Ode to the PaperClip

Things have changed a fair bit since I was a child, and I can usually accept this. One change however, saddens me. The paper clip guy from Microsoft Word. He was the bees knees, making every document special. All he ever wanted to do was help – “I see you’re making a letter, would you like a hand with that?”. I would spend hours in  school as a kid, “working” and just chat to him, change him, drag him around. He never moaned. He was the perfect virtual buddy. How does society reward this helpful behaviour? We cast him out to be seen no more. “I see you’re trying to erase my existence, would you like a hand with that?”.

He even changed his appearance to be more visually pleasing, don’t like paper clips? He’s a dog. Or a cat. Or a robot. Always smiling and always helpful. To me, this could go bigger than just a paperclips time coming to an end. This could signify the way society works now, too proud to ask for help, irritated by those caring enough to offer it and generally in a downward spiral. Or this could be a load of psycho-babble nonsense, take it as you will.

So the next time you see a child opening Word, tell them about the Paper clip. Spread the word of his heroic deeds and share his teachings with the new generation.

TO THE PAPER CLIP GUY!

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Batman Hipster

Now by no means do I think of myself as a hipster. I don’t complain about somebody liking a band after they make it big and I do not set trends with my hairstyle or clothing. Quite honestly I always found it confusing that people would be annoyed that their favourite small time band manages to make it big, become “Mainstream” and gain new fans. Surely people know that being as big as possible is a common goal set by artists.

That’s why I am confused by feelings and thoughts I have been having for a few years now. Allow me to explain.

As many young boys do, I loved superheroes as a kid. Whether it be Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, The Caped Crusader of Gotham – Batman, or The Man of Steel himself, Superman. I couldn’t get enough. As a kid, this knowledge was common. However, as I grew, debates with friends over who would win in a certain fight, became more intense. Reasoning evolved, they turned technical. Small discrepancies were examined and every claim refuted. This, helped along by having an older brother just as obsessed with them as I was/am and I have arrived here.  A 20 year old who still thinks to himself “If I could be any Superhero, then who…?”. Don’t get me wrong, i’m glad, and i’m sure i’m not the only one. I know i’m not.

Back to the point, for the past three quarters of my life, I’ve loved superheros. It’s fair to say I know a lot about them. I have come to terms and love the fact that i’m a geek. So when I see somebody I know for a fact doesn’t care about it say something like “I’m so excited for the Batman film, i’m such a geek!”, it makes me kind of mad. I’m all for people beginning to like it, but don’t act like you really care. Don’t act like you have been a fan through the comics, cartoons, books and terrible films. Be honest, now that everyone wants to get in on it, you’re trying to act like you are an old-hand on the super scene. However, the truth is, you jumped on the batman bandwagon and are now trying to act like an all time geek, because it’s popular to be one now. The downside to the plan is, one day when you bring up a superhero in conversation, you may get asked a seemingly simple question. This is when your meager knowledge will fail you, and you shall be outcast from such meetings forever more! Or so i hope.

This is why i have decided to make many small posts, each on a different superhero. I can’t get rid of these fake fans, but i can at least make sure they know enough to pass as a real one.

(Back to an earlier point, if I could be any super, I would choose The Flash or The Hulk. Being the best at one thing is the way forward, the only choice is, fastest or strongest.)

Smile!

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Rise of The Planet of The Apes.

I may be late to this particular talk, but, well I don’t care. I have recently watched the masterpiece that is “Rise of The Planet of The Apes” and I am well and truly amazed. This film has everything, a magnificent story line that really pulls you in and makes you care, whether you are an animal lover or not. For those of you not familiar with this franchise, it is confusing as hell to try fit into those that have come before, it seems to be a remake of  “Conquest of The Planet of The Apes”. The basic story line of this latest film is about a chimpanzee who gains superior intelligence due to a scientific experiment.

The acting in this film was generally good, there weren’t any weak areas, and it felt real which I suppose is the hallmark of good acting. The stand-out scene for me was when the “apes” first begin their rise, throwing off the shackles placed on them by humanity. Our favourite chimpanzee, lovingly called “Ceaser” refuses to go back to his cage when ordered to by the less than friendly worker played by Tom Felton ( Draco Malfoy) who is fond of wielding a taser. A fight ensues during which Ceaser grabs the man’s arm, causing him to shout “Take your stinking paw off me, you damn dirty ape”. The response from Ceaser roars through the room. “NO”. I had goose bumps, this all happens so fast, and it’s so iconic, beautifully shot and set that you can’t really sum it up.  “Take your stinking paw off me, you damn dirty ape” – and Ceaser rises up, the camera under him – brilliantly placed, Ceaser The Chimpanzee, all powerful, all mighty, holding his enemy down, the music builds his face swells in anger, and it hits you – “NO!”. One word and it is the most powerful thing spoken in the film. Ceaser’ first word, his sign of the end of the oppression. It represents so much and it really shows. Even the Gorilla watching from his cage, looks utterly bewildered by the one word.

So to conclude, Watch It!

And Smile!

A comeback, a lack of sleep and Rocky.

Hello constant reader (if you indeed exist),

I can only apologise  for my absurdly long absence from the world of blogging. I wish I had a reason for it, I have spent the last half hour trying to come up with a story to entice and captivate you. A story featuring all the makings of a feature film, an awkward but loveable main character (me), car chases, romance, an arch nemesis, betrayal and of course, some (tasteful) nudity. However, I am at a loss for such a tale. So you will have to settle for the truth. I got distracted. Like a small child who may aimlessly follow a paper bag caught in the wind, or a dog chasing a car, for reasons even he doesn’t know. I have spent my time doing nothing overly special or exciting. I have studied and taken exams. I have relaxed with friends and played numerous video games (side note: When put on paper my life has an eerie pathetic quality about it…), I have been drunk, possibly too much so and I have struggled, as always, with the true bane of my existence. Sleeping.

I love to sleep. I also enjoy being awake, what I dislike is the part in between, where you want/need to sleep and can’t. For example, I have now been up for 17 hours, which isn’t a huge amount of time, but when you consider that the current time is 11 minutes to six (AM), it seems somehow wrong.

Regardless, I recently watched, for the 5 time, the Rocky saga. (perfect segue – I know) I’m sure at some point in your life, a speech or moment in a book, film or play has spoken to you on one level or another. For me this statement is no more evident than in The Rocky saga. Mock Rocky or Sylvester Stallone if you wish, but films 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 changed my life ( we’ll try not to mention the abomination that was Rocky 5 ). I have a few examples for you, obviously the first is every single training montage. Nothing in the world of entertainment get’s you more revved up to go running or  hit the gym/someones face. When you see Rocky, in his first film, getting up at some hour unknown to most people, downing 4 eggs in one glass and tying the laces on his converse, you know shit is going down. However the greatest moment from any of the films is a certain speech that Rocky gives his son in Rocky Balboa ( The sixth film ). Please, take a few minutes to watch the video of this speech.

I know how awestruck you feel right now, if you want more, give the following track a listen – Rocky in a song.

If you haven’t seen all the films I implore you to watch them (maybe it’s okay if you miss number 5).

As always and because i’m back – SMILE!

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The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, Awesome? Great memories? …Terrible?!

Now i understand, what I find entertaining is strange and alienating to my elders, and one day I may have children of my own with interests that scare and confuse me. Until recently I could accept that as the way life goes, but after spending twenty minutes watching the very first episode of the first series of Power Rangers with my younger brother, showing him the beginning, where some of his favourite shows all started, I have to draw the line. The only word he said, as we watched the five Rangers kicking ass,  as we watched The Zords joining together, creating The MegaZord to save the day, the only word my brat of a brother said was: Terrible. That’s right dear reader, the show I remember from my childhood as being amazing, the show that led to the modern day Power Rangers (which my brother enjoys) is terrible.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who still looks on that time in my childhood with joy, that other people still recognise the titan of children’s entertainment that is the very first series:

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

GO GO POWER RANGERS!

I even remember dressing up as the green one (Tommy – My favourite) for a birthday when I was around the same age my brother is now. Tommy, the green ranger is the reason I started thinking about the whole show, as I recently found out that not only was he the green ranger and later the white ranger, he has also been in later series’ as the black ranger, the red ranger and a mentor to the whole group. To top all this off, as if this man wasn’t already a hero in my inner-kid’s eyes he went on to use the skills learnt as a Power Ranger and implement them into being an MMA fighter, he should be proud!

To end with, I thought I’d share some real nostalgia with you all, just click play, enjoy and smile!

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Family, Chocolate and Growing up.

My Nan is one of the greatest people ever, incredibly kind and loving, you’d be lucky to meet her. Bear in mind that if you offended her, she would waste little time in kicking you in the arse, but that’s all part and parcel of my brilliant Nan.

Northern Irish and proud, she enjoys a little whiskey on an evening and always has time for me. If you forget the whiskey and birthplace, and add a partiality to bonbons and a fiercely-protective-of-family trait,  this sums up my Mum (…Daughter to my Nan…). I remember many things from my childhood, such as she always had a mars bar in her handbag for me, an entire draw was saved, just for me, and filled to the brim with every sweet imaginable. I was throwing up rainbows quite often as a child, I was also carrying around a slight bit of chub due to my seven or eight sweet teeth. I realise I am speaking in past tense but all of these things are still true now, the sweet drawer is going strong, my Nans bag is weighed down with chocolate ( she can take it though, don’t worry, do NOT mess with my Nan, she is lovely, sweet and awesome, but she will destroy you. On a related side note about 7 years ago I had a pretend scuffle with my Mum, joking and wrestling, all fun and games you might think. Wrong. I ended up locking myself in the bathroom out of sheer terror. I knew she would never actually hurt me, but my young mind knew enough not to test my chances in a one-on one. Women in my family are tough. ANYWAY! )and I’m not ashamed to say I still probably have that slight bit of chub. That’s just me ( It doesn’t matter if you carry a few extra pounds with a face like mine anyway ….( How I wish this were true ) ).

One very clear memory I have, which actually happened a few times is of a very young me, having a nightmare. I remember two that showed up often, one I can look back on and realise how silly a kid I was being. The other… terrifies me still to this day, and the worst part is I’m sure i got it from a film i shouldn’t have watched at such an innocent age, and if I could just find that film, then I would be free. From the torment, the agony of knowing the hold these horrors have over me and the simple annoyance that finding the film would prove that I happened upon a horror flick sometime as a child, at the same time as disproving that i was so messed up my young should-be-nothing-but-happy-thoughts mind created this horrible image to simply mess with itself. (breathe.)

The nightmare was of maybe fifteen, give or take a few, little me’s running, to a house, whilst these creatures I can barely describe ( so I won’t ) swoop in to eat me. All of the little Toms enter the house and melt, coming together into one life-sized me. I walk up to a stand where there are three books, I open the first and a face of paper and text screams at me , so I shut it quickly, moving on whilst the muffled screeches continue. I open the second and words come out, whirling around me, creating a thick fog that closes in. Keeps closing in, until I can’t see, can’t breathe. That’s when I wake up, terrified. Now, I can agree with you that this isn’t the scariest imagery in the world, it isn’t. However, to the young Thomas it was. So I awoke scared out of my wits, many times, and the clear memories I have are of my Mum and my Nan, on separate occasions, coming to my room, calming me down, giving me a glass of water and saying the following:

“It’s okay Thomas, don’t worry, it was just a dream and it’s over now. When you go back to sleep just think about Tom and Jerry ( every kids favourite cartoon at the time ) and you’ll have a nice dream” There was more but that is the gist, so i would do as instructed and BANG! no more nightmares. This is easily the best advice I have ever received, if you have children of you’re own then I implore you to use this tactic, it is a godsend. Use whoever you want, i think The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers also worked for me, but seriously this WILL HELP. I have had the nightmare since, for some reason it doesn’t want to be out of my subconscious just yet. However it no longer has quite the same effect, I’m sure you’ll be glad to know.

To end with, I would like to initiate stage one of my pocket-watch campaign. For any new readers, this campaign started when my Mum bought me a silver pocket watch for my birthday. I now love it. I’m trying to bring it back, but I need your help. I can’t do this alone and that is why stage one is awareness. Tell your family, your friends, everyone, about this campaign. We need everyone to remember this classic piece of kit.

Thanks for reading and as always, smile!

P.S. If anyone recognises the scene I described, from any film they have seen, please tell me, I don’t need to know to save my sanity, just to aid my curiosity! Then smile!

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Me? A blogger? Never.

I never planned on being a blogger – one who blogs. If i’m being honest i always thought of it as a geeky little hobby. This probably just shows how small minded i may have been at times. The reason i started was because my tutor at university mentioned them as making one was a small part of an assignment. After this, he said that carrying one on would be a great way to hopefully improve my writing, my ability to take criticism and use it, and more importantly make me think in different ways on different subjects.

I’d like to think i’m accomplishing these goals. My skill in writing may not have increased massively, but i think small improvements have occurred. Alas, despite numerous attempts and long periods of waiting, i have yet to receive any criticism, constructive or not. Nevertheless, i will keep waiting for that one brave soul who will step forward and point out my weaknesses, rip me to shreds and break me down to blubbering little pieces, so i can improve.

The one area i am rather proud of is when it comes to thinking of things to write on, yes, some of them are very weak and have little to no sustenance, but i do have around 15 drafts written at any one time, each being worked on, ideas coming to me at random times, so often that i save them in draft texts on my phone, to be typed up later. I think just sitting and thinking of something which you can impart your opinion from the vast vortex of everything-ness is quite difficult, but once you find a small splinter of an idea the rest comes rolling in. It may not always make perfect sense to others, or be appealing reading material to anyone but myself just yet. I’m hoping that once i gain a certain amount of skill in thinking of ideas i can put the interesting slant on my posts that will hopefully bring the readers in, and keep you around, dear reader.

On a possibly more interesting note, my campaign to bring back the pocket watch is nearing the end of its planning stages and i plan on releasing the details of how i plan to do this soon. I’m sure you are simple riveted by this so subscribe, keep reading and smile!

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What makes a Man, a Man?

What actually makes a man, a man? Is it as simple as having an X and Y chromosome or does that just make you male, with the term “Man” being reserved for those that physically earn it.

Is it one or all of the many things we associate with being manly, is it facial hair? Being “massive”? Sleeping around and being a stereotypical “LAD”?  Or maybe it’s throwing your weight around to secure yourself the position of Alpha-male?

Some people say that a real man is innately strong, that he doesn’t cry – even whilst cutting onions, he doesn’t get tired from physical exertion and most important of all doesn’t ask for directions despite how lost and far from home he may be.

Or are  the guidelines to being a real man very similar to those for being a woman, or human being in general? Such as being considerate to those around you and being a generally well rounded person. I think that whilst this last one is correct the stereotypical man has changed quite recently, as he has done a few times throughout history.

Cave Man. Though we do not know of everything about cave man, we do know it was a society where the hierarchy was dependent on strength. Basically, you were strong or you were nothing. This ideal carried on for a long time, through all of the stone age, into the times of knights where still the strong prevailed. Even in the fairy-like tales of “king Arthur”, it is mainly the strong who prevail. However at this point, man Knight-Man, knew things were not simply made to be, by the one with the huge biceps carrying the bricks. It was also the one with a medieval style clipboard and planning permission who used his superior brain to plan the whole operation. Further on we go, to Renaissance-Man. He was a diverse fellow, strength and intelligence still being big points in his life, as shown by the great inventors, scientists and architects of the time. However, now we see the entrance of the artist. Great men, who used creativity to make their mark and were still as highly regarded as the great fighters and thinkers of the period. This carried on in much the same way for a long long time.

This is where i personally get confused. When i look at my fathers generation, and his before him. I see a lot of MEN-men. Men who are still judged on how much they can drink, who they can beat up and how much he swears. This when compared to my generation is quite different. A few generations back, men were MEN, they were hard, they had short -military buzz cut- hair, drank lager or bitter, swore profusely, spent most nights at the pub and worked mainly with menial labor.

Now me, i’m not often, if ever, referred  to as “hard”, i have long hair, i’m quite partial to a Malibu and orange juice, rarely swear or go to the pub and am hopefully going into a successful white collar job.  Not that i’m judging them, i just don’t see how i’m so different, what happened, is man going into another renaissance? If so, great!

Obviously the main question is, is this all a valid vein of thought or is it just pompous, over-thought-out idiocies? Unfortunately i believe it to be the latter! I apologise for wasting your time, if you were under the impression that this was all going somewhere, i’m just wondering how the apple can fall so far from the tree! Thank you and smile.

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The Dark Tower.

”My first thought was, he lied in every word, That hoary cripple, with malicious eye  Askance to watch the working of his lie on mine, and mouth scarce able to afford Suppression of the glee, that purs’d and scor’d

Its edge, at one more victim gain’d thereby. What else should he be set for, with his staff?  What, save to waylay with his lies, ensnare  All travellers who might find him posted there, And ask the road? I guess’d what skull-like laugh     

Would break, what crutch ’gin write my epitaph  For pastime in the dusty thoroughfare, If at his counsel I should turn aside  Into that ominous tract which, all agree,  hides the Dark Tower. Yet acquiescently,  I did turn as he pointed: neither pride nor hope rekindling at the end descried, So much as gladness that some end might be.”

Robert Browning – “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came”.

This is probably my favorite poem, partly because it is beautifully written, partly because it was the inspiration to write the most amazing set of books i have ever had the good fortune of reading – The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King. The poem is actually about 40 paragraphs long, i have only showed the first 3. To anyone who hasn’t read either, i seriously recommend them, these epics of the literary world are definitely worth your time. Also if you have read any Stephen King books, you will notice a huge abundance of tie ins/references to his other work. I hadn’t read any Stephen King when i first read it, but i have since read a few of his books and when i re-read it for the second and third time (i am currently reading the first one again.) I noticed a lot of them, there is even a separate website of Mr. Kings  just about the Dark Tower and it features info on many of these tie-ins! For anyone who’d like to read the entire poem, here is the link http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Childe_Roland_to_the_Dark_Tower_Came.

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Football.

Hello dear reader, carrying on from a recent entry I’ve been thinking on football. I do enjoy watching “the beautiful game” as i’m sure do a lot of people. Some of the players we can see are at immense levels of physical fitness. Probably no better example of the modern game is the recent AC Milan Vs Barcelona match in The Champions League. Some of the greatest players, all in one arena. Obviously the current recognised worlds best player, Lionel Messi played, showing his superb skill. Whilst i do think footballers on the whole are a bunch of over-dramatic, certainly over payed, arrogant, womanising, neanderthal like cretins whose job is to either coerce spherical leather into an outdoor cupboard or to stop it, admittedly with a few exceptions (yes, a rant, but more on this later).

I also think they are playing to an audience, especially in Britain who spectate only to criticise, as is the British way! Yes, we glorify Messi as the worlds best player, but then we say things like, ” Yeah, but he doesn’t match up to the old greats” Which is true of most sport! Boxing, Rugby and yes possibly football. However, is this the fault of the athlete? No! is Messi not the better of any match up in modern football? Yes he is! But we aren’t happy, though this is typically said of that old bloke in the pub who insists he could have gone pro in any number of sports, if it wasn’t for some mysterious injury.

Another thing we say is “Well Messi might dominate in the Spanish leagues, he’s too weak for English football, it’s an entirely different game!” Which, whilst technically wrong, it’s still football, is true on some levels as the English leagues play a much more physical game. Strength and size play a much bigger part here. It’s not all speed and agility or even skill. Yet the people who say this refuse to comment on the fact that Messi danced his way round Ferdinand and Vidic, two huge center backs with considerably larger frames than the Argentinian.  What more proof is needed? It is actual evidence.

Another footballer i feel sympathy for is the English striker, Emile Heskey. In my personal opinion he put on the best show for england in the last world cup venture. People disagree though, he didn’t score once in the world cup they say, he hardly ever scores they say, what kind of forward is that they say and so on and so forth. Allow me to remind you of a quote from a man noted in history for his superior intelligence “judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree and it will spend it’s whole life believing it is stupid” – Albert Einstein. Do not expect Heskey to score, we know he is not a goalscorer, instead look at what he does bring to the table. Assists. I don’t think many strikers are as selfless in their view on goalscoring. Heskey knows he can vastly improve his fellow strikers ability to finish, so he does. He is a big, big man. He can draw the defenders out, he can complete that last pass and can keep the ball up ready to give it. He was even quoted as having said “forwards are judged on their goalscoring. But i like to think i bring more to the game and i do get pleasure from assisting” What other striker would say this, with it being completely true. Heskey was a great credit to the English squad and the day he hung up his international boots was a sad day for us all, whether we all realised it or not.

Back to my rant on footballers, whilst i think some of them are despicable, such as those who cheat on their wives, i don’t think the way society treats these people is in anyway helping. They go to a club and are ushered into a V.I.P area with free drinks (like they need anything for free with their outrageous wage (- again, more on that later)), and the most attractive women with the lowest inhibitions in the club. It’s all pushed on them, and then after they have done these things, do we treat them differently? Barely. They continue to be praised and admired. Not that i think that the way in which society treats them makes what they do acceptable, because it isn’t, i just believe in exhausting all areas and being thorough. An example of all this is Ryan Giggs, a personal favorite (or he was) of mine, whom was found to have cheated on his wife. There really is no excuse for this type of behaviour.

Finally, back to my previously mentioned point of the money these sportsmen make. It really is extortionate, and i do believe that when you compare this to the wages of a solider on the front line, it shows a great mistake in the way the world works. Whilst i don’t know what, i do believe there must be something that can be done to even this out, because i am all for getting more money to the troops, and footballers are the biggest sign of the farce going on. Where someone bringing entertainment is seen as more important than someone keeping everyone in the country safe. I have no idea how to rectify this as i understand that these athletes make so much money because the industry they are in is a very large money making machine, and they after all, are the stars of it. It is just so obviously unjust, in a sense.

Anyway, that’s all for now dear reader (i won’t be so presumptuous as to put “readers” and assume there is more than one, if any!) so i hope you enjoyed it and even though it may not make much sense, just for the sake of continuity…Smile!

(P.S For football fans, especially Chelsea supporters i recommend a blog by “jwellwin” – http://chelseanewsletter.wordpress.com/)

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