Sunday, 31 January 2010

Deal Or No Deal?

I watched this show religiously when it first hit our TV screens for about one year... it formed my daily afternoon to evening TV routine: Countdown, Deal or No Deal, Weakest Link, Dinner, Friends and then the E4 9pm Drama... yes, completely sad.


What made me watch this show was its pure simplicity. You have 22 boxes, each with a different sum of money, and each time, one person with their box is selected to play, and they knock out the other boxes one by one... after each round (of 3 boxes), they get an offer from a "banker". Accepting the offer, the player plays on trying to beat the banker by getting a better deal than what was in their box. Declining the offer, the player continues and tries to get the highest sum of money possible.

The box sums range from 1p all the way to £250,000. There have been a few £250,000 winners, and a much larger group of 1p winners. As the viewer, what makes it so intriguing is how they play the game; how they steer their way to the max sum possible. Of course, not everyone selected to play will have the £250,000 in their box, and thus will never get that sum. However, they can get pretty close by making wise choices. What wise choices? The only choices they CAN make throughout the game is:

1) Who to pick and which box to open.
2) Whether to deal or no deal

Let's face it. No 1 is pure random, and it doesn't matter who has which box, and for all we care, they could just be boxes, or even just a screen, and we poke the boxes one by one within a few seconds and have ourselves a winning sum. (This is pretty much how the DS version of the game plays out). The only thing the players have control over is whether to deal or no deal. FACT. So, for me, the most intriguing thing is how they can choose NOT to deal, when they're offered immense sums such as £30,000+ and they would risk all that for a greater amount. Yes, I'm sure many WOULD, but it IS a gamble. Through the way the show is set out, the money doesn't feel REAL, its just numbers on a board, but it IS real money and the psychological implications of such a game is really quite interesting.

However, what sets this show back is the large amount of bull that is said on it. Like I said, the show could end within 10 minutes. All it is is basically one person selecting boxes and so on... but Mr Noel Edmonds, dragging the show on and on and on... I don't dislike the guy and he's not the one behind the show format, but seriously, too much crap. It doesn't matter whether the BOX opener thinks it is a high or low box, nor does it help to cheer the contestant on. It's all chance.

Now, I've not been a contestant, so I cannot talk about the backstage-ness of the show, and how contestants are treated, nor what goes on in the "supposed" hotel they stay in and whether or not they have to pay for themselves. Speculation is that they DO have to pay for it themselves?! Regardless, you have to audition... and be selected. Yes, I see they need to have a range of demographics, and also to make the show more interesting... so charismatic people and so on... but perhaps also if you are more susceptible to their "scheme of things"? Read on.

The show is staged. IT is NOT completely random. Firstly, the contestant selected to play is NOT chosen at random. Seriously, do they think we're DUMB!? It seems miraculous that the chosen contestants' family and or friends and or spouse is there at the right time when they're chosen... call it coincidence? I think not. Secondly, the boxes. Apparently the sums are sealed by an independent adjudicator and only he/she knows what are in the boxes... hmm... I can believe that. I can also believe that the banker does not know what are in the boxes... Can I really? Let's just say he IS in the dark about it. The show needs to maintain some sort of threshold so they don't LOSE money, so let's just say the way the banker offers is down to pure economic evil. I do believe though, that the way the boxes end on the table come in "waves", and depends on the recent sum of money that has left. For example, if the show lost £250,000 on Monday, the subsequent days' box sum on the table will be significantly less. They cannot KEEP having the same box on the table. Therefore, the selection process of WHO ends up being the contestant is highly related to the amount in their box. Well, that's my theory.

So to sum up, Yes it's an ok show to watch in the background, but the amount of flaws and patronisation that exists in the show is a strong deterrent. However they try to "spruce" things up, whether it is they are wearing weird clothes, or special Easter eggs, or extra calls from the banker, the show stripped of all this, is simply flawed.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Rachael Lampa- Rachael Lampa

Rachael Lampa is a Dove Award Winning Christian Singer. This is her fourth album.



~~~CD COVER DESIGN~~~
The design of the CD cover is extremely elegant and is the best album cover to date. It is a simple yet classy design and the font used is also majestic. However, does it reflect the quality of the songs within? Find out.

~~~TRACKLIST~~~
The album contains 11 tracks.

1) All This Time 4.5/5
The album starts off sounding VERY up tempo with a slight rock beat. The song is catchy and exciting to listen to. However, as good as it gets, it does sound slightly generic, and isn't something you could listen to forever. It does not have the timeless quality of some of her other tracks.

2) Rubberhouse 2.5/5
Another catchy and rhythmic track with a more "R n B" feel, but the lyrics doesn't really match this genre and sounds a bit awkward. I really don't like this song, especially in this slot, in THIS album. It IS catchy, but again, not as good as what is already out in the "R n B" market. I definitely think she needs to revisit her first album tunes!

3) Outrageous 3.5/5
Again, the song has a very strong backing beat, but used in a much more delicate way. This song shows that Rachael CAN be a strong singer in this genre. Still, it's definitely not my favourite, and it's quite forgettable.

4) No Other One 5/5
Just when I thought I'd have to give up listening to this album, Rachael shoves this awesome song into the album. It is a slow yet exquisite song and is one of the few that are on this album.

5) When I Fall 5/5
This song is another catchy one, but again, much more delicate. This is another one of my favourite songs from this album. Rachael shows off her powerful voice and this is a very strong song.

6) Being Alive 4/5
The song starts off with an upbeat tempo but is the quickly covered with an awkward yet funky trombone like sound. The chorus is really interesting and catchy and sounds a bit like Kelly Clarkson, but the verse is just really off putting. In no way does it show off her vocals. However, it IS a fun song to listen to.

7) You Never Know 5/5
Another great song. It is slow to start with and increases in tempo and dynamics. Beautifully crafted and emotional.

8) Good Life 3.5/5
We return back to the type of sound we heard at the beginning of the album- upbeat but nothing special. It's upbeat and happy-making in a way, but not always have the mood for it. At times it sounds a bit cheesy. It is awkwardly placed as songs on either side of this are way better!

9) Honest 4/5
This is yet another exciting song which is catchy but done well. With this, you can listen to it in almost any mood. The lyrics are also heartfelt and genuine.

10) Art 5/5
There is a nice, smooth transition into some slower songs. The song is a very simple and majestic one. Rachael does an amazing job and manages to show off her vocals. This is one of my favourite songs on the album and reminds me a bit of something sung by Delta Goodrem. I love the dynamics of the song and the control Rachael has over it. Simply put, this is just beautifully sung.

11) Room 3.5/5
I appreciate the continuation of slow songs as a nice way to round off the album, but personally, when compared to art, this is nothing.

TRACKS TO LOVE: No Other One, Art, When I fall, You Never Know.
TRACKS TO AVOID: Rubberhouse

~~~OVERALL~~~
Compared to her previous albums, this is a mixed bag. It feels slightly messy at times and the up tempo songs on here are only average. There ARE about 3/4 songs that are STUNNING (Art, When I fall etc) BUT then there are a couple that just aren't really her style and it is these songs that bring this album down. Don't get me wrong, a majority of these songs are listenable, but it's those bad few that I think could have been better.

I would recommend you download the really good ones from here instead of buying the whole thing.

EDIT: This album actually contains some of her BEST songs, but as a whole album, the weaker tracks just bring it down, namely RUBBERHOUSE!

Friday, 29 January 2010

Art Gallery of Alberta by Randall Stout Architects

The Art Gallery of Alberta is designed by Randall Stout Architects, and I love the way the building shows so much creativity and modernism. The integration of metal, glass and wood is outstanding and the thing that stands out the most are the shapes that are formed within the building... the way all these materials "clash" together in an aesthetically pleasing way.

Not only is is stunning, but theres a grandeur about it, the way these shapes are gigantic and loom over you... it is imposing and strong, with the complimentary curves making this softer.

The Gallery is to unveil at the end of January.




Thursday, 28 January 2010

Kaleidoscope- Rachael Lampa

Rachael Lampa is a Dove Award Winning Christian Singer. This is her second album.



~~~CD COVER DESIGN~~~
An interesting cover. Doesn't stand out very much but has a bright green thing which I guess attracts attention. Definitely not as classy as "Rachael Lampa", her fourth album.

~~~TRACKLIST~~~
The album contains 11 tracks.

1) Saviour Song 3.5/5
This sounds very Stacie Orrico (they are best friends). It is more soulful mixed with 'R n B', yet sounds very much like a worship song (aptly titled). On the fence about this one... I guess it depends on the mood.

2) I'm All Yours 5/5
The song, again sounds quite like a vibe Stacie Orrico produced on her albums. This song works as an upbeat and uplifting Christian song with great lyrics and meaning.

3) Brand New Life 4/5
Yet another passionate and beautiful song which is youthful, full of spirit and extremely exciting; Rachael Lampa expresses her praise for God. A great song which you can listen to and just makes you happy!

4) Lead Me (I'll Follow) 5/5
A very upbeat yet exciting song of a really pop nature. This is extremely refreshing; and is definitely one of my favourite tracks on this album. The chorus is highly up tempo and just makes you want to sing along. Love the catchiness, and her passion!

5) No Greater Love 4/5
The song starts off extremely peaceful with its piano backing, and continues very softly and elegantly. It is passionately sung and it is this softness that makes this powerful. Again, fab lyrics!

6) For Your Love 4/5
Despite the slightly techno intro, the lyrics remain constant and powerful. Once the techo-ness disappears it becomes another catchy and smooth song. This is somehow slightly more forgettable than the other tracks, but on its own, it is consistently good.

7) Beautiful 3.5/5
A powerful and strong track exclaiming the beauty of God. A fresh and beautifully crafted song, showing off Rachael's vocals.

8) Sanctuary 3/5
A very upbeat contribution that sometimes feels a bit too overwhelming. It has too many layers and makes you slightly dazed, as if entering a very crowded street and just losing yourself and getting really confuddled!

9) It's About You 4.5/5
Stacie Vibed song is yet another powerful track. The lyrics are meaningful, purposeful and inspirational. Throw a bit of "wo-o-o-h" in there and you have yet another catchy but beautiful song.

10) Give your Heart Away 4/5
A slower song, with meaningful lyrics. Soft and tranquil; Rachael Lampa again sings passionately and genuinely, and progresses to the end of the album well.

11) A Song For You 4/5
A mid-tempo song which is captivating. The lyrics are also quite good, but the rhythm and vocals are a bit odd... She is technically perfect, but the way the song is arranged; it feels only slightly odd. Also, a bit dreamy and trance-like... not sure if this is a good thing.

TRACKS TO LOVE: Lead me (I'll Follow), I'm All Yours, It's all about You
TRACKS TO AVOID: None in particular, but some just average compared to the amazing potential Rachael has.

~~~OVERALL~~~
A very strong album overall, with almost every track a stunning mix of powerful vocals and immensely powerful lyrics. This is a more Christian influenced album and it is this that shows her passion and highlights her voice. Every song is deeper than just a nice tune.

I would highly recommend this album- purely stunning, with a few tracks outstanding, shines above the rest; but all totally listenable and no need to skip any tracks!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Wild At Heart- John Eldridge


I received this at my Baptism.

~~~BOOK COVER~~~
The majority of the cover is of some sort of cliff face and a silhouette of a man jumping across. The cover sums up the book in a simple way. The book is all about being "wild at heart"!

~~~THOUGHTS~~~
The book talks all about "discovering the secret of a man's soul". Whilst the author, John Eldredge, goes into great depth about a man's need for adventure, their naturally wild heart, and why we need to be set free, the points of application were nowhere to be found in the early chapters.

Only until halfway are we introduced to our enemy, and the remaining deals more convincingly with what we can do. I have to say the whole book feels pretty much like a plateau, and there isn't really any ups and downs... so it didn't make as exciting a read as I thought (given the title).

Having said that, many of the points in the book were very insightful and I could relate to aspects of it.

Some key points that came out and that I have picked up on is:

-Be who we want to be not what the world wants us to be.
-Men are naturally wild at heart.
-The Devil uses guilt to make us stumble.

The way the book is set out is clear and split into chapters and then sub-chapters, and split so that it is not a chore to read. I personally read about a chapter a day which meant I could think about what I read and so on.

The only criticism is that it really does leave you hanging and not really knowing what to do... there are vague ideas but not really substantial.... I guess we can't be TOLD what to do, and we have to explore for ourselves and only through our relationship with God can we truly find this out... I just feel like after reading this that I am slightly lost, not really knowing if I should continue with my own dreams or whether to pick up this epic adventure I could apparently be living!

Although it mainly focuses on the heart of a man, it is a book for women as well. It talks about a woman's heart in some depth and allows the man to understand the woman more. In this way, a woman reading this book can also find out about a man's heart.

~~~OVERALL~~~
I think the book is inspirational and insightful, but lacks in application points. It is quite encouraging and I'm sure many will be excited and urged to do something exciting and break free from their mundane lifestyle.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Live For You- Rachael Lampa

Rachael Lampa is a Dove Award Winning Christian Singer. This is her debut album.


~~~CD COVER DESIGN~~~
Her very first album has a very amateur album cover. Despite her young age at the time of release, they really could have done more to elevate the design of this album. The songs in this album are stunning, and they should make this album reflect that!

~~~TRACKLIST~~~
The album contains 11 tracks.

1) Day of Freedom 3.5-4/5
An Egyptian vibe starts the song off and it grows into a somewhat Europoppy tune with a very ethnic feel; so strong it sounds a bit Eurovision! The Christian lyrics does not rescue this song... and it is an average album starter for me. However, Rachael's vocals are very strong and it does demonstrate her ability well.

2) Live For You 5/5
How the tables have turned. From an average "Day of Freedom", we get Live For You. This song may start off gentle, but it grows into such a powerful tune. It is upbeat, catchy and youthful. This is one of my favourites on the album, and perhaps sums up this whole album as Rachael was very young when this was released (I think 14?).

3) Always Be My Home 4.5/5
The song starts off soft and stays elegantly simple, but the chorus is extremely powerful and demonstrates Rachael's strong voice. The lyrics again are inspirational and passionately sung.

4) God Loves You 4/5
An extremely upbeat backing starts this song off and overall maintains an uplifting pop feel. This song is almost perfect for when it was released (2000), but may sound a bit cheesy today (a bit TOO poppy?). Lyrics wise, it is another encouraging song.

5) Blessed 4.5/5
The pop-ness is toned down in this next track. We are given another soft starter which turns into another a strong song with powerful chorus. It is starting to sound slightly samey though.

6) You Lift Me Up 5/5
We get another surprise as Rachael turns out with this preppy track that's pretty much on the same pop level as "God Loves You" but slightly more sophisticated in which it becomes an amazing feel good song you can sing and dance to anytime.

7) Shaken 3/5
This song is a much more "edgier" song compared to everything we have heard so far, taking an 'R n B' nature. However the "Shaken shaken shaken" bit in the chorus is a bit cheesy. I don't think this song fits in the album at all, despite showing her versatility.

8) Free 5/5
A slow starting song, but we return to the delicate Rachael Lampa we are now used to. Another extremely strong and powerful song which is a mix of pop and ballad. Another one of my favourite tracks with amazing lyrics.

9) Hide Me 3.5/5
As the album begins to close, we get a soft song. At this point, it no longer feels that special. It is a strong song but is quite forgettable compared to the ones we have previously heard.

10) Secret Place 4/5
The same thing goes for this song. It is fantastic, upbeat, catchy and controlled, and perhaps if moved up the track list it will fare better. It just isn't as dynamic as something like "Live For You".

11) My Father's Heart 4.5/5
The album finishes off beautifully with this song which is slow but really powerful, soft yet penetrating. An amazing finish and really rounds off the album well.

TRACKS TO LOVE: Live For You, Always be my home, You life me up, Free, My father's heart
TRACKS TO AVOID: Shaken

~~~OVERALL~~~
Rachael Lampa's debut album is heavily Christian. The lyrics in every song is extremely powerful which compliment Rachael's voice which is also extremely strong. However not every single song works, especially Shaken, as it does not fit into the album as a whole. Literally EVERYTHING else is amazing and consistent.

Whilst some may criticise the album for being "samey", this is what she does best- she is an amazingly powerful singer. The way the album has been put together does not leave you dissatisfied with so many tracks. What it does leave us with is this question: How will she top this?

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Rodarte

Just discovered Rodarte, who creates amazing Red-Carpet dresses and its all about flow, fluidity and movement. The creations are really delicate and fragile, and have a really fresh, vibrant and summery feel to them.

My appreciation for Rodarte is shared by a string of celebrities who have worn these creations to Red-Carpet events: Reese Witherspoon, Keira Knightley, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman and Dita Von Teese.

Rodarte also has some more sci-fi feel ranges, which was perfect for Reese Witherspoon's Monsters vs Aliens Premiere...





Thursday, 21 January 2010

Ugly Betty Season 4 Episode 12 Recap

This has been one funny episode. The ep started with this arc showing Justin practising for his audition into some famous actresses' class... anyway, some hilarious expressions from Betty and Hilda as he chucks the plate.




Betty moved back to her apartment, and upon seeing the news of an old woman dying alone in her apartment, got really paranoid and decided to hold a karaoke party in her apartment.


Betty undergoes a string of wrongdoings and makes her neighbours pretty mad with her, including letting burglars into the apartment... After such mishaps, she expected no one to turn up, and instead promises Marc to help him with his project which could get him a senior fashion editor position at Mode... but nonetheless people came to her party... and Betty had to do both and just burn out... once Marc's project was finished... Betty goes and sings crazily...


...and there's a blackout... and the most hilarious line delivered by Amanda (amongst the haunting music): "Oh my God, Betty's voice brought darkness to the land."


The electric door Betty had installed meant they were locked in and Marc could not leave to deliver his project! In the end, Betty breaks the lock open with Bobby's help etc etc.



On the Danhimina side, they are both fighting to get Marc to be their assistant, and Amanda decides to intrude and ends up setting them up with a couples counsellor. Notice Amanda's amazing hair... she is like getting a new hair style every episode :P

After a quick session, Daniel is told that Willhemina is revealing body language that means she wants to have sex with him, and he grabs an opportunity during the blackout... and kisses her.


Willhemina takes this badly and whacks Daniel in the face. This was absolutely hilarious as her expression says it all.



Anyway, blackout over, and Marc does get the job, but as a junior fashion editor, so on same level as Betty really... I guess this is a nice move... Marc, Betty and Amanda are a funny trio, and definitely lots more opportunities for humour now they're all bundled up in one apartment!!

However, the episode ended with some sad news, Hilda lost her baby!! I was like "Nooo!!" but I guess it WOULD be awkward to have another Suarez baby. Justin DID manage to get into his class which is good I guess...


Anyway, awesome dress sense from our three musketeers and Willhemina.


We have not seen Claire for two episodes and no mention of her adopted son. AND I noticed Daniel's slow decrease in screen time. Seriously, he is like hardly in it, and he seems to have a very insignificant role now that Betty is no longer his assistant. AND AND when are they going to work on a fashion spread again? It seems to focus too heavily on things outside Mode this ep, like perhaps go back to the Betty problems for completing a shoot or something.

Nonetheless, this was definitely a great ep, with an awesome script.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Gareth Pugh Spring 2010 Mens Collection


Gareth Pugh's Spring 2010 mens collection takes a lighter tone than the autumn/winter 2009 collection. Here he features a range of cropped jackets which look amazing and has an overall appealing feel. Check out his collection:






Friday, 15 January 2010

Ugly Betty Season 4 Episode 11 RECAP

This latest episode features Betty recalling the past. I mean, she ended up like this. What could possibly have happened!!


Well, yes, as with all evil things, it starts from Willhemina. Notice how Betty and Willhemina both wearing similar style clothing, but the sheer classiness of Willhemina's, a simple yet chic outfit.
What does she make Betty do?


Walk a mile in killer heels (as a mockery of Betty's proposed article, which she later publishes on a her blog anyway)...


Apply some crazy moisturiser which obviously did her no good...


And a crazy shower gel that made her look like this:


All in all, the most uncomfortable episode I think for Betty EVER. This tops her riding a motorcycle and falling into Jello, getting her head trapped in the elevator, that crazy makeover Hilda gave her and many more...

Another funny scene was the fact that for Betty's blog, she conducted the interviews at her old apartment, the rent for which had not been paid for 2 months as Amanda and Marc moved out, and this scene where Betty traps Amanda with her crutches was hilarious... I think ANY scene with Amanda is hilarious!


Unfortunately, after Betty's insightful interviews, Matt was inspired to go to Botswana to help people... and will be gone for atleast six months. It was quite predictable he was going to go the moment they were interviewing the woman... but yup... he's gooonee..


On the Connor front, Willhemina is still meeting up with him, but he is trying to push her away, so she proposes... and he agrees... BUT...


when she goes to "get married", the jail guard tells her that he has been transferred... and Willhemina is in rage... this is perhaps the most upset he has been? You can really see the tension in her expression... and I really do feel sorry for her; she just can't get what she wants...

They keep taking Connor away and giving it to her, and taking away... its really painful to watch as well!!


But in the end, we find that indeed it WAS Connor who set it all up, and was not transferred at all... so sad!! WHYYY!!! I don't actually understand why he did this... she loves him and really doesn't mind going to visit and all that, don't see why he needs to push her away?


Overall, the episode was filled with some crafty one liners that produced quite a chuckle, but the overall tone of the episode was a more sombre one... and hints that it will be a new start for everyone...

Anyway some questions raised:

- When will Matt come back (if ever)?
- Will Betty have YET another love interest?
- When will Betty's braces come off?

No sign of Ignacio or Claire this episode... hmm...

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Bomberman 2 DS

This is my latest DS gaming endeavor... only relaxing gameplay and easy to just pick up and play... although it can be addictive!!


~~~GAME PLAY~~~
The basic concept of game play is that you are a bomberman and you place bombs in each level, in which to blow up boxes (to reveal power ups or power downs) and to attack enemies and set off traps etc...

Game play is split into two modes: Mission and Battle

-Mission
This is the mainly single player game mode where you advance levels in different areas, and face challenges. There are over 50 levels for you to complete, and after every five, there is a boss battle.

Each level also may contain hidden parts which you can find to upgrade your bomberman for specific power-ups.

I found this single player section much more comprehensive than the first game, and much more fun. The body parts you can pick up also add another level of strategy to game play and the high number of levels also poses a challenge. The difficulty in this game is much more varied than the first on the DS (I completed that VERY quickly).

-Battle
This is the mode where it is basically free play. You choose from 1-20 boards (some slippery, some speedy etc) and pit yourself against up to 8 computer players or friends (will come onto later) and try to win by being the last one alive... and in doing so, score points or trophies to win!

Compared to the previous Bomberman game, this one has most of the power-ups but no detonator bomb which was one of my favourite, although it does make game play easier...

~~~MULTIPLAYER AND WIFI FUNCTIONS~~~
This has been greatly improved. In Battle Mode, not only can you play with friends with only one game card via wireless play, you can connect to Wi-fi and play with people all over the world. This feature is fantastic as it does not lag at all.

In Missions, you can also play a Versus mode with people who also have the game, and pit yourself against them in a number of different playing boards. This multiplayer option is more comprehensive and you can have more options but it does require the other people to have the game as well.

~~~GRAPHICS~~~
The graphics has not improved since the first game, and in Battle Mode, they even re-use the winning screen (pretty much identical). However, these kinds of games does not really require a very high graphics function it is the game play that counts.

~~~SOUND~~~
The sounds are also similar to the first game, although it does fit in and personally does not annoy me, but sometimes I would prefer to have the sound turned off.

~~~OVERALL~~~
Bomberman 2 is a much needed improvement to the previous version on the DS, and answers all the gamers' prayers from the first game. It now has a "non-lagging" Wi-fi capability and a much improved Single player feature with a range of levels to challenge gamers.

For Bomberman fans out there, this is a game to get. Whilst it does not contain many mini-games found in the Bomberman Land Touch series, the classic battle mode is pretty much perfect in this edition, especially in the increase of interactive levels such as the escape, skull escape and star game boards.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The Brain Cube by Svilen Gamolov

The Brain Cube is designed by Svilen Gamolov and is a compact cube that can break apart to form five chairs and a small table... I love these designs as it is space saving, neutral, and minimalistic, and is great fun to build together like a puzzle...

It is also uniquely stylish and perfectly functional- I want one for my future home...

Just look at the images and see how amazingly cool and functionable it is!!! Perfect for saving space yet fulfilling all the needs.



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