I love Friday’s where the thirteenth day of the month falls on them! Am I superstitious? Not really. I just love the slasher franchise Friday The 13th! Last year I spent one Friday the thirteenth in my favourite cinema watching a marathon of films featuring the iconic killer Jason Voorhees. It was a lot of fun, but ultimately left me with little will to live by the early hours where I was struggling with the latter films which, lets face it, aren’t that great. Knowing a lot of people like cake, this year I thought I’d do something different! So here are a few of the best Friday The 13th themed cakes I could find online! If any of these are one of your cakes let me know so I can give credit!
Lets get two things clear. One, I love cake. Two, I’m not getting married. No, as it turns out, my team at work is currently all over weddings. One’s just got married, one is getting married and one has a daughter who is about to be married, and when talk of one wedding starts, it spreads to the whole team. Which eventually leads us to cake. Not only is cake generally amazing, but one of the best things about a wedding. And being the youngest at work, I often get asked what I’d do if I got married (which is apparently a very interesting and hilarious topic going by the responses I get from my colleagues…). So when me and my co-worker got talking about what cakes we’d love to have (turns out she’d have a Star Trek one too), I eventually wound up looking at geeky cakes again. So here are some beautiful cakes I found, enjoy folks! Oh and if any of these are your creations, please let me know so I can give credit and tag you.
And finally this amazingly beautiful Gustav Kilmt cake!
The Scott Pilgrim series are one of, if not the, most favourite series of graphic novels of mine (Akira and Watchmen coming in a close second place) and I can’t believe that next year will mark ten years since the first instalment, Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, was released. The series still captivates me, even now after reading it so many times. What is it, for me, that makes it so brilliant? That’s a hard one to answer but in a nutshell, and without spewing thousands of words on it, its pretty much that I’ve lived it, probably like so many other readers. I’ve had the giant ex that looms over a relationship, been in bands, pulled an Envy Adams-esque stunt, done the brothers thing, had an epically faithful cat, had gaming birthday parties, can name an equivalent of every character in the book in people that I know… I could, but won’t, go on. The main thing that strikes a chord the most is the number of pop culture references and the ease with which the characters use them to describe situations and feelings. Something that my friends and I have done for years, again probably like so many of you. So, in anticipation of its tenth birthday, here is a small run down of some of the pop culture references that feature in the graphic novel series. In no order of preference…
Scott has an X patch on his iconic Parker as an homage to the comic and television series, something which he has to explain to Ramona on one of their first dates. Later in book five, Scott Pilgrim Vs The Universe, Scott is seen trying to explain to Ramona the storyline in the Uncanny X-Men comic series which culminates in issue #251 in a moment where Wolverine is crucified on an X. Not that Ramona seems that interested…
2) SEX BOB-OMB
Scott’s band, with Stephen Stills on guitar and Kim Pine on drums, is a clear reference to the explosive bomb enemies from the Mario game series and it’s not the only band in the series to have a gaming-inspired name. Scott’s High School band with Kim and their friend Lisa Miller was called Sonic and Knuckles, his University band with Stephen and Envy Adams was named Kid Chameleon and Envy’s hipster major label group were called The Clash At Demonhead. The group’s drum logo is even a reference to the game; the symbol being a stylized ‘NO’ that appears whenever you shoot a friendly character. The band’s drummer Lynette Guycott is also named after the games skeleton boss Tom Guycott. Even local rival band Crash and The Boys were named after a game and Scott’s name suggestion, Shatterband, for Stephen Stills new group is an homage to game Shatterhand. Not that the Mario references stop with the band name. When Ramona asks Scott if they are an ‘item’, Scott’s brain response is to list items from the Mario games and when Ramona informs him about her subspace highway, the only example he can think of are the secret highways from the game series. At one point Scott is seen wearing a tanooki suit from Super Mario Bros 3.
3) RIVER CITY RANSOM
When Scott was in High School and in order to win the heart of a teenage Kim Pine, he had to defeat a whole school of bullies and the ‘boss’ (Kim’s then boyfriend) in a scene that played homage to side-scroller game River City Ransom. Scott’s enemies also explode into coins, much like in RCR and a load of other games. When Scott tries to remember the names of the Katayanagi twins in book five, he calls them Andy and Randy Katamari instead. Andy and Randy at the names of the ‘infamous Dragon Twins’ who turn up towards the end of River City Ransom.
4) STREET FIGHTER
During Scott’s first battle with Ramona’s first ex Matthew Patel, Scott pulls a Street Fighter reversal whilst also hitting Patel with a SF special attack Dragon Punch. Patel’s ability to levitate and throw fireballs is also similar to SF character Dhalism. The layout at the start of Scott’s fight with Todd Ingram in Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness is reminiscent of the beginning of each fight on the Street Fighter game.
5) BONKS ADVENTURE
O’Malley’s title pages sometimes spoof game title pages with the characters from Scott Pilgrim filling in where fit. Scott Pilgrim VS The World riffed off Bonks Adventure, Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together see’s Ramona and Scott take on Sonic The Hedgehog and Scott Pilgrim Vs The Universe referenced the game Double Dragon III. The Katayanagi Twins hurricane kick attack is also a direct attack lift from DDIII. Second book Scott Pilgrim VS The World also shares its title with The Simpsons SNES game Bart Vs The World. Whilst not a title page, book four see’s a double spread during the fight between Scott and Roxy Ritcher that directly copies the opening of NES game Ninja Gaiden. Even the midair strike between the pair is a direct panel lift.
Scott teaches himself the bassline to Final Fantasy 2 to show off to his band mates, not that any of them seem interested. Similarly, Ramona doesn’t seem all that interested when Scott quotes As Long As You Love Me by the Backstreet Boys to her to explain his love in Scott Pilgrim VS The Universe. One of Sex Bob-Ombs songs is called Launchpad McQuack, named after a character from the Ducktales television series and SNES game. The Smashing Pumpkins also get their fair share of references. Not only does Scott wear their iconic SP t-shirt during the book, he dons their zero t-shirt. The title of the third book is a direct homage to their album Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness, whilst chapter sixteen in the series is titled Frail and Bedazzled after one of their songs. The main stage at The Chaos Theater in the final book Scott’s Finest Hour is a reference to Daft Punk’s pyramid stage. Scott is named after a song by the band Plumtree, Stephen is named after musician Stephen Arthur Stills and Young Neil is named after… Neil Young.
7) PARAPPA THE RAPPER
Scott utters Parappa’s immortal line ‘I gotta believe!’ to himself during a realisation and he’s not the only one to speak lines from games in conversation. When Knives Chau grazes Ramona’s face she responds with the line ‘You fight like a cow’, a line from the Monkey Island series of games. Scott also shouts another Monkey Island line at roommate Wallace Wells to try to insult him; ‘I am rubber, you are glue!’.
8) CHARACTER TRAITS
Scott’s younger sister Stacey is rated ‘T for Teen’ in her introduction, one of the ratings established by the ESRB. When Scott defeats Ramona fourth ex Roxy, she explodes into cute fluffy animals like Dr Robotnik from Sonic The Hedgehog. Envy Adams is referred to as ‘she who will not be named’, a direct reference to Harry Potter villain Voldemort. Evil ex number two Lucas Lee is a skateboarder and his moves and their layout in the book are modelled on the Tony Hawk videogame series. So much so that Scott wants to train to defeat Lucas by playing the game itself. His name is even a direct reference to Jason Lee, a pro-skateboarder turned actor, like… Lucas Lee. Scott wishes he could morph into a ball and roll around instead of having to get up in a direct reference to the ability from the game Metroid. Much to everyone’s surprise, Scott gives Ramona the nickname ‘Rammy’, who just happens to be a character from the game Um Jammer Lammy. Clash At Demonhead drummer Lynette has a bionic arm that directly riffs off the game Bionic Commando. Scott’s attempts to get Ramona’s cat Gideon to come back is a direct reference to Breakfast At Tiffanys, just as his name of Gideon is a reference to the cat with the same name in Pinocchio. In book one, Ramona wears shoes that are an exact copy of those worn by Mr. Silly in Mr. Men.
9) THE LEGEND OF ZELDA
Scott has to face a doppelgänger of himself, Nega Scott, much like the character of Dark Link, a double of main character Link, in The Legend of Zelda. Final ex Gideon Gordon Graves wears a t-shirt that resembles the inverted Triforce logo from the game The Legend of Zelda. Scott has a dream in which he aimlessly wonders around a forest looking for a cheat code which is a direct reference to the maze-like forests of the game.
Ramona’s third ex Todd Ingram is related to Tetsuo, the main character from epic manga Akira numerous times. Like Tetsuo, Todd was taken to a lab in his teens for testing and returns home with bandages wrapped around his head. During his fight with Scott in Honest Ed’s, Todd screams the line ‘Its my brain! What have you done?!’, a quote from Tetsuo. In a ‘display’ of his love for Ramona, Todd punches a hole in the moon, and then does the same for Envy when they are together. This is a direct reference to the two holes in the moon that Tetsuo punches on behalf of Akira to show his followers his powers. Ramona takes it further by stating that after Todd punched the moon the first time, about fifty pages of tidal waves and explosions happened, which is exactly what happens in the manga.
I am not ashamed to admit that The Hunger Games was one of my favourite films of 2012 and the recent poster drops of the last month promoting its sequel Catching Fire (alongside the great aerial picture Google Earth uncovered of the films arena) have got me more than a little excited for the November release. In a nice wave of marketing, The Hunger Games publicity heads have adopted a great tactic of the Capitol, releasing portraits of the tributes ahead of the Quarter Quell, treating the fans and film audience as if they really are citizens of Panem. And it totally worked! The portraits are beautiful, revealing just enough to get the imagination going but not too much that they reveal spoilers (unless you’re one of the ones who’s read the book trilogy). Which got me thinking… I love original film-themed art and prints (Mondo in particular have made quite a few prints that have seen me part with a lot of money), especially those that expand slightly on the existing film universe. So below I have posted some of the best Hunger Games propaganda posters I’ve found online. Some are so perfect you could actually imagine the Capitol distributing them to the twelve Districts to keep everyone subdued… Please note, none of these were done by me and if you see any of your work below please let me know so I can credit you and link!
It’s hardly a hidden secret that over the past year and a half I have gotten back into watching WWE. Something that I used to watch as a kid, and was subsequently banned from watching (thanks Mum…), has become a real guilty pleasure for me. Every week, Raw and Smackdown, plus weekends watching old pay-per-views from the past fifteen years, keeping up with gossip and rumours and following wrestling superstars on Twitter. It’s all become part of my routine, much to the disbelief of many people that know me. Just like my interest in sexploitation film and the representation of sex and sexuality in cinema, I find that a lot of people are surprised, baffled, shocked and sometimes maybe even embarrassed when they find out that I’ve become such a fan. For a corporation and sport that does have a female following, it seems that being a female wrestling fan is still somewhat of an anomaly for a certain few.
So if those are some of the reactions I get for exclaiming that I’m a fan, imagine the responses I get when I tell people that I’ve been seriously checking out wrestling schools in London with a view to maybe taking the sport up. It would seem that for a large majority of the public, the wrestling world is very much still a male dominated arena. And I want in.
The current female roster including recently departed Eve Torres (front centre)
Or do I? Because as much as I love the WWE (I don’t watch TNA and have yet to get into any independent stuff for the sole reason that I simply don’t know where to begin), the one glaring issue for me since I started re-watching it has been the Diva Division, otherwise known as the roster of female wrestlers. It’s not that I don’t appreciate what the girls can do. If anyone who’s ever met me reads this they probably would have laughed as the proclamation that I’m considering starting the sport, because I’m not exactly built for it. In fact, I’m probably one of the worst candidates to think about going up. I’m not embarrassed to say that I’m not fit (because quite frankly I’m not) but strength has never been, excuse the pun, a strong point. I have no upper or lower body strength, and everyone knows it. Even my yoga teacher will readily admit that she needs to teach me more exercises and moves to increase my muscle strength. I have weak arms, weak shoulders, weak thighs, you name it. It’s not that I don’t have respect for the girls in the roster, just like the men they have to train very hard to be able to do stuff that I literally only dream of doing. And yet watching them in action, I can’t help but feel frustrated and occasionally under-inspired.
Is part of it gender related? Perhaps. The WWE would be stupid to not have female wrestlers on their books, their exclusion would be nothing but insulting and offensive to all the women who do work in the industry on all forms (as a wrestler amateur or professional, those who work backstage, managers etc.). Nothing but a clear sexist act. And yet, I can’t help but feel that their representation is a bit sexist and stereotyped in itself. Whilst one does have to remember that it is a show and it is all about entertainment, for me, there’s only so much perfectly coiffed hair, make-up that never smudges and plunging necklines I can take. Don’t even get me started on the cliché of cat fighting that is hair pulling. I have no doubt that that aspect of sexualisation amongst the girls is meant to appeal to the male fan base, eye candy for them to pour over, but at the same time it’s a disheartening distraction from the technical abilities that a few possess. As a female fan, it comes down to believability. In my dream world I’d be trained in a plethora of submission manoeuvres like my favourite Diva Natalya, try to train to have at least half the strength of Beth Phoenix and be able to do a great spear like Kaitlyn. I think the Diva division has lost itself somewhat by having the WWE company focus a bit too much on looks and story-lines, as opposed to talent, prospects and training. In short, whilst I’d love to be a Diva and would work fucking hard to be one, I’d also want to be recognised as a wrestler. Able to hold my own and ‘one of the boys’.
I dream that that could one day be me and my title…
For me it would be about trying to provide both men and women with a real portrayal, to try to be someone who everyone, including myself, could actually believe in. Not focused on trying to look perfect, not afraid to sweat like a pig, ready to show those inevitable bruises with pride and not cover them up with concealer. I’d love an entrance theme that actually represented me, that I wouldn’t get sick of and one I wouldn’t mind being associated with. Whilst I like Layla, I find the lyrics of her entrance theme more than a little patronising, only seeming to justify the opinion that the Diva Division aren’t really wrestlers at all; ‘I’m insatiable I can’t get enough, I need to find a boy’. Now, whilst I’ll readily admit that I’d probably, and incredibly half-heartedly, dance to that track on a night out, to me the song only helps to secure one image for Layla. It doesn’t matter how good she is in the ring, she’s always going to be nothing but eye candy. It’s not about being equal in gender or sporting ability, her ultimate goal is just to find a boyfriend or a fuck buddy. I’m certain that that isn’t the impression she wants to give, nor how she sees herself, but your entrance music is supposed to reflect who you are, its something you become synonymous with. I have similar contentions with Eve’s theme (all about looks), Kelly Kelly’s music, Candice Michelle’s ode to sex and Maryse’s French ode to sex to name a few. Whilst sex appeal certainly comes with the territory of gaining fans of the opposite gender, it shouldn’t come across as be all and end all. I’d readily admit that I’ve eyed up a few of the male wrestlers but see them for more than muscular eye candy. When I went to see RAW last year I heard countless comments from men that ‘Kelly Kelly was really hot’ or that ‘Beth Phoenix looks like a man’ as if that was all that mattered. Is it annoying to see ‘pretty’ Diva‘s like the Bella Twins get match and title belt priorities when someone like Natalya, a third generation wrestler from a prestigious wrestling family with a lot of talent, is left to be nothing more than comedy fodder? I don’t really need to spell my answer out to that question.
The fact is that right now the female roster is incredibly thin and the remaining girls currently have a great shot at really shaking things up and making opportunities for themselves if they want to. The last year has seen six women walk away or get dropped from their contract, quite a hefty number for a roster that isn’t much bigger than that right now. Whilst I wasn’t a particularly big fan of recent loss Eve Torres, there’s no denying that she leaves behind a gaping hole that WWE will struggle to replace. On the acting side, Eve had one of the biggest and most well-defined female character’s that divided audiences, on top of near constant in-ring performances. As much as current favourite AJ Lee is getting television time, you can’t hide the fact that in the past year Torres has spent more time wrestling in the ring than Lee herself. And whilst Eve had to deal with the ‘Hoeski’ storyline last year with fellow male wrestlers Zack Ryder and John Cena, it feels like nothing compared to the five ‘boyfriends’ AJ has had in the last year. And don’t even get me started on her depiction as being emotionally unstable, prone to screaming hissy fits that I used to do when I was four…
With WWE as a company bringing back credibility to the Intercontinental Title and Tag Team Division over the past two years, it’s not surprising to hear that they have intentions to change the Diva Division too after recently conducting focus groups on how fans see the female roster. A logical change for the new year was the decision to put the belt on Kaitlyn, a previous body-builder who not just has the right build but the right personality, moves and looks. Then again, it was also quite predictable. WWE‘s reluctance to utilise Natalya to her real potential or place any confidence in Tamina Snuka, the daughter of Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka, means that they don’t have many others to play with. There aren’t enough of them to create believable, long-standing feuds and the secular identity of the female group means that there aren’t any serious mixed tag teams, no stables to pledge allegiance with or any mixed competitions. I’d love to see more women and against men matches, managers versus managers, mixed tag team partners. Tomorrow night see’s the twenty-sixth Royal Rumble match and in its entire history only three women have ever competed as part of it; Chyna, Beth Phoenix and Kharma. Whilst I can’t imagine someone like Aksana being an entrant (her wrestling is embarrassing at best), part of me is disappointed that the only woman I can see possibly being a part of it this year would probably be the one kissing her way out of it (AJ Lee). If I were a Diva I wouldn’t be able to lie with that. If CM Punk is able to bring about some change and speak out against what he doesn’t or didn’t like about the company and the way they treated people, I don’t see why the female roster aren’t doing it. I’d be genuinely surprised if they were really happy with how the Division has ended up and how they are used.
Again, I feel I must stress that I find what all the Diva’s do in general to be inspiring. They work hard, striving for something that they are determined to achieve in a male dominated world and I’m grateful that a company like the WWE gives them that opportunity. I’m under no illusions that it’s an ‘easy’ job. Not only is it physically demanding but no doubt emotionally and mentally straining at times too. On top of the training there are the frequent performances, the constant travelling (which could be town to town or visiting separate countries in two days), being away from your family, friends and loved ones, the charity work that the corporation do. The Diva’s contribute a lot, maybe even a little bit more than their male counterparts, outside of the ring. WWE owes them the time and attention to help them develop themselves inside of the ring. Give them more air time, involve them in existing story-lines with other wrestlers, create new worthwhile story-lines between them that they can benefit from, put Tamina in more matches, give Natalya a better character and start using her properly, really begin to push Layla and AJ’s in-ring abilities.
I know that the WWE as a company would never employ a girl like me. I’m a huge fan, I’m passionate and determined but with no experience at all and a frame that would literally need to be built from scratch, someone like me is too much of a gamble, too much work. Having said that, as a female fan I deserve more than watching female wrestling legend Mae Young, the only professional wrestler to have had documented matches in nine different decades and who in her late seventies and eighties has participated in physical stunts for the WWE that no one imagined she would, have to suffer through another un-funny comedic pregnancy skit. What the Diva Division needs is a revolution of its own and if the McMahon’s won’t encourage one then I’ll deliver it personally by hand myself.
In 1982, Life magazine went to Ottumwa, Iowa, the gaming capital of the world, to photograph a group of young gamers. The photograph, part of a spread which was meant to capture the various moods and themes of Western culture, featured those with, at the time, the highest scores in arcade gaming. At that moment in time, the group were recognised as the video game champions of the world. In 2007, director Lincoln Ruchti used the portrait as a basis to catch up on those who were involved, developing the interesting documentary Chasing Ghosts: Beyond The Arcade.
Back then, being hailed world champions in their field by such a renowned publication led to local and national interest and popularity. Twenty three years later we pick up where photographer Enrico Ferorelli signed off, catching up with nine of the original sixteen as they share their initial childhood/teenage experiences and dreams and how they all changed when the arcade scene began, through to its eventrual demise.
Full of nostalgia, hope and the cruel realities (and differences) or changing landscapes (puberty to adulthood, local to national fame, arcade gaming to home console gaming), Chasing Ghosts will not only appeal to gamers, geeks and fanatics but also those who truly loved something when they were younger and never let go of the passion for it.