Sunday, 25 December 2011

The Goodness Of Chocolate

Chocolate...

A delicacy of countless combinations.  Instantly satisfying in the short term and inevitably sickness inducing if consumed in high quantities. A pleaser of all sweet tooths in the world.  A mythical calmer of women at certain times of the month and a fattener of all people.

I am a milk chocolate fan.  It is sweet, creamy and just divine.  Dark chocolate on the other hand is evil.  Bitter and unpleasant, I am convinced they make it for old people, whose taste buds have long died and to cater for their slow speeds at pillaging the chocolate tins at Christmas.

Yet there seems to be a great debate as to what chocolate is the best.  I am not here to profess to know.  I am a man and therefore automatically do not qualify to be master of all things chocolatey.  However, I do want to share these insights about chocolate.

Buying tins of Roses or Quality Street makes you look old.  Celebrations or Cadbury's Heroes are the tins of the youthful generation. Granted, the Bounty bars and Bournevilles get left behind but then think how many get left behind in Roses or Quality Street.  Everyone goes after the purple ones, in both tins!  One they have been ransacked, it is a slow slog through the remaining options.

Then there are the chocolate bars you can get.  Yorkies make you a sexist.  Galaxy bars make you think you can shop at Marks & Spencers, when in all likelihood you still shop at ASDA.  Malteasers are for who kid themselves that they can lose weight whilst eating chocolate.  I could go on and on but we all know, I am kidding.  The kind of chocolate you eat says very little about because so many of us love it.

Chocolate is a wonderful thing.  It is a great get out present.  You buy someone chocolate and they never think "Oh they've put no thought into this."  They are instantly grateful.  You can share chocolate around and it will keep a family in one room, chatting for ages as they wait for the tin to be passed to us.  It can be a prize in a game or the snack in a great party.  Chocolate is the great unifier, the one thing that everyone wants but that no one will go to war about.  Chocolate tins, chocolate bars, hot chocolate and chocolate milk... we salute the joy you bring, the satisfaction you give and we forgive you for making us feel sick when we eat too much.  You are wonderful.

Now if you could emancipate your evil twin, dark chocolate, that would be great...

Sunday, 18 December 2011

The Referral System

The Referral System is when someone turns to you and says "Why don't you ask XYZ out?"  Why someone feels the urge to chip in and try to aid your dating life, I don't know. It is the side of life that is the least codified and rightly so. It should be magical, not scientific or based on a law of averages. And you can almost guarantee that the match maker is taken already (if not, they really should be sorting themselves out, not someone else). So this must be them trying to cling on to the whole thrill of the chase thing. The idiots have forgotten how crappy single life can be, especially when someone takes it on themselves to matchmake you!

Matchmaking is wrong. Despite what people think their motivations are, it ultimately comes down to the idea that you know what is better for someone than they do. Ever remember how you used to get annoyed by such suggestions by your parents? Yet that doesn't stop people doing it and they always seem to think they are right, when they're not!

So one of your friends makes a suggestion of this person they think would be good for you. Fine. Nothing wrong with a harmless suggestion. With Facebook ready to provide a profile pic in an instant, you get to make a quick assessment of whether that person is your type. 9 times out of 10, that person isn't your type. Why? Because if the person is being referred, that usually means they can't get someone themselves. If they could, why is someone touting them about? (If they do have a good answer to that, it will be a lie).

Then you turn down the option, because unless you think very little of yourself, you can do your own dirty work. It doesn't matter how much diplomacy you do it with, it will go from a matchmaking exchange to a "what's wrong with you" examination. Suddenly, you're too picky, too concerned with looks, unwilling to give someone a chance. This is why you're single. In fact, they imagine you're miserable and accuse you of having this non-existent emotion because you didn't immediately jump at their suggestion. Why? Because you have told them something that they should have known anyway. That they don't know you as well as they think.

It's an even bigger kick in the teeth when you're actually attracted to the person making the referral. That means your chances with them went from a "no" to "oh hell no!" So in the entire process of The Referral System, one person feels belittled, judged and rejected. The other person, well, they feel like they have been disrespected and had their judgement questioned. The only difference is the person giving the referral should feel like crap!

So the next time you think "He should ask her out"... DON'T DO IT!

Friday, 2 December 2011

The Wish List

My mobile phone is old, I mean Pyramids of Egypt old.  6 years old to be precise.  Bought for decent sum of £99, it has been in my pocket most of 2000 plus days I have owned it.  It is now on the way out.  The ear piece speaker is dying, so hearing phone calls isn't that easy unless the person is on speaker.  The internet connection is sluggish as websites get bigger and slicker.  The battery is broke from being dropped too many times and is now attached by a piece of Sellotape.  So I decided to go into a mobile phone shop and buy a new one.  I got in there, glanced over all the options available and came to realise that I didn't want any of them.  I was happy with my phone.  It texts fine, I only check the internet for football scores, the alarm and clock work fine on it and it even presents a convenient excuse to discontinue calls ("Sorry, I can't hear you..."). I don't want a new phone.

I had a similar dilemma when looking to buy a games console.  Should I get a PS3 or a Xbox 360?  The answer was neither because I didn't want them.  They brought me no joy or satisfaction, just a distraction.  It left me asking myself what do I really want.  After all, the timing of this contemplation landing in the festive period (which appears to get earlier every year) made it all the more poignant.  So this is my Wish List:-

  • An apology.
It sounds a daft thing to ask for but people are not quick to apologise to me.  The last person who was, well, I fell in love with her.  Not because of the apology I might add but the fact that she had no issue saying "Sorry" when she realised she was wrong was an amazing and rare quality.  We don't do that.  We have to be right and we'd rather run ourselves to ruin before making the concession of an apology.  I am no saint.  I need people to apologise to be able to let go of the antagonism I hold towards them.  People tell me to let it go but that makes me feel worse.  I don't feel unburdened doing that, I feel weak and pathetic.  So someone who just says "I was wrong and I'm sorry" and means it would be great.

  • A listening ear.
Too many people think a listening ear is their heroic opportunity to solve the problems of the world.  That is fine if you are willing but 9 times out of 10, you're not willing and sometimes you're not able either.  I have had concerns, doubts and issues that I have wanted to share on numerous occasions.  Yet that has diminished rapidly because such things have been dismissed for whatever arbitrary reason.  My opinions are never irrational.  I can explain the root for every single one of them and if someone is willing to listen to what I believe and why, then that is all I ask.  If they want to tell me that I am wrong and it because of sound arguments I have not considered, then that is fine.  However, to just not listen because engaging with what I'm saying would incur a great burden, in spite of its potential necessity is soul destroying.  If the ear won't listen, there is no point for the mouth to speak.

  • Thinking before speaking.
People are quick to judge or crack a joke.  I am a man who likes to laugh.  I am not a man who enjoys wind ups, banter or taking the mick, contrary to what some believe.  I use them as verbal weapons to get people to back off when they use them on me.  People who don't wind me up get reflected treatment from me.  Yet there are some who have branded me as such and think they can openly poke fun at me.  It is not true.  One time, when hosting a large event, during which I was not well and drugged up on aspirin, I introduced the keynote speaker of the evening.  I did it in a manner that was taught to me and I did it to the best of my ability.  The speaker got up and cracked a joke at my expense.  It hadn't been the first time he had done it and having near enough a thousand of my peers laugh at me, well, it compounded how awful I felt.  If I had had any energy in my legs, I'd have walked off the stage but I was so ill, I would have only collapsed and made a bigger scene of myself.  So someone with eloquence to know how to say things and the intelligence to not say them would be great.

  • Simplicity.
You know, it is the simple things in life that make us happy.  Seeing my little niece smile and laugh makes me happy.  Hugging someone I care about and feeling them hug me back makes me happy.  A good old fashioned simple meal makes me happy.  Complexity doesn't make me happy.  "I've got issues" is a line that doesn't make me happy.  Telling me I have to do more work for the same pay as someone who does less work doesn't make me happy.  Having a laugh with my friends makes me happy because it is simple.  Those who crave the complex, desire nothing but depression.

  • A rational explanation.
Last on my wish list, it is a bigger ask than you think.  Let me give you an example.  I take some time off work and people ask "Where are you going for your holiday?" and I answer "To bed."  They then ask me why I am not travelling away to some far flung clime to enjoy sunny weather, vast sights or a new adventure. When I answer "They don't interest me, it costs too much and I come back more tired than when I left" they look at me like I am crazy.  When I ask them the same and they say "Oh I am off to Turkey for a week", I don't question how they want to use their holiday time.  I just go "Oh that's nice."  I assume that their reason for travelling there is that they want to go there.  They need no better reason than that.  So why can't I use the reason "There is nowhere I want to go"?  The reason they give is... "You're weird."  Of course, because I don't want to do what they want, that must be bonkers, even though I view holiday time as rest time and I do that best in my own bed.  I'd just like the arguments of "It just is", "Because!" and "You're weird" to be taken away and replaced with rational explanations.  Surprisingly, very few people can manage this.

That is my Wish List.  I won't get it, no matter if I am naughty or nice.  Asking people to put their brains in gear, their pride to one side, throw their issues out of the window and make some sense is just unrealistic.  Dreams do come true but wishes rarely do.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Blog Time Challenge - Fatty


Issued by Ruth Watson.  What can Sparks come up with in one hour?

Fat people.  The oft persecuted and ridiculed section of society.  Let me chip in on this... mmmmm chips.  If you look on a pie chart of how many fat people there are in the UK, most of them will eat it.  Chubby checkers around the nation should slim down.  They are a massive burden on the NHS, primarily on the stretchers and the paramedics who have to lift them into the ambulance.

No I'm just teasing.  Fat is being demonised as the evil of our world.  Last time I checked, it wasn't a Big Mac that bombed London or slaughtered protesters in Libya.  You look at the evil people of the world and they aren't fatties, are they?  Hitler, thin.  Stalin, in pretty good shape.  Ghengis Khan... I assume that there wasn't an ounce of fat on him with all the fighting.  Point is, fat dictators and terrorists are in short supply.  There is an argument that is because they could be easily caught but I'd like to think that we can eliminate the notion that fat is instantly wicked.

Fat makes food taste good.  I hear about people who live on rabbit food and sushi all day long to keep in prime physical condition.  For what?  So you look good?  How much of your day do you spend looking in a mirror?!  I'd venture too long.  Get over yourself.  If it is just looks you have to offer, then Google Image Search has more to offer the world than you ever will.  Unless you're Christina Hendricks.... mmmmm Christina Hendricks (even better than chips).

Maybe you want a healthy lifestyle and that is why you hate fat.  Yeah you want to live long for what exactly?  The joys of having to start wearing nappies again?  Trying to see how exciting daytime TV is?  See how long it takes to wear out the phrase "It's not like the good old days"?  We all want to live longer but I don't know why.  Our best years are not found in retirement.  The days of retirement are just a race to see who dies first and contrary to popular belief, you do not want to be last man standing.  Sure you attend more parties but they tend to be a wake and not a rave.

Or maybe you just don't want to be picked on.  You know, fat people may not be good in a sprint but they tend to be decent in a fight.  Why?  Because they bring bulk to that particular party.  Let me shatter the delusions of those who think they are great in a fight.  You are not Jason Bourne.  You do not know kung fu and even if you do, fat people can take the blows better than most.  However, Kingpin from the Marvel Comics was a fatty and he could mix it with superheroes.  Don't pick a fight with a chubster.  They can hand out beat downs like you can't imagine.

Sure, no one wants to be fat.  There is a better and easier life in being skinny and we shouldn't accept people becoming morbidly obese.  People should be responsible enough to know when the scales are no longer telling the person their weight but the number of weeks they are going to live.  Yet we find it all too easy to make a villain out of the fat guy.  As long as people are happy and not being a burden on the world around them, let them eat and have a bit of chunk on them.

Until science figures out a way to make us all thin and beautiful.  Then we'll all look good!  The difference is that the fat people will feel great and the skinny, beautiful people will feel ordinary, boring, even insignificant and that will be the real change.  Fat may kill people slowly but it kills personalities quickly.  Fat people all too often worry about what people think about them and then slip into a self-imposed depression, that is destructive and defining throughout their chubby days.  Fat is the not the enemy of society.  It is the enemy of self worth, of confidence, of self belief, of everything good in a person because it is trapped under layers of superficial judgement and paranoia.

So fat people of the nation, shed those pounds and become beautiful.  Those skinny, beautiful people won't know what hit them and the world will be your oyster... mmmmm oysters.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

21 Problems With Christmas


Scrooge. Humbug. These are titles I get around the festive season. The fact is I am grumpy and cynical most of the time but even the insults I get because of this consistent state still manage to get a Christmas twist. Yet this craving to make everything relate to Christmas is not one of the major problems with Christmas.  However, these are the 21 major problems associated with this time of year.

1. Coca-Cola get to announce when Christmas has started. Everyone looks out for the lorry advert, with the jingle "Holidays are coming! Holidays are coming!" Who put them in charge? They are starting Christmas earlier and earlier because of that advert. It is rapidly becoming 2 months build up, hype and preparation for what is now only a day of an event.

2. Gift vouchers. The ideal Christmas present or at least, that is how they are marketed. I would list them as one of the more insulting presents. I mean why give me one of those £10 notes, produced by the Royal Mint and able to be used in any shop, when you can give me a plastic card worth the same value but only in one shop. Why do you feel the need to dictate where to spend the money you are giving me? Do you think I'm a junkie and was going to spend it on my drug habit? If that's the case, then instead of giving me the money to buy some, you have given me a handy card to cut my next line of cocaine!

3. Charades... Worst. Game. Ever. I dare you to film yourself playing the game. Watch it back and you will institutionalise yourself and then pray that it never shows up on Youtube.

4. Sometimes the message a present sends doesn't evoke a "thank you" but more a degradation of self esteem. Like the Christmas a lot of people get you aftershave/perfume. You can be grateful or you can think "OK does everyone think that I smell bad?"

5. There is a good reason why we don't eat turkey for the rest of the year. It is one of the most bland meats we could ever have. This is not me being humane and pleading for the lives of turkeys. Frankly they are ugly looking creatures and only increase in worth when dead. Yet we go to extraordinary lengths to make it taste better and it never works.

6. The Christmas No.1. People have competed for the Christmas No.1 slot like rabid dogs in a cage. Yet I can't see why. Christmas No.1 is not a prestigious title. You look back at the songs that have occupied top spot in the Singles Chart at that time for the past 20 years and you'll find 3, maybe 4 good songs. Ironically, the best ones are not even Christmassy!

7. And then there is the songs that get wheeled out every year. They are meant to make you feel all warm and fuzzy. I prefer to see the true meaning of those songs. Like Mariah Carey singing "All I Want For Christmas Is You" is clearly about whichever rapper she hasn't slept with yet. "Last Christmas" George Michael gave you his heart and considering the amount of cocaine he does, that is a present that is beyond pre-owned! And of course, Wizzard wished it could be Christmas everyday... so they could actually make some more pennies on their one hit wonder.

8. "Glooooooooooooooooooooooooooria, in Excelsis Deo". Hymn or not, that's lazy lyric writing.

9. Christmas comes with some plant problems too. Mistletoe may be considered romantic. Then you realise the ugly, creepy people linger near it until someone they find attractive (namely anyone with a pulse) walks underneath it and then they swoop. They then cite the legal precedent of the Christmas Act 1AD that two people under the mistletoe must kiss. Somehow I don't think the spirit of Christmas is to offer a jovial method of sexual assault.

10. The Christmas tree. Build this massive ornament that will stay standing for 2 - 3 weeks, decorate it as camp as possible, let it generally get in the way and then take it down again. You wouldn't decorate your bedroom to a different theme every few weeks. If you do, you need a life, not decoration design plans.

11. A Christmas Carol. Scrooge always appears to be over 70 years old but changes his ways ultimately because of the threat of death. What? Did he think he was immortal? Does he think that if he helps Tiny Tim and his family that suddenly he will be granted an extra 30 years of life? Personally I wouldn't have been around the Cratchits, I would have been planning how to party the last part of my life away, since the last Ghost told me I was about to kick the bucket.

12. Carollers who knock on your door and sing for you. In a world with radio, Youtube and iTunes, at what point do you think I want songs door to door? We hate getting double glazing, driveways and religion being offered at our doors. If carolling was enjoyable, that double glazing salesman would sing his sales pitch next time.

13. TV Specials. Now there is nothing wrong with doing a Christmas Special of a show if it is good. TV has seen some of its best moments in a Christmas special. However, it also shows how TV clings on to its old tricks because it doesn't have many new ones. Old classic shows are shown again or are rehashed. Just to prove the point, the UK TV show "Heartbeat" has had 18 Christmas shows, yet it started in the 60's and never left that decade in it's setting at any time.

14. Christmas movies. Everyone has their opinion and it tends to hover somewhere between "It's A Wonderful Life" and "The Great Escape". Let me end this debate right now. The best Christmas movie ever is "Die Hard". The coming together of an estranged husband and wife during Christmas Eve and it is done over guns, blood, explosions and Alan Rickman delivering tour de force villain performance. What is not to like?

15. Christmas cards are sent around by the truckload. Why? Christmas isn't like Easter, which bounces around the calendar. It has been the agreed 25th December for long enough now for everyone to have figured it out. We don't need notification from 30 friends that Christmas is here!

16. The Office Christmas Party. The party itself is not bad. Office parties come with their own multitude of sins, whether they be amusing or depraved. Yet it the fact that all of management show up. That is like holding a house party and then inviting your parents!

17. Charity collectors, using Christmas as the reason to collect. It makes me want to ask "So I don't need to listen to your begging from January from November?"

18. There are some streets that have a few lights to accentuate the Christmas feel. Then there are some streets that decide that they should become the new Las Vegas! When your house is lit up so well that it can be seen from space, you have gone too far!

19. The Queen's Speech. No one cares.

20. Reliving the last 15 Christmases. The reality is that very little interesting happens on Christmas Day because the world has ground to a halt. Basically it is a conversation held by people who are 50 or over and it drains the life out of you as you listen. The only thing that is more worrying is that eventually, you will become like them.

21. And finally, there is always one person who thinks that you have to get up at stupid o'clock on Christmas Day to open your presents. There is no good reason to wake up at 5am. We are not going down the mines.  Santa Claus will not come back for the goodies he left. It is a holiday. It is a day of rest. So for crying out loud, let me sleep!

Other than that, joy to the world and Merry Christmas.

Monday, 14 November 2011

The Respect Of No

I have had numerous conversations about dating in my time and it amazes me at how little people understand human nature and emotions when it comes to this topic.  I find myself talking to a lot of girls about this who openly admit that they say yes to almost anyone who asks for a date.  Now, they may say yes for the sole legitimate reason, that being that they like the person asking and want to see if there is anything more there.  Yet some say that they say yes because the person was brave enough to ask.  Others say they don't want to say no and hurt someone's feelings.  A small group give me the utterly moronic answer of "well, you never know."  I want to address this because it is time we exposed this mindless compliance to always saying yes to a date as the plain stupidity that it is.

If you are going out with someone because they are brave enough to ask, you are actually disrespecting his bravery by saying yes.  You think it is fragile.  You think he is fragile.  Never mind the inflated opinion of yourself that if you say no, his world will crumble and he'll never ask anyone else out ever again.  Get over yourself!  He will be gutted and so he should be.  If he asked you out, it is because he likes you.  If he wasn't gutted about you declining the offer, you were instantly expendable.  Do you want to date someone like that?  No, take it as a bullet dodged.  The point is that you think it will break his heart.  Climb down your imaginary tower and show him a bit of respect.  This relationship is already a dead end deal if it is starting with deceit, no matter how well intentioned.

The fact is that you think you are being nice, when you are actually being ruder by just saying yes, rather than telling the truth from the off.  If you politely turn them down, you are not only telling them you are not interested but that you think they are big enough to take it.  You know, you think they are an adult who has had their share of ups and downs.  The kind of person who can take the knocks and deal with life.  Those who just say yes will have not thought that deeply about it or just not thought at all.  They don't want to hurt anyone.

So what do they do?  They go on one date with this person, with little to no intention of there ever being date two.  Contemplate this.  You say no to a date and what does the guy think?  I'm not her type?  That is a fact of life we can all accept because attraction is not a choice.  Now you say yes to one date and then no to the second date.  What does the guy think now?  Does he think "Well, she gave me a chance"?  Or does he think "Well, she got to spend some time with me one-to-one and now she isn't interested"?  If the guy thinks the first one, he would have taken the answer "no" in his stride.  If the guy thinks the second one, he has gone from hopeful before the date to thinking that there is something wrong with him after the date.  Both situations could have been avoided with a little honesty.

The unwillingness to say no also shows little respect to the very concept of dating.  You go on a date because you like the person and you want to see if there is something more there.  It is about developing a friendship into something more.  A simple concept that has been polluted by idiots.  By saying yes to everyone, it trivialises the entire process.  Dating shouldn't be simply entertainment or a distraction.  It should be more than that and don't tell me that puts too much pressure on things.  If you can't handle pressure, get yourself back into Primary School.  The rest of us grew up.

However, thinking that something will change in one date does put an inordinate amount of pressure on it.  If you go in with that mentality, it is actually unpleasantly arrogant.  It says "You have one chance to impress me."  You may not go in with this sinister mentality but there is no nice attitude behind the "one date chance" method.

One person I know said that she said yes to a date because she didn't want a confrontation (not that the guy in question was aggressive, she was just being a sissy).  So she said that she went on the date but made it clear that she wasn't interested, with her body language and lack of conversation.  I told her that she was a despicable human being, that showed him no respect.  He could have done 101 other things that night, including go out with someone who would have been interested.  She hid behind the idea that she was being nice and respectful but she was being anything but that.

If someone asks you out, be big enough to tell the truth.  Think enough of the person asking to think "They can take the truth."  Do it nicely.  Do it gently. Do it honestly.  There is plenty of respect in saying no.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Poppy


One weekend, I found myself in a park in London on the Saturday before Remembrance Sunday.  Sat on this park bench was an old man, sat there with a smile on his face and a poppy adorning his lapel.  I said hello to the old man, who also noticed the poppy on the lapel of my suit.  He thanked me for buying one and remembering him and his friends for the sacrifice they made.

I sat next to this man and asked him what he was smiling at, since I figured that this weekend would be a painful reminder of the hardships he had faced.  He pointed over at his two granddaughters and his daughter, who were taking turns throwing a ball for their dog to collect.  "This is what Remembrance Day is about" he told me.  I enquired as to what he meant.

He then taught me something that has stuck with me and I am reminded of it every Remembrance Sunday.  He said  "People think we went out there to fight for Harry, England and St. George but I didn't.  None of my friends did.  We had no illusion that we were freedom fighters.  We fought for what was important to us.  I fought for my wife, for the children we wanted and their children.  And look" he said, pointing at his family again.  "I won" he said with a triumphant smile.

He then concluded by pointing at his poppy and saying "This is a symbol that there are some things worth dying for.  And you know what those things are?"  He got up and as he headed over to his family, he answered "The things worth living every day for."

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Rationally Emotional

Emotions tend to be anything but rational.  Why though?  There is nothing wrong with having perfectly good reasons for caring about, loving or missing a person.  However, I have come to believe that a lot of people's emotions are irrational, which makes me question the validity of them.  This puts me in a minority of probably one but it makes sense to me, so I am putting it to you who is reading this.

This all stemmed from a conversation with a lady at work.  She explained how she missed her brother sometimes, even though she doesn't like him or even get on with him.  My question was "Why do you miss him then?"  The extent of her rationale was "He's my brother."  To me, blood alone is not a good enough reason.  I hear and read about people who were abused by their parents or spouse.  They then insist "but I love them."  To me, that is utter nonsense.  Someone who is consistently, even persistently mean, disrespectful or just makes me miserable is not someone I feel any positive emotional attachment to.  Yet it appears that the world subscribes to this notion that 'Love conquers all.'

There is no rhyme, reason or rationale to that notion.  None whatsoever.  It is a Hollywood-based idea that is as false as any science fiction movie or chick flick.  However, a majority of people subscribe to it.  There is no magic that you find and then overcomes any struggle.  It is made in the days, weeks, months and years of building relationships.  For example, I love my Mum.  If she took a rolling pin and gave me a daily thrashing, I wouldn't say that.  I'd want her in a cell or a coffin.  The fact is my Mum is a caring woman, who is friendly, considerate, compassion and a damn good cook.  These and many other factors mean that I love her and I try to reciprocate the things she does and the person she is by doing my best for her.

Now, let me throw a paradox into the mix.  When I am away from my Mum, I don't miss her.  People will tell me that if I love her, I will automatically miss her.  If that was true, then I'd go and see her.  I'd call her.  I'd write her a letter.  I'd do something about it but I don't.  So the reality is that I don't miss her that much, if at all. It doesn't change the fact that I love her.  There are very few people I miss.  I miss them because their company enhances how I feel about them.  Being in their very presence changes how I am, within myself and towards the person in question and as a consequence, I miss that feeling and I miss them.  That to me makes perfect sense.

When I try to explain this to people, they tell me that I don't have a heart, no feeling, no emotion.  I know that isn't the case because when they say that, it is incredibly hurtful.  It is dismissive of the fact that when I have feelings towards someone, in any shape or form, they are genuine and founded on good reason.  They are not whims.  They are not fuelled by any illogical idea that somehow I must be connected to that person.  It is a relationship built on consistency, trust and that it is reciprocal in every way.

People think that because every emotion has to come with good reason, I am a cold person.  I'm not.  I'm just cold towards people who think I am because that is how they treat me.  I am actually a very reflective person.  What I get from someone is what they tend to get in return.

The irrationality of emotion is rooted in the belief that they are such things as truly altruistic acts and there aren't.  Every act comes with a reason, a motive, some kind of an agenda.  There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is perfectly normal.  Yet people think having feelings about someone without good reason is normal too.  It's not, it's just common and doing something because everyone else is doing it is not a good reason.  Don't agree?  Ask the victims of the riots in London and then get back to me.  As for me, I'll stick with being rationally emotive about my feelings.  It not only makes sense; it feels right too.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Hate vs Hate


Martin Luther King Jr. once said "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."  It is a simple yet powerful concept.  There are those that advocate that aggressive or adversarial means are a method by which great things can be achieved.  Those who fought for independence in Libya would argue their freedom came about by the gun but I disagree.  Their liberation has come about by their unity, not the use of force.  If rumours that Gaddafi was executed in a vengeful fashion turn out to be true, it would sully and undermine the freedom effort.  It would be a shame that a genuinely just movement would then turn into a hateful moment of revenge, yet their is a swelling opinion that Gaddafi had it coming to him.  That is wrong.  We are never justified in using a hateful act to fight hatred, even if we think it is under the guise of vigilante justice.

Vigilantes fascinate me.  Their righteous hypocrisy and the reality of them achieving rapid results at the cost of inevitable escalation intrigues me.  They exist because they think nothing else will stop the evil that is before them.  Instead of eradicating the problem, they shift it to another place.  It is the moral equivalent of sweeping the dirt under a transparent rug.  It solves nothing in the long term.  Now most people see vigilantes as Hollywood stereotypes, an all action man that goes around killing bad guys indiscriminately.  Vigilantes these days take a far more subtle approach in their wars, in which they fight hate with hate.

Basically, vigilantes are those who fight fire with fire and it is more present than we care to admit.  We see someone share an opinion online and then they can endure a torrent of abuse for having an opinion.  Ridiculing rhetoric and comments that are abject and aggressive are publicly permitted, in an effort to cluster the feeling of fury at the said opinion.  One example was found in New Jersey, where a leader of a teaching union asked her members to pray for the death of the Governor, who had implemented tough but necessary financial measures on the state's educational budget.  Whether you think what Governor Chris Christie did was good or bad does not matter.  It never justifies advocating the death of the man, a democratically elected official, even in jest.  It was casual hatred, hiding under the justification of "he started it."  The fact that this was part of the teaching institution, the very organisation that helps form the minds of the next generation, fills me with dread.

Take another example in California.  The vote about Proposition 8 was heated but done in a democratic method.  No one was coerced.  No one was terrorised.  People used the freedom to vote, a right we uphold and at times shoe horn into other countries because we think it is the better way.  However, when the free and fair vote did not go the way the Gay & Lesbian community wanted.  You win some, you lose some, right?  Wrong.  The Gay & Lesbian community terrorised and attacked religious institutions around the state.  The irony of this was not lost on me.  To fight for the rights they felt they deserved, they went out it by trying to bully people and using bigotry against religion.  The fact that they had endured bullying, marginalisation and bigotry all their lives didn't seem to make them as a community, the bigger and better people.  No, they used the hatred that had been inflicted on them and start to use it on religions.  They became vigilantes against law abiding citizens, using the very weapons, the very hatred that was and is used against them.  Instead of getting what they wanted, they have gone on to polarise a nation.  All of this when simple discussion and compromise would have solved most of the problems.  The bullied have become the bullies.

Ultimately, it may be successful or not.  Yet history has taught us that diplomacy, not aggression, changes society for the better.  Martin Luther King Jr. changed the USA with positive rhetoric and non-violent methods.  He is rightly revered for his efforts because he won a great victory, not just for himself but for mankind as a whole.  Yet we still seem to struggle to realise that in a battle of hate vs hate, there are no winners except hate itself.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

We Are All Rioters

The riots in London and around the UK were horrendous.  They tore up people's streets, communities, livelihoods and sense of security.  The image of the whole scenario was youth wearing masks and hoodies, smashing up the High Street stores one by one.  Tragic and shameful as it was, the visceral visuals on display hid the hypocrisy more prevalent in our society than we'd care to admit.

This was highlighted in a conversation I had with someone while the riots were in full flow.  The person in question expressed their absolute disgust at what was happening, stating that these rioters had no respect, that they were taking what they wanted without paying and showing no regard for how people made a living.  Then, with no sense of irony whatsoever, the person in question proceeded to listen to music on their MP3 player, which I know for a fact was loaded with at least one thousand illegally downloaded songs.

The rioters were barbaric in their methods but we all do similar things, just with less smashed windows and arson attacks.  We download music using illegal methods because we think it is a victimless crime.  We justify it because we see the lavish lifestyles enjoyed by pop and rock stars and it is our little "Robin Hood" moment.  Well, actually no.  We don't think that.  We take it because it is free stuff.  One kid was asked why he was joining in with the riots and his response was "It's free stuff, I ain't missing out on that!"

We watch pirated movies and because there is no violence involved, we think it is okay.  Somehow, the increased sophistication of method over the headline-grabbing rioters makes us better than them.  Interestingly, a petition went out to the Government that offered the suggestion that anyone involved in the riots should have their benefits cut.  Hundreds of thousands of people signed it like delusional zombies, acting on the emotion of the headline rather than the rationality of the story.  If such a law was to be passed, then surely those who enjoy music and movies through illegal methods, those who buy faked goods, even people who decide to not take back that excess change they got from their latest purchase should face the same punishment.  I wonder how many of those who signed the petition would be implicated.  Suddenly it may not sound so appealing, although it would lead to a massive cut on the welfare & benefits costs of the state, so it may not be a totally bad idea.

The riots produced a debate of whether our society was morally bankrupt.  Why it was a a debate and not a simple statement of fact, I don't know.  The evidence was beyond compelling but the ambiguity was inserted by the rioters at home who turned up their noses to the savagery on screen.  We, as a "law abiding" society, masquerade as better than the yobs but the reality is we are all hypocrites.  It is just that some of us are doing it from the comfort of homes, on the sly in the middle of an exotic holiday or as we quietly walk out the store.  The uncomfortable truth is, no matter how brutal or stylish, we are all rioters.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

My Fault

It is my fault.  Didn't you know?  When we disagreed, even though I gave perfectly good reasons for my opinion.  You said I was offensive, rude, mean or disrespectful.  You told me that in a manner that was offensive, rude, mean and disrespectful.  You told me that I should know better, despite your flagrant hypocrisy.  You were hurt when I didn't intend it, so you set out to hurt me with severe intent.  My fault, clearly.  I should have realised that I am not entitled to speak my opinion with the conviction with which I believe it.

You know why we didn't work out?  It is my fault.  I mean, I chased you for months.  I cancelled nights out with my friends to see you, even though you wouldn't do the same.  I opened up and shared my feelings because you told me that is what you wanted to hear.  You didn't reciprocate because you had trust issues.  It was okay for you to expect me to put my trust issues away but too much to ask you to do the same.  So we didn't work out.  My fault, clearly.  I should have been more understanding. I do all the chasing and you just enjoy the show.

You know when I had been away for a while.  I came back and was different to how you expected.  It is my fault.  I mean you didn't think that maybe I had been through experiences you couldn't comprehend.  You just assumed that because I didn't fit your prescribed idea of how I should be, you'd rather be rid of me than have me around.  My fault.  I wish I could have fixed that but you were too busy telling everyone else how I didn't fit the bill rather than me.  So by the time you told me, well, I was a worthless piece of crap that shouldn't have burdened you with my presence.  My fault, clearly.  I should have realised that you can't just let people be themselves and that they must conform to your homogenised view.

It is always my fault.  I have to apologise.  I have to be the bigger man.  It is my fault because I "always have to be right."  A truly moronic statement that; who goes out thinking "I like to be wrong every now and then, just to keep my humility average up"?  The fact is that I will say something, you won't listen and then when I turn out to be right, you think I'm being smug.  I haven't said a thing, I haven't smirked but rather than you admit you're wrong, you say "Oh you think you're so clever."  You know what I'd have preferred?  For you to listen... then if it goes right, you've been the smart one.  If it goes wrong, you can blame me.  Then, and only then, will it truly be my fault!

Just once, I'd like someone to acknowledge that a dispute, a disagreement, in fact, anything negative between me and them is their fault.  Apologies are rarer than diamonds to me and infinitely more precious.  Although an apology is worth nothing unless you do something about it.  And no matter what you think, it is your fault.... just stop making it my problem.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Player

"Hate the game, not the player" - a line and philosophy commonly espoused by players and it is frankly moronic.  It promotes a predatory method to dating, where feelings are foolishly fostered because it is all about the chase and not about what dating should be about, namely building a meaningful relationship with someone.  A player can be defined by their behaviour and actions:-

  • They express a fear of commitment but still date around.
  • They maintain friendships that are flirty but even if they start dating someone seriously, they are always looking for a way out.
  • They don't like to be seen publicly with their dates.
  • They claim that they are not flirting, they are just friendly.
  • They blow hot and cold, namely they are up for a relationship and then they find some lame excuse about how it won't work.
Players are attention seekers.  The prime kind of attention they prefer is when they are being chased.  They protest that they are naive to it all but the reality is that they are junkies to such affection.  They want all the love to be a one way street.  They twist truth and even flat out lie.

They never come across as nasty.  In fact, everyone is friendly with them.  Their sociopathic nature means that they get along with everyone but only because of the praise, attention and compliments that they get.

Now, let me put this to you.  They should be exposed for the cruel creatures they are.  Players are reliant on the relative anonymity of their insidious actions.  Naming & shaming is an ugly policy but it is the only effective thing left to do.  Otherwise they continue to hurt who they see fit, using dishonesty and deception to quench their thirst for short term attention with none of the commitment costs.

Hate the player and the games will end.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

My top 10 moments in sport

10. 17-17 read the score in the 2003 Rugby Union World Cup final.  Time was almost up and Martin Johnson took the ball a few yards further, to allow Matt Dawson to send the pass to Jonny Wilkinson.  Wilkinson, probably the greatest fly half in rugby history, had his moment and took it without hesitation.  With his weaker foot.  Every Englishman wants to beat the Australians at any sport.  To do it in their back yard with an entire nation screaming at him to miss, Wilkinson showed why he was the best in the world at kicking an egg.

9. 2008 saw the greatest final of all time at Wimbledon because not only did it go the distance.  Not only did it ebb and flow back and forth but it featured the two greatest tennis players of all time.  It was Federer's finesse vs Nadal's raw power.  It was mesmerising to watch and turned out to be the pinnacle moment in possibly the greatest rivalry in tennis history.

8. Michael Phelps is a machine.  To win one gold medal at the Olympics is impressive.  To win two is immense.  To win 14 is just ridiculous!  8 of those were won at the Beijing Olympics, which included an incredibly tense 7th gold, won by just 0.01 seconds.  Swimming may not be the biggest sport in the world but Phelps transcended it to all time star with unparalleled achievements.

7.  At this point, I think I am permitted a little self-indulgence.  Other football fans, especially those who support Liverpool, will accuse me of bias but I think that this moment has greater merit than the Champions League final in Istanbul.  When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer prodded home a last minute winner in the Camp Nou to win the Champions League, it completed an incredible treble of the Champions League, the Premier League and the FA Cup.  Sure Istanbul will hold dear memories for LFC but it was an inspired, possibly lucky 6 minutes within 120 minutes that won that trophy, a fact that makes football a great game.  But Solskjaer's goal was the culmination of an entire season's hard work and rewarded with a trophy haul that may never be matched in English football history again.

6. You can argue for ages which is the greatest World Cup goal you have ever seen.  Maradona's goal after the Hand of God.  The endless passing move that Argentina finished with such style.  Michael Owen gliding past the Argentinian defence.  Yet nothing will beat the quarter final of the 1998 World Cup, the Netherlands vs Argentina.  In the 90th min, De Boer pinged a 60 yard pass in Dennis Bergkamp's direction.  The ball sailed over his shoulder at pace, yet he jumped up, got the ball under control, turned the defender and scored a breathtaking goal to take his team through to the semi-finals.  It was one of the most exquisite pieces of instinctive skill you will ever see.

5. The fight that went on to define the career of the most talented boxer ever to enter the ring, The Rumble In The Jungle.  Ironically it is not Muhammed Ali's best fight.  I would argue that was The Thriller In Manilla but this fight took him from great fighter to all time great.  Ali duped Foreman for 7 rounds, only to burst out of the blocks in the 8th, as he saw Foreman flagging and knocked him out.  The great moment is when Foreman starts to go down.  Any other fighter would have slugged Foreman one more time.  Ali didn't bother.  He knew he had won and so did the rest of the world.

4.  It was 16 years in the making but when it happened, it was a moment of Olympic legend.  Steve Redgrave won his first Olympic gold medal in 1984 and had succeeded in winning the gold medal at the next three Olympics.  The Sydney Olympics came around and this was his chance to make it five times in a row.  Simply unheard of.  Yet it was no procession.  In a desperate struggle to the line, the British time took the gold by the smallest of margins but it was the margin that put Redgrave into realms of sporting immortality.

3.  Jose Mourinho took his expensively assembled Real Madrid team to Camp Nou, to take on what everyone was calling "the best team in the world", the mighty Barcelona.  Real Madrid had done all they could to stop their fierce rivals.  The front line cost £150 million alone!  It didn't work.  The world watched as Barcelona put on the perfect footballing display and dismantled the most expensive football team in history.  5-0 read the score at the end and as a curious side note, Lionel Messi, Barca's most potent weapon, wasn't even on the score sheet.  It was a massacre and a work of art all at the same time.

2.  The Ryder Cup is one of my favourite sporting events.  The idea of taking a sport that is very individual and turning it into a team event makes it a bit special.  That way, every match has a value, every hole has a significance and every shot is important.  So when this great event got extended to a fourth day at Celtic Manor, you just had the feeling it was going to be special.  Indeed it came down to the last match, where Graeme McDowell had to win to seal the Ryder Cup.  Sure he enough, he held his nerve and got Europe over the line by half a point in what turned out to be an electrifying and tense finish to the best Ryder Cup ever.

1.  Sometimes a great sporting event is remembered off the back of an incredibly close contest.  Not this one.  The 100m sprint final at the Beijing Olympics featured three men who were not only the fastest in the world at the time but of all time.  Milliseconds should have separated them.  Instead Usain Bolt destroyed them.  At 30m it looked close.  By 60m it was all over and by 80m, Bolt displayed his utter dominance by celebrating before he had even crossed the line.  He smashed the world record at a canter and marked his place in history.  He has since gone on to break other world records, including his own 100m record but nothing has ever matched Bolt's moment in Beijing.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Just Keep Walking

Sometimes, you just need a walk alone to clear your mind.  As I walked away from my home, I contemplated how dark it was on a miserable night.  I should have gone out earlier.  Ah well, I only need a few miles.  I'll just keep walking...

I contemplated what I wanted to do with my life.  I remembered the grand plans I had.  I could be anything I wanted when I was young.  I really wanted to be an actor, mainly because I didn't (and still don't) like myself.  It was nice to escape into any other kind of character.  I didn't like comedic acting too much because I don't think I am funny.  I preferred darker types, not necessarily villains but those who permitted me to be a part of myself that no one else accepts.  The reality was that between people doubting me, parents telling me how I needed a steady job, teachers deciding I wasn't as capable as their favourites and a lack of opportunity, I just let it wear me down.  The world won the day.  As for me, here I am walking along alone.

I had forgotten how steep the hill was outside my estate.  It is way longer than I remember on foot.  I am so out of shape; being stuck behind a desk at work is catching up with me.  I have only walked a mile and I am already getting shin splints.  This hill feels like it is killing me but it should come to an end soon.  I'll just keep walking...

So I didn't become an actor.  I ended up working in an office.  It is soul destroying.  There is little joy to be found in it.  No reward but a mediocre wage at the end.  They point out your mistakes with ferocious zeal and are slow to praise you.  In fact, every bit of praise is accompanied with the phrase "Keep it going" like you have to prove that your industry and professionalism wasn't a flash in the pan.  You see other people promoted because of who they know and not what they know.  Unappreciated, underpaid, overworked and not listened to.  So for now, I have nothing to do except to just keep walking.

It's starting to rain.  Not just spit, it is lumping it down.  It is falling so hard, the splash of each raindrop feels like a small stone impacting on me.  It soaks me in no time.  I feel cold and weary.  Just keep walking...

Out here, in the cold, wet, dark night, I am reminded of how lonely I am.  Not alone, lonely.  You see, the loneliest people can be found in the most crowded of rooms.  Sure, I have friends who I associate with and look out for me but nothing compares with someone you care about above all.  Someone to come home to.  Someone who makes it worthwhile to wake up in the morning for and spend your days doing your best to make them happy because that is what they do for you, just by being themselves and being with you.  I got told that opening up would bring me such a blessing.  Girls love it when a guy is honest about his feelings and unrestrained.  Instead, it turns out that such opening up doesn't bring you that.  It exposes you to pain and hurt that runs so deep that it only exacerbates that lonely feeling.  It robs you of hope.  It causes your dreams to dry up.  It makes you wish you had never bothered.  Loneliness, a cruel and crushing feeling, is at least consistent.  You know your burden but it is only magnified when she says she doesn't want to be with me.  Just got to keep walking...

As I get to the place where I intend to turn around and go back, I slump on the park bench by the bus stop.  I have been walking for several miles now.  My feet ache from shoes not designed to take so much walking.  I can't feel if I am sweating from walking up all these hills because the rain has left me soaked.  I am shivering a bit from the cold.  I really need to get back home, get dry and go to bed.

The problem is I don't want to keep walking.  If I go home, I will go back into that world that has disappointed me so much.  The world that wore me down, made me miserable & grumpy, then left me alone with nothing to aspire to but an improved standard of survival.  I know that I will go back and retire to a comfy bed but then that will seem like a brief moment.  Then I will be awake, having to go to a job I grow to hate more every day I do it.  Then I will come home to whatever distractions I can find that will not remind me that tomorrow I will yet again be a slave to money.

No one to share my world with.  No child to tell that they can be whatever they want to be.  That they shouldn't listen to anyone who doubts them because they are just bitter that they let the world tell them that they couldn't be amazing.  That they couldn't change the world.  Well, they are wrong.  You can be what you want.  You can do something you love.  You should be with someone you love.  Your world should be about those you love and passing it on to the next generation.  It is the dawn on horizon of hope.  A horizon I can't seem to find even though I just keep walking...

The rain drips from my face.  I try to remember if this is what crying feels like.  With no hope comes no feeling.  You crave for that day that someone will just love you for who you are.  You pray for that day to do something great and show the world that it only takes will of a single man to change everything.  You long for that day when those you passed on your hopes and dreams to tells you that they are living them and that they are happy.  I just want to feel the warm sunlight of solace over the horizon of hope.  It isn't there.  It isn't coming.  So I get up and head home.  There is nothing else to do.  Just keep walking...

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Zack Hemsey - Music Manna From Heaven

Those who know me very well know that I love music from film soundtracks, trailer scores and inspirational instrumental music.  It has to have an epic feel to it, the kind that gives you goosebumps as it builds to its awe-inspiring climax.  I am always on the look out for new music like that.

If you are wondering what kind of music this means, try searching for Immediate Music, Two Steps From Hell, Groove Addicts or anything by the big Hollywood movie score writers (Hans Zimmer, Harry Gregson-Williams, John Williams, Klaus Badelt, etc).

But I would like to take this post to specifically give a shout out to Zack Hemsey.  I discovered his music from the Inception movie trailer, appropriately entitled "Mind Heist".  He went on to create remixes of this fantastic piece of music and now has released an album called The Way, available to listen to for free on his Youtube channel.  The simplicity and beauty of this album is powerful, so much so that I found myself just sat here listening to it.  At times, the music felt like it was a soundtrack to different parts of my life.

Lend Zack Hemsey your musical ears.  They will thank you for it.  It is music manna from Heaven!
http://music.zackhemsey.com/

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Listen...

We live in an era where everyone's voice can be heard, with the media, internet and other technological and civil advances available.  No matter how offensive or opinionated, pugnacious or principled they are, we are nearly at the point where everyone has the right to be heard.  Amazingly though, with our increased capacity to speak out, our skill at listening to what is being said and take in the things which are useful has diminished.  We are losing the skill to truly listen to each other.

Instead, we are picking up a far uglier and more dangerous skill.  Hearing what we want to hear.  That is not listening with an open ear and a teachable heart.  That is craving validation.  It is the soulless search for superficial support and it is supremely stupid.  The reason is that nothing changes that way.  The status quo is maintained and usually to the detriment of all.  We seem to think that those who say the profound are the ones who change the world.  We're wrong.  It is those who listen to the profound and apply it that change the world.

Listeners are peace makers.  They listen to the plight of their enemies and build the necessary bridges of peace.

Listeners love people because they understand people.  They also know who not to trust.  Their understanding of human nature comes from careful observation.  They listen rather than pollute the air with the sound of their own voice.

There is a reason that we have started to stray from this skill of listening though.  The listeners tend to pay a price and the talkers and the hearers tend to profit.  They are the heroes.  They do what is right and are ridiculed for it.  They listen to the woes of the weak, get them through it and consequently get left behind.  The others get to be happy and free, as they stand on the shoulders of those who listen.

Sadly, once the listener opens their mouth and says what needs to be said, they are ignored.  You should be able to spot them but you won't until they are gone.  Then you'll come to realise that the listeners were actually the ones who validated you, the ones who changed you, the ones who made you better.  The ones who made you happy.  Just be willing to listen to them too.

Friday, 17 June 2011

The U Turn

We are living in a supposedly free thinking era.  This is the time when we can have any opinion, preferably formulated upon sound reason.  We also preach the right to share our views, maybe to the persuasion of those who we share our point of view with.  It seems perfectly reasonable.  We come together, talk and debate together and subsequently learn from each other.  We can start with one opinion and then change our mind, based on the facts and opinions presented to us.

Unless we're in politics.

You see, to change your mind in politics is to pull the suicidal political move called the U turn.  Which seems ridiculous to me.  We take the time to elect people to represent us and I do mean represent, not representative of us.  These should be the best people who go on to govern us.  They will make decisions that can change our day to day lives.  So I want them to take those decisions on a rational basis and with the resources available, they should be able to do that.

However, what I want more than anything in a leader is someone who can admit that they might be wrong and be willing to try something different.  I want a leader who is willing to change their mind.  Sure, we elect them on the basis of their manifesto, what they initially planned to do.  But what if that turns out to be wrong?

The problem is that such a change of mind has been so stigmatised that no political leader will ever do it.  It consequently makes protesting, writing letters to your MP, in fact, any kind of political involvement by individuals and even groups become pointless.  A leader that is unwilling to listen is just a dictator in democratic clothes.  However, it is the adversarial nature of politics, the sensationalism of the media and the stupidity of the voting public that has created these conditions.

Until we accept that it is not weakness to change your mind but in fact, a humility that is a strength, then our politics will only serve the ego of the winners and the antagonism of the losers.  It will never be the vehicle for change because every vehicle can pull a U turn.  If we want a politics that can bring change, then it needs to be willing to change its mind.  It is a wise politician who is willing to pull a U turn... just not an electable one.  Ironically, not until we make a U turn on our opinion of the U turn.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Blending Film Titles

Once, I posted a Facebook status that invited people to blend two film titles to produce one ridiculous film title.  I got a huge number of responses and some of them were utter genius.  So here is a list of the best ones stated under my Facebook status:-

The Lost Boy Story 2
Man On Mrs Doubtfire
National Lampoon's Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Swan
Look Who's Taking Pelham 1 2 3
From Dusk 'til Dumbo
‎300 Things I Hate About You
Iron man in the Iron mask
No Country For Old Men In Tights
Baby's Boogie Nights
Ace Ventura Must Die!
The Lion King's Speech
Snow White and the Seven Gangs of New York
Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Boys
Dude, Where's My Gran Turino
Dirty Dancing With Wolves
The Dirty Dozen Dirty Dancing
The Day After Inception
Meet Joe Jackass
P.S I Robot
O Brother, Where Art Tootsie?
An Officer and a GI Jane
Fried Green Tomatoes at Tiffany's
The Good, the Bad and the Mexican
A Streetcar Named Die Hard
Finding Nemo in Sixty Seconds
Kindergarten Anchorman: The Legend of John Kimball
Mona Lisa Almighty
The Rocky Horror Shop of Horrors
Wimbledon - Rise of the Machines
Flight of the Titanic
Twins - The Empire Strikes Back
Monsters vs Peter Pan
Get Him to the Dr Zhivago
Starwars 4 - A New Hook
Battlefield: Over The Hedge
Indiana Jones and the Last of the Mohicans
Harry Potter and the Sleepy Hollow
Bambi Meets The Parents
I Know What You Did Last Summer Little Fockers
Big Fish Called Wanda
Mulan Rouge
Star Shrek
Ocean's Seven Eleven
Best Little Whore House On The Prairie
Bill and Ted's Excellent Fellowship of the Ring

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Best & Worse of the Franchise

I love movie franchises (a series of 3 films or more). Contrary to this idea that they are counter active to new stories, I like the idea that a character and a story has more to it than the single 2 hour film. Yet there is no escaping the notion that every franchise has the best and worst episode. So here they are from some of my favourite film franchises.


Indiana Jones - Temple of Doom wins it hands down. Kingdom of the Crystal takes the wooden spoon with dubious honours!


Star Wars - This one is an easy formula. The more time Vader spends on the screen and the more menacing he is, the better the Star Wars film. So Empire Strikes Back is the best... Phantom Menace is the worst, even though it still has the best lightsaber fight in the series.


Die Hard - You can't beat the original. It has the most claustrophobic setting and the best villain. Conversely, Die Hard 4.0 has the most boring villain and the most expansive setting, making it the weakest in the series.


Bourne - Ultimatum is the ultimate in that it is 100mph and smart throughout. Supermacy is the weak link in that for all that great action, we don't really learn all that much about Bourne. It really only serves as a set up for the 3rd film.


Terminator - T2 still is the definitive Terminator film. Even with time having passed by, the special effects hold up and the story is the most compelling, laced with a ridiculously high level of tension. Which makes you wonder how they could have gone so spectacularly wrong with the lacklustre T3. Those damn machines should have quit whilst they were ahead.


Saw - Was the first one ever going to be beaten for its ingenuity? No but they had a good go at trying. And then we got graced with Saw IV. The most predictable of all the films and ironically, the most confusing too. If you haven't seen the films, watch Saw, Saw II and Saw III and then stop. The next 4 films are nothing to shout about except for how they improved Lionsgate's bank balance.


Star Trek - The J.J Abrams entry nearly stole it but the Borg manage to hold him off for First Contact to take the win. Where as the very first Star Trek film is by far the worst. It makes you wonder how they got to film 11 when you see where they started with film 1!


Batman - Lumping all of them into one franchise, it is painfully obvious that The Dark Knight was always going to win this one. I never thought I would see someone do a better job with The Joker than Jack Nicholson. I was wrong. Heath Ledger succeeds in taking a great film into the realms of all time classic. However, Batman and Robin is truly horrendous. When it is so bad that the Adam West entry doesn't even get a flicker of a thought, you know you've messed up!


Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers should be the worst. The story doesn't majorly progress and the big showdown with Shelob is pushed to Return of the King. Yet it is the one film that balances the various stories the best and offers the menace and atmosphere that should be riddled throughout the films. Problem is, you get to Return of the King and it is bloated and unbalanced. I watched Return of the King in the cinema and almost screamed out a plea for it to end because it made like a Duracell battery and kept going and going.


Spider-man - Simple this one. No. 2 is the best... No.3 is the one where the studios and the fans thought it would be a good idea to take over. What? 2 good films and we couldn't just leave Sam Raimi to it?!


007 - Casino Royale is my favourite. Everybody has a different one but this was the Bond film that I felt the biggest emotional attachment to. But On Her Majesty's Secret Service... well I couldn't have cared less and this is the one film where Bond gets married, only to see his wife killed shortly afterwards.


M:I - The only franchise that Tom Cruise has done and he manages to break the rule of it. Typically the second in a trilogy tends to be the best. In this one, it is easily the worst. A plot that could have been written in crayon and cinematography that looks like it was MTV behind the camera. They should have stuck with the formula of the first one. Espionage at its very best. Just because most people were too stupid to understand it doesn't mean you should dumb it down.


There are plenty more to be discussed... you know how that commenty thing works below! Use it!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

If The World Was Going To End

It is a question that we ask every now and then, maybe since time began but more recently because of the terror edged world we live in.  It is the question “What would you do if the world was going to end tomorrow?” and no doubt we all have different answers, depending on our situation. Well, you probably haven’t seriously contemplated the answers. Maybe because you don’t want to think that it may happen but let’s discuss this and that way avoid the panic during an impending apocalypse. The options abound but here are the merits and down sides to each possibility.

You could go and tell all your loved ones how you really feel about them.  Now that might mean telling someone you don’t like why you dislike them and just spilling out your disgust and rage in one go. The world is ending and so other people might as well feel like theirs just did. The flipside is telling people you care about that you love them. It would make the whole statement decidedly cheap and forced. You might get away with it because the other person is about to die too. But if you struggle to tell someone that you love everyday that you care, then informing them before their inevitable demise is about as valuable as a second hand condom. So you might want to re-think that answer.

The slightly related response, if not very crude, is to sleep with the next good looking person that was up for it. Now if being promiscuous is your thing, then why are you suddenly waiting for Armageddon to roll around? Not only does it prove you are hopeless as a player, relying on desperation in its ultimate form but also that you are unbelievably shallow. However, how bad would you feel if you asked for sex before someone was about to die and they turned you down? Eternal celibacy was preferred to a night of passion with you. Oh dear. Look on the bright side; you’ll have less than 24 hours to moan about it.

Some say that they would have their favourite meal, watch their favourite film or do their favourite activity before it all ends. Not to put a damper on things but the fact that this has been brought on by the end of the world means none of those things would be enjoyable. The food would be tasteless, the film would be a waste of two hours and your favourite activity probably would not be available due to pandemonium.

The only real answer is that you would PANIC! And then see what kind of monster would come out; it would be one of those times you would see your raw real self and it may shock you, maybe impress you. However, you wouldn't get a long to look at it and you should be grateful. You might find yourself to be a shallow, selfish character. The only people who won’t panic are the best of us; those who have made peace with their God and, more importantly, themselves. To them, the Apocalypse would be the full stop on a very complete sentence and they are the people I envy the most.