The Freshers Fayre.

29 September 2007

My first, most important point is a thank you.
Thank you, Callum.
Thank you, Matt.

Without you guys, we wouldn't have been able to make things happen.

Hey man, don't you realize in order for us to make this thing work, man
We've got to get rid of the pimps, and the pushers, and the prostitutes and then start all over again clean?

Well no, but that quote sprung to mind when I was thinking about how to phrase this next bit:
It seems some of my friends and contacts don't realize that in order for us to make this thing work, we need them. We need you guys to believe.
I'm sure we all have our doubts from time to time, but it seems that I have to prove at every corner that I can do what I say I'm going to.

I'm not expecting it to go away and a little doubt is certainly a good countermeasure against complacancy. Some of you may be aware that my father organised a massive falconry festival, encompassing thirty seven nations and bringing together thousands of years of falconry history. When he was planning this, even some of his own staff doubted him. They seemed amazed that it actually happened.

I had no doubt it would happen, although I was curious as to how successful it would be. I'm guessing that I'm going to have to deal with this idea that no matter how many projects we discuss, brainstorm, plan and execute, there will always be people who doubt us.

How many of YOU have your own projects? How many of YOU have come up with an idea and then actually done something about it?

I'm not trying to suggest that the things I try and do are effortless or easy, if they were then it wouldn't be fun. What I'm trying to say is that if you're going to try and hedge your bets all the time, please don't. I'm not a politician, I try and not make promises I'm not willing to try to keep. To use a rather crude expression - either shit or get off the pot.

Anyone amongst you who is under the impression that I just talk about things, hear this - I talk about my ideas for projects because it helps me visualise them. To explain them to someone else forces me to sort through the concepts in my mind and try and martial them into a sensible structure that can then be vocalised. The other person doesn't need to actively listen, but I cannot talk to myself. I need sounding boards.
If you can contribute your ideas, chances are I'll listen. I may not agree, but hearing another take on the matter can be very useful.

Changing tack, the Freshers Fayre went swimmingly. We've pages and pages of sign-ups, I've processed three of those pages, only another seven or so to go. Flyers were handed out, ideas pitched, events discussed, alliances forged.

On our documentation, I'm President of the NSS now. Or Chairman, or tyrant, dictator-for-life and so on and so forth.

Our DVD is nearly finished, we need to film some stuff as an intro for it, but otherwise shooting is done, much of the editing is still to do, but the toughest bits are arguably done. Hoodies are to be sorted out tomorrow. It's all full steam ahead for the start of the academic year.

Loads of things we wanted to put on the DVD have been cut, but nevermind. Plenty to put on the show!

If you have a laptop with a DVD burner, or are at Napier and can donate some time to helping us out at the Freshers' Fayre, we'd be most grateful.
Perhaps some of this should go on the NSS bebo, but I'll see about updating that one in the near future.

I'm not that much of a music fan. I like music, certainly. I like a lot of music, my tastes are broader than most people mistakenly assume.
Earlier a friend of mine was discussing Offspring albums, which made me consider that perhaps today I should try and compile a list of albums that I like every song on (excluding intros, outros and skits). The list has a vague order, but mostly it's just vaguely which I prefer.

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication
An album I first listened to back when I was in second form, I believe, but I'm not certain. The release date makes it feasible, but I can't clearly remember. I definitely remember Sennett listening to it when I was in third form. I like every song on it and it was one of the small losses I incurred when I shared a room with Simon Parry. His apparent love of the chilis irritated me to the point where I simply did not feel inclined to listen to them. I've not really listened to anything before this album or after this album. I prefer to keep it as a time capsule of that time before we had the "privilege" of milling around the campus, when my evenings were more fun. They're starting to be fun again these days, but for a long time they weren't.

The Offspring - Americana
This album harks back to my early days at CCB, when I was eleven. The album was released 31 days before my twelth birthday, so I reckon it's more likely I first heard it when I was twelve. I associate it with Owen Evans, I think, but I think later Jon Wells owned a copy. These names probably mean nothing to you, but I'm writing them down whilst my memory holds. I don't think I bought a copy until second form, but it was one of my favourite albums of the time. I'm not so interested in the final track, Pay The Man, but all the rest I adore.

Dr. Dre - 2001
I bought this album at the same time as a couple of Eminem albums (The Slimshady LP and The Marshal Mathers LP). The eminem albums I like, but they didn't make the list. This album though.. I still love this album. I have no silly aspirations to be a "gangsta" or anything like that, but I still appreciate this album. I remember listening to it in, uh, fourth form? I was in School House at the time, before it was done up and made to be quite as fancy as it ended up being. Back when the only door to the changing room was in full view of the main entrance to the house (Smart idea there..). I forget the name of the sixth former I randomly quoted a line at, although the names "Matt" and "Dan" spring to mind, one of those. Some rugby lad, one from the year group I never liked. I've still no idea why I did that, not that it had any consequences, he just said words to the effect of "WTF?".

Infected Mushroom - IM the Supervisor
I think I was in upper sixth when I acquired this album. I was in Stockholm at the time, spending a week with a friend of my mother, a teacher who is, for all intents and purposes, my aunt. I spent a bit of time in the city and a bit of time in her school (it was half-term for me, but not for the kids there). I didn't take any classes there, but I did wander around the school a little, which was interesting (I believe my oldest sister went to this school). I'm not tall by Swedish standards, I'm average. Of course, here in the UK, I seem to be taller than lots of people. More importantly, I found that Stockholm is where I feel at home. It feels more like home than anywhere else I've ever known. While I was there I was in a music shop in a fairly large mall. One of the sets of headphones in the store was hooked up to this album and I had a bit of a listen and loved it. A few days later I came back and bought it. Never regretted it, although the tracks remind me of loneliness, albeit not in a way that is all bad. Hatty also loves Infected Mushroom, particularly their track Dancing With Kadafi.

Jack Johnson - In Between Dreams
Towards the end of my time at CCB, one of my best friends, Tom, nabbed the disc from the newspaper the boarding house would get each day. I think the disc was The Times' "The Month". On there was an article and some music by Jack Johnson. Within days he'd bought the album. I quickly grabbed a copy of the tracks and listened to them. I remember eating white chocolate chip cookies and listening to "Banana Pancakes" on a lazy afternoon. More recently I got hold of the album on vinyl. Nice.

M.O.P. - Warriorz
This album took me a while to really listen to. I think I ripped a copy in fourth form, way back. I borrowed it along with a load of other CDs from Rob Dennis, I seem to recall. A Tribe Called Quest was also in that stack of discs, but I don't adore their album enough for it to make it onto this list. Almost though. I'm not really sure when I properly listened to it. Originally I liked "Anti-up" most, but as I listened to the album properly I came to love every track.

Blink-182 - Enema of the State
ANOTHER story behind this one. Yes, sorry. Stop reading if you're bored!
This album belonged to my original "best" friend (now I have too many to choose just one). Ashley Tapp. Back in the day, when I first started CCB, when we still occasionally saw each other (I've not seen him recently - every time I go down to Wales we never seem to manage to meet up for a drink). He burnt me a copy of this album and told me I'd like it. He was damn right.
I only have vague recollections of most of my time in Mongolia, although the memories are fairly vivid compared to some of my time at CCB. Over the summer when I was 13 I left school a week or two early at the end of the final term of second form. Heathrow to Moscow. Moscow to somewhere in Siberia. Siberia to Ulan Bator, capital of Mongolia. Throughout my time in Mongolia I listened to this album. Even though I've listened to it countless times, I still love it.

Jimmy Eat World - Bleed American
The version of this album I listened to was called "Jimmy Eat World", not to be confused with the 1994 album. It was renamed to "Bleed American" after the twin towers came down. That said, "Bleed American" contains a few more tracks. If you click the link you'll see, but all the tracks after 10 weren't on the version I got my hands on. Anyway! I was staying in Northumberland over the summer and back then we had staff staying there with us. One of the guys had a copy of this album and I borrowed it one afternoon. Good move, because it turned out to be one of my favourite albums of all time.

Panic! At the Disco - A Fever You Can't Sweat Out
This album probably ranks as the most recent in my personal history. I was talking to Hatty on MSN one evening and she sent me "Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off". I can't say I've heard many songs that I liked so much, so quickly. She probably dislikes it by now, but I still adore this song. Later I got hold of the whole album and found that it was one of those albums that I adore. I recall listening to it on my PSP in GaZ's living room in Bangor, damn it was cold there.

I don't know how many of you have counted, but that's only nine albums. There's one more that doesn't fit on the list like the others, because it isn't by a big name band. I'm not even sure if it counts as an album, as it's mostly just a demo tape with five tracks on it.

Section8 - Right Here Now

This album was put together when I was in first form in CCB. It was sold by members of the band and I got my copy from Jochen himself, I think I paid three quid for it. The original tape was black, but I made a copy. The original escaped, sadly. One of my classmates, Gabrielle Walker, had a stereo in our common room in second form. I left the tape in there one day and she took the stereo up to the girls' dorm in Alway. Upon asking for it back she had a look and couldn't find it anywhere. Either that or she never looked. Unless she reads this, I doubt I'll ever know.

I lamented my loss of the tape for a long time. I asked around CCB but no one else had a copy it seems. Then, this year I think it was, I was poking around my room in Wales and found the copy I made! Woop! Whacking it into the tape deck I recorded it to my laptop and carefully labelled each song. I hope I never lose it again. I still have the original album artwork though and had scanned it some time before, click the link to see it.

..and that's the end of the list. It's nearly half four in the morning, my head hurts and I need sleep, but damnit if I was going to leave this list half-finished.

Who makes you feel vulnerable?

14 September 2007

Whilst waiting for "Death Sentence" to get to the fun parts in the cinema this evening, I was having a little think, as I always do. Far too damn often.

I wondered - who makes you feel truly vulnerable?

Perhaps for some of you it's everyone, or nearly everyone. Others maybe don't feel emotionally vulnerable around anyone. I don't feel emotionally vulnerable very often. I do my very best to choose to surround myself with people I can trust, who I can relax around. Low blood sugar aside, it's rare that they make me feel insecure or like they could hurt me.

I can only think of a very tiny minority of people who make me feel unsteady and insecure, but I try hard to make sure that those that do, do so because of good reasons, rather than because I fear them.

Certainly, some people make me a bit nervous, but at the end of the proverbial day, I don't feel vulnerable, just a tad edgy. I find it irritating when things make me nervous, especially when my mind is relaxed but my body is getting all shakey.

That's your lot for today.
I hope you didn't think I'd name names. Silly rabbit.

Being geekily-inclined, I'll occasionally blog about video games. It says in the title though, so if you're still reading, it's your own damn fault if you get bored.

Chris and I recently finished playing through RE4 for the Wii, well, that suggests we were both at the controls, which wasn't the case. It was more a case of him playing whilst I sat in the background occasionally giving advice, but mostly just adding colour commentary.

You see, as dark and creepy as RE games are supposed to be, it's difficult to be on edge when your mates are constantly taking the piss out of in-game characters, inconsistencies and the sheer silliness of some situations.

We didn't want too much of a challenge, so the whole game was completed on easy mode. Admittedly, until right at the end, it was ludicrously easy. The amount of ammo we had for our three to four weapons was at times measured in triple figures, despite the fact that the game didn't seem to want to allow us to buy ammo from our merchant.. uh.. friend.

This merchant is seen wearing a trench coat with a hood as well as a scarf:

He seems to either be the victim of a cloning experiment, or be ridiculously fast, as he shows up throughout the game in unlikely places carrying enough weapons to arm a small battalion.

He was instantly given the name "Comrade Rapist", partly due to the way he whips open his coat saying "WELCOME!" and the fact that he never learnt our character's name, even at the end of the damn game. There's something about a guy with an unplaceable accent (a combination of English, American, Australian and possibly Russian) wearing a long coat who refers to you as "stranger" and chuckles..

Boss enemies included a pair of middle-aged women brandishing chainsaws, a giant thing that looked a lot like Golem and a high priest wearing a goat mask, armed with a pair of miniguns in an anti-aircraft setup.. ..indoors.

The only enemies that gave us the slightest problems were things called "regenerators" and their even more vicious brethren (or possibly sistren..) in the shape of the rather prickly "iron maidens"

To kill them you need some sort of special thermal scope for the rifle. We never found the scope, so we first dodged and then discovered that our ludicrously over-powered pistol could kill the fuckers anyway.

You're supposed to aim for their hidden parasites using the scope. We did what we do best - blast indiscriminately!
It would seem that those two are possibly the only zombie-like creatures ever to roam the Earth that are, in fact, shotgun-proof. Bastards.

Towards the end of the game it did get to the point where we sighed and said "COME ON! IS THERE ANYTHING LEFT TO KILL?!". Perhaps it dragged on a tad too long? Or maybe we're impatient.

We'd run out of shotgun upgrades by that point though, so there was little more to strive for. When you've got a shotgun doing 28 damage per shell and with a capacity of 18 or so shells, neither zombie or mutants stand in your way.

When we finally did finish the game and I had a chat with a friend of ours.. Well.. apparently our kill count of over 800 was a bit, uh, OTT?
He'd killed in the region of 160 to finish it.
I don't know about him, but Chris and I are of the school of thought that dictates that if they're still shambling towards you, keep firing until they don't. Doctor Remington's Cure-all, if you will.


Smokin' Aces in HD.

09 September 2007

How many of you saw Smokin' Aces in the cinema?
If you did, I hope you enjoyed a fast-paced, constantly accelerating, insanity fest. I did. I actually sat there open-mouthed for much of the film.

As you might imagine, I wanted to see it again and I've been too strapped for bandwidth to get a copy of it, erm, I mean, uh, it wasn't out yet..

"Putting in the disc" and taking a seat on one of our sofas, about two and a half metres from our 32" 720p HDTV*.

Then it all went a bit slowly for a bit until the film got up to speed, about twenty minutes in, give or take.

The hitmen are introduced, Soot, no problem. But then Pasqual Acosta.. Cold killer dude. Very much shortened torture sequence for his introduction. Well, not to worry..

The Tremors wrestled with each other, as per in the cinema and one of these insane, neo-nazi rednecks did his amusing "dialogue" (a monologue utilising Ben Affleck's corpse as a second person).

Minor cuts here and there, but nothing too drastic. But then.. But then..
The major point of the film, once all the foxes are in the henhouse and it's all about to go, erm, for want of a better term "off the hook".


It was attacked by some sensitive flower-child with an editing suite!
The Tremors barely did any damage at all! Sharice's rifle rounds did half the damage of in the cinema!

So, what was somewhere in the region of ten to twenty minutes long last time was around five to ten this time. What the hell, man?!

What was an ace action-flick in the cinema was reduced to a 65% review scoring piece of generic bullshit. Guess I should see about getting a "screener" copy instead. Maybe they'll have left the good bits in.

(*Yes, it sounds like I'm bragging, which of course I am, but that's not why I mention it. I mention it because there's also 1080p TVs which show even more detail, standard def content looks like shit on them. My copy of Smokin' Aces was a proper 720p copy. It looked amazing at a distance of one metre. Sitting on the sofa I could see no difference between it and a DVD. None.)

How many people feel like they're not really in control of their lives?
Or that they only have a small degree of control?

How many people are running from what they see as their problems?

Thinking about this, apparently lots of people just chug along through their lives, doing what they think they're supposed to be doing, reacting as things happen, events develop.

Perhaps that's not true.
Gods, I hope not. How godsdamn* depressing would that be?

It's been a long time since I've not felt in control of my life, the events that happen to me and the path I choose. Certainly, I have no control over the smaller events, whether a friend is busy and cannot come for a drink, for example. But other things I can control. It's my life and I live it as best I can.

Our lives are what we make of them. Don't like how yours is going? Take a step back for a moment - chances are, you can change it. The only thing stopping you are the invisible walls in your head.

(* a note for Lydia - :P - I will defame the name of as many gods as I see fit, considering I don't believe in any, it would follow that for me anything vaguely religious that I use as a curse is just words. Words without meaning, other than to express the sentiment in mind. If you choose to believe, that is your choice and I applaud your faith, I have none. I wish I could believe the endlessly translated stories of ancient men and see them as the work of some higher power, but to me they appear as just a set of sensible rules for the times in which they were written, wrapped in a story. A spoon full of sugar, so to speak. How better to have influence over people? Once you have their hearts, their popular support will follow. One day I hope your merciful, loving god convinces me that we're on this lonely rock for a good reason and that there is paradise once we die, but until then.. Well, I suppose it's a good way to stop people losing their minds. Mortality is a bitch like that.)

Little things.

08 September 2007

I was having a chat on MSN with a friend of mine. We have a lot in common and he often finds that we're very, very similar. Worryingly so, hehe.

One thing we noticed we have in common is our dislike of making small decisions. Big decisions, no problem. What kind of sandwich should I have for lunch? Erm..

This lead me onto something I recall coming up many times before - my dislike of choosing music. I don't mind choosing it for myself that much, as long as I have a shuffle function to hand. However, if I'm playing music for other people, there's so many factors to take into account and I am paralysed.

I recall this coming up when I was hanging with Rachel.
We were sitting on my sofa idly watching music channels and I ended up having to choose. I really cannot say how much I hate doing that.
Music preference, in my mind, doesn't often correlate with lots of things I can analyse. Therefore, knowing what someone else might like or dislike is very difficult for me to know without memorising it.

Even with close friends who I'm not trying to impress, I struggle to choose music.

It's one of the few things I feel bad about, with regards to my short time with Rachel. What's worse is that I don't know what I could have done differently. I'm just me and that's all I can be, just me.