Thursday, 27 January 2011

Charlie is on holiday (yet again, and again...)

And this time to somewhere cold. Poland (with a little bit extra in Berlin).


I will be back in a couple of weeks with lots of fun filled news, pics and stories of adventure through country number 33!

Bye now!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

London Diary 40

Life...takes an unexpected turn at every corner.

One day you are a stud, the next you are nothing, sitting alone in a darkened room, with a hood on your head fearing the crashing down of the doorway.

Kicking legs as a baby, or kicking in someone lying in a street, one minute you are powerless, the next you have it all in your hands.

Life swings from one day to the next, never becoming the same thing twice, for routine is the acceptance of a slow and painful death, if not in body, then in the soul.

Can you touch your toes, or do those calf muscles pull tightly?

Laughing one minute, crying the next, like self posessed children, with an over inflated sense of self worth.

I am fed up and overjoyed, sometimes for no reason, sometimes for very good reasons but in the greater scheme of things, what it is for, even I cannot pinpoint.

Skipping away I go, rolling back I come. Always journeying, but to the same point, never quite reaching my destination, but still, I know what lies for me at the end.

Ho-hum, ho-hum...such is the beast that lies within, but the spirit of joy, long since departed from myself. Maybe one day I will find it again, if such a thing was ever possessed...

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Disgusted

You know things happen in the world.

You know that there is little you can do.

But sometimes, you witness it.

Maybe in reality.

Maybe through film.

But now, I feel queasy.

Very sickly.

I will explain, maybe, one day.

But today, I think I just need a cup of tea.

And I am thankful.

I am lucky.

I often forget that.

My hassles in life are nothing.

Compared to real life...

Monday, 24 January 2011

Living with Zelda (1) - A Review of 'A Link to the Past'

Let me take you back to my childhood and show you the awesomeness of Zelda...



For those that have been living under a rock for the past couple of decades or who have never picked up a control pad, Zelda is the great RPG's that came out in the Eighties and since then, on virtually every console that Nintendo has released, there has been game from the Zelda series.

A Link to the Past was also the first time I came into contact with Zelda, and I can honestly say that this game did change the course of my life. Procrastination, going on odd quests around London, rescuing princesses, all of these activities that I partake on a regular basis is a result of playing Zelda on the Super Nintendo as a kid.

And as the first time I played Zelda, this had a massive impact on me. I knew of Zelda from the earlier NES (never had this machine) titles, but never really played them. In the end, I was still unsure whether to get this game or not, but a friend of mine at school who had the SNES told me that it was the best game he ever played. With a recommendation like that, I pestered my parents and one Christmas, it was wrapped under the Christmas tree. I love Father Christmas...

Zelda as a series is loved as it is a combination of game styles. Yes, there are combat sequences, but they are not the major part of the game. Instead, as in all of the Zelda series, solving puzzles, going on huge quests (there is no direct path to the princess) and an absorbing story is what made this game brilliant.

Looking back through Rose Tinted spectacles, it is easy to overlook the flaws of the game. Namely the technology at the time sucked. But, despite the limitations of technology, this was an amazing piece of software. The graphics at the time were mind blowing, the sound was great and the size of the game was epic.

A Link to the Past was groundbreaking in so many ways. The Zelda series evolved because of it. The concept of two worlds (in this case the Light and Dark Worlds) in effect doubling the amount of gameplay first made its appearance here. So many items that have become iconic such as the Hookshot and of course, the Master Sword.

To say I loved this game is an understatement! Instead of going out and getting high on crack like the kids of today, Zelda kept me indoors for far too long and made me appreciate the a dark room and going for hours without food, absorbed by a pointless quest. Sarcasm aside however, this was so much fun to play! When I was a kid I loved it. However, as an adult, while I do look back with fondness, I have had no desire to replay this game. Maybe it was the length of the game (it is just far too long) or maybe it is because I want to get into the world of 3-D Zelda...but for some reason, I have not had an urge to replay this brilliant piece of my childhood.

Still, I look back on Link to the Past as one of the finest games ever, and the one game that got me sucked into a world where fighting bad guys with a bottle of bugs was not fantasy, but reality!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Moment of Genius (or just click on the links for some Sunday fun!)

All right, stick that phrase into Google. And what comes up? Well, in the UK, an advert about Sarah Palin pops up. So of course I had a look. All right, shockingly slick, but genous? Surely, the world's most restrictive, sorry, popular search engine could come up with something better than that?

So I scrolled further down the page, and saw that Catlin had posted on her social network that she was engrossed with a German project. Wow. I feel more fulfilled already. Great that one.

Does anyone else think that I am wasting time?

So why was I looking for a Moment of Genius? Who knows? Maybe I was trying to link up Einstein's theory on whatever, with the notion of reality.

Ah, reality. I love this one. I think the best question to ask is, If no one looks at the moon, will it still be there? Now that is a moment of Pure Genius! Watch that last link, it will screw with your mind!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Great Drug Combinations

Viagra + LSD = F**k man, it's so big - wow!

Speed + Cannabis = Yo, I want to like, so, totally dance, yeah man, yeah. Do you get it?

Alcohol = I hate my life!

Alcohol + Alcohol = I love you!

Alcohol + Alcohol + Alcohol = I hate you! No wait, I'm sorry, I love you really!

Alcohol x 4 = I love life!

Alcohol x 5 = What happened last night?

Amphetamines + Laxatives = (A very Skinny Person) x (Film Starlet)

Cocaine + Alcohol = Normal Friday Night in London!

Friday, 21 January 2011

Left Handed Studies

This course at the University of Plov is a broad based degree that takes a look at the culture, ethnography, religious beliefs and social systems of the left-handed people. The degree is designed to appeal to students from a variety of backgrounds who:

Wish to know more of the left handed nature of the world.

Wish to begin their left handed study and engage in critical contemporary theory.

Wish to understand cultural left handedness from a global perspective.

Come from other disciplines such as Archaeology, Philosophy, Sociology or Law who wish to expand their expertise and knowledge in their chosen left fields.

The degree offers students a chance to pursue leftist interests by a considered selection of courses to suit their individual needs.

The programme attracts students from all around the world, who are seeking greater understanding of left handed people and their unique personas that have contributed the breadth and depth of this course. Further more, our students have been highly successful in going further into industry that has enabled the betterment of left handed people everywhere. Our centre for Left Handed Studies have included luminaries that have invented the left handed hammer, the left handed mobile phone and the left handed battery.

Prospective students are encouraged to contact Dr Charles Michel Duke, Professor of Left Handed Freaks at an early stage of application on the most appropriate options of study. Students who have had experience in the field of left handedness, including (but not limited to) using a left handed pair of scissors, writing a language from left to right (and not getting persecuted) and fighting South Paw are shown to have used their initiative – unusual for right handers – and so are warmly invited to send their applications onto this course. Candidates are expected to apply with a handwritten letter. Written with their left hand...

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Wandering around the East End and finding the SS Great Eastern

(That's a long title...)

London used to be big on ships. Long before Rotterdam took over the world of docks in Europe (anyone feel that Heathrow is going to loose its crown in a similar way) and so it was also a major place to build ships. In the time when London had industry, oooh, about two centuries ago. Well, wallowing, as we like to, in our past, I stumbled across the place where the SS Great Eastern was built yesterday.

Now, if you want to know what the SS Great Eastern was, well, it was the biggest ship of its time.



And it produced one of the most iconic photos of Victorian Era. That of Brunel standing in front of its massive chains:



But onto the site where it was built, still preserved on the Isle of Dogs today. Nothing more than a pit with some timber struts surrounded by lots of luxury flats. Pretty much the fate of Docklands. However, it is a fascinating place to wander around, and to think, at the time, the largest ship in the world was constructed here, in London...



I was with a friend at the time, and sometimes, I forget how much I miss East London. I may sound a little sarcastic about the redevelopment of this part of london, but it is a fascinating place, where the old industrial part of the city combines with the new outlook that we are taking t the moment. There, economics and architecture in a paragraph - impressive!

One thing that was interesting was to look across the river. On the southern side of the Thames, there are still a few pockets of riverside that have not yet been converted to luxury flats. But recession or none, new buildings are popping up. Bankers have bonuses to spend and more importantly, there is always money to be made. So you know what they are going to build in this part of London once these buildings come tumbling down.



This part of the Isle of Dogs is pretty nice, and one of the reasons is the view of the river. The Thames is, well, pretty. Despite the clouds, it is nice to see the landscape of the city, and the fact that it is still changing. A few years ago, you would not see what you see now, and it will change in a few years. Okay, London is not bring rebuilt at a Shanghai style pace, but still, for an economy that is (or has) going (gone) down the drain, someone is making cash...(oh, that political angle, I cannot resist)



Right, just a little wander. I have not done one of those in ages!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Procrastination...

I do not know what is more sad. The fact that I found this video, or that I actually got all the jokes for this vid.

Princess Peach and Zelda catch up.



I definitely logged up way too many hours on video games when I was a kid. Enjoy!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Questions?

No?

Yes?

Living well?

Are you intelligent?

Maybe?

Not sure?

Are you smart?

Yes?

Are you stupid?

Definitely?

Getting better?

Sliding down?

Reaching for the stars?

Bumming along?

Feeling funky?

Getting sick?

Blogging?

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Could other Arab countries follow Tunisia's example?

Ah, armchair blogging. Preach about world affairs from the comfort of your own seat. But this one is interesting. There has been a revolution in Tunisia. Unusual because it is an Arab state, and to be honest, apart from Lebanon, is any one of them remotely democratic?

The Beeb asks the question, can it be repeated across the Arab world. Probably not. For starters, Tunisia was particularly despotic. Secondly, it has no oil. This is important, as basically, we in the west do not care who runs it. Thirdly, they are not as well armed (usually by the West) as somewhere like, Saudi Arabia is.

Good luck to the Tunisians! I really hope the bloodshed they have gone through, marks the beginning of something better. Their economy makes ours look like a bar of gold - mass unemployment, government cronyism, a lack of social & financial mobility for ordinary people, and, actually, it looks a lot like the UK's economy...

Mmm...

I know the news makes it look bad, but it really could be the beginning of something far better. Ah, releasing the shackle sof the state. One can hope...

Friday, 14 January 2011

Motorcycle Diaries - A bit of clothing

Far too lazy to take picture, but I bought my first bit of apparel since my gloves - a pair of motorcycle trousers. All right, they are not exactly social wear, but in the (hopefully never to happen) event that I may come off the motorbike, they will stop my leg from shredding into a million pieces.

So, I was on the bike today, riding around, and it felt a bit funny in these motorbike trousers. You see, up until now I have been risking my life in jeans, which is all fun and dandy, but to be honest, if you ever come off the bike, your body is not hitting tarmac, but tarmac at speed, which is like hitting a cheese grater (I loved my CBT course).

Safer now that I have biking trousers? Well, I have a sadistic approach to motorbiking. I approach each journey as if it will be my last, and then ride carefully. Of course I have done the whole, ride like a bat-out-of-hell thing. After all, I am a guy. But also, to be honest, you look a bit pathetic trying to floor it on a crappy 125cc bike, so you learn to just control your urges and enjoy the ride. The mentality is more important than the clothing.

But, sometimes, you do not know what will happen. The way I look at bike trousers (and jackets) is like this. If I come off the bike, my skin will hopefully stay intact. Plus I will also hopefully not smash up my bones, as there is some padding to protect me from the road or kerb. That is the reason I got those trousers. Oh, and they are fairly waterproof ;)

Oh well, I am rambling and it is far too early in the morning. I want to play Zelda...can I?

Thursday, 13 January 2011

London Diary 39

Chicken balls with sweet and sour sauce, with egg fried rice. Chinese takeaway, the staple diet of a bachelor on his day off. And disgusting, the whole thing. Who can eat that salty, greasy junk? Well, at least the owner was entertaining, that is, the owner of the takeaway. We chatted about everything from corrupt politicians to Page 3. What more could one want as an appetiser?

Ugh, cold. I hate it. No longer snowing, just windy. And I am tired of it all. Tired of the gloom that I see, tired of the lousy person that I am. Deviant, shifty, never being honest with anyone, but especially with myself.

But then again, why should I be honest. I do not feel like it. Childish as I am, I will play with my own emotions, that of others, and more importantly, will play with the contents of my plastic bag. Egg fried rice and chicken balls, now getting cold. Excuse me while I munch...

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Classic Cinema

I have got a bit of a dirty habit at the moment.

Up in town, a cinema is showing classic films. Okay, not 1930's silent movies, but cult classics.

Last week was Get Carter, absolutely brilliant, and I have been wanting to see that movie for the best part of the decade, again, at this cinema. Finally done!

Yesterday was Fight Club.

Next week. Ahh, this is going to be a good month for movies!

Monday, 10 January 2011

My staple gun

It went missing yesterday.

That annoyed me. A lot.

So I had to find it.

Eventually I did.

But I am now angry.

Why did it go wandering.

So now I stuck a sign to it.

Reading:

Leave me on the computer table. You can read, so obey!

How long before it goes missing again?

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Early Riser or Early Rider?

All right, so maybe my prediction of spring was a little bit too optimistic. After all, this is London, and the fact is that it is freezing outside. But at this time, the sun is beginning to peek over the horizon. Yep, the days are getting loner, and I especially notice it, as I have not seen the sun in about a week - no kidding, the weather has been that depressing.

But, I am up early to do some computer work. Yeah, that whole Irfan thing, and more. I need to cut a trailer, but first, I want to have a nice Quicktime file, so that, well, it's technical.

But I will head back to bed, a couple of hours rest, before more work. Oh yes, that Sunday being the day of rest - I laugh at the thought of having a Sabbath. But I really do need one...

Saturday, 8 January 2011

New Gloves!




I lost my gloves in November on a bus to Heathrow.

(long story, not that interesting)

Anyway, there was a thing called Xmas, and life was busy. So I had put off buying a new pair until this morning. Riding back from work in the relative warmth of Spring,

(in other words, the rain, not snow)

I spied a 24 hour supermarket.

There, amongst the fluorescent lights and the automatic checkouts, where human souls no longer sit and stare blankly into space, were a pair of gloves.

They were woolly, warm, not waterproof.

(you cannot have everything in life, can you?)

But, they were cheap.

(yey!)

So, along with some fruits and some bin liners, I bought them. And now have toasty warm hands when I ride the bicycle!

(the clapped out piece of crap that is...)

Friday, 7 January 2011

It has been a few days...

...and so I am back. To be honest, I just wanted to switch off from all things computerised. I went out, to the movies, and just chilled out for a while. 2010 has been one hell of a year for me. A busy one. 2011 will be the same, but I hope it is a good busy, like 2010 was. Irfan has been the big project for the year and now that the production has finished, I decided to breathe, to exhale, just for a little.

Anyway, what will 2011 hold for all and for myself? I do not know. Hey, if I did, I would not be making films, but playing the lottery - every day of the week! But as I am not the gambling type...

I have booked my first holiday of the year! To Poland (and Germany for a few hours before, as that is where my flight lands). Poland will be country number 33 on the list, and a continuation of my discovery of the new Europe last year. Take a look back at my travels in both Hungary and Romania, there are a few good posts there...this time my travels are a little more concentrated within the country. I do not plan to waltz from capital city to capital city, but bumble along the southa nd west of Poland, its cultural arc' for want of a better word. From Berlin, I plan a trip to Zielona Gora then onto Wroclaw, Opople before ending up in one of Europe's most beautiful cities, Krakow.

But in the meantime, I have a fair few things to do before I head off. First of all, I have to set up Irfan for distribution. That means getting press packs, trailers and other paraphernalia ready. Next, it is edit some web episodes for a new web series I want to pursue. Finally, write. I have a lot of that to do, as projects are lining up for shooting this year. 2010 wa a good year, let us hope 2011 becomes a great one!

Monday, 3 January 2011

The Motorcycle DIaries (8) - Service!

While a man waits for his computer to render, there are many things he can do. Some minor DIY, cook, or fix up his motorbike...

When I first got the bike, I did a quick oil change, but I knew the oil was not that good, but better than the stuff already in the engine. I have rode the bike a fair bit, but over the past fortnight, the exhaust fumes were getting a bit smoky - not a good sign.

So I had to ride the bike a little more gently, until I had the time to get and change the oil. As always with me, the filming took precedent, but while I was rendering copies of Irfan, I went off to the bike shop and got myself some new oil.

The good stuff too, and four litres of it. Seeing that a CG125 has capacity for about 1L of oil, that means I can get 3 more oil changes out of that bottle.

Worryingly, about half a litre of old oil came out of the engine when I changed the oil Where had the rest of the oil gone to?

Anyway, after that, it was time to change my spark plug. A car normally has four cylinders, hence four sparks, but a bike is a wonderful contraption that relies on only one plug. I have not got a clue when it was last changed, so while the oil was draining (and the computer rendering) now seemed as a good a time as any to change the baby.



(New plug on the right)

Changing a spark plug is as easy as changing a light bulb. First, gently tease off the cover casing (located on the right side of this bike, above the engine). Then, get a Spark Plug tool (I know there are more technical names for these things, but I just know what they are, not what they are called). Anyway, it looks like this:



And untwist the spark plug. Now some people check and clean the plug. I checked and threw it away, as the new plug is pretty cheap to buy, and hey, I only have one of them, so I'll spoil myself!

Next, insert the plug back in.



What I did was put a little WD-40 on the threads, so it would screw in a little easier. Did the job just fine. Tighten (enough, not too much) with the Spark Plug Tool and pop the Cap back on. Once I had filled the engine with oil, I gave it a crank and voila! The engine started. What can cost £70 at a garage, cost me nothing in labour. £30 for the oil (good for four oil changes, as I got 4L of the stuff) and £6 for the Spark Plug. In other words, per service, that would work out to £14 (one oil change and one spark change). Also lubed up the chain, and yeah, the bike is good to go for the rest of the winter! Oh yeah...

Sunday, 2 January 2011

London Diary 39

She waved goodbye to him and closed the door on her room.

She looked out from behind the net curtains, and saw him walk down the road. It was 5am, the sun was coming up, but it was still cold for springtime.

A smile came across her face as she leaned on the window frame looking out on the street below. She saw him cross the road to the bus stop and take out his mobile phone. She cringed a little, realising just how young he was. Eighteen, and just finished school, while here she was, a grown woman, rent, bills, insurance and career.

Okay, the sex is good. Funny, and good. She smiled, yeah, bunny rabbit is an appropriate term. But she felt good, to be admired for sheer sex. She knew there was nothing, just lust, and he must also know that too. And that's when her heart twinged. A little. She thought back to when she was eighteen, all the insecurities and the lousy pop music. How much life had changed in the intervening years, how much personal grooming had changed. Life was different, and yet, the basics were still the same.

Her first time was a few years earlier than eighteen, just like his was. But it was at eighteen when she began to discover sex, instead of fumbling. Still, it took a few more years before she knew what she really wanted and liked. She thought about the years she wasted fretting and worrying. Sometimes it was easier to be a man, or even a boy. Just sitting at the bus stop, waiting, oh no, there he goes, dozing off. How do they do it, sleep so much? At that age all she could do was lie awake at night and think...

She walked over to the mirror and took a look at herself. Her cheeks were flushed, and even when she tried, she could not suppress the grin on her face. Yeah, it was a good night, a good few nights, a good few weeks! She had just wandered into that cafe looking for a quick cup of coffee before starting class, but things had change so much in the past month. But soon she was going to be heading back home. Not too far for a thirty year old woman with a career, but for an eighteen year old starting out in life, well...well...

She was going to miss him. Yeah, he was annoying, he was a kid, and while not old enough to be his mother, give it a few years and, argh, she freaked out. Oh who cares she thought, after all, she was on holiday. And this is all lust and hormones playing its silly game on an ordinary, but fun loving couple couple. But what a game to play!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happ New Whatever...

1/1/11

Yes, how quaint.

Look at the adverts. Carefully targeted. Eat this lousy cereal and loose the weight...the weight that you put on because for the past four weeks we have encouraged you to binge eat and to binge drink...still, never mind, nothing like a new you that you can buy for yourself.

Or how about, ugh, I give up. I am shopping! Yes, while the rest of the world is now s**t scared about impending doom, gloom, recession and tax rises, I am out to spend, spend, spend! Nothing like an economic kick up the backside. I have cash to burn and my frivolous nature means that I want to shop like hell! It is time to live life for me, and my credit card...except that I do not have a credit card...still, why should that stop me and the government's best attempts for me to save. Look, you're going to have to stop printing the Peso Sterling if you want me to scrimp rather than spend. Because, like every other Brit, I am useless at making anything, but great at spending!

Oh, and it is true. You can buy yourself a better life!