Monday, October 4, 2010

Dedicated to that beautiful, beautiful city.

A long talk with a good friend yesterday made me realise that I haven't really found the time to update my London blog. This update is important because I'm not in London anymore, and my year there has been over for a few days. In between catching up with all things Malta, starting work again and basically just getting by I haven't had the time to really appreciate this sudden detachment from the city I've lived in and loved for a year.

Call it whatever you want. Dirty, ridiculously expensive, overcrowded, dangerous. Yes, it wasn't the cleanest of places, the expenses were ridiculous, the people jostle and push and are generally rude and sometimes I didn't feel safe walking around at night. Whatever the case was, my year in London was the best year of my life. I've met so many people - people I love, people I don't really like and people who have disappeared. I've done so much and I've learnt so much - not just as far as my degree goes but just about living, about life. I know the Underground like the back of my hand, I have been ridiculously drunk in Trafalgar Square and attempted to climb one of the lions, I've been evicted (it sounds a lot more dramatic than it actually was) and I've learnt what it's like to live alone in a broom cupboard of a flat and I've loved it all. Moneywise London has been somewhat of a gold-digger in that it's sucked me completely dry but it doesn't even matter anymore because it was all worth it.

It's amazing how attached you can get to a place. Knowing I'm not going back there for the next couple of months still leaves my mouth dry. As cliched as this sounds, the city has truly changed me. I've matured and grown (unfortunately in a physical sense too, damn Fosters!) and my outlook on life has changed for the better. I'll never forget just how much London did for me.

And so, to end this post in a cliched way, here's a quote from Samuel Johnson that truly sums up my year:

By seeing London, I have seen as much of life as the world can show.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dissertation fever

What is dissertation fever?

Dissertation fever is a disease that usually strikes towards the end of a degree. Whilst it has become harder and harder to predict how long it will last (depending on whether you're a Type A or Type B sufferer), it is known to wreak havoc on not only the body but usually surrounding objects, people, etc.

Are there different types of dissertation fever?

1. Type A: This is usually the most typical kind of dissertation fever. Type A sufferer is aware of the deadline for their dissertation weeks, months, even a year before said deadline but chooses to ignore it in favour of activities such as pulverizing their braincells through alcohol consumption, watching 16 TV shows all at the same time, Facebook, or simply choosing their bed over the library. A few months before, the brain suddenly registers the following: "Oh sheeeyeeeet, that goddernned dissertation, better get to work!". This is followed by plenty of hearty laughing at the fact that there's a relatively large amount of time left ("I've got three months, I'm fine!") and more of the aforementioned activities. Weeks before the deadline, dissertation fever will suddenly set in - and the more extreme of the symptoms-to-follow will too.

2. Type B: This strange individual starts their work ages before the deadline, has a good working relationship with their supervisor, is unusually organised and well-behaved about their work and usually hands in their dissertation a couple of days before the deadline. However, they too have their own bouts of dissertation fever - something that causes a symptom known as "irrational rage" in Type A sufferers.


1. Moodswings. These are particularly terrible, the sufferer will be in a good mood for a minute (usually exclaiming stuff like "HURRAH ANOTHER 500 WORDS DOWN!") to glum ("I forgot to deselect the 'include endnotes/footnotes' option in word count. FARK") to angry (watch out, books tend to fly across the room at this stage) to the dreaded level, Mordor. At this level, one cannot predict what might occur.

2. Addictions. Nicotine, alcohol, Facebook, Haribo - whatever it (or they) may be, these addictions will be abused more than ever.

3. Sudden dramatic weight loss/gain. Usually caused by relying too much on the aforementioned addiction to Haribo, either way.

4. The inability to get out of a library chair. Whether the sufferer is typing their dissertation madly or simply staring at Facebook hopelessly, library staff will eventually have to drag them out.

5. Pale skin, lank hair, bitten nails, paper cuts, nervous expression. Self-explanatory, really.

6. Sudden murderous intentions. Should be included with moodswings, but this is set aside specifically as a warning to all tutors everywhere : WATCH OUT!!! As for you, Type B sufferers, the same goes for you - never whine about your missing 50 words in front of a Type A sufferer.

How long will it last?

Type B sufferers can relax, it usually goes away relatively quickly. Type A sufferers: approximately 1 minute after the supposed deadline. Watch out, they may sink into a coma.

What can I do? A section for concerned relatives, friends, Starbucks staff members, etc.

Back away from the sufferer slowly, preferably placing a large barrier between you. Quarantine is essential at this stage. If you're feeling brave enough, offer a pat on the back or a hug (though we cannot guarantee your arm will not get gnawed off).

What can I do? A section for the sufferers

A very nasty person would say 'You should have started months before!!!!' but we say: FIGHT THROUGH IT, THINK OF THE ALCOHOL AT THE END and also encourage you with the A-Team theme song.

Friday, July 30, 2010

So You Think You Can Dance, Season 7: Review and my Top 10 Routines (so far)

Summer has been upon us for a while, though I'm not really enjoying it as much as I should be as I'm battling away with The Dissertation of Doom. Well, meant to be. Naively enough I thought that it would be easier what with the million-and-a-half shows I watch going on break till September. However, what I didn't anticipate was the now-dreaded SUMMER TV. True Blood, Mad Men, Pretty Little Liars, Drop Dead makes me cringe to think how much time I spend watching TV.

Anyway, So You Think You Can Dance is yet another summer show I love and adore. Having trained in dance for 13 years when I was younger, it's always been something I've enjoyed - not necessarily something I'm good at, but anyway! I've been watching the US version since the dawn of Season 3 and I've loved it ever since. It's time well spent on screaming with the TV audience through the best routines, insulting the judges in several languages when they're nasty about the dancers and going into Sicilian-mourner-like-fits whenever someone is eliminated.

Season 7 hasn't been as much fun as I anticipated it would. This year, they've changed the format - instead of twenty top dancers, they've got ten dancing with a team of 'All-Stars', i.e. dancers from previous seasons. This in itself is an awesome idea as I love seeing all the old faces - Alison! Pasha! Neil! Twitch! Mark! Courtney! I could go on and on! Somebody stop me! Anyway, as exciting as it's been having them on, the new format isn't working out and it's pretty obvious that Nigel Lythgoe, judge/producer/HBIC of SYTYCD feels the same way.

Firstly it's important to point out that SYTYCD has a reputation for loving the boys. Six seasons in and only 2 girls have ever won the show. There are times when this has made me incredibly sad, mostly because you get dancers like Alison on Season 2 who should have won the entire frigging season. This year however, this has been abused beyond belief. Whereas once one guy and one girl were eliminated each week (because it was couples rather than individuals being voted off), things have changed drastically this year. The eleven dancers consisted of five girls and six boys. Three girls were eliminated in a row before one of the guys - Alex - was, and this was only because he was injured (he could have won the entire competition, but more about that later). As of right now three boys and one girl remain on the show, with two guys having been eliminated last night.

But love for the boys isn't my biggest problem with the format because, hell, the boys are pretty much all amazing dancers. My other big problem with the show is the amount of pressure the new format has exerted on these poor newbies. Three routines per episode is no joke and has thus led to the notorious 'Curse of Season 7' - with three injured dancers in a row. As aforementioned, the first guy to go was Alex, who tore his Achilles' tendon during rehearsals for a Bollywood routine - this was particularly tragic as it was pretty damn obvious he was going to go on to win it. Then Ashley got injured and she was cut, and then Billy got injured, and even poor Lauren suffered dehydration. These dancers are obviously exhausted. Three routines per episode was once a format saved for the finale of the season, and now it goes on every week.

My other massive problem with the show has a name, and that name is Mia Michaels. I used to love Mia when she just choreographed. She was a funny, quirky lady with a lot of insane ideas that transcended into some amazing choreography. She only judged occasionally and even then I was willing to overlook the fact that she always sounds like she's hiding a thesaurus under the judges' table. Now she's replaced Mary Murphy - who I still love and adore, no matter what anyone says - and she's nothing but a pretentious bitch. It doesn't help that she holds a grudge against my favourite, Adechike, but anywho. She seems to enjoy finding new ways to insult the dancers/choreographers every week and to be frank, it's becoming ridiculous. Also, if she refers to herself as an artist one more time, I may have to reach through the screen and strangle her to death.

Anyway, rant over. We're down to the Top Four dancers which means there isn't much time left before America's favourite dancer is crowned. These are my Top 10 routines so far.

10. Lauren and Pasha, cha cha by Jean-Marc Genereux - Telephone

Cha cha + Pasha = instant love. Oh, and Lady GaGa of course, being a GaGaista and all. This was definitely worthy of the hot tamale train - MARY MURPHY I MISS YOU!!!!

9. Ashley and Ade, contemporary by Dee Caspary - Cosmic Love.

They had me at Florence + the Machine. It's too bad Ashley was eliminated so soon because she was so damn fantastic. She makes this look effortless...and it's anything but (cough cough). Epic.

8. Kent and Neil, broadway by Tyce Diorio - Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, MO.

I hate the embedding rule. So much. Anyway, anything Neil does is magic for me and seeing him and Kent dance together was just wow.

7. Lauren and Allison, broadway by Tyce Diorio - Who's Got The Pain?

This song came from the same musical as the song that Neil and Kent danced to in the routine before this one. First all-girl dance of the season. And it was awesome!

6. Adechike and Comfort, lyrical hip hop by NappyTabs - Fallin'

I'll be honest, this routine made me a little weepy. All of us have been through this. When they showed Adechike crying after, that just made the waterworks even worse. This rivals Mark and Chelsea's Bleeding Love from Season 4 for me. Just incredible.

5. Billy and Ade, contemporary by Stacey Tookey - Mad World

The judges revelled in this one. It's upsetting that Billy was eliminated right after he did this routine, it just went on to prove what a gorgeous, unique dancer he is. The contrast between him and Ade is incredibly stark throughout this routine - the stuff Billy can do with his body is just ho em gee. Love it. Sniff sniff.

4. Robert and Allison, contemporary by Travis Wall - Fix You

EMBEDDING DISABLED BY REQUEST, FUUUUUUU. Anyway. Let it be known I hate Coldplay with a passion despite all this. But Travis made me love this damn overplayed song, mostly because he dedicated this routine to his mum (who is currently suffering from cancer). The emotion in it is just incredible, everything about it is absolutely beautiful. Also, I hate you Season 2 - ALLISON WAS ROBBED!!!!

3. Kent and Anya, cha cha by Jean-Marc Genereux - My First Kiss.

Mia called it 'crunchy', which made me love it even more because IHU, Mia. As obvious as it is that the judges are kissing Kent's ass, he is a bloody fantastic dancer. And Anya. Just Anya. ANYA. I love that woman, she can do no wrong. This was just fun and sexy and everything a cha cha should be. Love it! Also, Kent: your facial expressions rock (no matter what that witch Mia Michaels says - I do know how to hold grudges, don't I?).

2. Adechike and Kathryn, jazz by Travis Wall - Addicted to Love

None of the judges liked this as much as I did. But I don't really care what they think (ESPECIALLY YOU, MIA. YEAH!). This routine was smooth and gorgeous and beautiful and AAAAAAAAAARGH Travis is such a fantastic choreographer. AND FLORENCE + THE MACHINE! This routine officially made Adechike my favourite dancer on the show. He's just so damn sexy. It also proves that Kathryn definitely deserved to be part of the Top 4 last season. Just fantastic.

1. Alex and Twitch, hip hop by NappyTabs - Outta Your Mind

AAAAAARGH I HATE 'Embedded by request'!!! SO. DAMN. MUCH. CLICK. AND WATCH THE MAGNIFICENCE. Remember Alex is a ballet dancer. This is the best damn routine I have ever seen on the show...and not only because it's Twitch and I want to marry him...Mrs Jenny Boss. Mrs Jenny Twitch. I love the sound of it, really. Anyway, watch it. You will love it even if you're not a dance fan. it is that much fun. The tragedy is that Alex was injured the week after this routine, when it was made absolutely clear that he would go on to win the show.

All of the routines I've posted involve the All Stars as you can see, which gives a lot of credit to the new format. However, someone needs to intervene before one of these dancers gets killed. In conclusion, Adechike is my favourite, but I want Lauren to win for the girls' sake. However, if Alex were still around...I'd want him to win. He'd kill it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Here we go again

As any of my close friends will be able to tell you, I've always been somewhat (*cough*) impulsive. I tend to talk before I think and make decisions at random. Lately, I've been thinking about all the things I used to do (as a kid, as a teen, whenever wherever) and then abandoned. All the languages I've been learning - I need to get my French and Russian (some would say Maltese too :P) back into gear, kick Spanish in the butt and finally get my Italian sorted out. There are, of course, a million other languages I want to learn, but anywho.

Aside from academic stuff...Spanish dancing, for example. I've been meaning to take that up again. Dance in general actually. I spent a good 15-16 years of my life practicing ballet, jazz and the aforementioned Spanish dance. You wouldn't guess that judging by my complete lack of grace and my tendency to fall over whenever possible. I'd be interested in taking up jazz and Spanish (because, let's face it, I am DEFINITELY not the sort of person you can see doing ballet at this stage!)...and starting contemporary. I would LOVE to do contemporary. This SYTYCD routine made me realise just how much I'd want to try it.

Anyway, the aforementioned lack of grace can be accounted for by the fact that aside from all the dance I used to do, I also used to practice something else.

And that is football.

I used to play for the girls' team at Melita FC and trained as a centre-forward for a couple of years...and I was surprisingly good at it! There are only two sports I've ever been good at, those being swimming and, as mentioned, football. Baseball/rounders/cricket/anything involving a bat? Watch it. Basketball? Just duck and save yourself. But football was something else.

I'm ridiculously out of practice now and will need A LOT of training to get into shape and then actually get back to the way I used to play. But hey. It'll be fun trying again.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Internal (occasionally External) Assignment Monologue

As inspired by my darling Rax over at her blog. This is how an assignment with me usually goes.

During the first lecture of the module in question, when the lecturer gets the class all pumped up about the Dreaded Future Assignment which is due in 2-3 months...

Awesome! I will get on that straight away! Right after this I'll go to the library and get all the literature sorted, maybe set up a plan, hey the library does operate on a 24/7 basis, maybe I'll actually finish this WAAAAAAAY in advance, teehee! Woooooo Team Me!!!!

Five hours the pub.

*BURP* That'salottabeer.

Cue plenty of time passing when finally...

Two days before the deadline

Tralalala, I should work on that assignment! I bet I can get it done today! After I watch a couple of episodes of Bones.

Half a season of Bones later...

Eh, there's always tomorrow, innit? *clinks wine glass*

The next day...9AM

Right, time to download some more Bones and then get down to business. I have a cleverpants plan that involves writing 500 words, then watching an episode, then writing 500 words...




3PM is still considered lunchtime BACK WHERE I LIVE. Stupid UK. Should stop watching Bones while I eat. Gross.


Right, I should get this shit done.


YAY, 100 words!


YAY, 105 words!


Break time!


OK, seriously, time to concentrate. After dinner.


Another 100 words! Woo! Only 2800 to go! I can do this! Internal word count, go!


WHY DO YOU HATE ME WORD? WHY? WHAT HAVE I EVER DONE TO YOU? Now would be a really good time to rewatch Legally Blonde. Haven't seen that in years! No no no must concentrate. Come on. We're 500 words in.


I can SO pull an all-nighter. I'm like halfway through. Or halfway through halfway through. Whatever. Still a milestone. I'm closer to a 1000 than I was before! Oh, wow, my connection here is super fast. Is Legally Blonde downloaded already? That's magical. Have to check if it's a real file. It is?! Oh, wow, I've forgotten how cute this movie is..........................


ILU REESE WITHERSPOON!!!!! So so so sleepy. Oh no. Time for coffee.




...891 WORDS. WORD. (HAR, HAR).


There is a reason why the 'no coffee after 4PM' rule exists because I need to get out of this tiny room and wow I feel like going out and dancing and OOOOH I bet I could finish THREE volumes on Trotsky before the night is through WEEEEEEEEEEE dancing around to Glee now IS THAT A UNICORN I SEE OUTSIDE HOMG HOMG HOMG WHY DON'T YOU EVER WORK YOU STUPID BITCH ASS PRINTER I HATE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


1000 WORDS!!!! YAY ME!!!






2000 words. That's pretty damn good. Another 500 and I'll hit the sack. Lecturers don't really count words, do they? They won't miss 200 here or there...maybe I am crap at all-nighters...WHY CAN'T I EVER PULL AN ALL-NIGHTER? I EVEN BROKE THE COFFEE AFTER 4PM RULE! I HATE YOU, BODY!!!

3AM words....






I HAVE WATCHED GLEE. Now, to meet that 11AM deadline...


I don't have 500 words left! 2750 is a number they can't argue with. Right? RIGHT? SORTED. Just 250 to go.


I think I've added an adjective to every noun in this assignment but it means there's only a 100 left to go. Easy peasy Japaneasy.


Can't fight this feeling anymoreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee....wait wait hang on 2800 WORDS!!! THAT BEATS MY INTERNAL WORD COUNT. I WIN AT LIFE. ISH. Now, time to change into the closest clothes I find and rush to the library to print this shizzit out.


I look like a homeless Amish person but WHATEVS, no one's going to see me.


Must. Find. Free. Computer. Stop staring at my shirt, biznotch. Oh my GOD all four floors are full!!! BUT THEY'RE ALL ON FACEBOOK!!!! I hate students SO MUCH. YES including me. ARGH. GO AND READ A BOOK, YOU STUPID UNDERGRAD.




Yayayayayay handing it in handing it in! Oh bugger, forgot I have to write down the time of submission. Stupid 11AM rule. It's only 5 past. They won't notice if I go back 5 minutes. Discreetly. Even 15 minutes.


A full hour might have been pushing it. A little. I shall debate the pub. Another assignment due in a couple of days but HEY! Plenty of time left!

Friday, May 28, 2010

My favourite local(s) in Kingston

Seeing as I haven't updated this in a bloody long time (blame exams), I've decided now would be the perfect time to go into TravelWriter!Jenny mode...and tell you all about my favourite pubs in Kingston! These are only a few out of the huge amount of pubs you find here, I might add, but I'll be working on getting to see the others soon enough.

1. The Druids Head
This was my very first pub in Kingston. I staggered there with a bunch of Americans after a lot of free wine at the postgrad gathering and was shocked at the price of a pint of Guinness. This became a running theme with nearly every pub I went to - ah, naive Janna! Anyway, I don't visit quite as often as one would imagine (it's the closest pub to me) but whenever I do it's always fun, whether it involves meeting Kingston local men's clay pigeon shooting club or dancing around to Madonna's Vogue.
Pros: Dead central plus you have to love the name. Ahhhh, English pub names!
Cons: Expensive!! And a little boring on the inside.

2. The Mill
OH THE MILL! <3 Got to love the Mill. This is every Kingston student's second home, especially the ones on Penrhyn Road and Knights Park campuses as it is hilariously close. It is your typical student pub - cheap(ish) prices plus the wonderful invention that is Quid Night on Mondays (Fosters for only £1.30!). The jukebox there is only 50p at a time and it is always amusing listening to the sequence of songs that comes up when you spend a longish time there...yesterday it was Marilyn Manson followed by Eurotrash followed by Bonnie Tyler at one point.
Pros: Always a good night out. Food is usually great too. Love the jukebox addition.
Cons: Despite it being riverside you can't go outside at summer time. Finding tables is like a mission from God. Gets a little too student-y sometimes. AND they stop serving food at 9!

3. O'Neills.
O'Neills is part of a chain of Irish pubs across the UK. The Kingston one is a particularly lovely watering hole. Atmosphere there is always great with the live music (usually Irish!). Plus it is extremely central and therefore only requires a 2-minute long stumble home on my part.
Cons: Pretty expensive plus some of the staff can be really rude at times.

4. The King's Tun/Lloyds
Ahhhhh, Lloyds. Or the Tun. Or Spoons, whatever, it has a lot of names! Lloyds is, happily enough, one of those magical Wetherspoons pubs which means prices are slashed...gotta love it <3 Lloyds is great for one of those epic nights out because it turns into a club after a certain time on weekends. During the day, it's nice to go there, even by yourself, and just have a drink, a (cheap!) burger and read a book.
Pros: Cheap, fun, big as it's on two levels. It's never difficult to get a table there.
Cons: Does attract a fair amount of creeps. Plus the last time I went there, I didn't get ID-ed for buying beer but my friend got ID-ed for buying (get this) crumble! Weirdos. Also, it's across from Oceana...just google that...

5. The Spring Grove
The Grove is the ideal Penrhyn Road-type post-university hangout because it's round the corner from university. In fact, it's where we usually run into our lecturers, haha! The Grove has a lovely atmosphere and great staff, but it is quite honestly the most expensive pub I've ever encountered. I mean, ouch.
Pros: Love it at wintertime because of its lovely fireplace. Also: proximity to university. Especially after an evil lecture.

6. The Ram
Lovelylovelylovely riverside pub! Quite tiny but worth it if you want a few drinks in the long as you find a table, that is...
Pros: The aforementioned riverside beer garden <3.
Cons: Lack of tables!

7. The Grey Horse
The Grey Horse is fantastic because of its stand-up comedy nights. My friends and I tend to go on Fridays but they're on all weekend as far as I know. Admission to live comedy is only a fiver if you're a student!
Pros: Very cheap. Close to the train station so it's not a long walk back. Stand-up comedy!
Cons: Itsy bitsy teeny weeny.

Friday, May 14, 2010

I can cook!

So I have a slight addiction to these wings. The hotter they are, the better. And the more sauce thrown over them, too. I've always wanted to learn how to cook them properly but the rest of my family isn't as into spicy food as I one could blame them for that, though, seeing as I require Tabasco along with salt and pepper at almost every meal.

Anyway. I tried to cook the wings yesterday but it wasn't successful seeing as a) I was somewhat drunk and b) the smoke alarm went off and distracted me. Today, I tried again! I used a combination of recipes, and whilst I couldn't get my hands on the much revered Frank's Red Hot Sauce (or Louisiana Hot Sauce *guitar strum*), Tabasco suited me just fine. I don't do measurements when it comes to cooking, so the sauce was basically a concoction of butter, cayenne pepper, paprika, some blue cheese, a bit of ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, garlic flakes and the aforementioned Tabasco. I blended all these in a saucepan and let them simmer over a hot heat.

In the meanwhile, I had preheated the oven to 200 C. I picked out a few wings and cut them into halves before coating them in flour. Then I cooked them for 20 minutes - my oven's tiny though, so baking will take longer in larger ovens. After they were cooked, I poured the sauce over them.

These + blue cheese dip = heaven.