The Big Hoot Trail 2015

From the 20th of July- 27th September (2015) the city centre of Birmingham and surrounding areas will be filled with large picturesque owl statues. The Big Hoot Trail arouses awareness of the city’s culture as well as raising money for the  Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

The statue designs were created by local artists and have been sponsored by local businesses, after the ‘exhibition’ the owls will be auctioned off for the Children’s Hospital. 

The Big Hoot Trail 2015As you can see each individual owl has its own unique design with there being a grand total of 89 to spot on your journey around Birmingham, Sutton Coldfield and Bourneville, there’s even a surprise owl at the entrance of Twycross Zoo.

The Big Hoot Trailbig hoot trail 2015I managed to see around 40 owls with plenty more to go!

If like me you love owls then it makes a great day out 🙂

Back to University: Stationery Haul

As you may know I’ll be going into my third and final year of university come October, as a stationery enthusiast ive already brought all the items I’ll need including cute notebooks, gel pens and a quirky desk organiser and all the items from this post will have came from WhSmith both in store and online.

Notepads

As you can tell I don’t go for plain notebooks or refill books! I do try to have matching sets though which has almost happened here minus the Aztec print book which was on the 3 for 2 offer! The notebooks are all hardback without dividers and range from A4 to A5.

1) A4 Aztec Tribal Print Book: Around £4.99 on the 3 for 2 offer.

Aztec Print Notebook

2/3) A5 Pink and Purple Polka Dot Notebooks: I brought these online for £2.39 each and they’ll be a similar price in store, ive always loved polka dots and being purple is my favourite colour it has instantly became a favourite of mine. The pink and orange book also stands out so will look great in lectures. 

Purple Polka Dot Notebook

4) A4 Blue Polka Dots Book: I picked this up in store for £2.99 to finish off my notebook collection as I have a notebook now to coincide with each separate module. I much prefer the smaller polka dots but it still beats having a plain book to write in and the sky blue is a nice touch!

Blue Polka Dot Notebook

5) A5 Chunky Face Friends Notebook: This notebook was too cute to resist and comes from the ‘Face Friends’ range but I just call it my monster notebooks! The book was £5.99 which is a bit pricey but it was on the 3 for 2 offer and is quite a chunky book which I plan to safe for my dissertation notes so I feel more motivated to work on it!

A5 Chunky Face Friends Notebook

6) A4 Face Friends Notebook: Again as part of the 3 for 2 offer I picked up this cute notebook for around £4.99 to match my A5, the pattern is quite cute and will offer a ‘fun’ factor to my notes. I believe having books you enjoy looking at and writing in will increase motivation and as this is my third and final year it’s important that I stay motivated and do the best I can.

Gel Pens

7) 30 Pack of Gel Pens: Another motivational technique im going to employ is having colourful notes, I managed to spot a large pack of colourful and glittery gel pens for £4.99 in store which is the stores own brand and was such a great price as I will find them really useful and they’ll come in handy for planning my dissertation.

Empty Dinosaur Organiser

8) Dinosaur Organiser: I couldn’t resist picking up this little organiser that stores notes, it can have the important ones clipped to it’s mouth and it even holds pens! This little beauty cost a mere £2.99 and was on the 4 for 3 offer so why not go shopping with your friends and put your stationery together to save money! Or just pick up 4 things for yourself 🙂

The 4 for 3 offer included the dinosaur organiser, a hippo organiser, staplers, rulers and erasers.

Dinosaur Organiser

I hope you enjoyed my haul post so why not share your stationery links with me or even drop a comment and tell me what you plan on buying for school/college/university? 🙂

Also check out my Dissertation Preparation post if you too are going into your third year of university. 🙂 

https://chasingtheimpossibleblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/01/dissertation-preparation/

Visiting Lanzarote’s Rancho Texas Park

Rancho TexasRancho Texas Park situated in Puerto Del Carmen is a large zoo and water resort which certainly didn’t disappoint! With it’s home to many animals some which we hadn’t seen in person before (raccoons and armadillos) there was plenty to see and do including three shows which featured sea lions, parrots and birds of prey which swoop over your head! 

Armed with a map of the zoo you are free to walk around and see any animals you like at your own pace, first up we saw sleepy raccoons which were still cute and farm like animals such as baby pigs and goats etc… before moving on to much larger and exciting creatures.

RaccoonsThe park has a strong Western theme throughout and which including the décor, pathways and even the home of the animals, the small animal above had little teepee tents which they actually used so that was an interesting sight to see! It also holds a western night which includes BBQ and dancing but we didn’t go to this. Even the parrot show had a western theme and including tiny waggons being pulled by a parrot whilst another parrot stood inside and one parrot knew how to play dead when a toy gun was pointed at him.

Sea lion Unfortunately we didn’t manage to catch the full sea lion show due to them not wanting to play the games! But we did manage to see Brutos the large sea lion above who people could have photo’s with, although we didn’t get to see the full show it was still amazing to see how the sea lions interacted with their trainers. Luckily for us the Birds of Prey show went smoothly and included bald eagles, vultures, hawks and other birds which were showcasing different skills such as how to find food, change course and how they catch prey (shown with a decoy toy), it was a surreal experience as they fly right above you and you can feel the breeze from their wings, people even ducked and dodged as the birds got so close.

Bald EagleThe park had a large water park area which wasn’t just for small children, water slides and a large pool for adults, we didn’t use this feature due to the leaflet only showing the children’s area but if you ever visit remember to take your swimwear! The trip was a great day out and one of the last excursions we did in our two weeks, it’s a great place to visit for all ages not just children.

swimming turtleCrocodile Aligator*Photos taken on a Kodak AZ521 Bridge Camera 

Lady Gaga: Banned Video Glamorising Rape

Artpop Lady GagaEverybody in the world knows her name, Lady Gaga isn’t your ordinary popstar, in fact in most of her ‘artsy’ videos you see the singer wearing very little which is also a portrayal of her style in day to day life. We all know Lady Gaga likes to put on a performance but the latest news to come out was actually quite shocking and in poor taste…

It has emerged that ‘Do What U Want’ the second single from new album Art Pop featuring R Kelly was banned for glamorising rape, throughout the clip the singer is naked which comes to no surprise. R Kelly who plays a doctor is shown to reach under the operating sheet covering her whilst before she passes out. He also states “I’m putting you under, and when you wake up, you’re going to be pregnant.” if that isn’t glamorising rape then I don’t know what is.

Other controversial factors of this collaboration is the fact that Lady Gaga collaborated with R Kelly who was acquitted of Child Pornography charges in 2008 and for the video to be directed by Terry Richardson a photographer who has received many complaints by models stating his inappropriate sexual behaviour towards them. The photographer directed the video Wrecking Ball for Miley Cyrus as well as photographing her and the likes of Kate Moss.

The lyrics ‘You can’t have my heart, and you won’t use my mind but do what you want with my body’ clearly back up the accusations of rape being glamorised. Although the lyrics in my opinion are quite poor and I don’t personally like the song it still managed to reach No.1 in the UK.

Lady GagaDo you think rape was glamorised here?

Although her popularity may be declining the controversy surrounding her now might bring Lady Gaga back into the limelight, she’ll just have to be more careful when selecting ‘artsy’ projects.

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/lady-gaga-r-kelly-and-terry-richardsons-scrapped-music-video-an-ad-for-rape-9551572.html

American Apparel: CEO Misconduct

american-apparelIf you Google American Apparel then you will see pages of images filled with sexually graphic content, it’s hard to believe this is a clothing company…

Dov Charney the CEO of controversial company American Apparel has been fired after coming under many sexual harassment cases, the 45-year-old who founded the company in 1998 is believed to have undertaken an unprofessional approach to his female employees, it is said he walked around in his underpants in front of them and even brought they sex toys as gifts. Although he has come under fire for many sexual harassment cases the company have always backed him and no cases have been successful, it has recently emerged that the company have let him go due to ‘misconduct’ it is not clear what he has actually done.

american apparel store openingSuch controversial advertisements like shown above prove that Charney has a lack of respect for women, previous employees claim he acted inappropriately during interviews and were even asked to masturbate in front of him, surely this should have rung alarm bells with the other directors and shareholders within the company? Whilst being interviewed by a journalist she claims he had a sex act performed on him whilst being part of an interview, this CEO clear should have been removed from the company long ago, just because he has ‘power’ within the company doesn’t mean he should abuse it and harass those around him.

Dov CharneyTo check out some of American Apparel’s controversial campaign why not read https://chasingtheimpossibleblog.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/american-apparel-controversal-campaigns/

http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/fashion-blog/2014/jun/19/dov-charney-american-apparel

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/american-apparel-fires-founder-dov-charney-after-misconduct-inquiry-9547865.html

*images from Google

The Harry Potter Experience

Wizards Chess
Wizard’s Chess Pieces

Back in January I was lucky enough to visit ‘The Making of Harry Potter’ for a second time, the Warner Bro’s studio based in Watford is the perfect day out for all Potter fans. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to now write up my studio experience being that I really wish to go again!

The outside of the tour has large statues of the infamous wizards chess which is perfect for pictures especially if it isn’t too busy and you manage to get one taken in front of it! The tickets are quite small so could be easy to loose and feature the characters, it’s a surprise which character you will receive as my first ticket has a Mandrake on it and my second has Dobby which I was so pleased to get. The tickets currently cost £30 but will be going up to £31 after July.

Harry Potter TicketOnce you get into the building you are instantly in the presence of Harry Potter props before the tour even begins! Large character canvases are jotted around the walls as well as the Weasley car hanging from the ceiling, before entering the actual tour you also get to see the famous cupboard under the stairs! The great thing about the tour is that you can take as many pictures as you want and its mostly self guided minus a small talk at the beginning illustrating the success of the Harry Potter franchise across the world which is really interesting.

Harry Potter Great HallThe tour is only one way so once you’ve finished you cant go back unfortunately! It’s split into 3 parts with the first being the Great Hall which is the perfect place to start, again as many pictures as you want can be taken here but of course you cant touch anything! After the Great Hall comes many props and costumes from the film which seem so unreal, it really is a mind blowing experience and you may just be shocked at how many props were actually made for the films!

PropsHarry Potter GraphicsOne of my favourite parts is seeing all the graphic design elements, the newspapers and letters just look amazing and again it’s so unreal to see them in person! It really does make you think about all the hard work that goes into film making! You have to make sure you walk around the tour at a good pace so that you don’t miss out on anything and I would recommend taking as many pictures as you can because it makes great memories.Acceptance Letter

Tom Riddles Grave

The second element of the tour takes you outside where you can drink Butter beer (I didn’t personally like it) visit Tom Riddle’s Grave a part which I again really enjoyed and of course take a trip to Privet Drive where it all began! There’s also a little picnic area so you can have lunch or just a quick break before visiting the third and final part of the tour which features Diagon Alley, animatronics, art work and of course the model of Hogwarts!

Wiseacres
WISEACRES WIZARDING EQUIPMENT
Hogwarts In The Snow
Hogwarts In The Snow

The moment you reach the beautiful Hogwarts model will melt any fans heart, it’s quite large and has great attention to detail, you can actually walk around the model so you can take photographs from every angle which I really do recommend as you can get some amazing pictures from this, sadly once you reach the model the end of the tour is near but the exit is through the gift shop which has some wonderful memorabilia. 

Chocolate FrogsOn the first occasion I only purchased a Ministry of Magic Mug for about £10 due to have very little money then (student life) but on the second visit I purchased a feather quill lollipop for about £2, Lord Voldemort’s Wand £25 and a Chocolate Frog for £8, don’t be out off by the price of the frog as it features a Wizards card just like in the film and the chocolate frog is actually quite large! I haven’t actually eaten my frog but my card was Godric Gryffindor.  I would fully recommend this tour and gift shop as it’s a great experience! Just ensure you have plenty of money for the gift shop as it can be quite expensive if you buy quite a few things.

Voldemort's WandPlease note that all photo’s were personally taken by myself.

Disney Goes Live Action

Beauty & The BeastAfter the incredible success of Maleficent comes the news that Beauty and the Beast is also set for the live action format, Bill Condon director of Breaking Dawn (Twilight) is said to have signed up for the project. Also up for the live action reinvention is Cinderella (2015) directed by Kenneth Branagh and staring Lily James (Wrath of the Titans)  Jungle Book directed by Jon Favreau as well as The Little Mermaid.

CinderellaBeauty and the Beast is such a stunning animation so I personally don’t feel the need for it to become a live action feature, ive also seen theatrical versions of it such as a fully musical based one and a more dramatic piece without the musical factor and both were thrilling in their own ways, they weren’t trying to replicate the classic Disney version.  A postmodern version of the classic fairy tale has already been presented in the form of Beastly staring former Disney star Vanessa Hudgens.

Maleficent may have been a big success but this doesn’t necessarily mean that all future live action films will be, Disney may just be seeing dollar signs when it comes to the concepts of this and I hope that the production is actually well thought out, it’s great for classic Disney to continue to be recognised by newer generations but re-developing the stories aren’t necessary.

Maleficent

*images from Google

Maleficent Movie Review

MaleficentAngelina Jolie was born to play Maleficent

Having been excited for this film for months I can finally say it was worth the wait, the last live action I recall was Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton) which sadly left me disappointed but Maleficent was magnificent. This re-telling of the classic fairy tale Sleeping Beauty changes your perspective of the dark fairy Maleficent, she isn’t evil like she was originally portrayed, in fact she is quite complex and has a softer side to her.

Starting off in the Moors divided by two kingdoms, those of the fairies and magical creatures and those of the humans we meet a young Maleficent who is graceful and curious, she encounters Stefan a human who has very little and wishes to one day rule the kingdom, the friendship blossoms and soon love blooms. The humans invade the peaceful kingdom and Maleficent becomes the protector of the land, this prompts the dying King to request the death of her and whichever loyal servant does this will rule the kingdom after he is deceased.

The film is visually stunning and borrows elements from the original Disney film and adds it’s on unique twist to it, Maleficent isn’t the Villain we all grew up thinking she was, like all humans she put her trust into the wrong person who betrays her. Unfortunately this betrayal see’s her become bitter which is why Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning) is on the receiving end of this and of course has the infamous curse cast on her.

Elle FanningAurora is portrayed brilliantly by Elle Fanning and like a young Maleficent is curious of the magical kingdom and life, a funny part in the film is when she mistaking thinks Maleficent is her fairy godmother, as I do not wish to spoil the film I will leave out most of the details but if your a fan of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty then you already know the fate of young Princess Aurora. 

The only part I didn’t like about this film was the three magical Pixies/Fairies (named as both within the film) who are there to protect Aurora, as they are quite annoying but luckily they don’t feature throughout the film in large doses. The three are played by Leslie Manville (Flittle), Imelda Staunton (Knotgrass) and Juno Temple (Thistlewit)

Director Robert Stromberg cant be faulted for this film and all Disney fan’s will love his take on the classic, if you read other reviews then they may well compare it to Frozen which is irrelevant and completely different so trust your own instincts on the film and you too may enjoy it as much as I have. With it’s twists and beautiful scenery the film is a must see for all Disney and Fairy Tale fans alike.

I watched the 2D version of the film so cannot comment on the 3D version but personally I don’t think it needed any, it was magical enough and the story was well written that it didn’t need extra effect to carry it.

Film Rating 5/5MaleficentWhy not check out my Top 5 Disney Villains? https://chasingtheimpossibleblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/19/top-5-disney-villains/

*images from Google

Top 5 Disney Villains

Disney VillainsWith the soon to be release of Maleficent (May 28th) I thought I’d celebrate with a post dedicated to my top 5 favourite villains! It’s no surprise that Disney and Pixar has a wide range of villains to choose from so it wasn’t an easy choice, maybe your choices will be different so leave a comment with your top 5!

Gaston Beauty and the Beast5) Gaston- Beauty and the Beast

Kicking off at number 5 is Gaston, the arrogant anti-protagonist from Beauty and the Beast, on his failed quest to marry Belle we see his true colours. His manipulation and evil plans to have Belles father locked away in an asylum is one of many reasons why he is unlikeable, he sees Belle as a ‘trophy’ wife and tries to harm the beast so naturally he has to be villain no.5!   

Hades Hercules4) Hades- Hercules

God of the Underworld Hades from Hercules has always been a favourite of mine, Pain and Panic also contribute to this due to not being fully committed to the evil plans. Hades isn’t a very good villain, how can he be when his brother is Zeus right? but his jealous behaviour and unleashing of the Titan’s showcases some great monsters for Hercules to defeat in his quest to be re-united with his father.

Lotso Huggin Bear3) Lotso- Toy Story 3

This cute little villain that smells of strawberries contributed to the brilliant but incredibly heart breaking Toy Story 3, Lotso wasn’t always bad mind you which is why I think he makes a great villain, it’s the betrayal from his owner that made Lotso turn bad. Another reason he makes my list is because he is a cute pink bear, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a Disney Store bear which still has the strawberry scent! It just goes to show not all bad guys look scary.

Scar Lion King2) Scar- The Lion King 

One of the saddest moments it Disney has to be when Mufasa dies, so it’s only natural that Scar scores high in the list. Again like Hercules jealousy plays a part in this story. Be Prepared has to be one of the best villain songs within Disney and is one of my favourites from The Lion King which is why Scar takes the number 2 spot, it also helps that he is scary and distinctively looks different to the other lions with their golden manes.

Maleficent1) Maleficent- Sleeping Beauty

It comes to no surprise that my all time favourite villain is Maleficent, her scary appearance and wickedness contributes to many factors that makes her a powerful villain, her cunning plans and evil minions are what make her wickedly evil. Although her minions aren’t as clever as she’d like she still proves that she doesn’t need them in order to get what she wants. Also the fact that she turns into a large dragon is quite terrifying when you’re a child. 

 

*images from Google

In the Name of Entertainment: Makeover TV

How to Look Good NakedReality Television is associated with different factors such as unprofessional actors, unscripted dialogue for the realistic effect, however in Snog Marry Avoid? Elements of the programme are staged in which the contestants are humiliated for their appearance, e.g. People talking behind their back as they walk past is often featured. The participants also appear to come off as quite dumb in order to add to the humiliation they are about to face. How to Look Good Naked also uses staged elements. E.G Gok Wan often destroys the participants clothing if it is ‘unflattering’ again this detracts away from realism as it wouldn’t happen if the cameras weren’t filming as well as the organisation of the catwalk in shopping centres where participants showcase their new transformation and are asked to appear naked at the end of the catwalk.

The success of makeover reality television shows are due to the increasing concerns of health and body image, in order to adhere to a certain set of standards set by society women are subjected to what Laura Mulvey calls the male gaze which, it can also be linked to ideology. Ideology can be defined as “a systematic framework of social understanding motivated by a will to power or a desire to be accepted as the ‘right’ way of thinking”(Lacey, 2009, p.100)The underlying systems of ideology within the media makes consumers feel that striving for the ‘perfect’ image is acceptable behaviour and that body image is extremely important.

Cosmo MagazineMagazine images of slim models and celebrity inspiration is constantly in the limelight which makes media consumers feel that they should look that way as it is the only body image being perceived, if celebrities put on weight or are photographed without makeup on then they are instantly criticised for having an unpolished appearance, this reflects on females in society as they are portrayed as being abnormal or unattractive if they have a curvy frame and skin that isn’t flawless.

In How to Look Good Naked, the female participants are unhappy with their looks and it is hyper-emphasized with close up camera shots on the body parts which they find ‘unconventional’, e.g. stomachs and thighs are frequently the parts which females tend to dislike about their selves. “Knowing that she is to be subjected to the cold appraisal of the male connoisseur and that her life prospects may depend on how she is seen, a woman learns to appraise herself first.” (Bartky, 1990, 38) In both Snog Marry Avoid? And How to Look Good Naked the reasons for the contestants wanting the makeovers are often more deep rooted than simply wanting to feel good about their selves, it is also influenced by how they feel they should look. Quite often the contestants lack confidence in their bodies and feel that they need to change in order to attract a partner or what is more relevant for How to Look Good Naked is the desire to feel more feminine after having children, having had their body shape change prior to and after giving birth the female lacks confidence in herself, as Bartky illustrates the female must learn to love her body first and maintain it in societal standards in order for it to be appealing to the opposite sex and even in the instance that elements of her life may depend on her appearance which could be career related.

Ok MagazineAlthough the purpose of makeover programmes is to change the lifestyle of participants it attracts it’s audiences by adding in entertainment aspects at the costs of humiliating those who have taken part in the programme. According to Dovey (2000) lifestyle television is “filled by voices proclaiming and celebrating their own “freakiness”, articulating their most intimate fears and secrets” (Biressi and Nunn, 2005, p.96) In How to Look Naked participants prior to their makeovers have an image of their body projected onto a large building in a public place, wearing only unflattering lingerie as strangers are exhibited to their humiliation.

Barbie Twins In Snog, Marry, Avoid? Before their appearance is changed the participants have over eccentric looks, little clothing and large amounts of make up on, they are quite often ‘bullied’ over their appearances by what members of the public have to say about them, another reason why they want the makeover is to feel confident in their selves after being subjected to bullying in the past which is what makes them cover their selves in makeup and fake tan as a sort of persona in order to hide their true identity.

Conboy et al (1997) argues that the body is constantly in the process of change, without the changes linking to societal requirements the female form will always be considered grotesque or undesirable, this links into makeover programmes such as How to Look Good Naked and Snog Marry Avoid? As stated previously females feel they should change the way they look in order to fit the standards rather than to accept the way they already look, this is a reflection of body image and vanity in contemporary culture due to the increasing pressure to look perfect.

Freak Show PosterMetaphorically the lifestyle programme is like watching a freak show, the female is exhibited in front of an audience who can laugh at her expense because of her unconventional appearance.

In conclusion reality television is constantly using entertainment factors in order to make their shows more appealing to consumers, although it takes away the realism with its use of staged scenes it still makes lifestyle shows such as How to Look Good Naked and Snog Marry Avoid? Successful. The freak show format allows audience to laugh at the expense of others and feel better about their selves which allows the programmes to legitimise the female body in the name of entertainment, if the body doesn’t fit societal standards showcased by the media then it isn’t acceptable so why not laugh at it? This is what the makeover programme offers, the humiliation and entertainment of others whilst they try to fit the norm and adhere to what they think they should look like. It’s the shocking dress and makeup choices that participants in Snog Marry Avoid? Wear that makes the show more appealing, they essentially humiliate their selves on a daily basis with the poor choices of thick layers of tan and little clothing so adding it into the reality format makes the show more entertaining and acceptable to laugh at others as it isn’t something that you could do in real life. It essentially showcases the female body for bullying/humiliation if it isn’t perfect and calls it entertainment.

Bibliography

Biressi, A. and Nunn, H. (2005) Reality TV: Realism and Revelation. London: Wallflower Press.

Conboy, K, Medina, N and Stanbury, S. (ed.) (1997) Writing on the Body: Female Embodiment and Feminist Theory. New York:Columbia University Press.

Lacey, N (2009). Image and Representation: Key Concepts in Media Studies. 2nd ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Mulvey, L. (2009) Visual and other pleasures. 2nd ed. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

 

*images from Google