Saturday, 31 October 2009

Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Growing Up/Getting Older.

If I ever have kids, I'm going to make sure my kids know all of these things so they don't come to them as as much of a shock as they have come to me. I want them to be prepared for this shit.

* Watching your hair get gradually more grey as your life goes on is one of the most depressing things ever.
* Spots don't magically stop appearing on you when you reach 20.
* There will come a time in your life where you find that sometimes urinating takes actual physical effort. Not always, but sometimes.
* Almost every mistake you make will haunt you for the rest of your life. (However, I will add the point that when things are going well for you, some of them will haunt you a lot less.)
* Work can be just as unpleasant an experience as school sometimes, in every way.
* When you grow up, you still won't have all the answers.

I had more in my head earlier. If I remember them, I'll add them later.

However there are also a couple of things that I will make sure I point out to them.

* No matter what anyone tells you, your school days are not necessarily going to be the best days of your life. Not at all.
* You will almost certainly actually have very very little in life to be afraid of, no matter what anyone tells you.

If I had known all this in advance, I would be a much better person, and much more capable of dealing with the world than I am.

Monday, 26 October 2009

So What Does A Man Do When He Thinks No-One's Paying Attention?

But never at the same time. That would just be weird.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

The Internet Is Making Me Paranoid.

Facebook has started to make me feel like I'm a senile old man trying to converse with a museum full of statues. Twitter is starting to feel like I'm running up behind people and sticking post-it notes on their backs and then running away, not seeing that they've fallen off already. Worst of all tho, my blog, this blog, is being read by fewer people, and I lost a subscriber this weekend. This is making me start to feel like one of those mental preachers or bag ladies who stand around in the street shouting at passers by.

Oh internet, what have I done to displease you so? Have I let my standards slip? Do you want me to perform a ritual sacrifice? Would that put me back in your favour?


Listening: I listened to the new album by Russian Circles today. It's really pretty fucking ace, which I was very happy about a) now that Pelican have stopped making good albums, and b) because I wasn't that keen on their second album.
New album 'Geneva' is a heavy slab of instrumental rock that essentially just ticks all the boxes, but it manages to sound exciting and vital while doing it. It's not doing anything new, but it's doing what it is doing very well indeed. I will definitely be buying it.
Although I did wonder what Russian Circles would sound like doing an album of covers of songs originally by the 90's indie band Geneva. I reckon it would be quite interesting.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


Right, so trying to ram a bunch of theory into my head, oh the joys of Russian formalism, structuralism, Marxism, materialism, binary systems, marzipanism, yadayadayadaism, and more besides I'm sure, has made every ism morph into one thing that I like to call "Dunnoism", because as they all morph into this blob in my my brain, all the sharp edges and details disappear and I'm left with just this smooth, grey spherical ism that looks exactly like nothing yet I know is supposed to mean lots of things and is vital to my course in some way. The really worrying thing is that other isms will no doubt come along all shiny and pretty, but once in my head will be assimilated into the "Dunnoism", instantly losing all sense of meaning and becoming one with the powers of "DURR."


Michael Buble's new album "Crazy Love" is out. Sadly, it does not include a cover version of "Amour Fou" by Vetiver. That is what always comes into my head when I see the words "Crazy" and "Love" next to each other. More specifically I think of the first time I went to Paris, which was with Emma, Johnny and Dawn, and how me and Johnny would sing "She wanted love, crazy love, love love love love crazy love," all the bloody time like we were infected with it or something. I'm pretty sure it drove Emma and Dawn mad by the end of it.

Talking of songs with the potential to drive you mad, I assume that you've all seen this by now, right?

Yeah, Emma's probably lucky I can't come up to Newcastle next week. I would probably drive her fucking mental with this. I can't get it out of my head, and I'm pretty sure I've been singing it while walking in the street. At least, I'm assuming that's what the weird looks I was getting in the street today were about.

Monday, 19 October 2009

'Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea' & Me.

When I got back from my Malta holiday, one of the pieces of news I was greeted with was the fact that in the UK we will now have to wait until February 2010 for the new Hayao Miyazaki anime film, 'Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea'. This made me actually shout "Oh for fuck's sake!!" out loud to myself. This film came out in Japan in July 2008, and has been widely distributed around the world throughout 2009. Once again, we are the last place to get films in our cinemas in the world.
I was unbelievably frustrated, but my frustration was eased when I had a look on Sky Japan Shop. (I rarely let myself go on Sky Japan Shop's site, because they have so many anime dvds that I want, there is a serious danger I would spend all of my money.) They were selling a
Japanese dvd of 'Ponyo...' for £10.50, with free shipping. I pounced on it. With it coming out in the cinemas in February next year, I figured it'll probably be until about August before it gets to dvd. Not only could I see it 4 months early, but I could own it 10 months early! I simply couldn't resist.
A couple of days later, I got an e-mail from them telling me they've withdrawn it from sale due to complaints about the quality of the dvd. I assumed this was due to subtitling issues, I have a couple of anime dvds from Japan that have not been given the best quality of interpretation, and the subtitles can be pretty tricky to follow at times. They offered me a refund, or the value off another item. I thought, fair enough, I'll have a look later and see what I want. Then proceeded to completely forget all about it.
Last week I got another e-mail from Sky Japan Shop, telling me that my copy of 'Ponyo...' had shipped.
I was very excited.
Saturday morning, I got a little parcel in the post. I opened it. It was my copy of 'Ponyo...'.
I was INCREDIBLY excited.
Today I actually got the chance to sit down and watch it.

Okay, it's pretty obvious why there were complaints about the quality. It's very obviously a pirate copy. You can hear a couple of children's voices right at the start, and the sound is clearly being recorded thru a microphone. Having said that tho, once you get a couple of minutes into it, the sound really isn't a problem, it's actually fairly decent quality, and yes the tracking shots are a bit jumpy and sometimes the movement of characters on screen are too, but the translated subtitles are good and overall it is definitely watchable, right up until the moment at 78 minutes when someone gets up to go to the toilet. Then again at 85 minutes when they come back. Seeing a massive and shadowy figure moving across the screen and interrupting what you're watching is a very surreal experience, especially with an animation. It's just one step too far, and sadly I will have to return the dvd to Sky Japan Shop.

I say sadly, and I really do mean sadly, because 'Ponyo...' is an ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL film.
It's basic story is the same as that of 'The Little Mermaid'. A female mermaid wants to become a human, spurred on by loved for a human male.
The details are different tho. For a start both Ponyo and Sosuke (the boy she falls for) are 5 years old. In this way, Hayao Miyazaki tells us a very innocent story, with all his little trademark fantastical quirks and methods that I just love him so much for.
Very simply put, the story goes: Sosuke finds a little fish with a human head while playing by the sea and decides to keep it. He calls it Ponyo. He carries it around everywhere with him in a bucket, including back to the seafront where they become seperated. Ponyo tries to find Sosuke again, and brings with her a Tsunami...
It's a very endearingly childish, simple and engaging film. I really don't want to give too much away here, and I've described the story as simply as I can so as not to ruin any of the details of the film, because I would recommend every single one of you to go and see it when it comes out. It is just utterly, utterly wonderful and it PAINS me to have to return it.

The only reason I can think of that would justify the UK distributor pushing the release date back to February next year, is to stop it from clashing with 'Up', and they're trying to make sure people won't not go to see 'Ponyo' because of that. If I start going down that road tho, I'll start getting annoyed at how 'Up' was also released virtually everywhere else in the world before we got it. Grrrrrrr. Luckily only about half of the world is getting 'Where The Wild Things Are' before we get to see it. I'm counting that as a victory.

One more thing, when 'Ponyo...' does finally come out over here, if you possibly can, go and see it in Japanese with English subs. I've seen the trailer for the English language dubbed cut, and not only does the dialogue come across as pretty bad, but it also sounds like a new musical score has been written and recorded, and it sounds awful.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Paux Fas.

Today I made a pretty awkward social faux pas.
I saw someone I knew in the street. Not someone who would ever stop and talk, not in the street anyway, but someone who would say "Hi," in passing. They were quite a way up from me, on their bike. 'Okay,' I thought, 'I know how this goes. Wait til they're just about to pass and give a little wave or nod or something, they'll give a similar gesture back and all will be well with the world. I judged when would be a good moment and made my gesture, I chose a wave, and got a nod back, but shock horror! I had completely misjudged the speed at which he was riding! He was going a lot slower than I had thought which lead to more eye contact than was comfortable as I cursed myself for making such a schoolboy error. I had to look away, but then of course when they actually did pass I had to look again and give a second greeting. It was pretty embarrassing and uncomfortable.

I think this might be the worst blog post I've ever written.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

I Can't Think Of A Title For This Post.

Has it really been over two weeks since my last post? Blimey. What have I been doing?

Well, I went to Malta with Sweet Lady G, and had a wicked time. Malta is awesome. I'd never been before. It's a really attractive place, lovely buildings and the like, that has a fair few places to get some really good food. And it has deliciously clear sea water to have a lovely old swim in. I was gonna write about it properly when I got back, but I was combating some really bad sunburn that I managed to pick up, then had a weekend back at work, and this week of course I have been back at college, so no fantastic holiday write-up I'm afraid. Mostly because it'll be an unfocused dull ramble by now that'll be a bit all over the place and annoying. Instead have a look here: : where some photos and captions live. They'll give a pretty good idea of my time there.

So yeah, college starts again, and along with it all my studying anxieties and self doubt. Mmm-hmm, is there anything as attractive in a man as a heap of incurable insecurities? Part of me wonders why I'm putting myself thru this. There is another part of me tho that is convinced I will gain something from this tho, and that part is just about winning. I did spend about two-thirds of todays session feeling like I was a dog that someone was trying explain existentialism to. I know you're trying to say something to me because I can see your mouth moving, but I just don't understand what...oooh, what's that? Hmmm, aren't my legs interesting. I'm a bit itchy, think I'll have a bit of a scratch. Sorry, what was that? No, still don't understand you, sorry... and so on and so forth.

Once again, there was more I was going to write that I've forgotten now. I reckon that if you were to look at all my blog posts I've ever written, that would be the sentence that is most commonly used.

Albums that have made sweet sweet love to my ears recently:
* Various Artists - 'TUMBÉLÉ! Biguine, afro & latin sounds from the French Caribbean, 1963-74'
Another fantastic compilation from the always brilliant 'Soundway Records' label. These guys really love and care about what they're doing, and it really shows.
* Deadmau5 - 'For Lack Of A Better Name'
Someone I recommended the first Deadmau5 album to said that it was too commercial. Well, commercial or not, I like Deadmau5 a lot. Really good, unpretentious dance music. I just find it an absolute joy to listen to. And yes, there are some 'commercial' moments/tracks on there, but he does it well, and it's really nice to hear someone making commercially accessible dance music that is a) actually really good, and b) isn't using Pendulum as it's benchmark.
* Fuck Buttons - 'Tarot Sport'
More of that noise meets beats awesomeness from the Fuck Buttons boys. They've got a few more toys to play with this time round too.
* Anti-Pop Consortium - 'Fluorescent Black'
The lords of underground hip-hop are back with a fucking great album. Equal amounts of bounce and brains, all done in that trademark Anti-Pop style. Glorious. It's great to have them back.
* Part Chimp - 'Thriller'
PART CHIMP MAKE LOUD NOISE ROCK THAT IS VERY GOOD!! VERY GOOD!! That's pretty much all you can say about them after they've beaten your brain into submission. I mean, you submit to them within about 30 seconds of course, but they just go ahead and beat your brain anyway BECAUSE THAT'S THE KIND OF GUYS THEY ARE AND FUCK ME, I LOVE THEM FOR IT!!
* (The first 11 tracks of) Jay-Z - 'The Blueprint 3'
For 11 tracks this was my favourite album of the year. Then came the last 4 and ruined it. It is worth getting for those first 11 tracks tho. They're incredible. Just pretend tracks 12-15 don't exist, that's all, then you'll be happy.

Right. That's it for now. See you soon. Love you, bye!