I Hate Being Sick

Being sick is such a motherfucker. Back in August, Dani and I both got sick – we’ve since agreed that it was food poisoning – and it lasted for weeks. We were running to bathrooms for a good chunk of that month! Many plans were foiled!

Now, October. I’m sick! AGAIN! This time it is 100% a flu. My Saturday was plain as toast. Come Sunday I had a tickle in my throat, nothing out of the ordinary, though. Sometimes I wake up and I just have a real dry throat that lasts for the morning. This particular one lasted more than the morning. It lasted all day, and my nose wouldn’t stop leaking!

By the time the night was over, my nose was a faucet that I could not turn off. I was gonna spend Monday with Dani, but my sickness decided NERP. When Dani and I got to her place, I was burning. Everywhere. Even my eye lids! I was gonna spend the night eating and writing with Dani, but instead I was passed out like a chump around midnight. I’ve got all these wonderful foods just for snacking that I’ve stashed in the fridge, but I didn’t get to have so much as a slice of salami! DAMN MY BODY, DAMN IT WITH THE VERY FIRES IN WHICH MY FEVER WAS CREATED!

I woke at 5:45am on Monday morning. The only people that do that are people in emergency services! I woke up, completely soaked in my own sweat, desperately fumbled for water and acetaminophen and made a silent pee. I thought maybe I’d feel better when I woke up later. Nope. Nope, nope. I could barely get back to sleep!

Dani woke up just after 7:30am. She was gonna wake up earlier but I’d mistaken her phone for mine and switched off the alarm as it went off. Just how sick I was became apparent when she woke up. I was completely on fire, wet like the ocean, and my head was a swamp. Dani was saintly in all this, she prepped the most delicious smelling puchero, knowing my love of potatoes (she puts them in because I love ‘em) and ginger.

For at least two hours, she was checking in on my nearly lifeless body, kind of turning me over so I’d not sweat myself into hypothermia. The best thing she did, that anyone could have done, was the washcloth. OH MY SWEET JESUS! She put a cool washcloth on my forehead and it was THE VERY BEST MOST AMAZING THING! If I were a starving man on a desert island, this washcloth would be more satisfying than any drink or food! She must have swapped the washcloth at least four times.

I completely, entirely soaked her bed. All three pillows soaked. The main pillow I used? It had to be put aside to DRY, the actual PILLOW became a sponge! The sheets were completely wet, like I’d tried to bathe in ‘em.

Once I was stable enough to open my eyes, I got up. I wish I could have had some of that soup! The thought of puchero or sinigang right now fills me with a desperate want! Such magical broths! I eventually showered, which felt amazing, and helped Dani swap out the bed sheets and pillows. When I could, I got my butt to the bus stop and started my way home. The crisp, cool air was amazing. It was the only time I could breathe. Did I mention fuck being sick? Because fuck being sick.

The rest of Monday was hacking, wheezing and otherwise soaking whatever surface I came into contact with.

Tuesday was a repeat of Monday to start. Woken up to pools of sweat at 5:45am, now with the added glory of a hacking cough! YAY! Thankfully, my family had cough syrup on hand which did enough of the job, but that was a miserable-ass night’s sleep. Things are a bit shinier now, towards the evening, I’ve started to regain my footing, despite an otherwise blocked sinus system and bruised throat.

But at least I wasn’t shitting myself silly, thank all the gods!

(Header image taken from MarketWatch.)

To Agree or Disagree: Maleficent Movie Review

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Dani: What to say, where to begin? I have to admit that I was more than half-afraid that I would expect too much of the movie because of all the good reviews that it had spawned. The moment that I saw the child Maleficent, though, with her wings and horns and the magical creatures that lived in the Moors, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was home! This was how watching Disney movies felt like when I was a child! The scrawny Stefan was also very believable, and adorable in a gangly all arms and legs kind of way.

Mikaius: I went into this expecting nothing; I’m neither a fan of Jolie nor really invested in Sleeping Beauty. The Disney Princesses pre-90’s had no impact on me and I think they’re all Snow White anyways. The intro was wonderful, but nearly ruined by that most awful child actress, and I know it’s harsh to say a child is terrible, but she was awful. Every time that kid opened her mouth was grating and made me want to stop watching. Wonderful as the whole thing would have played animated, the intro live-action vision of her was off-putting. Mostly it was just her dead eyes and hollow voice. She’s a kid, of course she’s not any good at acting. Stefan was believable in his gangly ways. The intro ends quick enough, terrible as it is.

Dani: Gotta admit that the three “good” pixies were grating. They were neglectful and absent-minded – the three good fairies in the original Sleeping Beauty may have been a little absent-minded, but they were certainly not neglectful of Aurora. Yet it all just added up to make Maleficent’s moments with her Beastie more bittersweet. Seeing the little child completely charm the (heart)broken fairy both broke and melted my heart. It was a gooey mess.

Mikaius: I really didn’t like the good fairies, they were almost pointlessly existent. They didn’t even serve the plot, they were so utterly useless, and they had no personalities to speak of. They weren’t the important fairy, though, so I suppose it doesn’t matter. They’re irrelevant, and when it comes to magical things, this movie has much stronger to offer. The Moor is filled with wonderfully Disney-esque creatures, tree-guardians and little pig-pixies, enchanted woods and beautiful scenery.

Dani: I believe my favourite supporting character was Diaval – Christ, seeing him turn into a raven-horse, a raven-wolf, and a raven-dragon was magnificent. He was also a good foil to Maleficent, able to interact with her without overpowering or being overpowered. Him giving Aurora a pacifier early on also had the entire theatre going, “aaawwwww!” I love the little details on him, like the bird’s claw mark in the middle of his chest, and his slightly beak-y nose.

Mikaius: Despite not caring about Jolie as a power-player in the acting world, she absolutely carries this movie. Obviously, she’s the central role of the movie, but she plays it fantastically. I mean that, she plays it in a fantastical manner, and it both hits home that she’s a tragic figure and also capable of her own great wrongs.

Dani: For me, though, the film really was held up by Jolie’s portrayal of Maleficent. The iconic image of her striding in through the halls, and her magic engulfing her in green flames, was so reminiscent of the 1959 Disney cartoon that I felt like I was propelled back to childhood. For her to fill the screen without even saying anything is a testament to the strength of her acting abilities – and of course, the make-up and iconic wardrobe add so much to the glamour of the character.

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Mikaius: I don’t really know how to textually review this movie, because it was a very simple movie. Basically, it was a really good Disney movie, full of whimsical beauty and with two entertaining central characters.

Dani: All in all, I’d give it a 3.5. Beautiful portrayal of the magical creatures inhabiting the Moors, a believable heroine/villain. Would definitely watch again, if only for the beautiful setting and the magnificent Jolie.

Mikaius: At the end, I give it a 3.5 as well, the visuals are stunning, the actors do their jobs great, and thankfully it isn’t a musical. If I watch it again, it’ll be in the background and I’ll be playing games. Pixar and 90’s Disney this is not, but it is a good fairy tale film.

Final rating: Mikaius and I agree on this one!

Dani: 3/5, would definitely watch again. All hail Queen Jolie!

Mikaius: 3.5/5, would watch again, but as background noise.

Tanya Tree: If I Were an X-Men

(Dani: Tanya Tree is my best friend and my platonic life partner. She’s been with me through many, many things, and she holds a piece of my heart. If luck is on our side, she and I will meet up in January 2014/15, and we will spend four days at Hong Kong’s Ocean Park. That’s the plan, at least. Here she is with a piece on Magneto, specifically from the movie Days of Future Past! There are spoilers after the cut, so read at your own risk.) 

When Dani invited me to write a guest post, I was thrilled (and honoured and felt loved :D). Although as days went on, the thrill? It slowly transformed into anxiety over the topic I was supposed to write about. In fact, I ran to her with my occasional melodrama she’s familiar with, then, having wrapped up my insecurity, bluntly said: “I don’t belong in your blog.”

As I see it (and you guys should too), she’s the epitome of hope and I’m despair. I felt that establishing my presence on her place will drain the life out of her readers.

It wasn’t until the previous month that I garnered the confidence to “blend in”. That being said, I believe my perception of myself as an outcast is the ideal guest blog post.

When I took Monday off, I scooted to the cinema to watch X-Men: Days of Future Past. By many who’ve seen it before me [and dare I say, those who decided not to be mum about it], I was informed of it being a pretty badass film, with an epic line-up and an unflawed storyline.

In past X-Men movies, from X-Men, X2: X-Men United, and the disappointment that was X-Men: The Last Stand to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class, and The Wolverine, I haven’t discovered how much I value a character: Magneto.

Yes, Magneto is the bad-slash-good guy with anger management issues, okay?

Particularly, in X-Men: Days of Future Past, during the part when Magneto unexpectedly turns against Professor X, Wolverine, and Beast, by going after Raven/Mystique, I was (silently) cheering him on. Do whatever you want, man; I’ll be with you every step of the way.

If he sustained any sort of injury, instead of almost automatically saying “Meh. Serves you right. That’s what you get for being a terrible person.”, the words I’ll impart to a hypothetical audience would be along the lines of: “If someone, in any way, leaves the slightest hint of a scar in Magneto’s body, I’ll hold a grudge on him for a long time.”

I can empathize with Magneto – especially when he once said: “[I am] merely a man who has seen and done and endured what can never be forgotten or forgiven.”

Furthermore, I can tell he’s more than just a villain in a world surrounded by his stereotypically good fellows. When he’s angry, he doesn’t hold back; rather, he takes it up a notch, which in my opinion, takes courage, and is therefore, admirable.

That man, whether showcasing his beguiling wit in the Marvel series or is brought to life by either Ian Mc Kellen or Michael Fassbender, is how I define myself. Like him, I’m not an intentionally awful person. I simply have had rough years. Left untriggered, I’ll be the best person you know.

So, If I were an X-Men, I‘d, most definitely, be Magneto. How about you?

To Agree or Disagree: Neighbors Movie Review

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Dani: When Mikaius and I saw Neighbours Neighbors last week, I was fully expecting it to be along the lines of Horrible Bosses, or Bridesmaids. Something he and I could watch for maybe an hour and a half, laugh our heads off, then come home and forget about. Something that was wonderfully relaxing. Something stupidly funny. As it turns out, it wasn’t quite Horrible Bosses, or Bridesmaids, or even Ted. It was an underwhelming movie full of secondhand embarrassment cringe moments, fangirl-ing over Zac Efron’s abs, and a rather thorough discussion of Dave Franco’s acting abilities, who we jokingly called Franco Lite.

Mikaius: Okay, okay. We’re on different pages with this one. Horrible Bosses was not for me, I didn’t like anyone in the cast. Bridesmaids was alright, but it didn’t impress me. Never saw Ted. I liked the cast in this one. Efron was pretty and convincing, he sold the “good dude that’s wrapped up in childish bullshit” thing, while both Rogen and Byrne were on the ball as off-the-ball and awful people/parents. For me, the embarrassment was the point of the movie: as much as I wanted to get up and leave because no-no-no-no-no, I wanted to see it pan out.

Dani: Neighbors is mostly focused on Seth Rogen’s character, Mac, his wife Kelly, and their baby, Stella. When the house beside them is bought by a fraternity, a war of pranks ensues, which the parents justify as efforts to keep their baby asleep at proper hours. Now I’ve had a bit of a crush on Rose Byrne since I first saw her in Insidious, so I knew that if I hated Neighbours, I’d still enjoy looking at her face. Turns out, I spent a lot of time with my body physically averted from the screen whenever she and Rogen were on, because holy crap, I have never been in a movie as cringe-inducing as this one.

Mikaius: I think what I love about it is all that awful doesn’t even really come from the frat. The awfulness comes from our protagonists, from the parents. They are just the worst kind of despicable hanger-ons that can’t let go. I enjoyed hating them, and that is the failure of the movie for me. The parents absolutely never get what they deserve, and the more worthy characters just kinda get on with their lives, some of them in shambles.

Dani: The film was not as enjoyable as I thought it would be. There are golden moments, particularly between Teddy (Efron) and Pete (Franco Lite), but they are exactly that, moments. Efron and Franco work great together as actors, and you get some pretty heavy times between them (“Be in this moment with me!”). Other than that, though the movie was something I would put on the TV and then just walk away from. It didn’t hold my attention much – and it wasn’t bad acting, so much as a weak storyline. Byrne and Rogen make amazing cringe-worthy characters believable, but at the core of it, they’re just two grown-ups who got away with doing awful things.

Mikaius: Teddy and Pete could hold the movie on their own, for me. Bros of a higher caliber, those two. The worst part of the movie was also what kept it kicking. The parents’ absolute inability to just call it quits, and recognize when they have opportunities for amendments as opposed to aggression. Their awful characters are the real “fratboys” of the movie. Honestly, I’m more disappointed in the lack of Teddy and Mac action than anything.

Final rating: Mikaius and I definitely disagree on this one.

Mikaius: 3.5/5, would definitely watch again.

Dani: 2/5, would watch again but only if I can have it on the background while I’m cleaning up or baking.

Ghouls and Tools: Donkey Kong Country Returns

(Dani: This is a guest post from Mikaius. He’s here to review Donkey Kong Country Returns, which we have been playing non-stop for just over a month now. I have nothing to do with any hijinks that may ensue. Enjoy the man I’m in love with, folks!)

I am the Beard of the North, Mikaius. I come with tidings from a tropical land – I have returned from a country of donkeys and kongs. Hereafter I shall lay my tales of this voyage:

Donkey Kong Country Returns (2010) for the Nintendo Wii is wonderful throwback to the classic Kong Country games, but it isn’t without its flaws. Being on the Wii, the system feels like the controllers are shoehorned in. The unnecessary use of the shaking for multiple moves (a rolling attack, slamming the ground and blowing on things) being wildly inaccurate and often occurring when not intended just because the player has shifted their arm, or failing to go through on a time-sensitive boss movement, because the player didn’t shake hard enough.

Staying with the Wii controller, the game makes use of the awful and tinny sounding speaker for player-sounds (collecting items, hitting enemies, etc.). This sounds dull and almost like it’s coming out of a turn of the millennium cell phone.

Often the player characters will snag the edge of an enemy they’re supposed to jump on, or worse, appear to be landing on the enemy by still get hit instead of KO’ing them.

Even though the bosses follow the Nintendo rule-of-three (each boss takes three hits per stage and has three stages), it would be beneficial to the player for them to have a health metre as well. At the very least, this will help the player keep track of which stage the boss is on and how much more to work ‘em over.

Checkpoints can often be a nightmare, as they’re usually once per level, sometimes twice. Having them three times in a level, at the quarter, half and ¾ point would be far more logical and respectful of a player’s time. This would cut down on having to hunt items over and over, and on having to repeatedly traverse the same areas in a lead up to a difficult spot.

Leading in to the problem of death, the game handles player respawns differently than other recent Nintendo platformers, and for the worse. Whereas in the modern Mario games, the player respawns floating towards other players, the respawning barrel in DKCR floats away from the surviving player, and can often float off-screen, resulting in the loss of a balloon/life . Not getting the barrel should not cost a life.

Edit: Eventually discovered that it was possible for the barrel-rider to drift towards the surviving player by waggling the remote. Nowhere is this instructed in the game. 

Being a modern Nintendo product it should learn from its fellows, which is a lesson sorely missing from many, but seen in Kirby’s Epic Yarn. Levels are not lost and lives do not exist, the player can repeat over and over again, the goal being (as it really is in many Nintendo-style platformers) collecting items.

Still on lives, the way they are shared between player one and two are quite messy. When a level is restarted, it costs two balloons/lives. This can quickly result in the default three balloons completely disappearing, leaving the players to repeat the whole level over again.

Rating: 3.5/5 – recommended, as long as you don’t mind waggling remotes.

Though a troubled country, the asses are strong, the kongs are mighty. Where once a king reigned, now kongs are kings. Donkey Kong Country Returns gets three villagers beheaded, and the horse they rode in on.

(Header image taken from Gameranx.)