Monday, October 28, 2013

I Hate Seagulls by Kate Nash

I like this song very much, it's not a new song and it was one my iPod shuffled through this evening. I thought I'd share it with you.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Prepare for Halloween

It will be Halloween this week. How do you prepare? Last year my wife took our children to the theatre in town, which was showing Paranorman and they had a great time. I was working away. This year though, I'll be home. Not sure what we'll do yet. It would be nice to do something special for it.
On Saturday, we're having some friends over again to have some food and go see a fireworks display at my son's school. The display is usually very good, so I'll be looking forward to that. We bought some glow-sticks from B&M today too, we traditionally wear glow-sticks around our necks and have ones that are also whistles that you blow to make a noise. I'm planning on making a chilli for the food, my wife enjoyed it the last time I did this and we made baked potatoes so for the kids that don't like chilli they can have cheese, coleslaw or beans.
I like this time of year. The clocks have gone back today, which means the mornings are lighter and the nights are darker but at least today we got an extra hour. I really needed it after the boys day out yesterday, it was great but very tiring on the legs! I feel so old!

Parents Visit

My mom and dad are visiting us later this week. It's only for a very short visit but it stresses my wife out and I don't really know why. Her stress affects me too. My children will enjoy the visit though. We've other house guests this week too. Both my daughter and my son have friends staying with us overnight. It's half term and my wife and children will be at home while I work Monday to Wednesday. It's a bit of a bummer that I'm working but such is life. We need the money. I'm going to be working away for two nights, like I did last week, which is why I haven't posted many things on my blog for a while. I'll be glad to get back to more of a normal routine after this week. I'm already looking forward to my two days holiday after Wednesday.
The picture below describes pretty much how we feel about my parents staying with us.

B&M shopping trip

I don't really know very much about B&M Home stores but they seem to be springing up a lot. They seem to me like "buy in bulk and sell it cheap" merchants. The stuff they sell is a mix of brands you've heard of and brands you haven't. It's a good mix though. My wife and I popped in to one today and I picked up a good pair of get this:Sennheiser headphones! I was amazed to find a pair of HD201s in there and needed to replace a pair, so I picked those up. I also picked up a gadget called the Belkin LiveAction camera grip for my iPhone, with a free app installed on my iPhone now I can attach my camera phone to a mini-tripod and take stable non-shaky photos and videos. It seems to work well, I just need to work out what I'm going to do with it!


I've started watching a new TV series called Haven. It is on the LoveFilm service I subscribe to and was originally on the SyFy channel I think. It's about a place that is set somewhere in Maine and on the coast, the people of the town have supernatural powers that an FBI agent and a local detective investigate and try to help with. It is based loosely on a Stephen King book called The Colorado Kid. I thought the first episode was interesting enough to watch some more.

Boys Day Out

This Saturday, I took my son to Comic Con again. I invited my son's friend and his dad too, they accepted the offer and we picked them up in my car early on Saturday morning. I bought the early bird tickets, which meant it was slightly less packed when we got in - at about 9.20am. I'd been up for 4 hours at that point.
The journey was okay. The only slight downside was that the Docklands Light Railway wasn't running. We had a choice of bus or walk and there were so many heading to the venue it would have been an uncomfortable bus ride, we decided to walk. It didn't take us more than 10 minutes, fortunately it didn't rain (much).
It was good to see all the stalls again, some interesting new things like a new British horror film called Young High and Dead (I watched the trailer and spoke to the director). I bought my son a cuddly Pokemon character from Tokyo Toys and he bought an original painting of a Pokemon from an artist. I think it's nice that an 11 year old boy still likes cuddly toys. The venue started to get really busy after 11am and after a little bit more time we decided we couldn't take any more.
During a tea break, I'd arranged with the other boy's dad that we'd take the boys to the Namco Station after the Comic Con, it's an arcade on 4 floors. I'd never been before and the boys were in their element playing various Air Hockey table games. My son had never tried Bumper Cars before and he loved it. So it was a great success.
Next up, we visited Forbidden Planet, a great superhero/cult TV comic, toys, games, books etc. store and I bought a first book in a new Manga series I haven't tried before.
On the way home, for supper we stopped by a traditional 50's style American diner and I had a lovely burger, chips, onion rings and coleslaw meal with a nice hot cup of tea.
All in all, it was a great boys day out.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Resident

Again through the LoveFilm Instant service, this was another film I've seen recently. It tells the story of an ER doctor by the name of Juliette Devereau who is played by Hilary Swank, an actress I've heard of but I can't remember anything she's been in, without looking it up. She has split from her boyfriend and is looking for an apartment but they are all too expensive or undesirable. That is until an agent rings her about an apartment, I'm a little bit unclear about how she was contacted about it, suffice to say that it was "engineered", but more about that in a bit. So she goes to see the apartment and is completely blown off her feet by the size, location and price. It is being worked on, the landlord's family has owned the building for years. The landlord, Max, is an attractive guy with a kind nature and a smooth way with words, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan. He first appears for Juliette in a facemask as he's sanding the floor. His father is played by Christopher Lee, bless him he must have been in his late eighties, who lends an air of threat and mystery just by his presence alone (he isn't in it for very long). Juliette moves in and she sort of entertains the idea of a relationship with the kind landlord but she realises she is not over her boyfriend and kindly cools it. Thinking that Max is cool with Juliette's decision not to proceed because, after all he's her landlord, she picks up again with her ex-boyfriend. Well, it then gets creepy. The film cleverly rewinds to show us some details we weren't aware of, we see from Max's viewpoint how his obsession with Juliette began at the hospital where she works and also how he engineered her visit to his apartment.
This is a good film but yes there are some holes in story, however these don't detract from this classy thriller. Hilary Swank is very good as the doctor but I think I was most impressed, if that's the right word for such a creepy guy, by Max played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan. This is another film about obsession but unlike The Roommate this one is actually creepy and leaves you feeling unsettled because someone seemingly good turns out to be horrible. The violence is not on the high side of the register but there is some, it's more creepy than scary. The finale is again fairly predictable but the pacing is good and you end up feeling that you haven't wasted your time watching this at the end of it.

The Roommate

I was browsing films on the LoveFilm Instant service and this one only had a couple of days before being removed, so I thought I'd start watching it. It's an American college film about a girl called Sara who moves into a room on campus, where she is joined by another girl (Rebecca) who moves in as a roommate. Sara is a beautiful, talented fashion designer and has a very sweet personality, mixing with both shy people like Rebecca and more outgoing types like her friend Tracy. What first seems like a sweet natured relationship changes when during the course of the term Rebecca develops a dangerous obsession with Sara. Tracy is scared away from her own friendship with Sara and the lecherous college tutor, played by Billy Zane (the only actor I recognised), is taught a lesson by Rebecca in her obsession's one saving grace! A series of events like these lead up to the film's predictably bloody finale.
I thought the film was well made but to my mind it was a TV movie rather than a blockbuster film. So the level of violence was quite mild but enough to convey some threat without going over the top. Nothing about the film leaves you with any intrigue. There were some gaping holes in the story but these were professionally glossed over in favour of the films momentum. All of the people were pretty good looking, so it is a film easy on the eye and I'd have to say it's an easy one on the brain too: you don't have to think hard to watch and "get" what's happening. It won't win any favours from people who know someone struggling with their mental health, it doesn't even attempt to address Rebecca's problems as anything but "crazy and psychotic". So in summary, this is a watchable TV movie if you aren't choosy about what you see but don't expect it to be anything other than a mildly enjoyable way to pass an hour and a half (preferably somewhere warm and cosy) that you can instantly forget.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Best of John Barry

Last Friday evening, we went into London to see a show at the Royal Albert Hall. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra were performing some classic compositions by John Barry including his version of the Monty Norman James Bond score from Dr No, Dances with Wolves, Zulu, Disney's The Black Hole, Goldfinger, Moonraker, Diamonds Are Forever, A View To A Kill and The Living Daylights. There were others but my memory fails me. The orchestra was wonderful. My wife bought the tickets as an anniversary gift, we had a box to ourselves and we took a few small bottles of wine in with us. This proved to be a good idea because wine at the bar is very expensive. We had a great evening, it was a good start to a good weekend.

Tom Clancy RIP

Tom Clancy passed away last week on the 1st October, aged 66. It's a loss to the world of a great writer. I've read a lot of the books he wrote himself and I've read some of the books written by ghost writers using his brand name. I've also been a fan of the videogames that he endorsed with his brand name. I've recently finished his book Teeth of the Tiger. I've only got one more of the novels he wrote himself to read, it's called Without Remorse. I'm not going to read this one just yet, I'm taking a little break from Clancy. I do own copies of three books written since 2010, beginning with Dead Or Alive, but although they bear his name they are ghost written. I'm not sure whether I'll get around to reading them or not. I'm not in a rush to read them., they don't tend to be as good as the ones he penned himself.
There are a few other authors I'd like to try in the same genre as Clancy, like Stephen Coonts and Dale Brown. I've read a Dale Brown but don't think I've tried Coonts.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Feeling Flat

Monday morning felt extraordinarily flat to me this week. I don't know why that should be really. Something about the seemingly endless trudge through work and life. I've been feeling more than a bit worn down lately. I was out all day on Saturday so the weekend felt a little bit shorter for me, I guess I might just have been feeling grumpy because I didn't feel like I had much time for resting this weekend. Work has been a bit grinding as well. Probably the combination of these things.