A new adventure!

Hello folks!

I have recently decided to follow my passion for beer and begin growing my own hops in the garden and making up my first batches of delicious home brew. I am a little apprehensive but thoroughly excited to see the fruits of my labour, and am already looking forward to my first harvest sometime in September.

Today I took the first step and ordered my hop rhizomes (that’s the little plant cuttings from which hops grow), as well as a starter beer-brewing kit. I will make a couple of practice batches of beer between now and harvest time, so the first few times that I brew will be using a kit containing all the necessary ingredients, as opposed to my own garden grown hops. However, this should mean that when the big day comes I will be fully prepared to make the most of my organic hoppy produce. The dream is to one day have a full hop farm, with a brewery and pub attached, but I think this is something which will not come into fruition until much later on in my life- but one has to start somewhere! To begin my home grown hop garden I have ordered 4 rhizomes of Fuggle (a classic British hop variety), 4 of Cascade (an American hop variety used in IPAs and other American Ales), and 4 of the Prima Donna hop, also know as First Gold. The last one is a particularly interesting breed as it is a dwarf hop, meaning it will not grow anywhere near as tall as the others and is usually grown by those with limited growing space. Overall I feel these are a good mix for my first year of growing, and are used in a lot of beers which I enjoy. I am definitely planning to brew a fair amount of IPAs and American Ales, and I think Cascade will allow me to do this nicely.

I shall keep you posted on my progress, and will be uploading photos from my first batch of brew (which should be happening sometime next week) as well as when I plant my precious little hop rhizomes. In the meantime, I’m planning to learn as much as I can about the process of brewing, as we all know- knowledge is power.

Rocket League Game Review

Rating: 9/10

Developer: Psyonix
Publisher: Psyonix
Genre: Sports, Arcade, Team-Based
Release Date: Summer 2015

Rocket League is a fast-paced game involving two teams. The objective is to use your vehicle to collide with a giant ball and score a goal in the opponents’ net. Yes, many people thought it sounded crazy too when they first heard of this amazing game by Psyonix. I however, thought it sounded awesome… And I was right. The standard format of the game sees two teams of three cars face off in a completely enclosed arena, with the objective of putting the giant ball through the opponents’ net via a series of collisions, jumps, and occasionally even flying. This game, like many greats before it, is incredibly simple to pick up but fiendishly difficult to master. The controls allow you to move your car backwards and forwards (as to be expected with any driving game), but there is also the added bonus of being able to perform a jump or double jump, as well as boost, which can be collected by driving over shiny golden baubles placed strategically around the map. A single game lasts only 5 minutes (unless it is a tie, in which case there is unlimited sudden death overtime!) so does not require a massive time commitment, and is perfect for short breaks. There is also the added option of thousands of customization options via unlocks and several DLCs (downloadable content), including various car bodies, toppers, boost, wheels, paint, and other aesthetic options which do not alter the game play. The only difference between these, Psyonix informs us, is that different car shapes have slightly different hit points and physics. In terms of speed, all cars are the same.

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These parameters leave us with a game which is incredibly addictive and infuriating at the same time. Scoring a goal rewards users with a massive force blast, sending players flying through the air away from the goal in a most satisfying manner. Having spend 99 hours playing Rocket League at the time of writing, I can honestly say that I am hooked. There is nothing quite as satisfying as scoring an impressive aerial goal, or connecting with your teammate on a crucial pass off the wall for an assist, and taking home the win. On the other end of the spectrum, there is nothing more frustrating than playing clearly inferior opponents and still losing the game due to dumb luck off a bounce after a collision, or through being matched with inept teammates. Either way, I would highly recommend this game, and the only thing which lowers its rating is the occasional glimpse of dodgy game physics, and the often unreliable game servers.

No two Rocket League games are alike, so if you want fast-paced, arcade style team action, this game is for you. If not, I suggest you try it anyway, I guarantee that you will love it!

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Deadpool (2016) Review

Rating: 7/10

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller
Directed by: Tim Miller
Written by:  Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick

In short: 
Deadpool is a highly entertaining film, though most certainly not one for the kids. Ryan Reynolds is convincingly funny in his role as Wade Wilson, although in my opinion Morena Baccarin was simply eye-candy, and I was not convinced of their romantic bond. The unique styling and consistent breaking of the 4th wall to address viewers made Deadpool stand out from the seemingly never-ending stream of superhero movies.

The full story:
To be brutally honest I had never heard of Deadpool as a super hero before the film. I was never into comic books, and was too obsessed with the Spiderman and X-Men cartoons as a child. However, from the very beginning, he seemed like an entertaining character, and one that would most certainly make for a good film. Ryan Reynolds is no new comer to super hero films, having previously starred in the awful Green Lantern (2011) and briefly in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) as the character of Deadpool. He suited the character perfectly, and his one-liners and jokes often provoked genuine, laugh-out-loud kind of laughter. My issue with Deadpool as a film is that unlike other series (The Avengers comes to mind) it does not tie him in with other superheroes. We see only two X-Men: Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead- both by no means X-Men A-listers (although I did always love Colossus due to his Russian origin). This is somewhat a disappointment, as I would have loved the character of Deadpool to meet and make fun of some more of the famous super heroes and mutants of the academy.  However we do get to meet Dopinder (played by Karan Soni)- Deadpool’s often employed taxi driver, paid only through “crisp high fives” and often dangerous advice. He provides an added element of entertainment throughout the film, and is a crucial side character along with Blind Al (played by Leslie Uggams), Wade Wilson’s blind elderly roommate. These unusual characters provided a different platform for some of Deadpool’s more obscure jokes, and made the whole experience of the film a lot more enjoyable.

Overall, I would recommend Deadpool for those looking for some entertainment through super hero style ass-kicking and mature jokes, however it was not one of my favourite super hero movies.

You can find more information about Deadpool the film here, and more about the comic book character here and even more here.

Cast Away (2000) Review

Rating: 9/10

Starring: Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Paul Sanchez, Wilson the Volleyball
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Written by: William Broyles Jr.

In short:
Amazing film. Brilliant acting from Tom Hanks and Helen Hunt. Truly moving moments coupled with great cinematography. One of the most believable and well-shot airplane crash scenes in film history, and plenty of shouts of “Wilson!” throughout.

The full story:
I had wanted to see Cast Away for a long time. It has been on my ‘to watch’ list for a number of years now, so I was certainly excited when I finally decided to dedicate the time to encounter Cast Away for the first time. The things that I already knew around the film came from internet culture- the basic storyline, the great use of product placement (mainly FedEx and Wilson), and of course the iconic character of Wilson. We have all seen the amazing memes created online, and the shouts of “Wilson!” which have been appropriated for many situations, with often-hilarious consequences. I came in to the film with extremely high expectations, having read many a positive review online as well as hearing great things about it from my friends. Let me tell you that I was certainly not disappointed. Cast Away delivered for me on all fronts- great acting (nothing less is to be expected of the legend that is Tom Hanks), gripping scenes, touching moments, and a great ending. One of the most fascinating aspects of this film for me was the portrayal of humanity when stranded in a futile situation. Hanks of course plays his character brilliantly, but I also feel that there is some great writing in presenting how an average human male would cope with the extreme situation of being stranded on a desert island with seemingly no hope of escape.
I won’t ruin too much for all of you who are reading this and have not yet had the pleasure of watching Cast Away, but my recommendation is to schedule it for your next movie evening, if you haven’t already.

Blog Coming Soon!

Hi there,

Just wanted to let you know that I am super excited to launch my new blog “Dan’s Views and Reviews”. This website will be all about honest reviews and opinions on many things such as restaurants, games, recipes, films, music and much more! I will be categorizing these reviews by topic to help you find exactly what you are looking for. Hopefully I will be able to keep you informed or at the very least entertained.

Come back soon!

-Dan M

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