Sunday, 12 December 2010

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - A Communist Tale?


On Saturday I happened to attend the UCLU Chocolate society Christmas party which was a showing of the Tim Burton remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Maybe it’s just that my degree has finally taken over my life but I noticed some distinct links between Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and various historical figures, ideas and literature from the Soviet Union.

If you take the character of Willy Wonka to be Stalin and the chocolate factory to be the Kremlin then the whole plot of the film can be seen to be modelled on the 1930s trope of the average worker gaining the opportunity to meet Stalin after achieving a great feat. In this case finding one of the golden tickets is what will grant you access to the closed off leader and the quest to find the golden ticket can be seen as the way to excel yourself over your fellow citizens.

Turning now to the characters it is possible to see further links. The Umpalumpas who work inside the factory are all dressed identically and are a literal representation of unity among the collective workers. Working for Willy Wonka in the Communist heaven of the factory has removed all of their differences making them all entirely equal. As they are the ones who make the factory work through harvesting the cocoa beans they too can be taken as a representation of the peasant farm workers on a kolkhoz. In this case the songs that they sing can be taken as the songs sung by both Soviet factory workers and collective farm peasants.

Turning now to the children in the film it is possible to see an example of a spoilt bourgeois family through Varuca Salt and her father. The girl who demands everything and does not listen to the advice of anyone winds up being labelled ‘a bad nut’ and is expelled from the factory. Indeed each time one of the children does not heed the advice of Willy Wonka some misadventure befalls them and they are removed from the factory, an event that could be seen as a parallel to the Stalinist purges of the 1930s.

Two of the three children are specified as being American, one is German and the other English while Charlie is only noted as having come from the same town as the factory is located in. Taking this place to be Moscow it would make Charlie a Soviet boy and would show a distinct Cold War feeling towards the children of Western origin. They are all removed from the factory through their faults, which could arguably be blamed on their capitalist backgrounds. Charlie is also seen to be living in a tumbledown old shack with his whole family which could be seen as a peasant’s izba on the edges of Soviet Society.

As the only ‘Soviet’ child to enter the factory Charlie is the only one who understands Willy Wonka and the philosophy of the factory (Candy has no point it’s just candy). This is also why he is the only one to survive the ‘purges’ and be asked to be the successor of the factory. At this point Charlie must choose between the personal and the good of the collective after Willy Wonka tells him that he can only become his heir if he gives up his family. Erring from true Soviet films Charlie chooses the personal rather than the collective and ends up showing Willy Wonka that family is a very important thing. While choosing the personal is not strictly the Soviet way it does wind up showing that family unity is important; Willy Wonka can no longer make good chocolate until he is reunited with his father. This can be taken to show that the Motherland will not function unless all of her workers are in harmony.

The final references to Soviet literature can be seen through the subjugation of the squirrels in the nut sorting room they can be linked to the subjugation of the bear in Platonov’s The Foundation Pit. The great glass lift and the TV ray that causes the downfall of Mike TV can be seen in Zamiatin’s We as the glass houses where the citizens dwell and the ray used on the dissident citizens.

Having seen the evidence for my theory it might not be that my degree has taken over my life but that Charlie and the Chocolate factory is in fact a Communist film. I'll let you make your own mind up.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Voting is a pleasure

A recent campaign video in Spain has caused a lot of stir as it features a woman entering a polling station to cast her vote and while she slips the paper into the ballot box experiences an orgasm. Shortly after this the words 'voting is a pleasure' appear. The video has caused a stir as while the tagline and images match and are amusing it is not really appropriate to show on TV when younger audiences may be watching.
The video is from the Spanish Socialist party and also seems to imply that if you vote in the election you'll get an orgasm. Maybe Spanish polling stations are different to UK ones but the last time I voted in an election I didn't receive an orgasm. Perhaps you need to vote Socialist to get one, which might explain why I didn't get mine as I didn't vote Socialist in the last election.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Books

I was tagged in a post by a friend on Facebook about classic books that people have not read, so I am posting this to try and get people reading more. I'd heard of pretty much all of these books but have sadly not read as many as I would like. All is explained below.

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. Instructions: Copy this into your notes. Bold those books you've read in their entirety, italicise the ones you started but didn't finish or read an excerpt. Tag other book nerds.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

36 Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52 Dune - Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses - James Joyce

76 The Inferno - Dante

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I scored 26/100, how many will you get?

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Sunday Songs

It's a Sunday and, thus, it's time for another Sunday Song. This week's song is called 'The River' by Brian Doerksen. It's one of my favourites and is good to listen to when life is hectic or things aren't quite going as you'd like.


Thursday, 11 November 2010

Stop it now

It seems like every time I open a newspaper to catch up on the headlines and to-ings and fro-ings of the world that there always seems to be a story of animal or child abuse. These stories of abuse always mar the newspaper reading experience for me especially when reading about how a cat has had a firework tied to its tale or a child has been beaten by its parents. They also invoke a mixture of anger and sadness; sadness at the abuse and the fact that someone could consider it acceptable to behave in this fashion, and anger that someone would willingly cause suffering to another living creature.
When reading a story like this I often wander whether stories of such abuse would decrease if we lived in a society where the criminal went through the same experience that they inflicted on their victim. I'm fairly sure that those who tie fireworks to animals would not be so cocky and willing to inflict pain if they had fireworks tied to their limbs. I was brought up on the principle 'do unto others as you would have done unto you' so if you won't like to be abused stop doing it to your pets, animals or children. Stop it now.

Lest we forget

Today is November the 11th or Remembrance Day. The day dedicated to remembering all those who have died in war protecting their country. While life racing around us it is important to take two minutes to sit and reflect. The UK would be a very different country had our armed forces not chosen to defend it.
This Remembrance Day I have chosen this video to remember those who have fallen in battle:

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Feelin' blue?

A friend of mine sent this video to me and it made me laugh so much that it chased away my winter blues. It's cold, it's wet, snow is predicted but it's weeks until Christmas but Anna Widdecome is still in strictly and the OMG cat is still shocked!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

New Blog!

Blogging on this site has been a little quiet of late. This is due to a combination of uni work, work work and the fact that I am now blogging on another blog as well. In the past I have written for UCL Conservative Society and the Tory Reform Group (TRG) blog but now I am venturing out in a new direction and can be found sharing my views on chocolate and chocolate based receipes at UCLU's Chocolate Society Blog. This blog has only just started so posts are not so numerous at present but stay tuned for future posts and my 'Chocolate Bar of the Week'.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Movember!

Today is the first of November or 'Movember' as it has been nicknamed after a stunt to raise money for charity and to raise awareness about Prostate Cancer. The idea of the stunt is for men to have a complete shave on October 31st then throughout the month of November grow a moustache. Each person who takes part in the stunt needs to get friends and family to sponsor them and all donations made will be given to charity. Obviously this event is designed for men as they're the ones who more typically have facial hair but women can join in by making a donation and donning a fake tash for the day.
According to the Movember Website 'The idea for Movember was sparked in 2003 over a few beers in Melbourne, Australia. The plan was simple – to bring the moustache back as a bit of a joke and do something for men’s health. No money was raised in 2003, but the guys behind the Mo realized the potential a moustache had in generating conversations about men’s health. Inspired by the women around them and all they had done for breast cancer, the Mo Bros set themselves on a course to create a global men’s health movement. '
So come on guys it's time to shave and take part in Movember!

Friday, 22 October 2010

Pub Quiz

If you are ever bored on a Thursday night and looking for something to do I would highly recommend the pub quiz night at Steele's pub on Havistock Hill, Hampstead. Last night a few friends and I took part. Entrance was a pound per person and the total off all entrants is the prize fund for the night.
The quiz is comprised of a picture round, 30 general knowledge questions then a gambling round. Each team has to decide has to decide how many points to gamble then answer either a popular culture or a general knowledge question. This is then followed by a double or nothing round. Sadly my friends and I did not win but came in second resulting in us winning a round of drinks on the house.
After the quiz there is a bonus round where anyone who purchases a raffle ticket can take part. The first ticket drawn has the chance to answer a general knowledge question for a chance to win some money. Should this person fail to answer correctly then another ticket is drawn and the second person has a chance to win twenty pounds playing a round of higher or lower. At last night's quiz I was picked for this round and either through blind luck or brilliant skill managed to guess all seven cards correctly and win twenty pounds. Get in!. Free drink and twenty quid! Should probs have a crack at the lottery since I seem to be on a lucky streak :P

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Ban Comic Sans?

While on the BBC website I read an interesting but bizarre article about how a couple in America are trying to ban the font Comic Sans. According to the BBC they have founded a website called bancomicsans.com and their reasons for trying to ban this font are that using comic sans is "analogous to showing up for a black tie event in a clown costume". Other reasons for wanting to ban this font is that it is primary associated with school fates, church parish news letters and other more low budget events.
To be honest I have no real feeling either way towards Comic Sans it seems like a nice font and I personally have never looked through the font selection on word when I have been writing and essay and been morally disgusted by any of them. Some of them I struggle read but I would never go so far as to actively campaign to get it removed from all Microsoft programmes. I have better things to do with my time. To me it seems that this is a classic case of people having too much time on their hands. If you are going to protest about something at least make it worthwhile or an actual cause like protecting an endangered species, trying to help a third world country or encouraging people to recycle. Don't waste your time on such a pointless cause if you don't like a font just don't use rather than spending your time whining about it.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Worst bank ever!

This is just a quick post to say that I am still alive but am currently trying to deal with the ineptitude that is The Royal Bank of Scotland. In order to sort my funding for Uni I need some bank statements. This has now taken since August to sort. I have been given statements in the wrong format 3 times, been lied to on numerous occasions, had statements sent for the wrong date s, had statements not even turn up and been given an entire copy of my account history minus the dates of statements I asked for. (The actual saga is a lot longer than that summary and beggars belief and is available on request).
In short if you want your money to be with a bank that lies to you and cannot even print off a piece of paper correctly then go with RBS (Royal Bank of Screw-ups). However if you wanted to be treated with respect and have your money dealt with competently. Go elsewhere. Even Northern Rock can't be worse than them and they had to be nationalised to survive.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Ikea

I have pretty much always been a fan of Ikea. In fact I am pretty much a fan of anyone who can design and make furniture that I can assemble by myself with no real tools needed, which leads to a glowing sense of pride in my, almost totally absent, DIY skills. But after seeing a recent Ikea advert they have gone up further in my opinion.

For this advert Ikea released 100 cats into their store in Wembley and filmed their antics. Now I will not only visit their stores to buy cheap, easily assemblible furniture but to witness cats asleep in a variety of places in store.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Hit-and-run in Belsize park

I have recently moved back to London to continue my studies at UCL and after a massive property search in various areas of London. I found a room in a flatshare in the Hampstead area of London. Compared with some other areas of London I thought that this area would be safe especially when returning home after dark, and that the only danger I'd have to lookout for would be George Michael driving his car while high. However after today I am not quite so sure.
This extract of the coverage of the events of today has been taken from the BBC Website:

'Hit-and-run victim was 'dragged a mile' to Belsize Park

A woman who was killed in a hit-and-run incident had been dragged under the vehicle for about a mile, police said.
Metropolitan Police were called to Haverstock Hill near Belsize Park Tube station at about 0155 BST where the body of the 20-year-old was found.It is believed she was hit in front of the Royal Free Hospital then dragged for a mile to Downside Crescent.
Officers said it was possible the driver, who did not stop, may not have known that someone had been hit.
A Met spokesman said: "It appears that the vehicle travelled west up Pond Street, NW3, and past the front of the Royal Free hospital where we believe she was hit.
"The vehicle is believed to have then turned left into Haverstock Hill, travelling south.
"The victim was found near the junction with Downside Crescent (just south of Belsize Park tube). It appears that the victim was dragged about a mile from where she was hit."
Haverstock Hill and Belsize Park Tube station were closed for much of the day to allow for forensic investigations.'

Hopefully this is an isolated incident and the police will be able to solve this crime soon.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Twitter in Russian

I had this come through on Twitter and found it of interest. It seems that some top Russian bloggers are asking the US to create a Russian Language service for Twitter. At present you can write Tweets in Russian, but unlike Facebook it seems that the main page cannot be set to Russian. This is an interesting devlopment and shows how the popularity of certain social networking sites has spread throughout the world. For more information on this you can read the full article here.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Adopt a animal

Recently on TV the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) have been running a campaign for viewers to adopt an animal for only £3 a month. Obviously, and in some cases sadly, you do not actually get the animal to keep and look after in your home but the money you donate goes to help preserve their habitat and ensure their survival in the future.
After checking on the WWF Website I found out that it is possible to adopt any of the following; Panda, Polar Bear, Orangutan, Dolphin, Tiger, Elephant, Rhino, Amur Leopard, Turtle or Penguin. My first choice was to opt for the Giant Panda as I have often heard about how they are targetted by poachers etc etc and also because they are very cute. However after havign done some research on them and found this video I changed my mind slightly:

I decided instead to opt for adopting a Tiger. This choice would come as no surprise to regular readers who know of my fondness for cats. For me donating and helping charities is important whether they be for the animals, children or medical research organisations. £3 a month is not much and could make a big difference.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Graduation

There has been little blogging this week as Wednesday was my Graduation. All of the photographs are on Facebook but below is one of me in my gown, purple hood and morter board.


The actually Graduation ceremony was only about an hour but most of the ceremony was spent with me sat going 'Don't trip up the steps', 'don't fall off the stage' or 'shake the Vice-Provost's hand but not too tightly'. Luckily I did not trip, fall or forget to shake his hand then it was off for photographs and a champagne reception at UCL.
It's been four years of hard work but I am now official Laura-Rose Saunders BA Hons :). Next step Laura-Rose Saunders MA Hons.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

73 Get in!

Earlier this week the Total Politics Guide to Conservative Political Blogging was announced and my blog came 73rd. Thank you to all of you who voted for me! I am very pleased with my place and can now display the Blogger badge on my blog.
Full list (number in brackets denotes palce that year):
1 (1) Iain Dale
2 (2) ConservativeHome
3 (4) Daniel Hannan MEP
4 (3) Dizzy Thinks
5 (7) John Redwood MP
6 Norman Tebbit
7 (5) Tory Bear
8 (8) Douglas Carswell MP
9 (16) Working Class Tory
10 (10) Burning our Money
11 (6) Archbishop Cranmer
12 (12) Mr Eugenides
13 (15) Tory Radio
14 BryantPedia
15 Armchair Politics
16 (17) Raedwald
17 (21) Paul Scully
18 (20) Richard Willis
19 Byrne Tofferings
20 (25) A Pint of Unionist Lite
21 (27) Steve Tierney
22 (35) Roger Helmer MEP
23 Jerry Hayes
24 (26) Cardiff Blogger
25 (63) Platform 10
26 Walaa Idris
27 (54) Oberon Houston
28 Sean Haffey
29 (51) Iain Lindley
30 (55) Tory Outcast
31 Lord Belmont in Northern Ireland
32 Thoughts of a Progressive
33 (39) James Cleverly AM
34 (29) Tory Rascal
35 (41) Neil Reddin
36 (37) Glyn Davies MP
37 (18) A Very British Dude
38 (68) City Hall (Roger Evans AM)
39 (44) Prodicus
40 (50) Steve Barclay MP
41 Dilletante
42 Adlib at You Never Can Tell
43 Mark Reckless MP
44 (53) Man in a Shed
45 Guy the Mac
46 (36) Fugitive Ink
47 Direct Democracy UK
48 (30) Chiswickite (Formerly Croydonian)
49 James Cousins
50 (60) Lightwater
51 Nanny Knows Best
52 (23) Unenlightened Commentary
53 (93) Alan W Collins
54 Blighty Andy
55 One Nation Tory
56 The Norton View
57 (28) Boris Johnson
58 Propa Politics
59 (88) Ellee Seymour
60 (43) Dylan Jones-Evans
61 (22) Tim Roll-Pickering
62 Reason & Madness
63 Tory Aardvark
64 Richard Normington
65 Spinwatch
66 (52) John Ward
67 (77) Tales from a Draughty Old Fen
68 (19) TrueBlueBlood
69 (46) Blue Blog
70 Disraeli Room
71 True Blue Tory Boy
72 (80) UCL Conservatives
73 Laura-Rose Saunders
74 Your Coleridge Conservative Action Team
75 Nick Webb
76 (81) Rene Kinzett
77 Blue Guerilla
78 Shane Greer
79 David Torrance
80 (56) Angels in Marble
81 (98) Tracey Crouch MP
82 Charles Barwell
83 (34) Matt Wardman
84 (73) Andrew Allison
85 Robert Halfon MP
86 England Left Forward
87 (71) Terrible Tory Girl
88 (89) A Conservative's Blog
89 Conservative History Journal
90 Contra Tory
91 (91) Jeremy Hunt MP
92 Prague Tory
93 (57) Tory Totty
94 (66) Posh Tory
95 Nigel Hastilow
96 (31) David Jones MP
97 (47) Dave Luckett
98 (48) Ewan Watt
99 (33) House of Dumb
100 (32) Mike Rouse

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Sunday Songs

It's Sunday again so it's time for a hymn. This is one of my favourites not only because it's fairly rousing but also for tha alternative lyrics. Below is the video complete with subtitles of the Christian Lyrics.


While these are the alternative Conservative Party lyrics. Same rhythem different words:
Margret Thatcher walks on water,
Margret Thatcher walks on water,
Margret Thatcher walks on water,
when the Blue Revolution comes.

Chorus:
Tory, Tory Hallelujah,
Tory, Tory Hallelujah,
Tory, Tory Hallelujah,
When the Blue Revolution comes.

Winston Churchill beat the Nazis,
Winston Churchill beat the Nazis,
Winston Churchill beat the Nazis,
When the Blue Revolution comes.

Whether or not you choose to sing the original or the alternative lyrics the tune is still fairly memorable.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Family only seating on planes

It was announced earlier in the week in a recent pole that the most annoying thing for aeroplane passengers is having babies/children crying or screaming during a flight. This announcement has now raised the issue of whether companies should change their planes and create a families only area. After all most airlines already have separate seating areas for first class passengers so surely have a families only area wouldn't be so hard to do.
As a childless person I like the sound of this idea. For me there is nothing worse than being stuck on a long flight with a screaming child sat near you. By locating all children in one area it would mean that for passengers like me the flight would not be spent with a child screaming for the whole trip. The other plus is that the family areas could be adapted specially for children e.g. with cots, children's toys and television shows playing on the in flight televisions.
Although it would cost for companies to make new planes or adapt their existing ones to have special family only areas if passengers knew that their flight would not be disrupted by screaming children it would probably mean that they were more likely to fly with that company. I know I would.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

4 ears are better than 2

After having a quick scan through the headlines earlier today I came across a story about a 4 eared cat called 'Luntik' who lives in Vladivostok. The article says that this was a craze in the 1970s and that Luntik is not the only one of his kind. The ears appear to only be there as 'decoration' and don't have any of the neccissary bits needed for hearing. At present little Luntik is homeless and lives in a garage being so cute he should fine himself a home soon.
For those of you who are wondering why he is called Luntik I am guessing that it is after the four eared Russian cartoon character Luntik (picture below). Luntik in the cartoon series is a creater from the moon who fell to Earth and is now going around exploring it. His unique appearance makes him different from all the other characters he meets on Earth. It would seem who ever named him has named him well.

Original Luntik:


Luntik the Cat:

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Clothes can only go so far

Fashion has always interested me and I am intrigued by watching shows like 'Ten Years Younger' and 'How to Look Good Naked'. It is always interesting to see the sort of clothes that are put on each type of person who appears on these shows.
The object of 'Ten Years Younger' is, obviously, to make the person look younger but not in a trashy way. Gok Wan in 'How to Look Good Naked' however tends to dress the women on his show in the latest fashion but in a way that makes them look attractive. During each of these shows the women get a complete make over and end up with new hair, make up and clothes. In some cases the women also get body sculpting underwear to flatten their tummies and hide any lumps and bumps.
However clothes can only take you so far as this clip demonstrates:

Monday, 2 August 2010

O'er

I recently had this forwarded to me about the wild fires in Russia. Help needed quick me thinks!
Article taken from the BBC News website:

'Russia declares state of emergency over wildfires

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has declared a state of emergency in seven Russian regions because of wildfires fuelled by a heatwave.

The death toll from the fires has risen to 40, the ministry of health said.

The Russian emergencies ministry said 500 new blazes had been discovered over a 24-hour period, but most had been extinguished.

Homes have been burnt in 14 regions of Russia, the worst-hit being Nizhny Novgorod, Voronezh and Ryazan.

Nineteen of the 40 deaths recorded were in Nizhny Novgorod, the health ministry said.

The state of emergency was announced in a decree that also restricted public access to the regions affected.

Moscow is again shrouded in smoke from peat and forest fires outside the city.

The fires, caused by record temperatures and a drought, have affected cereal harvests, driving wheat prices up.

Heatwave grinds on

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin saw some of the fire damage for himself in Nizhny Novgorod region last week. On Monday, he held meetings with regional leaders in Moscow to discuss further help for affected communities.

Russians are bracing themselves for another week of high temperatures, with forecasts of up to 40C (104F) for central and southern regions.

Officials also expect stronger winds in some regions, which will fan the flames.

By Sunday night, wildfires were still raging across some 128,000 ha (316,000 acres).

Thousands of people have lost their homes and nearly a quarter of a million emergency workers have been deployed to fight the flames.

Moscow doctors say the elderly and toddlers should wear gauze masks outdoors.

BBC map

The city of Kazan, on the Volga river east of Moscow, was also blanketed in smog on Monday, an eyewitness told the BBC.

Marek Zaremba-Pike said Kazan's air "smells of burnt wood and tastes of dust".

"Usually we can see the Kazan Kremlin very clearly, but visibility is poor. You can't see it at all, just the river bank."

More famous for its bitterly cold winters, the giant country's European part normally enjoys short, warm summers.

However, July was the hottest month on record. In Moscow, which sees an average high of 23C in the summer months, recorded 37.8C last Thursday.

Emergency officials say the heat and drought are the main causes of the fires, but they also blame human carelessness, and urged people to use extreme caution when walking or driving in the woods or countryside.

"Any source of fire, including a cigarette thrown from a car window, will ignite the dried grass," the emergencies ministry said.'

Monday, 26 July 2010

Now in lamp form

I was sent this link to an online shop where you can buy witty products and it seems that I am not only available in person form but also in lamp form. Click here to check it out.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Footie (3)

Well it's all over for England. Third match against Slovenia looked promising as the final score was 1-0 however the team still did not demonstrate the require skill that a world class team should. This lack of skill was evident when we played Germany and lost 4-1, or rather 4-2 as it should have been had the ref not been so blind.
The Lampard goal raised two issues; the first - England's lack of ability to really score a goal after all it did bounce two or three times prior to crossing the line rather than simply directly going in. And two that technology should be introduced into the refereeing of football matches. It's the 21st century, lots of money is spent on the game the least that can happen is that an accurate result and decision is given.
Now that England have been thoroughly defeated and publicly embarrassed as a team maybe the players might focus more and play as a team rather than as a group of over payed individuals.
The are many ways that the blame for this defeat can go Fabio - bad coaching and being compromised (he's Italian and Italy play in this championship), the Labour Government - the removal of competitive sport and thus the lack of players amongst the younger generation, the ref - disallowing the Lampard goal, but I think that most of all the players are to blame. Footballers seem more interested in materialism and their public image rather than doing what they are paid to do - score goal and win matches.
The footie might be over but there's still the cricket, Wimbledon and for all those Twihards the Eclipse premiere on Friday so no need to sink into a depression yet.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Footie (2)

Whenever there is a World Cup, or any other international sporting event, hopes are always high that England will do as well as we hope and win the competition. The last match against the USA was a draw but there was some hope in the fact that we scored after 4 minutes. Yesterday's draw saw none of the same hope and has been deemed by many as 'the worst match ever played by an England team'. To this statement I agree whole heartedly.
In post-match interviews the players complained that they were off focus or not prepared etc etc however it is their job to kick a ball around a pitch for 90 minutes and SCORE goals, not attempt to actually score them. Considering that they are paid millions of pounds a year to do this the excuse 'we weren't prepared' doesn't quite cut it. In any other profession you would be repromanded or even fired.
At present the Government is looking for ways to cut the deficit and reduce national debt, perhaps they should take the money paid to the England football team and use it to pay off our debt. I rather have a doctor who has the space and medicines to treat me than watch an over paid nancy boy around a pitch for 90 minutes failing to score a goal. Not being paid might motivate the England side to stop behaving like a bunch of egotistical individuals and instead work as a team and actually win some matches then I would be proud to chant that 'I'm England til I die'.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Babushka Kitteh

It's LOL catz time!

Babushka Cat

Babushka cats are in ur box bein, old wimmens

and finally....



Sunday, 13 June 2010

Footie

Well it looks like the World Cup is upon us again. The signs of this are England flags everywhere, the impossibility of finding beer and/or junk food in the supermarket and every single chocolate bar or crisp packet having some sort of sport related competition on it. I am not massively knowledgeable about 'the beautiful game' but I do enjoy it when a big tournament is on. Whether this is real, genuine desire to watch or simply my brain being washed by all the hype anyway for the next few weeks I will be a self-professed expert and shamelessly air my views on the topic at any given point, like the rest of the population on the UK. Here's an example - England played the USA yesterday and drew rather than beating the 'yanks', they cheated and we should have won.
Stay tuned for more footie related opinions as the World Cup continues. Come on England!

Monday, 17 May 2010

How to treat a cold

The saying goes 'you can't treat a cold you can only ease the symptoms' with this in mind when I awoke 4 days before an exam with a cold I decided to research some 'cures' and also ask my friends for their tips on how to get over a cold quickly.
My first port of call was NHS Direct.com just to check that I really had a cold and not caught whatever the latest superbug was. After confirming it was a cold and not something worse I checked the NHS advice section. The NHS recommended lots of fluids, bed rest and keeping a window open in ensure that the room had a constant source of fresh air. The first two were viable but the third not so being as it is debable whether or not London has any 'fresh' air at all. The author of the website was clearly living in a nice rural village somewhere and not in central London as when I opened my window I was simply met with exhaust fumes and pollution rather than fresh air.
A panicked facebook status asking for help resulted in the following suggestions; garlic, honey and lemon, vodka, garlic, green tea, chicken soup, orange juice, oh and garlic. I had vague memories of my friends and I being force fed garlic while ill in Russia but was not entirely sure whether or not this was just some cruel joke that the Natives played on foreigners or whether it did have some medicinal value. Google seemed to agree that there was medicinal benefits from eating garlic as it killed the cold germs. So I decided to try it.
Thinking that I couldn't really feel any worse and that I had neither a sense of smell nor taste I might as well try it. In heindsight eating it raw was perhaps not the best idea but drinking green tea immediately afterwards sort of drowned out the taste. Crushing it up and frying it before adding pasta sauce worked much better. This method also managed to clear the kitchen allowing me to be left alone to cook in peace.
In the end honey and lemon was great for soothing a sore throat, green tea cleaned the blood as it had natural antioxidants, vodka was not really a good idea as I did not want to turn up to turn up to my exam smelling of vodka and garlic as the joke 'I'm a Russian student not an alcoholic' can only be used so many times. However it was garlic that saved the day. So next time someone says 'you can't cure a cold you can only ease the symptoms' tell them to eat garlic, just not raw.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Luntik

I got slightly bored of revising for my Russian language exams by reading grammar books, writing out vocab and listening to radio broadcasts about politics so I resorted to watch a Russian children's programme called 'Luntik'. It's about a little purple moon creature who fell off the moon and landed, presumably, in Russia. In each episode he goes around discovering things about the world around him. In this episode he learns about snow and frost.


This is by far one of my favourite Russian shows and is fairly easy to understand for someone who is learning Russian.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Exams = no blogging

For the next 6 weekish there will be no posts here due to revision and exams. Enjoy these clips until blogging recomences. :)

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Fat Cat

I want this cat. Simples.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant

To any Welsh readers out there have a very happy St. David's Day or if you speak Welsh 'Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant'.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

5 minute Chocolate Mug Cake

Recently I was made aware of a page on Facebook which contains the receipe for something called the '5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake' the basic idea of it is that you can make a chocolate very quickly and simply all you need is the cooking ingredients, a big mug and a microwave. Something that is ideal for students as it is quick, cheap and tasty. So earlier today my frienJustify Fulld and I had a go at making one each following this receipe;
4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
A small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.
Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts (high). The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed! Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
EAT! (this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous). And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world? Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night!

Much to both our surprise it actually worked. There were only three real problems, one it took us longer than 5 minutes, two mixing the cake in a coffee mug was somewhat problematic as it was hard to reach the stuff at the bottom, and three mine somehow ended up exploding slightly as there was too much mix for the mug. Apart from these points it worked and left us with a very yummy cake in a mug and only two spoons and a mug to wash up. Result!

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Я волна - Parody

I was sent this earlier and found it rather amusing. There is a Russian DJ called DJ Smash who I first heard while on my year abroad. One of his songs is called 'Ya volna' and it has a rather strange but quirky video (warning readers of a nervous disposition may be offended by some of the overtly sexual imagery used here):

Now a group of Russian lads have done a parody of this video which I found hilarious. Watch the video above first then watch this one and enjoy the humour! Nothing like a bit of parody.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Maslenitsa Event Review

As previously mentioned on my blog Sunday was the Russian Maslenitsa festival held in Pottersfield Park just behind city hall. Now I really wasn't sure what to expect from this festival I had previously been to the Russian Winter Festival that used to be held to celebrate Old Russian New Year; an event that I had previously very much enjoyed, and I was not disappointed by this variation on a theme.
The event was free and as I walked in I was handed numerous free Russian Language newspapers (reading practise for later) and met with the smells emanating from various food kiosks selling shaskliks, blini, beer and vodka. There were other stalls too selling various Russian products like matryoshki and Russian hats. As well as women dressed in traditional Russian costume. It very much felt like I was back in Moscow and not standing in a freezing cold park in London. All the while there was a free concert going on. Sadly because it was so cold I only managed to hold out long enough to hear a group called Posle 11 (After 11) and eat a blini before retreating home.
Admittedly aside from listening to the concert there was not a huge amount else to do but it was a great opportunity to see some Russian culture and hear some great live Russian music. A must to attend next year.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Sunday Song

It's Sunday and so I thought I would share one of my favourite songs that we sing a lot in my church back home. It's called 'You laid aside your majesty' and the version I found on Youtube even has the lyrics so you can sing along if you so choose.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Maslenitsa


Tomorrow in London's Potter's Field it will be time to celebrate all things Russian with the London Maslenitsa Festival. For those interested in going the nearest underground stop is London Bridge and the event is from 1pm until 6pm. Entry to this event is free!
The online advert says that there will be live music, events for children and much much more! In the past I went to the London Russian winter festival and got to watch artists like DDT and even Dima Bilan made an appearance. Last year the event changed to the Maslenitsa festival to celebrate the week long version of our pancake day rather than Old Russian New Year. In Russia this was a really big event with a similar outdoor festival just behind Saint Basil's Cathedral.
Hopefully this event will be just as good as in previous years and may be even better as the website says traditional Russian 'blini' will be on sale. Event review to follow.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Taking it too literally

I got sent this earlier today it seems that some German actors decided to perform a stage version of the Yerofeev book 'Moskva-Petushki' but replaced the water with 80% proof vodka. For those of you not familiar with the book it is about an alcoholic who travels from Moscow to Petushki and while on the elektritchka philosophises and drinking, a lot. The article is taken from the Guardian.

"Top German actors' vodka binge takes drunken satire too far

Cast fall off tables, chairs – and stage – during 'experimental' bender at Schauspielhaus in Frankfurt

Actors are often warned never to work with children or animals. To that list, 80 proof Russian vodka should now be added.

A performance at Frankfurt's prestigious Schauspielhaus theatre ended in chaos after four of Germany's top actors decided "as an experiment" to substitute vodka for water during a performance of a play described in the programme notes as a "crazy depiction of one of the most famous alcoholic benders in world literature".

Moscow To the End of the Line, a 1970 novel by the late Russian author Venedikt Erofeev, is a satirical account of a cable fitter sacked after checking the amount of alcohol fellow workers consume. The action takes place in Soviet times as the worker takes a train across Russia to reach his lover in a remote village.

In their stage adaptation of the story, the actors, Torben Kessler, Michael Abendroth, Marc Oliver Schulze and Oliver Kraushaar, decided the best way to embody their characters – the worker and his fellow passengers who spend the journey binge-drinking and never arrive at their destination – was to hit the bottle.

Initially the audience was amused. But then alarm grew as they started falling off chairs and tables and inviting theatregoers to take swigs out of their bottles.

"At first it was quite impressive, they seemed to be giving a good impersonation of tipsiness," one audience member told a German newspaper. "Then they started leaping around shouting 'Na zdorovje' (cheers in Russian) ... and then they handed round the drink." One of the actors could no longer stand up; another, literally, slipped up on his script.

"People started clapping, thinking it belonged to the performance," the theatregoer said.

When one of the actors fell off the stage on his chair and his co-actor fell from a table, the backstage crew intervened and called an ambulance.

The uproar continued in the ambulance where Schulze, 36, allegedly became violent, forcing the medics to call for police backup. Schulze later had his stomach pumped at Frankfurt's university clinic.

Called to account for the behaviour of his actors, director Oliver Reese said: "It was seen as a bit of an experiment, sort of along the lines of 'let's perform this wonderful text and have a bit of a drink at the same time' and it went a bit awry.

"One of the actors in particular clearly drank too much vodka, on an empty stomach. That in combination with the adrenalin an actor already feels when he's on stage caused him to go off the rails. His self-control failed him."

Reese summoned the actors for a dressing down after the performance. "I told them I didn't want to see anything like that ever again. It was kindergarten behaviour."

The actors had recovered well, he said."