Tuesday, 24 May 2016

A World Without Men

This was a prompt from a recent Writers Connect meetup.

The UN building in Manhattan would gather dust, were it not compulsively cleaned out of habit. The Mogadishu arms factory lies desolate, the last bullet rolling off the production line into obsolescence, no soldiers willing to pick up the arms for which it's intended.

The only busy buildings in the world are clinics, were women line up day and night to be met by doctors. Nobody specifies 'female doctors' any more.

The women want babies. A lot of them would love a son, but this was disallowed decades ago. The UN took the drastic measure when it dawned on them that every war- without fail- was started by men.

As the decades passed after the rule was put in place- After Hillary's inauguration, and the women that followed her- the world seemed, on the surface, a more peaceful place. But the sentiments- the bitter, meaningless hatred of others- steadfastly persisted.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence Predictions

The new Independence Day sequel trailer has dropped! I've waited 20 years for this bad boy to arrive. Watching the original in the cinema (probably the long-since-demolished Roxy in Hollinwood) was a high point in 1996.

Wait a minute: didn't the scientist guy die? And didn't the crop duster guy sacrifice himself into the middle of the primary weapon? How have these come back alive?

And how can a ship have gravitational pull when it enters the Earth's atmosphere? Have you seen the size of our planet compared to their ship? Bollocks.

And didn't Bill Pullman's character say that he read the alien's thoughts, and that it was their whole civilisation that came to Earth on the (subsequently destroyed) mothership?

Anyway. Here are a few predictions about Independence Day: Resurgence.

  1. The film will be a runaway success and be the box office hit of the summer.
  2. I will probably watch it at the cinema, despite not having gone there for AGES.
  3. Will Smith will eventually say, “shit, I should have been a part of that. I should have offered to work for a smaller fee, or taken a share of the profits.”

I wonder if it'll be released with the holographic cover of something being blown up, like they did with the VHS version of the original. I gave mine to a charity shop!

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Meeting Tim Westwood

I want all the virgins to scream!” Shouts Tim Westwood.

A handful of women do.

You're not a virgin. Didn't I fuck you in Ayia Napa last summer?”

The Radio 1 and Capital Extra hip hop DJ doesn't hold back when he's not on the air. It's Friday 20th and tonight he's in Suede in Manchester, playing contemporary and classic hip hop to a sellout crowd.

Before he got on the decks I managed to get a handshake, explaining I'd been listening to his show since 96. He thanked me for my support over the years. He's pretty cool despite his bizarre accent.

Great venue and music. A good mix of classic and contemporary hip hop. Westwood strayed into Bashment later on, which isn't my kind of thing, but it was popular. Not easy for white guys to pull, if you get me.

I went with Manchester Cool Bars- Westwood has sets in Suede semi-regularly so there may be another event to get involved with.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Maybe they're together

This is a phrase the Writers Connect team used for a prompt some months ago, and I typically forgot to type it up. Until now.

Roger applied the mustache evenly, sticking down the edges. He'd practiced the accent and mannerisms in the mirror, preparing himself for meeting her.

He'd noticed her in the bar over the course of the last few weeks, but he'd bottled it every time he'd tried to talk to her. That's when the guy with the 'tache showed up, and he'd had her attention ever since. Maybe they were together. Maybe facial hair was what she went for.

The idea that she'd recognise him, and that she'd latch on that he'd wanted to approach her, made him sick with worry. If she recognised him, he could never look at her again, with a 'tache on or not.

The doorman swung the door open for him. At least he hadn't latched on. Or so it seemed.

Roger ordered a beer. He couldn't see her. The guy she was apparently with was sat at the end of the bar, t-shirt tighter than a paint job. Gym hadn't worked for Roger so far.

There she was, coming out of the glass room. She flirted with the guy again, shoving him playfully, then went behind the bar. Time to strike, Roger thought.

JD and coke please.”

She started to pour in silence.

How are- um.” His eyes shot to the other end of the bar as the front door swung open. A man in a pink t-shirt walked in. The guy in the tight t-shirt- the one he thought he was competing against- pranced to the entrance to meet Pink T-shirt Guy.

The girl put the drink in front of him. “No, he's not my boyfriend, before you ask.”

I see that now,” said Roger. “That obvious, then? What I was thinking?”

Yeah,” she said. And I knew you were a JD guy.”

So, that's as far as I got. She'd latched on that he was a Jack Daniels drinker, and that he thought she was with the guy, but he didn't realise that said guy was gay and- more importantly- she didn't recognise Roger behind the 'tache. Or does she? Does he reveal himself or play along? Does he have to wear the 'tache every time he goes in there, or if he actually gets her to meet with him? We'll never know. The possibilities...

Monday, 16 May 2016

Come and see Tim Westwood this Friday

A few months ago I put up a meetup on Manchester Social Group to see hip hop DJ Tim Westwood in Suede nightclub. He's the most unintentionally hilarious DJ working in the UK today. Most people in this group are older than me, and not a single person RSVPd. But I wanted to go see him anyway, so I thought, fuck it, and bought a ticket. It was an interesting night.

He's coming back to Suede, with his absurd accent and fantastic rap music selection, this Friday. You mustn't miss So Seductive. This time I've put the event onto Manchester Cool Bars and Clubs. It's a group popular more with 20-somethings, and a few like me who are a little older. Very quickly the RSVPs started flowing in. So far 18 people have arranged to meet in Sakana. There were free tickets to Suede but they ran out within hours. There was a link for £10 tickets, one of which I've got. It now seems ladies get in free before 12, so there may be a few annoyed women in the group! Oh well! 

This will be the biggest meetup I've ever ran. Make it more so by coming out yourself!

In other news, David Haye fights on Saturday, but I'm missing it as a) I'm at a party in the afternoon and b) I have Writers Connect on the Sunday. I need yet MORE feedback on my script. We're past the halfway point! I will run through the plot so you're up to speed. Also I have a great warm-up exercise. Get involved!

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Shred Month: Review

A month ago I decided I'd lay off the heavy weights and chin-ups and instead focus on endurance and cardio work. So began a month of skipping, boxing and rope flicks (symmetrical and asymmetrical, which looked a like what these German guys are doing.

I also used a lot of cardio machines in an attempt to beat previously standing personal bests. Whilst on the rowing machine I had a look at some of the in-built games that you can play. These are designed to encourage you to increase and decrease your speed of rowing so that your heart gets used to working at different rates. It's great for general fitness (and, for example, training for a fight).

The fish game was brilliant. At the left of the screen is your cursor, a medium-sized fish at the bottom of the screen. The fish is facing the right edge. Moving right to left on the screen are a number of fish of varying sizes, some bigger than your fish, some smaller. The harder you row, the higher up the screen your fish rises. Any oncoming smaller fish your fish will eat; any oncoming bigger fish will eat you. Hence you row hard to rise your cursor to catch the small fish above you then ease off to catch the ones below. The same goes for staying out of the way of oncoming bigger fish. It's pretty fun and works your reflexes as well as your body.

The darts game was a lot harder. There's a dartboard at the right of the screen. You're given a supply of 100 LCD 'darts'. The darts fly out from left to right at varying heights, meaning you need to react quickly and vary your speed. The harder you row, the higher the arc your dart will have. If your dart flies out from the top of the screen, you need to ease off to let it sail down toward the centre of the board. The next dart could fly from the bottom, meaning you'd need to row hard to raise its arc. At the end of your darts, you'll have a combined score.

Target practice was similar to the above but the board was designed more like an archery target, with the aim to get the arrow into the centre.

Interval training involved a series of 500m blasts of rowing, interspersed with 30 second rests. This seemed to go on indefinitely. Interesting to begin with, but hard to keep up with no end in sight.

A lot of the cardio machines were difficult to get on as they are very popular. The same goes for the punch bag, the skipping ropes and the heavy rope. These three are all stored in the same corner of the gym which is normally occupied with people doing these activities or others (sit-ups, gymnastics rings, etc.) At quiet times, I managed to get on a few of these. These aren't exercises you can particularly measure, but as I trained I could feel my endurance sustaining better than in previous years.

In the month of the project I managed to make one solid improvement with my 10 minute row: 41 metres onto personal best. It's not far off what I was rowing when I was 24, and still doing Muay Thai. My cardio was exceptional back then, so I'm not doing too bad for a 33-year-old carrying a little extra these days. I'm also getting through cardiotone classes without gassing. Now to get back onto weights and chin-ups. Still no visible abs.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Doing the Splits with Peter F Hamilton

Over the last few years I've found 'novel' ways of reading and exercising, if you'll pardon the pun. It occurs to me that I've made four attempts at reading and planking, and only three at reading whilst practicing the splits.


So: I've done these projects as shortest book; month; longest book; record breaker. Not necessarily in that order. What's missing is a final attempt to beat the personal best at splits, which should take a while as I haven't practiced this in 2 years. I'm currently dualling the manual to my new Skoda Citigo (had it a month, still haven't finished reading the manual but it's a great non-addictive cure for insomnia) with Peter F Hamilton's The Evolutionary Void. I've slacked off with reading recently so now's a good a time as ever to mix some of this into my life. The Evolutionary Void is the third in the Void trilogy, something I've been hammering through since new year. The first 2 books I whipped through, as the weather at the start of the year was horrific and all I wanted to do was stay in where it was warm, and read. As winter (finally) ebbed off, I settled into The Evolutionary Void, the largest book in my to-read pile. It was my intention to hammer through it as quickly as possible, but as the weather improved, NHS appointments occurred (memory related stuff) and nights out became more frequent, reading was put on the back-burner. I also bought the aforementioned car, which took a chunk out of my time (and suffice to say my finances).

My record is 163cm. I've just sat down for a minute and got 150cm. I just want one more centimetre on my record. Now is the right time to spend a little time every day pushing my flexibility.