Sunday, 8 November 2015

How I Became a Witch - and a YouTuber!

Sorry I've been silent here for the past couple of months. A lot has been happening both emotionally and spiritually, and my weight loss hasn't progressed at all. I have started something new, though: my own YouTube channel!

It hasn't even been two weeks since I posted my first video, and already I've received more comments there than I did during two years here at Blogger, even though I haven't yet started to promote my channel in any way (I'm waiting till I have a little more content to start doing that). So, looks like it might end up being worth the effort! Here is one of my most recent videos, go check out the channel to see more.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

The Wedding Date

Keywords: romantic comedy
My rating: ★★★★★

From the back cover:

"Debra Messing (TV's Will & Grace) shines in this hilarious romantic comedy about the surprising road to finding true love. Kat Ellis (Messing) is determined to attend her younger sister's wedding with a date. Rather than face the ridicule of her family and in order to show up her ex-fiancé, she resorts to the Yellow Pages to find a last-minute escort, Nick (Dermot Mulroney, My Best Friend's Wedding). His dashing good looks and quick-witted charm may win over her family. But will they win over Kat? Filled with unexpected twists and endless laughs, The Wedding Date is the one date that you'll want to keep!"

My own impressions:

Every year, a barrage of new romantic comedies hits the market. And most of them are, well, "meh" at best. There are those that are just plain boring, those whose humour is just way below my standards, and those that I just can't manage to connect with for some other reason. The Wedding Date doesn't belong in any of those categories. It's a brilliantly sparkling gem that I'm really happy to have in my DVD collection. The bare bones of the story are the same as in hundreds of other romantic comedies - two strangers are thrown together and fall in love - but they are fleshed out with very colourful and entertaining characters, cleverly written dialogue, a handful of scenes so sensual they give me goosebumps, and just so many little things that have been done so perfectly right... This is a movie that keeps me captivated from the very start all the way to the end. Also, the humour in it is genuinely funny and never leaves the realm of good taste.

I have seen this movie lots of times, and still, every time I watch it, it has a very profound effect on me. It's classy, clever, witty, funny, and sexy - it makes me smile, blush, giggle, laugh out loud... and leaves me elated and very much in the mood for... mmmmm.... (or chocolate). I can't recommend it highly enough. Seriously. You'll just have to watch it and experience it for yourself.

Monday, 27 July 2015

About Comments

I'm sure you haven't noticed, since none of you ever comment on any of my blog posts - There have been two exceptions, but two comments in two years? Just exceptions that confirm the rule - but I have removed the "comment"-feature from this blog. Seeing the "No comments" -text on every single one of my posts - save two - was hurting and depressing me, so I decided to do something about it. It wasn't as if any of my readers were going to be inconvenienced by having their ability to leave comments on this blog removed, as during the past two years it has been established beyond even the tiniest bit of doubt that none of them wish to leave me any words of encouragement or appreciation, or share with me their own thoughts or feelings about any blog post of mine or its subject matter. So, here we are, you no longer having to feel guilty about never leaving me any comments and me no longer having to get hurt by the overwhelming silence that is the sole response I get to all of the body- and soul-baring I do in this blog, as now I can at least pretend that not receiving any comments is my own choice. It's a win-win!

Today, I will leave you with a beautiful video that illustrates the effects the feedback received from other people has on a person's emotions. If you ever decide to comment on how someone looks or on what they have said, written or done, please remember that all of us have feelings, and your comments as well as the complete lack of them have the power to make or break another person's day.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

14 by Peter Clines

Keywords: mystery, science fiction
My Rating: ★★★★☆ story, ★★★★☆ narration

by Peter Clines
read by Ray Porter

Publisher's summary:

"Padlocked doors. Strange light fixtures. Mutant cockroaches.

There are some odd things about Nate's new apartment. Of course, he has other things on his mind. He hates his job. He has no money in the bank. No girlfriend. No plans for the future. So while his new home isn't perfect, it's livable. The rent is low, the property managers are friendly, and the odd little mysteries don't nag at him too much. At least, not until he meets Mandy, his neighbor across the hall, and notices something unusual about her apartment. And Xela's apartment. And Tim's. And Veek's. Because every room in this old Los Angeles brownstone has a mystery or two. Mysteries that stretch back over a hundred years. Some of them are in plain sight. Some are behind locked doors. And all together these mysteries could mean the end of Nate and his friends. Or the end of everything...."

My own impressions:

A contemporary science fiction novel set  in a creepy, old apartment building where every apartment has its own mysterious phenomenon to solve? Heck yeah, gimme gimme!

I had very high expectations going into this story, and for the most part, it didn't let me down. It's very original, fluently written, entertaining, and never boring. Full of suspense and mystery. The only thing that stood out for me in a not-so-good way was one scene that was so clichĂ© I immediately thought "Oh no, please tell me you didn't! I've read and seen this elsewhere so many times, I know how this is going to go..." at its start, and then it went exactly the way I'd predicted, and I was disappointed. In a story otherwise so fresh and original, that scene felt like even more of a let-down. On the other hand, it was just one scene and only took up a fraction of the story's length, while the rest of the book was, at least to me, very interestingly original. So, four stars for the story.

Ray Porter did a really good job bringing the different characters to life during dialogue, but the actual "narration" parts - everything other than dialogue, that is - sounded to me quite flat and even a bit mechanical. So, four stars for the narration also.

In conclusion, I recommend this book to anyone who is not averse to suspenseful (in parts, almost scary) stories of the paranormal and extra-terrestrial and who is looking for something fresh and interesting in that field.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Done! (or at least I hope so)

So, the exams are done and now I just have to wait for them to be graded. I didn't do too well on one of them, but I hope I passed anyway. Trying not to worry too much about it and just take things easy as all I can do now is wait and see.

Just as if to help me deal with my anxiety over the exam results, Steam has put a couple of great video games on sale for this weekend. Spelunky is 75% off and Road Not Taken is 50% off, so of course I had to get them both as the grand total for them was only 10,98 €. I'm off to play!

Cute, deadly, exasperating and hilarious dungeon-delving platformer fun! Finding treasure and relics! Rescuing damsels in distress! And, hopefully, avoiding all the deadly traps and killing or escaping all the deadly enemies on the way!

Road Not Taken
Beautiful, atmospheric, relaxing yet quite demanding puzzle-solving adventure! Befriend the colourful cast of villagers! Rescue the lost children! Discover all the secrets! And try to solve the puzzles without dying in the process!

Friday, 17 April 2015

Almost There!

My French studies are so close to being done... It feels almost unreal, I've been waiting so long for the day I no longer have to go to classes, write papers or study like crazy for exams, and now it's only one week away. One week!

I passed my final oral test, and I'm extremely relieved for that, because I speak way worse than I write. I had to give a little speech for which I had a bit of time to prepare about one of two subjects chosen by the two grading teachers, and then answer any questions they asked about it. I got really lucky, as one of the subjects was happiness, which is something I have contemplated a lot and also written a Philosophy seminar paper about some years ago (for anyone interested, the precise subject of the paper was Schopenhauer's philosophy of happiness). I was so afraid that they'd find my speaking skills lacking and fail me that it really was a blessing to be given a subject I am so thoroughly familiar with. The minutes I had for preparation I spent worrying myself into a state of near-panic, and immediately after the test was over and I had left the classroom I started shaking so badly I thought my legs would give out any moment. Finding out I hadn't failed was a huge relief.

Now all I have left are some final lectures and a couple of written exams. Home stretch, here I come!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Three Months of Silence, What Happened - Long Story Short

Money troubles. School. The sudden realisation that these are the last months of my French studies, that this is it, I need to get everything done and at least a passing grade for all the courses. Stress. Worry. Fear of failing. Feelings of inadequacy. Complete loss of energy. You know, the usual stuff one goes through as the end of a university study programme draws near. It kind of overwhelmed me for a while. Today, however, has been a day much brighter than any I can remember from these past months, and I believe I can start keeping up with my blogging again. Fingers crossed!

So, during these past three months I have...
... not lost any weight. (Boo! But not surprising considering the stuff I mentioned above.)
... written several French essays and one proseminar paper.
... helped a friend move house.
... watched some Once Upon a Time, The X-Files, Criminal Minds and NCIS with friends. (Yay, good times!)
.. traded in some of my old video games to get two new ones for my Nintendo 3DS - Disney Magical World and Animal Crossing: New Leaf. (Such cuteness in both games, I will write more about them someday soon!)
... actually been to a couple of gatherings of a local cross stitching group I am a member of and had been neglecting for a couple of years. (Yay, such fun! Tsk at myself for neglecting them for so long!)

I guess that's about it. I haven't exactly had the energy to do much. But hey, only a couple of weeks of school left! That's exhilarating, stress-inducing and terrifying all at the same time. Need to try and take it one day at a time.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Fitness Blender - An Introduction

I have mentioned Fitness Blender once or twice here in my blog, and I have a link to their website in the right sidebar, but I've never actually talked about them in depth before. A proper introduction is something they completely deserve, though, as they've become a huge influence on my fitness life, so here goes.

Fitness Blender is a wonderfully sympathetic and down-to-earth team of two personal trainers, Kelli and Daniel, wife and husband, that provides effective, varied, fun free workouts and other fitness- and health-related content. Their website can be found here, and they also have a Youtube channel here. I stumbled upon them one day as I was googling for something fun and effective to vary my workout routine with, and now their workouts are my main source of exercise.

As to the whys and hows behind what they do, I think it's best to let Kelli and Daniel themselves tell you about them:

I love Fitness Blender workout videos because they are not only free, incredibly diverse and effective, but also very unpretensious. As the workout progresses, you can see Daniel and Kelli get sweaty and red in the face (just like you!), and hear them make various comments on how their muscles are starting to get tired (just like yours!). You really get the feeling that they are working out with you, not just showing you the moves. This may sound like a small thing, but trust me, it makes a huge difference in terms of how much I enjoy the workout and how much the video motivates me to do my best and push my limits with every exercise.

Another great thing about Fitness Blender is that it is so clearly visible that both Kelli and Daniel are very enthusiastic about their work and not just in it for the money. This is evident on all their videos, but especially on the one they published back in December on which they tell us about all the new content and features they will be adding to their website during this spring:

And that concludes this introduction to Fitness Blender. Now go on to their website and start trying out their workouts - they're all completely free and very good for you!

Friday, 2 January 2015

Darkness and Light

This Holiday season, I've felt a really strong need to spend time by myself and shut everything and everyone else out for a while. And that's what I've done for the past couple of weeks, as much as I've been able to. I feel a little guilty about that, but at the same time, I know that this has been the right thing to do.

You see, I am not as grounded and confident as I may seem based on the texts I write in this blog. Part of me is, yes, and that is the part I choose to share here, because isn't it better to radiate light instead of darkness? Yet, just like everyone else, I, too, am a little more complex than that. In addition to this light that I choose to share with people, I also carry a bit of darkness within me. This darkness is made of self-doubt, insecurity, guilt, and disappointment. It keeps growing with time, and needs to be fully analysed and dealt with from time to time to prevent it from getting out of control.

I don't go to professional therapists - does anyone else have a strong dislike for the word therapist, the-rapist, or is it just me and my linguist's training? - I am a very introspective person and prefer the do-it-myself approach with these matters. Not that there's anything wrong with going to therapy if you need to, I know that it can be very helpful and in some cases even a life-saver, I just feel a personal preference for working on my issues by myself. This is not surprising when taking into account my introspective, analytic introvert nature.

So, for the past couple of weeks I've made sure that as many days as possible have been schedule-free with an empty to-do list. I've turned my attention to the darkness within me, invited it into the light, looked at it and listened to it and felt all the emotions that it consists of and tried my best to trace them to their sources. It's been exhausting and all-consuming. When I do this kind of intense examination of my own psyche, I can't just turn it on for a little while and then turn it off again to return to it later. No. When I really commit to it and get it started, I can't stop till I'm done. The memories and emotions just keep coming, one after another, until everything's been dealt with. Some days, I've stayed in bed well into the afternoon, too tired to face the day as well as my own inner darkness. But it's been worth it. I feel lighter, more grounded and more sure of myself than I have in a while. Of course the darkness is still there, but it's smaller and no longer threatening to take over. I have dealt with its causes as much as my present circumstances allow, and made actual, detailed, concrete plans to deal with the things that can't be dealt with right now as soon as the circumstances allow me to. Even though I can't fix everything right away, having a real plan to do so as soon as possible helps too.

Starting the new year like this, all freshly analysed and my issues dealt with as much as possible, feels good. Perhaps I'll make this a habit. Christmas holiday doesn't have to be a time of fest and feast and cheer and socialising, it can instead be a time of peace and quiet and introspection and therapy, right?

I didn't make any New Year's resolutions. It's not something I'm in the habit of doing. I do plan to lose the rest of my excess weight by summer, though, and continue the healthy eating and exercise throughout the year. And I also have one wish. It's the same one I've had for a few years now. That, finally, this year, someday, someplace, they'll want to hire me. I apply for jobs constantly, and always get rejected. This is quite tough for the psyche, not being wanted anywhere, and definitely the biggest cause behind the darkness inside me. Perhaps this year, it will go away. It's hard to keep believing though, hard to keep convincing myself that I'm good enough to get hired, when all the evidence is to the contrary. Despite that, I haven't yet lost the ability to wish for a nice job. That's good, because sometimes, on rare occasions, wishes do come true. Perhaps this year mine will.