The Coping With Life Book

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I am a terrible impulse buyer. But when I saw you sitting there, with thick pages and a hardback cover, I knew I had to have you. I am of course speaking of my sketchbook that means more to me than diamonds. (If I had any diamonds of course) It may not have cost much and I’ll definitely run out of pages at the rate I’m flying through them, but this little thing makes a difference. I’ve dubbed it the “Coping With Life” book.

Rather than bake cookies at 2am and maybe, probably, definitely burn fingers in the process, I’ve delved into the therapeutic realm of art as a method of de-stressing. Too many deadlines? Consult the book. Don’t get paid for another week? Consult the book. Feel betrayed by your cat who walked right past you to his food when your arms were clearly open wide for a hug? Consult the book.

I find myself consulting a sketchbook more than I consult the advice of human beings. Sometimes talking is hard, but sometimes it’s okay to shut the world out for a few hours and spend time with your new best friend Faeber Castell. The “Coping With Life” book used to be the “Wall of Emotion”, but I’ve been running out of wall space for my pictures.

Summer is coming and you may not see your friends for a few months. Maybe you’ll visit each other and of course there’s Skype, Facebook, goofy filters on Snapchat you’ll almost certainly spam them with. But sometimes we get lonely. That’s okay too.

Consulting the sketchbook might be lying on the floor with your dog, or holding wool while your granny knits you a scarf because it won’t be long before that grand old stretch in the evening is gone again. It could be football and bruised ankles with your brother, a drive with your girlfriend who will always remind you to fasten your seatbelt as you pull out of the driveway. It could be anything. But always do something and remember you’re still alive.

I’m betting on you to remember that.

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My Patrick Rothfuss Obsession- a Collection of Fangirling

I am a big advocate of fantasy as a form of escapism. In a world of widespread war, increase of suicide rates and scary talk of banks ruling the world, there is a need for escape. Reading is one of the best ways of escaping the frightening reality in which we live. Fantasy novels offer a whole new world, where dragons are definitely more than a figment of a six year old’s imagination.

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One fantastic author I find myself turning to again and again is Patrick Rothfuss. Best known for his epic fantasy trilogy, The Kingkiller Chronicle, Rothfuss is a modern day fantasy genius. His incredibly creative mind has invented remarkable background myths, followed up by a unique set of characters and one legendary man’s life journeys, pulling together into one very epic, fantastic story, spanning out over soon to be three books.

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Rothfuss is a man to be admired and adored. He is a model author, someone I feel that as an intending novelist, I can look up to. Achieving anything like what Rothfuss achieves in his writing would an honour. The Name of the Wind is one of the cleverly plotted and most well written books I have ever read and a definite favourite of mine. It can be read time and time again, it never ceases to amaze and bewilder me.

Rothfuss is an unforgettable man with a talent that never stops giving. (And with a beard as epic as his, reminds me of a grand and wise wizard.) He is one author to certainly keep an eye out for. Who knows what he’ll come up with next?

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Indie Games and Procrastination

I have this awful habit of procrastination. When I have something super important, like exams, I tend to do anything but prepare for said exams. This entire post is a literal example, I have a history exam on Tuesday and have yet to study. (As I’m writing this, it’s Saturday).

I am also a big lover of video games and they’re usually the root of my procrastination problems. Study week is a tough few days, when you have Skyrim begging to be played. Regardless of my poor attention span in terms of college work, I thought I would take the time to talk about Indie games. I have spoken about video games before and they will definitely feature in future posts. However, I thought I would post about the ironically under-appreciated Indie genre. I’ve fallen in love with indie video games. They may not have flashy Fall Out 4 level graphics and don’t have as much gameplay time as you would get out of something like Skyrim or Dark Souls, but they’re still amazing games in their own right.

About two years ago, I stumbled across a couple of RPG maker video games. These freeware horror games are probably some of my favourite games to play. (Next to Ocarina of Time; nothing will ever take its place as number 1.) Some of these titles included Misao, Ao Oni and Ib. One would think that with graphics similar to early Legend of Zelda titles, they wouldn’t be scary. Oh boy was I wrong.

Misao, created by Sen.

Misao is probably my favourite RPG Maker based game. It’s creepy and tragic all in one. The background music is unnerving and the character you play as is honestly a bit frightening at times.

The basic story, without giving too much away, is that a young girl named Misao went missing three months ago and is presumed dead by her classmates. Bullied a lot and unhappy, she curses the school and fills it with evil spirits. Now Aki (or whatever you choose to rename the character, who can be either a girl or a boy) must find Misao and rescue the school and its students.

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It’s a very unexpectedly dark game. It terrifies me in all the right ways. It has little jump scares, because jump scares do not make a game scary. It just makes the creator a bit of an uncreative poop, for lack of a better term. Sorry, not sorry. I think there are better ways to scare your target audience than just throwing in some jump scares. It’s not original or anyway entertaining, which is what a video game is supposed to be.

It’s free to download and can be found here: http://vgperson.com/games/misao.htm The creator does ask not to make a profit from gameplay videos or redistribute the music used. However, do enjoy playing it!

Ib, created by Kouri

Ib is another RPG Maker based game. This one is based on puzzle solving and is designed for all to play. However, it is rather creepy. Thankfully, there aren’t really any jump scares. Just creepy music and a butt load of different endings. (Which means we get more play time, because you want to try and get all the different endings to the story.)

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The story is basically about a little girl named Ib who visits an art gallery with her parents and suddenly finds herself alone. Then all things strange begin to happen in the art gallery and she is surrounded by dangerous paintings and strange puzzles that need solving.

It’s a fun game, though the music used is once again rather eerie and ominous. It’s an entertaining game however and once again is free. It can be found here: http://vgperson.com/games/ib.htm

Amnesia, created by Frictional Games

This video game is not free sadly. It’s also not an RPG maker based video game. Finally, it isn’t quite so much the indie game it used to be, as it is quite popular now. However, it can still be classified as an indie game, and shows up in that section of the Good Old Games website. There are two video games in this series so far; The Dark Descent and Machine for Pigs. They’re survival based horror games that do a fantastic job of scaring the pants off me. It sometimes contains jump scares, particularly with custom stories like Obscurity. (A fantastic custom story by the way, despite nasty jump scares.) You can’t fight the monsters, only run away and hope they don’t see you, or you die!

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Custom stories can be downloaded and added to the game for free, for when you’ve either finished the main story or grown bored. (Or got stuck like I did several times). There are hundreds of them out there. Hours of frightening fun at your fingertips! The story for The Dark Descent begins with you waking up in a castle with amnesia. You can only remember that your name is Daniel and that there is something after you. The castle is quickly falling apart and you must work quickly to remember where you are, why you’re there and what you must do to stop the monster coming after you. It’s a fantastic game and costs about €20.00 on Steam. (Though Steam regularly have sales, so keep an eye out and you may get it cheaper).

That’s all for today folks! Keep an eye out for more video game related posts and be sure to check the rest of my blog out!

 

Springtime Babbles.

I have an orange canary named William. It’s a strange name, but I’ll tell you why I named him William. I once played this old video game and awkwardly crushed on this archer you could play, named Will. Being too embarrassed to admit this to my mother, I lied and said he was named after Prince William. I should have called him Harry, he’s the ginger one.

William is an awful trickster. He likes to sing in the morning. Feck it, he likes to sing all the time. Boys do that, they never really shut up, especially if it’s sunny outside where William will somehow wake us all up with his ode to morning sunshine. My dad likes to whistle back at him and they have a lovely chat about bird life and other bird related things. The problem is, William has tweeting back exactly like my father. He has it down to a fine art, to the point where poor dad gets yelled at to shut up when he’s hardly even arisen out of bed. William is a cunning little thing.

Spring is an especially noisy time for the little critter. It’s finally bright in the morning when I leave for college at not so wonderful, stupid-o-clock. ­I’ll be bombarded by his misleading tweets, confusing me into thinking I can bum a lift off dad and avoid the bus. (Which usually leads to me accidentally waking him up and getting hell for leather later on when he can function and speak English).

But spring in Ireland isn’t really spring, is it? Not spring like you’d expect it. It’s still bitterly cold, to the point where I’ll usually be found ranting into a coffee cup about said cold, yet still not wearing any gloves, scarves or earmuffs. (Occasionally a hat will appear on my head, if it’s a particularly bad hair day.) You’ll wrap yourself up because it’s freezing, only to find it’s rather nice later on and the coat is completely unnecessary. Then, once you’re all comfortable with the coat off, it’ll begin lashing out of nowhere. Where the hell did those clouds even come from!? – a novel by the Irish.

Despite the woes of Irish spring being more like a mashup of all-weather into one day, it’s a pretty damn beautiful time of year. At my bus stop there are shamrocks growing and a tubby little tabby cat likes to greet me upon arrival. On a scenic walkway near my university, there are beautiful, little purple crocuses growing in bunches, standing out amongst all the green and yellow from daffodils. There are magpies everywhere and everyone is walking their super friendly, necessary to stop and pet, dogs.

Spring kind of sucks, but it also kind of doesn’t.

Animated Films and Their Perks

We’ve all watched an animated movie at some point of lives or another. Disney, for example, has been making animated films since the early 1920s. For many of us, animated films were and still are, a huge part of our lives. Although designed for children, you’ll still find many adults watching animated films made by Disney and Pixar, like me. (I do not need a hobby, I have The Lion King and popcorn.)

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The beauty of animated films is the simplicity of the plot. There are no complexities, no “wait, I don’t get it” moments. (Inception, I’m looking at you…) Anybody can sit down, watch it and fully understand what is going on. Even better, these seemingly straight forward films teach great messages to children. The characters get themselves into difficulty. Something happens which makes their life harder and they can struggle at times, to cope well with these situations. However, it being an animated film for children, they always get through it and live happily ever after.

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A great example of this is Big Hero 6, a film released in 2014. It’s about a boy named Hiro, whose older brother creates a health care companion robot named Baymax. This film deals with huge issues like grief and depression, but shows children that these things are normal. It affects a lot of people, but you can get through it and be happy again. It’s a real hit-you-in-the-feels kind of film! (And turns me into an inconsolable crying mess on the couch every single time I watch it…)

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Not to mention, these films come with some insane amount of catchy songs that will remain in your head for days on end. One will usually find me singing Mulan songs to my cat, paired off with a wonderful mop for a dance partner / kung-fu ninja warrior.

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Finally, these films take an incredible amount of talent and hard work, in order to bring them together. From writers, to voice actors to the animators themselves, these films are an incredible blessing from very dedicated teams of gifted people. As a form of art, it is one of the coolest perks of the modern film industry.

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Animated films will make you laugh and make you cry. They’ll make dance, sing and then probably cry again because the four year old down the road won’t stop singing Let It Go. (And it’s really about time she let it go…) But best of all, animated films are something that can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone. It can bring families together for cosy nights in, turn boyfriends into pillows as you cuddle up for some Monsters Inc., or send your dog running because you’ve decided to ‘grace’ him with your rendition of Be Our Guest. Either way, animated films are a really unique and very special area within film culture, something that is going to last for many more years to come.

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