tradition of Duke Nukem 3D. During some levels I'll be walking along quite happily, when I'll get to a place where it's not obvious where you have to go. This is a good thing in most games, it varies up that action with some puzzling skill, but I really am not enjoying Duke Nukem Forever enough to want to stand around for ten minutes and think about what to do. At this point I really just want to run around, blow things up and be done with it.

Duke Nukem 3D was a  good game, because I was 10. Blowing things up into gore and having your main character swear and talk about boning chicks? Awesome. Where you're 10. And while it was fun to get dragged back into the potty humour, it's not so out of place in video games these days, and it's done in a much more mature fashion. But the Duke Nukem humour, which I loved back then, is now a bit tiring after a little while. There are some fun cultural references and jibes at other shooters throughout the game, which is all well and good, but not if the game that is trying to make jokes is in itself so flawed.

The graphics are not great. I am far from a gamer who cares too much about graphics, though I do love it when a game's visuals can blow me away. But Duke Nukem looks like it should have been released about three years ago. Everything's quite pixelated, and objects take quite a while to actually form properly in the scenery a lot of the time. The settings can often get boring quite quickly, especially when it's a case of just running through different rooms and shooting some people. I know a lot of shooters are like this, but maybe I'm just tiring of first person shooters. But Gears Of War and Modern Warfare (not other Call Of Dutys) always seem to have enough variety and strategy to keep me hooked. Duke Nukem Forever, however, not so. 

The game can be really unfair too. Boss fights can be quite cool, as they trot out giant aliens for you to shoot down, but they only let you hurt the bosses with explosives and turrets. It's all good though, because they give you unlimited ammo crates for the RPG lying around in the same room, so everything's quite easy right? Well, there's one section where you're firing your RPG at an alien queen, when at the last moment she spits out a flying alien thing. When I went to dispatch it quickly with my RPG it decided to say "Uh, no thanks, actually I can just deflect these rockets back at you and kill you instantly. Oh, you didn't know I did that? Doesn't matter, you're dead". Pretty cheap move, flying alien shit. Plus every time you die it takes a minute or two to reload the checkpoint, which is as boring as hell. 

But, despite all its flaws, Duke Nukem is not a bad game. It's fun reliving all the classic elements, and it's a nice little time waster where you can just kill some alien scum. But don't believe the hype. This game was never going to be amazing after 15 years of on-off production. Because by the time it was finished, the game market had shifted so much that this just isn't the type of game that people want anymore. I congratulate Gearbox for actually releasing it, but there are just too many flaws present to make me truly enjoy it. But I shall press on and finish it. Because I've been waiting this long, I'm not giving up.

My rating: 3/5

Friday, 17 June 2011

Today's Review: The Large Amount Of Snails On The Pavement Tonight

It rained today. Quite a lot. I don't really like rain, because it is wet and likes to get you wet when you really don't want to be wet. I only got a little bit wet though, so it's not all bad. The rain had stopped by the time I walked home from work tonight. It was a perfectly normal walk home until I got to a road close to my place, when suddenly I was confronted with a shit ton of snails all over the place.

Okay, not quite a shit ton, but you know how it is when it's been raining, you'll see the odd snail or slug crawling out from the bushes and sliding all over the pavement. 'Cause rain is a dick to snails too, it floods their tunnels and makes them have to come up onto cold hard ground so they don't drown. It probably washes away all their little snail possessions too. Well, today must have been the Hurricane Katrina of snail flooding because I literally saw about 20 snails in the space of ten minutes.

"That's odd," I thought, "I have never seen this many snails after a rainy session. This is clearly a freak occurrence, therefore I must review it". So out came my camera, because pictures make things much more engaging and fun to read.

There is a picture of two snails, followed by another picture of two snails. I would've taken more pictures of the surrounding snails, but it was hard to pick them out on my phone screen when it was so dark, and while I took these two pictures someone walked past me. I looked up in time to see his puzzled expression, and immediately assumed he was thinking I was kneeling on the ground and taking pictures of dog shit or drain covers or something. I wanted to say "Oh, it's okay, I'm just taking pictures of snails so I can review them later" before I realised that would in no way make the situation any less awkward. So I decided to call it a day on the picture taking before I got a reputation as the guy who takes pictures of the ground at night.

Well, this is a review, right? I have yet to really state which side I am on. Do I love snails, or do I hate them? The answer to this lies in my childhood. I was about five or six at the time. I used to walk to school with a girl whose mother was friends with my mother. One day we decided to look for snails while walking. All of a sudden she said "There's one!" just in time to see me crush it underfoot. She wasn't very happy. One day she said she loved me and we became boyfriend and girlfriend, but the next day she told me she loved someone else instead and went off with my best friend. I believe this was a harsh lesson in having something you love be taken away within an instant. 

So with so many snails on the pavement, I had to take extra care to avoid them all, as stepping on any would simply being back that painful memory which I can hardly remember. Damn you, snails, just set up a rescue shelter for when it rains, in the middle of the bushes or something. Just don't slither onto where I'm walking and make me stumble around while squinting at the ground. 

My rating: 1/5

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Today's Review: Child Of Eden

Child Of Eden is an interesting game. If you've played Rez then you'll know what to expect, because this is pretty much a sequel to that. Let me explain what it's about. You basically fly through corridors and large areas shooting things. Sounds boring? Hell no, because Child Of Eden is probably one of the most beautiful looking games I've played. The idea behind it is one of synaesthesia, where all the senses can be incorporated into the gaming experience. Except for taste and smell, because licking your TV while trying to detect odours would probably be a bit much to ask.

But, the other three senses are well accommodated for. Each level is based around a track or set of tracks, seamlessly flowing into each other as the environment changes. The enemies are always changing as well, from small flying blips to massive sparkly blue whales, and when each one is hit or explodes it adds beats to the music, giving you a unique listening experience each time.

The story (if you can call it a story), is that in the future mankind has grown far larger than ever before, and their one focal point of learning is the internet, where all of humanity's knowledge is stored, and which can be accessed from any point in the universe. Therefore the internet is called Eden, because. Then there's some stuff about the internet having a baby or something, I don't know, I wasn't quite wanting to read stuff, I wanted to have my senses assaulted. Well, the child of the internet wakes up in a beautiful meadow, before everything dissolves around her and seemingly you have to fly around and blow shit up to restore it. Which doesn't make much sense either. But, on to the game.

Your main control point is a reticle that can move around the screen, to target whatever it is that needs destroying. You have two weapons at your disposal, one being a target guided laser thingy, and the other being more like a purple machine gun laser thingy. You have to change your weapon in order to deflect any bullets that get launched at you, or to kill whatever launched it at you. It adds a certain element of strategy to the game, but mostly it just adds to the crazy amount of lights and colours that are flying around the screen at any one time.

Each level is unique. The first level starts off inside some kind of computer realm, with blocks folding and building before your eyes, but you quickly move onto a peaceful water level where enemies burst into purple flowers on the surface. Whichever direction the visuals take, it's a wonder to behold. At most times the amount of stuff flying around and making pretty noises screen can be utter chaos, but it's a beautiful chaos.

I've told you about the sights and sounds, but where does the touch come in? Sure, you get vibrations through the controller, but the real way to experience Child Of Eden is with Kinect. Since the controls are quite simple they're pretty easy to transfer to your arms. Your right arm controls one gun, your left arm the other. Being able to basically point at stuff and have it be destroyed really absorbs you into the game, and the targeting is much more fluid than with a controller. There is a downside, however, with the main weapon. You swipe your arms over enemies in order to target them, but to fire you need to push your hand forward in quite a quick motion. This easily gets very tiring and almost painful, as you have to jar your arm forward every couple of seconds in order to not die horribly. But I applaud Child Of Eden for giving it the Kinect support. Microsoft have been promising that Kinect will be used in proper games, not just fitness and minigame crap, and Child Of Eden is a big step towards trying to associate with real gamers, showing that Kinect can be incorporated into things that aren't complete and utter crap.

Child Of Eden is a beautiful game. You really need to see it in action to appreciate it. While there are only five stages in the game in total, the scenes change every time you play, and there's enough stuff flying around the screen that I really didn't mind playing through the same level again and taking in all the sights and sounds. Besides, it's a Japanese arcade game, it's bound to be short and require several playthroughs, that's what they do over there. We have other games to tell us epic stories and make us trudge around collecting items for hours, but if you want a game that is a true piece of art, Child Of Eden is for you.

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Today's Review: Leaving An iPhone On A Plane

Well, I've been home for four days now, and after much unpacking and searching we have yet to find my lovely lady's iPhone. I took it out on the flight just in case she wanted to play Angry Birds or something at some point, but since we both left the plane in a tired and slightly ill state we neglected to thoroughly check the pockets in front of our seats. So I guess that's where that was.

I would not recommend leaving an iPhone on a plane. iPhones are quite expensive, and if your iPhone is on a plane it is most likely turned off, making it impossible to call or track. Leaving this iPhone on a plane is especially annoying, as I have to call the Heathrow lost property every day to see if it's turned up, and every time I tell them I've lost the phone they ask for differing amounts of details. Make and model is pretty consistent, but I've been asked (or not asked) about service provider, what kind of case it's in, flight number and several other things. This is of course after a ten minute wait on hold for someone to answer my call.

In all likelihood though, the iPhone will not turn up. That is depressing, as money for a new phone is something we don't really have right now. At least the contract on this one is almost up, and I could probably get a good enough deal on a new smart phone contract, but still. Leaving an iPhone on a plane is a very stupid thing to do. Whenever I heard stories of people leaving their belongings on transport of varying sizes I used to laugh and think of them as morons, as I was always consistent with my checking of personal belongings. Now my track record is broken and I feel a right fool.

Pro tip: Do not leave an iPhone on a plane.

My rating: 0/5

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Today's Review: Vowels

Wtht vwls vrthng wld lk rly strng. Ctlly, hvng wrttn my lst sntnc wtht vwls t jst lks lk txt spk, bt mr cnfsng. Wtht vwls vryne wld snd lk thy wr mmblng ll th tm, nd scrmng wld snd rlly wrd, lk "Nnnnnngggggg!!!" Vwls r vry mprtnt, bcs witht thm wrds r rlly shrt nd Scrbbl wld b rlly nnyng t ply. By th wy, ths wh r thnkng "y" s   vwl, t cn ctlly b bth cnsnt nd vwl, s t wld stll xst. Prhps "y" cld mk thngs bttr. Bt s thngs stnd, wtht vwls th wrld wld cllps. Evrthng wld tk spr lng t rd, lk ths rvw, nd ppl wld xpr bfr thy rd nythng rmtly hlpfl. Lng lv vwls.

M rtng: 5/5 

Monday, 13 June 2011

Today's Review: Hereafter

Clint Eastwood has done well the last few years. Changeling, Gran Torino and Invictus were all excellent movies, and with his next venture coming out I was understandably quite excited, even if it was an ensemble movie about the afterlife.

But I guess I was wrong to open up my arms. I guess I was a bit wary upon first hearing about it, but I was still holding out hope for it to be a good movie. But it's just an alright movie. I guess you can't fault Eastwood too much for directing something with not such a great script, but I would have expected more from Peter Morgan too, who managed to make a movie about David Frost talking to Richard Nixon a really entertaining experience.

Hereafter follows three main characters. George, played by Matt Damon, is a genuine psychic who has given up on using his abilities to perform readings for people who have lost loved ones because he says his power is more a curse than a blessing. Marie (Cecile de France) is a French woman who barely survives the Thailand tsunami and sees some floaty dead people. Then there's Marcus (Frankie McLaren) whose twin brother is killed, leaving him sad and alone and looking for answers about the afterlife.

If it seems like I just skimmed over some of the character descriptions, it's because I didn't really care about them. One of the problems of having an ensemble cast is that it's really hard to develop their characters, and Hereafter suffers for this. There's so much more backstory that could have been explored, or dialogue that could have made me empathise with these people, but instead I was treated to about ten minutes of an Italian cooking class for no reason whatsoever. I was wondering what the point of having three separate stories was for most of the movie, hoping that they'd all intersect at some point but increasingly worrying that that wasn't the case. Thankfully they did, but that wasn't exactly fulfilling either.

The acting is not great. Damon does a good enough job, but there really isn't enough here for him to work with. He just kind of plods along and takes everything in, and there's no real conflict for his character to go through, apart from the odd time when he says "I don't want to do a reading for you!" but then ends up doing one anyway. The boys chosen to play the twin brothers are probably the worst actors in the whole movie. Eastwood personally chose two boys who had never been had acting training before because he didn't want them to be "over-instructed". Good thinking, Mr. Eastwood. You know what lack of acting training also does? Makes you a shitty actor. There's a scene at the beginning where the soon-to-be-dead brother is in a pharmacy, and it honestly sounds like he's reading his lines from the shelves, and he can't read well either. My only consolation was that he'd be dead soon and I wouldn't have to hear him painfully plod through every sentence. All in all it's pretty uninspiring stuff, but it's nothing too awful that it detracts away from the rest of the movie, unlike the little snippets of bad writing that can really trip you up as you start to get into it.

I already mentioned the Italian cooking class, but I think it's worth mentioning again. Sure, our male lead may be taking a class to get on with his life, we might need to hear a bit about what he's learning, but you don't need to take the teacher and make him a supporting ast member, especially if he turns out to be more lively than most other people in the movie. There's a scene near the end where the troubled young boy goes into a hotel. A woman asks "Can I help you?", to which he replies "I'm looking for someone". Naturally the woman tells him to leave the building. Why ask if the kid wants help if you kick him out as soon as he starts talking? No reason. Why have that scene there at all? It's completely pointless.

Also, the cinematography is xenophobic. I know that's a bold claim to make, but we start off the movie in a brightly coloured and wonderful Thailand scene (apart from the eventual tidal waves and dead people), and then move on to the nice bright American setting of George's character. Then it's the boys' turn to be introduced, and we skip over to England, immediately greeted with a dark and gloomy house that just makes you feel a bit depressed. I know there are reasons that the house looks a bit dilapidated, I'll forgive the movie for that, but it's just the general look of the scenes set in London that make you feel a bit washed out and depressed throughout.

Okay, that probably was a bit of a wild accusation. I'm probably in a mood where I like to be very picky about things. Hereafter isn't a bad movie, but it could have been so much better. Just get rid of some of the jarring dialogue and unnecessary or lengthy scenes and some things could have been included to really make me connect with these people. You can do so much better, Eastwood.

My rating: 2/5

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Today's Review: Not Being On Holiday Anymore

You all know the feeling. You've just had some time off, gone somewhere nice. You may have relaxed all day, you may have packed your time off with stuff that tired you out but fulfilled your lust for life or some other such inspirational thing. But after you get off that plane, train or automobile and get back into your home there is a certain dejected feeling you can't shake.

I had an overnight flight back from Muscat. I managed to sleep, but not too much, I gained three hours though, so that's nice. But I still feel mighty tired, a little bit depressed. I could blame it on jet lag, but it's probably because we now have to unpack all the stuff and keep our place tidy again, instead of lounging around while someone else did it for us.

Some people like to play down their holidays when people ask about them, I know I have one time or another. I've said something like "Yeah, it was good, didn't do too much relaxing though" or "It was okay, didn't do anything really exciting". Obviously two sides of the spectrum, but it feels like it's just a way of playing down the holiday to yourself. Maybe if you don't look back on your holiday thinking it was the best time of your life you can actually bear being back at your boring home working your boring job.

But hey, we can't be on holiday all the time, and the grass is always greener. But that doesn't help the undeniable feeling of "bleurgh" that we get upon arriving home. We've still got three bags to unpack, but we just can't be bothered. I'm about to go to bed at 10pm, and that's unheard of for me. We all say we need a day or two to recover from a holiday, but it's only a way to adjust back into your mind-numbing routines. Or maybe that's just me. What I can say is that falling down some stairs six hours before your flight does not make the feeling any better.

Hint: This isn't the colour my skin should normally be. Still, it's good to be home. Even if I can't lie down properly. 

My rating: 1/5

Friday, 10 June 2011

Today's Review: Buffet At The Al Bustan Palace

Well, my holiday is drawing to a close, and for some reason it's customary for my family to go out one day and eat a load of food at a nice restaurant. The last two times we've been to Oman we have visited the Al Bustan Palace for a Chinese meal, which is awesome. We went to the Al Bustan today too, but to visit the Al Karhan buffet restaurant. It's quite a sight when you enter the lobby.

You can stand a 747 up in there apparently. Quite fancy and elaborate, so naturally I felt quite out of place. But no time to lose, there was eatin' to do. Once we got to the restaurant we were told it was full, and my heart sunk as I looked longingly at the chefs cooking up all kinds of delights through the window. But while we were hanging around outside thinking where else we could go we were ushered in and given a table. Awesome sauce. Let the eating commence. There was quite a bit of food...

Okay, a lot of food. So much food that after my first main course plate I went back and had a second plate consisting entirely of seafood. Then two dessert plates because I'm greedy like that. But hey, gotta make your money's worth, right? My only regret is that I ate breakfast. Silly me. The chicken tikka was probably some of the best I've ever tasted, the beef was perfect, the sausage and bacon were delicious. Yes, finally, real bacon! They even had a separate counter devoted entirely to pork, kind of a "You like this crap? Well, here you go, it's in this cage", but who cares? It was a lot of pork.

I didn't want to fill up on bread, but I gladly would have. There were rolls, pain au chocolats, muffins, croissants, baguettes, it all looked so good. But alas, there was meat to be eaten, and mushrooms, salad, rice, a different kind of salad, steamed vegetables and more different kinds of salad. But after the awesome meat I consumed it was time to nom on desserts. I had fruit draped in fountain chocolate, two kinds of cheesecake, peach ice cream, strawberry tart, a chocolate brownie, jam doughnut, crème brûlée, cream caramel and some other things i can't remember due to gross sugar intake. Judge me all you want, but you weren't there man, you don't know what it was like.

Finally, I was full. So we went home again, not before taking some pictures of the amazing view outside.

I would have jumped into that pool, but I had no swimwear and I'd probably have been arrested for using hotel facilities without paying. So we're back home now, but since most places open at 4 on the weekend we're off out shopping for a nice little end to the evening. Especially now my food has digested nicely. Best. Buffet. Ever.

My rating: 5/5

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Today's Review: Trip To Jebel Akhdar

Alriiight, time to take in the sights. We set off early this morning to Jebel Akhdar, a huge mountain range just over an hour's drive from the house. We've been there before, and had a little wander through some of the tiny villages near the top, but this time we were going to one of my dad's colleague's (Mohammed) houses for some proper Omani cuisine. Exciting.

We met Mohammed's son at the bottom of the mountain and I got into his car, as you're not allowed through the checkpoint with more than six people in your car. Presumably because if seven people plunge to their death due to failed brakes the paperwork load is considerably larger. But we were all good, and before long we were going up the twists and turns of the steep roads going towards the summit. After the initial climb I was treated to the sights of the range spreading into the distance, with natural folds and textures that are a wonder to look at. I was also mulling over how best I would leap out of the vehicle and save my family should the brakes fail on their car behind me, but hey, that's just me.

After a particularly curvy and steep section of mountain, we got to Mohammed's village. With my life now out of immediate danger I could fully concentrate on things. Mohammed's house is massive. He told us that in his other house it was hard to move around, so he just built a house with absolutely massive rooms instead. He gave us a small tour, before we were ushered back into the guest room. And along came the food.

Lots of food. Awesome food. Look at those grapes, they're massive. After remembering not to eat with my left hand like normal, because that's how I'm suppose to clean myself after making toilet, I nommed heartily. Next came the coffee to wash it all down. Tiny cups, but a very distinct flavour.

But that was just the beginning. The main course wasn't ready yet, so off we went for a tour of the village, including the ruins of the old houses, some of which were destroyed during the Jebel Akhtar war. Some good views of the mountain ranges too.

But soon enough it was time to eat. We'd visited Mohammed's other house on a former trip to Oman, and it was probably my most enjoyable experience of the holiday, so I was highly anticipating doing it again. I was not disappointed. 

Rice. So much rice. This is what was left after everyone was given a portion. Omanis eat a lot of rice. More rice than your standard Brit can handle, which caused Mohammed to continuously ask why we weren't eating much rice. The correct answer was "because my stomach is about to explode", but that probably wouldn't be the polite thing to say. Anyways, also on the menu was chicken curry.

Pretty damn good. Large pieces of chicken on the bone, wonderfully cooked. Not too spicy either, which was welcome after a walk out in the sun. I enjoyed it, but what I was really looking forward to was this:

I've dreamed about this beef. It's probably some of the best beef I've ever tasted, and it was cooked in a hole in the ground. The first time I had it it was so tender, almost crumbled in the mouth, and it tastes so so good. This time Mohammed apologised for it not being cooked for as long as normal, but his family had only arrived at the house that day. Sure, it was a bit tougher than before, but that didn't stop me eating four portions. So good, so good.

We were provided with forks and spoons and the like, and while I was thinking about eating the Omani way, the food was a tad too hot to squish into my vulnerable palm. But I sat on the floor, and accepted most of the things that Mohammed offered my way. Lunch is a big thing in Oman, they eat craploads and then have a siesta. I can't see a single thing wrong with that, but Mohammed was clearly weirded out that we were eating so little, and started to apologise that we didn't like his food. But a prompt explanation by my dad that we English are just pussies when it comes to big portions sorted things out. 

After lunch, some nice sweet tea and a small chat, and we were off. We went to a couple of other viewpoints near the summit, from one of which I could see the village we stopped off at before.

We were pretty high up, about 2,000 feet, but the villagers have managed to divert the spring water from the mountain down through a falaj in order to grow crops on the cliff face. I walked along one of these last time I was here, and it's cool to see the intricate pathways that have been made, with rags placed at certain points to block water flow to different areas. 

But it was getting late, and the kids were getting cranky, so homeward bound we went. But it was a very enjoyable day. Jebel Akhtar is probably one of the most astounding sights of Oman, and the culture you can experience in some of the villages is second to none. Mohammed's family were wonderful. They gave us a friendly reception, the young ones played well with the kids, and of course they served us massive amounts of awesome free food. Cannot complain at all.

My rating: 5/5

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Today's Review: My Much More Eventful Day

Just sayin'. So, I was woken at 5:30 this morning. That sure was fun. But I had some time to take a nap before we headed out. Good thing too, we went to quite a few places. Which means I took in  bit more culture. Not too much though. First stop was the aquarium, or as the Omanis call it:

Much more catchy. Really it was just one room with a few tanks. But entertaining enough. I saw this guy, who I named "Grumpy Leopard Lookin' Motherfucker":

Also turtles. I like turtles. But with the fish seen, it was now time to eat some. So to the Blue Marlin we went, a restaurant by the marina where rich British folk keep yachts they hardly use. I tried to get something exotic again, but they were all out. Presumably because the British don't like all that spicy crap. So fish and chips it was, but I delved into a Red Bull and watermelon juice for tropical support.

Good shit, y'all. Then it was off to Muttrah, stopping off on the way to see a giant incense burner in a park, that also contained one awesome play area.

Man, if they filled that burner with weed the whole city would have a good time. But the place was empty, the attached awesome looking fairground was closed and the slides burnt my bum. So off I went, wishing we had parks like this at home.

Our final destination was the Muttrah market, or Souk, situated by the coast where the Sultan's yacht is moored.

I like to imagine it's being raided by two small pirate ships.
The Souk is under cover, a welcome change to the scorching heat we'd had all day. Incense was burning everywhere, and guys were pushing their wares in our faces the whole way through. Pretty easy to barter down the price if you want something though, and not bad prices either. It was a great way to soak up the atmosphere, and everyone from stall owners to customers were really friendly. It was all very chilled.

But then of course it was time for another drink, because I don't know how people live in this heat and don't spend half their income on drinks. And what better way to top off the day than with this monstrosity?

Oh yeah, mango milkshake topped with mango ice cream and pistachio. It tasted like a Solero. So all in all a good day, and tomorrow may be even better. Stay tuned.

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Today's Review: My Not Very Eventful Day

My second full day in Oman. Time to get out and experience all that culture, right? Not quite yet apparently. We've made some plans though, there'll be some interesting things to come. But since my children have seen it fit to drink all the juice in the house (admittedly I helped), it was off to the Sultan Centre to stock up, and look for those bits and pieces that I missed yesterday.

Mission accomplished. I also got a massive watermelon because massive things are cool. As we left I felt a bit dejected about spending so much money on food, but it was time to eat dinner, so couldn't feel crappy about that for long. On the way to our place of eating we drove on a road through the mountains, and I snapped a few pictures that actually prove I'm in a different country and haven't just imported foodstuffs into my home.

See? Mountains and stuff. I'll take better pictures as the week goes on, this was through the window of a moving car. There are lots of mountains. We'll be going up one at the weekend. Thursday and Friday is the weekend here by the way. But I digress. Where were we going for dinner? Somewhere we could experience the culture and finesse of Omani food? No. D'arcy's Kitchen.

It's so English my fiancée's mother has those plates at her house. It seems very much like someone decided that English people who live here are probably all racist and just want to be back home, so they created a restaurant chain that makes food that sends their minds spiralling back to their beloved memories like Anton Ego in Ratatouille (obscure reference FTW). So while it was fish and chips all round, I rebelled a little and looked for something a bit different. Unfortunately there was only one foreign thing on the menu.

I forgot the name because I'm a bit slow today. But it's white fish and potato in a coconut and chili sauce. Kinda tasted like a korma but with a certain spiciness. It was pretty damn good. Then I had cheesecake because if there is an option of eating cheesecake I can't not have it.

And off home we went. Tomorrow we might do something remotely holiday-like, like going to a beach or something. But we shall see. I may not have done much so far, but it's a holiday, and so far I've done a lot of relaxing. I don't even have to do housework. Ain't that good?

My rating: 3/5

Monday, 6 June 2011

Today's Review: My Carrefour Shopping Trip

It's our first day in Muscat, and we needed nappies, as we have a boy who does not have control of his bladder and didn't fancy filling a suitcase with Pampers. So it was off to the Muscat City Centre to obtain baby toiletries and noms. After a very cultural meal in the Gourmet Burger Kitchen, during which I spent a few minutes browsing for a bacon burger before remembering that pigs are unclean, we set off for Carrefour.

Of course, the cultural experience continued, as I was gunning for all the American foods I could find, as well as the essentials.

Essential. It was 39.5° today, so i'll stand by that. And at £1.35 for a six pack of Coke you can't say no. First it was time to sort out breakfast.

God bless America and the Middle Eastern countries that want their cereal. Trix are awesome fruity rice puffs. They don't even really taste of fruit, just flavoured sugar. But they are the bomb. They also had Golden Grahams, but since I can get them at home they don't feel as special anymore.

No matter, I was here for more important things.

Sadly I did not get them. They had ordinary Cheetos, but it's the crunchy ones that give me a party in the mouth. Not these hot ones though, they're not so nice. But they'll do for now. I was on the lookout for Nerds too, but no dice. So, to console myself:

You can never have too much Stuf. Sadly I shall have to eat these secretly as my children converge on me whenever a pack opens. Even though they have a massive multipack of crisps to keep them occupied. 

I know Cars has been a big hit on the merchandise front, but I wasn't aware Pixar were moving into the potato chip business. They taste good though, so it must be Pixar who made them as Pixar are perfect. But, I couldn't leave without anything remotely ethnic, so I went to the fresh sweet counter and picked up some Rahash.

Never had it before. I was hoping for some Jalebi, but this will do. It's chocolate flavoured, I think just the normal flavouring would not be so great for me, but it's pretty good. I didn't wander too much into traditional food, that's better experienced through street food and restaurants. So onwards and upwards. Hopefully I can have Nerdier shopping trip next time.

My rating: 4/5