Sunday, 31 October 2010

'This is Halloween, This is Halloween'

The 31st October, one of the year's most unique 'holidays' Halloween. To most, Halloween will be signified by trick or treaters, sweets, egg throwing, pumpkins, scary movies, and dressing up. To me, while it is also symbolised by all of the above, it also means that the countdown to Christmas is officially on! It is also the first day if the year that I allow myself to watch my favourite film of all time: Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. Created by Burton, and directed by Henry Selick, the film tells the tale of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, who has grown bored of celebrating Halloween year after year, and wanders off into the night after yet another Halloween. He wanders into the woods and stumbles across the collection of trees seen during the film's opening in the video above. After seeing all of the different doors on the trees, the one in the shape of a Christmas tree draws his attention, he opens it, and falls into Christmas Town.

After being swept off of his feet in amazement by all that he sees in Christmas town, Jack decides that the residents of Halloween town should produce Christmas this year in an effort to do something different. Unfortunately, when the citizens of his town don't understand that Christmas is meant to be a jolly, happy, fun event, Jack gives in and decides to do Christmas the Halloween way, despite love-interest Sally's desperate pleas to abandon this crazy plan. Sally has had a vision of Jack's Christmas going terribly wrong.

Things do begin to go wrong, when Jack makes the mistake of hiring the trick-or-treaters to kidnap Sandy Claws (Santa) from Christmas town, and rather that follow Jack's orders of making him comfortable so that he can enjoy a Christmas off, they take Santa to Oogie Boogie (The Boogey Man) instead. Meanwhile, the people of Earth don't take too kindly to Jack's terrifying version of Christmas.

This is without a doubt my favourite film. Firstly, because of the sense of nostalgia that washes over me as I watch it. For I can still remember being in awe of Christmas town and the all of the strange, bizarre characters that inhabit Halloween town. The fact that there could be trees with doors that lead to all of the best parts of the year somewhere in the world also seemed like an extremely magical concept in my mind. The characters are all well envisioned by Burton, and the score, composed by the legendary Danny Elfman, is truly one of the best movie soundtracks ever heard.

Between now and Christmas I will undoubtedly be watching this film several times. It is one of the only films that can be considered both a Halloween film, and a Christmas movie rolled into one. In my humble opinion, this stop-motion, scary, Christmassy, animated, musical, Disney feature really is the greatest film of all time! If you have never seen it before, do yourself a favour and pick up a copy NOW!

Monday, 25 October 2010

A Positively Bashful Month

Good day all, I hope that October has found you all well. I can't quite believe that the month is nearly behind us already, and that in one week's time we'll be the final sixth of 2010.

This month has been a bit of a funny one, in the sense meaning it's been pretty darn odd! At the beginning of October, many of my close friends once more waved me goodbye as the drifted back to their random corners of the nation to study... and more likely drink the time away until they all return at Christmas. Only kidding, slightly.

On the 14th I myself had something to study for, as I sat my last ever (hopefully) exam. It was in Film and Television History, a course which I thoroughly enjoyed reading, and one that I am hoping to receive a good grade for. I don't find out the result until December though, so for now, only time will tell.

With that course out of the way, I have been making some headway with my next, and final, OU course Children's Literature. The first assignment for this is due in by midday on Thursday, so I really should be cracking on with it, although the need to write this blog has kind of taken over for the minute.

Speaking of writing, the writing bug has really hit me this year, as not only do I produce for you this fine blog, but I have been hired by to write a weekly column for their wrestling section. The column was an idea that I had to find at least three positive things to say about WWE Monday Night Raw each week. For those of you not in the know, Raw is the world's biggest weekly wrestling show, and because of that, comes under the most criticism each week by commentators on the net. I've therefore made it my mission to help rid the world of some of this (mostly undeserved) negativity. If you're at all interested, the first ever edition of my column Positively Raw can be found here.
 I've been enjoying my week long tenure with 411mania very much, but alas it's unpaid and only something I do for fun because I enjoy both wrestling and writing, which all means that I still have to do proper work for money. As far as work is going at the moment, I can't complain at all. I'm enjoying myself at the store, and getting on with it rather nicely. It's been all change this month though, as two long-serving members of staff have moved on to better and brighter positions at other branches, which has allowed room some new - but familiar to me - faces. Our video-rental store is now inhabited by two of my former Woolworths colleagues in the brilliant Stacey, and my old partner in crime Tom. We're considering changing the name of our branch to WoolBusters!

This month has also been one of pain - in a physical manner - for many that I know unfortunately. Firstly one of my brothers was attacked by a fellow schoolboy on his way home one Friday, leaving him black-eyed. He reckons he got a few good punches in himself though, so more power to him. My good friend Chris was then in what sounds like a terrifying accident on the M25. Another car swerved across towards him while driving along Britain's most dangerous road. Luckily he was OK, even if his poor car wasn't. And to round things off, Stacey's brother celebrated his 18th birthday this past weekend. Rather than end his night in a nightclub though, he cracked his head open and spent the final minutes of his momentous coming of age in a hospital bed. Again, luckily he seems to have survived.

It also seems relevant to mention that I survived unscathed after a trip to Crystal Palace, watching the football team face off against Millwall. Those classy Millwall fans proved once again just how charming they are by throwing a smoke-bomb onto the pitch during a minute long round of applause in memorial of a former player, Malcolm Allison, who had died that week.

The month isn't quite over though. In two days I'll be taking Stacey out to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the date that I first asked her out. Funny enough it's also the anniversary of the first time that I threw up from too much alcohol consumption. Then on Friday it's my Dad's birthday, meaning that he'll be even more of an old man. And finally, Sunday, the last day of the month, is Halloween, which means that I will be watching my favourite film The Nightmare Before Christmas for the first time this year. I may even have to writes something down about it to post on here.

For now, I've got to get ready for work, so until next time, stay tuned.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Revision vs Procrastination

Exam time is once again almost upon me. Next week, in 8 days to be exact, I will be taking my third and final exam with the Open University. I'm looking forward to getting through it and to that feeling that always follows me out of the exam hall of relief. Exams have become almost second nature, as in the last 5 and a half years, I've taken more than I care to remember. If I were to try and remember though, the list would include:

  • GCSEs for all 10 subjects that I took.
  • AS Levels in Film Studies, ICT, and Law.
  • A2 Levels in Film Studies, ICT, and Law.
  • Driving Theory Test.
  • Driving Practical Test.
  • Exams in various modules as a part of Broadcast Operations at Ravensbourne.
  • End of course Exam for Open University Module Understanding Media.
  • End of course Exam for Open University Module Approaching Literature.
So as you can well see, it's been a fun half-decade. I'm looking forward to getting through (and hopefully passing) this final exam for Film and Television History next week more than any other though because this marks my last (maybe ever) educational exam. While I have one more Open University module to take, Children's Literature which I have just begun, it has no exam at the end. Despite having become rather accustomed to exam procedure in the last few years, I still don't like the things. Not one bit! I hate having to cram in as much information as possible, and then be expected to spill all of that knowledge out onto the paper within a time-limit. I mean, I seriously doubt that top scientists, mathematicians, or literary scholars wrote their formulae or masterpieces under a strict time-limit of 3 hours or less.

As far as the cramming of information goes, I have also always hated revision. I think this goes back to my GCSE days, when my Dad, in an attempt to 'motivate' me, gave me the nickname TrolleyBoy, as he kept telling me that if I didn't do well at school, that a trolley-boy was all I'd ever amount to. The thing is, it was an extremely irritating nickname and actually put me off of bothering, seeing as how I was supposedly never doing enough anyway and in the end, the whole family were calling me TrolleyBoy anyway!

I don't think there is a perfect way to revise. With my A-Levels, particularly the Law one, I found that mind-maps worked well, although they took an age to create. I also find that writing notes, memorising them and constantly writing them back out without looking also works alright. No matter what though, I never do as well in the exam as I've done in my coursework which quite plainly sucks! With my Open University courses for example, the exam has pulled the mark that I worked hard to obtain via coursework down every time. I just have a sad feeling that it will happen again, which would be terrible and upsetting, especially considering that the finally piece of coursework for this module was a double-length piece that was worth double what the other essays were towards the module and that I scored a whopping 80%.

I also hate revision because the urgency of a deadline is missing.
'Surely the exam is the deadline?' I hear you all cry. Well no, not really. You see I don't have to give in my revision notes like I would a piece of coursework. It's not the same at all. Therefore I find that like many others most likely experience, I procrastinate.... a lot!

Suddenly that novel I'm reading becomes much more enthralling, or I suddenly become addicted to a new videogame, or I'll even find myself watching any old crap on the telly. I'll agree to more hours at my part-time job just to skive off of revision, or, as I've done recently, decide to begin and get ahead on my new course despite there not being any assignments due for a few weeks because this course is new and shiny, whereas the old one is nearly over and expects me to pass an exam!

I probably should get on now, after all I'm procrastinating further by writing this blog. STOP DISTRACTING ME!

I have in the last few minutes turned down the option to go into work a couple of hours earlier this afternoon. I was very tempted to go in just to get away from the textbooks, but alas, a passing grade will be worth more than an extra tenner in the long run I'm sure.

Stay tuned!