Friday, 8 October 2010

(500) Days of Summer- A cute and quirky spin on the traditional love story.

The title is fitting, it was indeed 500 days of Summer, I at first thought the fool that I am, that it was referring to the 500 days of summer the season, but alas on second thoughts there is only 365 days of the whole year...soo this is not possible.

Alas no, my dear readers it's referring to the 500 days with which he spends with the aptly named girl Summer. Further pun in store for you, which I won't say yet, as it ruin it for you.

The film first starts off with this is a "a girl meets boy" story, by a narrator with an overly familar voice- anyone know were he's from? Anyway, the film tells us that although it is a "girl meets boy" story it does not take the conventional path most romances do.

The story revovles around the two main characters, Summer, played by Zooey Deschanel and Tom, Joseph Gordon Levitt. Both emit a quirky quality to the film, Zooey with her natural good looks and tinkling voice, and Joseph with his his irrestible shy charm viewers may remember from the teen hit 10 things I hate about you, albeit now he's now all grown up. All I can say I was admiring his great acting, who am I kidding, his great looks throughout the film swoon.

Anyway, their gender roles are reversed as it's Summer whos the commitment phobe, and Tom who believes in true love and soulmates (this just makes us adore him more). So we watch with pain, as Summer states she only wants "something casual", refusing him even to name Levitt her boyfriend a few months down the line. I felt like screaming, well if you won't Summer I bloody will!

Anyway, that's kooky Summer for you- can't commit, which we found later in the film is because her parents divorced when she was young.

Reflecting, the film mostly is an romance, delivering the mass audiences what they expect, a sweet, cutesy, if quirky romance. The kind of romance you only see in films.

The film tries very hard  not to be the run of the mill blockbuster romance, with it's kooky take on life- for example the couple shouting penis loud in a park- and the narrative techniques of the film add to this effect. From the start there is a third person narrative, overseeing the action which makes it feel almost less realistic, more that we as the audience are observing the human relationship from afar and it's pros and cons.

The funny cartoons, of Summer and Tom are an artistic embellishment to the film, they add to the kooky nature of the film and overall the humour. They also help the audience detach itself from the traditonal "girl meets boy" story, however they, like the spilt narrative, peter out once the story is in full swing. As at first, the narrative jumps back and forth from when he (Tom) was happy with Summer, and then onto the darker despairs of their relationship. This is another attempt for the film trying to escape from the conventional love story by not conforming to linear narrative of the bam meets girl- bam- has relationship bam- has argument bam- breaks up with girl/resolves issue.

However, towards the end there is not as much twoing and froing, as just as the story is reaching it's climax- the possiblity of Tom winning back the love of his life, emphasis on possiblity, the film reverts back to the conventional structure of a love story. This emerses the viewer into the story, right at it's pinnacle.

 Unfortunately however, he does not manage to win back his love, finding out that the commitment phobe is now a fully fledged wife to someone else. Oooh harsh, the audience can identify with the unfairness of the situation. Whilst when with him, Summer would not even call Tom her boyfriend she has now peformed the ultimate commitment; of marriage.

The viewers always knew, due to the non linear narrative of the film, that they would break up. But I always thought they would get back together however, it was not to be. What follows is his despair, him quitting his job (at a cards writing company, something I think would actually be quite fun!), but then picking himself up, smartening up his act and fulfilling his dream career of being an architect.. phew!

So really it wasn't all bad, he lost Summer the supposed love of his life but is on his way for career success. Just as he is going to his interview for the dream job, the annoying narrator kicks in again, and he mets a beautiful girl.

You never guess what her name's Autumn.

Cue pictures of leaves and trees. Told you I would save the cheesy pun till last, the end of Summer and now a new beginnging: Autumn.

A Good (and clever) Watch

Overall looking back I thought this film was a clever take on the boy- meets- girl tale, similar to indie flicks like Juno. However, the only thing I did find was that I couldn't help but be annoyed with the perfectly pretty Summer, how dare she say she only wanted something "casual" then spend every waking moment with him, seeming suprised when Tom calls them a couple. Jeez. And then the unspeakable moment at the end, when she ditches lovely Tom for some blonde geezer we don't even see get to see the face of! She attempts to make friends at the end, all the while seemingly flirting and tossing her sleek locks...god damn it. Poor boy, no wonder he was confused.
Also, did kinda cringe at the cheesy pun at the end, a bit much don't ya think? Viewers never know if Tom will finally find his true soulmate and be happy in love:; if only they just added a few family/marriage photos at the credits I would have been duly satisifed.

This would have given hope to viewers that true love does exist, but then again wouldn't this only be conforming to the traditonal love story? And, boy this film sure doesn't want that....

Rating- 4/5

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Snore No More- How to Beat Nightmare Snoring

Autumn’s rolling in and the clocks are going back soon which means we get a whole extra hour in bed – good news, for most of us. But for those of you who snore (and more importantly your long-suffering partners) it’s just an extra nightmare. We've researched some options for curing snoring to help you get that much needed beauty sleep.

Snore Surgery-

Uvulectomy and Nasal Turbinate Reduction – Coblation

The scientific bit...

Ever noticed the small dangly piece of tissue (the uvula) near the back of your tongue - except perhaps it isn’t that small? If it’s over enlarged, this could be the cause of your snoring. Experts have found that a large or elongated uvula can create the dreaded nightly noise. When the person is asleep, their breathing can cause the uvula to vibrate, and that’s why they snore.

Others may have an obstructed nasal airway – if the nasal passage is blocked, breathing through the nose can cause the flow of air to become rather turbulent, causing vibrations that result in the deafening sound of snoring. The most common cause of nasal obstruction is an enlargement of the balloon shaped membranes, aka turbinates. Well, now you know.

The treatment...

Don’t despair – if you suffer from the former, you might want to try out an uvulectomy, a non-invasive procedure that uses coblation therapy to help reduce the size of a large or elongated uvula. Rather than physically remove or cut the excess tissue, the treatment uses radio frequency energy to reduce the size. The energy gently removes the excess tissue and opens up the oral airway, so you can breathe freely- without waking up your partner!

The procedure takes little more than twenty minutes, so you can be in and out in a jiffy and cured of your snoring dilemma for good. It’s usually performed using a local anaesthetic, and has minimal “downtime”, so you’ll be back to your old (non-snoring) self pretty quickly.

Similarly to the uvulectomy, nasal turbinate reduction also uses coblation. Using radio frequency energy it gently shrinks the size of the turbinates, opening up the nasal airways so you can breathe freely (and quietly).

The Pillar Procedure

The Pillar Procedure is a well known and simple surgical treatment for treating those who have problems snoring and can even help those who suffer from mild to moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

•The scientific bit...

Another reason for snoring can be that when we age, or put on weight, our tissue and muscles in our mouths (just like everywhere else on our bodies) begin to lose their rigidity and strength. When the tissue starts to sag, breathing in our sleep causes the weakened tissue to vibrate and produce that loud snoring noise that keeps us up through the night. In some extreme cases, breathing can even cause the tissue in the soft palate to completely collapse, obstructing the upper airway and producing OSA.

The treatment...

What the Pillar does is strengthen the sagging tissue, and therefore reduce any vibrations or obstructions that is causing the awful snoring noise we all despise. The simple outpatient procedure takes less than 30 minutes using local anaesthetic. It claims to cause little or no discomfort, so there’s no need to book days out of work for recovery. During the actual procedure, four to six teeny tiny woven implants are placed on the top of our mouth, otherwise known as the soft palate. The implants act as structural support to the sagging tissue, making it stronger and therefore less likely to vibrate, so you can sleep soundlessly. Over time your body should naturally heal and provide the structural support your tissue needs.

Lifestyle changes

If you don’t fancy going for surgery, there are various products on the market that you can try out, from nose strips, nasal dilators to snoring sprays. First take a look at your lifestyle choices - as they could just be the root of your problem.


Everyone knows that your diet affects your body. Being overweight, especially around the neck area prevents air to flow freely in and out, as it squeezes the airway restricting normal breathing. This causes the tissue to vibrate, and that’s when you get snoring. A change in diet and a sensible exercise regime will greatly help your snoring, making you feel and look good in the process!

Alcohol & Smoking

Yes, you’ve guessed it - the two baddies we all love to hate can cause snoring. Smoking irritates the lining of the nasal cavity and throat causing it to swell, and if it becomes congested it makes it difficult to breathe through your nose as the airflow is decreased. Try to steer clear of those who smoke, as even second hand smoke has been proven to influence snoring. If you find you can’t live without a ciggie, you can reduce the effects of snoring by having your last cigarette at least 4 hours before you go to bed.

Snoring is always worse after a few drinks - this is because alcohol slows the brain’s responses, causing the muscles to relax even more than during a normal night’s sleep. This can obstruct the airway, and can even induce the sleep disorder ‘obstructive sleep apnoea’, (where your sleep is interrupted by periods of not breathing). So if you are a snorer, it is best to avoid copious amounts of alcohol - at least just before you go to bed…


After a hard day at the office, all you want to do is kick back and get some sleep. However, it has been proven that stress is related to snoring, as during REM sleep (when the brain is organising and making sense of your day’s stimuli), if you had a particularly stressful day this results in rapid or deep breathing, and thus leads to snoring.

Snorers tend to take deep and fast gulps of air when they sleep, so the key is to slow down the speed and volume of each breath. So to combat stress, and in turn reduce your snoring, try out relaxing breathing techniques such as meditation and yoga and focus on your body’s breathing before you get your forty winks.

If snoring’s getting you down, (especially if you’re not the one snoring), don’t have sleepless nights over it - get some help from medical spas around the country or alternatively take action and improve your lifestyle, for a healthier and happier you. Either way you’ll be saying goodbye to sleepless nights, and hello to the land of nod.
For more professional advice and frontline news check out Wahanda; the health & wellness guru's and my personal blog for the site

Tried and Tested: Limber up with Hatha Yoga at David Lloyd, Woking

Everyone seems to be going yoga crazy. With evidence that yoga releases stress, high powered business men and women alike are whipping out their yoga mats for a little piece of relaxation in their hectic schedules. I even found out that it reduces snoring, so I decided to see what the fuss is all about, and jump on the yoga bandwagon to discover if it really is all it’s cracked up to be...

The Venue

Set close to the town centre of Woking, the fitness expert’s David Lloyd’s boasts various facilities, from a 20m swimming pool, eight tennis courts and an open plan gym - the place is pretty vast.
However, we weren’t there for the gym. It was the yoga studio we were after; a spacious, relaxing room with dimmed lights spotted around the edge of the wall...ahh, bliss.

The Class

As a yoga newbie I was a little scared that we would be out of our depth with difficult moves to learn, but the instructor made sure we felt at home, and offered help if we needed it. She reassured us that yoga is not a competition, but that you must go at your own pace, and not do anything that does not feel right. And so with this in mind, we began.

Turns out there was nothing to fear, as hatha yoga is full of gentle movements, which are not hard to do - but the emphasis instead is on how long you can hold the pose for.

We started on our back, practising stretching our arms upwards then pulling in our knees, all the while focusing on taking deep slow breaths - holding the breath in while stretching, and exhaling when we relaxed the pose.

After we had practised various postures on our backs, we started to begin some more active movements, like the classic downward dog, lifting the foot if we could at the same time.

After practising poses on the mat, we started to do stretching movements standing up. Classic physical exercises such as touching our toes and stretching upwards were key, and while standing we were told to stand up straight with our feet slightly apart. The tutor told us to imagine that our body had a fine line going through it, to keep the body in symmetry.

Stretching isn’t the only focus in hatha yoga – you learn to balance too. While balancing on one leg, the tutor told us it’s something we find hard as we get older, but luckily I managed not to topple over.

No part of the studio was unused, as we used the mirrored studio walls to balance against whilst we practised stretching into a triangle pose. Surprisingly though the movement was simple, holding and keeping the pose was not, as this is where you can feel your muscles pulling.

At one part we were told we could now do our own stretching poses – in other words, the part where you can show off, as some ladies did head stands, shoulder stands... you name it, they did it!

To relax after the vigorous head stands, shoulder stands or my go at holding my legs into the air, the instructor advised us to get into the child pose, to relax and regain the blood back into our heads, as you can get a little light- headed after all that stretching.

We finished off the session with a little meditation. This was my favourite part, where we simply lay on our mats with the lights dimmed down. It proved to be very relaxing - I nearly nodded off! The instructor read us a short poem (Dance Like Nobody’s Watching) and we were told to imagine a white light coming from our navel, touching others around us, and then going back into ourselves - pretty deep stuff…

The Result

Afterwards, we were left feeling relaxed and renewed. After a quick nip in the pool, I was quite pleased I did not feel any aches or pains but felt more stretched out, so to speak - handy if you spend most of your time sat down in an office. The movements were all relatively easy, but next time I may try out a class that has a faster pace, such as dance or aerobics.

However I may consider giving yoga another go, as it was relaxing and good exercise... so who knows, it could be me standing on my head soon - like a yoga pro!