Thursday, 23 February 2012

Human Buckaroo

At the studio on tuesday, we went to our usual spot to eat our lunch. There is a cafe on campus that has an area with some beanbags and imitation grass, so we eat there and hang out.

Although I must point out that the rule is 'NO PICNICS' and there are numerous signs attempting to guilt trip you like "you wouldn't bring your own food into a restaurant"... but to be honest I really couldn't give a firetruck. We do it anyway because the campus does not provide a designated area for eating packed lunches. Also, not all of us bring packed lunches so the ones who buy food would be left out.

Anyway, it is tradition for people to have a rest on the beanbags in between studio time. Charles, the only other person on my course with a Y chromosome, often takes 'resting' a step too far. He has been known to fall asleep, and it is common practice to play human buckaroo on anyone who is asleep. For those of you unfamiliar with human buckaroo, you just keep putting things on them until they wake up.

A classic example was Big G. We got drunk while watching Flubber, and I bet him he couldn't fall asleep on the kitchen floor. Well, I lost the bet, but we had a good game of Human Buckaroo with kitchen utensils.

He eventually woke up when I put a cold spoon on his face. Damn. Charles on the other hand, does not drink, and has no excuse for such a heavy amount of sleeping. I mean come on, it was the middle of the day! well, I won't keep the suspense much longer.

As he fell asleep, we put apple cores on his hands. He didn't realise. In fact, we exhausted our supply of lunchtime rubbish on him. We then all looked at eachother with a knowing glance. We slowly picked up our things, and made our way...

We snuck away. It was hilarious. That'll teach him to fall asleep near us!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Re-educating James Wade with Wumpa Fruit and Lame Snakes

Today Wade was over and we played some of my video games. It surfaced that Wade, coming from a childhood that was rather lacking in consoles, has never played the vast majority of games I consider 'essential' to have played in order to count as a human.

First in line was Crash Bandicoot 1. 

Wade said he recalled playing it back when supermarkets had creches... I told him this was simply not good enough. We started playing, and it soon became clear to me that Wade was having considerable difficulty performing even the most simple of tasks, such as jumping to avoid obstacles. For quite a while he was just muttering to himself "why am I so sh*t?..."

The whole charade quickly became a to and fro between us, as Wade consistently lost a whole bunch of lives and then me having to earn them all back. For the first 15 levels or so, we were hovering around the 3-5 lives remaining mark. 

Although, at points, I was impressed with Wade's enthusiastic approach to play. After navigating a reasonably challenging part of the course in one go (one that even I have trouble with) he recklessly dived straight back down the cliffside to retrieve ONE wumpa fruit he had missed. For those who aren't sure, wumpa fruit (colloquially referred to as 'apples' by crash noobs) are the staple item for collection, similar to coins in mario, rings in sonic, and gems in spyro. 

The whole game is littered with them and the is no extra points for getting all of them apart from the standard rule of 100 fruit makes one more life. The only instance where one would dare to return for ONE wumpa fruit is if you are on no lives and have 99 wumpa fruit. We nearly did have to do that anyway at one point.

Also something we noticed was how well rendered the bats were in the game, compared to the snakes. Considering that the game in Wade's words is "old as f*ck" (not sure how old 'f*ck' is, apparently mid 90s?), the bats look fairly realistic. However, the snakes are hilarious. They just pop up, sway and wiggle their tongues non-threateningly at you.

As we progressed through the levels, Wade slowly picked it up and pulled me out of sticky situations a few times. I know feel that Wade is part of the way to honorary 90s child status. Its a long road and there are many games he missed out on, but we have plenty of time and if Bro House is anything to go by, we'll get there some day.

Racing in Reading

Well, as you know, my training at the moment has been going rather well of late, and I seem to be injury free touch wood. Last sunday, I took part in my first race in Reading since I moved here. It was called the "Reading St Patrick's 5 Mile Scurry", which is another novel title that I like to see.

I represented South Devon AC this time, as my Reading membership doesn't start until March. Interestingly, at the start line, an old man saw my South Devon AC shirt and said, 'your a long way from home aren't you?' in your standard curious old man voice. He said he had run the Brixham 10k, back when we used to organise that race.

Anyway, the race began on University campus at 11am, and there was a fairly good turnout.

As it says in my running book, something will always happen on race day that stops you from having a perfect race- so just accept it. This time, the course had to be altered because campus was still covered in a blanket of snow and ice! This made the path treacherous and in some places awkward to keep up good pace.

The race started out well, with me leading the pack of 120 or so runners for the first few miles. Me and the person in second (from Reading Roadrunners) broke away from the pack and gained about 800 meters on the people behind. But then, DISASTER!

One of the marshals sent us the wrong way, and it took us about 45 seconds to realise. By that point, we had lost about 4 places and had to start gaining them back. Now, I'm not going to say I would have won the race if it weren't for that, because I wouldn't. The guy who was tailing me was tailing me for a reason, because after that mishap he went on to win the race, good on him.

Personally I fought really hard to get back and managed 3rd place, so I won a bottle of wine! woo! Also for the first time in years, I really appreciated my speed training. I managed to kick in the last half a mile or so and power past someone to take a podium place.

All in all, good race despite everything. Looking forward to next one :)

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Happy Valentines Day

Well, Valentines day has come around again and it is just as uneventful for me as it was last year. I don't mind being single, and I find it hilarious how some people get so depressed about it every year if they aren't with someone.

I go through these days preferring to casually observe a silver lining rather than dwell on things that may or may not ever come to be, and although its not the best, its fine. The ever poignant Martin Harley Band will explain in some very fitting lyrics.

"In a world of misunderstanding, 
tell you one thing that I know
its a rich, rich man that has a hand to hold."

So this year I spend valentines day with Ryan and Wade playing a bit of worms (TRIPLE BRO FIST), and watching montages of Arnold Schwarzenegger quotes on YouTube- pretty awesome huh? I spent the day in the studio printmaking and broke out to play the piano and had the company of people who appeared to be genuinely enjoying my playing. I contemplate tidying my room, but maybe I'll just write some more.

Who knows what next Valentines day will bring. I would very much like things to work out for me, but for now my thoughts and feelings must stay inside my head until the moment when it becomes appropriate, if it ever comes. And if it doesn't, at least nobody can stop me thinking my own thoughts.

Happy valentines day folks :)

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Super Bowl!

I have watched the last 3 super bowls now, and I feel it is becoming a bit of a tradition for me. For those of you who may be unaware, the Super bowl is one of the largest and most widely watched sporting events in the world. It is the championship match between the two best American Football teams in the NFL.

I was introduced to the Super bowl back in 2010, when I was at Bath University, by Phil Murphy. Phil likes and plays American football, and advised me to come and watch the super bowl. So, I went along to see what all the fuss is about. To be honest, I had no idea how to play american football, so the whole game for me made almost no sense. However, it was a hilarious evening and was entertaining to watch. Well done to the New Orleans Saints.

I was advised to choose one team in the whole NFL to support and stick with for life, as none of us as british people have any allegiance to parts of America in terms of residence. So I chose at random, the Minnesota Vikings.

However, they have had a considerable amount of bad luck since I started supporting them in the season of 2010...

  • They came last place in the NFC north
  • They signed star player Randy Moss only to waive him a month later
  • Their quarterback Brett Favre went under investigation for inappropriate texting 
  • Even their stadium collapsed under snowfall
  • Their head coach Brad Childress was fired after the Vikings got stuffed 31-3 by their rivals, The Green Bay Packers.
Although they haven't been doing amazingly in the last few seasons, at least they have a new head coach and what seems to be a good replacement for Brett Favre after he retired for the third and final time.

In 2011 my super bowl was spent at home with Ricky and the gang, where we attempted to drink 'light beer' (failed, some of the cans are still there from last year they were that bad) and watched the packers beat Tom Wood's favourites, the Steelers. At the end of the game, we sent a text to Tom saying "woooh packers". We thought it was hilarious.

For this super bowl, I was down in the Sibly bar watching it on the screen. This year, it feels like I had a bit of role-reversal on the go. Usually I am pestering Phil or Ricky to ask what is happening and why, but this is the first super bowl I have watched where I actually understand 90% of the rules and scoring system, so can enjoy the game and explain the rules to others for a change. 

I wasn't drinking because I am building up for a race this Sunday, but Ryan and Fin sure were! They ordered all their drinks before the bar closed, and proceeded to get absolutely battered quarter by quarter. Ryan was very drunk and often got confused as to what was happening in the game, whereas Fin fell asleep and missed the last crucial quarter. We woke him up to tell him that the Giants had got a touchdown, but he fell asleep again before we could finish our sentence.

All in all, a good win for the New York giants in the last quarter- and as Ricky said, 'the the New England Patriots can suck it'. Next year when I'm living in my own house, we are going to have a big Super Bowl party with Nachos, Chicken and lots of beer. Who knows, maybe even the Vikings could win... please?

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Sleepover in the corridor

On thursday, we had another Sibly Hall social. This time the instruction was to all go out to town in our pajamas! I went out in my Atari lounge pants and my green lantern shirt, it was pretty sweet. A good time was had by all who intended.

When we finally got back home, ethanol had made its way through our systems rather a lot so we had a bit of a laugh back in the flat. When all of a sudden, Matt had a brainwave! Well, sort of. He just triumphantly stood up and said 'We are having a f***ing sleepover!'. He preceded to grab his duvet and pillow from his room, and set up camp in the corridor.

Never one to turn down an opportunity to be a bit silly, I duly followed suit and retrieved my bedclothes too. We nestled down right outsides Ryan's room (much to his dismay) and went on to have a nice deep conversation with each other (I think) before falling sound asleep.

When Fin walked passed us later that night, he couldn't resist an opportunity to be a RUGBY LAD and covered us in cardboard and tin foil. He later said performing the 'standard' rugby lad ritual of putting egg and other foodstuffs on people who have fallen asleep would have been harsh, as we 'aren't rugby lads and probably wouldn't have found it funny'.

And to even more of Ryan's dismay, he was awoken by the sound of Matt chuckling to himself in his sleep in the early hours! Matt is a genius, he is the only person I know who can laugh in his sleep and wake someone up!

We stayed there until about 8 o'clock in the morning and had a nice cosy peaceful night :)

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Green Ginger Wine and a potential SNOW DAY

As I write, snow is falling outside Sibly Hall. Rather heavily. Not unlike the snowfall I saw at Bath University nigh on two years ago while I remained a resident at Eastwood 4. So, having received this information, prepare yourself for a potential blog post about the fact I'm snowed in tomorrow!

Also as I write now, I am leisurely enjoying a glass of my new favourite non-ale drink, ginger wine. Having had a fairly recent review of my spending habits, I decided I was purchasing far too many expensive (i.e. in town) drinks, spending too much on taxis to places, and going to clubs too often. Fortunately for my wallet, I have massively cut back on these activities this term.

Amongst the cutbacks have been about a 75% reduction in club-going, and thats good so far. However, as a student, I feel obliged to show my face at the regular parties and at least have something to drink- so, i'm left with a dilemma.

But all is not lost. Whilst browsing around ASDA early this year, I discovered "Green Ginger Wine". Now, I thought, "I like the taste of ginger, so it can't be that bad".

I was right! Ginger Wine is delicious! My basic review of my expenditure looked at my reasons for purchasing things. When I looked at money spent on alcohol, I had to be honest with myself. If I'm buying alcohol with the intent of going to a party, why exactly am I buying it? As much as I would like to say its because I like the taste, that isn't the case. It is obviously because you want to become slighty inebriated (whilst not going overboard) and have a cracking time.

Did I mention Ginger Wine is the same percentage as regular wine, more delicious, and... £3 per bottle... Lasts me for ages...

So now I spend almost nothing on alcohol compared to first term. IDEAL. Oh, and having looked out the window again, in the time it has taken me to type this, the snow is falling even heavier. WAHOOO

Friday, 3 February 2012

Which Joker sold this shirt to me?

I have just been informed of a rather interesting revelation. It turns out, that horrible blue hexagon print shirt is not as uncool as I first thought! As you know, I originally bought it because I found it visually interesting, but definitely something I wouldn't wear.

I experimented with the use of face paint for one or two shots, and they worked out fine.

It was only after putting it up as my display picture on facebook that Lee pointed something out. It appears, somehow, I have purchased exactly the same shirt- I mean EXACTLY the same- as the Joker wears in the Dark Knight.

Crazy isn't it? I'm now torn about what I should do with it for the next section of the project. The idea is you have a week to make a sculpture or a study using your garments. I was going to cut up the tie, suit jacket and the shirt, and fashion them into about 10 scaled down small versions of themselves with needle and thread.

But seeing as the shirt has significant cosplay potential, I don't know any more! It is unlikely I'll find another replica Joker shirt in a charity shop for like 2 pounds...

Hanging around in the rapey woods at night was a great idea

There is a wooded area in between Sibly Hall and Whiteknights campus which as far as I'm aware, has no official name or anything. We colloquially refer to it as 'Rapey Woods'. Not because there has ever been a recorded instance of rape there, but because of the lack of light when night falls.

When it goes dark, due to the denseness of the forest, the lights from the street don't penetrate, and neither does the light from campus or the agriculture building. It quite literally just goes black- so black that you would genuinely get lost in the night and never find your way out if you haven't got a torch- even if you knew your way around.

Thats not the point of the story though. I am currently in the middle of a textiles/ photography project on my course. The basic outline was 'go to a charity shop, buy 2 or more items of clothing (interesting ones, but not necessarily because you would wear them) and then model them, take photos of them in rural and urban environments in 'ways that challenge peoples expectations''.

So its pretty vague, but we got the gist of it fairly quickly. Anyway. I went out and bought component parts for the lamest and most socially unacceptable suit I could find. The jacket isn't too bad, but it has a stupid pink and purple shiny lining.

The shirt is just awful, and has this horrible blue hexagon pattern on it. James said it would be 'just the ticket if you were going out to a party in the 70s'. Even the material feels over-starched and abrasive on the skin.

But as frank zappa would say, the 'crux of the biscuit' is the god awful tie that I bought. When I showed Jacob in my flat the clothes I had bought, he thought the jacket was not too bad, the shirt was pretty terrible, but when he saw the tie he was in disbelief at how bad it was. Never before have I seen somebody so taken aback by the lack of style of a piece of clothing.

He was literally walking around with it in his hands saying 'oh my god'. To be fair, the reason I bought it was because it reminded me of my old great great nans carpet in her house.

Anyway, Xio, Emily, Bryoni and myself went to the rapey woods in the daytime to take some pictures of our clothes in a way that 'challenges expectations'. Here is a nice shot I came up with.

We all agreed that it would be a good albeit cold idea to return here in the night armed with torches and cameras to take some cool night shots. And by god, cold it was. The lake was actually freezing over and we could see all our breath very clearly in the torchlight. It turned out the temperature reached a sizzling minus 5 that night.

We took night shots with cool lighting and stuff. Unfortunately for emily, the clothes she bought were pretty thin and not exactly winter wear... she was absolutely frozen. So for one of xio's shots, I 'gallantly' (nah, foolishly) donned a rather fetching purple dress so emily did not have to get cold all over again after she had warmed up. Big mistake, it was mad gay. At least Xio got some good shots for her project though... sigh. However, I do like feeling like a have the testicles to do something potentially embarrassing in the name of valour.

I think this is also a fairly powerful photo series. There is nothing like running for your life along a rickety bridge in rapey woods at night.

In other news, we coined a phrase that day as well. When Bryoni got stuck on a tree stump on her back and couldn't self right, we said she had 'turtled' herself. Also, we got spooked when we were trying to take photos in the dark by some guys who were walking their PITBULL in the woods. I turned around when I had a red torchlight and shone it in the direction of this rustling and I just saw some red eyes reflected back at me! We all basically lost control of our bowels at the time, but they just moved on.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

You know its cold when...

Walking to campus this morning, I noticed that the majority of Whiteknights lake was completely frozen over. All the ducks and birds were stood on the ice earlier like, 'whats going on?'.

I even threw a stone into it and it just slid along the surface and scared away the birds.