Twenty Four – 4th July 2012

So, we all knew this was gonna happen. Or at least I knew this was going to happen. Many months without blogging. Well I’ve been falling behind on vlogging too, which I was so regularly into. I’ve tried to keep up but with work and the huge amount of video content I’m putting out on my main YouTube channel, it’s hard to find the time and motivation. I need to keep watching films as we’re in the final 2 weeks of the Epic Film Challenge. In 12 days 20 films need to be watched and reviewed to reach that elusive Episode #365 by the 20th July this year. It’s been a blast and for episode #300 I made a super cool music video showing clips from all the films we’d watching from episode #151 to episode #300. It all ended in a mini Marvel marathon as we reviewed the Spiderman Trilogy, almost all of the Avengers lead in films and then The Avengers itself. Which really, really, ruled.

Of course I’m sat here at 4am(when else?) writing this and even contemplating just continuing this tomorrow(later on today). Tomorrow, or to my body clock, in two days, it will be my birthday. Which marks the start of six days off and the day after that me and Connie will be going to Manchester. We will be visiting one of my best friends(of which there are few) Alex and hopefully having some fun for a few days. She surprised me with the trip as my birthday present and just couldn’t keep the secret for long so told me last Wednesday, a full week before my birthday itself. I could tell she was dying to tell me ever since she must have decided. It was when her sister Siv was visiting Wales from Norway a few weeks ago(which was fun, and cool to see her after such a long time), that she said to me “I’ve got you part of your birthday present, and Siv knows what it is, so -don’t- try to get it out of her, and don’t try to push it out of me either.” I then literally pushed her and after laughing she said “I’m serious!” to which I said “I don’t want to know if its a surprise, you’re the one who’s ‘pushing’ it.”

She wanted to tell me more than I wanted to know about it. Which isn’t altogether that unusual as we’re both so impatient and excited  when it comes to giving each other gifts and surprises. This is where I went to sleep and it is now 24 hours later, at 01:19AM on the 4th July, my birthday.

So I am now 24. Yup. Look at that mug. I’m getting older, one year closer to death and halfway to 48. Can you believe it. The future holds a move to Norway this year and I’ll write about that at another time I think. I feel like there’s just so much to write about and I don’t even want to get started. In May I went to the Greek island of Kos for a week to attend my Dad’s wedding, which was awesome and I was so glad to be able to go. It was a great holiday too, at the 5 star all inclusive Blue Lagoon Resort. It was my first and hopefully not last taste of all inclusive-ness. It was more than anything a great week spent with family I rarely see. I could write about that week for a long time.

Plans for this summer include a return to filmmaking as I attempt to make Misplaced. A film I made in 2004 was called Misplaced and this one is strongly linked though it is neither a sequel or a remake(as I had originally wanted to do). It’s more of a meta film and I’m really excited to sink my teeth into it. It’s daunting as I’ll be on screen for around 99.9% of the time but it’s gonna be a great challenge.

Of course I forgot to mention how Connie told me about the trip to Manchester this week. It was awesome and so…”Connie”. She drew me a multi-panel comic book of her keeping it a secret until we got on the bus, almost as a happy medium considering she wanted to tell me way before that point. It’s cool that she planned it with Alex and my Mum, it makes me happy that she can plan something for me with one of my friends for some reason. I can’t wait to go there and hang out for an extended period with Alex, his girlfriend and of course Connie. It should be a great time. For now, signing off.

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Danger of turning into a cat blog, isn’t that right Shelby? – 24th April 2012

Wellity, wellity, wellity. So I was very ill last week. It was easily the worst illness I’ve had in years and I broke my record of vlogging every day for almost a month. I couldn’t get out of bed and didn’t even have the energy to turn on the TV and watch anything. It was some kind of food poisoning, at least that’s the explanation I’m sticking with. I didn’t eat anything fancy but my stomach was in ruins for days. I had to miss 5 days of work which sucked so much. Not only was I feeling like crap, I was unable to work, to earn money, or even knock a few more films off of the list for the Epic Film Challenge. Connie was also a little ill on one of the days so we were both ill at home all day. To make matters worse the moment a barrage of unforgiving, relentless spew barreled out of my throat, my Mum was leaving for 4 days. Which meant I had to watch after all 4 of our cats, make sure they all had their own individual food and water, separating them and picking up all their crap. It was hard to walk, let alone do all that, so it was an awful week that I’m glad is over. Even after I had half recovered my stomach was rumbling non stop for nearly 2 days, one of the most uncomfortable feelings I’ve ever experienced that gradually transitioned from uncomfortable to painful.

Even more annoying than that, I ate nothing for 2 days and very little for the remaining 3. You’d think I’d lose a bit of weight, right? Nah, not at all. Really need to put some effort into doing that myself though, now I can move around normally again. In other news, we got another cat. Yeah. Another one. That’s two that me and Connie now have, plus the 3 my Mum has. Though I’m sure Willow will be gone any week now, she was throwing up blood last night which is a worry. I love that cat and she’s been with us for at least 15 years, and even then we didn’t know how old she was. It feels like it’s going to be here time soon, which is going to be a sad day for me. So I was working last week and Connie appeared out of nowhere, asking if we could get another kitten. Immediately I was skeptical, mainly for monetary reasons, and also because of Lily. How would she take another cat? Let alone one that would be sleeping in the same room as her. Though I had to admit deep down I’d love to have another little kitten again, and I know that it’d be giving the little bugger a loving home.

So I took my break and went up to the pet shop to see a group of black cats with little touches of white. I said I was fine with it and Connie got the cute one with the white whiskers. After debating all night while I was in work, we threw around a few names. I say “we” it was more Connie giving me names and me shooting them down. Like Bella, Luna, Gizmo and a few others. I wouldn’t have minded Bella, and Gizmo was awesome but sounded too silly. When I got home from work I was told that Lily was super offended and being really reclusive. Connie brought up names again and mentioned Shelby, her favourite car. It seemed to fall into place and I liked it, so Shelby it was. It’s different, I like it. If the bad news was Lily was offended, the good news was that Shelby knew how to clean herself and had no problem jumping up onto the bed. When we got Lily, she couldn’t clean herself and we had to wipe her ass every time she took a dump which was a major pain in the…well, ass.

Over the last week Lily has gotten used to the idea of Shelby but still hisses at her if she gets too close or tries to play. It’s going surprisingly well. Meer is a little distant but she always is, Willow doesn’t care and Charlie is fine with anyone it seems. He just continues to have that dopey look on his face most of the time. I have to say Shelby is really nice, when she’s not running around, digging her claws in too hard, jumping all over the place, digging into anything that makes an annoying sound and whining non stop….okay so she’s kind of a major annoyance! However, her soft fur, tendency to cuddle up to you, sit on your lap and purr, kind of makes up for it. Hopefully she’ll grow into it and stay as cute. Lily seems so much bigger now, and grown up. She always stuck to herself but it’s really evident now, and she behaves herself a lot more which is great.

Wow, so this is turning into a proper cat blog. The vlog is also in danger of turning into a cat vlog, one of the recent videos was just cat footage because I couldn’t be bothered to film anything else. Oh well! The new Trials game came out last week too, which has been a major highlight. Trials HD, a game released on the Xbox Live service a few years ago, is maybe one of my favourite games ever. So, long overdue, Trials Evolution has finally been released and improves on everything the first game laid down.

The tracks are now all outdoors and the scope is just fantastic. There’s also online multiplayer action, so it’s just a joy to play. For anyone playing along at home, it’s a 2.5D game, where you ride motorbikes across 3D levels, on a 2D plain. So all you control is the tilt of the bike, and the speed. It’s ridiculously addictive and I’ve already started cementing my place as the new Trials master. What makes the game so amazing is that you can create your own tracks, and the room for creativity is utterly endless. It’s hard to do, but with effort and time, you can create tracks worthy of being in the main game, and sharing them online couldn’t be easier. A 10/10 already for me.

An example of a user created track, and this isn't even pushing the capabilities

In closing, for now, I’ll leave a few pictures. The first is Charlie giving me a “look” after watching Shelby bounce around playing. The second is Shelby the day after we got her. The third is when I filmed Shelby, and Lily creeped up on her from behind the sofa, before noticing I was there and looking at me with the guiltiest face I’ve ever seen a cat have.

 

Lol.

She’s my Rushmore – 18th March 2012

So I’ve gone a few days without updating this, and I guess I don’t have to every day. I mean, I could have, but I just, didn’t. Anyway. On Thursday I had a pretty uneventful day ahead of me, until Connie woke me up to show me a package had arrived for me. I checked out the front and realised it was Robbie Webster, a cool guy I met on YouTube. A while back I offered to help him out with a Blu-ray Steelbook that can only be bought in the UK. So he ordered it to my place and I’m going to send it out to him, saving some money instead of  just getting it on eBay for an extortionate price. He said he’d be sending me something but I figured it’d be after he got the Blu-ray, which is In Time, a really cool futuristic film released last year starring Justin Timberlake.

So I opened the package, not before flicking the camera on, to post the video on my channel. He had sent me not one, but two Blu-rays! The first was a digibook of Amadeus, which I haven’t seen. The packaging was amazing, the digibook is like a small book shape that holds the Blu-ray disc and in the center there’s a full colour 20 or 30 pages filled with pictures and information about the film. I must get more of them. The icing on the cake though was the second Blu-ray: Rushmore! One of my all time favourite films, Wes Anderson’s second film starring Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray. It was also the Criterion Collection edition of the film. The Criterion Collection is a company that specialises in releasing classic and contemporary films of importance in cinema, restoring them meticulously for preservation and loading them with more special features than you can shake many sticks at.

I won’t be able to watch it just yet, as I need a region free Blu-ray player(Criterion, among most US Blu-rays and DVDs are region locked) which I’m still a bit unsure about. There’s no real guaranteed way of getting one, as they’re not sold officially, so the most reliable one I’ve found is on eBay, from a seller who offers no returns. So I’ll have to look into that, but I definitely will get on. I’m yearning for the Seven Samurai Criterion Blu-ray. Not only another one of my top ten favourite films in High Definition, but the Criterion offers the most complete version of the film, which isn’t available any other way. So that made my day, and work flew by. I was able to pore over the contents of the Rushmore Blu-ray on my break, as it came with an awesome booklet and poster, the artwork is just great. Robbie is a great guy, I’ll never forget him sending me them, it was a really nice gesture and goes another step in convincing me of something. As messed up as life can get, and as head-shakingly awful people can be, there are still a lot of genuinely nice people out there. If you like movies, check out his channel, it’s listed on the links on here.

On Friday I got paid, which is always good. After working 12-3pm(such a short shift, almost no point doing it, but I need every bit of overtime I can get, more on that later), I went into Cardiff to scout out a few things for Connie’s birthday on Tuesday. I found a couple of things but feel like I could’ve done better, and gotten her something with a more personal touch. Still, I kind of shot myself in the foot a couple of years ago with an amazing, bound book I made her for our first anniversary. I’ll definitely go out of my way to do special things for her for years to come, but this year for her birthday I feel a bit underwhelmed with my own efforts. We’ll see on Tuesday. I also tried to find a laundry basket for us, because we have too many clothes, but for the life of me couldn’t find any. My Mum actually picked us up one at a store she went to, to buy curtains and paint to redecorate the flat this week. It turned out to be very small though, but it was a nice thought.

I also picked up a few Blu-rays in Cardiff, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and the Toy Story Trilogy(I haven’t seen 3) plus a few DVDs from the bargain media shop That’s Entertainment. They do all kinds of old DVDs, Blu-rays and CDs, it’s always worth a look in there. I felt like finally checking out Disney on Blu-ray after getting an interesting question for my upcoming Q&A video on my YouTube channel.(It sounds a bit self serving but they’re cool videos to make) It was Robbie, who asked what was the first film I saw in the cinema? I strained to think and came up with Beauty and the Beast, which suddenly rekindled an urge for me to see it, so I just had to grab it. When I showed Connie what I had bought, she gasped and asked if we could watch BATB that night. So we did.

It was such an experience, beyond how amazing it looked in High Definition. Filling the 42” screen, bursting with colour, the backgrounds looking beautiful, and the sound outstanding. It all came back to me as we watched, remembering all the moments vividly now I was watching it. The musical numbers were great and the story is just so simple and sweet. I’m a sucker for it, and interestingly enough, it was the first animated feature film to ever be nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award in 1991. So I must’ve been three years old when I saw it in the cinema! I definitely remember sitting down and watching it, the opening shot etched in my head. My Nan took me, like she always did. I hardly ever went to the cinema with anyone else. My Dad took me a few times(Super Mario Bros., Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls and The Sphere spring to mind), as well as once letting me down by never taking me to see Batman & Robin. I guess that was a good thing though.

The opening shot of Beauty and the Beast, that I remember so clearly: one of my earliest memories.

My Mum never took me, though it wasn’t like I ever asked. When we moved to England I never, ever went to the cinema. It was too far away. I even missed out on Star Wars: Episode I. Again, maybe a good thing?(For the record, I like Episode I!) So Robbie inadvertently caused me to unearth(surely) one of my earliest memories. I’m kind of obsessed with my memories, and how much I remember about things. It troubles me when I can’t recall certain things, or remember a really funny story, but simply can’t bring back the vital details, like what was said exactly. Prime example being a night in the Days Inn in Luton, one Winter night in 2007. A group of us wrestlers were having a great time near the lobby when a drunk woman came in starting some trouble. Del, a reserved, stoic Geordie, was sitting in a chair saying nothing, and she started having a go at him. Farrage, an unreserved, brash Geordie, took offence to her hassling his mate, and got right in her face, going toe-to-toe with her verbally. It was an amazing moment(I use “amazing” too much, mental note) and I just wish I could remember the dialog.

Lets just say it ended with Farrage shouting to her as she was escorted out of the building: “No wonder yer husband fookin’ left ya!” He celebrated with a half-smoked victory cigar he had found in the bar area. It was classic. Anyway, back to Beauty and the Beast. It was a great moment reliving it and made me a little emotional thinking back to simpler times. I’m very daft like that. Screw it, I guess, that’s the way I’ve been built, it’s in my hardware. I loved how the backgrounds looked on Blu-ray, I love animated backgrounds in general, they just look so good! I also really enjoyed some the moments that I got a kick out of as a kid, when the French candle character(forget his name) fights off bad guys at the end.

Lumière. I looked it up. He's awesome.

Friday gave way to Saturday and I overslept a lot, due to the fact I had put clean sheets on our bed. For some reason, after a nice long bath, getting into bed with clean sheets is like heaven for me. Every time it happens I oversleep, it must be my body subconsciously enjoying the experience so much it doesn’t let me wake up. I worked through the night in what was my 13th consecutive day of work. Again, I need the money for…well I’ll talk about that another time. Point is, I now have three days off, which is awesome(I use “awesome” too much, mental note), including Connie’s birthday. Which I was originally working on, so to have the shift switched was fabulous.(I use “fabulous” so rarely I forget it’s even a word, lets keep it that way)So here I am in the early hours, blogging. Oh it never ends. I’ve been listening to a live version of The Smiths song How Soon Is Now? Morrissey is amazing, in a weird kind of way. I love the song, and can’t believe how good they sound live. Legendary band. In linking the video I also found a great instrumental cover of the song. Check that out here.

As Dave Williams would say, Peace out homies.

You’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy – 15th March 2012

So yesterday was interesting. I work for a superstore chain in the UK, though the store I work at is a smaller one, and in the space of twenty minutes, I stopped three shoplifters. Pretty cool right? Well, it was, kinda. I don’t know why I bother though, it’s a thankless thing to do. I don’t particularly care for the store I work at, I have no emotional connection to it, what’s it to me if it loses a few pounds here and there? However, I’d be willing to bet if you looked at how much money every single shop and superstore in the UK loses every week from shoplifting, it’s probably up in the high hundreds of thousands, if not millions. That’s chump change to some of these chains though, so why should I care? The answer is, I don’t, but I feel like even though I hate working there, and retail plain sucks, I have some kind of duty to stop them when I can. It’s not a nice thing to do, to ask someone if they’ve been stealing, or to follow them, or to confront them. I hate confrontations.

It annoys me though, that some people just seem to think that the world owes them something. Because deep down, most of these people don’t think they’re really doing much wrong, and delude themselves into thinking they’re in the right. So, the people I “stopped”,  here’s the deal:

  1. A girl comes into the store with a strong, white plastic bag. Her calling card. She comes in with her boyfriend all the time(or she used to last year, before our Duty Manager caught her in the act and banned her with some finality that seemed to have sorted her out) and puts things in the white bag. It’s ridiculous that she always brings it, it always stands out so much. So I watch her and she has this cheap bottle of Coke with her. Next minute its in her bag so I ask her if she has a receipt. She gave me probably the dirtiest look that has ever existed and showed me her receipt, glaring even more. I bluntly said to her “you’ve been stealing from her so many times, you think I’m not going to check?” She had about four expensive Mothers Day cards in her hands, which she promptly put back and left. That’s her trick; buy something small, then stay in the shop and dump things into the bag. So I stopped her there. Yet, a small part of me thinks she tricked me and showed me a receipt from another day when she had bought the Coke: I didn’t check the date.(I was shocked she actually had a receipt. Maybe I’m giving her too much credit though, I doubt she’d be that smart, given how conspicuous she acts when she steals.
  2. Literally the second she walked out of the door, I turn around and a guy is just loading a plastic bag up with expensive washing up items. He looked at me and put them back, muttering “oh I…don’t need that one actually.” He tried a few more times and I effectively used the Shoplifter Troll. Which is the best way sometimes when someone looks dodgy or like they could be trouble if you flat out ask them to leave, or if even they look like they could get violent. You do get some really rough looking people who have scars all over them from fights so, it’s best not to go in guns blazing. The Shoplifter Troll is the act of following them around, but not making it look like you are. So they can’t steal anything, and eventually they get annoyed enough to just give up. If you make it obvious you’re following them, then sometimes they actually get more determined and will do anything to get away with the stuff they want for free. He left pretty quickly.
  3. Literally again(I’m not kidding) as soon as that guy had left, I turned around and another was there, with the same brand of plastic bag the last guy had, which also looked rumpled and wrinkled like it had been used fifty times. Coincidence? I think not. They must have been working together. We sometimes get that, gangs of older men tag teaming up. This one however, was loading up a basket, with the plastic bag inside, obviously hoping to slip items in there. I carried on putting easter eggs on the shelves around the store, not giving him more than a few seconds alone. He actually kept phoning himself and having fake conversations. “Oh yeah, I’m in the shop now, I have fifty quid to spend.” I can’t comprehend what goes through their heads, its so embarrassingly obvious. He tried to wait it out, filling his basket to the brim, and after Trolling him a little more, he left the basket and pretended to have a shop-leaving argument on the phone. Success!

So I was feeling pretty damn good about myself after that, having stealthily apprehended three shoplifters in less than half an hour. That feeling soon vanished though. I went on my break and when I came back, a trolley had been stolen. Which could mean only one thing: someone had loaded it up with groceries and walked out. People try that all the time, sadly. I felt so deflated, like, no matter what, the “bad guys” will always win. It turned out a few hours later the trolley was outside the back of the store. Now if someone had loaded the trolley up and left, it’s not likely they would return it outside. Then again, where do they go with all that stuff? Plus our customers love to tell us about things we’ve done wrong or need to sort out, so someone definitely would’ve said something. So my theory is someone took their bought and paid for shopping out back to their car, because they were too lazy to carry a few bags.(we’re not a superstore, yet people insist on buying massive amounts) And they obviously couldn’t be bothered to wheel it back in either. People piss me off. Not as much as shoplifters, but they’re up there.

You may have noticed I haven’t specified which store I work at, and that’s because I know of another superstore that my friends work at, that have an eagle eye on all social networking of their staff, ready to fire or give out warnings for anything negative said about them. Not that I would get in trouble for this, I’m not criticising them, but I’m keeping all my bases covered. I’m sure through my available web of internet musings you can figure out which store it is if you really wanted. Bottom line, as far as I’m concerned, the store is a nice store, frequented by nice customers, that’s usually thriving day to day with awful customers and scumbag shoplifters. You’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. In Penarth anyway. Ok I’m exaggerating, I’m sure there’s far worse places, per se. But when it comes to stores, in Penarth town, then yeah, it is.

*

By the way, in May 2011, I went on what I liked to call at the time, The Epic Journey. It involved me going to see two of my favourite rock bands for the first time, over a long weekend travelling across three countries in the UK. I vlogged throughout the whole process and kept a diary, which you can check out at the top of this blog on the tab under the banner. I’ll probably be adding more diaries and past writings in the future too, I like how it turned out on here.