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A little bit of history to begin with. In 1949 C.S. Lewis wrote a fantasy set in World War II-era England and a parallel, mystical universe found within a wardrobe. It became a tremendous success and only now it has been adapted for the big screen with a equally big budget of $180 million. "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" was the first of seven books about an alternate universe called Narnia, into which children of our world occasionally stumble. Animals talk, centaurs and satyrs romp, and a magnificent, all-powerful lion named Aslan pads through dispensing deeper meaning.

The plot:
Four children belongin to the Pevensie family are sent off by train to the country to live with a dotty old professor (Jim Broadbent) during a raid in London. There the youngest, Lucy (Georgie Henley), ventures into a mysterious wardrobe. Playing hide-and-seek, Lucy, the youngest, walks into a wardrobe that opens directly onto a snowy landscape.

This is the portal to Narnia, a land stricken by a 100-year spell of winter where Christmas has been forbidden. Soon enough Lucy encounters a faun, Mr. Tumnus (James McAvoy), on orders from the evil White Witch to kidnap any "daughters of Eve" or "sons of Adam" who happen to wander into Narnia. You'll know what that means when you watch the movie.

That first Narnia sequence sets the tone for what follows: wondrous immersion in a hyper-realistic otherworld that's just a little chintzy around the edges.

And of course then there is Aslna, a lion with tawny fur that blows with the gentleness of a computer-generated wheat field. The kids have been cast brilliantly. The White Witch adds a creepily effective eeriness that blends in perfectly with the rest of the scene. She has the eyes of a fanatic and a cold interest in cruelty. Behind all of Lewis's games, the "Narnia" books are about the conflict between civilization and chaos and the movie portrays them quite well.

Lucy returns to the country house and pops out of the wardrobe, where no time at all has passed and no one will believe her story. It is only after Edmund (Skandar Keynes) follows her into the wardrobe that evening that her breathless reports are taken seriously. Edmund is gob-smacked by the White Witch, who proposes to make him a prince.

Peter (William Moseley) and Susan (Anna Popplewell) believe Lucy and Edmund, and soon all four children are back in Narnia where they meet all sorts of amazing creatures and fight amazing battles.

In the meantime Edmund goes off on his own and gets taken hostage.

The verdict:
It is charming and scary in about equal measure. It's great till the end where some of the parts with the CGI battles a re a bit overdone. It's a climactic battle of good versus evil - Aslan and his followers on one side, the White Witch and her unholy supporters on the other - is dispatched in a few sentences. Of course the CGI is done very well with one particular scene having the cool effect of a beautifully done map of the battlefield dissolving equally beautifully to the "real" battlefield, complete with swooping, diving griffinlike creatures surveying the action.

The charm of this movie is that it contains magic and myth and the mysteries are resolved by the determination and resolve of ordinary kids. Well, maybe not that ordinary if they can lift a sword and fight. Yep, it's there in the movie.

It's a neat movie about sacrifice and courage as well as being terrific fantasy novels.

The PS2 Games Of Winter 2005

By Le Chupacabra

A New year has begun with many more awesome game releases ahead (not to mention the release of the PS3! ^_^). The end of last year was characterised with probably the most diverse line-up in quite some time. The following are, what I believe, the ten most essential PS2 titles (of Winter 2005) you should be spending your money on. Happy holidays!

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (Square-Enix)
DQVIII has an undeniably simplistic and palatable storyline with little in the way of Byzantine twists or unfathomable depth as expected of the modern RPG. It offers a lavishly detailed world that's a joy to explore for hours upon hours. Conflicts are refreshingly challenging affairs where you really must plan ahead or suffer the consequences; even if it is the most classic of turn-based formulae, battles manage to be tense and engaging. Rounding off this 'old-school' style are some immensely charming protagonists and some of the most personable animation and character quirks this side of Nintendo. The artwork by manga-ka Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball, Chrono Trigger) is worth the price of admission itself.

Fahrenheit (Atari)
Fahrenheit deftly combines context-sensitive problem solving in ways never seen before with an absolutely gripping murder mystery that's easily on par with the likes of Holmes or Poirot… except with a twist. Playing as Lucas Kane, you are besieged by visions of gruesome pagan rituals and before you know it, you've killed an innocent man whilst in a trance. Played from the perspective of both hunter (two detectives) and hunted (Kane), you'll be racing against the clock to unravel the mystery before it's too late.

The avant-garde gameplay is absolutely addictive and completely unique; in a world where every choice you make has a consequence this leads to one of the most refreshing, cerebral experiences of the year!

Peter Jackson's King Kong (UbiSoft)
There are few games that capture such conflicting emotions on such an epic scale, but King Kong is one of them! You'll play some parts as the mega-ape King Kong whose feral brutality truly gives a satisfying feeling of raw power. Conversely you'll also play as human protagonist Jack Driscoll (for about 80% of the game, mind you): these scenarios truly instil a sense of fear and terror since you're always on the verge of becoming the food for the prehistoric creatures inhabiting Skull Island. Only with sheer wits and quick thinking will you survive. There's no HUD as well, so the level of immersion is unmatched.

Prince of Persia: Two Thrones (UbiSoft)
After the enigmatic Sands of Time and the rather charisma-less Warrior Within, comes the Two Thrones. Incorporating the engrossing puzzles and Middle-Eastern charm of the first title with the robust combat system of the sequel, TT caters to fans of both camps. The Prince is now able to sneak off rooftops onto the unwary enemy's back, offing him in the process. You can quickly combine the Prince's speedy acrobatics for stringing up a number of these 'stealth' kills for some spectacular, over-the-top ninja action. New here is the Dark Prince: a sort of anti-Prince born of the Sands of Time. Unlike the Prince this guy plays nasty and uses a suitably sadistic chain-sword for more brutal, yet gratifying slaughter. There's also a pretty entertaining diversion from the main gameplay in the form of thrilling chariot races.

Pro Evolution Soccer 5 (Konami)
I don't how they do it… is it magic? Voodoo? Witchcraft? Or sheer dumb luck? Whatever it is, when it comes to football, Pro Evo is unsurpassed and this, the latest version, is too awesome to be real. Whether it's the divinely realistic animation that lets you recognise layers without a second glance at their names, or the way you'll never score the same goal twice: Pro Evo is simply brilliant. The gameplay has undergone huge tweaks and the experience is just so much more satisfying due to its newly reached heights of flexibility and intuitiveness. Graphics are simply dead-on: you don't have to guess the pseudo-face anymore; you can see who it is! The rosters are thankfully up-to-date and while there are some licensing discrepancies, the majority of the players are accurate. Pro Evo 5 is as near as you can get to the beautiful game without actually going outside for a kick around! Once you get a bunch of mates together and bust out the snacks you'll forget about everything else!

Resident Evil 4 (Capcom)
The best game on GameCube finally returns to its home console! Eschewing the slow, grating zombie action of the past, Resi 4 places you in the shoes of Agent Leon S. Kennedy (of Resi 2 fame) and charges you with rescuing the President's kidnapped daughter. This time you're up against scarily intelligent (and seemingly possessed) villagers who really know how to make you wet your pants in fear! The stunning graphics, mercurial set-pieces, mind-blowing cutscenes and tense action scenarios culminate to make this the #1 action game of 2005. Added are PS2-only extras including an intriguing side-story that explores the apparent demise of the once-ubiquitous Umbrella Corp.

Soul Calibur III (Namco)
The brand new additions to SCIII are superficial, maybe quaint time-passes at best. But, who friggin' cares? SCIII is just as insanely addictive as it always was and more. Characters have been tweaked to the point that they're new again and the gameplay has gone a few notches up in terms of depth; yet, it's as easy to get into as ever! Graphics are silky-smooth and the fighters still have ridiculously inappropriate voice-overs, bless them! But, beyond all these little things, it's just the infinite replayability and sheer multiplayer mayhem that's as present as ever to suck up the hours from your life! Remember why you liked SCII? That's exactly why you'll love SCIII!

Shadow of the Colossus (SCEJ)
In order to save your deceased love, you must track down and slay the ancient Colossi and only then will you receive the power to achieve the impossible. With miles of lush scenery to explore on your horse Agro, you must take on sixteen Colossi who truly give new meaning to the word 'colossal'. You first have to figure out how to traverse across these bloody massive beasts before you can find their weak spots; this is an absolutely innovative and fresh way of combining the incredibly organic puzzle-solving of predecessor Ico with tense, gripping combat. Evocative visuals that verge on art form are juxtaposed with a haunting, soul-stirring soundtrack to make this yet another unforgettable experience from the makers of Ico.

Star Wars Battlefront II (LucasArts)
Set against the epic, galactic backdrop of the Star Wars universe, this is an action title where the thrills are born from immense variety. Being able to use Jedi, Sith, Wookies, Ewoks and all manner of indigenous Star Wars life-forms is its greatest addition, but that's not all! You can take part in high-speed spaceship battles this time around as well. Missions aren't just about shooting everything in sight; the multitude of diverse objectives makes sure that you never get bored! The musical score and sound effects are vintage stuff and the graphics are pretty impressive this time.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Buena Vista Games)
Another licensed game that rocks! Gasp! At any rate this is a much better and varied gaming experience than this year's interactive Potter offering. All four playable characters possess unique skills and the game is built around that concept offering some diverse challenges that keep things fresh and involving. Co-op mode is a welcome feature; players can join in and leave anytime they want to. Graphics are top-notch and presentation is brilliant recalling the amount of work EA put into its LOTR game franchise. This game also features a similarly streamlined upgrade system and of course, DVD-style unlockable content.

Visit my blog le-chupacabra.blogspot.com and chime in with your comments and what-not.

Secrets Out

By Afrina Chhoudhury

So you've been dumped or rejected? Or maybe guys just stay away from you? Your reaction…guys are creeps who don't deserve a second thought. But, honey, did you ever think there might be something about you that repelled him which he was nice enough not to tell you? Yeah, bet you wondered a thousand times but couldn't exactly figure it out. Well, for all you babes out there, we have the answer for you. Yup, we've interviewed guys from, you name it, hunks (some even had brains to match) to average (in the looks department of course) to even below average guys (with great attitudes) and came up with the following summed up results. So just check and match with yourself and remember everything varies according to personal tastes and preferences, this being much generalised.

Starting with the basics, which we all have some inkling about, No. 1 on the hate list is
BODY ODOUR: Every single guy agreed on this one. If you don't get what we mean check out those deodorant ads.

HAIRY GIRLS: Look, they already have enough body and facial hair. To quote one hunk “It's like dating a guy, eeks!” So girl, you better wax and fast! And please moustaches are a total no-no.

BAD BREATH: Honey, that'd repulse anyone! The poor guy won't even dream of dating you if he can't talk to you without a gush of stench oozing out of your pretty mouth.

EASY TO GET: Yes, so play hard to get. Many just love the challenge. Don't fall all over him no matter how irresistible he is, though a little flirting won't hurt.

Now get ready for the surprises:
A GIRL SURROUNDED WITH FRIENDS ALL THE TIME: Whoa! According to some members of the male species, such girls are hard to approach. Makes them nervous. Awww, isn't that cute?

GOODY-TWO-SHOES: To quote “What's the excitement in playing by the rules?” Hey, that doesn't mean you should become a non-conforming rebel.

MAKE-UP IN EXCESS: Yes, though it may be a life line for you, most guys prefer the natural look. So go for the subtle look instead of the decked up doll look.

LONG-NAILS: We know how hard you work on maintaining them but some guys just don't realise the beauty of it. They're more worried about getting scratched. One quotable remark: “It's so unhygienic.”

HIGH-PITCHED LAUGHTER OR CONTINUOUS GIGGLING: Yeah many guys even judge you on the way you laugh. Life's so unfair!

HIGH-HEELS: Many find it overbearing when you stand high and tall (maybe even a few inches taller than them) in your expensive heels. Oh, not to mention, when you accidentally or purposely (when they hit on you) step on their tender feet.

GOSSIPY OR OVERLY EXCITED GIRLS: According to one of the boys “I prefer a good listener than a girl who keeps talking all the time.” So, honey, most boys are just not interested in the dress you bought yesterday, or the shoes you saw on display or even the latest gossip in town.

BONY GIRLS: Yes, many prefer their girls a bit more fleshy. To quote again “Skinny girls don't look womanly enough.”

ATTITUDE: To elaborate, even though you're stunning, many boys hate it when you take them for granted or act like you're God's gift to mankind. They hate it when you're rude every time they just want to make friendly conversation. Not every guy wants to hit on you.

Well girls, that's it for this week. We repeat all the above-mentioned points are not applicable to every single guy.

Everything varies from person to person so don't lose heart. The perfect guy (for you that is) who will love you will love you for who you are and not what you make yourself to be in order to impress him.

Fabric Painting

By Midnight Maiden

To paint on fabrics you don't exactly have to be an artist; just somebody who likes to put a personal touch to everything, is into creative stuff and of course has a lot of time in hand. You will need:
1 Fabric paint (available in most stationery stores)
2 Medium (just the way poster colour makes use of water for diluting, fabric paints require special medium, available wherever you find fabric paints)
3 Brushes of at least 4 sizes
4 The cloth with is to be painted (best to start off with white cotton cloth)
5 The design which is to be painted, drawn out on a sheet of paper.
6 Palette (for mixing paints and medium)

Step 1
Iron the piece of cloth and spread it over a flat hard surface (e.g. a clipboard). If you are good at free hand drawings then copy out the design on to the cloth using a dark 6B pencil. Otherwise using a carbon paper placed dark-side-down on the cloth and the design sheet over it, trace the design onto the cloth.

Step 2
Colour the drawing, in the exact same way you use water paint or poster colours. Use shading and a black outline to enhance the drawing. Fabric Paint Glitters are also available and can be mixed with the paints to give a glittery effect.

Step 3
Let it out to dry in the sunshine for around 6 hours. Place another thin piece of cloth over the cloth with the painting and then iron.. Do not wash before 24 hours.

A few ideas…..
Watercolor Painting
To create a watercolor effect, your fabric should be damp before applying Fabric Colors, which are usually thinned approximately one part paint to two parts water. Additional thinning of paints is required for a very pale or pastel look. Colors will run together in some areas giving a blended effect. The thinness of the paint and the wetness of the fabric will determine a wide variety of results.

While paints are wet, sprinkle various types of salt over an area. It will draw the paint into the salt, leaving a starburst effect. Table salts may be used. The larger your salt crystals, the larger your effects will be.

This is a technique in which color is placed on a separate object and then pressed onto the fabric leaving an impression. Rubber Stamps are perfect for working on fabric and may be used with Fabric Paint, which you may brush or sponge onto the stamp before applying to the surface.

Sponges are available in a variety of pre-cut shapes or u can also use the technique of vegetable painting to paint on your designs.

This technique can be used to make a wall hanging, a table mat for your bedside table, decorate a plain t-shirt and once you have truly mastered the technique you can go on to making your own cushion covers and kameezes. So good luck! And whatever you do don't work on your bed, because the bedcover turns into a messy canvas (trust me, I know).



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