Monday, 3 November 2014

Instagram Pictures of the Week


Okay, so these Instagram snaps span a little longer than a week (just over two, in fact) but I wanted to share all the amazing and fantastic things that I've been up to recently since finishing my time at the letting agency. I've been trying to make the most of my free days (and dwindling money supply) by getting up to some fab things and using my event christmas/birthday pressies to fill the gaps.

1. FINALLY I was able to fulfil a life-long dream of flying an ACTUAL REAL LIFE plane last Monday evening at Robin Hood Airport. All of the anticipation made me feel incredibly nervous at the prospect of embarking in a miniature air-mobile, on an extremely windy day, 2000ft into the air in the failing light of 5pm post-clocks going back, especially after the 2hr+ drive that it took to get there. The night was truly incredible though as I took the reigns of the plane mid-air and watched as the pilot guided it safely down to the waiting lights of the empty run way. Not a bad way to spend a Monday evening.

2&3. Before and during a night at the Warehouse Project in Manchester. It really was an incredible night and there isn't much more to say about it. Spectacular venue, friendly people and staff, no queues at the bar but a packed out dance floor. Worth the money (which, I admit, I believed was an extortionate amount before going) just to sit in and chat to people from all over the country having a great time.

4. Lady Gaga performing Paparazzi RIGHT BEFORE MY EYES at Manchester's Phones 4 U Arena. This was a 21st birthday present from back in March, two VIP tickets to see Lady Gags on her ArtRave tour stop off in Manchester. I really don't have the words to describe how awesome the night was apart from explaining that it started off with a load of chicken in Nandos and ended with my eyeballs falling out of my head at the sight of teeny tiny Gaga shaking her perfect derriere just a mere few metres from where we were stood.

5. The Barbell Challenge 2.0 begins! I've been Crossfitting since July (on and off so I'm still a beginner every time I go) but started strength training last week with a few friends I met there. It's an 8 week programme in its second week, wish me luck!

6. I volunteer at Warrington Museum and Art Gallery every now and again, helping out with the Crafternoons and other special activities and events they put on. Last week, as part of Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival and the Big Draw 2014 , we wheeled a giant wooden frame resembling a miniature medieval siege machine into the town centre with the aim of getting people involved in drawing. It was a great day with performances from local dance and drama groups and, most importantly, some fantastic art was produced on our Frame-O-Matic!

What have you been up to this week? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

Hayley x

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Fave Doctor Who Episodes from Eccleston to Smith


*****SPOILER WARNING*****


With the advent of Peter Capaldi's brooding Scot Doc, I found myself looking back over my fave Doctor Who episodes since the series' revival. But choosing only 10 of the modern Doctor Who episodes from Eccleston to Smith is like telling me I have 91 children (the number of eps after 7 series with 13 eps each) and then asking me to pick favourites.

As I imagine is the same with having 91 children, there are some episodes I can categorically say I don't like. At least, I don't like as much as the rest. Those with complicated and messy story lines which lead nowhere (Moffat, I'm looking at you).

The following are my personal favourites and are listed in no particular order as that really would be pushing my decision making skills to the extreme.


Fish fingers and custard at the ready...


1. The Girl in the Fireplace


One of the saddest and most emotive modern DW episodes, The Girl in the Fireplace was an early episode in David Tennant's first series as the Doctor and featured his then girlfriend, Sophia Myles, as Madame de Pompadour. The Doctor, Rose and Mickey find time windows in the form of a fireplace in a 51st century spaceship that lead to 18th century France. Terrifying clockwork androids are using the time windows to stalk Madame de Pompadour throughout her life in order to harvest her brain to fix their broken ship. The heartbreaking climax comes when the Doctor tells Reinette (Pompadour) that he will be right back to take her away only to find that the tricky nature of the time window means that he instead returns six years later, after her death. The Doctor is handed letters that Reinette wrote in that time expressing her desire for the Doctor to return and take her away. Why do 51st-century clockwork androids require an 18th century French aristocrats brain in order to power their ship? The close of the episode reveals a spaceship drifting through space with the name SS Madame de Pompadour emblazoned on the side.

Reasons it's awesome: Cool-looking, steampunk androids who want to harvest human organs. Enticing love story. Amazing set design and costume. A well rounded and connected story which links the distant future with the past.


2. Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead 


Two-parters count as one, right? Another Tennant favourite, 'Silence in the Library' is the first time we encounter River Song who is introduced as an old friend of the Doctor, bringing up SO MANY questions which aren't answered until Matt Smith's time. The Doctor and Donna arrive on a deserted planet containing 'the best library in the universe' since it spans the entire length and breadth of the planet. They encounter a team of archeologists, including Dr River Song, who are attempting to solve the mysterious disappearance of the planets inhabitants many years earlier. Not only do the episodes contain an awesome 'foe' in the form of the Vashta Nerada, but River Song's emotional departure is recalled every time we see her in newer episodes.


Reasons it's awesome: River Song. An entire planet made of a library. The Doctor opening the Tardis with a click. Great quotes: 'Hey, who turned out the lights', 'Spoilers'.





3. Blink



Since this episode aired my mum has always lamented that Sally Sparrow, the lead in 'Blink', didn't become a permanent fixture in the Tardis and I see her point. Sally is an incredibly engaging character though it may be the brilliance of this episode that elevates her to such high esteem in the history of Doctor Who characters. David Tennant's Doctor and companion Martha take a back seat in this episode which explores the power and nature of time with a truly horrific monster in the form of a stone statue. You'll laugh, you'll cry and you'll cover your eyes in fear and terror during this absolutely brilliant Moffat episode.


Reasons it's awesome: Carey Mulligan. The Weeping Angels. The power of time.



4. The Empty Child



A brilliant Eccleston episode, and the only one to make the list, features so many incredible moments I hardly know where to begin. First there's companion Rose in her Union Jack T, dangling from a rope, attached to a zeppelin, over the streets of WWII London. Then there's the introduction of John Barrowman as the much loved Captain Jack, swooping in to save Rose with his invisible spacecraft and vortex manipulator to boot. The terrifying use of gas masks fusing to victims faces and creepy little kids marks this one out as the scariest episode to date. The end is also surprisingly brilliant when it turns out the aliens causing all the damage are, in fact, only trying to help and heal. Aw.

Reasons it's awesome: John Barrowman. Most terrifying use of gas masks, ever. "Are you my Mummy?" 

5.  Vincent and the Doctor



One of the greatest things about Doctor Who is the freedom that the writers have to take the Doctor and his companions to absolutely anywhere in time and space, fact or fictional. The episodes which take us to an invented future are fantastic but the ones which explore real characters and events from the past are truly brilliant to watch. Vincent and the Doctor is a prime example of this and part of its brilliance is down to Tony Curran's incredible portrayal of Vincent Van Gogh. His drunk, depressed yet incredibly sympathetic character is electric on screen as well as respectful to the incredible artist that Van Gogh was, though not in his own lifetime. 

Reasons it's awesome: Worth watching just for the final scene with Bill Nighy at the museum. You'll know what I mean. 


6. The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang



An incredibly confusing Steven Moffat storyline in this two-parter season finale left me browsing wikipedia and forums looking for answers. Who is inside the Pandorica and when? How old does this make Amy now? Is Rory real or just a hunk of plastic and metal? This episode has so many twists and turns that it is impossible for me to write a coherent and short synopsis here. The only thing that is clear after watching this episode is how awesome it is, drawing on myths, legends and history teamed with the spectacular location of Stone Henge and asking the all important question of who is the real enemy?

Reasons it's awesome: Amy and Rory RULE. Matt Smith's speech at Stone Henge. Romans!


"Hello, Stonehenge!"


7. The Girl Who Waited



Poor old Amelia Pond does a lot of waiting throughout her stint as the Doctor's companion whether it's waiting for the Doctor as a young girl, waiting for the Pandorica to open or waiting for 30+ years in a creepy pseudo-Alice-in-Wonderland style spaceship for Rory and the Doctor to rescue her as we see here. The true brilliance behind this episode is how it establishes Amy as an incredible strong and kick ass character early in her career as the Doctor's assistant as we follow her survival in a world where everything really is out to get her.

Reasons it's awesome: TWO PONDS, Lewis Carroll kitsch.



There are so many more incredible episodes that I haven't mentioned here. Which recent episodes are your favourites and why? Comment below or let me know on Twitter.

Hayley x

Monday, 18 August 2014

Modern Zombie Evolution: From Mindless Ghoul to Conscious Monster


Traditional zombie-apocalypse narratives rarely consider the feelings of their zombie characters as they are relentlessly dismembered and decapitated by the human protagonists. Nor are their thoughts on the outbreak voiced, since the zombie is usually a blank entity with no back-story; a dead (or un-dead) being which is now a shell of their previous existence, driven by instinct and an insatiable hunger for human flesh. But what if the zombie could experience emotion in the same way they could when they were alive? What if the zombie who saw his fellow zombie’s brain bashed in with a baseball bat could feel fear and sadness? More than that, what if they were exactly the same person they were before they died, sans the living part? This is the plight of the ‘conscious zombie’, an evolution of the modern zombie character, who is essentially a living mind trapped inside a deceased body. 

Two types of zombie are typically discussed by scholars in the history of the character: the voodoo zombie of west-African culture and the ‘modern’ zombie born from George Romero’s seminal horror film Night of the Living Dead (1968). The voodoo zombie can be defined as ‘a soulless corpse said to have been revived by witchcraft’,and is specific to the West African and Haitian cultures.  This zombie appears in early horror cinema in films like White Zombie (1932) and I Walked with a Zombie (1943) and features zombies that are ‘magically brought back from the dead to do the bidding of their masters, usually as menial labor.’ The Oxford English Dictionary fails to provide a sufficient definition of the modern zombie, born from Romero’s Night, which has infiltrated recent popular culture. This leaves zombie scholars to create their own definition: ‘the modern zombie is a relentlessly aggressive, reanimated human corpse driven by a biological infection.’ It is this zombie that has inspired countless video games, comic books, television programmes and inspires people to take to the streets on annual zombie walks, dousing themselves in full gore and walking both to raise money for charity and express love for the sub-genre.

Poster for White Zombie starring Bela Lugosi 

The modern zombie has evolved since the ghouls of Night of the Living Dead, with Romero taking a pivotal role in moving the zombie to new levels of consciousness. Dawn of the Dead (1978) was the first to present sympathetic zombie characters through its portrayal of monstrous human figures but it was 2005’s Land of the Dead, the fourth film in Romero’s Dead series, which changed audience’s expectations of zombie characters. Land of the Dead features an ‘agent’ zombie which Derksen and Hick describe as a zombie who is able to act using agency. Land’s lead zombie ‘Big Daddy’ is their main example of an agent zombie since he is able to use his advanced intelligence to lay traps for the human characters, becoming more of a threat than the mindless ghouls audiences are used to. Big Daddy also grieves for his fellow zombies when he sees them strung up and used for target practice by the human community. Though Big Daddy is more intelligent than the Night of the Living Dead ghoul, he is still far from ‘human,’ exhibiting an insatiable drive for human flesh which ultimately defines his character. 

Big Daddy played by Eugene Clark


More recently there is another type of zombie which is beginning to emerge within the sub-genre across a range of mediums: the conscious zombie. The conscious zombie is the protagonist of its own story and is aware of its own actions and speech, returning from the dead with most memories and knowledge of previous experiences intact, often even with the memory of their own death. This zombie is articulate and sympathetic, rendering them more human than the modern, Romero models (ghoul or agent) they are based on and as such inspiring a much more sympathetic response from its audience. Though the conscious zombie is not based directly on the voodoo zombie, conscious zombie narratives draw on similar themes of oppression but focus more on sympathising with the zombie rather than ignoring it entirely. 

Examples of the conscious zombie have risen in recent spates of zom-rom-com (zombie romantic comedy) fictions such as Isaac Marion's Warm Bodies and S.G. Browne's Breathers. A conscious zombie also made an appearance in the BBC's 'kitchen sink drama with zombies', In the Flesh in the form of Kieran, a young boy who must deal with growing up in a small town whilst also facing discrimination for being a flesh eating member of the living dead. Conscious zombies are often integrated back into the communities they once belonged to as living beings, but are oppressed, sidelined and treated as an 'other'. 

Kieran played by Luke Newberry

The conscious zombie is a unique step in the evolution of the zombie sub-genre and allows horror to mix with comedy and romance as a more effective vehicle for portraying the tough underlining social issues it wishes to address. The traditional modern zombie in film, literature and television is capable of acting as a vehicle to demonstrate opinions on societies' issues, but it is a conscious, emotive zombie that gives a voice to these problems. 

Note: The above is taken from the introduction to my paper 'Communities and Consciousness in Modern Zombie Fictions', focusing particularly on the conscious zombie. For that reason I have not mentioned the Italian splatter gore zombie movies of the 80s.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Instagram pictures of the week


I've had a pretty mad week between attempting to write at least a single word of my dissertation and coming home for Easter and my Mum's birthday.

I was made some yummy cornflake cake egg nests for Easter with a 'special surprise' in the centre of one which I have yet to find. I ate more incredible food at Nazams in Leeds, Hard Rock Cafe (happy birthday, Mum), Pizza Express and my parent's dining room for mash potato (all-time favourite food ever - but only my Dad's). 

On Saturday night I made my 10 year old self proud by remembering all the words to forgotten Busted classics at the McBusted concert in Liverpool. Hearing the song 'Britney' again was a real treat, watching a video of Busted sing it on YouTube at the 2004 Ticket for Everyone tour was even better. Can Charlie Simpson ever hope to shake off his Busted past and be taken seriously? Probably a question for another post. 


McBusted performing Year 3000 during the finale beneath a giant set of triple breasts

What have you been up to this week? Comment below or tweet me @hayleyreidy

Hayley x 

Live Below the Line 2014

Next week from Monday 28th April - Friday 2nd May I'll be taking part in Live Below the Line 2014.



I'll be living on just £1 a day for food and drink for 5 days to raise money for the incredible charity Action Against Hunger who work with communities across the world who are malnourished due to natural disasters, conflict or an inefficient health system.

Next week is a crucial one for me at University as it's one of my final weeks and the last few days to write my dissertation. Concentrating on living on £1 a day will be an extra difficulty because of this but I hope that will add to the challenge. I will blog, tweet and Instagram my experience in the hope that it will raise awareness and money for a brilliant event and charity.

You can donate to my page here: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/hayleyreidy

Or go to the Live Below the Line website and donate directly to the charities involved.

It's not too late to sign up if you still want to take part! If you're a little worried about how to budget, like me, then check out some of these sites I've found which might help out:

1. https://www.livebelowtheline.com/uk/resources

A few bits on the Live Below the Line website to help get everyone started including shopping tips and recipe suggestions.

2. http://www.pinterest.com/savechildrenuk/live-below-the-line-2014/

Some great recipe ideas from Save the Children's Live Below the Line Pinterest board.
A shopping list and day by day menu guide for Live Below the Line.  

4. http://agirlcalledjack.com/tag/budget-recipes/

Amazing budget recipes from Jack Monroe.

5. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22263706

'How to eat healthily on £1 a day' - a great article from BBC news online

6. http://the-grazer.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Live%20Below%20the%20Line

Some great recipes and tips for the week from a lady who took part last year.


Hayley x


Sunday, 20 April 2014

Easter Sunday link line-up

Happy Easter or excuse to be off work and eat loads of chocolate day, either way I'm here to bring you some of the best things I've seen or found online this week.

This post is made up of news stories, thought pieces, cool websites or how-to's that I've discovered this week and thought would be interesting to share.

Click the titles or images to go to the original content and enjoy!

1. Here is Today


Here is Today is an awesome way to put things into perspective. It is an online journey which takes you from today through the whole of space and time in graph form and demands that you accept what you've just seen in order to move forward by selecting 'okay'. If you're having a bad day, this will help you realise that today is just an insignificant spec in the grand scheme of things which will then either relax you or depress you massively.

2. The 13-year old Mongolian Eagle Huntress


This story, originating from the BBC news website, has made the rounds online this week due to the incredible photography by Asher Svidensky and the awesome story of Ashol-Pan, the 13-year old Mongolian girl who hunts using a golden eagle. Visit the link to find out more about the Mongolian practice of hunting with eagles and Ashol-Pan's life.

3. Coathanger DIY


Some great coathanger-themed DIY ideas from Scraphacker.com. My personal favourite is the non-slip neon hanger as they look fab and would stop me from opening my wardrobe to find clothes all over the floor that have been thrown off pesky slippy hangers.



This video entitled 'Quicksand is pretty cool' locks me in some weird quicksand trance whenever I watch it. Why do I love it so much? It just looks so fun...and squishy.

5. 'Painfully Accurate Graphs'



I had a little chuckle at these graphs, created by Danish writer Mikael Wulff and cartoon artist Anders Morgenthaler and presented on www.truefacts.com. Though some are 'painfully accurate' like the first graph depicting the true-to-life struggle between hating McDonald's and absolutely loving it, most aren't 'painful' but rather slightly amusing. 

6.'Really Funny: I wish TV shows and movies didn't make me feel like being fat is a joke'


A brilliant and thought-provoking article from Brodie Lancaster on Rookie this week which discusses the overall negative presentation of larger ladies in TV and film. I particularly like how Brodie draws attention to the fact that weight is a huge part of who she is but it does not define her in the way that it does with 'fat girl' characters we see on the screen. 

7. 'The 21 Weirdest Movies...And What they Really Mean'


Total Film do some great list articles which introduce or remind you of some excellent movies of times gone by. I stumbled upon this article today from 2009 whilst browsing Total Film's extensive 'weird films' article back catalogue and was not disappointed. Get ready to be weirded out and look out for the surprise entry at number one

8. 300+ Mind Expanding Documentaries



I love a good documentary and this website provides an extensive list of documentaries which, it promises, will be 'mind expanding'. The documentaries are ordered by theme with headers such as 'Biographies of Genius', 'War' and 'Consciousness' to help you choose depending on if you feel like watching a 90 minute long 9/11 conspiracy theory or a biased opinion piece about how we are destroying the Amazon by sitting on the internet.

9.Rainy Mood


Tucked up in bed and craving the comforting sound of rain outside while you are cosy and safe inside? No bother if the weather isn't playing ball, just visit rainymood.com for all your rain sound effect needs. 

10. Fist of Jesus


Last up on the list is a special Easter treat for you all, the brilliant Spanish short film 'Fist of Jesus' which sees Jesus accidentally unleash a zombie plague after attempting to resurrect Lazarus. I'm cheating slightly by posting this as I saw it at a film festival a few months back rather than online this week but hey, it's Easter, let me spread a little Jesus Zombie love. The short film has been released online so that they filmmakers can raise funds for a feature length version Once Upon a Time in Jerusalem via their Kickstarter. Watch the short film below!



I'll scour the internet for more interesting, cool and weird over the next seven days. Check back next Sunday for another link line-up!

Hayley x

Friday, 18 April 2014

Woman Stanley Exhibition


Woman Stanley will be hosting an art exhibition opening on Saturday 21st June 2014 and running until Thursday 26th June at The Doghouse in Warrington. The exhibition will showcase works from talented local female artists including art pieces, poetry, prose and performances. 
"Woman Stanley is an Art collective based in North West England for all creatives who have something to say, something to express, something to show you. 
A welcoming space that hopes to showcase the most wonderfully talented human beings around. We are a group dedicated to creating a patchwork community with diverse gifts and interests from all backgrounds and experiences. With the sharing of visual art, music, stories and past times, we aim to weave the gravity of experience and life with the merriment of being a woman!
Open to all genders that believe in the power of female creativity!"
 
- From the WomanStanley Facebook page. 

Submission of work is open to anyone of any age/gender. If you are interested in showcasing any work at the exhibition or via the various social media accounts, get in touch!

womanstanley@gmail.com
http://womanstanley.tumblr.com/



Instagram: @woman_stanley


I will be presenting some poetry and prose at the exhibition along with other talented writers. Hope to see you there!

Hayley x