Life is good

Life is good and things are going well at the moment.

Cheryl’s finished her dissertation, and has settled into the new flat really well. I have actually stayed there every night since the move, so I guess I’m settling in well too. πŸ˜‰

At the weekend we went to see Les Miserables at the local cinema. The performance was taking place at the O2 Arena in London, but it was broadcast to the cinema. It was really good, apart from the slight delay between the video and audio. They were sending the video as it was recorded and the audio as it is delayed. It was quite annoying. I understand that in the arena most people would have to watch on the screen, and because the video takes a short amount of time to be processed there is a delay added to the audio to sync them up, so why wasn’t this done with the cinema broadcast? Oh well.

Last night we went to meet Dave and Hayley for some pizza and to discuss going away to Prague in February next year. It sounds pretty straightforward, and pretty much only relies on Cheryl having her new visa by then. It shouldn’t be a problem, so we’re going to go ahead and book it at the end of the month. Should be awesome!

Benicassim Festival

On Wednesday the 14th of July I went to the Benicassim festival with Matt, Vlad, and Howard. Here is pretty much everything you could conceivably want to know about what happened there.

Wednesday

I went home from Cheryl’s place in the morning and got picked up by Matt and Vlad. It was kind of strange because Chloe was there and so I think it was a bit confusing for the guys when they arrived. They assumed it wasn’t number 37 because they saw Chloe upstairs through the bedroom window.

We packed our things and I had a spot of trouble with my keys and wallet before we eventually set off to Matt’s house because he’d forgotten something. Then it turned out that he’d lost his house key, but luckily one of his housemates was in. From there we headed to Vlad’s house in Edwinstowe to wait for Howard and his dad to come and pick us up.

The drive to the airport was over pretty quickly and the airport wasn’t particularly busy or anything. We all got checked in with our couple of bags after being directed to the oversize luggage section. Vlad’s bag got stopped because he had his Swiss army knife in the checked-in luggage. Quite how that can be a problem in the belly of a plane at 30000 feet I’m not sure, but oh well. They eventually let it on and we went through the rest of security.

We spent a little while having some drinks in the upstairs Wetherspoons bar this time. Then it was time to board the plane, so we got in the line. Everything went fairly smoothly and so we sat down and got on with the flight.

Matt and I used the time to complete the cryptic crossword in The Sun. Vlad managed to mess up the easy Sudoku, so Matt and I took the paper back and did the more complicated one properly. πŸ˜‰

When the plane landed we got into the airport and it was easy to feel that it was considerably hotter than the plane right away. We went through and collected out bags and then headed out of the airport to find the rental car. As soon as we got out of the doors it became apparent just how bloody hot it was in Spain at night time.

We walked around looking for the car rental place, but only found 2 closed places. Eventually we realised we needed to catch a bus to the other terminal and then go to the place that closed at midnight.

The bus drove pretty quickly, and it’s a good job because there was a huge distance between the terminals. We queued at the car rental place for a bunch of time before finally being served. I believe it was after midnight, but people were already queued so I believe they were obliged to serve them all. It might just be that the Hertz one closed earlier and my timing was all wrong, but it doesn’t matter. We got the key.

We got directions to the car park and told the number to look for (2B 06 I believe). We set about going all over the place and not finding it. People went up floors and down floors and all over the place on the 2nd floor with no luck. Eventually we found it down on the bottom floor in a place that was marked something fairly different to the number we’d been looking for, but oh well.

We unloaded our bags into the Peugeot 207 and then set about heading for Benicassim from Barcelona airport. It was strange, as it always is, to be on the other side of the car and on the other side of the road, but it’s easy enough to get used to the change.

We had a little issue initially and had to do a little bit of doubling-back, but luckily we had the sat nav to help us out with that. After a while we hit the motorway that goes down the coast and started heading through all sorts of tunnels with fans that looked like plane engines.

It got to the point where we were all hungry and we saw there were some services coming up. We stopped at a place called Ars, which made everyone laugh when Howard pointed it out.

There wasn’t much to eat if you didn’t want some sort of pastry, so we had that, then we got back in the car. We stopped after moving a few feet so Vlad could get the CD from his copy of NME so we didn’t have to listen to the shitty radio stations. They kept going in and out of range because of the mountains anyway.

On the drive we kept hitting toll booth after toll booth. In the end we spent €28 on tolls. The CD from NME was quite boring towards the end and eventually put me to sleep.

When we finally arrived in Benicassim everyone was very tired and so we looked for the camp site. We couldn’t find it at first so Vlad got out and asked some very drunk teenagers. They gave us the rough directions we needed and so we headed to the festival site. This is where we met with the second-least helpful police officer I know of. He told us that we couldn’t park the car or pitch the tent because we didn’t have our wristbands yet, and we couldn’t get our wristbands because it was too late at night. So yay, we decided to go for a drive to find some quiet place to sleep. I decided that I fancied sleeping on the beach, so we went to the beach and I touched the Mediterranean sea for the first time of the holiday before everyone suggested heading back into town to sleep in the car.

We found a car park after much driving around and just tried to sleep as much as possible in there for a few hours. A Peugeot 207 is not a comfortable place for 4 people to sleep.

Thursday

I got woken up in the morning by some people walking by and pointing at us and talking to Vlad. They were English and they wanted to know if Vlad was from Manchester for some reason or other.

We woke ourselves up properly and headed into the town to get some breakfast at a nice little roadside cafΓ© thing. We also used the cash machine nearby to get our money for the holiday.

After a little time wasting we went to the festival site and parked the car. We still had ages to wait so we inflated a globe and then sat in the car playing the “capitals game” where someone would name a country and someone else would have to name the capital city of that country. In the end we were just quizzing Vlad. That killed a whole bunch of time, and we covered pretty much every country in the world. After that we went up to the actual festival site and waited around in the shade until the wristband place opened up. We were some of the very first people through on that day, and we had the tent with us already, so as soon as we got our wristbands we tried to find a place to camp. The first place we looked at was on top of a wasp nest. The second place was on top of an ant nest. We then got told that the area was only for staff to camp in, so we were directed miles and miles away to the top of the camp site.

We found a massive empty plot and began putting the tent up in the boiling hot sun. It wasn’t actually that difficult, but it was extremely hot inside it.

After we’d put the tent up we headed to the centre of Benicassim again and went to a restaurant to get some food. It turned out that the place was owned by Romanians, and that made Vlad quite happy. We ordered pizzas (they didn’t have any Pizza Dracula) and then sat around on the pavement under the gazebo thing.

A man was behind us for a while sorting out some wires and things like that. It turned out that he was actually the DJ. We discovered this when really loud techno/dance music came on right behind us. It was quite strange, to be honest. Sitting down in the heat in the middle of the day, eating pizza while listening to this really up tempo loud dance music. Oh well, it was fun enough.

At some point we went back to the festival site and went through to the main section when it opened. We sat down in the shade of one of the stages and watched some of the very first bands begin to play. The one I remember sounded a bit like the singer from the B-52s, which was quite interesting, but I wasn’t overly impressed with their work if I’m honest. Still, it was the first band we saw while we were there. I do remember seeing a girl there who was wearing a top that was mostly transparent and she had crosses of black tape covering her nipples. Fairly interesting fashion/lifestyle statement if you ask me. πŸ™‚

We watched some more bands while we were there and had a few more drinks. We watched a few bands and then the main acts I was interested in came on. We watched Charlotte Gainsbourg perform her eclectic mix of songs, followed by Ray Davies powering out some impressive tunes, and finished the night off with Kasabian. Well, I say we… I feel asleep on the grass during Kasabian. I woke up a few times and heard some of the songs I wanted to hear, but I was pretty much dead to the world for most of it. I was glad to get back to the tent and go back to sleep again.

Friday

We spent some time at the beach, which included the first proper venture into the sea. It was really quite nice, once you got over the initial rocks and stones. There was a tendency to walk like someone with special needs on the way back to shore though.

After the beach we went to a Romanian bar that we’d noticed. We sat inside and watched the ridiculous amounts of female flesh that Romanian music television has to offer, and then had some paella and Ursus! πŸ˜€

We went back to the site after a while and these are the band we saw:

Julian Casablancas
Mumford & Sons
Vampire Weekend

Saturday

We decided to go to Valencia for part of the day. Vlad bought some chequered glasses ready for The Specials and I decided to buy a silly festival hat. It was really nice in Valencia. We saw part of the F1 track and a really cool-looking building on the way back to Benicassim.

When we got back we went to the festival site and began the drinking. At one point my hat got stolen, but I’m not at liberty to discuss what happened to it. A short while later I lost everyone. I waited in the arranged place for everyone, but they weren’t there when I was, so I decided to head to the front of the crowd while The Prodigy were playing. I was wearing sandals and so this turned out to be a fairly bad idea. Someone landed on my foot and my toe started to bleed. I headed out of the crowd and wandered around for a little while. I decided to sit down next to a pylon where I could see people moving around in the tiny hope of seeing someone I knew.

After a minute the girl who was sitting there turned around and we started talking. Her name is Christina and she’s a psychology of language student in Copenhagen. She gave me a tissue to wrap around my toe to help stop the bleeding and we sat there and chatted for a while. She told me that I should get rid of my hat because it made me look like an English tourist, which is quite an insult. πŸ˜‰ I told her I’d give it to the next English person I saw. I spotted someone who looked English, and he was, so I offered him my hat. He didn’t want it, so I threw it after him as he walked off. When I turned around a few seconds later the was picking it up. πŸ™‚

After a while Christina’s friends met up with her and then they wanted to go see a band, so they invited me along. I figured I might as well see some bands, rather than wait around and see none, so I tagged along. I ended up seeing some of The Japanese Popstars, and then they all wanted to go to see some of The Klaxons. I got there in time to see some of Golden Skans, which made me happy. The girls all headed off, so I waited around for a few minutes scanning the crowd and then gave up and went back to the tent. I got woken up a short while later by Vlad throwing a glow-stick at me. I wasn’t very impressed at the time. πŸ˜›

Sunday

I think we spent the vast majority of Sunday on the beach. I’m also pretty sure that Sunday was the day I found a praying mantis in the tent, and brushed my teeth with toothpaste and some horrible warm beer that we had instead of fetching some water.

It was overcast for the first part of the day, and the waves were pretty big and loud, but I slept for quite a while. We spent some time in the sea and after some other events that I have completely forgotten we went back to the festival site and saw the following bands:

Two Door Cinema Club
Ellie Goulding
Foals
Dizzee Rascal
Gorillaz

I wish I had managed to finish writing this blog entry less than a month after going, but I am apparently useless at finishing off massive posts like this, and so I’m just going to post the stupid thing now and say that I’ll come back and fill bits out in the future, even though I’m fairly sure that I won’t actually do that.

Bands I remember seeing

Thursday

Chin Yi
The Paris Riots
Cohete
Southern Arts Society
Charlotte Gainsbourg
Ray Davies
Kasabian

Friday

Julian Casablancas
Mumford & Sons
Vampire Weekend

Saturday

The Cribs
The Specials
Ian Brown
The Prodigy
The Japanese Popstars
The Klaxons

Sunday

Two Door Cinema Club
Ellie Goulding
Foals
Dizzee Rascal
Gorillaz

Drinks, bad news, movies, Android apps

On Saturday night Cheryl and I went out with Holly and then Len met up with us in The Social. We had a bunch of drinks and ended up spending the whole night in there, leaving at about 2 in the morning. It was a really fun evening, and I was very tired by the end of it.

I got woken up by Cheryl at about 5 in the morning because she’d just had some really bad news about her uncle back in Singapore. πŸ™ After a bit more sleep I commenced operation Cheer Up Cheryl. I made some American-style pancakes with chocolate chips in. Then I fell back to sleep again while Cheryl was speaking to her mum on the phone.

After 4pm we headed to town to the cinema to watch The Karate Kid. It was a good film. Jaden Smith is a pretty good actor and is somewhat like his dad at times, which is quite a compliment, I think. The name of the film doesn’t really fit any more since the entire thing is about Kung Fu, but oh well. Jackie Chan is always appreciated in any movie. πŸ™‚

After the movie we went to Tamatanga where I discovered that they don’t know how to use capital letters on their menu (is that really stylish?). The food was nice enough, but we couldn’t take what we left because we were heading back to the cinema to watch Knight and Day. We had a bit of time to kill so we played on the IT Box again. We’re beginning to dominate the score board for Word Up. πŸ™‚

I had very low expectations for the film, but I was quite pleasantly surprised by how not-shit it was. There were enough funny moments to make it light-hearted, and enough action to keep anyone interested. It was a bit like a Jason Bourne comedy, starring an crazy midget and Cameron Diaz. It could have been a lot worse…

When we got back I was updating some apps on my phone when I noticed that Google were publicising Sky’s app on the marketplace. I took a quick look and saw that it has between 10 and 50 thousand downloads already. It makes me so sad to know that the audience for my app was so large, but I hardly tapped it at all. Oh well.

Another two films at the cinema

I met Cheryl on old market square after work yesterday and we went to the cinema in time for the 17:30 showing of The A-Team. It was every bit as silly as I imagined it would be. Some bits are even more ridiculous than I expected (flying a tank, etc.). It was also as full of explosions and shooting as I hoped it would be. πŸ™‚ It’s worth going to watch if you fancy a funny action movie.

After the film we went to pick up our tickets for the 9pm showing of Twilight: Eclipse. when we had the tickets we headed to Chiquito to get some Mexican food. I tried another sub-par quesadilla while Cheryl had macaroni and cheese (yes, really).

Eclipse itself was kind of like this for me:

First 90 minutes
Bella looks just to the left of Edward with a pained expression on her face looking slightly confused by something in the distance.
Bella looks just to the left of Jacob with a pained expression on her face looking slightly confused by something in the distance, then breaks her hand punching him in the face after he kisses her.
Edward does his necessary macho thing to Jacob, then they both pull back with pained expressions on their faces.
Bella looks upset, still.
Bella kisses Jacob, Edward doesn’t mind because he knows Bella loves him more than Jacob.

The next 20 minutes
There’s an awesome fight scene with werewolves and vampires all over the place!

The last 10 minutes
Teenage girl heaven.

Cinemaness

Cheryl and I were talking about how many films we wanted to watch at the cinema yesterday, so we decided it would be worth investing in an unlimited card for Cineworld. It costs Β£13.50 and you use the card to go to as many films as you like.

We ordered our cards online yesterday and then printed the temporary passes out. We met near the cinema in time to watch Toy Story 3 in 3D. It was a really good film. It was sad in parts, hilarious in parts, and just plain great overall.

After that had finished we went to get our tickets for Inception. After getting the tickets we went to Subway for a quick sandwich. We sat upstairs and had to listen to chavs talking about their illegitimate children, or whatever it is chavs talk about these days. We left there as soon as possible to go play on the IT Box in the cinema. We ended up playing on Word Soup about 6 times. We did fairly well, but couldn’t seem to be consistent enough to win money.

We went into the screen to watch Inception and sat down. When the film was ready to start the lights came up to full brightness for some reason. They stayed like that until someone went to speak to the people. Then the lights dulled, then flashed bright again. Stupid lights or stupid staff, I’m not sure. Eventually they turned off and we could see the screen properly.

Inception itself can be a bit confusing with the timeline changes, but the film itself isn’t that complicated. I’m sure it could be difficult to follow if you have a short attention span, or if you lost concentration for a few minutes, but it’s still enjoyable. It’s jumped into IMDb’s Top 250 at number 3, which is ridiculous. I’m sure it’ll get lower and lower over the coming weeks, but I imagine it’ll stay in the middle of the list for a fairly long time.

We got out of the cinema at 11:50pm after arriving there at about 5:30pm. It was a long evening in the cinema, and there will be many more to follow. πŸ™‚

Benicassim

Today is my last day at work for about a week. I am going to the Benicassim festival in Spain tomorrow afternoon. I can’t wait to get there! πŸ˜€

Benicassim Line-up

Benicassim Line-up

I’ve been looking at the line-up for a while and wondering which stage to stay at so I see the most bands that I want to see. Most of the time the main stage is where I want to be, but there are some bands I’d like to see on other stages. On the first day I would like to see The Temper Trap and Kasabian, which I imagine will not be possible.

I’ve been trying to work out which stage offers the most so I can stay in one place. I’m really not that bothered by Ray Davies on the main stage, but Charlotte Gainsbourg is pretty awesome. She’s a good actress too. Check out Science of Sleep for proof of that. She’s the daughter of Serge Gainsbourg, so there’s a lot of music in her family.

My favourite part of Science of Sleep

I guess I will just end up going with whatever someone else suggests on the first day. I would be happy to see either of the main two headline acts that day.

The second day is all about the main stage, although I would kind of like to see Calvin Harris, Mumford and Sons, and even Goldfrapp. They don’t come close to Hot Chip and Vampire Weekend though. πŸ™‚

The third day is going to be spent at the main stage. Sadly I will miss The Cribs on the third stage, but I imagine The Prodigy will be pretty awesome. I’ve seen both of them live before at some point, but not Ash, Klaxons, Ian Brown, or The Specials. Sarah would kill me when I returned if I didn’t see The Specials. πŸ˜‰

On the fourth day I really want to see Two Door Cinema Club and Foals on the second stage, but I also want to see Gorillaz. Maybe I can manage all of those. I’m not particularly interested in Lily Allen or Dizzee Rascal, but The Courteeners are pretty cool.

I guess I’ll really have to wait until I’m there to see who I can see. I know that I’ll see a bunch of good bands anyway, so I’m not particularly worried. I suppose I should probably be a bit more worried by the fact that I don’t have a tent to sleep in as far as I know at the moment. I also have no Euros, and nothing to sleep on when I’m there.

I do love a good adventure! πŸ˜€

Rolling Stone’s top 500 albums

For a few years now I’ve had a goal to listen to Rolling Stone’s top 500 albums in full.

When I discovered Spotify I realised that it could help me out a lot, so I listened to a few albums here and there to start increasing my count. Then, for some reason, I stopped listening to them. I think I got a bit disillusioned by all the albums I didn’t like, so I just stopped.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve restarted my efforts. When I first started I could only definitely remember having heard 13 of the albums in full. I have now heard 158 of them! It feels good to be making progress, and I don’t seem to be getting too bogged down with albums I don’t like.

I’ll get there one day!

How to Solve a Mystery in a Film

Before I begin I just want to point out that this post contains spoilers for a couple of movies that are worth watching: Drag Me To Hell, and Horsemen. Read this after you’ve seen them to really understand what I’m talking about, and to avoid ruining the movies.

Lots of different types of films contain mysteries, or puzzles for the viewer to solve. Often the viewer is not required to actually solve these puzzles because they will be presented to the viewer as the story progresses. Using some of the information that you get early on in a film it is often quite simple to come up with accurate conclusions.

Usually, the information given is quite small. It could be a small habit that a character has that doesn’t receive much focus but later gives away a secret identity. Often the information is just something that strikes you as a bit odd when it happens, can be considered insignificant to the story, and is therefore forgotten until later on.

A good example of the latter can be found in the movie Drag Me To Hell. The lead character visits her boyfriend and part of the scene is dedicated to her presenting him with a coin for his collection. This is quite a strange thing to include in a movie, and therefore it is quite likely that it has significance. What makes it more unusual is that the boyfriend takes the coin and places it in a blank envelope. Who does that?

DragMeToHell

Later on in the movie the scene is forgotten because it is deemed to be unimportant. The lead character takes a cursed button (yeah, lame, I know) and puts it in an envelope. As the lead character and her boyfriend are driving along the envelope is dropped and the lead character freaks out until she finally picks up an envelope. Yes, you guessed it, the envelopes got switched. Only, nobody notices this because the act of the boyfriend placing the coin in the envelope appeared to be such an insignificant detail at the time.

The lead character gives the envelope to a dead gypsy in a ridiculously fast filling watery grave in order to remove the curse, and then goes about her life feeling like everything is fine. The next day her boyfriend meets her at the train station and produces the button which he found in the envelope that he thought contained his coin. Suddenly everyone remembers that the boyfriend put the coin in an envelope, and that the two items would be roughly the same size and weight.

The ending of the film was obvious from the moment the button was put in an envelope, but it requires that you notice the details and don’t forget the things that strike you as a bit odd. Why would a horror film take the time to show you that the lead character’s boyfriend collects coins? Why have him put the coin in an envelope?

Another example can be found in the movie Horsemen starring Dennis Quaid. A woman is murdered and the protagonist is a detective in charge of the case. He turns up to the house and discovers that the murdered woman has three children. When our protagonist sees the children it is apparent that 2 are white, and the eldest one is Asian. A fellow officer tells our protagonist that the eldest one has was adopted, and the protagonist ironically thanks the officer for the tip.

Horsemen

Later on it is discovered that the Asian girl is actually complicit in the murder. This should really be quite obvious to anyone watching the film, but it’s easy to disregard a detail as insignificant. Why would the writer of the story bother to add the detail that one of the children was adopted, and make it so obvious by having the child be of a different race? Because the detail is what helps to solve the mystery in the movie!

Essentially all you have to do while watching a film is think “Why am I being shown this weird little detail?” Don’t forget the things you’ve noticed, and try to link them together. More often than not the entire puzzle can be solved long before the end of the film.

The Way I Are – Annoying Song Lyrics #3

Timbaland – The Way I Are is pretty much just a load of garbled rubbish from beginning to end, highlighted by the ridiculous title. The fact that it got absolutely played to death only made it worse. Yet strangely, the title of the song is not the part that annoys me the most about this song. It’s not even this ridiculous line:

I don’t need the cheese or the car keys

No, the part of the song that annoys me the most is the following section:

I don’t got a huge ol’ house
I rent a room in a house
Listen baby girl
I ain’t got a motorboat
but I can float ya boat

Seriously? Rhyming “house” with “house” and “boat” with “boat” in a properly released song is acceptable? This line is said by the rapper D.O.E. who I’m pleased to say I’ve never heard of before or since this song. I just thought rappers were supposed to be good with words. I was obviously mistaken.

S.O.S. – Annoying Song Lyrics #2

A song that used to get played on the radio a lot was S.O.S. by Rihanna. Every single time I heard this song it made me think of the exact same thing when it reached the chorus of the song. At first I simply misunderstood what she was singing, but later I couldn’t lose the thought I had come up with the first time. This is the bit I mean:

S.O.S. please someone help me
It’s not healthy for me to feel this
Y O U are making this hard

When I first heard this I thought Rihanna was saying it wasn’t healthy for her to “feel this way” and then proceeding to say “oh you are making this hard.” Some lyrics sites I searched actually came to similar conclusions.

When I realised she was spelling out a word I immediately assumed the “are” was just the letter R. This would mean she sang “your making this hard” which probably a lot of Rihanna listeners wouldn’t grumble about. They can’t use the correct “you’re” or “your” because they’re only 14 and they’re too busy looking after their babies.

Whenever I hear this song that bit annoys me and I’m forced to switch to another radio station immediately. One day all stations will cease playing Rihanna’s music and I will only have to switch stations when one of the other 1000 annoying songs come on.