Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Looking back.

Things I learned when in Edinburgh last weekend:

* I am very good at Rock Band drums
* David still makes very good food.
* Chelsea lose every time I come to Edinburgh
* I do not fart in the bed. Therefore, Grundy does.
* I do kick though.
* Stephen Fry can sing. Sort of.
* Bells Macaroni Pies are the greatest processed food of all time.
* Nicky Wire released an album 4 years ago.
* I can find a pointless answer!
* I can very very excited upon finding a pointless answer.
* I am far too jolly at 8 in the morning.
* Lothian Buses are still the best buses in Britain
* National Express are not.
* It is nearly impossible to mime "Shania Twain", "Narnia" and "Rammstein" in charades.
* Rent in Edinburgh is incredibly cheap for the houses you get compared to Oxford.
* I am faster tha koopa the quick
* I am otherwise tosh at Mario 64.
* I can buy Colin Firth DVDs without vomiting all over the place.
* I can not buy Colin Firth DVDS without HMV staff laughing at me.
* It was worth it.
* Andrew Blair is still one of the funniest, wittiest and quickest people I know.
* "A slightly larger tortoise"
* Teviot has a loft bar. Seven years I've been going and I never knew.
* Never talk to Al about music.
* I can just about tell which US State someone is from, even if their accent is now an Anglo-American hybrid.

...and most importantly.

* I still love Edinburgh, it's people, the place, the atmosphere, and my friends and I cannot wait to go back. It's already been too long.

I will be back blogging far more regularly. I promise.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Man of Faith Part Two

I know the first part was all about the season finale of Lost, but I won't go into that in too much detail because I know there are people who still haven't seen it and don't want spoilers.

However, I will say this:

I was satisfied with the ending on the island. I felt that after six years the right characters got the right endings for them. Except for a few a couple of episodes before the finale. That was just sad. The island ending had the real full circle approach with some beautifuls twists and touches, in particular the slightly cheesy but exactly correct use of Vincent the Dog in the final scene. The show, with all its "eye-open" starts in the series, needed an "eye-close" in the final scene just to say we've gone full circle and I was impressed.

I was less impressed with the ending of the flash-sideways. I guess it's all it ever could have been, but in retrospect we were told that it wasn't that (we, we were told the Island wasn't that, so I guess the producers didn't lie, more divert the truth). The scenes in the flash-sideways though were well written and, again, the nice touch with Ben remaining outside still not showing his hand to us whether he's truly good, bad or misunderstood was good. It was a truly bittersweet resolution for the storyline, and, in fact for the whole series.

If you want to know the whole story ehind Lost, here is someone with some postits (credit to @sequinedhat on Twitter for finding this just as I was writing this entry)
Beware of spoilers:

I was extremely not impressed with Sky and their "internal error" which blacked out the whole of the second part of the finale from 6am when I'd already watch the first hour from 5. That fucked me right off, although they put it on demand for us very quickly, which was nice. I guess.

So that's it. All the TV I watch is coming to an end. House must be approaching its final season soon. 24's all but over. Dollhouse only got as far as a second season. I need some new TV for my two weeks off work.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Man of Science Part One

So after six seasons and all but two of 121 episodes aired, the rollercoaster ride of "OMGQWHATTHEFUCK??!!!?!!?!?!!?" that is "Lost" comes to an abrupt end at the ungodly hour of 5am tomorrow morning. That means if I'm to get any sleep tonight I have to go to bed like, now.

However, I do feel like I have to sum up the last six years of TV heaven that Lost is before it lands in the Pacific Ocean never to be seen again. So here goes:

I'm not even going to bother coming up with a theory behind what's actually been happening and why for the last six years tsince the survivors of Oceanic 815 started pitching up home, waiting for the helicopters or boats that would never come and rescue them. In fact the people that do come to the island have a history of having their modes of transport blown up, the people on them being murderers, or (usually) both.

When Season One started way back in 2004, the creators mostly treated us to one-off episodes featuring certain members of the cast wandering into the jungle to get attacked by polar bears, running away from the Smoke Monster and being heavily pregnant until the story REALLY kicked in in season two when the mysterious hatch appeared and it was revealed that the islanders weren't alone.

After that, and some convoluted storylines about two timelines, flash-sideways, and the whole thing being a hoax we've come down to this final 150-mintue episode where all, some or none of the whole thing will be explained.

Of course, many people want an "explanation", but I feel that one of those rare beasts will be a disappointment. I don't want some shitty magic-trick ending where someone lays it all out and says "this is how we did it", but what I do want is a suitable conclusion to the main characters storys.

I've suddenly discovered that it's difficult to write a blog entry about Lost without spoilers for people who haven't seen all of it yet but are still interested by the finale, but I'll soldier on, I promise.

I'll tell you what I do want explained though, if nothing else, and that is why polar bears appeared on the island, thousands of miles from their original habitat way back in season one in the first place. They've not been seen and barely mentioned since, and it's just one thing that never made any kind of sense to me. That said, I guess it's just some red herring distraction tactic to keep us away from the big picture.

I always loved the character of John Locke. I never liked Jack Shephard as much, but you could almost tell even right back to episode one that the whole story would boil down to them two. The "Man of Science" and "Man of Faith". It's only fitting that the situation between their characters would prove to be the fuel to the season ending fire. It's going to be one hell of a battle when they lock horns.

Various websites I've seen have said that the producers have warned that every single Lost fan should prepare to cry their eyes out too. What that means I can only guess. I'm normally one to get mushy over TV (It's only really happened to any real extent at the season five finale of Six Feet Under - the greatest ending to any TV series ever...closely followed by Angel, but that's another story entirely), but I'm ready to be tested). Come on JJ your worst!

At the end of the day, it's just a TV series, but it's another one of my all time favorites coming to an end. With 24 following suit in the imminent future as well, I'll have to find myself an alternative form of TV-based entertainment and another drama to fall in love with. But until then, we still have to put the full stop at the end of the story of the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815.

At 5am, on a Monday morning. Bastards.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Light Relief

Monday, 26 April 2010

I often walk down Memory Lane...

The last ever (public) Freakishly Long Mirrors gig took place last Thursday night, and despite a poor turnout from the Oxford contingent (considering it is a different town, not exactly unexpected) there were plenty of people there to sample the very best that we had to offer.

Ok, so it wasn't our most polished performance, there were a few duff notes and some misplaced drumbeats and a little of the singing and timing wasn't quite of the higest quality, but the most important thing was that for all five members of the band there were friends and family present, as well as curious punters from the street present to see what was going on.

First up, all credit to Fat Lils. They've been good to our band, and pretty much every band I've ever seen there by allowing very decent length sets, flexibility and a special sectionned off area dedicated to musicians high-value belongings. The lights were fantastic and the sound crisp and clear, and despite the fact the soundcheck started really late for whatever reason, the whole thing was an excellent experience from start to finish.

Beaver Fuel were on first, and they rattled through their fun filled punk set with about as much professionalism as a Sun journalist, but the whole thing was brilliant fun, musically sound and with stomping tunes I find it hard to believe they're one of the more critisized bands in the county. Maybe Oxford music has to be deadly serious to be considered "good". Well, no matter, I've worked with the guys before and they're a proud and friendly bunch, and considering I could only hear them from behind the door at the On a Thursday gig last month, it was a pleasure to see them live.

Headcount on next and they were tighter and more polished than Beaver Fuel, but altogether less fun. I got the impression they knew what they were doing more, but were concentrating so hard on getting it right their stage presence lacked and the whole performance just started, brushed through the middle and ended without anyone really realising they'd ever been on stage. Certainly not a bad band, but there just seemed to be somethiong missing.

As for us. Well, we weren't at our best. There were more mistakes in our set than either the other two, especially the end of One Vision, but the whole thing was an enormous amount of fun. People seemed to be really into what we were doing, and altogether it seemed to be a brilliant sendoff for the band that will become General Alcatraz in its newest incarnation over the course of the rest of the year.

Once we'd ploughed through 8 of our own songs, we roadtested some of the covers that we're showcasing at the Anniversary Party in July (private gig only), just to see what they sounded like live, which gave me my first live vocal performace since the Lighthouse open mike night and my cover of Coldplays "Don't Panic" with guest Reg Anderson in 2005 (the karaoke of "Without Me" at the staff Xmas party two years ago doesn't count). My sister decided to record this (and a few other songs) and the results are below in the setlist. I missed a few notes, but felt it was ok.


The setlist was:


Together we Stand
What have I become?
Artificial Light
The Leaves Turn Brown

Falling Down (solo acoustic)
20th Century Boy

One Vision (slightly murdered. Sorry)

Boys are Back in Town


Robs solo version of Falling Down was a real moment. It was the first time I realised that this band was coming to an end. Even though four of us are continuing on to do something new, Robs departure is a huge blow for us. But with that said, I'm confident that we put the old songs to bed well. Some songs didn't get a final outing (Village Bells, I Recall and Following Dreams being the main three), but with a set that spanned the entire time that Grundy and I have been there, we felt it was a fitting tribute to let Rob play the last FLM song solo before moving onto the covers.

We don't know yet what we're doing with the old songs. I think personally Together We Stand, Falling Down and I Recall need to be put to bed for good. They're great songs but there's only one person left in the band involved in writing them, and that means we're one person off being the new Sugababes. And no-one wants that. The songs from the second demo (Artificial Light, Titan and Following Dreams) I don't know. I would like to keep them, but there's only two of the four remaining people left involved in writing those too. As for Towpaths, that was Grundys song from multiple previous bands so I think we'll keep that, and I'll be disappointed if Leaves Turn Brown doesn't have a future. There's also a few new songs we'd started writing months ago but never got around to finishing which could feature ("Labrats" the only one with a name as yet, and I'm working on a project called "Burn"), but it's all up in the air. No one yet knows, least of all us.

So goodbye FLM. Keep fighting them in the trenches.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Chocobo Tales

Final Fantasy XIII has taken over my life.

Monday, 5 April 2010

The Plan

It's the start of my week off from work, and I've been looking forward to it something rotten.

Maybe it's the rest and relaxation, and the fact I don't have to CIT anything or reprice anything, or change any sections around or anything like that. Maybe it's because I don't have to even think about pure cards or warranties for a week, but mostly it's because I'm tired and need to have a long-awaited rest.

So, I've filled my week with activities, as you do when you're, you know, resting. Yesterday I spent most the day with my mum and sister for Easter, filling myself up on the finest roast I think I've ever had. I swear if there's one person who can make a full roast and make it taste like nothing you've ever tasted, it's my mother. Tomorrow, I've got the BBC3 taping of Russell Howards Good News, which I know Kristina is extremely excited about. We're making a day of it, heading into London to do one or two other things beforehand before heading into the studio for the recording itself.

Thursday night, I'm going to the Bullingdon Arms for the first time for live music. I'll be catching former On a Thursday headliners Age of Misrule and Riothouse in their Battle of the Bands heat. Both bands were filled with charming and professional people when we met them in February and March respectively, so I know it'll be a tight, yet loud occasion.

Then on Saturday I've got a weekend of debauchery planned as I head into Cardiff for Matthews birthday. If there's one thing I know about my cousin, it's that he knows no bounds when it comes to having a good booze-fuelled night.

Fun times.