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Posts Tagged ‘Tea With Dee’

Several years ago I was addicted to online gaming, in particular Ragnarok Online, PristonTale, and FlyFF. But then one came along that would blow my socks off. No, it wasn’t the all consuming and powerful World of Warcraft, it was a beast of a completely different nature. By tugging on my childhood heartstrings, by going back to my best loved film trilogy, Lord of the Rings Online exploded onto my screen. Like a bad romance, I knew it would be doomed from the start. The only problem is I didn’t want to ever believe it would get as bad as it did.

The honeymoon period was incredible. My favourite go-to race, Elves, were present, but with more customisation than I thought would be possible. Elf? From Rivendell or Lorien? Oh back up there, pointy ears, you can choose from four origins. No two characters would ever be the exact same, and I relished in this. My most beloved character was Kisa, a lore-master, human. With short hair, freckles, little flicked up nose, and a huge bear at her side, she was the absolute bee’s knees in my eyes. Kisa trained to be a Scholar; a crafting vocation where you find broken pots, pitchers, urns, and collect ancient texts, tablets, then transform the knowledge into battle scrolls, or other useful buffs, dyes and paints. I was addicted. I remember shouting to my boyfriend at the time, ‘I can’t do that right now, I’m hunting for pot!’ I dread to think what the neighbours thought.

But years went by and I lost my touch with LotRO. I forgot about Kisa, the bear, the pot. My addiction had subsided and I had moved on to a different game. It wasn’t until six months ago I returned to the land of the free. And that is exactly why I didn’t want to go back; it had become free-to-play. If you have played online games, you’ll understand why I didn’t want to go to a dumbed down version of a once beloved game. My memories of the game, if I go back would it be as good? I was to find out.

I missed migration. I completely missed the opportunity to save my account. I tried signing in, but nothing happened. Once I got in to contact with Turbine, I realised it wasn’t there any more. Kisa, the bear, gone. My gold, my items, everything, lost forever. Well, there was only one thing left to do! Start again! I don’t mind doing that since I was so in love with the game. But I underestimated just how much it had changed from vanilla to free-to-play. I’m sure it’s just a few tweaks. I was oh so wrong.

It was like stepping out of a bubble onto an alien planet you once belonged to in a past life. There was something familiar about the place but everything was wrong. Very wrong. I convinced myself to pay for one month, this month, to see if I can rekindle my love for the game. Creating my character, another lore-master, took mere minutes. I knew what I wanted, I knew where I wanted her to go, and how to play. And yes, I wanted her to be a Scholar. It started out fine, I remembered what the keys did like it was only yesterday I had stopped. I played for two days straight. It wasn’t until the second day I stumbled back upon the housing market. Yes, in the game you can own your very own house. I decided to scope out a little village to see what the houses were like. Sure I couldn’t afford any, but it’s window shopping. I have never been so depressed while window shopping.

The houses were empty, cold shells of their former glory. Banners of battles won waved in the gardens of homes of other players. But you couldn’t gain access. The most common reason? Players didn’t pay upkeep on their homes any more. How do you pay upkeep? By playing. House after house, none of them let me look around. I walked around this ghost town, thinking it was the only village to be like this. I was wrong. Village after village, house after house, it dawned on me; I’m the only one here. I began to panic, what about my crafting?

I only craft to make insane amounts of money to fund my expeditions to farm for extremely rare loot (I’m the biggest treasure hunter ever). I checked my mail box and sure enough; full. Not full of money, full of the ingredients I had put up for sale. None of it sold. I was truly alone.

I remember the early days when a great number of people played, when the Shire was full of dwarves, men, elves, all helping each other, going off on adventures, banding together in fellowships. There was a soul to Bree, where people with flutes, lutes, clarinets and drums would come together and play their music, turning modern classics into acoustic gems. None of it remained. As I walk the roads of Middle Earth, I feel alone. Not even killing goblins lifts my spirits. One month is all I’ll need. One month is all I can take, before the four walls close in on me and I start talking to my shadow for lack of online contact.

Whatever happened to LotRO? Whatever happened to the merry players? Is it just my server? Or have the black gates finally closed on this once loved mmorpg?

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Despite not having yet seen the film, I saw the trailer of a ground-breaking movie back in late October last year (I can say last year now and not think it was yesterday!) and am utterly hooked until it comes out. The film? Cloud Atlas. I am a massive fan of cinema, especially when it comes to setting new boundaries. The Matrix is always to go-to for any word on cinematic history and of course it deserves all its praise. But that was over 10 years ago. What could cinema possibly have up its sleeve now?

To answer that, I’d like to take you back a few years when I was at University still. I had heard of the film Inception but had no idea how much it would influence not only my writing, but my life (perhaps not as dramatic as you may think though). In interviews, director Christopher Nolan admitted his previous films were all practise for his trump card Inception. Practise? Are you sure? Batman The Dark Knight Rises was just practise? Surely not! But it was indeed so, and then Inception was birthed. I remember vividly seeing it for the first time at the IMAX in Southampton. I was utterly bewitched and the ending blew me away. I couldn’t remember the last time cinema had such a profound effect on me, so I went back, again and again, to see if I had missed anything; a small detail perhaps that would unlock its mystery. What I found was even more incredible.

Spoiler alert for those who don’t know the ending of Inception: It didn’t matter. The ending did not matter. This is what probably confused a lot of viewers and, ultimately, put them off. But I found it even more intoxicating. It didn’t matter? How can an ending not even matter? The whole story revolves around Dom Cobb, and throughout we see how tortured he is about leaving his children behind. When we hit the finale and see the kids’ faces brighten up that dad is back, the camera leaves the happy reunion and focusses on the spinning top. Before we can see if this is real or not, the film cuts out and ends! So was it real? Was it a dream within a million other dreams? Simple answer: It doesn’t matter. Why? Because Cobb’s story arch is complete. He believes it to be real, so we have to accept it as reality too. Have to? Well think of it this way, in our own lives, in our own world, we perceive it to be real. But what is reality anyway and how can you prove it? Thinking of the Matrix again? Yep. It simply doesn’t matter.

Cloud Atlas is proving to be another one of those films, where audiences will laugh, love, cry, and go through a roller-coaster ride of emotions until, at the bitter end, when we see how everything and everyone is connected, we accept the lessons and leave the cinema feeling inspired, elated, perhaps even thoughtful. I got the vibe straight away from the trailer, and with such an all star cast, I had to read the book first. I am a mere two thirds of the way through and it is fast becoming my favourite book of all time. The complexities of writing, how the author willingly chose to stick his middle finger up to the world of literary and say ‘This is how I want to present my book! Screw you and your prose-has-to-be-THIS-way nonsense!’ And hats off to you, David Mitchell!

For me, spotting the twist in the plot comes easily, and I am already pretty aware of how all the stories will end, and for that reason I am incredibly excited about the film coming out here in the UK in February. If the author pushed the boundaries, I’m certain it will translate to screen in a similar way. Here’s hoping!

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Don’t you just love celebrities? Movie stars, TV soap actors, singers, auto-tune non-talented singers, I mean there are so many celebrities for so many different reasons it’s no wonder pretty much anyone can have their 15 minutes of fame. I am, without a doubt, a fan of Strictly Come Dancing. I used to do Scottish Highland and Country dancing (I got to the swords, couldn’t get it at all and unfortunately I quit). But I do so love to watch people dance on Strictly. From Foxtrot to the Jive, I always look forward to seeing what the celebs get up to. What do I find most enjoyable? Watching my favourite pro dancers.

Brendan

One of which is Brendan Cole. Apparently he was quite the womaniser and has an ego bigger than Jupiter (I believe NASA is aware of this), but there is something in his energy, his sharpness, his determination. I won’t pretend to know what he’s like, and frankly I don’t care to, I just like watching him dance. Yesterday evening I thought to myself, as my phone went through all the music on shuffle, ‘God, I would so love to dance with Brendan Cole to this song.’ So distracted was I by this thought that I tweeted it. Ah, the power of Twitter. One simple tweet to a celebrity and you feel like you’re somehow conversing with them. Who cares if they don’t immediately get back to you? It’s just lovely to say hi. I must admit, it’s also pretty scary. I’ve seen some fans get rather, well, emotionally attached and thus very fan-girly. It can get rather frightening! I’m more of a ‘I admire you for your work!’ kind of girl as opposed to the ‘HOLY OMG I WANT TO HAVE YOUR BABIES!’ Although my tweet was purely for my own amusement, what I didn’t count on was a response.

Tweet

‘Thanks : )’ How utterly adorable. Brendan Cole, pro dancer on Strictly and one of my all time favourites, tweeted me. Me. For two seconds out of his life, he looked at his Twitter account, looked over his many daily tweets (I’m assuming here), saw my comment, and decided to respond to his fan. I won’t deny I was on a high for at least an hour about it, but it made me wonder… Do celebrities realise how much ‘power’ they truly have?

x men

I don’t mean like an X-Men power, or the power  to dominate all life, but the power to make someone’s day with one simple gesture. I wonder, do they realise it? I admire Brendan’s dancing and he has real flair, for a simple ‘Thanks : )’ it made the rest of the evening awesome. Can’t rain on my parade tonight, Brendan said thanks. How sad! And yet, if your favourite celebrity acknowledged you for two seconds, I guarantee you’d be the same. Having said that, my dad met Eric Clapton. In a bar. In Russia. Dad was already at the bar, when a man sat nearby. He looked over, as you would, and instead of a random person, it was Eric Clapton. They had a nice chat, since the bodyguards practically sealed the entrance from fans or media coming in. I’m sure my dad felt awesome for a while after! And how nice of Clapton to take time to, not boast around saying ‘Oh look at me, I’m a celebrity don’t you know!’, instead take a minute to just chill out and have a human conversation.

At the end of the day, that’s what we all are. I’m no celebrity and have no intention of becoming one, but it’s nice to make a little good for someone else. I like doing kind things for strangers in the hope I can brighten their day. Even just a little. Like Brendan did for me.

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In literature, tv and film, we are introduced to characters who steal our hearts. It might be the way they wink at the screen, the rugged adventurer, the fair haired princess, the badass sea captain, the dangerous rogue. Whatever the character, whatever the setting, they give  themselves up for offer and we lap it up. Here’s an example…

This hottie is Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings, well, it’s Viggo Mortensen playing the character of Aragorn. My mother in particular is rather fond of this character and I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t mind being swept off her feet, rescued by the super rugged heir to the throne. Was it his mysterious nature, his skill with a sword, the romantic love affair with the Elven maiden? Who knows. But let’s think of this for a second. Would my mum really want to live in Middle Earth? If she were to be the love interest of Aragorn, surely most of the time she has to stay at home, worry sick as to when her lover will return, or wonder if he returns at all. Will be lose a limb battling goblins? He wouldn’t be working your typical 9-5 job so the over time hours and trips away from home would put a strain on their relationship. Will she eventually just say, ‘I know you’re a career man but for God’s sake Aragorn, let’s just settle down.’ And what if he did? He’s lost his skill with the sword, mum will feed him lots of yummy food and he might get fat because of his lack of adventuring. Yikes. Obese and boring Aragorn? No thank you! So surely it’s best to just leave it to fantasy?

I wish others would just see it as such. Celebrities, film stars, characters in novels, there’s something about them all that puts them in the same group of the ‘untouchables’. Here’s another example, one that’s more personal so I can describe it better. Lord Baelish of Game of Thrones, my my my. I have only read a part of the first novel but it wasn’t the novel that had me hooked. It was Aidan Gillen portraying the character on the tv series that was utterly yummy to watch. The subtle glances, the knowing smirk, the scheming, the stalking in the shadows; there’s something about Baelish. Intelligence is hot, but when it’s in the form of Irish actor Aidan Gillen, it gets hotter.

Now, as hot as that all is to me, it is strictly fantasy. He doesn’t actually exist, and even if I could be magically teleported into the world of Game of Thrones, I don’t think I’d do well there. Too much back stabbing. Plus I’m no princess or heir to the throne, I’d be of no interest to him. But let’s just imagine I am of great interest to him and he wasn’t so hooked up on Cat, then what? He wouldn’t have his reasons for doing the wonderfully cunning things he does. Then, like the fat Aragorn, he’d be a home bound man. Though you couldn’t make an honest man of Baelish even if you tried to beat it in to him, he does have his own, erm, business after all. So then what, I’m married to man I can never trust whose business is to profit off, uh, open women? That’s not the fantasy I’m buying in to. I’m buying in to the secret meetings at night, the forbidden romance, the super hot se- okay. Anyway, that is what I would call a good fantasy.

So now that we’ve explored the fantasy side (in too much detail, I know, I’m sorry), let’s look at it in a different way. We’re all attracted to qualities in people, characters, whatever, and it’s those attractions that are very interesting to dissect. My mum, like many women, was probably attracted to the badassery and ruggedness of Aragorn. I was attracted to the scheming intellect in Baelish. So many characters exist with many different qualities. It is perfectly healthy to have a crush on fantasy characters, celebrities, etc, so before you think ‘Oh God, I am so weird!’ odds are, you’re not.

The one thing we must keep in mind is, whilst some fans would love to live the fantasy, the fantasy should stay as it is. The reality is never what we think it is. We get these huge expectations in our minds but the thing is, it won’t be what you expect. It never could be. Mum can’t teleport to Middle Earth and go off with Aragorn and keep his character completely the same, just like I can’t be having a mysterious love affair with Lord Baelish. They don’t exist, their worlds don’t exist, none of it is real.

But my, my, it sure is fun to fantasise.

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I am extremely privileged to say I have had a great upbringing. Based on principles and honesty, my family and I are a tight unit. I treat them as family and as friends, because if I have a problem I know I can turn to them. But we also have fun. One of my favourite things to do in the world is be around my family playing card games (but shh, don’t tell them. I always pretend not to like it as I did when I was a child!). One of the things my father in particular kept saying was something like, ‘Live your life well enough that, when you look at yourself in the mirror, you are happy with what you see.’

It’s true. Life can bring unexpected events that make you perhaps react in a way you wouldn’t have thought. Say you got a new job but after a few months you realise that it’s not what you want in life. How do you react? Do you try your best to just button down and keep going? Or do you think, ‘I deserve better, damn it!’ and quit. Do you quit before finding a new job, or quit and hope you’ll find your way after? It doesn’t matter what I would advise, what matters is if you can look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and be happy with your decision. It is easy for anyone who isn’t you to tell you their opinion or what they would do in your situation. But that’s just it. They are not you. Only you will know what is right for you.

For a year I’ve been in a stasis-like condition, where I’ve been living but not truly living. I’ve been scraping by but my social life has suffered greatly, my savings are now threatened by moving, taking a gamble on a dream of London. Then I looked at myself in the mirror. I did not like what I saw. I’d be throwing away my money for the privilege of living in a place where, yes I have a lot of friends but, is ultimately way too expensive to continue to add to my savings. In fact, I’d be doing more damage to my savings than assisting it. What if I want to put the deposit down for my first house? I couldn’t do that. I wouldn’t even be able to save up for it.

It took an injury to my knee, that I am still nursing after just over a week in bed (it’s horrendous, I am not a stay-still patient), to realise that I am not happy doing what I’m doing. What helps me through? My family.

Now I’m hugely lucky because I consider myself having two families. My actual blood relations, but my kind of adopted family in my partner’s family who have taken me in, loved me, accepted me, put up with me, put a roof over my head and looked after me just like I was always part of their family. No matter what my decisions have been or are going to be, I know I’m supported by two family units. And that is priceless.

I have guidance and love; two things vitally important to me to make sure that, when I do look in the mirror, I can change it knowing I will never be alone.

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Life takes you to odd and wonderful places, most of the time we’re just passengers in the journey. Sometimes life will throw you a curve-ball and in my case, its name is London.

Having recently graduated from University, almost a year has gone by where I’ve umm-ed and ah-ed to try to find out what it is I’m good at. I mean really good at. One thing I’m really good at is believing that life is too short to be miserable. I have to love what I’m doing 100% of the time. Now couple that with zero suitable jobs for said graduate in the location I’m in, London came knocking. I have many friends in London who always ask ‘When are you coming to stay over?’ but something always came up. Almost a year has gone by and I realise the longer I stay here, the longer I’ll be going against what I believe in. Don’t get me wrong, I live with the best people in the universe, people who are second family to me and I love and appreciate with all my heart. The only down side is there is nobody in the surrounding towns who I can mingle with. No job meant no colleagues and the one job I did get, well, I always suggested things to do but nobody was ever interested in socialising.

Being a social butterfly all my life, I felt like I was going backwards; somehow spinning my own cocoon of anti-social behaviour. I was happy to stay inside and just spend time with the people immediately around me. That would bring my friend count up to four, if you include the cat. Things had to change for me.

So I set out to get a job in London, which I recently landed! I’m extremely excited about starting (this weekend) in one of the company’s busiest branches. Only one slight hitch. I now need a place to stay. And getting a room in London is horrendously difficult when you’re on a super tight budget. Job and location I love, teenie tiny room with little money spare. Money doesn’t buy you happiness, but it would sure help getting me a good flat.

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There are times when reading a book, playing a video game or watching TV will reduce you to a blubbering ball of tears. We become so emotionally attached to these characters that, when something bad happens, it feels like it’s happening to a friend. The worst thing is all we can do is watch or read on. We have no control. The helplessness is one of life’s cruel jokes. But there is a particular game that takes your heart, wrenches it out of your chest, then stamps on it, puts a few bullets in there and, to completely finish you off, sets fire to it.

For two whole games we have been on a journey with our custom Commander Shepard, meeting a variety of different space travelling races, exploring worlds all over the darned place, and being introduced to character after character. Then the last instalment hits our consoles and boom; Heart broken. I won’t call spoiler alert, it’s been months since Mass Effect 3 was released. This game is one of my favourite games of all time. Why? Because whilst ME1 and ME2 set the whole thing up, you develop proper relationships with the characters, you are immersed in the story, ME3 takes it all and ends it in the most spectacular way.

In Mass Effect 2, there was a particular character that, to me, just seemed like a bit annoying. Okay, very annoying. Like a space hamster on speed; Mordin Solus. I didn’t much like him at first, he talked too fast, spoke in the weird Salarian way, and generally just grated on me. We didn’t click. Not like Thane Krios and I. Oh how we clicked… Ahem. Mordin’s moral compass is as unpredictable as Britain’s weather. But after playing ME2 over and over, making different choices here, romancing different choices there, Mordin slowly came forward in to my care zone. And soon I found myself liking him enough to care for his story.

Mass Effect 3 stole my Mordin away. Through times of war, circumstances change. In peace things present themselves differently, and in ME3, it changes even more. Mordin makes the change and he knows what he must do. Yes there is a way to save Mordin from his death, but long story short I will never choose it. It’s not that I decided last minute ‘Eh, screw you Mordin and your grey morality’. His story arc is the most rewarding and emotionally powerful that it blasts all else out of the water. Yes we’re technically invested in all the story arcs, but Mordin sacrifices himself after an almighty ‘I made a mistake!’; a line that still gives me shivers. And this song will always make me sad.

*sniffs* I’m still not over it.

This isn’t a real person, Mordin does not exist, never has, and yet seeing his death will always move me to tears. The first time I saw it happen, I cried like it was my brother who died. I cried so hard, I couldn’t play. I was literally an emotional wreck, sobbing into tissue after tissue, acting like a big baby. But it’s kind of nice; to be able to care so much for a character, you know the writers have done a great, no, perfect job of it. I’m sure I’m not the only person to have felt so emotionally attached to a character, so let me know if you have a character who, after something awful happened to them, made you cry.

In the meantime… *loops the song, sips tea, sighs forlornly*

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