Friday, March 30, 2007

memories of becket school

So today I firmly placed the buttocks of revision upon the toilet seat of impending exams, and started the big push of hard work (as you can tell from the fact i'm writing this, it's going pretty well!). It's had a weird effect on me though, and has really made me realise that that is it for education now. I'll never have another lecture again. That's a pretty weird feeling.

I mean, the last lecture itself past off pretty quietly without anything particularly noteworthy happening. It's made me remember this afternoon however, how that contrasts with my lest ever A-Levels lesson, at Becket School in Nottingham where I spent seven years of my life.

It was a Geography lesson, and we were looking forward to a pretty relaxed fun session to mark the end of our school career, much like the other lessons had been so far that day.

Imagine my disappointment then, when Mr. Murphy entered and proceeded to give a normal revision lesson, the boring turgid ostrich. Well I was a bit gutted anyway.

Halfway through the lesson, Mr. Murphy leaves to photocopy some handouts, and I think it would be a fun little protest if I grab the keys from his desk, and lock him out the room. Mr. Murphy was a fairly jovial, good natured chap, and I was sure he'd see the funny side.

And so that's what I did. Except that he actually returned just as I was grabbing the keys from his desk, and then proceeded to throw me out of the class.

(not literally you understand, that would be mental)

Later on he apparently described me to the class as having been 'a boil on his backside' throughout the years he had taught me.

So there we are: I was thrown out of my last ever school lesson. If I was a little quiet in that Locational Planning and Place Marketing lecture, maybe that was why.

high voltage @ manchester roadhouse

So last night four of us had free tickets to see Little Man Tate at Manchester Roadhouse, followed by the High Voltage clubnight. They put on a fun gig, but it was heartbreaking to see the clubnight so quiet afterwards. Especially when such great songs as Bromheads Jacket "What ifs & Maybes" were being played out. Somewhat inevitably, the group then insisted on moving on to 5th Avenue.

Now don't get me wrong, I'd more than happily spend some time in 5th Avenue - especially as they were playing some great songs (Feeder - Just A Day, The Go! Team - Ladyflash and a dance remix of Arctic Monkeys - When The Sun Goes Down were particular highlights), but it hurts to see 1,200 people pile into the place when Roadhouse is struggling to pull 150 people together for a much better night. Especially when the 250 people in there for the gig
could've stuck around for free.

Think of 5th Avenue as Jo Whiley, and Roadhouse as Zane Lowe if you like. And next time you're stuck for where to go on a thursday night, head to Roadhouse, mmm?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

tick tock birthday o'clock

Cripes, thanks to everybody who wished me a happy birthday yesterday. Felt somewhat overwhelmed, which was nice.

It was a day that involved waking up at 8:30, listening to Chris Moyles until 10am, falling asleep again until half 11, getting up, and heading into town to shop for a bit.

One birthday tradition was adhered to though: I buy a lottery ticket, once a year every year, on my birthday. I don't like playing the lottery - it strikes me as a waste of money and a tax on the poor - but I play on my birthday as I figure if i'm destined to win the thing I will this way.

It makes sense in my head, okay?

Anyway, top night out in Manchester. The evening took in Scu 2, Font Bar, Revolution and 42nd Street. I'll tell you, there's no better time to head to 42nd Street then during the uni holidays: there's far less students in Manchester, so you don't have to get there at 10:30 to avoid waiting in the queue for 40 odd minutes (or being turned away altogether) but the club will still be busy because, well it's a popular club, right?

Well, some words of thank you must go to Matthew Allen, Paul Walker, Claire Helen Jones, Chris Bernans, Simon Woodsford and David Bird, for coming out and making it a quality night. You are all rather excellent and sexy beings. Especially Dave. Yum.

Much more fun to come this week too: look out for lewd reviews from Damien Rice, Razorlight and Little Man Tate gigs in Manchester, before returning to Nottingham for Easter week on Wednesday. Exciting times!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

a club called 'the brickhouse'

So as part of Super-dissertation-hand-in-celebration-week-o-fun we thought we'd try an all new club on Saturday night, Manchester's relatively unheard of 'The Brickhouse'. It's an indie club, but in a clear dig at the ubiquitous 5th Avenue, it prides itself on 'no two weeks having the same playlist'.

What else do you need to know about it? Hmm... a) it's tiny, b) i'm pretty sure we were the only students in there, and c) It's just down past The Ritz on the road to Deansgate Locks

And yeah, we had a really good night. Mainly thanks to a spot on music policy that's just the remedy if hearing 5th Avenue play The Kooks for the 347th time has left you feeling somewhat off-colour. It's a nice club as well, has a good atmosphere to it. Of course, slightly off putting are issues such as these: the price, the hugely disproportionate amount of men, and how three of our group were threatened with being beaten up at various points throughout the night. But we're talking fairly minor issues here, especially when one also has to add that the bouncers are easily the best I've witnessed in Manchester.

So yes, The Brickhouse scores a very respectable 8.1/10. Consider it next time you want to get off Manchester's beaten track., hmm?

biffovision plug

If you've got a spare half hour with nowt better to do, you could do a lot worse than nip over to Youtube to watch a TV program I'm recommending to you now. This television program is a pilot episode of a sketch-esque show from my 2nd favourite screenwriter (I bet you don't even have a 2nd favourite screenwriter do you?), and 1st favourite blogger, one Paul Rose. It's utterly bizzarre stuff, and for those of you familiar with my more surreal sense of humour, it may go some way to explaining where I get it from.

Watch here parts one, two and three.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

the 20 things to do before you leave uni

Last night I found an old file on my PC that I wrote in my first year of uni. I remembered that I'd actually written and saved it back then after a group of us wrote it in our student union during the first month of being at uni. Anyway, it was a list, and it was called The 20 Things To Do Before You Leave Uni...

-Sell a story to the Sun
-Sleep rough due to alcohol
-Jump from one building to another
-Dance in a gay club
-Pull someone working behind the bar
-Meet a kid's TV presenter
-Ride atop a moving car
-Befriend a local pensioner
-Have highlights put in your hair
-Crowd surf
-Attend a pub lock-in
-Be on TV
-Write an assignment in a day
-Save somebody's life
-Attend an illegal rave
-Argue with a bank manager
-Have a pub where you can ask bar staff for 'the usual, please'
-Receive a noise complaint from a neighbour
-Get on national radio
-Board a random train and visit its final destination

Somehow, I've managed to complete 10 of those. Though with only seven weeks of university left there's a fair bit still to do. Anyway feel free to pass comment on how many you've done!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

the science of sneezing

Here's something I've never understood: how do people stifle their sneezes? Some people are able to sneeze really quietly, and I've no idea how.

Also, have you ever been told that if you need to sneeze, you should quickly look at a bright light? Is it just me or does that never, ever work? I can't think of one occasion where it has for me. Could it just be propaganda spread by Specsavers trying to make us all go blind staring at the sun or something?

Monday, March 19, 2007

i don't understand anything anymore

So here I am, stuck in the delirious stage of it being 3 days until I hand my dissertation in, and nothing much is really making sense anymore. This has not been helped by the utterly surreal marks that have come through for my various pieces of coursework so far this term.

Now in my mind, I've put exactly the same amount of effort in to all of these.pieces of assessed work. So can somebody please explain to me how the three marks I've had back so far this year have been 52, 74 and 68? That's a ridiculous spread of work. Those last two have both come through in the last week. They are the best two marks I've ever had in my uni career. And yet I've no idea what was done differently for them!

Nothing makes sense anymore. Which bodes well for me polishing off this big piece of assessed work I'm working on, that contributes a third to my final mark in this damn degree.

Urgh, I'm so confused. And I'm bloody looking forward to cutting loose come Thursday. Updates have been a little sparse of late I know, expect normal service to be resumed come fridayish x

Friday, March 16, 2007

i played a playstation 3 today

I don't think I've ever posted about videogames in this blog. I don't really know why, save for the fact that I imagine most of the regular readers don't give a damn about such things.

This morning however, whilst nipping into HMV Manchester, they had a ridiculously expensive looking demo area set up (sofa, huge high-def TV, sound system, and permanent attractive tall 20 something male assistant guy person) for trying out the new Playstation 3 console, which is launching next week, despite the almost unheard of situation of there being plenty of consoles still available for pre-ordering this close to the date.

They were demoing a racing game called Motorstorm, which seems to have been highlighted as the one worthwhile title available on launch day (this for Playstation isn't too bad, the PS2 launch line up of games was devoid of anything worth playing). I had a go, and it was really good. It looks (as you'd probably expect) absolutely gorgeous, was great fun, and the addition of one particular song on the soundtrack - Slam by Pendulum - makes it pretty much an ideal knockabout driving game.

There's a reason though, I suspect, why people aren't trampling over each other to secure their own slice of plush jet-black next-generation goodness: have you seen the price? Four hundred and twenty five English pounds it will cost you, and that's just ridiculous. Good bit of kit or not.

For this and other reasons, the majority of dull industry-watching types seem settled that Sony have ballsed this one up, and the hype that surrounded the Wii around Christmas signifies who will end up winning this round of console warfare. I'd suggest people shouldn't be quite so quick to predict the fall of Playstation.

People forget how many mistakes were being made with the PS2 when it was launched however many years ago. People were similarly quick to deride it's chances as well. Yet here we are in 2007, and the power of the Playstation name, along with possessing the lewdest range of games going, means it's turned out to be something of a runaway success. It's probably the console most worth owning right now, what with such brilliance as Singstar, Final Fantasy XII, Buzz!, Canus Canem Edit, Pro Evolution Soccer, Okami, Guitar Hero and Katamari Damacy gracing it's twilight year or two.

£425 is a stupid amount of money, but then, the console isn't worth owning yet anyway. I'd say it'll be 18 to 24 months until it is. Which is fine, because the PS2 was the same, and that was my favourite of the last crop of consoles.

Right, that's enough rubbish blogging about videogames. Must be careful not to stray from the winning formula of Bono and failed flirting attempts and that.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

so just got an email about the big interview i had

A few things to talk about today, then...

One of the things I love about writing this blog is that if I do a piece on a commercial organisation, there's a fair chance they're going to read it. Take for example the 30 or so people who have read this blog after going typing in 'arcade fire manchester review' to various search engines. They've all read that review, and some may well have been from the band/management gauging reaction.

Much better than that though, was Monday morning, at 8:15am, where somebody in the Npower head office read the blog. I get a fair amount of satisfaction from that. I hope it was one of their brand managers, or directors or something. I also hope they crawled up into a ball, in the agonising knowledge of how awful the company they slog their guts out for for really is.

i'm rich!

I worked out yesterday while going through my loan info that the £800 tuition fees Manchester Met badgered me for this year should never have been paid to them, as Nottinghamshire Student Financial Services should have been paying them my tuition fees directly. I wondered why I'd felt unusually poor all year. Thankfully realising my mistake they are now going to refund all of it in the next week or so, making me one hell of a lot better off than I thought I was.

All of which takes the edge off the particularly bad news to emerge from today...

no no from nintendo

That big exciting job I went for then. Got an email through about 10 minutes ago declaring the news that I hadn't been successful, but that they wish me every luck in the future blah blah blah whatever.

The position - which I'll now happily reveal to be that of European Online Editor at Nintendo's European head office - would've been something of a dream job, so needless to say I'm pretty damn gutted.

Still, I saw a new job ad in The Guardian yesterday that I think I'll apply for. It's at the BBC, which is very exciting. It was a big advert for the position of 'Controller of BBC3'.

I reckon it could be just the kind of thing worth going for. Will keep you posted x

Sunday, March 11, 2007

most awful tv ad of the moment

There's an advert doing the rounds at the moment for that awful company Npower, which is based around them showing off their sponsorship of the new all-singing-all-dancing Wembley Stadium. You know, the stadium that is finally about to be finished a year late an massively over budget. Indeed, it is quite the kind of project I'd like my precious name attached to if I were a Brand Manager.

The best part of the advert is the slogan though, proudly proclaiming Npower to be "The energy behind the new Wembley Stadium". Are you kidding me? You wish to boast that you were the real driving force behind that big lump of metal that would've been built in any other country in half the time and at about a quarter of the cost? (Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, anyone?)

This is also the company who, a few years back when I was still in 6th form, cornered Emily McCreary, a girl I went to school with, who would've been 16 at the time, in the street. The nice women from the company then tried to get her to listen to why her family should change energy supplier, somehow badgered her into fill in in some details. A fortnight later Emily got a letter through the post thanking her for switching supplier's to Npower, as the company had gone off and done using just the daughter of the house's signature and address.

Sounds like a great company! Coming next spring: Npower's official sponsorship of War! I'll even suggest their slogan for them: Npower, the energy behind our committed, successful and completely legal invasion of Iraq!

Friday, March 09, 2007

gig reviews: arcade fire, the feeling

Arcade Fire/Manchester Apollo

Perhaps appropriate for a band calling their LP Neon Bible, Arcade Fire seem determined not to do things by the book.

Seven tracks in - all drawn from their latest album - and it's a despondent looking audience. A coy "don't worry, we'll be good and play the hits" remark ushers in a blistering finale eventually curtailed by a bizarre choice of final track: the dour Ocean of Noise.

It's as brave as it is unconventional. One cannot help but feel endeared. 8/10

The Feeling/Manchester Apollo

Support band The Fray are strong, offering up a window back on what The Feeling's own stageshow used to be like. Already they were a fully realised band when playing to rooms of 100 people this time last year, now they've reached the big stages they seem determined to crank proceedings up an extra notch.

They try and throw a new trick in at every turn, most notably the inspired opening montage of Youtube mimes of their own songs. Meanwhile their Video Killed The Radio Star cover - flat on the Rosé b-side - still comes alive on tour.

A great family night out, basically. 8/10

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

two down, one to go

The job interview went well thanks. Thank you also to the ridiculous amount of good luck messages. I sense they helped. There was two parts to the whole thing: the actual interview and an hour long test thing, where I was sat in front of a laptop and given some creative writing-y stuff to do, much like I would be required to do in the actual job.

I'm unsure about the interview, think it went okay. But was pleased with the writing I managed to produce in the test bit. So who knows, mmm? It really is the job for me though, so gosh yes I want it blah blah pointless-rambling-stuff-you're-not-interested-in.

Oh, and I'm still not revealing who the actual company is, or the position. Out of blind fear. The job is still being advertised on their website. None of you would go up against me for it, right?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

i'm a bad jay-z tribute act

So it's one down, two to go for me. Tomorrow sees the big-huge-london-job-interview everything been building up to, and thursday is that Arcade Fire gig I've been looking forward to for months.

As for today, I've not long finished giving (along with two coursemates) a 50 minute seminar (Since you ask, titled: Carrefour and International Store Operations) to the rest of our course. Was really happy with everything that went in it, but more interesting than that was what was left out...

Three weeks ago I downloaded (legally, thank you) an instrumental version of Jay-Z's classic rap anthem 99 Problems. With this, I then started re-writing the lyrics to be about our seminar topic, covering all the key points we were making.

The plan was to then record me rapping over the track, and play it out at the end of the presentation.

Well it didn't work out anyway, due to reasons like not quite managing to get all the software working properly, but I invite you to get the 99 Problems tune in your head, and then imagine how cringeworthy it would of been listening to me rap these words over them:

"If it's operational problems I'll feel bad for you son, Carrefour got international problems but operations ain't one"

Friday, March 02, 2007

appreciating life's little pleasures

Today I rediscovered the joys of those little cube things you get in urinals. You pee on them, you get a nice smell. How ace is that?