31 December 2015

December update/New Year blah blah

Well let's see - not a bad year, definitely a lot better than the last two years. Here's hoping 2016 is even better.

I got back into running at the nearby track again around May, that was good; managed to keep it all the way up to now, with a break in August and November. It got really difficult to keep eating the equivalent in sugar of a pack of biscuits a night every night so I eventually stopped that as well and lost half a stone. I'm the heaviest I've ever been but still fairly lean thanks to the 4km running 2-3 times a week (moving toward 5km per jog in January). Reducing my sugar intake and now taking up weightlifting with a bar for the first time (thanks Secret Santa Aidu!) should help a lot too. The goal is to be healthy and to try and conquer this body image problem I've had for years and years and years.

Not too many activities to mention this year but Call of Cthulhu on Sundays got me through the week. My Richard Nixon-esque character died in a towering inferno of the Shoggoth variety but messed up the enemies' plans for a while. My new character loves investigating as much as I do but is somewhat hampered by his huge stature and horribly scarred face. I am really enjoying playing in a smaller group; GC and DK are great players in very different ways and my brother is a great GM so it all works out. I'm definitely  much better player while my DM'ing skills have languished since my peak 2008-2011. I ran my own games once of twice during the year but they weren't that great but all right. I'm a weird perfectionist; either it's perfect or it's not and if it's not I sabotage it a bit. Royce and his ex were playing in the game via Skype all the way from Munster so that was something new! I managed to sate the GM'ing bug I get every few months but I can feel it building up again, will have to run something small in the New Year.

Games this year, more of the same with Civilization 4 (and sometimes 2) sneaking in as most played games; bought Age of Empires 2 HD a few months ago and tore that up for a while. LA Noire is great fun to replay; I started playing Star Ocean 2: The Second Story on PSX again there very recently and it's still good - must have played through a dozen times. I also replayed Majora's Mask on an emulator earlier in the year and it just wasn't as good s playing on that horrible old N64 controller. Still probably my fave Zelda game even if it's followed closely by Ocarina (which I 100% completed earlier in year too for the first time) and Link to the Past (afraid to play again, have played twice and always difficult yet rewarding). Soul Calibur II I also 100% completed, having remained at 95% since like 2006. Got the Lizardman and now just play the multi or single every once in a while for a decent fighting game experience! I also bought Minecraft at last, not as fun as playing the older versions in Finland 2011-12.

No luck at all on the job front: other than two days on set in Belfast and five days at the Races I got nothing else. I almost got 20 extra days on set but I missed the call by a few hours. That was over a grand in sterling that I didn't get so Christmas was harder this year but thankfully C was working for a few months and that knowledge that Theo would get loads from everybody in addition to us eased the burden a lot. Trying really hard to get a job now; I've applied to 12 jobs in the last two weeks and will apply for 3 more later. I've expanded the search to Shannon, Ennis, Dublin and Cork in desperation. The situation is not desperate but it sucks not having any real money. I did an accounting course earlier in the year and that was fine and I'm doing a creative writing course in January 2016 so hopefully now. I know creative writing is not an IT course but it's something I've wanted to do secretly for years yet have always resisted; time to go for it.

It's been a lot easier to live here this year; having Theo to ourselves full time sans creche early in the year was really good, running again helped a lot mental health wise and going out a few times was good for happiness sake. Meeting up with some old friends and being in good form for that was fantastic, here's hoping for more of that. Montessori from September onward coupled with some fantastic developments that same month really opened things up for me. I started going out in the city more and discovered that some of old things that I was afraid of were hilariously, stupendously not that scary at all. Some of these old things are actually more afraid of me than I am of them, which is always cathartic. I also got a new niece and goddaughter, always a lovely gift!

So in the New Year I'm looking forward to starting a new course, continuing my exercise regime, hopefully curbing my sugary diet, visiting Cork a few times early in the year, travelling abroad again hopefully and many more happy memories with my loved ones, friends and family. A nice election in Spring would do nicely as well. It's also hard to believe that 100 years ago the Allies were retreating from Gallipoli and the Germans were pushing the Russians out of Poland and Lithuania. The latter I didn't even need to look up, the former I had to. Anyway that's about 40 minutes of rambling/typing, time to give the lord a bath then put him to bed.

Happy New Year!

17 December 2015

Reviews of some shite I've enjoyed/hated over the last few months #4 Kayfabe Commentaries

I've been watching a lot of these lately. They're presented by Sean Oliver and they've done quite a number of them over the last few years. I have really enjoyed reading all the 'behind the scenes' stuff mentioned on TV Tropes and then I started watching clips on YouTube and I was hooked. It depends a lot on the charisma of the guest but a lot of the clips are gold. The full things are often between 2 and 3 hours and are well worth checking out. I was definitely a mark when I was younger watching 2001-2004 but I'm enjoying becoming smarter to that era and especially the 1990's when most of the guys listed below were active and mainstream.

Jim Cornette.com I encountered a lot watching Botchamania (the face) and reading TV Tropes so I had to check out his stuff and it's excellent. He's very articulate and fun to listen to; he has a gift for expressions (the gold tooth/ice floe reference) and he loves wrestling - but he's also really passionate about it and all the problems of the last few decades. Kevin Nash and Vince Russo are often brought up in relation to WCW and its fall so I had to check them out while Scott Hall is infamous for his personal problems but I'm a huge fan of the nWo so I wasn't going in hostile to him I really like him as a performer and a person.

1. Jim Cornette

He has done 2 interviews that I have watched and all of them were good. The first one done sometime in the early 2000's by a different group, RF Video (not KC) was the last one of his I watched and his stories about the territories in the South were absolutely fascinating, it was truly a different time for wrestling with the heels getting massive heat from crowds while the babyfaces were heroes. He was free to praise the territories and criticise wherever he liked and the interview was done in his house so he was at his most candid and energetic despite it being a three hour talk! He was in OVW at the time which was affiliated with the WWE so he couldn't attack them but still the depth of the content he provided on the territories was immense.

The second interview was KC; after his tenure in TNA and ROH. It's great because it's unfiltered, he's not contracted to any organisation so he just full on rants. His entire summary of his time in ROH in particular is excellent, full of tensions and just constant disappointment as he promised the boys doing the work and the suits that it would be good yet certain individuals and general mishaps keep kicking progress in the head. He's such a good storyteller you can't help but sit down and watch/listen to this the whole way through. I have re-watched clips of this and gone on to watch other shows with different people (or more Cornette) based on the strength of this video.

2. Kevin Nash History of 1995

I love this; he was the first person I checked out after Jim Cornette and I was not disappointed. The clips on YouTube alone are excellent but the whole thing is even better. It's a chronological history of 1995 when he was champion for the year and all his buddies in the Kliq are active in WWF (though Scott Hall is about to leave for WCW) and there's nothing like it. Very focused on 1995 but he would bring up events prior to that and offer fascinating insight, being one of the boys who had come in with a blown knee and making it to the top. I really respect his 'it's business' attitude to wrestling and it's fascinating hearing how the boys made their money and how they lived day to day. It was also insightful regarding the drug problem of the time; lots of guys being tested while there were lots of other drugs they were taking just to get through the day. He's passionate about the wrestling but he knows his limitations and is not afraid to put himself down in places or tell it how it is. He also values his friends and while they are reviled/envied by many they made it together and continue to be good friends so it's nice to see. I am currently re-watching this video as it is that good. As always tales wrestling stories and shoots on other guys make the video so much more interesting.

EDIT: There was another video of him done by another crowd and it's all on YouTube and it features Kevin Nash slowly eating a salad in some backroom while being interviewed; he speaks about a variety of topics but I can't remember it, must re-watch.

3. Scott Hall (YouShoot)

I wasn't sure what to expect from this but it was really cool to see Scott Hall doing well and reflecting on his past in the wrestling business. He tells us how he got into the business and how he managed to make it through as successfully as he did. As it is a YouShoot by KC there are video and comment questions posed to Scott and he answers them; I found some of the videos a bit cringe to watch so just skipped them and listened to Scott speak or Sean interpret the question to get context! He is not as articulate as Kevin Nash or Jim Cornette but he is passionate about his friends and like Nash he never really goes out of the way to bury people, perhaps less so than Nash who was on top and got the most heat; Hall made it up very high in WWF and WCW and was generally respected more as a solid worker but never really got that final push to the top. The hard partying of the time and after into the 2000's combined with some personal tragedies made life very difficult for Hall who escaped through the bottle BUT has been shown to be doing well and I'm happy to see; he seems like a great person judging from his appearance on the Jerry Springer Show as Razor Ramon.

4. Kevin Nash (2014-15)

This was very recent (2014) and mainly chronicled the last year or two since the last interview. He's a great guest but much of the talking was dominated by incident between him and his son that happened at Christmas and he seemed a little less spot on than he was in the earlier video.

5. Vince Russo

I watched this and I wanted it to be good; I'm not anti-Russo I just want to find out why Cornette hates him from their time writing/booking together in WWF/E and why so may blame him for the demise of WCW. Sean Oliver was firm but fair in his line of questioning and never let him off the hook while Vinnie Ru was so... nice? He seemed like an OK guy even if he is a born-again Christian. Perhaps that was it, he couldn't even swear on account of his faith while he was candid in some areas I felt like he was holding back still in a lot of others; it would have been nice to see him straight up bury lots of people and call time but he was insistent this was his last interview AND he never liked to bury people. He did find his writing decisions funny or spot on, including silly gimmicks and diva matches. I'm not overly critical of the video I just wished there was more content. Very few names were named and a lot of what they were talking about happened in 2001 while the video was made in 2014 so memory is always an issue. I walked in neutral and walked out indifferent after this.

I have the Sean Waltman and Bret Hart videos on the way so will definitely refer to them at some other point.

07 December 2015

Reviews of some shite I've enjoyed/hated over the last few months #3 The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2

Before I start into this - I never read nor plan to read the books and I have seen all the movies prior to this one. I liked the first movie, second movie was OK, the first half of this was kind of boring while I would rate this in second place - pretty decent!

I was hostile to the idea of the movie coming into it, but unlike Spectre the first few scenes didn't shatter my sense of disbelief with a helicopter in Mexico City centre. I dislike the idea of books being split into parts (starting with Deathly Hallows onward into Hobbit) but it kind of worked with this. Maybe not seeing as the first half of Mockingjay was crap but the second half felt like a whole movie by itself, albeit a sequel.

Katniss is back and we're right where we left off: probably the best scene in the whole first half was Peeta attacking her due to being brainwashed by the President Snow. She recovers and they feed her sister to the calm yet screaming internally Peeta, thankfully she doesn't get hurt like Katniss did but Peeta starts yelling anyway.

A fort that supplies the Capital with weapons needs to be taken out; I liked the plan they put in place to deal with it and they didn't spend Walking Dead amounts of time resolving the morals of the situation. They execute the plan which is a lovely compromise and things go briefly tits-up but it's too early for anything too tragic to happen so Katniss and friends survive morality intact.

The trailers for this which I wasn't avoiding too zealously unlike some other ones hinted at some sort of grand rebel charge into the capital - this doesn't happen on-screen, instead Katniss and other Hunger Games winning friends are hand-picked to be in an elite dungeon-crawling squad that won't see any real action only very controlled amounts of it for their propaganda teams to film. This idea rapidly goes to shit but I quite enjoyed the movie-within-a-movie, mainly because it is not left hanging around unlike the first part of Mockingjay.

The rebels are attacking the capital in the background while Snow is leading them all into a trap, or so he tells us. Makes sense to me, even when he appeared on all the screens later calling all citizens to come in toward his mansion where they would get food and water and shelter. I figured it was some sort of human shield plan to stop Katniss and friends from attacking him for fear of harming the citizenry but woah was I wrong. I figured the post-war climate would not be satisfying for everyone and Katniss may face opposition but it was a great move by the initial winner of the war as long as it lasted. I was figuring more along the lines of Katniss being too much of a prophet/revolutionary to rule once the fighting was done and they do eventually settle on the perfect leader but the post-war scuffle was very satisfying and I loved President Snow's last scene, that was the second wham moment that pushed me into liking the film and wanting to write something favourable about it here.

I am a huge fan of post-conflict PTSD scenes done well (see The Pacific) so I loved the moments of calm and 'what now?' that followed for our heroes after the fighting was done. I actually loved the epilogue because I didn't expect it to go down exactly like that and yet it made perfect sense and I am also a huge sap.

Apologies for lesser quality here and there assorted bots who read this I am just after putting Theo to bed and need to eat like 12 custard creams to relax before bed in another few hours. He's great at going to sleep and staying asleep I am just a huge diabetic in the making.