Bieber Visits Anne Frank Museum, Educators Have a Meltdown

Many young people only recognise one of the people pictured – which one? Source: radiolive.co.nz

I must confess, I have never visited the Anne Frank museum, mainly as I have never visited Amsterdam. There is an eerie fascination with what happened to those oppressed by German occupation, especially in regards to Jewish families such as the Franks.

I have seen photos from inside the secret annexe, there’s even a virtual tour you can take online, showing you how small the annexe was. Her shared bedroom was tiny, and decorated with pictures to brighten it up a little (the same way Beliebers have pictures of Justin blu-tacked to their walls?), they shared a wash room which only had a sink. She spent her days with her family, stuck in one small room. If I was cooped up for that long with my family, some of us would not have survived long enough to be caught by Nazis. It must have been terrifying.

If I had the chance to visit the museum, Anne Frank’s choice of music had she been a teenager today would be the furthest thing from my mind. Can you even begin to imagine how terrifying it must have been, the slightest noise potentially sentencing yourself and your entire family to certain death in concentration camps?

Yesterday, “news” surfaced that Justin Bieber had visited the museum in Amsterdam. This would not usually have made it into national newspapers – it would have just been a young man wanting to discover history. What made the story, though, was his staggering sense of self-importance. Instead of writing about his experience opening his eyes to her plight in the 1940’s – he wrote: “Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.” Wow.

This, however, was only the tip of the iceberg when it came to uneducated teenagers and tweenies. “Beliebers” everywhere provided a staggering indictment of their respective education systems. Let me provide you with a few examples:

Want more? Greg Hyatt on tumblr retweeted a few more.

Recently, the history curriculum in England and Wales has come up for discussion. I had no idea that they were potentially discussing putting Anne Frank and her diary back into the teaching of World War 2. Or are these kids too obsessed by the coiffed little boy to pay attention to the teaching of fundamental historical knowledge?

I remember on at least 3 separate occasions, being taught the story of Anne Frank. I think myself incredibly lucky that my parents encouraged me to read her diary when I came home from school and said we were learning about her.

Now, however, even the BBC’s childrens’ news (Newsbeat) had to explain who Anne Frank was – to avoid another outbreak on twitter of “Who even was she?”

Her story is a fundamental part of forming empathy for the literally millions of victims of the German Nazi regime at this time. It’s truly, deeply worrying that so many young people are ignorant of her story.

For the sake of your own mental health, when you see young people being this ignorant on your timeline – do not go digging for more examples. It’s incredibly disheartening.

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Accidentally in Love…

Arya Stark – tiny and ferocious. Turned out to be a perfect name for my dog, too. Source: fansshare.com

I didn’t mean for it to happen, and certainly didn’t expect for it to happen as quickly as it did. After watching HBO’s Game of Thrones, I was certainly intrigued enough to purchase the first novel in George R. R. Martin’s series “A Song of Ice and Fire”. Although the price of the whole series was much smaller than that of buying the individual parts, I wasn’t sure I would enjoy his writing style (I am not the biggest fantasy fan to ever walk this earth, although I will happily give anything a try aside from 50 Shades of Shit).

On first look as I downloaded the kindle version was “That may be the most chapter dots I’ve seen, outdoing both Of Human Bondage and Les Misérables”. I should explain for those without the most brilliant piece of technology I have the fortune to own, even outstripping the wonderful laptop I’m typing this out on that on the kindle home screen, your progress through books is highlighted by a series of dots underneath each book title. As you read each chapter/section, a dot becomes bold. Longer books will therefore have more dots underneath their titles.

When watching the Game of Thrones series on TV, it took at least 3 episodes for it to totally engage me. There’s only so much interest I can hold in an episode which includes the selling off of a teenager, incest and a child being kicked out of a window for accidentally coming across the couple (it’s barely a spoiler so shush). Yet somehow, the plights of some of the characters drew me in – along with some absolutely brilliant acting by Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf with an appetite for wine and women as big as any man you come across in the series. Nonetheless, the series is very engaging viewing once you can get past the inordinate numbers of tits you see per episode (and a couple of dick views in later episodes).

It took literally 2 chapters of A Game of Thrones for me to be totally enthralled by George R. R. Martin’s writing style. It is intimate as each chapter is from the point of view of a single character, yet it keeps its distance as it is written in the third person. I think my understanding of the characters and interplay between them was made easier by having seen the series first, but this did not lessen my enjoyment as clearly in a 900+ page book, only so much of the detail can make it onto TV.

The characters in the novel seem almost more real than those I can see on TV, as in the novel you can tell what each is thinking, instead of having to rely upon actors to do this. This is not a slight on the series, but there’s only so much a face can convey. During the first novel, I developed a few theories about what might happen, my hopes and ambitions for certain characters (including the wish that Sansa Stark would stop being a silly little girl and realise how truly vile Prince Joffrey is)

I am now over half way through the second novel, A Clash of Kings, and suspect I will finish it before the weekend arrives. I have been warned of what is to come, yet that has only increased the suspense. Looking at spoilers is something I do for fun with TV shows, yet I don’t want to look up what’s going to happen in the lives of the characters of Westeros.

This series has entirely caught me in its’ web. I haven’t felt this way since I was a little girl and read the first Harry Potter novel. It’s a very comforting feeling, knowing that when I finish this blog I can escape from the boredom of my tiny bedroom and be a fly on the wall through a story with such twists and turmoil, you really can’t see what’s coming next.

I’m just happy to be along for the ride. And I hope Cersei gets her comeuppance.

Am I Seeing Through the Matrix?

You are now entering…England? Source: http://easypcsetup.co.uk

As I have mentioned on here before, I am from a small town in the south of Scotland. As much as I complain about not being able to walk one length of the high street to the other without meeting someone you know, it’s actually pretty nice if you’ve been stuck in the house by yourself all day. People from the outside probably see it as being a bit backwards and more than a little quaint.

However, I’m not entirely sure this place actually exists outside of our own imaginations. The region I live in is called the Scottish Borders, and my hometown has the office of an MSP in it, so I am pretty sure this is Scotland. Yet somehow, it doesn’t seem like it when I turn on the TV, or read news online.

Scottish Television (STV) is not available here. In fact, my channel 3 is entitled “ITV Border” which means nothing of the sort. My “local” news is entirely focused upon Carlisle and Newcastle. When did I suddenly move across the border?

There’s not even a section for anywhere south of Midlothian on the STV news website.

There is however, one upside to this. I get to watch certain Champion’s League football games which are shown on English TV and not in Scotland.

I just find myself wondering – if Scotland votes for independence in 2014: will STV actually recognise us as part of this country?

Meet The Men of Strictly Come Dancing Series 10

In a continuation of my post about the women of Strictly 2012/13, this is my post about the men. Have a read, see where I think the gents will come and if you have thoughts, tell me about them!

Colin Salmon and his partner, Kristina Rihanoff:

As Colin Salmon was introduced to the crowd, my mind struggled to think of who he was. It took me going to IMDB to find out he had been in Resident Evil, and that’s where I recognised him from. Those of you reading who like Bond films will recognise him also. He’s tall, so the likelihood is that he’ll do reasonably well, unless he falls flat on his face. I think Craig Revel-Horwood may want a bit of him, and the sexual comments may be directed his way.

His partner, Kristina Rihanoff is most likely to be remembered as the woman who became involved with Joe Calzaghe during his brief stint on the show. I find her a bit odd-looking, but the British public kept John Sergeant around for weeks to continue gawping at her bountiful breasts.

Johnny Ball and his partner, Aliona Vilani:

I’ll be honest, the only thing I know about Johnny Ball is that he’s Zoe Ball’s (who did very well on Strictly) dad. I’d probably be best leaving it there than pretending to be some authority on him.

His partner, Aliona, won the show last year with McFly’s Harry Judd. Since she joined the series, she has been my favourite of the female dancers, she’s always lovely when interviewed, isn’t cheeky to the judges and gets the best out of her contestant. I can’t see this couple doing well, but I may well be wrong.

Louis Smith and his partner, Flavia Cacace:

Silver medalling Olympic gymnast Louis looks like he may be all athleticism and no skill this year, judging from what he said to the walking corpse Bruce Forsythe. I think the younger women may vote for him as the strength of the male talent on the show this year is rather sparse. If Louis can devote himself as much to dance as he does to the pommel horse, he may do better than his expectations.

His partner, Flavia Cacace is one of the strongest dancers on the female side. She is the dance partner of Vincent Simone, and they do a phenomenal – absolutely unbelievable Argentinian tango (which in my opinion, is the sexiest dance ever). I think if Flavia can bring out Louis’ confidence in his own ability, they could go very far in the competition.

Michael Vaughan and his partner, Natalie Lowe:

Michael Vaughan has all the pressure on him, though perhaps not as much as his phenomenal Ashes win in 2005 (yes, I watch cricket too. I’m a bundle of surprises!). Past cricketers, Tuffnell aside, have all done very well in Strictly. There may not be enough room in the final few to fit Michael and his partner in.

I’ll put this out there right now: I’ve never liked Natalie. In her first series, and ever sine, she came off as so far up her own backside I felt like kicking her. I imagine she’s popular with men, given the masses of blonde hair, proclivity for wearing the skimpiest outfits possible and her mile-long legs. I still don’t want her to do well, cricket legend as her partner or not.

Nicky Byrne and his partner, Karen Hauer:

I have my reservations about Westlife’s Nicky for one reason: his career performing live was essentially a night of sitting on a stool, standing up near the end of every song when the key changed. There was no dancing involved in Westlife. They were the ballad kings. For this reason, I don’t think he’ll do very well.

His partner Karen, is the only new dancer to arrive this series. This being true, I have no opinion of her built up, though I’m sure that will form quickly once the show begins properly. She may have her work cut out for her first season.

Richard Arnold and his partner, Erin Boag:

Richard Arnold is a showbiz presenter on the ITV breakfast show (which changes so often, I’m afraid of putting a title as it may be wrong on Monday morning). I’m not a fan of showbiz reporters, shouting at people on the red carpet, but Richard’s opening video made him seem at least a little likeable.

Erin seemed very happy to be dancing with Richard. I imagine he’d be a great deal of fun, but may be annoying after a while. I imagine they’ll be a great couple, but don’t think they’ll get very far (although Erin is my favourite ballroom-favouring pro dancer, she’s just so graceful).

Sid Owen and his partner, Ola Jordan:

Sid Owen, or better known as his TV alias “RICKAY!” on Eastenders, is the typical useless dancer they bring in every year to laugh at. It’s good that he’s come along and agreed to be awful.

He may be around longer due to male votes though, as Ola Jordan (who has a body I would happily kill for) is dancing as his partner. Ola will try her best to kick Sid into shape, she doesn’t mess around and despite her small stature, she can be pretty scary. Potentially the first couple to leave.

Do you agree with my picks for the gentlemen, as to who will go far and who will flounder? Comment below.

Terrific! It’s Trash TV Time!

With the nights getting shorter comes something marvellous – the addition of admittedly terrible TV shows to the viewing lineup for the weekend. No matter what your proclivity for crap telly is, there’s bound to be something for your taste. X Factor has started for those who either enjoy seeing someone singing well, or for those who enjoy the horrors of the auditions. Red or Black (which I’m fairly certain no-one watches anyway) is on for people with absolutely zero taste and are quite possibly brain dead. My own personal “guilty” pleasure is Strictly Come Dancing, which previewed tonight, and which I’m going to run down for you. I love Strictly, and I have since the first series came on. I have dreams of becoming some glamorous, leggy woman in a beautiful dress (I may not be the most feminine of women, but I love pretty dresses), strutting around a dancefloor with a man in tight trousers to a piece of music that gets your energy going.

Sadly, I wasn’t blessed with natural glamour, I’m as graceful as a deer trying to walk on ice. I wasn’t ever going to be tall, given I’m pretty certain my sister and I are the first of our family to grace the wonderful world of being over 5ft tall (just). I’m pretty awful at walking, never mind dancing in high heels. And on top of all of that, I just can’t dance. For all the trying in the world, I can put my feet and arms in the right steps, but I can never look good doing it. I’m not destined to grace the grand ballroom in Blackpool, my limit’s making a total fool of myself in nightclubs when I’m too drunk to care.

Anyway, I digress. I have been quite looking forward to the new series of Strictly starting, as I’m always interested to see which celebrities will be taking part. It has taken all sorts of people to make up the cast over the years: newsreaders, soap stars, cricketers (who until Phil Tuffnell took part did very well), pop stars, all sorts. And this year is no different. Now, let me introduce you to the female stars of Strictly Come Dancing, 2012/13 version! For the men, please click here.

Dani Harmer and her partner, Vincent Simone:

Every series of Strictly, there’s always the little “pocket rocket”: the spunky, short woman who surprises everyone by doing well. Rachel Stevens has been that woman, as has Jill Halfpenny who won the show’s second series. By being small, these women usually do very well in the latin dances because their legs are shorter and they can move them faster. So it’s good to know that my short legs would be worth something if I could make them move in a rhythmical fashion. This year’s pocket rocket is Tracey Beaker star, Dani Harmer. She is a good 4 inches shorter than the next shortest contestant.

It made sense for this tiny lady to get the tiniest male dancer, Vincent Simone. I’m not his biggest fan, although his latin professional dances with his partner Flavia are absolutely phenomenal. I think Dani may be a surprise (not just to me, when I realised that she may be around the same age as me, and I watched her on CBBC).

Denise van Outen and her partner, James Jordan:

Denise van Outen may be the celebrity I dislike irrationally this series. Purely because she mentioned that it’s her excuse to wear fake eyelashes. I hate fake eyelashes. Almost as much as I despise seeing people in Scotland being orange with fake tan (you’re Scottish, you’re pale – deal with it!). Her most notable appearances on the public consciousness are as a presenter on The Big Breakfast, and she has since resurfaced in the West End, as Roxy Hart in the musical Chicago. I very much like her partner, however, James Jordan.

Himself and his wife (another dancer on the show), Ola, always stand out in the professional group dances which start each of the live shows. And the arms! Though he does have a rather ill-advised tattoo on his right arm which is quite disappointing.

Fern Britton and her partner, Artem Chigvintsev:

Fern Britton has already had her chance at the Strictly limelight, taking part in a Christmas special version of the show, where she did very well. I can’t for the life of me remember who she danced with at that time, but this lady may be one to watch. She is still a much-loved star of daytime TV, so the young and the jobless may vote for a familiar face. I don’t have any notes written on her (I took notes as the show was advancing), other than the others should definitely not write her off because she’s a bit older than the average winner. She was very impressive.

Artem won the show two series ago with soap star Kara Tointon, and is a very impressive dancer. He’s also an incredibly likeable and rather cute (in that I’d want to smother him with cuddles), so their dynamic could be like a son teaching his mother how to dance. I think this couple may be a dark horse in the competition, and they are a sure-fire hit with the general public.

Jerry Hall and her partner, Anton du Beke:

Jerry Hall, in her first interview on Strictly with Tess, came off a pure filth. Though I guess you could assume she was at least a little dirty because she is an ex of Mick Jagger’s. When asked what her ideal partner would be, she calmly replied with “Oh, someone tall, handsome and with a lot of stamina” with the cheekiest look after she’d said it. I already liked her.

My problem arises with her partner, Anton du Beke, who has competed in Strictly from the very beginning of the show, yet has never won. Why? Because no-one in the general public likes him (except my granny, but she’s the weirdest old woman you could ever know). You may have seen him on the show Hole in the Wall (which was terrible, not just because he was involved). I can’t see him winning this year either, but the couple may do better than most expect them to.

Kimberley Walsh and her partner, Pasha Kovalev:

Kimberly Walsh, of Girls Aloud and now West End fame stands to continue Rachel Stevens and Emma Bunton’s trend that girl band members do reasonably well (but don’t win) Strictly. I imagine with her practice (starting from Sound of the Underground) in choreographed dancing, she’ll do reasonably well.

I’m not so keen on her partner, Pasha, he seems far too over-confident, and that just doesn’t fit with the whole idea of the show, where everyone takes on the criticism of the judges (which with Alesha Dixon gone and replaced with the brilliant Darcey Bussell, is a truly knowledgeable panel), takes it away and come back improved the next week. I don’t want this couple to do well, but I imagine they’ll do okay.

Lisa Riley and her partner, Robin Windsor:

Lisa Riley was a much-loved part of the Emmerdale cast a few years back as the ever-likeable Lisa Dingle. She has never been a tiny, skinny girl, and has always been on the bigger side. Now, sadly, she looks bigger than ever (though, the Strictly diet has been proven to work, and her partner seems like a workhorse) and may struggle through the fitness aspect of the next three weeks of training before the tough stuff really begins.

Her partner, Robin Windsor may have to do without working lifts into his choreography this year, but I don’t think that will hold him back. He will challenge Lisa in all kinds of ways. I don’t imagine this couple will go very far.

Victoria Pendleton and her partner, Brendan Cole:

Cycling’s golden girl has taken her leave from the velodrome, and has stepped straight into the Strictly world. With legs to die for, Victoria will certainly not be lacking the stamina to survive the long training sessions. I think she could do very well indeed, if she has rhythm.

Brendan is the firecracker of the dancers, known for mouthing off to the judges after unkind comments. He won the first ever series of Strictly and has been unlucky to have had some awful partners since then. If Victoria has any semblance of rhythm, this couple could go very far indeed.

Do you agree with my picks for the Strictly ladies? If you have an opinion, please voice it in the comments below!

Quiz Shows Really Are Just Pure Greed, Aren’t They?

As I’ve said before and I’ll undoubtedly say again, I watch a lot of TV, and I have a slight obsession with watching game shows. This includes Pointless, thus why I have the image up there. But this post is about ITV’s The Chase. For those who haven’t watched, a team of 4 strangers each have to individually answer a quick-fire round, then make their way down a multiple choice board, before those who manage to make it down the board all come together for the “final chase”, where they play for an equal share of the prize money in the pot. It’s this supposed team effort that leads me to become frustrated with the contestants.

During the first round, you are given one minute to answer as many multiple choice questions as you can. This is simple, the questions never appear to be too difficult (to me, I’ve seen people come through the round after having only got one question right, and even one man who managed to somehow get none). It’s the next part which is supposed to separate the weak minds from the tough. Although those who are lucky also manage to escape the clutches of the Chaser (a quiz brain, for example Sean was a Mastermind Champion). It’s a question of if you’re a gambler or not. If you stick with the cash you’ve won from the quickfire round, you start 3 steps ahead of the chaser, who then offers 2 sums of cash, for a step closer to “home” you are offered a lower sum. If you’re feeling particularly bright, or greedy such as is the topic of this blog, you can move one step closer to the chaser for a significantly larger amount of cash.

I can understand why people would take the larger amounts of money, but why risk it just for pure greed? It always baffles me. You’re unlikely at the best of times to go away with any money (the last round is particularly difficult), so why risk the rest of your team having a chance by adding more to your share of the pot?

I suppose it adds to the excitement of watching the show for some people, but I really couldn’t care less for someone scraping by, by the skin of their teeth. When I watch things on TV, I want people to do well (aside from The Biggest Loser, that’s special). It’s why I can’t watch Deal or No Deal, because there’s no degree of skill to it, it’s just some overly emotional berk picking out random numbers, crying over money they never had in the first place. It’s infuriating.

So if you could have been next in line to take the place of one of the Chasers, by all means take a punt at the higher offer, but those who think they can breeze by on luck need to get a grip. You’re not helping anyone’s chances and you’re not going to get into the final round. Stop trying to be greedy, the money was never yours in the first place.

Disappointment.

Anyone who knows me personally knows I watch too much TV for it to be normal, and I like to keep up to date with what’s going on in the states. And this season, I’ve found many of my favourite shows to be lacking something, or have something added which upsets the balance.

Dexter ended on Sunday, and I have just finished watching the finale, which although exciting, had nothing on the previous five finales. The twist at the end however did make my jaw almost hit the floor, which I will say no more about.

It’s a gripe I have with the main subject matter of the series that I’m struggling with. I make no claim to be a religious person, and due to this season I’ve done some reading about the book of revelations which has led me to question religion even more than I already do, but that’s not the point I was trying to make. Basically, I get that America is a country that puts an unbelievable amount of importance into religious beliefs, but that shouldn’t mean that you need to base 12 episodes of a TV show on it. The end of the world isn’t going to be brought about by the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse, some poor girl who likes sex (incidentally, such a woman is NOT a whore) isn’t going to be posed on top of some multi-headed crocodile/alligator. And why all of a sudden did Dexter start latching onto Brother Sam and his religion? He’s not going to get solace from anyone other than himself.

How I Met Your Mother has been irritating me too, with it’s baby-centric story line. Very good, Marshall and Lily are going to be having a baby, but it seems like it’s completely taken over from their character. They’ve already done an episode about how Robyn reacted to Lily talking incessantly about babies and conception. So why should the public have to put up with that now? I’ve no intention of having kids, and friends who have kids don’t go on about them even half as much as Lily is going on about her featus.

Urgh.