Sunday, 27 March 2011

'Have a Nice Day!'

In my head I'm telling myself that this will be a short entry, but then I know full well these days that when I sit down here and start tap-tap-tapping away at these keys in front of me that I can end up going on and on and on. So I guess we'll see.

This entry's title could be referring to the fact that I'm at the tail end of what has been an extremely pleasant Sunday off. A much needed Sunday off, after feeling half dead at work on Saturday, following which I participated in a round of Pub Golf. Thankfully I woke up this morning right as rain, with only a dry mouth to contend with, oh, and the realisation that an hour has been stolen from me... Damn daylight savings! I spent my pleasant Sunday watching movies - Megamind and Unstoppable - and going for a lovely stroll around the currently under renovation park in my town. There's some pretty cool stuff happening in my town it turns out, and to steal a line from my boss, and friend Sarah: 'It is becoming the new Miami Beach... sort of'.

Alas no, this blog title is not to do with that. It is in fact the title of the first book written by Mick Foley. I mentioned in my last blog entry that I'd read and enjoyed Mr. Foley's latest book Countdown to Lockdown. I also happened to mention my enjoyment of the book on Twitter. Well, Mick Foley actually read my tweet, and better yet he sent me a response in the form of a private message on Twitter.

That's right, he sent me a thank you message. It may have only been two words and an exclamation mark, but still, that's more than I'd have expected. Especially since what I expected was nothing at all. I think that was really cool of Mick, and I can tell you that it made my day even brighter to read that message. Those twelve characters that Foley directed to me brought a smile to my face. Thank you Mick!

That day (Friday) had already been a pretty good one. I'd enjoyed my day at work - what's wrong with me? - and took home my shiny new 3DS. I can happily report to all of you out there reading this in Internetland that Nintendo's new handheld gizmo is indeed the real deal. The glasses-free 3D actually works a treat, and is well worth the cash considering the tech you get for your buck! I got a little nerdy during my Friday evening, as I spent some of the night playing Street Fighter in 3D over the internet against my friends Jemma and Chris who also bought 3DSs and copies of Street Fighter for themselves. I won some, and I lost some, but the important thing was, I had fun! Not that I needed Street Fighter mind, as the console also comes loaded with some pretty wacky, crazy, and fun-filled games preinstalled. Face Raiders is one of the most insane things I've ever seen, and automatically became one of my favourite games ever out of pure uniqueness. It all has to be seen - or rather played - to be believed!

In between all the 3D mayhem and messages from legends, Friday was also my brother Ben's 16th birthday, so I guess I'd better mention that, and reiterate a Happy Birthday to him.... OK I think that's enough on that topic.

Just Kidding! Hope you had a great time bruv!

I think I'll wrap things up now for this entry into James World by briefly mentioning that I had a pretty cool idea on Friday, an idea that given time, patience, perseverance, and some hard work is one that I feel could be rather rewarding. Only time will tell though....

Oh, and one last thing (I promise), after discussing 30 Seconds to Mars in my last entry, immediately after posting the blog, I saw their latest video for Hurricane. It is a 15 minute long video, just like Michael Jackson's Thriller was. Even more proof that they can be the next big thing, although the video is rather risque... Give it a watch on Youtube, see the bizarreness for yourself.

I'm outta here!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

A Musical Miracle

It was just the other day that I found myself thinking about how I'd like to go and see 30 Seconds to Mars again whenever they next decide to grace our land with another tour. This is despite having seen them twice in 2010 - They really are that great a live act. Their level of greatness in the live arena proved itself even further to me just this morning in a rather random moment that I have taken time to consider (what with my hectic schedule and all) and decided was a miracle... A Musical Miracle (hence the title).

'What was this miracle!?' I hear you all crying out from across the land. Well, allow me to fill you in...
Stacey had stayed over the night, and in the morning she was up and getting ready for work while I lay in bed dozing. I wasn't dozing out of total laziness I swear, I mean I worked the night shift tonight, so I needed to be well rested so as not to be tired come 10pm. Anyways, at some point Stacey all of a sudden shakes me and out of the blue tells me that she'd really like to see 30 Seconds to Mars again. She goes on to tell me that she thought they were pretty incredible and that she thought Jared Leto was very entertaining. Now here's the miracle part: We agreed fully with each other and had a conversation about how they were the best live band either of us had seen.

Let me tell you that this is a rarity. If you were to go through my iPod, you'd find mostly radio unfriendly rock, metal, and heavy metal, with 30 Seconds to Mars, Linkin Park, AC/DC, and Red Hot Chili Peppers probably being the most mainstream things I listen to, aside from the odd piece of popular music that I find myself humming along to, making it eventually worthy of a place in my playlist. On the other hand, Stacey is into eighties stuff, and essentially whatever is currently popular. She doesn't follow the charts religiously or anything, and will moan about some of the more annoying tunes out there from some of those rapper guys, but she does like a lot of what's played regularly on MTV or Radio One, stuff that makes me groan.

There are indeed artists that cross the boundaries between my iPod and Stacey's one. She does enjoy some of the more generally accepted alternative acts, while as I've mentioned, some pop music can find its way to my iPod if it is deemed good enough by myself. But, for us to agree that one band is that great, and for us to both rank them as our 'Number One' in any list is pretty amazing. I've said it before, and I'll reiterate it now: 30 Seconds to Mars are terrific live, if you haven't seen them live I urge you to go when you get the chance. If you've never heard of them or any of their stuff Youtube them now for Pete's sake! We'll most definitely be seeing them again in the future.

While on the topic of music, I struck up another musically based conversation with Stacey last night. I asked whether she thought any of the current crop of music talent out there could ever be as big as Michael Jackson. Her reply was a stern and sharp 'No'. I then asked if she thought there would ever be anyone; ever as insanely big a star as that again. Again, her reply was a stern and sharp 'No'. I still find it rather - I want to say heartbreaking, but in not so much a wussy way...checks thesaurus... crushing? No. Deflating? Too far the other way, not enough emotion.. Devastating? Bit dramatic I suppose, but let's run with it, I'm getting tired! - Devastating to think that we had tickets to see The Late King of Pop live on the first night of his big This Is It comeback at The O2 Arena. I fully expect that the gig would have blown our socks off, but alas we'll never truly know, and it is 30 Seconds to Mars who indeed sit atop the throne of our live acts list.

Is there anyone out there who can be as big as MJ was though? I'd make an argument for Jared Leto and Company (30 Seconds to Mars in case you haven't been paying attention), but you'd all laugh and point at me. Some may put up their own argument to Madonna being the Queen of Pop, and while she's been able to adapt and evolve over the decades, she's never quite been as tall in her throne as Jackson was, and in death still is. So for now all we can do is wait around and see how the music scene continues to change. I personally would love to see a rock revival, a rock revolution, but I know it won't happen. And it won't happen for the very same reason that I don't think there'll ever be somebody big enough to fill the role of the 'second coming' of Michael Jackson. That reason is that things are so diverse these days, and everybody is into such different, niche things (in all aspects of life and entertainment, not just in music) that no one act can truly reach that height of fame anymore. There's just too much out there to choose from. It's why television ratings are way down from the heights they reached in the 80s and 90s, because there's so much more choice with different channels, and new fangled inventions such as videogames and the Internet. If X-Factor (which I hate by the way) were on in the 90s, it would have drawn in a much larger audience than it does.. Hell, I'd probably have given it more of a shot seeing as how I wouldn't have as much choice in individual activity.

On an unrelated note, I feel like writing briefly about all the small things that happened today that made my day a smiley, shiny, happy one in the life of me. I awoke to the musical miracle which inspired this blog, I then got up and watched Machete on Blu-Ray which was fantastic for anyone who likes over the top violence and a true badass of a character. Robert DeNiro also does a fine job appearing in the film as a Senator, while many other familiar faces turn up in different roles. Highly recommended movie fans! I then spent my afternoon reading and finishing Mick Foley's Countdown to Lockdown, which was a fine set of memoirs, and the fourth to come from Foley. Now you may be thinking that four memoirs are somewhat excessive, but the fact is that Mick Foley has an enormous wealth of interesting tales to tell, and he shares them in an entertaining way, so it's fair to say that he is far more deserving of four autobiographies that Jordan, or Katie Price, or whatever we're calling it these days. Oh, and even more impressively, Mick Foley writes all of his books all by himself, and by hand with a good old fashioned pen 'n' paper. Upon finishing the book, and laying it to rest and to gather dust, I went to work and enjoyed a nice quiet evening there. On my break I went to Sainsbury's to get some food, and used the self-service checkouts which are always fun. They even gave me a coupon for 50p off of HP Guinness flavoured BBQ sauce, which has me intrigued... Anyway, I feel this may be becoming rather boring now, so I guess it'll be time to log off and go to sleep.

To play us out, here's 30 Seconds to Mars with their video for The Kill. This video is definitely one for Stephen King fans!

Bury Me! Bury Me!

Friday, 18 March 2011

I'm no Superman

I recently got back into the habit of watching Scrubs thanks to my good pal Andy lending the final two series on DVD. After about two years of non-regular viewing of the show, it's great to get back into it, as it feels new, fresh, and exciting all over again. It's just too bad that I'm already on the last disc of the final series. Where else will I turn to for hilarious moments like this?:

I've been meaning blog for a while now, what with it being a whole few weeks since my last, and rather morbidly depressing entry. The problem is that I've just been so busy between an Open University essay (Only 2 more to go at the time of writing), work, social events, other writing commitments, and what was the other thing... Oh yeah - SLEEP!

Last weekend, on Saturday night was an event of not so  epic proportions. 'WooliesBowl II - James's Revenge'. A year on from the last major gathering of what many may assume to be a dead and extinct breed - Woolworths Workers - I decided to organise another get-together. As we went bowling last year, and as I had gone into that all talk, and had wound up losing miserably, I decided to exact my vengeance. I trained hard using the Kinnect Bowling game, and as you just read, taglined the event as my revenge. This plan was fool proof, and I knew that I would walk home the Champion of WooliesBowl 2011... That was all until I lost. Badly.

Despite my losing efforts at bowling, it was great to see a lot of people. As it turns out Facebook is actually good for something, as I organised the event through the social networking device and we received a bigger turn out than I honestly expected. Success!

Look! I even produced a logo! How cool/sad am I?
 Other than bowling, work, writing, essaying, looking after an ill little sister, and... oh yeah SLEEP, I've also been busy this week in preparation for what I would call a job interview, only it wasn't. It was aptly described as an assessment day. I've previously written of my attempts to gain full time employment, with two previous interviews having led to nowhere, with one of them being a complete con which I was thankfully warned of before it was too late. This latest adventure into the land of salaries and suits was for a year's contract working with Digital UK as a representative to travel around retailers and to make sure the Digital Switchover switches over without a hitch. The 'assessment day' was today, and a presentation was to be produced beforehand to give on this day. I had already passed a phone interview to get through to this stage, and this morning we were told that of thousands of people that applied (as this job had been advertised in various national newspapers), we were the final 14. Yikes! I was by and far the youngest of the candidates, and I must admit it kind of showed. I was a little out of my element, and as a result, after the very nice lunch spread out for us, I was in the half of the group split off and told that our day was unfortunately over. I'm not exactly upset though; it was after all only a year's worth of employment, and there was a guy there whom I briefly befriended named Ernie. Ernie has a wife and kids to support and was made redundant in November, and luckily he was in the half kept on after lunch. He needed this more than me, so for him I'm glad. I was also a little surprised, though probably shouldn't have been, at how the job description, and more exactly, the hours to be worked in this job, had altered rather drastically from what I had originally been informed. Yeah, 60 hour weeks, I'm not so glum about being dropped after all. I'm proud to have made the final 14. Maybe that means I could make the final 12 in X-Factor... Hmm.

So alas, while it has proven o' so easy to revisit the past with the success of WooliesBowl II, it doesn't seem to be so easy to break forth into the future at the moment, as there are pretty much no jobs out there up for grabs. At least my present ain't so bad. I'm actually rather enjoying my current retail role at the moment, so there's no need to rush into something awful, stupid, or just plain boring yet. Speaking of the future, I find myself - or rather, the geeky side of myself - to be extremely excited for next week, for Nintendo are launching their new handheld console: The 3DS, which will allow for 3D visuals without the need for glasses. I've got mine pre-ordered thanks to Stacey finally caving in and allowing me to have an early birthday present*, and I really can't wait for next week. I might even find time to blog about it, if I can manage to drag myself away from kicking ass on Super Street Fighter IV.

*To get her to cave in was easy, I merely reminded her of an early Birthday present I'd bought her a couple of years back. She sulked, and accepted my victory!