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Dear fellow nerds, we're not always going to like the same thing

Dear fellow nerds, we're not always going to like the same thing




Unless you've been living under a rock, you're probably aware that Game of Thrones is back for its seventh season. Maybe you've seen it or maybe you haven't. Maybe you're a Grade A fan who has read all the books or maybe you're like me and enjoy it, but it wouldn't make your Top 10.

I think every single answer or preference is perfectly fine and no one should be getting into fights about it. But given the comments/arguments that have broken out on the internet in the last few weeks I seem to be alone in my opinion of letting people get on with their lives and devour pop culture that is to their own liking.

Not long after Game of Thrones started again, the comments began piling up - but one in particular caught my eye. It was a guy who I used to work with who still hangs about my Facebook friends list. It was on some article or meme, and it was slagging off people who "thought they were too good to watch Game of Thrones" and "they don't know good television" and were "rotting their brains with Love Island".

I have four things to say about this:
1) Chill.
2) People don't necessarily avoid Game of Thrones because they think they're too good for it. They might not watch a lot of television. They might not like the fantasy genre in general. Maybe they don't want to watch a show with rape and incest.
3) Just because someone watches Love Island doesn't mean they aren't intelligent beings
4) Chill some more.

But because I'm me, I didn't take my own advice and chill. It's a bug-bearer of mine when people don't just let other people live, and my mind began to wonder off and I thought of all the times a nerd got their proverbial pants in a twist because someone didn't like their favourite Pokemon or Ghostbusters got rebooted with an all female cast.

And something dawned on me: every single person I know who behaves like this....is a dude. 

Admittedly this is personal experience, so please share with me if your experience has been different. All the girl geeks in my life seem to understand that I can like my thing and they can like theirs. There are enough fandoms in this world for everyone.

The thing about these dudes and their bunched-up boxers is, they're not even your stereotypical basement nerds hitting away on 9chan and talking ethics in game journalism. Some of them are actually otherwise pretty woke (just not when you dare to not like their favourite film).

Need more examples? 


Back in April I decided it was high time I watched Star Wars. I hadn't ever got round to it because the genre that it exists in doesn't do much for me, and I had made the assumption it wouldn't be for me. I watched all seven episodes (it was seven at the time) and my assumption was correct. After deciding this, I just got on with my life. I didn't publicly slam the films, and berate anyone who did like them.

But my Star Wars journey had been documented on Twitter and Snapchat - and a guy I've known a long time (who I already knew was of the Usually Woke But Not When You Don't Like My Favourite Film persuasion) felt like he had to pipe up and exclaim "I can't believe you didn't like it". Same guy who - about a year earlier - went white in the face when he realised I hadn't seen them. Same guy who also got confused when someone who was born in 1994 hadn't seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which first aired in 1997. I digress.

Then there was my first boyfriend, in my teenage years, who actually turned off my music (in my room!) because he didn't like boybands.

Outside of my dating life, there has been the 30-something man who sits and clenches his fists at the thought of Nickelback. I know a lot of people who don't like Nickelback but imagine clenching your fists with hatred at a band? Loose two adulting points.

Then there's this other dude who - after Kesha's ordeal last year - actually said publicly on Facebook "Should I mock Kesha's music because it was made under questionable circumstances or because it's not very good?" Who even asks this?

Also, a random guy at a party asked me who my favourite band of all time were. I replied Feeder (truth) and got it mansplained to me that it totally couldn't be and was told to pick again.

And finally, I know a different 30-something who slags off pretty much anything that isn't 'real music' on Facebook (if anything comes from this post, it's that I clearly need a Facebook friends clear out). He has a music sound production degree that he hasn't been able to make a living from. Diddums.

Maybe it's because female and women orientated hobbies and films and music and jobs are incessantly mocked and branded frothy. Perhaps that's why we don't expect the whole fucking world to agree with our music tastes. Because we're told all the time that pop culture that is marketed towards us is sub-standard.

And that's why guys are more likely to get their genitals wrapped around their leg in anger because someone dared to enjoy Legally Blonde more than they enjoyed Iglorius Bastards (and I'm speaking as someone who has what might be considered a "male taste" in films).

I'm a geek and I know that we get invested in the characters and storylines and build fan theories. But that is still no excuse for not putting on your big person pants and understanding that people can like different things from you. Me not liking Star Wars doesn't change the fact that it is one of best selling film franchises of all time. Me liking boybands doesn't mean I also don't know how to enjoy something of a more high-brow nature (but even if I didn't like high-brow stuff, that would be a-okay). Me preferring DC doesn't mean I'm allowed to go around slagging off Marvel fans, because I'm a grown up and grown ups don't do that. Last time I got angry because someone didn't like the same thing as me, I was probably 15 and it was probably Green Day and it was probably my mum who didn't like them.

I'm not arguing that analysis and critique of pop culture aren't necessary


I had to scroll back through my timeline to find this Twitter thread - but it is that muthafuckin' golden, so I did.



A year ago Nelly came to Glasgow and I had to get a ticket. I'm a massive Nelly fan, which usually surprises people as hip hop usually isn't my jam. I like his songs and his break-up melody Just a Dream holds a special place in my heart because it came out right after I went through my own painful break-up. I listened to it on repeat and I credit it with helping me through a difficult time.

And Nickelback? They have two songs that I correlate with two different memories.


If you've been reading this and thinking "Morag, we've seen you critique films/books/tv shows/comics and you've sometimes been less than kind" you're missing the difference between critique (especially critique through a feminist lens) and pissing on something you don't personally enjoy. We, as a society and as film nerds, do have to question what the fuck makes a controlling man like Christian Grey seem desirable. Or Edward Cullen, who thinks nothing of jumping into the bedroom of a girl he fancies and watching her sleep. Or why Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Harry Potter did well in terms of female representation but fell really short when it came to racial diversity.

I know that boybands have problematic lyrics. N*SYNC sang "I will never stop, Until you're mine, I can wait forever, till the end of time" (dude, move on) and One Direction decided to keep this little gem of a lyric hidden on an album track: "“I know you want, know you wanna take it slow/Think about all the places we could go/If you give in tonight /Just let me set you free" (eurgh). Humans are multi-faceted and complex, and are more than capable of seeing the good and bad in everything, whether it's people or art.

And do I really need to tell you that Game of Thrones is problematic af? 

Pop culture is my one great love and my passion. From the first ever CD my dad bought me (it was B*Witched, C'est La Vie) and my early years devouring The Babysitters Club, right through to the modern day superhero films and my forever love of 90s boybands. And nobody likes it when someone pisses on their love, either metaphorically or literally (just to clarify: both are wrong and weird).

So if you're someone (dude, or otherwise) who gets indignant and breathes fire when someone likes something you don't like, or doesn't like something you like....

...grow up and get angry at something that actually matters.


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My Berlin Vegan Food Diary

My Berlin Vegan Food Diary


It feels like everyone and their dog has been to Berlin in the past few years. There's no doubting that the German city is definitely in vogue. Fascinating history, great architecture and hip locals, it's easy to see why so many people are flocking there for a city break - but personally, my reason for my trip back in May with my mum was to sample the the insane amount of vegan food (though I did end up falling in love with the city and liked it a lot more than I thought I would). 

Berlin is widely considered the vegan capital of Europe, and that was pretty much my whole reason for wanting to go there. And last May, me and my mum made the trip across. While we definitely still made time to explore the different tourist spots (I wrote this architectural guide for work last year and just had to see it all for myself) my nose was glued to my phone's Yelp app looking for great places to sample some plant-based goodness. Here's the places that made my shortlist. 

Curry by the Wall




You can't go to Berlin and not try a currywurst, or avoid Checkpoint Charlie - and this place combines together two quintessential Berlin must-dos. It's hard to miss this place as it's right beside where some of the original wall still stands (and is bright red). I had the veggie version while my mum had the meat version. It was the first time either of us had sampled currywurst and while it wasn't horrible, it's one of these national foods that gets blown out of proportion (it's like tourists coming to Scotland and getting really excited about trying Haggis...even though Scottish people tend to only eat it on Burns night or St Andrew's Day). 

Samadhi



Not far from the Brandenburg Gate, this seems to be a popular spot for vegans visiting Berlin if my Instagram comments were anything to go by. It's not something a lot of people know, but I studied Buddhism as a teenager (what do you mean you spend your youth drinking and sneaking out?) and I recognised the word Samādhi (it's a type of consciousness level that is above day-to-day living) and knew I was probably in the right place for a conscious lunch. 

The menu was large here and comes with a picture book so you can get a good idea of portion sizes. While I should maybe have tried branching away from my norm while on holiday, I immediately began eyeing up the dishes with tofu in them because I'm a basic vegan bitch. But I'm glad I did because this was potentially the best tofu I have ever eaten (emphasis on the ever, guys). 

Mariona Berlin



This wasn't somewhere I had been planning to go; me and my mum were heading to the Oberbaum Bridge, passed it on the way there and noticed the vegan sign outside. Honestly, the idea of an Italian didn't thrill me as I have sat and silently ate way more arrabiata pasta that I would like to, just to be polite and not make a fuss. But we didn't have any food plans that day so I thought I'd thought I'd give it a try. 

It was nice, nothing to rave about but nice. The vegan menu was obviously a new touch as it was handwritten, and it was in German so I picked out the gnocchi (because it was a word I recognised*). It was cooked in a herby sauce of some kind and while it was tasty, it isn't something I haven't already eaten and felt a little stereotypically vegan.

Duo



Also on the way to the Oberbaum Bridge me and my mum passed by this cute little ice-cream parlour that also offered vegan flavours. The place is very unassuming but the guy behind the till was lovely and gently laughed as he translated all the flavours into English. Quality wise it was your standard ice-cream and this place is a little out the way, but it's always nice when your mum buys you an ice-cream cone (even when you're 26). 

SOY



Now we're onto the good stuff! Found not far from the Fernsehturm, I had heard about SOY before I left for Berlin and was determined to find out if its 5 star ratings were well-earned. Turns out they were, and this was the best lunch I had while there - both in terms of food quality and restaurant atmosphere. 

It was an impressive menu and being the stereotypical vegan I am I was still drawn to the tofu (it's a Vietnamese restaurant) but this time it came with a twist: it was STUFFED? Mate I've eaten a lot of tofu, in a lot of restaurants, and not come across stuffed tofu before! Truthfully it was tofu cubes sliced through the middle and filled like a sandwich but we can overlook that. And it was delicious, which is all that matters at the end of the day. 

Aside from the food, the atmosphere was spot on. SOY had a trendy atmosphere that successfully stayed away from deep hipster territory, and I'd say it was similar to that of 13th Note in Glasgow.

Veganz



Not exactly a restaurant - but what vegan visits Berlin and doesn't stop by the vegan supermarket? Me and my mum were staying in your simple hotel room but walking round the isles here I wish I had opted for a self-catering apartment, AirBnB or hostel, as most of the food needed a fridge or cooked in someway. The supermarket has its own self-branded food items - such as the 'make your own Seiten' packet of wheat gluten I bought (that I still haven't used/worked out how to use) - while there are some brands that you'll recognise from the UK.

Little Green Rabbit



Me and my mum booked a late afternoon flight home and we didn't want anything too heavy for our final meal. Little Green Rabbit wasn't far from where we were staying and we had passed it a few times while wandering around the Check Point Charlie area, and it looked like it would fit the bill. It's a canteen sort of style place where you pick your base and add vegetables of your own choice. Despite being a hot day I opted for the Yellow Thai Curry, which was lovely but perfectly light at the same time. They also sell a range of smoothies and it's the kind of place where you know you're getting plenty of vitamins and your food is healthy as well as kind.

Are you a vegan who has been to Berlin? Where did you choose to eat?

Morag x

* I'd recommended learning German before going to Berlin. While the locals can speak English and will do when they realise you only know English, they will speak in German to you automatically and a lot of menus are German. 

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Bonobo Café, Aberdeen

Bonobo Café, Aberdeen



I read somewhere once that trends finally reach Aberdeen about 10 years after they first hit the rest of the UK. I don't know if this is due to its northern location, or that its main (or even, only) industry is the drab and corporate oil sector, or because independent businesses never last very long, but I agree that Aberdeen is potentially one of the least trendy cities in the UK and seems to stand still in time. 

One example? A couple of months ago Aberdeen finally got its own 100% vegan café, Bonobo Café. It was previously a pop-up in the wellness centre behind Marks and Spencer's and after saving up all their earnings, they finally bought their own place on Skene Street, round the corner from Union Terrace. 



I was up visiting my parents last week and obviously I had to stop in by and show some support. The girl at the counter was super friendly and didn't mind going through the menu (my mum isn't vegan and some of the food options aren't second nature to her, but the girl was lovely and patient). 

We were there in the afternoon so got to choose from a range of wraps, soups and salads. I went for the BBQ tofu wrap and my mum chose the satay tofu wrap. I also noticed a chickpea 'tuna' sandwich on the menu that I oh-so-almost went for, but it will have to wait for another time. 



The hot drinks menu was probably the part that I found most impressive. I chose a Chai Latte and my mum a hazelnut latte, but I did almost choose the exotic sounding turmeric latte. You can also choose your own dairy-free milk from soya, oat and almond. 

The serving and counter area is downstairs with the eating bit upstairs (if you are disabled or have a pushchair this isn't ideal). It was a nice day so me and mum decided to sit outside in their garden patio. You can't see it from the street, and your view is the tall granite buildings that sit next door, but it is a lovely touch that makes you feel like you're somewhere more tropical. 



Overall? Great service, tasty (albeit snacky) food, top-notch drinks menu, and a peaceful garden patio. Bonobo Café should be getting top marks....but it isn't different to any other vegan café I've been to. I fully accept that this could just be because I'm spoilt by the vegan options available to me living in the Central Belt, and I really need to try and review this through the eyes of an Aberdonian who is jumping for joy at having somewhere they can pop for lunch without worrying about what is in their food. 

If I still lived in Aberdeen I would regularly be popping in to support it and give it the money it needs to thrive. But if another vegan café (or even vegan restaurant) opened up I've got a fear Bonobo could get left behind and within time they'll need to expend their menu to remain competitive. Independent businesses have a habit of not lasting in Aberdeen (I still weep when I walk past the place where One Up Records once resided) and I really don't want its first vegan café to go south too. 

Have you been to Bonobo Café yet? What were your thoughts? 

Morag x

P.S. While enjoying my lunch, there was a woman with a London/South-East English accent talking about how Aberdeen was a different "kettle of fish" and how she was "used to Edinburgh and Glasgow" and that she might go to Manchester early for something to do. She also said she wasn't vegan but enjoyed having somewhere cute to eat for lunch that wasn't a chain. There's a second review on Bonobo and Aberdeen for you. 
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H&M Conscious picks for a safari

H&M Conscious picks for a safari




I've always been a bit on/off with ethical clothes shopping. On one hand it's a great thing to do but on the other hand it is one of the trickiest forms of ethical shopping out there (at least that's how I've personally found it). And while I've been on a bit of a roll since mid-2016, there's a few situations where I've found it particularity challenging, one of those being when I'm looking for something very specific.

One recent example is when my work invited me on an educational training holiday to Kenya and in the space of a month I had to pull together a wardrobe that would take me from beach, to safari, to luxury resort, to chilly night and warm days, and would also respect local customs. Okay then, challenge accepted.

Thankfully I actually found refuge on the high street. Usually when I'm needing something short notice I hop over to H&M because - even though it's still high street and not *perfect* - it's better than most (I liken it to buying a lipstick from a cruelty-free company that has a testing parent company). For extra brownie points they launched their H&M Conscious range a while back that boasts seven commitments ranging from using natural resourced efficiently to choosing responsible partners.

This is where I get lucky though. The range was bursting with khakis, browns and whites - just what I was in the market for. It's pricier than the usual range and I'm not exactly going to get much use of safari themed clothes on a day-to-day basis here in Scotland, so I have reign myself in a small bit - but here's a guide to what I did buy and what else I almost did.

The first thing I picked up was this Lyocell shirt dress for £34.99. It's available in both khaki and beige, of which I opted for the former. The dress comes down to my knees as well which did mean it wasn't super flattering but meant that even when I was climbing in and out of jeeps I didn't accidentally flash my pants to everyone.

Second up on my shopping receipts, is these pull-on trousers retailing at £14.99. Out of everything I brought with me to Kenya, these were the bomb and I'd recommend something similar to anyone else going on safari. They were baggy and light enough that they weren't uncomfortable during mid-day heat (the hot season is January/February mind you) but meant that my legs were covered as the temperature dropped at night. Plus the helped keep the bugs off my legs! Heck if I was going again I'd purchase these in beige as well.

The third (and final) thing I purchased specifically for my trip was this long-sleeved jersey top. My previous trips to Africa (Cape Town, Zambia and Botswana) plus a jaunt to Peru almost 10 years ago, taught me that hot countries aren't always hot at night and you'll need to wrap up a bit. However, this wasn't quite the best purchase as when you are on a holiday of the adventurous persuasion you won't always have time to change between activities so it's much better to bring layers that you can take on and off. I'd skip this for next time and purchase a few floaty t-shirts and hoodies instead.

Something I did see but didn't purchase was this Lyocell top in khaki - but I wish I had. Now having been on safari I see how perfect this would have been and would have chosen it over the long-sleeved top. And something that I never seen in my local H&M and only found online when I sat down to write this post is these Lyocell shorts in 'Light Mole' that would be perfect if you're heading over in the super-hot season.

Kenya also has some amazing beaches that look out onto the Indian Ocean, so remember to pack a swimsuit. The H&M Conscious range doesn't have any swimwear but it does have these lovely white denim shorts that would be perfect for covering yourself up with as you travel between beach and resort.

Finally, I hate the idea of wearing jeans in a warm climate but many people in my safari group lived in them. If you're someone with a good heat tolerance, pick up these Super Skinny Low Jeans. I might check them out now that I'm home for wearing in this country.

Have you been on safari? What would be your must pack items? 


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