Saturday, 30 August 2014

What to Watch on TV - Netflix

Okay, I know I currently have another Netflix series in the works right now, but subjecting myself to truly terrible films takes a toll on the ole emotional well-being. I was going to write a review on LOL but I just about had a brain aneurysm, so I thought I'd hold off. That review is coming though, but it means I have to watch it again and that's going to take some psyching up to do. But, in the meantime, I thought I'd compile a list of shows on Netflix that are worthy of being watched. Some of these may develop into adult sized reviews later on, but this is what you're getting for now, deal with it. So now, in no particular order ...

1. Orange Is The New Black

orange is the new black prison taylor schilling laura prepon comedy drama
When I find myself in times of trouble, Red comes to me speaking words of
wisdom, "Punch her in the tit."
Okay, if you haven't heard of Orange is the new Black, then I'm not sure what rock you've been living under, but it's time to get some WiFi down there and start watching it. Lady goes to prison is about as much as I'm willing to give you concerning the plot because I don't want to be held accountable for spoilery goodness. Boasting a wonderfully diverse cast, some of the best writing I've ever seen on TV and more than a few award nominations (and wins), the show has done pretty damned well for itself considering that it was introduced to the world as a Netflix original series that no-one knew how well it would do. Hell, move over Kevin Spacey and Jason Bateman, OITNB generated more viewers and hours in its first week than Netflix's other original series, Arrested Development and House of Cards. An excellent blend of black humour and soul crushing drama, OITNB is a show that needs to be watched and with both seasons on Netflix, now is the time to be watching it!

2. The Good Wife

the good wife lawyer drama politics
The Good Wife is one of those shows that
makes me think I could be a lawyer.
The Good Wife is one of those shows that people assume is aimed at middle aged ladies to watch whilst they do their knitting, but I assure you that is not the case, and that assumption breaks my heart. It's an incredible drama circling around Alicia Florrick, a lawyer who now needs to get back into the game to provide for her family after husband Peter Florrick, the former States Attorney, lands himself behind bars at the heart of a humiliating sex scandal. It's so good. Everyone that I've recommended it to has loved it, and that's a lot of people because I recommend it to everyone. Good, diverse cast as well, especially age-wise; I find it's not common seeing older women in positions of power and that the writers aren't afraid to write romantic plots for because, "ew there 2 old 4 luv.", so Diane Lockhart is a wonderful figure to see. The plots are always excellent and I've never felt like they were rushed (or strung out too long), or that they were totally contrived or jumping the shark. The writing has always been on top of its game, with each season being stronger than the last. Unfortunately Netflix doesn't have the most recent season up, but hopefully that'll get fixed very soon.

3. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia 

it's always sunny in philadelphia comedy netflix
This poster is so misleading.
The previous two shows I've recommended have been fairly...I hesitate to say serious because bother OITNB and The Good Wife have copious amounts of humour in them; let's go with mature. Okay, where the previous two shows have been fairly mature, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is not. All the characters are horrible, horrible people. Like, that's about as much as I can give you. It features around four friends who own a bar, and then later on, Danny DeVito, because why the fuck not? The humour is derived from the fact that they are terrible people and that in real life no-one would do the stuff that they do. I think that some of the characters can be a little inconsistent, because in some scenarios, one character is really stupid and the other is more responsible, and then in another situation, the roles will be switched, but it's not really that big of a deal. That's all I'm going to say for this one because otherwise I'll spoil episodes.

4. House of Cards

house of cards kevin spacey netflix drama politics
From what I know of Kevin Spacey's character,
this poster makes me uncomfortable.
I've already done a review of House of Cards for this blog, so I'll keep this relatively short so I don't end up repeating myself. Dark political drama/thriller, Kevin Spacey is unapologetically evil and it doesn't fail to shock me. It's incredibly political with, shock horror, a lot of political language, so as someone whose knowledge of American Politics is fairly limited, I do get a little lost sometimes when it comes to the plots, but I can usually muddle my way through. I've lost my way with House of Cards a little, I've not watched it in a while because the Netflix account I was watching it on has been cancelled, so I'm using a different account, so I can't remember what episode I was on. I'll need to get back into it soon.

5. Orphan Black

orphan black clones tatiana maslany sci-fi
This poster never fails to disconcert me. Bravo.
Similarly to House of Cards, I have also reviewed Orphan Black previously, so again I'll keep this short to avoid repeating what I've already said. Great acting, especially from Tatiana Maslany, who is a creative force to be reckoned with and definitely someone to watch out for. Great writing too, very clever - takes a couple of episodes to really get the ball rolling though, so do stick with it. Unfortunately Netflix isn't entirely up to date in terms of seasons as season one is only available, but there is only two seasons so hopefully it should be getting added soon.

Honourable mentions:
Black Books
Black Mirror
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The Booth at the End

Hope that's enough T.V watching to tide you through university to ensure you don't learn a thing! If I've missed anything, do let me know, I always love hearing recommendations of stuff to watch. Till next week!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Sunshine (and Sing-a-Longs) on Leith

Sunshine on leith 2013 film poster

Everyone likes a feel-good movie on occasion. Don't lie, you bitter old hag lying in a dusty bedroom, hiding under filthy sheets stained beige by countless nights of drowning your crippling sadness with the sweet, sweet release of various fried goods dipped in barbecue sauce. Mmmm... But yes, sometimes all you need to perk yourself up is a bit of an emotional cleanse in the form of a loud, cheesy and utterly stupid pile of eye-noise. Guess what I watched yesterday?

Sunshine on leith 2013 film title screenshot
The squiggly writing means happy.
For those of you not living in Scotland, there are two things we Scots all enjoy regardless of class or creed: blaming the English for everything bad that ever happens and listening to our rat-faced national treasures, The Proclaimers. Now the upcoming independence referendum is kindly dealing with the former, so to get your fix of peppy tunes sung in thick Scottish accents you need look no further than Sunshine on Leith, the Mamma Mia! of alcoholism and poverty. It came out at the same time as the gloriously disturbing Filth, but I would probably recommend you try not to confuse the two if you at all can; your gran might be less entertained by hallucinations and heavy drug use than she would people singing about marriage in a pub. Unless she's the coolest gran ever.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Putting the PRO in Procrastination - YouTube

I am dreadfully sorry about my lack of posting last week. Basically what happened was this - I was staying at a house which wasn't my own and only had access to what can only be described as the first laptop to ever be assembled, with the single slowest internet connection I've ever experienced, and as a result of this meant it wasn't particularly compatible with Blogger. Like, not even in the slightest. Posting just wasn't an option, there was no way I was getting one up, so I do apologise, sincerely! If the feeling of injustice has risen within you, feel free to take to the comments and leave punishment suggestions (please be gentle). But for now, shall we get on with the post?

Hey, you, you there! Yes, you! Is there something you should be doing right now? Of course there is, and if not, you're either a filthy liar or you have your shit together and either way, I don't wish to be associated with you. I'm taking the form of the little devil on your shoulder that totally kicks the little angel's ass and I'm giving you five (five seems like a good list-y number, okay?!) YouTube channels to check out instead of doing, psch, work. So, in no particular order, here we go!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Film Favourites: Pardon Us

laurel and hardy pardon us film 1931 poster
This poster was made during Tamara de Lempicka's opium-and-cough-syrup period.

The Film

Sorry, can we take a moment to look at Stan Laurel's face on that poster again?

laurel and hardy pardon us 1931 poster close up face
This is the face of a man who hears nothing but the screaming of the tormented.
What is this monster? That's not a cheeky caricature of the better half of a classic comedy duo, that's someone who's seen more horrors than you could even imagine. This person is so damaged that their face is permanently frozen in a blank, unblinking stare that barely hides the broken mind tearing itself apart underneath. Never before has an image so perfectly captured a person completely broken by exposure to a lifetime of unfathomable terror.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Bake While You Blog: Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies

Difficulty - 2/5
Duration - 1/5

They say true art takes time. They say good things come to those who wait. They say you should wash your hands before you cook. To all of them I say "pah!" followed by a contemptuous sneer! I follow no rules; no man may force self-moderation or due care upon me, I have things to do gosh-darn-it. Today, I will be doing a little bit of baking once again but, this time, I plan on writing the post in real time as I do so (with time after to add photos and secretly re-edit the whole thing to make it funny because I'm a hypocrite and this whole paragraph was actually just a lead-in to me blogging while I make cookies and not actually a declaration of my life mantra and oh look, here comes a right parenthesis), so get yourself comfy and let's bake some motha fuckin cookies. Who knows how they might turn out...

Ben Thompson cranberry and white chocolate cookies finished
Hey! Spoilers!
OK, first thing is ingredients. I've stolen the recipe for these from an unnamed Cranberry juice company's website but tweaked the amounts a little for my own nefarious purposes, as is customary in baking. How about getting all the stuff we need together first:

Ben Thompson cranberry and white chocolate cookies ingredients
Weird off-brand alternatives are accepted.

- 150g butter (margarine if you're a pussy)
- 160g brown/golden/non-race specific sugar
- 2 large eggs (preferably chicken)
- 350g oats (hint: the weirder the shape of the triceps on the burly scotsman on the front of the box, the better the oats)
- 350g plain flour
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda/baking powder/powder of baking soda/soda powder baking spirit/teenage mutant ninja powder
- a tequila shot's worth of salt
- 140g organic, hand-picked, sun-dried cranberries from New Hampshire (or similar)
- 200g white chocolate chips
- a little squirt of milk

OK, we good for ingredients? 3, 2, 1, go!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Top Five Hangover Foods

Hello faithful readers, I am so dreadfully sorry about the lack of Saturday post this week, hence my mad dash to get a post out today (Sunday) to make up for it! I could throw out a few excuses (been very busy, literally didn't have time to write a post, totally slipped my mind amidst other things yadda yadda yadda) but no-one likes to read poorly executed excuses, so instead I'll offer my apologies once again. Having gone out last night, I'm feeling a little delicate this fine (read: rainy and miserable) day and I thought I'd channel my roughness into energy for a post and discuss what my top five hangover foods are! Normal post will resume next week, I promise, but for now, just embrace it. Now this isn't any of your scientific shit, I won't be talking about the most effective foods that boost your health after drinking, this is just straight up what I want to eat when I wake up and wish I could die.
1. Pizza

pizza food cheese hungover
Get in my mouth right now.
Ah pizza, the ultimate comfort food, how I love thee! Pizza was my particular choice of edibles today, which is why it's first on the list. The rich tomato sauce, the ooey-gooey cheese, the crust perfect for dipping in sauces of your own choosings (BBQ fo' always), the multitude of toppings, gosh, there just isn't anything wrong with pizza. It's so versatile as well, you can have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Hail pizza

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The Inevitable Clip Show: Episode 1

Hi guys. I am very, very tired and it's not even been a week since I started back at the job at the Edinburgh Fringe that famously ruined my posting schedule last year; so I've decided to forgo the awesome post I had lined up for you in favour of something a little easier to throw together in an hour before I pass out half way to the bed.

adorable cute baby sleeping on the floor
Luckily I'm an extremely adorable floor sleeper.
To celebrate over a year of hard graft, 80 lovingly crafted posts and nearly 5000 page views (Woo! Famedom!), I've looked back at the past year and compiled my favourite articles for your viewing pleasure and my own self-indulgence. If you're new to the blog then firstly welcome, the other two are already inside (Rhona brought cake), and secondly this will be a great opportunity for you to see the best that we have to offer without having to trudge through a mountain of obnoxious, garbly toss.

Without further ado, I give you the Pop Culture Cynic Season 1 Hall of Fame! *cheering*

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Let's Talk About Music - Top Five Going-Out Songs

Hello, hello and hello! That's right, I'm going to talk about music again but, instead of indie goodness, I'm going to chat about five songs that get me in the going out, party mood. I'm going away on holiday on Saturday and I've had a very busy week, so I've only just gotten round to writing my post today (Friday), so many apologies if this post isn't up to the usual high standard of writing that myself and Ben spoil you guys with twice a week, but I'm trying to write this and pack and eat dinner and do about twelve other things at once! Excuses upon excuses made, let's get to the music, shall we? Same as last time, I've linked the youtube video of the song in the title, or you can click here and listen along with a handy-dandy playlist of all the songs I'm going to talk about.