#tpt: Peaky Blinders

14 March 2017

Today’s Top Pick

Today’s pick is the BBC television show Peaky Blinders.

The Peaky Blinders

Set after the First World War, Peaky Blinders follows the exploits of the notorious Peaky Blinders gang in Birmingham, England.  With the Shelby family at its centre, the show mainly focuses on Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) as he tries to expand his gang and create a more legitimate business.

Interesting fact: The Peaky Blinders were a real gang in the late 19th-early 20th centuries.  The name is said to have come from the fact that members stitched razor blades into the peak of their flat caps, which were used as weapons in fights.

Throughout the show, we meet other important members of the gang, including Arthur and John Shelby, their Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) and sister Ada, as well as the thorn in their side, C.I. Chester Campbell (Sam Neill).

John, Thomas, and Arthur Shelby

Like most shows about gangs and crimes, we are also introduced to their many, many rivals—whether that be other gangs or sneaky cops.  With Thomas Shelby’s desire to rise up in the world, he’s bound to make several enemies.

Thomas Shelby

What makes Peaky Blinders so fascinating, to me, is the portrayal of these believable characters.  They all have such major flaws that truly make them seem real.  Take Thomas Shelby, for instance.  A Sergeant Major in the First World War, Tommy comes home from France with many problems.  He’s a different man than he used to be.  He’s more serious and sees the world differently.  No man really comes home from war, and Cillian Murphy’s portrayal of Tommy is phenomenal.  We have this severely flawed man who is suffering from what he witnessed in the war, but he has ambitions and goals and wants his family’s business to thrive.  He’s driven and intense.  Others think him a cruel man, but behind closed doors, you get to see his emotions and weaknesses.

The time period of this show is also something that is really fascinating.  The first season is set in 1919. World War One has just ended and the men have returned.  Women have to get used to going back to just being housewives and having less responsibility, while the men take over everything again.  I imagine it would have been a difficult time to live in.

With only six episodes in the first series, I finished series one rather quickly and have moved on to series two, which is set two years later in 1921.

This season introduces Tom Hardy as Alfie Solomons, a Jewish gang leader and Noah Tyler as Darby Sabini, an Italian gang leader.  These two new leaders add an exciting new chapter for the show.  With new gangs in the mix, it’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top.

Alfie Solomons

Darby Sabini

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The third season aired in 2016, with a fourth and fifth already approved for production.

This is a show I have been meaning to watch for such a long time, and boy am I ever glad I finally got around to it.  Peaky Blinders is definitely a show I would recommend.

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#tpt: Gloom and Man Bites Dog

7 March 2017

Today’s Top Picks:

Today’s top picks are a little different from my usual ones.  I always choose books, movies, television shows, or music.  This time, I have chosen something else entirely—card games!  So without further ado, here are my 2 picks: Gloom and Man Bites Dog.

gloomMy family is still really big into playing board games and card games, and every year at Christmas we buy a new family game.  This year, while browsing through F.G. Bradley’s, my sister and I came across a card game called Gloom.  Now, what first drew me to the game was the box itself [pictured left].  Created by Keith Baker, Gloom is “the game of inauspicious incidents and grave consequences”.  Well, that sounded like something completely different.

In Gloom there are four main families, represented by unique symbols—a brain for Castle Slogar, a hat for Hemlock Hall, a circus tent for Dark’s Den of Deformity, and a scythe for Blackwater Watch.  Each family consists of five unique characters.  You chose four as your main players and discard one (which can then be put together to make a misfit family if you have five players).  Now the really cool thing about these cards is that they are transparent!  That way, as the game goes on, you can always see underneath cards as they are played.

The families of Gloom.

The families of Gloom.

The basic goal of Gloom is simple—you want to have the most miserable family.  You create a miserable family by playing negative point cards on your own characters, such as “was beaten by beggars -15 points”.  Meanwhile, you’ll want to play positive point cards on your opponents’ family members to give them higher scores, such as “was wondrously well wed +20 points”.  Remember, you want the lowest score!  This game requires strategy and a little bit of creative storytelling!

gloom-unquiet-deadIt’s super fun and actually has quite a few expansion packs you can buy.  After Christmas, I bought one called Unquiet Dead, which adds a supernatural element to the game.  Some of the other expansion packs include, Unhappy Homes, Unwelcome Guests, and Unfortunate Expeditions.  These expansion packs are really cool because you can just shuffle the cards in with your core game, and voila, now you have even more gloom-filled fun to enjoy!

If you’re someone who likes card games and are looking for something a little different, this is definitely a game you should check out!


My second pick for the day is a card game I was actually introduced to in university called Man Bites Dog.

man-bites-dog-2I went through school for journalism (specifically print), and had this one professor for multiple classes each year.  By the end of fourth year, there were only eight people in my program and we all had every journalism class together—with quite a few taught by this one professor.  At the end of the year, we all went to a local pub for some drinks and to chat about this and that, with said professor.  Because there were so few of us, he brought along this game, Man Bites Dog.  Turns out, it was the perfect game for a bunch of aspiring journalists.  However, it’s also just a really fun word game.

In Man Bites Dog, there are a bunch of random words on cards, each with a different point score on the bottom.  For example, ‘snubs’ for 5 points, ‘psychic’ for 25, or ‘cop’ for 10 points.  The objective of the game is to create a unique news headline with the words in your hand.  For instance, “Psychic snubs cop” for a total of 40 points.  The goal is to collect the most points and be the first player to reach 500 points.  There are “exclusive” cards that double the value of points for that hand.  So “Exclusive: Psychic snubs cop” would be worth 80 points.  This game is a lot simpler than Gloom, but just as fun.

I would highly recommend both of these games to anyone who enjoys spending some quality time with family and/or friends.  Let me know if you’ve tried either of these games or can think of any you think I should try!

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#tpt: The Librarians

28 February 2017

Today’s Top Picks:

My top pick for this week is The Librarians.

The Librarians is an interesting pick, as it originated as a series of made for television films, before being turned into a television show.  Starring Noah Wyle, The Librarians started as three films about a main character, Flynn Carsen (aka the Librarian), who collects and protects ancient and magical artifacts.  He often has to travel to dangerous places and face many foes in order to keep the artifacts out of the wrong hands.

quest-for-the-spearIn the first film, The Librarian: Quest for the Spear (2004), we are introduced to Flynn Carsen when he is hired by the Metropolitan Public Library.  Throughout the film, Carsen embarks on a journey of self-discovery while on the hunt for a piece of The Spear of Destiny—after it is stolen from the library.

 

the-librarian-ii-return-to-king-solomons-mines-38847The second film in the series, The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines (2006), finds Flynn Carsen on a new quest.  This time, he is searching for King Solomon’s Mines.  Along the way, Carsen is again tested with who he can and cannot trust, all while trying to find precious artifacts.

 

curse-of-the-judas-chaliceFlynn Carsen is suffering from a series of strange dreams in the final film in the series, The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice (2008).  He follows these dreams to New Orleans, where, yet again, he uncovers a conspiracy and struggles to figure out whom he can trust.  This time, Carsen is searching for the Judas Chalice, a most sacred artifact.

 

After three films, it appeared that the Librarian’s story was complete—until 2014 that is.  A television series began, following not only Flynn Carsen this time, but a whole group of interesting characters.  Acting as a sort of sequel, you don’t technically need to see the films first, but I definitely think it would help with some of the underlying aspects of the Librarian and the Library itself.

In the television show—3 seasons in—we follow Colonel Eve Baird, Jacob Stone, Cassandra Cillian, Ezekiel Jones, and Jenkins, as they discover more about the Library and must find their place within it.  Flynn Carsen does make appearances throughout, however, he is not the central character this time around.  We focus on the others as they must recover artifacts and try to save the Library—and subsequently, the world.

If you haven’t seen The Librarians I would definitely check it out—if not the movies, at least the television show.  Let me know if you’ve watched it or if you plan on checking it out!

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#tpt: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

21 February 2017

Today’s Top Pick

secret-life-of-walter-mitty

Today’s pick is one of my favourite movies of all time, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013), starring Ben Stiller.  In the film, Walter Mitty works at Life Magazine as the Negative Assets Manager.  Walter often finds himself tuning out of reality and daydreaming of going on grand adventures.  Famed photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn) sends Walter his latest negatives and a leather wallet as a gift of appreciation for his work, explaining that #25 captures the “quintessence” of Life, believing that it should be the cover of the final print issue of the magazine.

Walter Mitty

Walter Mitty

However, Walter can’t find negative #25.  From here, a grand adventure begins in search of the missing negative.  The film finds Walter making all kinds of whimsical decisions and finally finding the adventure he was always craving.

I’m not going to give anything away about this film as I think the journey and the message are absolutely beautiful and need to be discovered for one’s self.  It’s one of those films I wish I could discover for the first time again.  When I saw this film for the first time, I was so extremely moved.  The whole journey is amazing, but the ending is so touching that no matter how many times I see it, it still causes me to tear up in happiness, love, and wonder.

I love this movie so deeply, I think, because I relate to Walter Mitty.  There is so much more that I want for my life, and I often find myself daydreaming of fantastical adventures, just like Walter.  I would love to travel and experience everything life has to offer.  This movie makes me so happy and gives me so much hope for my future.  I have never connected to a movie the way I do with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  If Walter Mitty can do it, so can I.  There are some amazing quotes, scenes, and messages in this film that will really reach your soul.

“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life”.

If you’ve never seen this movie, I highly recommend it!  I could watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty every day and never be tired of it.  It’s so inspiring and beautiful that I think any dreamers out there definitely need to see it.

If you have seen it, let me know what you think of it, and if you do decide to check it out, let me know!  I’d love to hear your guys’ thoughts!

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The Winter Slump

Hello dreamers!  So as you’ve probably noticed, I’ve been a little MIA lately and I feel terrible about it.  I don’t know about you, but I always find myself in a bit of a slump in the winter.

Where I live, we get pretty cold, snowy winters that last for quite a while.  As someone who doesn’t participate in any winter sports or activities, I find myself hating winter more each year.  The snow and ice make getting to work difficult and causes so many accidents.  I tend to stay inside more and watch more television and movies (whoops)!

As a result, my writing has been a bit slack—for which I apologize.  Over the last few weeks, I’ve found myself sitting down to write for my blog, but ultimately never finishing any posts.  I could come up with a million excuses—working too much, watching tv too much, traveling, etc—but the point is, I’ve just not had anything to say.

I find this happens to me sometimes.  I go for months where I post consistently, and then for some reason, I stop.  I go weeks without posting.  I have great ideas and whatnot, but I just don’t post them.  So this is me, telling you, that I am going to try my hardest to write weekly again.

I’ve always loved my Top Pick Tuesdays posts, so I’m going to start those back up.  I may not continue with my Book of the Month, but I definitely will write more about the books I am reading.

I’m also going to continue to write about any trips I take this year.

If you have any ideas of things you’d like me to write about, feel free to comment below!  I love getting feedback!

So here’s to me writing more!

Thanks for sticking by me in my winter slump!

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Dan and Micki Take Florida 2.0

I had a lot that didn’t end up fitting in my last post about Florida, so I figured I would make another!

While on our trip, our grandmother took the two of us to Universal Orlando as neither of us had been before—and we are huuuuuugge Harry Potter nerds!  We really wanted to do Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, so we bought the park-to-park tickets.  This allowed us to take the Hogwarts express back and forth too!

When we first arrived at Universal Orlando, we went to Universal’s “Islands of Adventure” park, which houses The Wizarding World of Harry Potter—Hogsmeade.  The first thing we did was the “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” ride, which takes you through Hogwarts castle.  You join Harry on a journey facing giant spiders, a dragon, dementors, and more!  It was a 3D/4D ride which was really fun.  I did not, however, enjoy the spiders.

Hogwarts Castle

Hogwarts Castle

Next, Michelle and I did the “Flight of the Hippogriff” ride.  It was fun, but incredibly short.  I don’t think I would wait in line for that one again.

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G’ma and I in Honeydukes

We then went and did some of the shops in Hogsmeade.  We went to Honeydukes candy shop, where we each had a fancy treat.  Michelle had mint chocolate fudge, while G’ma and I each had a “cauldron cake”.  It’s like a cupcake, with about six different types of chocolate and shaped like a mini cauldron—mini handle and 3 rounded feet too!  Afterwards, Michelle and I rode the “Dragon Challenge” roller coaster.  It was really cool because you actually get to pick either red—the Chinese Fireball—or blue—the Hungarian Horntail—to ride.  The ride is comprised of two coasters that go at the same time.  We chose the blue Hungarian Horntail.  Next time, I’d like to try the red Chinese Fireball.

 

The three of us then hopped on the Hogwarts Express to head over to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter—Diagon Alley in “Universal Studios”.  The train was really cool and didn’t take very long.

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About to ride the Hogwarts Express

Arriving in Diagon Alley, via King’s Cross Station, you see the Knight Bus in the street and enter through secret passages in the wall.  It was super cool.  I absolutely loved Diagon Alley.  It really captured the feel of Harry Potter.  I honestly felt like a first year student going to Diagon Alley to buy all my school necessities for the first time.  It was amazing!

We went into as many shops as we could and explored all the sights, including Knockturn Alley.

The dragon on top of Gringotts

The dragon on top of Gringotts

The three of us rode the “Escape from Gringotts” ride, another 3D/4D ride.  I LOVED this one.  I would say that this was my favourite HP ride.  I wish we could have done this one again.  The ride was so much fun and the 3D effects were amazing!

We then went into Ollivanders, where my G’ma was actually chosen as the one for the interactive wand selection.  She ended up buying her wand—because the wand chose her.  Michelle and I then took our sweet time looking at all the wands.  I kept picking up the same wand—one made of ash—so I figured it was meant to be.  Michelle kept picking up the same one too, so she ended up getting that one.

About to get our wands!

About to get our wands!

We then continued exploring Diagon Alley.  When we got hungry, we took the Hogwarts Express back to Hogsmeade.  We entered Jurassic Park and ate at the Burger Digs.  After lunch, we explored more of the Islands of Adventures park.  We really wanted to do the Jurassic Park River Adventure ride, but the end is like a log flume so you end up getting soaked.  We didn’t want to be soaking wet for the rest of the day, so we skipped that one—which is sad, because the ride looked awesome.

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G’ma, Me, Michelle–About to be eaten by a dinosaur!

Michelle and I then rode the “Skull Island: Reign of Kong” ride, another 3D/4D ride.  The waiting line was actually the most terrifying part.  They had a lot of creepy stuff in the line, including men dressed as the cannibal people from the island who hid in these dark crevices and jumped out at people.  Terrifying!

Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy, Hoggy, Hogwarts!

Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy, Hoggy, Hogwarts!

As it was getting late (7:30ish), we headed back to Hogsmeade to ride “The Forbidden Journey” again and do a bit more shopping.  We bought our mom and dad matching “Have you seen this wizard?” shirts with Sirius Black on them.  We also bought ourselves chocolate frogs (which are massive).  Michelle got Albus Dumbledore’s card and I got Godric Gryffindor.  Michelle and I bought matching quidditch team captain shirts—mine for Slytherin and hers for Ravenclaw, our respective houses.  I also bought a Slytherin scarf, which I have been coveting for years!

When we were done with our shopping, we headed out of the park to go back home.  It was a long, but incredibly fun day.  I would love to go to Universal again!

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Dan and Micki Take Florida

My sister and I took a little trip to Florida this November, from the 16th to the 30th.  We stayed with our grandparents who have a little place in Lakeland.  Michelle and I had a plan this year—I would pick where I wanted to go for my birthday and she would pick where she wanted to for hers.  I had picked Vegas for 5 days for my 25th, and she picked Disney World, Florida for her birthday.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Disney World

For our Disney trip, we booked two nights at Disney’s All Star Movies Resort—one of the value resorts.  We dropped off our luggage super early and took the free shuttle bus to Magic Kingdom, the park we chose to spend our 2 days.

Ready to take on Magic Kingdom (this was at about 8am)

Ready to take on Magic Kingdom (this was at about 8am)

We arrived at Disney before the park opened so we were able to watch the welcome show.  It really was adorable.  The women were all dressed similar to Mary Poppins and the men looked like Dapper Dans.  Mickey and Minnie come out to welcome everyone to the park and it officially opens.

When we got into the park, we headed left into Adventureland via Main Street, U.S.A and started our adventure.  We managed to get everything done that we wanted to in the first day.  We even did Haunted Mansion—my sister’s favourite—multiple times.  The fireworks at night were phenomenal and I loved that everything was Mickey shaped.

Cinderella's Castle!!!

Cinderella’s Castle!!!

However, overall, I’m a little sad to say that our Disney experience was a little underwhelming.  There were lots of little disappointments that added up, including some of the ones below.

-We waited half an hour in line for hot dogs, only to get to the front of the line, and for them to tell us they ran out a little while ago.  They never had someone let people in line know.  So we waited all that time, for nothing!  Not to mention, a hot dog costs $8!

-Which brings me to my next point, food is insanely expensive.  $10 for a small bucket of popcorn!  $8 for a hot dog!  Breakfast was over $25 and it was pretty small portions.  I paid $5.50 for a rice krispie treat—granted, it was Mickey shaped, and dipped in M&Ms, but still.

-Literally everything was crazy expensive.  Clothing, souvenirs, food…everything.  We were disappointed with the stores and souvenirs.  It was all the same stuff we can buy at Disney stores back home.  Barely anything said Disney World.  There was barely anything for adults.  It was all geared towards kids.  The few women’s shirts we did find all had Minnie Mouse—and still didn’t say Disney World.  News flash, not every woman loves Minnie Mouse.  I ended up not buying any Disney souvenirs.

-When waiting in line for Haunted Mansion one time, the line was not moving for ages.  It was because the ride was temporarily closed, but they never made an announcement or told anyone.  We only knew because people at the front left and let us know.  They should have made an announcement or something, after all, they had speakers throughout the line.

-Most of the little food shops close early, way before fireworks, so it was nearly impossible to find hot chocolate for fireworks, not to mention a little snack.

-When we went to Disney Springs Tuesday we went back to Splitsville—we had gone a few days prior to check it out.  I saw that they had grilled cheese on their kids menu, but not their adult menu.  So I asked if it would be possible to get an adult size one.  The waitress was pretty rude and told me that she couldn’t do that but they had an adult grilled cheese with bacon and tomatoes.  So if they did have an adult one, a) why wasn’t it on the menu and b) why couldn’t they just make a plain adult sized one?

-Back to the food.  When it comes to food, there were really bizarre options.  Turkey legs, lots of seafood, meatloaf, bbq mac and cheese, etc.  There weren’t many kid friendly—or normal—options.

-The characters don’t even wander around the park anymore.  There are specific times and areas you have to wait in yet another line to meet them.

Now, on to some good stuff!  All the Mickey shaped food was really cute!

Rice krispie and shortbread cookie

Rice krispie and shortbread cookie

Mickey pretzel

Mickey pretzel

Mickey waffles

Mickey waffles

I did thoroughly enjoy just walking around the park and taking in all the sights.  I also loved all the different areas within the park, Adventureland, Frontierland, Tomorrowland, etc.  It was really neat to see the way they all looked.  Everything within those lands was themed accordingly too.  There was so much to see!  I took a whole lot of photos.  Again, the fireworks were beyond amazing!

Gaston's Tavern-Fantasyland.

Gaston’s Tavern-Fantasyland

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Magic Kingdom!

Our favourite--The Haunted Mansion

Our favourite–The Haunted Mansion

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but Disney was a great experience.  Bad experiences and all, I’m glad we went to Disney.  It feels like something everyone has to do at least once in their life.  I also feel like I have a better idea what to expect if I ever go back.

 

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