Jun 29

Sometimes my memory frustrates me. I remember strange, weird and wonderful things and forget the most basic. I can remember plot details of Star Trek episodes, stories from books last read a decade ago, even snippets of music that I haven’t heard for years will ring a bell somewhere in my memory, but family birthdays will fall through the cracks. What I had for dinner a week ago? Gone. Hell, even when people give advance warning of a party I somehow manage to forget to turn up on time. So here I am, taking a quick lunch break before I go into what is sure to be a soul destroying staff meeting, berating myself for managing to forget the latest Blog Party. A great idea, too, with an excellent question: “What are your favorite films?”

As I sit and think about this, I’m simultaneously excited that I get to write about my favourite films and worried that when I do people will look at my list and think “He likes that? That’s it, I’m not going to his next party.” There is a scene in a Friends episode that runs with a similar theme: Joey is asked as part of a quiz what Rachel says is her favourite movie. “Dangerous Liaisons!” he replies, getting a point for a correct answer. He gets another point when he answers the next question, “And what is actually her favourite movie?” with “Weekend at Bernie’s.”

Well, I am going to be honest with this one. Much as I would love to load the list with such works as Citizen Kane, Cube, Pi and Amadeus in order that I might look intelligent, I’m not going to (though I will, in a last concession to my vanity, admit that I own the first three and quite like the fourth). I already do that with my bookcases at home, which hold all of my university books in the vain hope that someone looking along my shelves might think “Wow, got ourselves a smart one here.”and I always feel slightly fraudulent when I look at those books up there – I don’t think I’ve looked at any of them since I graduated.

So without further ado, here are some movies that rank up there as my favourites. It’s not meant to be a complete list of all my best movies, just some I particularly like.

First off there would have to be a tip of the hat to my Star Trek geek roots with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Ever wondered why Star Trek has managed to last as long as it has? It’s all in here. Action. Adventure. Friendship. Humour. Terror. An exploration of very human emotions and situations (revenge, growing old, coming to know what friendship means) in a science fiction setting that serves, and is not served by, the plot. Excellent music, special effects that stand up better than most of the stuff being put out today, and the superlative “Khaaaaaaan!” moment. Everything that makes Star Trek endure in the hearts and minds of fans is to be found in this film.

Going from the sublime to the ridiculous, my next pick would be Carry On Up the Khyber. Never the most highbrow films, the “Carry On…” series were cheap and cheerful nonsense films that made their money making cheap sexual innuendoes and poor jokes. For all that they were, of their time, some of the most successful films made in Britain and made the men and women in them household names. This one is one of the best, with sharp jokes, excellent performances from Sid James and Kenneth Williams in particular, and a cheerfully non-politically correct attitude to most things. Of course I can look at it and see it’s awful aspects, but the whole thing is so much fun I can’t help but smile whenever I see it on the TV.

For my next one I think I am going to have to throw my lot in with MCF and pick out Transformers: The Movie for special mention. What’s not to like about this film? Giant robots. Death. Destruction. Cool rock music. Leonard Nimoy. It’s all good stuff, people.

Even though it scares the bejabbers out of me, I would have to put Alien in there too. Quite frankly, the film is a masterpiece of pacing. It builds up slowly, brutally, frame by frame, to a payoff that terrifies me enough that I can’t watch the damn film on DVD without someone else being in the room. When so many films these days go into a headlong rush to get where they want to be (oftentimes dragging the audience along like terrified passengers on a rollercoaster) it’s refreshing to watch a movie that knows where it’s going, knows it’s going to frighten all sorts of living crap out of you, knows it’s good at what it does and doesn’t care how long it’s going to take to get there. Besides, any film that inspired an entire generation of men to be frightened of childbirth has got to be worth a couple of pages on somebody’s blog.

Ice cold in Alex deserves a mention, because I am one of those viewers who always gets thirsty after watching it, and can’t wait for a cold pint of lager afterward. Special effects, animatronics, supermarionation and CGI are all well and good – but when one long, slow shot of a pint of lager can create an effect that lasts for years, that’s when you know you’ve got a good movie.

While I’m thinking about black and white classics, I have to plump for Some Like It Hot. I remember the day I told my friends I hadn’t seen it. I was promptly sat down, the movie was put on and I was to watch it then and there. To be quite honest I’m glad they took a hard line with me on this one, because it’s now one of my favourite movies. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis are fantastic, and Junior’s very Cary Grant-esque accent always has me in stitches (mainly because it sounds so much like my own rather poor Cary Grant impression).

Where to wrap up this list? Do I mention the superlative Wicker Man? Yes, I think I must. Genuinely frightening movie that actually manages to not have a happy ending. That’s in too. What about Salem’s Lot? 2001? Dodgeball? They’re all worthy mentions.

Well there you have it – my movies for the blog party. I’m off now to read up on the other entries, and I fully expect to have a few more movies in my “must check that out” list when I’m done. If I’ve managed to do the same for you…well, I’d call that a good piece of work.

Wouldn’t you?

Jun 28

I’m pissed off with work today. Not much new there really, except for the degree to which I’m pissed off, which is much higher than usual. So it’s an unexpected pleasure for me to be able to say that something managed to put a dent in my foul mood and make me smile. From a review of the new Tekken game for the PS2:

“On a similar theme, Tekken’s eager-to-please designers have been swiping ideas from other games like fat kids in an understaffed cake shop.”

It’s lines like that that make me surf the web, you know that? God bless the electronic age.

Jun 27

And that old phrase is “If brains were dynamite, he/she wouldn’t have enough to blow his/her nose.” With the onset of summer and an unusually warm burst of weather (in Scotland, summer doesn’t usually go hand in hand with warm weather – it just means the gulf between nice weather and us is a little wider than usual) my brains must, running that old phrase in reverse, be composed of a critical mass of some fissile material far more powerful than mere dynamite. Maybe I even have antimatter up there. Because I have to own up now, I have been blowing my nose a lot lately. Oh and sneezing, but not your ordinary “atchoo” sneezes, oh no. The huge, body-shaking sneezes. One after another after another until my body hurts. Then there are the streaming, itchy eyes.

Ah yes, summer is upon us, and so is my annual hayfever hell.

It might come as no surprise to hear that I like the winter. No bugs, no pollen, no hayfever, no sneezing. You also get Christmas, cold days, dark nights (which always make home feel warmer for some reason) and did I mention no sneezing? None of this allergy malarkey to bother me in the winter, oh no. However here I am, in the summer, trying my best to get through it. This year I am trying regular vitamin pills (a family member told me that was a possible cure), antihistamines (might as well keep the old classics on the go) and am even trying homepathic remedies (local honey and some other stuff) to try to soothe the symptoms. If I don’t start rattling from all the pills I’ll be a very lucky ‘doo.

Hence my week of complete off-the-radar quietness. With this first week of severe hayfever, I have been spending my days in misery and my evenings in the charming pastime of feeling sorry for myself, watching DVDs and being a complete couch potato. Now I have that first week under my belt it’s easier to deal with the symptoms and just get on, so I’m not going to wallow any more. Isn’t it strange that pollen – something microscopic – can have such a powerful effect upon some of us? Makes me look at “War of the Worlds” in a whole new way. Of course I don’t have the cool tripods or heat rays, but you can’t have everything.

*atchoo*

Jun 20

Having had a read around some of the blogs on my blogroll, I see that there has been much talk of Father’s Day. Hardly surprising, since Father’s Day passed this weekend (see, I told you I had the makings of a fine detective in me) and people’s thoughts have turned to the “old man” in their lives. Some bloggers have spoken of their fathers with great warmth. Some have been remarkably candid (not to mention incredibly courageous) talking about their troubled, and sometimes painful, relationships with their fathers. So it should come as no surprise that what passes for a mental process in this noggin of mine is turning towards thoughts of my dad.

I’m very, very different from my dad. He likes sports, I hate them. I love to read constantly, he reads occasionally. He’s more to the political right in his beliefs, and I lean left. He has no time for science fiction, and I can’t imagine a day going by that I don’t read/watch/talk about something to do with it. He hates computers, I work with them and enjoy them as a hobby. He loves to cook, and yet I swear I think I could burn cornflakes.

In short, we’re about as different as two men possibly could be. If we weren’t related, I don’t think we would ever have met. I don’t have the same interests, I don’t go to the same places, speak to the same people, or even enjoy the same things as my dad. If we were both just two random, unconnected guys going about our lives, I don’t think our two paths would ever cross. And yet, obviously, we’re connected in just about the most profound way possible. It amuses me that tiny little spirals of chemicals, or fate, or God, or the random mathematics of probability or even some quirky spin of the quantum dice (you can feel free to pick whatever one works for you) produced the genetic odd couple that is me and my dad.

Yet we’re similar in ways too. Physically I inherited his hairline (which is now in full retreat on all fronts, so much so I’m fast approaching the point where I’m going to have to grit my teeth and just get rid of my hair altogether), large hands and a slightly-too-large nose. I inherited his scowl, his frown and his laugh. I also got a large chunk of his sense of humour and a tendency to swear more than is probably good for me. When I react to some things I can’t help but think “Oh my god, I just heard my dad talking.” and I do see more and more of my dad looking back at me in the mirror every morning. You want to talk OMG moments, you come to me after you look in the mirror and see an appreciable percentage of your father staring back at you, looking none too happy at all about being there. Then we’ll talk.

Right now my dad and I are in a good place. I moved out of their home when I was 20, and my relationship with my mum and dad has only got better since then. When I lived at home we argued a lot. I think because we’re different in so many of our habits, but similar in our unfortunate temperaments and stubborn natures, we tended to grate against one another quite a bit. Since I moved out and we all have our own space again, we get along pretty well. I worry, though, that my dad and I aren’t as close as other father/son relationships. We don’t have the common link of an interest or point of view to allow for bonding. I don’t understand what he enjoys, and the same could be said of him. I worry that we get on, but that we might be missing something that other fathers and sons have. I also worry that he’s lonely, because his mum and dad (my gran and grandpa) died within a few years of one another (my gran died just last year), and I wish that I could do more to reach out to him about this. I know this wouldn’t work as he’s pretty old school and would only be embarrassed, but I’m still left with the urge to do something.

So here I am, writing this in a medium I know my dad will never be interested in exploring, perhaps precisely for that reason. Writing it for others to read, but meaning it for my dad (this would be, for those of you wondering about the title, the “this feels silly” part). Dad, I love you. Thanks for looking after me. Thanks for helping make me who I am today, because when all’s said and done I don’t think I’ve turned out too bad. Not brilliantly, but you’re only human. Thanks for my brothers (okay so mum, you deserve most of the credit there but you get your own day) and for once, when I was a child, threatening a fairground ride operator with the most bloodcurdling violence if he didn’t get me off the ride that was scaring me senseless right then and there. The fact that you were on the ride too and had to deliver your threats and promises of retribution in the 5 second window you had as you passed his operator’s station only speaks to your effectiveness as far as I’m concerned. Thanks for all the cooking, the tidying up after me and the generally sticking up for me. Thanks for putting me through Uni and not being too disappointed when you, a football mad, horse-racing lover saw your son sitting at the table building his first ever airfix model kit of the Starship Enterprise.

I still wish you had rethought the hairline, though.

Jun 18

I suppose I’m just going to have to come out and say it right from the start: I really don’t like Bob Geldof. I appreciate that the man is trying to do good things for the people of Africa. I support the idea of reducing, or just cancelling outright, the African debt to the modern industrialised nations. I believe that celebrities have their part to play, just like everyone else, in making the world a better and more just place. So just so I’m clear, I don’t have a problem with the man’s aims or his chosen crusade. I just have a problem with him.

Well, I say “a problem”, when I really mean to say many problems. They range from serious to petty, large to small. You should know in advance that I’m pretty much going to come off in the “arsehole” side of things at one point in this post so I’d skip this one if you want to retain a largely positive picture of me in your minds.

First off, why does he always look like he has just a) smelled a week old kipper, b) lost a tenner and found a fiver, c) just been rochambeau‘d or d) all of the above? (this falls into the petty column I admit).

Bob, we get that there is great injustice in the world. We get that there is a tremendous (and unfair) gap between the developed and developing sections of the world. We get that we need to do something to fix it, and we even get that it’s on our consciences to do so. We even understand that now is the best time to get it done. However, you won’t cause the whole universe to fall into a black hole if you crack your face and actually smile a bit. Try it, I assure you, your mouth does have the ability to move upwards like that.

Secondly, just who does he think he is telling children to skip school, and people to leave their jobs, to join him on a walk to Edinburgh and protest on the world poverty issue to affect the outcome of the G8 conference? He wants a million people to converge on Edinburgh, with no thought of the fact that people might get hurt, the city might not be able to handle an influx of a million people or, first and foremost, it’s just not a good idea to encourage kids to skip school. Here was me thinking that kids going to school was a good thing, thank all the heavens I have Bob Geldof to set me straight on that one.

Thirdly, there is the eBay thing. People selling tickets to a charity concert on eBay is the lowest of the low, I agree. Such people should go, to quote from Firefly, to the special level of hell reserved for people who talk in movie theatres. However, eBay said it did not break the law to do so. It did not break eBay’s rules. It might be morally repugnant but it did not break the law. However Saint Bob didn’t like it and whipped up such a media storm that eBay climbed down (a serious issue as far as I am concerned: once you start breaking your own rules, what’s the point?) and removed the tickets from their listing. Old Bob also told people, before eBay took the tickets off their listings, to swamp the auctions and place unrealistic bids of millions of pounds. After they took them down, eBay banned the users that did this because they broke the rules by bidding with no intention of paying. Nice one Bob. I have to say though, I’m glad to see I’m not the only one that has a problem with this one.

Fourth, I am sick and tired of the sanctimonious tone being taken by this man. I’m a good person. I’ll give money to good causes. I care about the reduction of African debt and will give to charities that help to solve the serious social, political and economic problems faced by the developing world. What I have a problem with, though, is being sneered at by a very rich man who is enjoying a hugely raised public profile because of the charity concert he is organising. A concert which will, by the way, tremendously boost the record sales of every artist that appears at it (many of which are Saint Bob’s friends).

I’ll be honest and say that I don’t think anyone in Africa could honestly give a rat’s ass if Elton John is singing at the concert. I don’t think they care if Bob Geldof is organising it. I really don’t think they would even care if the centrepiece of the show was Santa Claus making a personal appearance and signing autographs. They’re too busy trying to stay alive in a very harsh world.

So what am I trying to say about ‘ol Bob? Do good things. Help others. Alleviate suffering. Raise issues and enrich public debate. Try to make a difference. Just don’t use all these good causes as a springboard for your own personal publicity campaign, and don’t try to set yourself up as the ultimate moral authority on just about everything.

And smile from time to time.

Here endeth the first ever SaWFfMoM newsletter. Next month, more waving of fists at the world from crazy old mister FawnDoo.

(with all that in mind, I am afraid that I have to break the tone of this first ever SaWFfMoM newsletter with some excellent news. Woo hoo!)

Jun 15

I can’t help but remember a brief exchange I had with a woman on Saturday, which I thought I might pass along for some small amusement. There I was, out shopping and generally enjoying the short burst of sunshine that seems to account for Scotland’s 10 minute summertime, when my eye fell upon a collection of banners, stands and stalls. These were all grouped together to protest various political and social issues, from the treatment of animals to the relief of African debt. Thinking about it I can only put the sheer concentration of protestors down to the fact that the G8 conference at Gleneagles is looming closer and closer.

Some of the protests being made I agreed with, some not and some I was just plain indifferent to. One in particular caught my eye above the others – a group of young men and women protesting against the proposals to introduce ID cards in Britain. Having little time for this idea myself (I think it will start off as voluntary, and end up as punishable if you don’t have one – a dangerous path for us to start walking down, especially if we’re using the fact that we’re a free nation to promote our way of life to other areas of the world) I approached and signed the petition to object to the idea.

The young woman who handed me a clipboard to sign was most pleased I had signed up, and chatted with me for a moment.

“You know,” she said, “They (I presume she meant the Government) say that most people are in favour of these things, that they have polls saying most people like the idea.”

I nodded, trying to look attentive even though my mind was by this point starting to drift on to other subjects. After all I agreed with her, I signed my name, what more did she want?

“But you know what?” she went on, not really pausing to give me a chance to answer. She was quite heated by this point. “I haven’t met one person today who likes the idea. Not one bloody person.”

At this point a thought occurred to me, but I didn’t give it voice. I made some noises that sounded like grunts of general agreement, and made my way back to my shopping. And so my brief foray into politics on this sunny Saturday came to an end.

What was the thought though? Well simple really. I wanted to say (but didn’t) that she wasn’t likely to meet anyone in favour of ID cards while she was standing under a 30 foot long banner that had “NO TO I.D. CARDS! THEY ATTACK CIVIL LIBERTIES!” written across it in huge red letters.

Just a thought.

Jun 13

What’s that? A blog party? Surely not, those are Friday affairs, aren’t they? Convivial ways to slip into the weekend with your head full of interesting thoughts. A blog party on a Monday? That’ll be the day! Blog party on a Monday, have you ever heard anything so silly…

Click.

Click.

Oh.

I struggle for a moment, stuck in that awful moment of inaction that always comes when I am faced with too many things to do at once. I have a clean, ironed white shirt – that’s a plus. My black bow tie is about here somewhere. My tuxedo is hanging, as always, in the wardrobe. I need to polish my shoes. Find a bottle of drink to take along. Do my hair. Shave. Hire a taxi (since I stupidly returned the transport I used for the previous soiree).

A party on a Monday night? After work? This is why holding parties outside of the space time continuum is a good idea. Despite the rush I can’t help but smile – it’s a party, after all. As I scramble into my shirt and start to fasten those damned cufflinks I am suddenly struck by a horrible thought – the invite for this particular party had an “and other” feel about it. Who to take along? Someone daring. Someone interesting. Someone provocative.

But who?

As I busy myself about the house, picking things up, running brushes over jackets, shoes and hair (different brushes each time, thankfully) and trying not to fall over too much, I run through possibilities in my mind. Who to take along…in the end, there is nothing for it but to refer to my diary and the list of phone numbers I have within. Maybe one of my past acquaintances would help out?

Here’s one…The Rani. (Tel: Gallifrey 448-44873-151817437-41274347, Universal communications subjunction 75757-E36364. Extension 223, ask for bio sciences.) Evil, calculating, coldhearted, cruel with an emphasis on the “fatale” part of “femme fatale”. Should be good at a party, as long as no-one starts on at her about her work. So she enslaved a few planets to carry out experiments on the people? Everyone has to make a living somehow. Then again the last time I took her to a place five of the guests were never seen again…nah, might skip on calling her.

How about Faith? (Tel: 7822-666-78253) While not quite as scientifically driven as the Rani, she is no less a femme fatale. Even more intriguingly she mixes in equal parts the potential for goodness as well as great evil, which makes her a great deal more interesting than the Rani, who is rather one dimensional in that regard. She’ll be fine. Then again, what if someone refuses the garlic dip? That might get her suspicions going and then there comes the chair leg, and the screaming, and the slaying…pass.

What about a local? Someone who lives a little closer to home?

I’m sure that Lady Macbeth (Tel: Scotland, 1)might be closer to hand than some of the others in this book. Amoral, lusting for power, and not afraid to push herself and her husband forward in a headlong rush to get it. Until, of course, it caught up with her and the guilt she felt took its full, and terrible, toll. Pity. She might have been handy if no-one had brought a knife to cut the cake…as long as no-one spilled red wine on the tablecloth. She doesn’t take red stains very well. I shudder as I remember the last date I went on with her, and the incident with the beetroot. Doesn’t bear thinking about.

Perhaps someone that doesn’t have a red asterisk against their name in the book? I vaguely recall that being marked against the evil ones.

How about the inestimable Foxxy Cleopatra? (Tel: 77548-SHAZAM) Great line in clothes. Good dancer. Knows her way around a pair of rollerskates. What more is there to say? Oh no hang on, she started going out with that hairy little weirdo didn’t she. Damn. That and she’s not quite in the femme fatale camp. Then again, it’s my address book, I can think about inviting who I like.

Unfortunately Edie Britt, (Tel: Fairview 143873) who at least fits the rather stereotypical “vamp” description of a femme fatale, is likewise unavailable. She would have been an excellent guest though. Having watched her for a year now on Desperate Housewives, I have come to admire the way she goes about her life. There’s a certain admirable directness to someone who aims at a goal like a torpedo and doesn’t deviate. Ah well.

What’s that sound? Beep beep? Damn, the taxi has arrived!

I make a run for the door, reasoning that if I’m not ready now I never will be. I grab my mobile, having finally found the perfect choice of companion for the night’s revels. I can only hope she’s available. It’s a long distance call, but I hope it’ll be worth it.

Hello operator? Yes, long distance call please. Epsilon grid, Euphrates Sector. Yes, I’ll hold.

Ah, Susan! How are you? Listen, you busy tonight? No? Excellent. How do you fancy a night out?

Jun 10

As I think I might have mentioned once or twice I am a huge science fiction fan. I love the stuff, can’t get enough of it. A whiff of warp drive, a soupcon of starships, even the tiniest nugget of nanotechnology is enough to get my interest going. So it was with some consternation that I read something the other day that rather shook my perspective on the whole thing.

I suppose I should confess a bad habit right off the bat. I buy books. I buy a lot of books. Some I buy because they relate to fields that interest me – science fiction, history, politics, web design or some other interest of mine. Some I buy because I have heard so much about them that I want to see what all the fuss is about, or just to widen my reading and not fall into the trap of limited reading habits: recent purchases on this front are “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”, “The Republic” and “Don Quixote”. Some I buy when I go out to the shops for a wander. Some I buy from big bookstores. Some from small ones. Some I buy when I’m out for lunch. Hell, I’ve even been known to pick up a book when I’m supposed to be buying a present for someone else.

The problem is, of course, that I have a job, partner, family to visit, friends to see, things to do etc etc. Much as I might yearn to, I can’t just stop interacting with the world, close the door and wade through book after book after book until my glasses smash in a horribly ironic yet wearily predictable way. And so, inevitably, there comes a backlog. Books I have sitting on shelves that I work through whenever I can. Books at work. Books at home. Books at my partner’s place. On the one hand this is a good thing as it means I am never stuck for something new to read. On the other hand it sometimes means when I pick up a book I can’t help but say to myself “You idiot! Why didn’t you read this sooner?”

This situation came to pass on Wednesday. I had arranged an exam for several students and, stuck for someone to invigilate, decided to do it myself. I can take work in with me, I reasoned, and keep up with stuff there. The idea of sitting for a few hours and not having a phone constantly ringing wasn’t without an element of appeal. I also wanted to take a book so I could read – after all there is only so much work you can do these days without a computer (isn’t that depressing?) and it might be good to have something to enjoy for a break. On my way out of my office I scanned my bookcase and picked up, almost as an afterthought, “The Songs of Distant Earth” by Arthur C. Clarke. I remembered picking it up one lunchtime I was out to grab a sandwich. Of course, at the time I was reading something else and so it went up on the bookcase. Fair enough, I thought, this’ll do to pass the time.

The book is excellent, it really is. Of course you wouldn’t expect anything else given the author (who, I bet, is so happy now he knows that he has my approval). What struck me though (and I am not ashamed to admit it did shake my perspective a little) was the introduction, written by Clarke himself. In it he says:

“…I have enormously enjoyed the best of Star Trek and the Lucas/Spielberg epics, to mention only the most famous examples of the genre. But these works are fantasy, not science fiction in the strict meaning of the term.”

Now this is Arthur C. Clarke here. This is not “Hotbody2283″ or “SpocksBrain7273″ on some discussion forum spouting off his or her viewpoint (which is invariably something along the lines of “Kirk suxxxxxor” or “Trukk not Munky!!!!oneoneoneone”). Arthur C. fucking Clarke. I think it is safe to say when it comes to SF this man knows what he is talking about. I sat there, in an exam, making sure people didn’t cheat, and wondered about all the books on my bookshelves. How many of them had I read thinking they were science fiction when in fact they might be fantasy? Of course it doesn’t change the fact that I enjoyed the books, and would read them (and others from the same authors) again, but it struck me that I might, after all these years, have been mis-labelling these books in my mind. It’s like going through your entire life thinking “I like oranges” only to have someone come along and say “Actually, that’s an apple you’re eating, not an orange.”

I can guess about now that you’ll be thinking I’m making a lot out of this when it really isn’t such a big deal. I know. Storm in a teacup. Typical of me to make a big thing out of a small thing (something you will come to know if you stick with me in my ham fisted attempt at blogging). I’m going to go on reading the books I enjoy, working through the ones I pick up, trying new things and adding to my neverending backlog of reading. Okay some of the stuff I watch and read might not strictly be sci fi, but who cares? It’s fun anyway.

However I can’t help but wonder, as I look at my bookshelves, how many more perspective shifts, shocking ideas and opportunities for reconsideration lie within. They all look so innocent. Just a combination of ink, glue, paper, plastics and some chemicals arranged in a convenient fashion. Like everything else though, they conspire to be more than the sum of their parts. One book is more than just the crude ingredients of its makeup. Shelves of books are more than that again. They can change minds, change views and change the world.

I suppose the only thing I can say to wrap this all up for now, the only thing that can possibly be said, with all sincerity, at this point is:

Thank you, Arthur.

Jun 08

After much frustration, I finally get a chance to sit down and do the writeup for my recent Blog Party, which had as the point of discussion your top five “Oh my god” moments. I’m really pleased to see so many taking part, with interest and cross discussion on other blogs. I think, all in all, that we can call this one a modest success. Already I’m thinking about my next one, and looking forward to the party that’s on the horizon right now.

Anyways, the guests at my somewhat surreal party brought along some excellent offerings for their “moments”, so without further ado let’s have a quick rundown.

Wendy arrived first, bearing five nuggets of OMG insights and a bottle of something brown she found at the back of a cupboard. Oven cleaner or some kind of weird brandy I don’t know, but the stuff sure had a hell of a kick to it. Wendy’s moments, delivered in reverse order, were:

5) The Ending of Choke, a Chuck Palahniuk novel
4) The Tyler Durden surprise
3) The ending of Primal Fear
2) Numa numa!
1) Both of her surprise pregnancies

After reading Wendy’s moments I was really touched by number 1. I also have a few more movies to add to my “must watch” list, a book to check out and a cool weblink to add to my favourites. Not a bad start.

MCF burst in behind her, carrying some frankly worrying looking snack foods which are still, as far as I know, sitting in their bowl. However he redeemed himself with some top notch OMG moments of his own, which were:

1) Testing his spidey powers on a tree, and the resultant injuries
2) Getting Castle Grayskull for Christmas and embarassing his poor ‘ol dad
3) The first, second and third kisses on a date that led to a longer term relationship
4) A hot pop, a gurgle, and merriment ensuing from his Meckel’s Diverticulum
5) A rather nasty accident involving a van

As MCF said about his moments, “what’s shocking to one person is about normal for me.” which is very true and I started to see that as I read through the various Blog party participants. Then again, this is what I find interesting about this subject – getting a little insight into what moves and affects those around me.

Things were just getting into full swing when Kelly arrived, bringing with her much fun, food, snacks, drinks and her OMG moments. So much food and drink, in fact, that I don’t think I’m going to have to buy any more beer or pretzels for a month. Her list, again in reverse order, included:

5) Her first trip to California, especially Balboa Park
4) Her initiation into the myserious ways of the classic movie junkie
3) Finding out her parents were damn cool people
2) Her first date with Dave (the incredible)
1) The first time she read, and felt an understanding of, the principles of Calvinism

Kelly said she enjoyed the topic, and I have to admit I found her points fascinating. I now want to visit California and while I’m not particulary religious, I can see why developing a deeper understanding of something so central to your life would certainly count as a large “Oh my God” moment (perhaps literally). I also now want to meet incredible Daves from all over the world.

So the party was hotting up. MCF’s suspicious snack foods were still growling at the guests, sure, and Wendy’s weird bottle of brown rocket fuel had been slipped into the punch, but the night was picking up. Just in time for Joe to arrive, with a rather spiffing and distinctly above average bottle of single malt. Commenting on his good taste I took his coat as he presented his OMG moments:

5) The story of Uncanny X-Men 137, wherein a heroine dies and Joe’s hopes of a happy ending were dashed
4) The Highlander episode “Archangel”, which saw someone lose their head
3) The resurrection of Catelyn in A Storm of Swords
2) The entry of Jack – and his impressive lungs – to the world
1) Meeting the lovely Meepers for the first time

Another book (or rather, a series) to add to my “must check out” list, so I’m doing well so far, even though my wallet would probably find cause to disagree. Joe’s points were the usual mix of entertaining, thought provoking and touching that I have come to expect from his digressions.

Just as the night was settling into a nice vibe, Jerry popped by with a beautifully frozen bottle of vodka, just right for the sipping. He also had a slightly misplaced backslash, but in polite company it’s not done to point these things out. Being British I found it thrust upon myself to keep up the stiff upper lip and all that. While I slipped a little al-key-hol over that stiff lip, Jerry shared his moments with us:

5) The very party he was at! No soul searching planned and yet boom, there he was
4) Finding out his many and varied injuries just don’t make things lighter or easier to lift
3) The realisation that his divorce was coming
2) The birth of his son, Ian
1) The realisation of his faith and relationship with God, which helped to redefine his outlook on life

Jerry, much like Kelly, strikes the “Oh my God” chord very strongly especially with his last moment, which is about as close as you can get I suppose, given the wording of the discussion. Some were joyful, some poignant, all revealing and all welcome.

And that was it – I dropped everyone off at their respective homes, and the next day did some tidying up, put the kettle on and in my own, small, stereotypically British way, settled down with a nice cup of tea and a good book.

So I am sure you can imagine my shock when the door was suddenly kicked open and in rushed Meepers with bottles of drink and at least one balloon under her arm. It was in the shape of a giraffe, as I recall. After I stowed away her drinks for the next party, I poured her a cup of tea and sat down to enjoy her OMG moments:

1) The ending of the book Contact by Carl Sagan
2) Her first introduction to the world of the Matrix
3) Changing her major to something she truly enjoyed
4) Realising there might just be a common thread to her movie tastes
5) Achieving a certain something for the first time

As Kelly rightly pointed out, Meeper’s number 5 was a fairly universal one and yet she was the one to point it out. Excellent stuff though, because it proves the Blog Party works – we all think of different ways to address the one question. Of course it made me blush a little over my tea and scones but hey, that’s also part of the fun.

So there we have it – my first ever Blog Party, and you all seemed to come away from the experience with a smile on your faces and a little more insight into what moves others around you. As I said earlier, not a bad night all in all.

See y’all soon for the next one.

Jun 06

I want to thank everyone who took part in the Blog Party, hope you all enjoyed yourselves because I had great fun reading the answers. Entertaining, touching, interesting and compelling: not a bad night’s work when you think about it.

I have now returned the borrowed venue/transportation for the night to it’s rightful owner but I dare say it could be borrowed again if the need arises. If you enjoyed the Blog Party then I am certainly up for hosting another.

I’m going to do the writeup tomorrow so I just wanted to stick a quick note up. Tonight I have promised myself I am going to the gym to get back into exercising, and I know if I take the time to do the writeup the justice it deserves I’ll use it as an excuse to skip the gym.

Again though, thanks to all who took part. I was nervous no-one would turn up and so was pleasantly surprised when so many did!