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1. Victoria Beckham
The Beckham’s are bonded over their mutual love of excessive ink. Victoria’s delicate and dainty frame suits this intricate Hebrew neck lettering. Supposedly her tattoo is an excerpt from ‘The Song of Solomon’, a beautiful love poem.

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2. Lea Michele’s Gold Star
In homage to her GLEE character Rachel Berry, Lea tattooed herself with this subtle gold star. The colour really pops in this bubble-gum pink dress.

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3. Eve’s kitty cat paws
Often duplicated, this provocative tattoo really appeared to fire up the flare of numerous copy cats! Hard to miss and hard to conceal, this fiery, feisty seductive design is suitable for the mischievous, wild rapper.

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4. Dianna Agron’s nursery rhyme
Dianna is the embodiment of girlishness, elegance and class and her tattoo does not detract from that. An excerpt from ‘Mary had a little lamb’, Dianna’s mother was named Mary and the tattoo is representative of there close relationship.

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5. Paris Hilton’s red butterfly
Butterflies might be a little overdone but Paris Hilton’s scarlet butterfly embossed upon her neck suits the human Barbie, adding a little fire to the airy, mercurial socialite.

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6. Cara Delevingne’s Lion
Embossing her finger with a bold, striking lion, Cara Delevigne was unknown to me until I saw her tattoo. The playmate of Rihanna and Rita affronted Prince Charles with this unusual, unforgettable design.

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7. Angelina Jolie’s Tiger
Angelina Jolie was the poster child for raunchy rebellion before it became a mainstream fad. Her dynamic back tattoo of a tiger is a powerful representation of the wild woman herself and not for the fainthearted!

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8. Lea Michele’s Musical Notes
Delicate, dainty and wonderfully girly, Lea’s shoulder tattoo indicates how important and instrumental (excuse the pun) music has been in her life.

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9. Rihanna’s Isis
To celebrate her birthday, Rihanna added to her body art with this interesting placement of the Egyptian Goddess Isis. It most definitely draws even more attention to the singer!

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10. Kat Von Dee’s Eye Stars
Heavily tatted Kat Von Dee is a little overly tattooed for my liking, and though stars are by no means unique she really rocks this painful placement. What can I say? It suits her!

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1. Lock and Key
An unusual, somewhat romantic and mysterious choice, this is an interesting selection of placements for the lock and key design. As standalone pieces they are a little evasive, but together they create an interesting story.

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2. Crescent moon
The moon is representative of feminine power, changeability and cyclical behaviour. Choosing to adorn yourself with the moon is a way of claiming your femininity.

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3. Musical Note
Lea Michele’s musical note is by no means a unique design, but the shoulder placement is very sweet and subtle and perfectly appropriate for a Glee star!

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4. Gun
Rihanna’s gun might be particularly unfeminine and representative of some darker changes to her former sweet girl persona, but it definitely suits her and sums up her attitude!

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5. C.A.T
Mad cat ladies will be fawning over this one.

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6. The red heart
This small, red heart is beautifully emphasised by the darkened, bold border and red necklace. A romantic, feminine placement.

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7. WFF Panda
This might not be to everyone tastes, but animal lovers will appreciate the sentiment.

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8. Love heart 2
Another love heart…but what a unique and adorable placement!

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9. Cat
This slinky cat tattoo might not be too tiny, but it is tempting!

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10. Small seahorse
The thick bold lines compensate for the subtlety of this adorable seahorse!

Christmas is so close you can practically see Santa already at your mantelpiece gobbling down mince pies fresh out of the chimney but there is still time to harness some of the ever-evasive Christmas spirit. If my last ten film suggestions didn’t do it for you, here are ten more which might just do the trick:

1. Toy Story

Pixar never fail to capture the essence of childhood by presenting us with sheer magic, wonderment, exhilaration and adventure. This is the story of Woody who harbours a not altogether unfounded fear that he is to be replaced as the object of owner Andy’s affections by new birthday present Buzz who seems to believe he is a real astronaut and not just an action figure.  The only glimpse of Christmas occurs right at the films climax as the toys gather in anticipation for what new arrivals are to crash-land this year but the journey of friendship, togetherness and teamwork will most likely kindle a warm Christmassy fire in your otherwise frostbitten heart.

2. Monty Python’s Meaning of Life

It’s a question we’ve all pondered many a time but the more the years pass; the less likely we are to reach a definitive answer. The Monty Python boys do a bloody good job of trying to ease us through a succession of skits that might just help us discover why we are all here and what the point of it all is. After edging us through the magic of procreation, over eaters and finicky waiters who have located their own purpose and are eager to share, we are presented with what life is all about (but don’t get your hopes up). So what does this have to do with Christmas you might say? Well apparently in heaven, it’s Christmas every day…yes that’s right…every single day. So get yourself a little piece of heaven on earth and get into the festive mood!

3. Eyes Wide Shut

Along with my prior two suggestions, this is not traditional Christmas fare. This is the Christmas film for the more surrealist, abstract viewer who enjoys a little mystery. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman are Bill and Alice Harford, who on the face of it have it all. When Alice confesses that she only narrowly avoided temptation and very nearly cheated on Bill he embarks on a night-time adventure of bizarre erotic and sexual encounters. This all occurs around the Christmas period and reveals how our own desires and fantasies have become just as commercialised as Christmas itself.

4. About A Boy

No man is an island but eternal bachelor Nick Hornby would like to be. Christmas is traditionally a time for family and friends to come together, exchange gifts and celebrate. Not so for Nick, who would rather pass the day watching horror movies and smoking ungodly amounts of weed. Unfortunately for him, his opportunist attempts to get into the pants of London’s single mother scene cause him to crash-land into a very unique mother and son combination that slowly draw out his sense of family and unity (of course).

5. Edward Scissorhands

Christmas will never be the same for the Boggs family when they find themselves taking in Edward, the unfinished creation of an inventor, who is humanlike in his entirety except for his scissor hands. His skill with his scissors makes him a novelty in his new neighbourhood as a hedge-cutter and hair dresser although some take an instant dislike to him. He upsets the balance when he falls in love with Kim – a human girl who is already taken. This melancholy, gentle film celebrates the spirit of compassion and love and presents us with a world with a great influx of snow caused by Edwards ice sculptures as he witters away the time alone, set adrift from small minded suburbia.

6. The Harry Potter Series

I cannot select one film from the franchise so I’ve plumped for the series as a whole. Although a lot could have been tweaked and corrected to guarantee absolute perfection, this is the perfect story for children and inner children alike as Harry Potter is spirited away from a life of Cinderella servitude and informed that he is a wizard, but not just any wizard, the only wizard capable of defeating Lord Voldemort. The Christmas scenes add pleasant relief to the mounting evils that threaten to consume Hogwarts.

7. Bad Santa

The Coen brothers return with this black comedy where Santa is cynically cast as nothing more than a conniving conman. Whilst working as Santa in a mall, Willie (bad boy Billy Bob Thornton) alongside his friend Marcus disables the alarms every Christmas Eve and takes everything he can. This theft enables Willie to fuel his life of depraved debauch. This is the more sinister foil of ‘About a Boy’ as Willie confronts his demons when he develops a friendship with ‘the Kid’ and new flame Sue. Not all comedies include suicide, alcoholism and murder and for that reason alone, this film should be perfect for all Christmas scrooges.

8. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

In war torn England, the four Pevensie children discover a world within a wardrobe, in which they find a landscape cursed with perpetual winter for over a hundred years but with no sight of Christmas. Most children and adults alike will be familiar with the Narnia Chronicles and the children’s attempt to expel the witch and return Christmas to the land. The blankets of snow and the triumph of the siblings over the cruel Jadis make welcome Christmas viewing.

9. Christmas with the Kranks

Luther and Nora’s daughter is AWOL for the holidays serving in Peru on a Peace Corps assignment. The couple then find themselves blighted with empty nest syndrome just in time for the holidays, finding no reason to celebrate without their daughters’ presence in the home. Their choice to simply ignore Christmas and instead use their savings to embark on a luxury cruise ostracises them from their community, who eagerly try to lure them back in with some Yuletide spirit. The Kranks soon find that it isn’t so easy to bow out gracefully from the festivities.

 10. Lady and the Tramp

Disney sprinkles magic over every story it tells and this classic is no different. On Christmas morning, Jim Dear presents his wife Darling with a beautiful cocker spaniel named Lady. Lady endures the usual trials and tribulations that a cartoon dog finds herself faced with; unrequited love for an adventurous dog named Tramp, run-ins with exotic felines and the threat of replacement when a baby is due, but by the following Christmas everything turns around for Lady who finds herself with a family of her own.

Christmas is fast approaching (it’s just a few sleigh rides away you know…) and if you’ve exhausted yourself with eating mince pies, preparing seasonal recipes, decorating the house, ice skating, wrapping presents and *enter stereotypical Christmas activity here*, what better way to enjoy the cold weather than from the comfort of your own home beside the fire with these familiar classics and Christmas viewing suggestions (this is a rhetorical question). If you feel overloaded with sentimentality afterwards, you can always just kick over someone’s snow man (if it snows that is…)

Here are 10 films to kick start the holiday season:

1. Home Alone

Macaulay Culkin was a fundamental part of my childhood movie diet. He was my ‘greens and veg’ alongside Kirsten Dunst. He was Richie Rich, Miles, and Thomas J. Sennett. But first and foremost he was Kevin McCallister. With his angelic ‘top of the Christmas tree’ looks but troublesome attitude, Kevin manages to live out the situation that every child desires and dreads in equal measure: he gets left home alone – parentless! With his parents in Paris, Kevin enjoys his new found freedoms; he survives on a diet of ice cream and old movies, but it soon becomes clear that a pair of mismatched chancers have their sights set on their rather palatial Chicago home. Harry and Marv aka the wet bandits have noticed that Kevin is living all alone and begin to make advances on the house. What ensues is comedy, but also drama, because when I was a child watching this film, every inch of me was on edge waiting to see who would come out tops: the kid, or the big, bad grownups. This film is excellent at getting into the mindset of a frustrated and creative child who feels largely ignored and rejected by his parents in a crowded and bustling home. It’s hilarious, but also heart warming and it also inspired a generation of children to booby trap their homes should an invader drop by for the holidays. Last I heard the McCallister family home was actually on the market, so should you plan on moving to Chicago (and have a fair bit of money in your pocket); you might actually be able to watch this film from the very house it was set in!

2. Home Alone 2: Lost In New York

Mr and Mrs McCallister should be nominated for the parental equivalent of a Razzie for their truly lax parenting skills as they manage to leave Kevin behind for a second time. This time, they manage to get him as far as the airport, but Kevin ends up in New York whilst they stare out of rain soaked windows in Florida. The sequel follows the same formula as the first; Kevin exploits his liberated status in a glitzy New York hotel whilst relaying on the stonker of a story that his father is constantly caught up in business meetings, leaving him free to make the most of his credit card and as usual kick back and eat tonnes of ice cream and watch black and white films in his hotel room. The reality and gravitas of his situation sets in when he realises that the wet bandits have reinvented themselves as the sticky bandits and are planning on robbing Duncan’s Toy Chest on Christmas Eve. The hotel staff, ingeniously smarmy (there is an exceptional comedic turn from Tim Curry), are also on Kevin’s back when they discover there is no ‘dad on business’ and Kevin is  further intimidated by the locals that frequent the city, including what appears on first impressions to be a mad pigeon lady (every city has one). There is the same heart-warming comedy to be found as Kevin bats for survival, dishes it out to the bad guys and returns to the family fold, hopefully to never be left behind again. This is essential Christmas viewing if only to see the Big Apple all lit up for Christmas.

3. The Muppets Christmas Carol

This has always been my favourite Christmas film because ‘The Muppets’ themselves represent everything that Christmas itself stands for; friendship, acceptance and family. Existing as a motley crew of oddballs, eccentrics and rejects, the Muppets embrace one another as a hodgepodge of different characters who manage to mesh…somehow. This is a spirited venture which takes on the traditional English tale by Charles Dickens, relaying the stingy and spiteful character of Ebenezer Scrooge as he is visited on Christmas Eve by three spirits who each seek to provoke him to acknowledge a new way of life and embrace the holiday season. Michael Caine takes his turn as Ebenezer, the man who loathes Christmas and happiness and has a way of sucking the joy out of all he comes across, but this is a victorious and transformative film lead by Gonzo and Rizzo, with Kermit and Ms Piggy portraying the Cratchits. The ending is of course triumphant and bursting with joyful songs and true merriment, as well as a sense of frivolity, wonder and humour. Caine also considers this to be one of his finest roles, and given the man’s career, that is quite the accolade. You can catch a showing of this at the Prince Charles Theatre from the 16th December to the 22nd if you happen to be an English citizen and local to London. It’s quite astonishing to think that man made muppets can convey more emotion that some flesh and blood actors (coughKeiraKnightleycough).

4. Elf

Will Ferrell is a love him or loathe him kinda guy…which makes him perfect as the portrayer of Buddy the Elf; a sickly, sappy, soppy and absolutely loopy human being who stowed away in Santa’s sack as a child and was raised amongst the elves at Santa’s workshop. Buddy never truly acknowledges his human status until his superior height and inferior toy making abilities render him an obvious outsider. When he is returned to the human world (New York City of all places) his ignorance and naivety with regard to human civilisation mean that he makes just a few social faux pas (including ripping off the beard of a false Santa). Buddy reunites with his father, Walter Hobbs, played by James Caan, who is firmly on Santa’s naughty list. For me this was an ingenious (yes I’ll say that again, ingenious) casting choice because you can’t get any more different that Will Ferrell and James Caan. Caan manages to be perfectly exasperated and deadpan throughout. This is a film that strengthens the importance of prioritizing family over a hectic work schedule and also incorporates the positive properties of hope, belief and engaging with the wants and needs of our inner child from time to time.  In a society where Christmas is closely affiliated with consumerism and capitalism rather than peace and goodwill to all men, Buddy’s insane positivity ruffles a few feathers, but also gains him an unlikely love interest in the form of saucer eyed Zooey Deschanel as elf imitator Jovie.

5. The Nightmare Before Christmas

The eagle-eyed among you will recall that this film made a guest appearance on my recommendations for Halloween films entry. It is a difficult film to place as it boldly merges two very distinctive holidays. Despite the memorable Halloween styling and imagery, this film does incorporate a strong Christmas vibe. Jack, the Pumpkin King and most respected amongst his fellow Halloween Town citizens for his successful scares, becomes apathetic with his holiday and stumbles upon Christmas Town, which awakens a new sense of childlike wonder in Jack as he discovers snow and the concept of presents for the first time. Jack attempts to bring the Christmas Spirit to Halloween Town and give Santa a well deserved rest whilst taking his place. Unfortunately, good intentions collide with his misunderstanding of the Christmas Spirit and Christmas goes terribly wrong. He manages to reacquaint himself with his own holiday and accept his identity as a man of jeer, not cheer.

6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (The Grinch)

Dr. Suess’ simple story is transported onto the screen in one of many countless renditions. Within a single snowflake exist the ‘who’s’ who inhabit ‘Whoville’, a joyous and merry place. Just beyond the reach of the ‘who’s’ lives the Grinch, a social outcast who despises Christmas and generally everything else. He can’t be described as a misanthrope precisely, because the Who’s aren’t specifically human, but there is no love lost between them. He isn’t happy enough being apart from them in essential exile; instead he plots to steal Christmas from the townspeople. It turns out that the Grinch is not simply naturally sadistic but instead a hardened and defensive victim of childhood torment and unrequited love – he fits the staple of the ‘Scrooge’ character that hardens himself in adversity and loses all sense of softness. Cindy Lou Who (who, would you believe, is played by Taylor Momsen) attempts to acquaint herself with the Grinch and help him recover his Christmas Spirit in what proves to be a long and arduous task.

7. The Santa Clause

This is any parent’s perfect Christmas film. Period. Tim Allen is Scott Calvin – a father who is desperately trying to assure his son that Santa is real and accidentally ends up killing Mr Clause on Christmas Eve. Much to his chagrin, he automatically becomes the ‘new’ Santa, begging the questions: how many fathers have accidentally killed Santa and had to step up to the plate, and what happens if a woman accidentally bumps Santa off? Scott’s encroaching transformation leaves him mortified but eventually he is able to muster up some festive cheer and build bridges with his ex-wife and her new partner Neil who have a terse (at best) relationship with one another. Allen steals the show here, perfecting the art of the grumpy father of Charlie and the festive Father Christmas, but I’d recommend watching this film simply for the ‘Neil’ jokes which fall fast and frequent and will rouse the spirits of any Christmas singletons, single parents or divorcees.

8. The Snowman

One suitably snowy Christmas Eve, a young boy creates a snow man that instantly comes to life and spirits him away on an air bound adventure to meet Santa himself. This classic Christmas tale includes no dialogue but features the angelic vocals of Peter Auty as he sings a song now unanimous with Christmas: ‘Walking in the Air’. This film is in keeping with all children’s ability to perform magical thinking and bring to life all of their deepest imaginings.

9. The Holiday

Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet play characters in dire straits who are both experiencing man issues in their native homelands. They decide that the solution might just be to switch locations to gain enough distance and a fresh perspective, so Amanda (Diaz) packs for Surrey and Iris (Winslet) departs for Los Angeles. Whilst away, they both manage to acquire new loves…even if it does seem rather unrealistic that Winslet should be paired with Jack Black. This is a cheerful holiday season film that depicts the sense of loneliness and isolation that being single during a period of traditional ‘togetherness’ can bring. Thankfully, in movie land, no-one ends up lonesome for long.

10. Monty Python’s Life of Brian

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, so by incorporating this film, I am being potentially blasphemous. On the same night of Jesus birth, another child is born and mistaken for the Messiah; that babies name is Brian. What follows is a hilarious case of mistaken identity as the Pythons, known for their surreal, offbeat and generally hit-and-miss style of comedy, hit the ball out of the park with every joke. This is in my opinion, essential Christmas viewing, particularly if you are an atheist or agnostic but still enjoy the festivities of Christmas. This film incorporates none of the slush or sentiment that usually comes with seasonal movies, because essentially, it isn’t a seasonal movie at all (its far more of an Easter film), but it does have a very upbeat and inspirational message, encouraging individually, acceptance and open-mindedness. It might have caused a storm of controversy upon its release, but it can now be enjoyed (hopefully) as a funny film that took a chance and didn’t skirt around a potentially very thorny subject. Most importantly in my mind, it will make you laugh a real belly laugh that Santa would be proud of.

Watch this space for further suggestions…

The N64 is the dodo of consoles, deader than Latin, in the words of Alan Partridge ‘a dead duck’, and ‘who watches a dead duck? Not even its mother. She just flies off…depressed’. But this was the console of my childhood and better than the Wii any day of the week. Here are 10 games that remain pretty memorable for me in no particular order:

  1. Banjo-Kazooie

With its rich, vibrant colour scheme and insanely catchy music that mirrors the environment you find yourself strolling into, it was easy to immerse yourself as a child in one of Rares finest achievements for the console. Banjo-Kazooie was a new twist on the platform game, most likely popularised by the spate of Mario adventure games and is the name provided to any game that generally requires a lot of jumping from platform to platform (of course). But the repetitiveness of constant jumping is backed up by an action adventure, as unlikely friends, Banjo, a well meaning but relatively dim banjo playing bear teams up with rucksack dwelling Kazzooie (far more intelligent but cranky) to thwart the intentions of witch Gruntilda after she kidnaps Banjo’s younger sister Tootie and attempts to steal her beauty.

This is half fairy tale, half cartoon caper, as the friends peck and roll their way between several interlocked worlds. You get to travel the expanse of mountains, coves, caverns, swamps, freezing peaks that will reignite your sense of Christmas, valleys, mansions, bays and seasonal woods collecting jigsaw pieces and freeing jinjos. Players can alternate between Banjo and Kazooie, who both have different strengths and weaknesses as they progress through the game.

The variation of worlds, quests, themes, collectables, characters and the infectious mischief of the game make this one a true favourite of mine as well as a huge earner for the N64.

2. Banjo-Tooie

Sequels succeed when they manage to retain the magic of their predecessor, enhance it, and add in a little something extra for good measure. Banjo-Tooie does not stray far from Rares first offering as the friends reunite to prevent the restoration of Gruntilda, who is joined this time by two equally unfortunately named sisters: Mingella and Blobbelda. Sadly, some well known faces do not return, most noticeably, Bottles the advice providing Mole, who is smacked outta the park in the first act.

This game really engages itself with what children (and all of us with a very big kicking and screaming inner child) want from a game. They do not want Call of Duty. They do not want Pro Evo Soccer. They want fairy tale witches, talking animals, the possibility of transformation, enchanting music, and the freedom to move freely amongst the games worlds. Or at least, that’s what they did want once upon a time.

The Jinjos play a more upfront role, as having been frightened by the witches schemes, they have been scattered here, there and everywhere. This time around players are free to explore fairs, isles, temples, mines, theme parks, lagoons, prehistoric lands, factories, a Cuckooland and a keep. During each level, Mumbo imparts a spell upon the duo which enables Banjo and Kazooie to shift size or transform into a different being altogether (amongst other things).

To succeed in this game is less about brawn, and more about team work and brains, as during the final confrontation, the winners are decided by a trivia game rather than an epic blood and guys shoot ’em up show down.

3. GoldenEye 007

This was my generations’ Call of Duty; we got to shoot guns, throw grenades and run around karate chopping people when all the ammo ran out. Ignore the grainy graphics and quite frankly bizarre proportions of Pierce Brosnans head: this game was it.

This free roaming first person shooter was the game interpretation of the movie of the same name, but unlike many game adaptations of films – this one was actually good rather than a plodding, methodical step-by-step walkthrough infiltrated with various cut scenes that make you feeling like you are doing more than you actually are.

This was when players were trusted to know what they were doing; sneaking past guards, conserving their bullets, walking in on dudes on the toilet….as James Bond attempts to prevent a criminal syndicate causing financial meltdown globally. The random alarms and alerts that go off might just trigger a full blown panic attack and sometimes you’ll be tempted to shoot Natalya in the head just to get her to leave you alone, but this was all forgiven when you began playing the multiplayer mode to let off steam.

Running amuck amongst temple ruins throwing grenades at my friends and watching my screen degenerate into explosion filled madness like a roly-poly into hell was how I spent my childhood…and I turned out just fine.

4. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Most would unanimously agree that the above mentioned game is the best endorsement of the N64 console. Combining the free flowing exploration of the ‘over world’ and the technical puzzle solving skills that are required to navigate the games dungeons and temples, the game also involved players with its sprawling storyline. In the land of Hyrule, young Link, a Kokiri boy without a fairy, is summoned by the Great Deku Tree to rescue the land of Hyrule from the Gerudo King Ganondorf; a benevolent thief who wishes to usurp the King’s thrown and overtakes the land.

Players get to experience the dramatic changes that occur in Hyrule during the seven years in which Ganondorf manages to wield power and control. Thanks to some nifty time travel, players can return to Link’s relatively carefree childhood days, mingling with townspeople and fairies, or they can stick to the doomed dystopia that befalls Hyrule. Completing this game felt like fulfilling your very own Lord of the Rings quest and the sense of accomplishment was unreal. The graphics appeared very advanced and stylistic for their time, the songs were catchy and charming and the story progressed at a very appealing pace, allowing players to slowly build up their experience level as they battled through the various trials and tribulations of the game. If I were to suggest any game to an N64 player, this would be it.

The side quests enabled true escapism and when exploring the insides of a Dodongos belly or the intricacies of a woodland maze got too much, you could just power walk to Lake Hylia and do some fishing or chase Cuckoos for a weird lady who collects them despite her allergies. Several races were established, the aquatic Zora, the peter pan like Kokiri who never grow up and are accompanied by fairies and the man hating Gerudo thieves. The incredible attention to detail (the air abounds with ethereal fluff in the forest) and the interaction of action, game play, characterisation and cut scenes that progress the story (unlike the yawning cinematic cut scenes of final fantasy) really revealed the potential of gaming and the expanse it could traverse in immersing us in an entirely new world.

5. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

I mentioned before that sequels always capitalise on the success of their predecessors whilst rebooting with something new and previously unseen. Well Majora’s Mask shows us how it’s done. Fresh from his defeat of Ganondorf, Link and Epona, restored to childhood, explore some woodlands on the outskirts of Hyrule where they are attached by a Skull Kid and two fairies, Tael and Tatl who proceed to steal both Epona and Link’s Ocarina and lead him into an all new world.

Termina is a kind of separate world, an alternate dimension; it is the wonderland of Alice’s adventures as Link finds himself in a world populated with familiar faces – with a twist. The Gerudo thieves are now a race of pirates, the Zora are known for their music, Anju the mad cuckoo lady now wanders around bereft at the loss of her beloved, Ingo now has a twin brother (one was bad enough) and the rather innocuous mask salesman of the first instalment is now a far more sinister figure. This provides players with endless delicious rediscovers as well know characters pop up in unexpected places under the guise of their Terminian counterparts.

This game is a refreshing departure – there is no Ganon – instead Skull Kid is the villain who having happened upon Majora’s Mask is drawing the moon in to crush the land of Termina. What follows is a story of immediate danger and dread, as Link is plunged right into the middle of an imminent apocalypse. The game follows three day cycles as side quests are completed and temple dwelling demons vanquished, but at the end of each time cycle, we return to the first day and all good deeds are reset.

The masks now have the potential to transform Link into new characters and this new world is as enchanting and engrossing as it is terrifying and sinister. Although the ever encroaching time limits drove me to despair, you can’t help but be drawn into and entrenched in such an eerie and extraordinary game.

6. Mario Kart 64

Racing games always bring out my ugly competitive side. Whilst we sit there happily deciding on characters, tracks and go-karts, I sit their brooding and conspiratorial pondering my imminent victory and falling into internalised despair if a red shell rockets me straight to the back of the line.

Mario Kart in my opinion is the finest racing game there is, and that’s because it’s totally unrealistic. The tracks are bright and decorative and vary between straightforward, simplistic race ways to genuine death traps (I’m thinking of the Rainbow Road as I type this). The colourful host of familiar characters with varying levels of skill also make this game appealing. You can select Yoshi for instance, who is speedy and agile but easily barged out of the way, or Bowzer, who though big and bulky, goes at his own (frankly abysmal pace).

What really makes this game unique and enjoyable are the various power ups and traps that litter the tracks. Did someone just cut in front of you? Whack them out the way with a red shell. Is someone tailing you? Release a banana into their face! For this reason the winner often gets there by down and dirty means making this a wicked reimagining of the Whacky Races. Cheat, trip, barge, smash, smack and crash your way to victory in the multiplayer round and keep your eyes on the prize!

7. Pokémon Snap

When I was a child, Pokémon was a colossal obsession of mine, so you can imagine my imminent joy when the N64 released this game. You are Todd Snap (no really, you are), recruited by Professor Oak, to compile a report based on the Pokémon inhabiting an unusual island inhabited entirely by Pokémon. With its variation of climates and geographical locations, the island houses a whole plethora for your pokedex. Your task? Simply – to take photos.

You get a maximum of 60 photographs per level so you should use them wisely and try and avoid taking photographs of the lawn…at the end of each level you are then able to present Professor Oak with your favourite picture, so choose wisely.

Pokémon Snap is not the route to professional photography but it is damn good fun.

8. Turok: Rage Wars

Turok was always a bit more of a boy’s game in my eyes; it involved the dinosaur hunter doing what he does best: taking out the dinos. Although the game does involve a quest, my favourite aspect of the game was its multiplayer mode or the two player trials mode making the adventure just that much more exciting as you relied upon your buddy to help you progress.

You could bargain for bloodlust – a free for all fight to the death bloodbath where whoever can rack up the most kills wins, team bloodlust where you and a friend can destroy them all, capture the flag which endlessly drove me to the brink of madness when I’d be five seconds away from the flag site and find my brains splattered all over the floor and frag tag. Interestingly in this mode, a random player would be transformed into a monkey and have to run out the time limit escaping the other relentlessly murderous players. Me and my brother had endless fun running around in this game so it will always have a soft spot in my heart.

9. Xena: Warrior Princess: The Talisman of Fate

You might have watched the Xena series as a child following the warrior princess as she sought to redeem herself for her past of bloodlust and wanton destruction. This game allowed you to fight as all of your TV favourites; the raven-haired, baby blue eyed princess herself, blonde bard Gabrielle who can smack them about with a staff, the deliciously dark God of War Ares or the volatile newly formed Goddess Callisto (amongst a cast of others). If you had a soft spot for Joxer, who elicited a mixed response from audiences, your fighting style will literally consist of goofing off and accidentally hitting people, but there are many other recognisable faces from the series to select as you fight your way through to boss Despair, who has not previously made an appearance.

10. Perfect Dark

If you loved GoldenEye, you will love this. Would you have ever in your wildest dreams believed that this would follow on from the creators of Banjo-Kazooie? The games may be chalk and cheese but Rare certainly know what they are doing. James Bond decided to undergo a sex change and become a beautiful woman – he is now Joanna Dark, who works for the Carrington Institute, out to thwart the company’s nemesis dataDyne.

The selling point of this game, beyond the shoot ‘em up style, sexy front woman to rival Lara Croft, the seventeen levels and the hours of multiplayer fun, was the deep rooted conspiracy that slowly unravelled as the game progressed. Set in the future and caught up between the conflict between two rival alien races, the Maians and the Skedar, Joanna must prevent the Skedar rewarding dataDyne with ultimate technology enabling them to become the world’s most powerful corporation.

Here are just some of my favourites, but what are yours?

I’ve always been a music fan…which means I like all music, of any genre. (Then again – who doesn’t like music?) You name it, I probably like it. Except Screamo. That’s where I draw a very sharp line. I stumbled across K-Pop, aka Korean Pop, when I happened upon BoA – Eat you up, and from there I fell down a rabbit hole into a very special wonderland. It was two of my very close friends however, who introduced me to the male side of K-Pop and dare I say, these guys are even more beautiful than the K-Pop ladies! K-Pop influence is spreading, thanks to the ‘Korean wave’, as Korean culture, music and fashion catches fire worldwide. With catchy tunes, endless fan service and men as amazing as these, you could say I am a bit of a K-Pop fanatic, but I am just one of many rabid fan girls. Here are my top 10 male Korean idols. I’ve added three photographs for each so we can languish on them a little longer! So…when are we heading to South Korea?

1. Jonghyun – SHINee

A Shinee girl, aka fanatical fan girl, will refer to herself as a Shawol. I can quite proudly say I am a Shawol, and the man that single-handedly converted me is the one, the only, Jonghyun aka ‘bling bling Jonghyun’. Jongy is the lead vocalist in SHINee and has somewhat of a paradoxical personality: he gives off a vibe of true badassery and yet he weeps his heart out at every turn. In fact, you will see him crying as often as you will see him smirking (which is a lot). He is the shortest member of SHINee and he explodes in a ball of energy on stage. He has true presence and panache. He is referred to as the ‘dinosaur’ or ‘puppy’ thanks to his delicious doe eyes and is also the person that his fellow members would really not want to introduce to their precious little sister! Let’s just take a minute to take in the awesomeness that is Jonghyun!

2. Key – SHINee

Now Key, otherwise known as the ‘Almighty Key’ was bestowed with this moniker due to his uncanny ability to solve any problem he is presented with. He is also known as the triple threat, thanks to his ability to dance, sing and rap in equal measure and with equal talent! He is known as the ‘nag’ and mother hen of the group keeping his fellow members in line, but he is also a huge diva who can pick up girl group dances in an instant and mimic them exactly – he also has a penchant for Kesha, and really knows how to rock the red eyeliner (and all the ladies out there will know that is a difficult look to pull off convincingly!). Any true K-Pop fan will know that fan service abounds and man on man love is always in the glare of the spotlight for hungry fan girls to lap up like starving puppies, but there is somewhat of a controversy surrounding Key, who gives off somewhat of a ‘gay vibe’ even by K-Pop standards. Nonetheless, if he is a gay dude, he is an expensive and flamboyant character who revels in his sexuality. He is frequently paired with his band member Jonghyun. If the fan girls can’t have him, they’d rather put him with Jonghyun than a female competitor! He also has a pretty good grasp of English and is an accomplished cook.

3. Jaejoong – DBSK / JYJ

Jaejoong divides opinions aesthetically. Some say he looks angelic, others that he looks like an alien. I agree with the latter camp. Prior to DBSK’s disbandment, Jaejoong and his fellow members were the hottest group out over in Asia, known as the Gods of the East, but a scandal involving a lawsuit over  payment meant that the band went their seperate ways and Jaejoong and two other band mates assembled to become ‘JYJ’. Jae was the lead vocalist with a heavenly, husky voice, and despite being gorgeous, he is deeply self-conscious of his smile. Jaejoong was initially perceived as a cold person but he was actually being ordered to keep quiet by management as he had a tendency to put his foot in it! Jae is known for his love of cooking and for being incredibly clumsy. He also has possibly one of the most infectious laughs ever. For anyone thinking he looks somewhat girly, he does come from a family of eight sisters and so is used to being fawned over and feminised! He lists his favourite sport as ‘running away’ (probably from fan girls).

4. Yunho – DBSK

The tenacious, tender-hearted leader of DBSK before they disbanded (he now fronts the group with remaining member Changmin), Yunho is the solid, steadfast type, handsome, reserved and forward thinking, he is able to bring the best out of his team mates. Warm hearted, polite and well-mannered, Yunho is a true gentleman who took the reigns of DBSK when Jaejoong absconded from the leadership role. Behind the tough masculine exterior, Yunho is a very passionate and sensitive young man who likes to keep his emotions in check behind a cool, calm and collected veneer.

5. G-Dragon – Big Bang

I have only recently happened across G-Dragon and oh my lordy, it was like bumping into Jesus Christ in the woods. This cheeky chappy is literally on the verge of exploding with energy, hyperness and effervesence. Mere flesh and bone alone is not enough to contain this fireball. He is the leader of group ‘Big Bang’ and possesses an unnatural level of self-confidence. He knows how to smirk, smile, pout and prance his way through an interview and trust me ladies, when he smiles, you will melt. FLAT OUT MELT. With his slightly androgynous looks, he miraculously manages to pull off any fashion trend, much to my envy. It’s hard to keep track of him on stage because he is literally running to and fro before re-emerging somewhere far off out in your peripheral vision. G-Dragon is a very liberated and free thinking individual, but also a bit of a rebel – there was a controversy slightly earlier in the year surrounding supposed marijana use.

6. T.O.P – Big Bang

T.O.P….where to start? Some fans claim T.O.P stands for ‘the original pimp’ and it’s not hard to imagine that if he weren’t a K-Pop idol (and the idols have an almost God like status amongst fans) that he might very well be just that, chaperoning hookers from street corner to street corner like a gaggle of geese. T.O.P is the rapper of Big Bang and has a low, tiger like tone. He branched out with some solo material, the most memorable of which for me was ‘Turn it Up’. Check out the video and you’ll see what I mean. I’ve had it on continuous repeat for the last week. Help me.

7. Junsu – DBSK

Junsu was the first male idol I came across when my friend introduced me to DBSK. She asked me which one I liked and my eyes automatically went to Junsu. For that reason he will always hold a special place in my heart; kookie, cute and kiddish, Junsu is essentially a big child. Junsu knows how to raise low spirits being a constant source of light-heartedness and amusement. His naivity, innocence and general adorableness are all incredibly endearing. He is obsessed with soccer and sites his non-identical twin brother Junho as being his best friend. Despite his sweet appearance, Junsu metamorphosises on-screen and on stage, transforming into a slick and sexy dancer who is well aware of his sex appeal. He intended to debut much earlier but due to difficulties during puberty, his plans were put on ice. His voice still sounds unbroken but it has afforded him a beautifully melodious voice which sounds unusual and distinctive. He is also famed for his laugh, which is possibly the best I’ve ever heard.

8. Taeyang – Big Bang

I’ve always had a thing for the ‘strong and silent’ type and Taeyang fits the bill. He is referred to as a ‘practice bug’ because he will literally train and train AND train until he gets it exactly right. He is also known to possess ‘soft charisma’ *melts*. Perhaps what makes him even more attractive is that despite his drop dead gorgeous looks, he is shy as anything around the fairer sex. Before he made it big with Big Bang he wanted to be a pianist (he just gets sweeter and sweeter doesn’t he?). Its okay – he can play the piano at our wedding…

9. Yoochun – DBSK

Yoochun might be the member of DBSK you bypass in comparison with the others – he isn’t as much of a looker but there is something pretty winning about his dimpled smile, and he has a ‘knowing’ more experienced manner than some of his more innocent band mates. He loves rocking a hat and shades and used to be the best at speaking English (those skills seemed to degenerate before disapearing entirely almost overnight). He is probably the weakest singer of the group but he has a unique charisma that you can’t help but be spellbound by. Yoochun doesn’t have the highest self-esteem and has suffered bouts of depression. Despite his romantic compositions, Yoochun doesn’t want to get married (perhaps because his own parents divorced). He was scouted over in Virginia and brought to SM’s attention!

10.  Changmin – DBSK

My friends ultimate bias – Changmin is the baby of DBSK, but actually the eldest in his own family. As such his personality has an interesting cynicism to it. He is known for his ‘chang-gasms’ (yes it’s exactly like it sounds). According to his fellow members, Changmin enjoys sitting in the park…drinking…alone (old man in the making). Changmin changed virtually over night into a suave Casonova so don’t be deceived by his baby-faced appearance.

Any fellow K-Pop fans out there?

Who are your biases?

There is something naturally silly about the torso of a woman merged with the lower half of a fish, and yet there is also something prevailingly dazzling and enchanting about the fabled mermaid, who has intrigued and captivated  audiences for a long time. Mermaids abound in literature, legend and folklore, and though there are many mermaid movies, there aren’t nearly enough. Here are some of the more interesting movie interpretations of these sensational creatures.

1. Hook

Peter Banning returns to Neverland to recapture the adventurous and sprightly spirit of his youth. He re-aquaints himself with the Lost Boys and pesky pirates, but also with the beautiful mermaids, depicted here as benevolent and frankly ‘free with the lovin’ types who return him to the world above the water with a whimsical kiss. This short scene really captures as a cameo the serene and ethereal nature of the mermaid. There design and makeup, though simple, shimmers and shines.

2. Peter Pan

Disney never disappoints with its maidens. Characters tend to be polarized as all good or all bad, and the mermaids as depicted here, are childlike, spiteful and jealous, and can afford to sit around all day combing their hair and looking pretty. They are happy to be reunited with piper Peter, but are a little more reluctant when it comes to Wendy, but its okay, they were ‘only trying to drown her’. They fit the traditional depiction of mermaids as gorgeous, unknowable and vacuous.

3. The Little Mermaid

Ariel, underwater princess and daughter of King Trident, sacrifices the life she knows to gain a human soul and the love of Prince Eric. The first mermaid I witnessed on film (this movie was released the year I was born), Ariel was unique amongst Disney princesses as a rebellious, free-spirited and unconventional soul, right down to her flame red hair and skimpy attire. Most little girls might dream of being princesses or make-believe that they are mermaids, but Ariel dreamed to be human. Disney doubters see the story of the Little Mermaid as the tale of a young girl who sacrifices her independence and individuality to give herself over to a life of convention and tradition, but there is still something endearing about this story, which is the epitome of ‘the grass is greener on the other side’ syndrome.

4. Aquamarine

A mermaid with a valley girl twist, the consequence of two best friends wish to not be separated, Aquamarine is the ‘miracle’ that emerges as a result of their wish. She is able to take human form during the day so long as she makes no contact with water. She has arrived on land in order to understand the human emotion of love and quickly captures the attention of lifeguard Raymond. This is a fresh take on the mermaid story and interestingly depicts the mermaids fascination with humanity, which rivals that of mans preoccupation with the sea. Think ‘The Little Mermaid’ meets Clueless.

5. Splash

Everyone knows this mermaid movie. Daryl Hannah is Madison the mermaid, who befriends a young boy named Allen, and captivates him for all of his days until she reunites with him in adulthood. Unlike ‘typical tails’, which are quintessentially turquoise and relatively aquatic, Madison’s tail is reminiscent of that of a large goldfish jumping into the setting sun and is memorable because of it.

6. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

The saving grace of this otherwise dire movie, are the mermaids, who prove to be the scene stealers. Erotic, exotic…oh and flesh-eating, these mermaids lure men to their dooms, similarly to the sirens, and drag them to their deaths in the depths by coaxing them in with a kiss. These mermaids are both innocent and evil, captivating and crafty, but yet frustratingly underused in the movie and in the promotional material. Hopefully, Disney will catch on to the fact that the world needs more mermaids!

6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The merfolk of J K Rowling’s world are a complete reimagining. They lack the glamour, instead appearing as rather grotesque, and most certainly not wizard friendly. The merpeoples’ language exists as an ear-piercing screech above water, but appears as a lulling melody below. Any director when told that mermaids will be making an appearance in their movie, would be tempted to resort to the tried and tested clichés of the beautiful female mermaid (that is, after all, what most movie goers want to see). Not so in Harry’s world, where mermaids appear more androgynous and indecipherable. Harry has to venture into their world to conquer his second trial in the Triwizard Tournament.

7. Ponyo

Ponyo is Studio Ghibli’s imagining of the story of The Little Mermaid. Originating from a castle under the sea, Ponyo who is enlivened with great curiosity after a trip in her fathers submarine, slips away to see more of the world above the waves. Here, she befriends Sosuke and transforms into a human child.

8. Fishtales

Most men probably dream of seeing Kelly Brook embodying the role of a scantily clad mermaid. With this film, their fantasy can reach fulfilment. Here she portrays the stunning mermaid Nereid, who is in danger of being poached for her rather expensive tail. Like many mermaids before her, Nereid sacrifices her existence as a mermaid to become a human woman.

9. Peter Pan (2011)

The mermaids of the 2011 interpretation of Peter Pan are an unusual combination of sensuous and eerie, with their flame red hair (before Rihanna made it mainstream) and pale blue skin. The mermaids are aware of everything that occurs in Neverland and are notoriously evasive (somewhat different to the Disney mermaids, who enjoy a chat and catch up and act more like sorority sisters). The mermaids still have it in for Wendy (poor girl).

10. Night Tide

Slinky sailor Johnny Drake falls in love with Mora, who plays at being a mermaid for a living. As the film progresses, we cannot be sure if Mora really is a mermaid, or whether she is simply a little lost in her own fantasies. Mermaids don’t usually feature in thrillers, so this is well worth a watch.