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The Back-up Plan – Review

May 10, 2010

Seeing the trailer for the film, ‘The Back-up Plan’, I had to go and see if it was as funny as the ads made it out to be. My expectations were not disappointed as the film was hilarious and my previous doubts of Jennifer Lopez as an actress were vanished as her role in this film is truly fantastic. The film is about a young women, Zoe (played by J-Lo) who conceives twins through artificial insemination after wanting children but never finding anyone to settle and have them with. However the irony of the film is that she then meets this guy, Stan (played by Alex O’ Loughlin) on her way out of the clinic and evidently ends up falling in love with him. There are some extremely funny scenes, including one where the couple attend a birth and J-Lo ends up falling in the birthing pool, as well as a disasterous candlelit dinner!

The two of them work so well together creating a believable performance of a single mum being supported by her boyfriend through the highs and the lows of pregnancy. I would definitely give this film 5/5 and would recommend it to anyone who loves a good rom-com.  

Watch here for the trailer for the movie:

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Chelsea wins 2009/2010 Premier League

May 10, 2010

Being a  Chelsea fan, I was delighted that they managed to win the title after thrashing Wigan Athletic 8-0 yesterday, playing them at their home grounds, Stamford Bridge. The Blues were ahead of Man United by 1 point, and even though they won 4-0 against Stoke City yesterday, Chelsea managed to stay ahead and claim the title of champions of the Premier League. 

Victory for Chelsea

Nicholas Anelka scored the first goal in the 6th minute, followed by a penalty 32 minutes into the game. Wigan player, Gary Caldwell committed a foul against Frank Lampard in the area, leading to a red card shown by the referee, reducing Wigan to 10 men. Lampard took the penalty and scored, making it 2-0 before half-time. It was in the second half when Chelsea really showed their talent, with Salomon Kalou scored in the 54th minute, followed shortly after by Anelka again. Didier Drogba was the next player to score with a close-range header making it 5-0 sealing Chelsea’s 100th goal of the EPL season. 

In the 67th minute, Chelsea were awarded another penalty, this time taken by Drogba and succeeding. The Ivorian player then scored a hatrick in the 80th minute making the score an emphatic 7-0! The last goal was my particular favourite however, as it was a joint effort of the Coles – Ashley Cole and Joe Cole. In the final minutes of normal time Joe Cole tackles a Wigan player, tussling on the ground before kicking it over to Ashley Cole who absolutely smashes the ball from just inside the penalty area. Chelsea fans were celebrating as the final score was 8-0 and Chelsea were awarded the cup, with their WAGs and their children there spurring them on. It was a fantastic game for the Blues, and manager Carlo Ancelotti seemed to be very satisfied as he shouted during a speech, ‘C’MON CHELSEA!’.   

 

Here you can see the highlights of the match and all the goals scored.

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A Hung Parliament – What Next?

May 7, 2010

Hung Parliament - Can the parties agree or will a second election take place?

So, 627 out of 650 seats declared. With a hung parliament upon us what does this mean for England? The Conservatives, with leader David Cameron won the most amount of seats, however this is not enough to secure the overall majority. So what happens next? There will now be a period of time in which frantic negotiations will be taking place in order to decipher who will govern the country. According to the BBC website Gordon Brown still has the right to continue in his position until a decision has been agreed. In the article, Professor Robert Hazell, from the Institute for Government states that “We must always have a government, and until a new government can be formed the present government carries on.” Talks are that Lib Dems leader Nick Clegg has been asked by both Labour and Conservative to create a coalition, however after watching ‘This Morning’ , astrologer Paul Watson argued that the best of a bad situation would be to put Clegg and Cameron together as their compatibility was 11%, in comparison to Clegg and Brown which had a 2% compatibility and Cameron and Brown having a mere 1% compatibility. He also joked that due to the fact the three leaders do not get on, the best idea would be to have their wives to take over and work together.

The only combination to have majority seats would be the Tories and Lib Dems – however whether this will work is the question. In the next few days, Lib Dems will decide who they wish to negotiate with, however Nick Clegg did say that whoever gained the most seats should have the right to govern and that stated Friday morning, according to the BBC that he stands by what he said and that the Conservatives should have the right to attempt to form a government.

The Queen’s speech is 25th May, and by then we should have reached an agreement on parliament, although there is no definite deadline so who knows. However, the BBC reported that Dr Ruth Fox, director of the Hansard Society’s parliament and government programme, believes it will be clear within days whether there will be a possibility of a deal between the parties. 

If no parties can reach an agreement a second election will take place but there are debates of whether this is necessary and whether it is in the nations best interest to do this. What is to happen in the next few days we can only wait to find out to see whether the parties will reach agreement or not.

Do the poll to give your opinion on what should happen next…

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The Times Online – Critical Analysis

May 6, 2010

As part of the Web Communication Unit, we were asked to critique a website and I chose to do the Times Online and analysed it in terms of its searchability, usablity, navigation, design, visability and interaction. Here is a small edited extract from the essay.

Searchability

As soon as you type ‘The Times’ into any search engine, the websites homepage is the first result that is shown. Furthermore to this, the search results below the top result are also links to The Times Online from different categories of the site, for example, the sport, business and entertainment sections.

Usability

The Times Online’s pages load in only a few seconds showing its professionalism and high quality as a site. Moreover, all content on the pages load equally as fast, enabling the viewer to access information in a very short time span. This is effective as viewers will be more likely to return to the website if they know that the site is stable and can display information quickly without its users having to wait (Butler, 1983 cited Badre, 2002).

Navigation

The Times Online is successful in its navigation as it uses a tool bar that is displayed horizontally across the top of the page. It is clearly labelled, giving the viewer different options to choose from, for example, ‘money’, ‘sport’ or ‘life and style’. Whichever page the user is on, the navigation frame is always at the top of the page, allowing a simple and easy way of navigating throughout the website.

Design

Additionally, the design of a website is a very important aspect of a site. The site must have enough white space that it doesn’t look cluttered, but not too much so that it looks empty (Nielsen and Loranger, 2006). On first glance, The Times Online may appear to be quite busy, with lots of stories on the homepage and although Darlington (2005) argues that a website can be ineffective if there is too much choice on offer; the layout is quite simple, with the stories displayed in black and white with a blue headline that is a link to read the whole story. This is a similar look to print newspapers, however, with online environments there are access to a lot more features such as videos, graphics and sidebars which The Times Online displays (Sauman et. al, 2009). The font used is appropriate for the newspaper; it is quite formal paralleling that The Times is a business style newspaper.

Content

As well as the design elements of the website, the content must contain a variety of stories which should be well-written and signposted. The Times Online displays this accurately, as there is a selection of stories on the homepage from different categories such as, Latest News, followed by Business and Sport News. The content is well-written in a formal, informing yet entertaining style. The stories within the site are also accompanied by photographs and videos, showing a wide range of multimedia to aid the new stories. The website is very well signposted with different sections such as, ‘politics’, ‘science’ and ‘weather’, enabling the user to skip to a specific section, showing its diversity of options.

Visual Aspects

By adding multimedia to a website, it increases the viewer’s interests and this is something that print cannot offer. The Times Online uses videos and audio to reinforce its stories therefore supporting Keyes (2002) view that it increases popularity of a site, portraying the use of multimedia as highly effective. The site uses videos and audio to support its stories which load almost instantly, which is very important with a site (Darlington, 2005). However, the multimedia do not play as soon as they have loaded, and this is effective as it allows the viewer to have control of deciding if and when they want to play the multimedia.

Therefore, in conclusion, The Times Online is a very effective website as it allows it users to submit information as well as displaying its own through a simple layout, similar to that of a newspaper. Through this new medium of online journalism, news sharing is different to that of a print newspaper as it has additional features such as graphics, navigation and videos.

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Short Story – “A Dark Existence” – Part Two

May 5, 2010

A Dark Existence – Part Two

(Do NOT read the second part without reading the first bit – it will ruin it for you! For the first part, see below or click here)

Today started just like every other day; darkness, the familiar muffled voice and the regulated thuds until I heard these strange, mellowing sounds coming from beyond the wall. I froze as I became mesmerized by the beautiful tones floating through the room. Of course it was only quiet, but I could hear it clearer than I had ever taken notice of. It was soothing, and my previous confusion and uncertainty had been overcome by feelings of astonishment. It was like nothing I had ever heard and I liked it. For the first time in the room I felt content. Slowly I reached out in the darkness and gracefully touched the walls lining. A warm sensation ran through the tips of my fingers, and sent a shiver through my body – not the cold, unwelcoming kind but one of excitement instead. The tune took a hold on me, and I became overwhelmed with happiness. My body twisted and my limbs relaxed and flittered around, dancing along. There was no room to stretch out and express my exhilaration and I began to hit the walls. As the proximity tightened between the walls and my body, I heard the voice, only this time it was clearer, and soothing like the mellow sounds.

 “He’s kicking hard. I think he wants to come out. He’s been in there long enough! It’s almost time buddy”.

It was an understanding, empathetic voice. One full of hope, and I longed to be able to answer but as I opened my mouth nothing came out. I tried again with no result and began to wonder how long left I had in this room. By the sounds of it, I was coming out soon which would be to my relief as it felt like the room was closing in on me, the space shrinking week by week. After being made a part of this waiting game, I found myself constantly changing position, the latest being with my head against the floor, as I found this most comfortable.

Suddenly I felt a thump, and within the darkness came a strange glimmer of light, like a single ray of sun breaking through the dark clouded sky. It felt like I was being pushed yet I was alone. Just a small, single push at first but soon it began to become vast, forceful thrusts. I tried clinging to the walls but my fingers slid down its lining as they were smooth and slippery. I didn’t understand what was happening but I was edging closer to the light. It stung my eyes so I shut them tight, praying that it was all just a dream and I strangely wished that when I opened them I would be sitting in the same dark room where I had been ever since I could remember. I shut them tight and struggled to anchor myself to the floor, but I was slithering along the walls, closing in on the rays.

Unexpectedly the next thing I knew, noise was now coming out of my mouth which had once been crammed with silence. High pitched wailing, screeching as I gasped for breath. I had never experienced this before. My surroundings were bright, air filled my lungs and something held me tight. The voice that was once ominous now had a face to match it; soft, beautiful blue eyes and pale skin of ivory, accompanied by the most loving smile looked down at me. My mother. And now it finally all made sense. This was to be the beginning of my life.

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Short Story – “A Dark Existence” – Part One

May 5, 2010

As part of our Professional Writing Unit, we were set the assignment of writing a 1,000 word short story. There was no set brief and we were allowed to chose an idea of our own, developing it to create a short piece with a succinct beginning, middle and end. After reading a few short stories on the internet, I began to think of my own ideas – and being a very undecisive person it took me quite a while before I was happy with the final product. As there is a twist in the story I won’t give away the subject – just read a long and find out for yourselves…

A Dark Existence – Part One

I couldn’t say how long I had been here, my whole life it seems. I couldn’t even begin to explain where I was, as being blinded to my surroundings held me at a disadvantage. I had no recollection of how I got here; all I know is that it felt like I had been placed in this room for a reason. I felt nothing, saw nothing, heard nothing. Silence.

Slowly and very delicately, I blinked. Once, twice. By the third time my eyes had adjusted and I noticed how dark it was. As I peered around, the room was small and I felt confined within the dark area that consumed me. There was no one here, I was all alone. The ominous room left me feeling confused, I hadn’t remembered being placed here, yet here I was, bent over, head almost touching my knees. However despite the lack of space and the want of some company, I felt strangely comforted. Just as I was settled into believing I would be here for a whole lifetime, I heard a low muffle. Something or someone was close by but I couldn’t make out exactly what they were saying. I strained to listen to the mysterious voice that seemed surprisingly soothing to my ears. As I moved my head toward the direction of the voice I heard a high-pitched squeal, which startled me. As I tried to shuffle back as far as the enclosed space allowed me, I lost control and my leg kicked out and hit the wall. The voice shrieked again, and I listened intently to the familiar sounds that were echoing through the room. I sensed there was something outside of the wall. I was being kept in this place and I was determined to escape. Somehow though I didn’t feel I was quite equipped for it just yet. So instead, I continued to listen out for the voice again but gradually became submerged into a world of dreams in which I was free from this black hole.

It felt like days, maybe even weeks had passed and I was still here, still all alone and I wondered when they would let me out. Day by day, the walls were closing in and I felt even more enclosed, like the space I once had, had limited itself even more. I had heard the distorted voice quite often, almost every day. I believed it was guarding my room, stopping me from my release. I was excluded from every part of life, leaving me to question my existence. Maybe I was being protected from the beating thud that sounded close by to me. It pulsated through the walls which initially alarmed me but after a while I grew used to it and it became background noise to me.

Click here for Part Two

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Remember Me

May 2, 2010

During the Easter break my friend Holly Martin and I went to the cinema to watch ‘Remember Me’ which has the impressive Robert Pattinson (whom i’m a big HUGE fan of) plays the role of Tyler Hawkins, a defiant teen who has a difficult relationship with his father (who is played by Pierce Brosnan). He meets a young girl (Emilie de Ravin) and the two fall in love. At first glance the film appears to be a cliche love story – boy goes out with girl for a bet, girl finds out and breaks it off, they realise they love each other and they live happily ever after – NOT the case for ‘Remember Me’. The last five minutes of the film is the true crux – I wont ruin it for those who haven’t watched it – but my initial thoughts were reversed and I was left feeling shocked, but completely impressed by the twist of the tale. The film was advertised as a typical romantic film – however the expectations of a love story are not reached as it is twisted on its head in the final scenes of the film. Pattinson plays the part well, although you can still see elements of Edward Cullen (vampire character played in the film ‘Twilight’) breaking through into this character which some may argue limits his versatility as an actor. The film received mixed reviews, some can be seen on rottentomatoes.com, however personally I enjoyed the film and thought the ending had a very clever twist.