When your hero dies in life, whether it’s someone in your family, a friend or a famous individual, it’s always difficult to bear. And perhaps that’s why we seek solace in our own thoughts; we try to find peace when all we see is grief. At times, the world bleeds colour and all that’s left is a dark, frustrating grey hue. It covers your eyes and blinds you temporarily. Death finds a way to eat into our souls, no matter how much we try to smile and move on.
Christopher Reeve would have turned 63 on September 25, 2015 – today – if he were still alive. Almost 11 years on since he died, his death still weighs heavily on my mind. I still remember where I was, what I was doing and, even, what I was wearing the day he died. Travelling to my youth theatre group as part of an early morning Sunday rehearsal, I was sat in the car with my dad. When I heard of his death on the radio, I stared at my black converse and jeans.
In that moment, my mind was elsewhere. Tears dropped from my cheek and splashed onto my jeans; I wasn’t even aware I was crying. In fact, my immediate thought remembered his final wishes, the one where he decided that he’d manage to walk again. Somehow he’d summoned up the courage and walked straight into death.
Though Christopher Reeve died that day, Superman didn’t. A superhero in the movies, he was also seen as a hero in life, particularly for his work in paralysis. Setting up the Christopher and Dana Reeve charity was just a part of those plans to bring those with paralysis a better life. One in which they would be able to walk again.
Today, that same charity is asking his fans for a donation of $63 in honour of Christopher’s 63rd birthday. And I’ve just donated $63 – or the British equivalent of £41.50.
The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation is a fabulous charity, not only for the work that it continues to do on a daily basis for those with spinal-cord injuries or other types of paralysis, but for upholding the spirit of Superman for so many years and never giving up hope.
Having suffered a very serious back injury when I was 15, and again when I was 16, there were moments when I couldn’t feel my legs. I spent 40 minutes on a set of steel stairs and in the back of an ambulance believing I was paralysed from the hips down. At that age, it was the most terrifying thing in my life. When the feeling did come back into my legs, I remember feeling relieved and then entirely ashamed at myself. I knew people had suffered far worse and never lost hope for a second. In those 40 minutes, my hope was shattered completely.
Now I spend my life actually living. I am thankful every day that I can use my legs. Earlier this year, my friends and I ran the 5k Race for Life in aid of Cancer Research UK – another fantastic charity – and we raised near enough or over £200 for the cause.
Every day I’m thankful that I can run, jog, skip and swim. Every day I’m thankful that I can walk.
Happy 63rd Birthday, Christopher Reeve. And thank you for giving me hope.
Back in 2004, I was struck by the death of my hero and, along with many others, remembered all of the amazing feats this man had managed in his short lifetime. I was 14 when Christopher Reeve died. And today, almost ten years on, I’m shocked by the loss of his college best friend, Robin Williams.
The great comedy legend and Hollywood actor Robin Williams was found dead in his Californian home on August 11, having committed suicide. For a moment, when I (bleary-eyed) checked the news on my phone at 7am, I was stunned. I didn’t think it was real, in fact, my mind couldn’t process it was real. But sure enough, global news channels confirmed it. Robin Williams was gone.
Immediately my natural curiosity was sated. The man behind such classic films, Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Jumanji, Mrs Doubtfire, and Hook, had battled severe depression and alcoholism for many years. Nobody knows why he committed suicide – even though the newspapers are throwing a few curve balls into the media frenzy, along with a statement from his wife that he had early Parkinson’s Disease – but, in a weird way, I understood.
As a former sufferer of depression, I found it incredibly difficult to talk about my problems to my friends and family. In fact, it was years after my Nana’s death when I realised I actually needed help. That the ongoing days and nights of crying into my pillow was not normal, that the idea of death was a glorified way out of my crap life. But, when I look back, I actually had a pretty good life. I had an amazing support network of family and friends, plus I had my writing and drama workshops, acceptance to university, and so on. However, I just couldn’t see that it all existed. Every night when I’d cry, I’d only see the darkness, the pain, the need for clear and refreshing physical pain rather than the emotional one. To me, nothing was right in the world. And I was selfish for taking up space, for living in it.
I can’t begin to understand what Robin Williams felt in those moments. But I do understand what it’s like to only see that insufferable darkness. I only hope he finds peace, wherever he may be, and can feel joy in seeing pigeons shit on other people’s heads while he looks on us from afar. And I also hope he reunites with Christopher Reeve once again, after all he needs to re-enact the scene as Reeve’s Russian proctologist. On that note, I’ll leave you with the very scene written in Christopher Reeve’s autobiography, Still Me:
“As the day of the operation drew closer, it became more and more painful and frightening to contemplate. In spite of efforts to protect me from the truth, I already knew that I had only a fifty-fifty chance of surviving the surgery. I lay on my back, frozen, unable to avoid thinking the darkest thoughts. Then, at an especially bleak moment, the door flew open and in hurried a squat fellow with a blue scrub hat and a yellow surgical gown and glasses, speaking in a Russian accent. He announced that he was my proctologist, and that he had to examine me immediately. My first reaction was that either I was on way too many drugs or I was in fact brain damaged. But it was Robin Williams. He and his wife, Marsha, had materialized from who knows where. And for the first time since the accident, I laughed. My old friend had helped me know that somehow I was going to be okay.”
Looking back at 2013, I regret to say that I have totally and completely neglected my personal blog. It’s a shame really knowing that I put a lot of hard work into it when I was first starting out on WordPress. However, I’ve not been neglecting my professional writing portfolio, so in a tidy and alphabetical list below you’ll find links to various reviews and articles over 2013/14 that have been published here on the web (which is really more for my benefit, so I can keep track of where they’ve been published). Plus, I’ve been handling the content as an editor for Inkblots and Typing Spots – a literary magazine for young or aspiring writers – for around a year and a half now, which is where I spend most of my spare time! You do follow that, right? :)
Game Reviews 
Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D
Fire Emblem: Awakening
Just Dance 2014
LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins
Mario and Luigi: Dream Team Bros
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy
Sonic Lost World
Super Mario 3D World
Wii Party U
Game Reviews 
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Inazuma Eleven GO: Light/Shadow
Kirby: Triple Deluxe
LEGO The Hobbit
Mario Golf: World Tour
Mario Kart 8
Mario Party: Island Tour
NES Remix 2
Pokemon Art Academy
Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Wii Sports Club Golf
Yoshi’s New Island
Henry Cavill vs Brandon Routh – Who Was The Better Superman?
Tom Hanks: 10 Movie Moments That Prove His Greatness
Five Entirely Amusing And Wacky Things You Can Do In Tomodachi Life
5 Video Games That Shamelessly Ripped Off Zelda
10 Super Mario Facts You Probably Never Knew
The Best Nintendo April Fools’ Day Jokes So Far
For many years, becoming a princess was the cherry on the cake for little girls across the world, but when those girls grew up, they lost the need to place that gold, sparkling tiara on their heads. I can’t say I blame them; when we’re faced with the harsh world of reality, taking the lead role as princess in Mushroom Kingdom becomes nothing more than a trip down Nostalgia Lane. It’s no wonder both girls and women shudder with glee when the sacred vow of marriage arrives on their doorstep, complete with a glittering white dress and tiara. But what is so interesting is why both those girls and women place so much importance in the dress, and why it, inevitably, becomes the crux of the matter.
The gaming industry has been a fan of the damsel-in-distress story arc for quite a number of years, and it appears to keep getting bigger, bolder and better. Nintendo’s own Mario has been working this plot for – well, quite frankly, forever – but it works, right? In fact, Nintendo broke the “princess barrier” a few years ago and gave Princess Peach a chance to star in her own game: Super Princess Peach.
The game, originally released in 2006 (2005 for Japan), went on to relative success with gamers and critics alike – however, they dubbed the game as being “too easy” irrevocably making it difficult to die. The abundance of hints added to this ‘easy-vibe’, which ultimately led IGN critic Craig Harris to believe Nintendo were intentionally ‘spoon-feeding’ gamers: “Nintendo goes completely out of its way to spoon-feed the player, going so far as to nearly spell out the solution to every boss battle before the player enters the fight.” There was also the murmur of Nintendo planting ‘undercurrent sexist themes’ within the game – in one specific level, Peach has to avoid the Boos, and if one brushes past to touch her, she dies. Reading between the lines here spells out certain sexual connotations for sure, but what is so frustrating is that she can’t seem to fight back. Sure, she has her chance to fight bosses, but she uses her emotions of gloom, rage, joy and calm to defeat them. Is it such a ridiculous notion to allow Princess Peach to stomp enemies flat, just like her on-off boyfriend Mario? It’s somehow ironic that she must use her umbrella to hit an enemy, as if her body is too virtuous and pure, so she must imbue her rage in an inanimate object.
Super Princess Peach presents us with a rather interesting theory: if Peach was to take off the dress and wear women’s trousers and a shirt, accompanied by walking boots rather than dainty heels, could she shake off the damsel-in-distress image? Does her vulnerability come from her costume choice; trapped in a pink flouncy dress with nothing but white bloomers underneath? In fact, when a video game character gets the chance to shirk the dress, she does so, albeit only for half of the game in The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time and subsequently, The Wind Waker. In both of these examples, Princess Zelda takes on a ‘boy-ish’ image, wearing cut-off trousers and, in Ocarina of Time, even wears a scarf to cover her feminine features. But as soon as she transforms back into the princess and into the dress, she is captured by Ganondorf, ending her plight to take on the evil usurper, giving control back to the male hero. Is it too much to ask Nintendo to make a game that actually modernises the female princess, letting her control her own fate for once?
From the Mario franchise, we’ve also been tempted by the cute yellow ‘Belle’ dress that Princess Daisy wears so wonderfully. Of course, we’ve yet to see a spin-off that takes Daisy from mere Mario Kart racing to super-stomping, princess-popping heroine – hopefully though, this isn’t as far off as we first imagined. As a new generation of ‘girl-gamers’ evolves, Nintendo must supply them with role models they can look up to, and role models that don’t trap the princess in the dress.
So, why is it that the dress matters so much to both women and girls? We get to look like the stereotypical princess, if only for one day, but that’s not to say we want to wear it every day. Do you think Nintendo needs to create characters suited to modern tastes, or is it better to keep up with tradition?
Since you all know I’m a ma-hus-sive Superman fan, I just couldn’t ignore this absolutely wonderful homage to Superman’s 75th Birthday in pictures. I tell you, what I wouldn’t do to get my hands on that very first “Action Comics” comic that introduced us to the red-blue blur of today. I suppose we could ignore the fact that the last one sold for a whopping 2.1 million – I doubt I’ll ever make that much money in my life-time (I hear writing is a fickle business *wink, wink*).
I think my favourite image from the abundance Hero Complex via LA Times has provided has got to be the final shirt-ripping ‘da-da-dada’ pose. It’s the one Superman is most famous for – I mean, come on, any man who rips off his shirt and exposes a primary-coloured, tight-fitting, muscle-bulging costume underneath has GOT to be wonderful. And while searching for more Superman poses, this fantastic blend of old and new cropped into my peripheral vision – via flicksandbits.com.
All in all, Superman looks very good for his age. Maybe he’s had a little bit of botox and a touch-up on photoshop, but he’s still the iconic hero I know and love.
– Man of Steel swoops into cinemas on June 14 – only a couple of months away!
After the hush-hush whispers and the sideways glances from Henry Cavill and Zack Snyder, Superman’s fans are finally treated to a sneak peek poster of the very man himself – for the June 14 cinema extravaganza, Man of Steel.
He’s suited and booted, surrounded by an army of tanked soldiers and bound in… handcuffs? Read the rest of this entry
The Lucky One (12A)
Starring Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling
A mind-numbing experience as cliché and as convoluted as the two times table – The Lucky One panders to all your ‘chick flick’ expectations, but in true clichéd form, it’s as flat as a pancake.
The Cabin in the Woods (15)
Starring Kristen Connelly and Chris Hemsworth
Strap yourself in kids; you’re in for a real treat with this postmodern horror. Hailed as the next instalment to Wes Craven’s Scream and from the writer of the ass-kicking and stake-stabbing Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the gritty and tense Cloverfield, Drew Goddard’s The Cabin in the Woods is a film with no limitations and strikes the perfect balance between the stereotypical and the surreal.
The Woman in Black (12A)
Starring Daniel Radcliffe
Good evening and welcome to Eel Marsh House, where everything is black, covered in cobwebs and small china dolls or monkeys play instruments.
In other words, welcome to shit-your-pants-ville.
The long wait is over. I have safely landed back into the blogosphere; blame my absence on MA work, Christmas and selling books. Or just my laziness and over-tiredness. With my insomnia back in full spirit after its sip of mulled wine, I’ve taken a journey into the land of film, more specifically the fourth dimension of Heavenly Creatures.
Heavenly Creatures (1994) directed by Peter Jackson is certainly a marvel to behold. Based on a true story from Pauline Parker’s journal entries in the 50s, Jackson begins a devilish journey into the ‘fourth dimension’, where fantasy grips two young girls and leads them straight to Hell’s gates.