Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Kidnapped!

GUYS. I'm so sorry to have left you hanging for so long there - although seeing as there are like a hundred SVH books in the series, not to mention the University ones and the ten years later book, we can probably all agree that Elizabeth was going to be grand. However, I only realised after finishing #12 that I didn't actually have a copy of the next in the series, so eBay and the Bear came to my rescue and now we're all set for another while. Hooray!

Sweet Valley High #13: Kidnapped! 

Our story begins with a typically creepy exchange between a Wakefield twin and someone they're related to, in this case it's Jessica asking Steven to zip up her dress. Ok, well that's not too weird, you might be thinking. He was however, just out of the shower and wearing nothing but "a green towel wrapped snugly around his waist". Ohkaaaaaay.

"He bent his six foot one body over her zipper"
"Steven inspected his sister carefully"
"She really thought her brother was the most handsome guy in Sweet Valley"

WHOA THERE HORSEY. I'm telling you, Wakefields = Lannisters of Westeros Valley.

Anyway, the reason Jessica is getting all dressed up is because there's a big party being thrown by the Morrows, a fancy new super-rich family in town with a sexy eighteen year old son and a daughter the same age as the twins. Steven mentions that he's off to see Tricia that evening and Jessica manages to "hold back the distaste she'd always felt for her brother's girlfriend". What a martyr. Although we are told that "she felt she owed her brother the courtesy of silence on the issue". Christ on a bike Jess, YA THINK? I love how she makes it sound like she's doing him a massive favour by not slagging off his DYING GIRLFRIEND, rather than it being, you know, common human decency or anything.

Elizabeth is supposed to arrive home any minute so she and Jess can go to the party together, but of course she's busy being chloroformed in the back of a van. Jessica is eventually left alone in the house and gets fed up of waiting so she calls Cara Walker who picks her up on her way to the Morrows' super-mansion. While they're on the way, we learn that Jessica and Cara have an unwritten rule, Thou Shalt Not Chase After The Same Boy As Your Best Friend, which pretty much leaves Winston Egbert for Cara, so yeah, good luck with that, Walker. Although Jessica does suggest that when Tricia dies, Cara and Steven could have another go at dating. Which is pretty cold, even for noted sociopath Jessica Wakefield.

They arrive at the mansion and a tiny old butler brings them past "the dining room, the library, the billiards room" (CLUEDO, ANYONE?) to the room where the party is on. They meet Regina Morrow there, who's beautiful and statuesque and has dancing blue eyes. She speaks to Cara first, directing all her attention to her and doesn't answer Jessica when she butts in to introduce herself, or asks about her brother, Nicholas. Regina then trips on a rug, so Jessica's train of thought goes thusly:

"The stumble, the lack of response to Jessica - it was only natural to conclude that the Morrow girl was drunk."

WHICH IS HILARIOUS. Of course that's what Jessica would think, seeing as people normally grovel before her luminous blondeness and kiss her hand like she's a fucking bishop, so the only reason someone wouldn't automatically give her their FULL AND UNDIVIDED ATTENTION is if they're shitfaced. I just love her reasoning.

It turns out that Regina is actually deaf, so Jessica can rest easy, she’s still as fascinating and amazing as ever. Although she does then enquire whether Regina’s brother is also deaf, which is a pretty weird thing to ask. To her relief, he isn’t, oh and he’s model-handsome to boot, because residents of Sweet Valley must, above all else, be insanely fuckable. I bet there's a hotness checkpoint just outside the town.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth is still in the back of the van and trying to remember what happened to her. She realises that her hands are tied behind her back and that she’s gagged and blindfolded, so she panics and passes out. 

This cover is stagey and terrible, and therefore awesome. The disembodied hand! The weird position of Liz's arm and fingers! The fact that the colours she's wearing are completely wrong because the book clearly states that her work uniform has pink and white stripes on it!

After her shift at the hospital, Elizabeth was supposed to call over to Max Dellon’s house to help him out for his upcoming English test. When she doesn’t show up after a few hours he starts to worry because Elizabeth is super reliable and pretty much The Best Human Ever, so it’s not at all like her to just blow off an appointment. It eventually gets so late that he decides that something must be wrong, so he takes off on his bike towards the hospital to look for her.

Back at the party, Jessica is busy hogging Nicholas’s attention all evening and is none too impressed when Todd interrupts her charm offensive to ask whether she’s seen Elizabeth anywhere. She decides to fob him off with a lie about Elizabeth babysitting for Mr. Collins, because if she tells him that she doesn’t actually know where her sister is, she’ll have to release Nicholas from her sex-grip. Todd walks off feeling uneasy and thinking that Jessica’s story doesn’t add up.

Elizabeth wakes up again, still gagged and blindfolded only this time she’s tied to a chair. A vehicle pulls up outside and her kidnapper comes into the room, creepily undoes the plait in her hair and takes off the blindfold, at which point she realises that it’s Carl, the weird orderly from the hospital. He says he’s not going to hurt her and when he removes the gag, Elizabeth screams for help.

Since talking to Jessica, Todd has been miserably skulking around the party and eventually decides to call Mr. Collins’s house. When Roger (who looks like Robert Redford, you know) answers the phone and says that Elizabeth isn’t there, Todd tells him that there must have been a misunderstanding and hangs up. We’re told that Mr. Collins is still holding the phone after Todd hung up and hoping that Elizabeth is ok, because this book can’t stick to one point of view and has to tell us how immediately worried everyone is about Elizabeth, in case we'd forgotten how wonderful and amazing she is.

Todd is furious when he realises that Jessica was lying, so when he finds her sitting by the pool in a tiny bikini and flirting with Nicholas, he shoves her into the water, which is just brilliant. People should be shoving Jessica into pools all the time. Nicholas is about to throw him out, but when Todd makes Jessica realise that it’s half nine and Elizabeth should have arrived ages ago, she cops on and jumps out of the pool in a panic, to ring home.

Back at the house, Ned and Alice have just arrived in the door after a dinner with Alice’s new business associate, who “didn’t stop telling jokes all evening”. Which sounds tedious as fuck but they seem to have enjoyed themselves. Ned answers when Jessica calls, and when everyone realises that Elizabeth is missing, Jessica, still just in her bikini, rushes out with Todd to drive home and check the roads on the way in case Elizabeth’s car broke down. BUT WE KNOW IT DIDN’T.

Elizabeth is still tied to a chair somewhere and screaming didn’t do any good, as they’re in Carl’s manky little house in the middle of nowhere. It turns out that weird ol’ Carl is in love with her and kidnapped her so they could be together. And he loves her because she was nice to him at the hospital and helped him pick up some stuff he dropped one time. She talks him into untying her and makes a break for the door, but unfortunately for her there’s another door after that one, which is all boarded up. So Carl catches her and flings her onto the couch “eyes now bright with anger” and we’re left assuming that Elizabeth is now in big trouble.

Ned Wakefield has been ringing around, trying the hospital and Max Dellon’s house to see if anyone has seen Elizabeth. When there’s still no sign, he decides to call the police.

Max Dellon arrives at the hospital and finds Elizabeth’s car with the driver’s side door open, all her stuff inside and her scarf on the ground. When he realises that something must have happened, he gets into the car to rummage around for clues as to where she might be. But next thing you know, the cops arrive and arrest him for trying to steal the car or something.

But back to Elizabeth! Carl doesn’t hit her or anything like we were led to believe might happen, he just starts crying and reties her to the chair for the night. Also, there’s no threat of sexual violence or anything of the sort, because it seems that the girls only get almost-raped by hot guys they already know.

The next morning he makes pancakes for her, because he overheard her one day in work saying how much she likes her mother’s pancakes. But he bought frozen ones that taste terrible and he forgot to buy syrup, so they’re nothing like Mammy Wakefield’s light, fluffy pancakes, sprinkled with Aryan goodness, but Elizabeth eats them anyway because she’s starving. Afterwards, Carl heads off to work, which deflates Elizabeth’s hope that he’d stay home for the day, which she figured would arouse suspicion and lead to her eventual rescue.

The police let Max Dellon go free, but people are all suspicious of him anyway because he scowls a lot and wears spiked wristbands. Gasp! Well that kid MUST be bad news, then. The police suggest to the Wakefields that Elizabeth probably ran away, despite the fact that her bag, her car and ALL HER STUFF was left in the hospital car park. Worst. Cops. Ever.

Carl comes home from work that evening and tells Elizabeth all about his plans to leave his job and bring her away to some place in the mountains, where they’ll live together and she’ll bathe in a stream and he’s planning to leave the following night. Ruh roh!

In school on Monday, Todd confronts Max, convinced that there’s something he’s not telling them, and ends up punching him. Jessica breaks the fight up and tells Todd to cop the fuck on, in so many words, and the three of them decide to launch their own investigation and head to the hospital to see if there’s anything they can find out.

The new gang split up and each cover a different section of the hospital, to talk to anyone who was working when Elizabeth was there last. After asking at a nurse’s desk about Elizabeth, Max makes his way further down the corridor to talk to a dark, stocky orderly (spoiler alert: it’s Carl) at the same time that Jessica emerges onto the corridor.

Carl freaks out, thinking she’s Elizabeth, and runs over to her in a panic, asking what she’s doing here. You see, he never realised that Elizabeth had an identical twin, which is just really shoddy stalking, if you ask me. Go big or go home, Carl.

Anyway, Max trips up Carl before he can get to Jessica and pins him to the ground. Jessica, in fairness to her, does some quick thinking and pretends to be Elizabeth so he’ll stay calm and reveal his dastardly plan until the cops arrive. Once he gets handcuffed and taken away, he confesses everything to the police, so they all head out to rescue Elizabeth and everything is fine and she’s not even the tiniest bit traumatised, because there’s no such thing as PTSD in Sweet Valley. Grand so.

Notable outfit:
This book was severely lacking in hilarious outfits, the only amusing clothing we hear about isn't even worn. 

While Jessica is laying out clothes for Elizabeth before the big party at Regina Morrow’s house, she chooses “a long, red velour skirt”, “an off-white, high-necked blouse” and “her sister’s turquoise tank suit”. 

Whatever the hell a tank suit is.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 149
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 5
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 1
Magic twin-sense shivery feelings that something is wrong with the other sister: 2

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A to Z of Me

You may recall the Dungarvan Zombie Survival Plan that I designed for the second Brief Exchange show a while back. I posted it here, where regular readers said nice things about it and then I carried on writing silly Sweet Valley High posts, sort of forgetting about it. A few months later it went viral after being posted on Reddit, as is the way with things these days, which led to a lesson in watermarking, after seeing my uncredited work reblogged all over Tumblr and pinned all over Pinterest and popping up on Imgur, most of the time with credit to mindhaxx, whoever the fuck that is.

Anyway. There's been a third Brief Exchange show and the results have been scattered around Cork city in outdoor advertising spaces since the start of the month, to coincide with Design Week.The posters are all on the Brief Exchange website too and well worth a look, as there's some really bloody great design work going on over there.

So the brief I received for this incarnation of Brief Exchange was:

"Design a poster for something that you’d like to see on your daily route."

Which I must admit, left me stumped for quite some time. Eventually one night while lying in bed, I started mentally listing things I liked, in an effort to come up with an idea for the poster and ended up enjoying my list so much that I decided to make an A-Z of my favourite stuff.

So this is what I came up with (now with my blog name in place, not because I expect it to get anything like the reaction that the Surviving Dungarvan one did, just because I learned the hard way that posting your work online means it can go for quite a wander with no name tag):

Clickedy-click to enlarge

For a while there it looked like it was going to be a list of awesome female characters, which might actually be a fun project for another time, but for this particular alphabet I wanted a mix of things, plus I really wanted Z to be for Zombies BECAUSE I CAN'T HELP MYSELF. In fact, all three posters I've done for Brief Exchange so far have involved zombies. I might have a problem.

So these are a few of the cool lady characters that did make the cut:

I also managed to sneak another favourite lady in, via my love of a certain SNES game.

Aaand these are just two of the letter graphics that I particularly liked:

So it turns out that my favourite things are, by and large, fictional characters and specific types of food that are really bad for me.

I'm fine with that.

Also, can anyone name all the things in my list?

(Edit: Yes. Because Aislinn is deadly.)

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Handbook For The Recently Deceased

After being infatuated with Miss Argentina from Beetlejuice for YEARS, declaring in February of last year that I was going to dress up as her for Halloween, spending ages planning and making the various parts of the costume, unceremoniously fracturing my ankle two weeks before Halloween rendering me couch-ridden with a plaster cast and then waiting a WHOLE OTHER YEAR...I FINALLY DID IT!
Last weekend we hit the Rocky Horror Picture Show in The Sugar Club for their Halloween shindig, where I had an absolute ball, found a dude dressed as Beetlejuice to get a photo with (although I had to explain who I was dressed as to him - worst Beetlejuice ever), completely confused some Spanish dudes as to why I was green and what exactly made me Miss Argentina when I'd never even been there, Time Warped my turquoise face off and won Best Costume!

I was so delighted with how it all turned out. Which was a relief, considering that I'd been planning and waiting for a fucking year and eight months to do it. The body paint colour was Snazaroo's Sea Green and looked blue in some photos, green in others and bright turquoise in real life, which was kinda perfect because in stills from the film, the actual Miss Argentina character seems to alternate between blue and green depending on the shot.

It was so much fun painting myself turquoise, that even when the Bear got worried that I was going to end up dyeing my skin in the process of layering on the paint, I just shouted "I DON'T CARE! LOOK AT HOW COOL THIS IS!" I almost lost the run of myself with excitement when I finally got to the point where I could put the wig on, as that was when it all came together.

I made the red collar out of wire from a craft shop, which came already wound in two spirals, so I just took the centre point and bent it into the shape I wanted, then covered it with red tulle and glued a fuckload of sequins to it. The sash was just a big wide ribbon that I painted the letters on and the wig was borrowed from my lovely friend Lili and then pinned into a haphazard updo with a bajillion bobby pins because I have no idea how to style an updo properly.

Miss Argentina's wrists are cut, which is the dark little gag that shot right over my head as a kid, so being a sucker for detail I made those with special effects wax and a bit of fake blood.

Me on stage getting a prize and being momentarily scared that I might have to say something. These two were taken by Hector Heathwood and yoinked from the Rocky Horror Facebook page.

It was quite weird when I'd catch my reflection during the night, as I'd sort of forget that I was this crazy bright colour and more than once found myself coming away from a mirror thinking "I'm so GREEEN!"

I absolutely loved it though and didn't want to take it off at the end of the night, so before going for a shower at all hours of the morning, I went on a selfie rampage (something I NEVER do), because the last thing I wanted was to end up wishing that I'd taken more photographs of the costume.

Also, it turns out I'm terrible at taking selfies. Do I look at the camera? At my reflection? Down at the phone? Is my hand meant to look that gammy?

My wig was a little bit askew at this point though, as by then it was half past several mojitos in the morning and I didn't really notice. I never usually post photos of myself here, but then again I didn't really look like me on the night, what with the bluey skin and the wig and the fact that Billy and The Incredible Mulq didn't recognise me at first when I walked up to them in the queue outside The Sugar Club.

Also, the hamper of fun stuff that I won was pretty deadly, what with the mulled wine and prosecco and horror DVDs and chocolate. There was also a box of Milk Tray but when a Sunday hangover and gallons of tea collided, that particular box of chocolates didn't stand a chance and got kinda eaten before I could take a photo of my victory swag laid out all nice and pretty.

The only problem now is how the hell do I top this next year?

Monday, October 07, 2013

Sweet Valley High Revisited - When Love Dies

Lads. This blog post was nearly the end of me. I had the whole thing written and ready to go over the weekend. I saved it and closed it, in order to squirrel it away for a day or two and then post it today, only to find that Blogger somehow managed to eat the entire fucking thing apart from the first paragraph. What followed was a period of some pretty creative swearing if I do say so myself, and the Bear looking on, slightly worried and not quite knowing what to do. Anyway, there didn't appear to be any way to recover it, so I had to start all over again and begrudgingly try to recall every instance where I called Jessica a psycho bitch.

I was briefly tempted to just go FUCK THIS and leave book 12 as a blank space in my Revisited list, but I powered through and rewrote the whole thing. Pain. In. The gee. Anyway. Here we go.

Sweet Valley High #12: When Love Dies

Poor Steven Wakefield is miserable. So miserable in fact, that it takes him a second or two to realise which of his sisters he's talking to. It turns out it's "tempestuous" (psychotic) Jessica, rather than "levelheaded" (boring) Elizabeth. And the reason Steven is so sad is because his girlfrenn Tricia Martin has broken two dates recently and has been giving him the cold shoulder. So naturally, instead of showing the tiniest bit of sensitivity towards her brother, Jessica gets annoyed that he's hung up on someone from such a white trash family, suggests that Tricia probably doesn't care that he's upset and then angrily eats a banana.

Later that evening, Todd decides to go to Tricia's house to confront her and find out what's going on, but not before Jessica goads him some more and implies that Tricia might be cheating on him. Jesus, Jessica. And this is what she's like with someone she claims to love. Imagine what she'd do to an enemy? Oh yeah, she tries to ruin their lives, humiliates them until they change everything about their appearance and bullies them until they try to kill themselves. Charming girl, really.

Steven drives from the “beautiful green area of Sweet Valley” where the Wakefields live, to Tricia’s neighbourhood, which has discarded cans and broken glass and weeds everywhere, not to mention the “uneven road”. And the Martins don’t even live in a split level house. Bloody peasants.

Him and Tricia have a big fight because she won’t tell him what’s wrong and when he asks if she’s met someone else, she says nothing. They break up and he storms out, at which point Tricia falls onto her bed “like a dress slipping from a hangar” (because she’s so delicate), under the bare bulb on her bedroom ceiling (because she’s so poor).

It turns out that Tricia has recently been diagnosed with leukemia, which is what her mother died of years before and what drove ther father to becoming a messy drunk. She's only been given a few months to live, so she decided that she didn’t want the same thing to happen to Steve, so she’d rather have him think that she’s cheating on him and leave her, instead of telling him the truth.

At school, Cara Walker gets the news of the breakup from Jessica and is delighted, because she thinks Steve is “a genuine, certified hunk”. Jessica decides that she’s going to set Cara up with Steve and also learns that local TV celebrity Jeremy Frank is in Fowler Memorial with a broken leg after a skiing accident. She then hatches a plan to convince Elizabeth to sign up with her as a hospital volunteer, so she can, I dunno, flirt the hot guy or whatever.

The next day, the twins pull up outside the hospital and Jessica is silent, thinking back to two books ago and the time that Annie Whitman attempted suicide.

“Jessica never passed by this hospital without feeling a twinge of guilt. She remembered how agonising it had been to admit that she was just a teensy bit responsible for driving Annie to it.”

A teensy bit. A MOTHERFUCKING TEENSY BIT. It was ENTIRELY your fault Jessica, you deranged bitch. JESUS.

So they go sign up to be candy stripers, because that’s what hospital volunteers are called in America, due to the uniforms they wear. I Googled candy stripers to see what the clothes were like and in amongst the highy flammable sexy Halloween costume versions, there was this great photo of some candy stripin’ ladies in 1976, which probably wouldn’t have been too far off from what they would have worn in 1984 when this was written:

Ah god. Even the Wakefields with their perfect size six figures and aquamarine eyes and swishy blonde hair couldn’t make those uniforms look good. Nice hats.

Jessica’s plans to ogle Jeremy Frank are put on hold straight away though, as she’s assigned to the maternity ward and ends up spending all her time there finding vases for flowers and having newborn babies and photos of babies thrust in her face. I have to say, I actually feel for Jess here as there’s few things more boring than being cornered by someone intent on showing you photos of some baby you don’t know. Needless to say, she’s none too impressed when Elizabeth gets to meet Jeremy and sign his cast, so she sneaks her way to his room, convinced for some reason that once he meets her he’ll put her on his TV show.

Jessica enters the room, asking if there’s anything she can get for him, makes some small talk about the fact that she’s not actually Elizabeth but her twin and is about to sign his cast too, when she loses her balance and goes crashing into his banjaxed leg, stabbing the other one with the pen. Morto for her. Also, while at the hospital, Elizabeth spots Tricia looking frail and unhappy, but she runs off when Elizabeth calls out to her. HMM.

Steven is moping around the house over his now former lady love, so Jessica lets on that Cara Walker has a load of gossip about Tricia and that she’s having a party that night and he should come. While convincing him to go, she slags off Tricia’s trampy sister Betsy for hanging out with “that dropout Rick Andover”, because clearly it’s fine for Jessica to do it, but not for someone who isn’t from the lovely green area of Sweet Valley.

Cara’s party is actually a ruse in Jessica’s mision to get her brother and Cara to hook up, so the only other people there are Jessica, her date Aaron Dallas, Lila Fowler and some rando dude called Jim that Lila brought who no one knows. Cara tells Steve that she heard Tricia has a new boyfriend and was seen draped all over some guy at a pharmacy recently. Steve gets all angry, or as the book puts it “Steve felt himself stiffen.” Ay ohh! Down boy. So in an attempt to drive thoughts of Tricia away, he gets all up on Cara, who is delighted and they proceed to score the faces off each other.

I think the real problem here is that Tricia is actually a Victorian ghost.

Back at school, Liz sees Tricia looking all miserable so she goes over to her and asks what’s going on and why she ran off at the hospital. Tricia tries to fob her off with a story about how she was there to visit a sick friend and Liz is all like who is she and what room is she in and what’s wrong with her and it’s like, shut up Liz, she obviously doesn’t want to talk about it so leave her the fuck alone and stop prying, you nosy wench.

The twins are back on candy striper duty and Jessica is determined to win Jeremy Frank over, so she sails into his room with a jug full of water, on a mission to make a better impression. But uh oh! Jeremy is getting a sponge bath and is TOTALLY NAKED. ACTUAL COCK IN SWEET VALLEY, YOU GUYS. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. On seeing a dong for the first time, Jessica screams and spills the cold water all over him before fleeing from the room. She’s essentially having a Carry On Doctor subplot with him.

Meanwhile, a weird lonely orderly called Carl keeps staring at Elizabeth and her perfect face. She tries being friendly to him and says hello, even though he creeps her out. She tells herself to stop being so silly. “What could he possibly do to her?” she wonders. Well hello there, foreshadowing. I bet if Elizabeth was in a slasher film she’d be the one idiot running upstairs.

Elizabeth has also been cooking up a scheme with Jeremy in order to prevent Jessica from causing him any further bodily harm. Apparently as soon as a guy she’s into actually starts paying attention to her, she loses interest, so he’s going to pretend like he fancies her so she’ll calm the fuck down.

There’s a new patient on Elizabeth’s floor, so she calls in to see if she needs anything and it turns out to be Tricia. She tearfully confesses her illness to Elizabeth, as well as her plan to keep it from Steve and makes her promise to keep her secret.

For the next week, Elizabeth is miserable as she feels like Steve should know what’s going on with Tricia, but can’t talk to anyone about it. She can’t tell Jesscia, she can’t tell Todd, or Enid, or her parents, so whoever can she talk to? Why sexy Mr. Collins, of course!

She goes to his office and and tells him and his sky-blue eyes the whole story, asking what she should do. Mr. Collins puts “a comforting hand on her shoulder”, tells her to follow her instincts and probably took a few moments for himself afterwards with the office door locked.

Over in the hospital, the whole Jessica-Jeremy scheme has been bubbling away and comes to a head when he gets her to come to his room and asks her to marry him. Jessica panics and runs away, so I guess the plan was a success. Jesus, if a guy Jessica is chasing after isn’t too busy trying to rape her, then he’s fake-proposing to her.

That evening back at home, Elizabeth fills Mammy Wakefield in on the Jeremy scam she’s pulling on Jessica and Alice is all “The things you girls come up with! One thing about having twins – it never gets boring!” She’s not like a regular mom. She’s a cool mom.

Elizabeth doesn’t get a chance to talk to Steve that night before he leaves for a party with Cara, so he’s all distant for the night and keeps thinking about Tricia. Especially when he smells Cara’s perfume, because Tricia didn’t need to wear any, as “the scent of her skin and hair was naturally delicate and sweet”. Yeah Steve. I suppose she pooed bottles of Chanel No. 5 as well. Anyway, Cara gets fed up with him constantly thinking about Tricia and angrily calls a halt to whatever thing they had going.

Meanwhile, Jessica has been considering Jeremy’s pretend proposal and has come around to the idea of being engaged to a celebrity. She goes to see him at the hospital and tells him she will marry him after all, so he bursts out laughing and explains that the whole thing was a ploy to get her to back off, while gallantly leaving out the fact that it was Elizabeth's idea. She’s all annoyed but he makes it up to her by having her on his TV show. So everything is grand there, I suppose.

Elizabeth eventually gets to talk to Steven and tells him everything that’s been going on with Tricia. He immediately drives over to Trica’s house and tells her he knows what’s happening and that he loves her and is going to be there for her so they have a big teary reconciliation and it’s all very sad. :(

A few days later, Elizabeth is leaving the hospital and sitting in her car, about to leave when Carl the creepy orderly shows up. He tells her that she’s needed back inside but when she gets out of the car, he chloroforms her ass and drags her into his van.


Notable outfit:
There was a very disappointing lack of hilarious clothes in this one, in fact the only proper outfit we get (apart from a mention of Elizabeth’s LOVELY tailored cordoury skirt) is Cara’s dress at the fake party.

“She was wearing a splashy Hawaiian print halter dress. It was cut so low in the back that Steven could see the white lines from her bikini crisscrossing her dark tan. She had pulled her long brown hair into a ponytail over one ear so that it snaked seductively down her bare shoulder.”

It actually sounds pretty nice, apart from the tan lines. Boo.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 136
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 5
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 2
Amount of times Tricia is referred to as pale/delicate/fragile: 12 Because she's a porcelain doll-ghost, you see.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Quelque Chose #24

On one hand, it might be a teeny bit early for Halloween type talk, but on the other, don't be ridiculous of course it isn't. In any case, check out these amazing photos of Mae West working the living fuck out of both an incredible bat costume and spider costume. They're from Belle of the Nineties, a 1934 film that she wrote and starred in (of course, seeing as she was awesooooome).

Those bat wings would be incredible for Halloween, although getting through doorways might be a bit of an issue. As would holding a pint or a Long Island Iced Tea. It'd totally be worth it though.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Apparently I Need a Hero

So, in case it hasn't been totally clear before now, I kinda fucking love theme parks. The thing is, I usually end up being so busy trying to get on every rollercoaster as often as possible and generally being overexcited and breaking into a run without quite meaning to, that I invariably don't get around to having a proper look in the park shops until it's half an hour before everything closes.

The day we went to Islands of Adventure while in Florida was no different (apart from the almost passing out from the heat and being wheeled to the backstage medical area bit) and this time there were Harry Potter and superhero shops to be frantic in.

While scuttling around the Marvel shop, intent on getting myself a t-shirt, I realised that getting one with, say, the Captain America shield logo or Thor or Storm on it was looking less and less likely. Because the only lady sized t-shirts were these ones:

The fuck, guys? I mean, yes, Wolverine is a big massive ride and all and The Avengers was basically Arm Fest 2012, but surely it wouldn't kill you to throw in a few options that AREN'T about boning superheroes and basically the cotton equivalent of twirling your fucking hair and giggling like a twat.

Oh wait, they did.

LADIES NIGHT? Are you serious? Invisible Woman, Hellcat, Storm and Spiderwoman are already pretty fucking cool and don't actually need a lame caption that makes them sound like a drunk hen party. The worst part is, I was actually half tempted to get it, as it was the only ladies top in the whole place that wouldn't make the wearer sound like a simpering groupie.

It was doubly annoying because the men's t-shirts were really cool but in my case a man's t-shirt + a big rack is not particularly conducive to not looking like a sack of potatoes. Now, I know there's plenty of decent superhero themed ladies tops online and in other places, but I don't think it was unreasonable of me to expect that I'd be able to get something with Jean Grey or literally any other female hero on it, when the outside of the shop looks like this:

Come on! There's a giant, fuck-off, kickass Rogue cutout on the stupid place and they can't even stick her on a t-shirt? BOO. What's worse, when I was looking for pictures for this post of the tops I saw that evening, I ended up on Marvel's official online merchandise shop, to find that they have all of FOUR different t-shirts for women and uh oh, what's that, little girls who like superheros? Oh, I'm sorry, according to YOU DON'T EXIST.

Whatever. I got a Gryffindor top and gloves instead.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Too Good To Be True

Ok, I know I've been ridiculously remiss in posting for the last while, but between holidays and a wedding and the superfun weekend that was Electric Picnic, I just haven't been able or inclined to get around to it. But here I am! And I'm making it up to you all with a Sweet Valley High post. Because yay! Also, at a slightly drunken work night out from a while ago, I promised some people that I would say hello to Karen, who is in either North Korea or Wellington, NZ (sure why not) and the ladies who play ultimate frisbee in Dublin. These are the details I found in the notes bit on my phone the next day anyway, so hopefully that still makes sense. Anyway, hi! And onwards we go!

Sweet Valley High #11: Too Good To Be True

House Wakefield is in disarray! Ned's old college roomate, Tom Devlin has suggested an exchange for spring break. His daughter Suzanne is going to fly out to Sweet Valley, while either Jessica or Elizabeth will go to New York in her place to visit the Devlins and stay in their swanky apartment. Needless to say, Jessica is declaring that she'll positively DIE if she can't go and is already imagining herself out at "some impossibly chic Manhattan disco" where she'll hook up with Mick Jagger (really) or be discovered by a modelling agency and become the next Cheryl Tiegs, because the references in this book are fucking gas. They end up flipping a coin for it and Elizabeth wins, so Jessica graciously congratulates her sister and tells her how happy she is for her, despite her disappointment. No wait, she bursts into tears and wails like a spoiled brat when Elizabeth tries to comfort her. Of course.

Later, Elizabeth even tells a still mournful Jessica that she can wear her new culottes while she's away (awesome!), but instead, Jessica manipulates Elizabeth's doubts about being away from Todd for two whole weeks (GOD she's so lame) and convinces her that Lila Fowler is going to get all up in his bizzniz while she's not there to stand guard over his crotch. Predictably, Elizabeth caves and then convinces herself that she never really wanted to go in the first place, and anyway "her sense of adventure and fun was far different from Jessica's". As in, Jessica, actually HAS fun every once in a while.

The Wakefields drop Jessica off at the airport and collect Suzanne when she arrives and half a page is spent detailing how hot she is.

"The most beautiful girl she'd ever seen"
"The girl had to be a professional model"
"Her features couldn't have been more perfect if they'd been sculpted by Michaelangelo"

Hyperbole, much? Also, she's got glossy black hair and enormous violet-blue eyes, so she's basically a sixteen year old Elizabeth Taylor. Suzanne and Elizabeth go for a swim when they get back to the house and Suzanne is so sexy looking in her bikini that "suddenly Elizabeth felt self-conscious about her own lovely size six figure". Oh boo fucking hoo Liz, are your diamond shoes too tight?

The next day, everyone goes along to a class picnic at the lake, chaperoned - of course - by Mr. Collins, who never seems to have anything better to do than hang around with a bunch of horny sixteen year olds. Get a hobby, dude. Naturally, everyone is in awe of Suzanne and Elizabeth notices that her buddy, plain ol' Enid is even attracting some stares of her own in her candy striped bikini.

"Though she wasn't stunning like Suzanne, with her shiny, shoulder length brown hair and enormous green eyes, she had a prettiness that was all her own."

Ouch! A prettiness that was all her own? Why don't you just slap her in the face and be done with it, Liz? Anyway, while Elizabeth is busy comparing Mr. Collins to Robert Redford, Suzanne gets into trouble while swimming. Mr. Collins springs into action, rescuing her and carrying her out of the water in his arms, dripping wet and ripped, like a goddamn hero. Elizabeth briefly wonders what the fuck is going on, as Suzanne was a super amazing swimmer in the pool back at the house, before engaging in some vom-inducingly cheesy canoodling with Todd. i.e. "I may need more mouth-to-mouth resuscitation." Bleh. Those guys suck.

Liz's stink-face here is a thing of beauty. That's some quality smell-the-fart acting.

Over in New York, Jessica has been left alone in the Devlins' swanky apartment, only for Suzanne's twenty year old fancy man Pete to pay a visit. He's super handsome and wearing a tight blue Lacoste shirt and says wanky things like "Chopin should come from the heart, don't you think?" So obviously Jessica is smitten and manages to wangle her way into a piano concert date with him that night.

However, her excitement wanes somewhat when Pete is half an hour late and doesn't even have the decency to fall to the ground and involuntarily come in his pants when he sees her in one of Suzanne's sexy black dresses and fancy make-up. In fact, the only comment he makes about how she looks is to point out that she's wearing Suzanne's dress. Jessica is most unimpressed, but still convinced that this rude douchebag is "the most exciting guy she'd ever met". They go for dinner and the concert bores the tits off Jessica, who is getting ever more frustrated that Pete won't make a move on her. He doesn't kiss her when he drops her off at the apartment, which leaves Jess utterly furious, as "she'd never been more humiliated in all her life" and could probably do with getting a bit of fucking perspective, to be honest.

Back in Sweet Valley, Elizabeth can't find her gold lavaliere and Suzanne tells her she'll help her find it. They're going to the beach for the day and Liz tries to get Steven to come with them, as he's been moping around the house over the problems he and his girlfriend Tricia are having. He declines and they tease each other for a bit, she calls him puny and he says "Who's calling who 'puny'? If you turned sideways and stuck your tongue out, you could probably pass for a zipper." Which is...what? She'd be all silver and shiny? Even more confusingly, she answers with "Don't I wish!" So...she WANTS to look like a zip? What is with all this zip nonsense, guys?

Anyway, as they're leaving to head to the beach, we get a little Suzanne POV, where she "reached into her shorts pocket with her other hand, fingering the gold necklace that lay coiled inside. A pretty little trinket, she thought with satisfaction."


You do NOT fuck with the Wakefield lavalieres. This bitch is going down.

Elizabeth wants to stop off at Mr. Collins' house on the way to drop off some stuff for the school paper, but Suzanne insists on delivering the envelope so she can thank him for saving her drowning ass at the lake. Mr. Collins is out the back of the house watering the plants with his great big garden hose "wearing only a pair of white jogging shorts and a red bandana to keep his longish strawberry-blond hair out of his eyes." Not to mention "his bare, muscular chest, which was deeply tanned and slick with perspiration." Goodness. Suzanne turns on the charm, but is getting nothing but gruff politeness from him, so she goes on about how hot it is and asks to drink from the hose, as if she's some kind of labrador. What follows is so hilariously over the top, it sounds like something from a Whitesnake video.

"Suzanne laughed merrily as the cool water bubbled over her lips and nose. She let it dribble down her chin until the front of her thin t-shirt was soaked, making it cling to her very brief bikini top."

If only there was a car bonnet nearby for her to writhe around on! Mr. Collins blushes at the sight of the underage girl in the wet t-shirt, so Suzanne chalks it up as a small victory in her quest to, I dunno, bone the teacher, I guess.

Meanwhile, Jessica is starting to feel homesick and isn't having as much fun as she'd hoped for. She feels uncomfortable around Mrs. Devlin, who has an icy bitch demeanour, thinks the maid will steal from the drinks cabinet unless she locks it and calls taxi drivers "dreadful little men", so it sounds like she's also kinda racist. Mr. Devlin is hardly ever home, what with all the embassy functions he has to attend, so really I don't understand why they offered to look after one of Ned's daughters in the first place when all they do is leave her alone in the apartment.

Jessica goes to a dinner party thrown by Suzanne's BFF Evelyn, but the place is full of arsey, unpleasant heirs and heiresses taking about diamonds and Maseratis. Jessica ends up drinking too much wine during dinner, trips on her way to the bathroom and passes out to the sound of the rich kids being assholes. I actually feel kinda bad for her here. The people at this party are dicks and drinking so much that you're knocking shit over and passing out isn't exactly a superfun place to be.

Over on the West Coast, Elizabeth is supposed to be babysitting Mr. Collins' son Teddy, but Todd got last minute tickets to a Lakers game and she really wants to go. Suzanne steps in and offers to babysit Teddy, says that she'll call Mr. Collins to let him know that she's filling in for Liz, but DOESN'T because she's ulterior motive-ing all up in here. Mr. Collins is a bit put out when she turns up, seeing as he's leaving his child with a relative stranger that he's already suspicious of, but she purrs at him and charms Teddy so he goes off to a social occasion that for once doesn't involve his students. As soon as he leaves though, Suzanne ignores Teddy and proceeds to root around Mr. Collins' underpants drawer for the hell of it and is disappointed not to find even so much as a Playboy in his bedroom. Which I don't buy for a single second. That dude has a porn stash somewhere, she obviously didn't look hard enough.

When he gets home, he finds Suzanne pretending to be asleep on the sofa, with her blouse strategically unbuttoned. She asks for wine and starts to press herself against him in an attempt to lob the gob, but Roger is having none of it. She storms out, furious, and stomps back to the Wakefields' house, formulating a plan. Which is to rip her blouse and tell everyone that Mr. Collins attacked her. Jesus fucking Christ. These kids.

Back in New York, Jessica is out on another date with Pete, flirting outrageously with him, but it doesn't appear to have any effect. But then he comes back to the apartment with her, pours them both some brandy, turns off the lights and suddenly, to Jessica's surprise, starts wearing the face off her.

She's delighted for all of ten seconds before she realises that "Pete had much more in mind than kissing" and is getting a bit too insistent. She tries to stop him but he pins her against the couch, gets all simultaeneously rapey and victim-blamey and tells her she's asking for it, as dudes in these books are wont to do. Jessica is freaking out and decides that it's all Elizabeth's fault for letting her take her place in New York and essentially giving her what she wanted. Because she's crazy. Again, same as All Night Long. She's nothing if not consistent. Anyway, some brandy glasses get smashed and it's all a bit horrible, but suddenly the lights are switched back on and ta-dah! The Devlins are actually home for once.

Meanwhile, Suzanne runs crying to Elizabeth, with her torn clothes and damn filthy lies and after two days, it's the biggest scandal to hit Sweet Valley since, I dunno, the last scandal that hit Sweet Valley. It's a ridiculous town, who can keep count? Elizabeth and Todd secretly doubt Suzanne's story, because Mr. Collins is so super and brilliant and looks like Robert Redford, in case you didn't know.

Anyway, it's Suzanne's last night in Sweet Valley and everyone is going to a big party at Lila's mansion for her birthday. While she's getting ready to go, Elizabeth puts a present into Suzanne's packed suitcase as a surprise for her, but DUN DUN DUUUN...she finds the holy grail lavaliere in amongst Suzanne's clothes.

While in the car with Todd on the way to the party, Elizabeth tells him where she found her necklace and they begin to wonder if maybe Suzanne made up the whole assault story. Elizabeth wonders why anyone would do such a "hideous thing" and when Todd reminds her of some of the shitty things Jessica has done in the past for sheer divilment, Elizabeth, in a spectacular feat of doublethink, replies:

"But that was just Jessica. She's never done anything really bad."

(I don't normally use gifs in these posts, but I feel like this warrants one.)


Anyway, she and Todd decide to make a detour to Mr. Collins' house, and find him "a pale shadow of the Roger Collins she knew." He looks like he hasn't slept in days and he's got STUBBLE on his jaw. And as we all know, in the world of Sweet Valley, beards = despair. She realises that Mr. Collins is innocent and decides that Suzanne isn't going to get away with what she's done. When they arrive at Lila's place, she gets Suzanne alone in the coatroom (what, your house doesn't have a coatroom? Fowler style, bitches!) and confronts her. Suzanne confesses to everything, but before Elizabeth can reveal the truth to anyone, Suzanne spreads a rumour via gossip queen Cara Walker that Elizabeth has been acting all strange, like the time she came out of her coma after the big motorbike accident. It's actually pretty impressively devious, how quickly and efficently she discredits Liz. That's some top-notch villainy, Suzanne.

Before long, everyone thinks that Elizabeth is going nuts, so when it gets back to her, she confronts Suzanne again, in public this time. While she's calling her a liar, Winston Egbert (who overheard the coatroom conversation) comes along to hand Suzanne a drink and accidentally on purpose trips over, spilling punch all over her white satin, off-the-shoulder dress. Ruh roh! Suzanne freaks the fuck out, showing everyone The Real Her, i.e. a rampaging bitch and everyone dramatically walks away from her, leaving her alone, crying. Wah.

Jessica returns home after the Devlins told Pete that they never wanted to see him again, Mr. Collins gets his job back and everything is fine and dandy. Hooray.

Notable outfit:
"She [Elizabeth] was wearing her favourite velvet skirt and a high-necked, lace Victorian blouse. Suzanne had helped her fix her hair into a fancy French braid, into which she'd tucked a fragrant sprig of honeysuckle."

Boom. Ingalls Wilder swag.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 150
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 3
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 1 (Poor show.)
Appearances of the word "muscular": 5

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Orlando Boom

After a gloriously fun holiday in sunny, stickily humid Florida, I have now returned to grey, also fairly stickily humid Dublin. Yay. However, I've returned to find that I've been nominated in the Pop Culture and Humour categories in the Irish Blog Awards, so genuine thanks and awkward hugs to the kind people who saw fit to throw my blog into the ring. You're sound.

Anyway, the holiday. I'm not even sure where to start. It involved four theme parks, one alligator sighting, two evenings of pirate-themed crazy golf, eight hours of wandering around the Kennedy Space Centre, two dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts and me almost passing out from the intense heat while queuing in Hogsmeade. Of all places. I ask you.

So here are a few of the things I learned in the city of Orlando:

My family and I are kinda brilliant at theme parks.
Florida in August = enormo-queues. But we didn't stand in line for more than half an hour or so for anything, bar two rides that broke down while we were mid-queue (shakes fist at E.T. and Ariel), however that's just down to sucky timing and couldn't be helped. Fastpass tickets (the free Disney ones, not the Universal Studios ones that they charge you for. NEVER those ones), single rider queues and just waiting until later in the evening are all handy queue avoidance techniques.

Also, there is a FANTASTIC rollercoaster in Universal Studios that allows you to choose a song to listen to while you're being flung upside-down at a frankly alarming height. The Bear and I both ended up picking Sabotage by the Beastie Boys. I had a sore throat the next day.

I will judge people based on their bumper stickers.
For example, when I saw one that said "Obama is what happens when you allow idiots, illegals and welfare recipients to vote", I came to the conclusion that the guy driving that jeep was a racist, backwards and deeply unpleasant dickhead.

Florida laughs in the face of subtlety.


There's nothing on earth like a genuine, bona fide, electrified, six-car monorail!
You need to take either a ferryboat or a monorail to Disney World from the car park. We took the monorail (because, obviously) and were then trapped on it for a very sweaty extra ten minutes when the monorail ahead of us broke down (because....obviously).

We got the boat back when we were leaving.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is AH-MAY-ZING.
Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park is already eleven kinds of deadly, but throw in Hogwarts and the village of Hogsmeade and you've got yourself one overexcited me.

Admittedly, our day there didn't start off too spectacularly, seeing as I got walloped with heatstroke while queuing for the first ride of the day, a Hippogriff rollercoaster. It was completely unexpected, as I've never had a weird reaction to heat before. I was drinking water and lemonade since we arrived at the park and we were standing in the shade when it happened, but out of nowhere I got really lightheaded and dizzy and just felt sick. My hands seized up and my fingers, feet and face went all tingly, so I was left with useless numb crab claw hands that had to be prised open by the Bear so I could hold a bottle of water. Disaster!

My first proper look at Hogsmeade was from a wheelchair, while being bumpily escorted over the cobbles to the first aid area by a big burly paramedic dude. It wasn't exactly ideal. However, after around twenty minutes and a lie down in an air conditioned room, I was fine again. Anyway, it actually all worked out in the end, because thanks to my little episode we got to skip the queues for the Harry Potter rides for the rest of the day. TOTALLY WORTH IT.

NASA is super cool.
We expected to spend around half a day at the Kennedy Space Centre, and yet found ourselves traipsing around the Atlantis shuttle exhibit at seven o'clock that evening.

Shortly after we arrived home, Armageddon was on telly and showed Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler dry-humping in one of the blasters on the base of the rocket in the photo above. "Get out of Apollo 8, you jerks!" I said. They didn't listen.

America is terrible at chocolate (Ok, I already knew this). 


There is a Disney-built town called Celebration.
As we were driving to and from the theme parks, I kept noticing road signs for a place called Celebration and remembered a documentary I'd seen years ago about this creepy town built by Disney where everything was perfect and the people living there were Disney obsessives.

So, naturally we went there for breakfast one morning. It's actually kinda deadly. There's ACTUAL white picket fences all over the place, the houses and buildings are all painted in ice-cream shades of pastel and the signage has a decidedly art deco twang to it. It's like Disney meets Stepford Wives. I liked it.

Their wall sockets look like worried little faces.

"Oh nooo!" They all said.

Also, we saw Jesse Metcalfe while we were killing time waiting for our flight home in the airport in Chicago. The Bear was the one who noticed him, because he was being an aggressive dick to the woman who was with him, who we later reckoned must have been his PA or something. Dad refused to believe that he's a douchebag, because he loves him on Dallas. He was a douchebag though.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Jewellery Jackpot

So it was my birthday last month, but I've been so busy and disorganised and headless chicken-like lately that it's taken me until now to get around to posting about the AMAZING presents that the super deadly Bear gave me. He surprised me with a Father Ted themed weekend away, where we had tea in Father Ted's house, followed by a scamper around the Ailwee Caves and generally had loads of fun.

However, this post is about the lovely shiny things that I was lucky enough to be given. First of all, there's this SUPER COOL silver walnut locket, made by our ridiculously talented metalsmith friend Mirjam (who created my incredible bear ring).

It's so amazingly lovely! Mirjam is just incredibly good at what she does and has actually opened a shop in Sligo. It's called Wildheart and I highly suggest you check it out or at least snoop around her website and Facebook page for a look at the glorious pieces just bursting with character that she has worked her unique brand of pirate magic on. The shop in Sligo also has a vintage section, which is where that crafty Bear of mine picked up the next amazing present.

This totally beautiful bird necklace! Just look at that bad boy. 

And finally, he got me a kickass watch from an Irish company called Push. It's got a mirror-type surface (super handy) and when you press one of the buttons on the side, the time flashes up in a lovely LED shade of blue. It's so goddamn cool! I also love it because it sort of reminds me of a square Rice Krispies digital watch I had as a young wan, where you'd press a button on the side and the time would pop up out of the top. It was one of those ones you collected tokens and sent away for and I bloody loved it. And now I have this awesome grown-up version of it! Yay!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hate The Freys, Not The Game

Since the emotional goddamn ROLLERCOASTER that was the latter half of series three of Game of Thrones, also known as the time George R.R. Martin trampled all over our feelings and punched us in the kidneys on his way out, I've been frantically horsing my way through A Storm of Swords, A Feast For Crows and now A Dance With Dragons in order to find out what the HELL happens next and it's all just so GODDAMN EXCITING.

As such, I've been wanting to write a post about it all, but there's no real point I want to make, so these are really just a bunch of my thoughts on the books, TV show and characters. Mostly because I just wanted the opportunity to call Joffrey a malevolent little fucker.

(Just so you know, I'm not going to give anything away past the point where the TV show finished up, so there'll be no book spoilers from me. Book spoiler people are the worst and I REFUSE TO BE THOSE PEOPLE.)

The Books

I have to say, I am absolutely loving the books so far. At first I thought I might end up being slightly bored or impatient with them when I knew what would happen next up to a point, having been so familiar with the TV series at that stage, but I found myself eating up all the extra details and back stories and characters that there just wasn't room for in the telly version.

I also learned that tourneys are sort of like the Westerosi version of a festival, as they mostly consist of lots of brightly coloured tents and people getting hammered in a field. Like Electric Picnic, but more murdery. The Oxegen of Westeros.

Before I started reading the series, I had heard a few people mention how overly descriptive the books are, how there's endless paragraphs about food and what everyone's wearing (boiled leather, mostly), and yeah, there is quite a bit of that but I'm actually really into it, especially the food stuff.

It's weird, because cookery shows bore the living fuck out of me, but for some reason I love knowing exactly what everyone's eating, whether there's grease dripping down their fingers or not and what EXACTLY the wild boar or lark or trout was roasted with. It's like one big medieval Marks & Spencer food porn ad.

And anyway, it's not nearly as bad as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which could spend anything up to two solid pages at a time listing furniture that Lisbeth Salander bought in Ikea. Now THAT shit was boring.

The TV Show

Here's the thing about the TV show. If you've only watched it once and haven't read the books, go back and watch it again RIGHT NOW. It gets even better the second (and third!) time you watch it, as this time around you're not wondering who the hell this person is and why these people don't seem to get along and just what the flip a maester is when he's at home. This time you can actually just enjoy it and end up noticing a heap of things that passed you by the first time.

It took a second viewing for me to realise that I didn't have a fucking clue what was going on the first time I watched it. I was so busy getting my head around the eleventy million houses of Westeros that I didn't even register Theon Greyjoy and what his deal was until the second series, when he dropped the hand on his sister. I was genuinely surprised to see that he'd been knocking around Winterfell all through the first series while re-watching.

Also, you're a dick.
The fact that there's so many Irish actors in it and so much of it is filmed in Belfast means that spotting certain characters out and about in Dublin can happen surprisingly often. You just don't get that with Mad Men or Breaking Bad or True Blood. So far I've seen Joffrey, Ser Jorah and Bronn out and about in the city.

It's a weird feeling seeing Joffrey in real life. I know that Jack Gleeson is meant to be a totally lovely guy in real life and I'm sure he is (I mean, look at him messing with this pug puppy for God's sake! A pug puppy!) but Joffrey is just such an unrelentingly malevolent little fucker (yay!) in the show, that when he's walking past you minding his own non-sociopathic business the urge to kick him in the shins or at least glower at him is disconcertingly strong. The poor guy. I'm suddenly beginning to understand those old ladies you hear about who accost soap opera villains in the street, shouting at them for being such terrible people.

I actually saw Jorah and Bronn within minutes of each other while a few of us were standing outside The Stag's Head last year, which led to excited speculation about the potential of a secret cast party happening somewhere in the city centre and a brief temptation to follow them. Gotta catch 'em all. (We didn't follow them. That would be creepy.)

The Excellent Female Characters

As well as making for addictive viewing and reading, Game of Thrones features some brilliant female characters and unlike certain other shows *cough*THEWALKINGDEAD*cough*, there's loads of room for more than one strong woman at a time. (I'm still raging with that show for making Andrea into a headwrecking gowlbag as soon as Michonne came on the scene. Dicks.)

Dammit George, get over here so I can give you a big feminist hug.
Anyway, in the Seven Kingdoms and across the Narrow Sea we've got:

Daenerys Targaryen - Stormborn, the Unburnt, Mother of Dragons and GODDAMN KHALEESI OF THE GREAT GRASS SEA.

Asha Greyjoy (or Yara Greyjoy on telly) - fearsome pirate queen and badass maritime motherfucker.

Cersei Lannister - okay she's riding her brother and an AWFUL wagon but you have to admit that she's one bad bitch who gets shit done. Nobody can wield a backhanded compliment like the Lioness of Casterly Rock.

Brienne of Tarth - kickass knight, excellent with a sword and won the fuck out of a tourney melee against a bunch of dudes. (Who, by the way, is an utter knockout in real life.)

Arya Stark - ferocious she-wolf hellbent on revenge, destined for utter greatness and takes absolutely no shit.

That's before we even get near Catelyn Stark's steely resolve, Shae's wily resourcefulness or Margaery eye-fucking and power-dressing her way to queendom. Not to mention the awesomely acid-tongued Lady Olenna aka the Dowager Countess of Highgarden and Sansa Stark, who (to drag out the Downton Abbey comparison) is sort of the Lady Edith of the show - the ginger girl you don't really like all that much to begin with, but before you know it you're 100% rooting for her and digging her quiet strength. Oh AND wildling Ygritte not giving a single fuck, being handy with with a spear and the absolutely magical way she says Jon Snow.

The Ridebags

So, yes, the characters in the series, both male and female, are great and complex and flawed and in some cases just trying to get along as best they can in the fucked up realm of Westeros. But allow me to lower the tone somewhat by saying DAMN there are some total foxes in this series. And in fairness, the show is pretty much an equal opportunites deal in terms of whose ass you get to see, which makes a nice change from the usual naked lady/fully dressed dude trope, like the skeezy Blurred Lines video or the People of the Year series of GQ covers from last year.

As well as typically gorgeous people, (i.e. Jaime Lannister and the big Disney prince head on him and Daenerys being ridiculously beautiful) it also provides an array of weird and slightly guilty crushes, like Sandor Clegane and Roose Bolton, and those are always fun. I'd also just like to point out what a difference a few years and change of hair colour makes in the case of Iain Glen. Villain in Tomb Raider? Move along, unappealing oily-haired man. Ser Jorah? BACK THAT FINE ASS UP, MORMONT. No friendzone for you. A touch of face cragginess did him the world of good.

So what I'm really wondering now is what the hell I'm going to do when I run out of books to read. Oh, who am I kiddding, it'll probably be a fourth go at series one and onwards.