D4D

If brains were dynamite, you might just have enough to blow your nose.

Weirdly Consistent

When I moved here six-and-a-half years ago (and yes, that does still freak me out) I got a Cineworld Unlimited card, so I could see as many films as I wanted to.  It’s a decent deal, less than £20 a month, so as long as you see more than one film per month, it’s paid for itself.

Because I’m a geek, I also started listing what I’d seen, with a separate sheet per year.

And it seems like I’m really quite consistent in how many films I see each year – not through any plan or schedule, it’s just the way it’s worked out.

The totals are

  • 2012 – 26 films (although that’s in under six months, as I didn’t get the card ’til July/August)
  • 2013 – 61 films
  • 2014 – 64 films
  • 2015 – 64 films
  • 2016 – 54 films
  • 2017 – 66 films

And so far this year I’m on… 62, with a couple of weeks to go.

Each year I think I’ll up my quality control a bit and see fewer films (when you’re not paying anything to see them, it’s remarkably easy to just say “Yeah, fuck it, I’ll give that a go”)  And yet it all ends up being much of a muchness.

It’s odd, but I’m not going to complain. At least I know I’m getting value for money out of my Unlimited card.  (It’s an outlay per year of £215 all told – so each film is costing me an average of £3.30, which is one fuck of a lot cheaper than the £10-ish for a single ticket!)

Ambivalent

This year is currently a weird one for me with regards to the Festering Season.

Usually by now I’m totally done with it, had enough, and generally pretty fucked off with the entire thing.

This year, though, I’m just ambivalent about it. And I don’t actually know why.

We’re still being faced with the same inanity and vapid bullshit on TV adverts and the like. We’ve had Christmas Shit™ (cards, confectionary, blah blah) in the shops since September. Now we’re in December they’re playing sodding christmas carols and tunes in the shops and on the radio, and various fuckwits are already blithering about “It’s christmas”. (No it’s fucking not, it’s just December)

And on the face of that paragraph, you’d think I am hating it. But I’m not. I still feel the same, that it is all crap and bollocks, but it’s not enraging me this year the same way it has in the past.

It annoys me that I don’t know why it’s not annoying me as much as usual.  But I’m also not going to complain – in some ways it’s quite nice to be a wee bit more tolerant of the whole farce than usual.

I don’t like (let alone love) the season and what it does to people – and I honestly doubt I ever will. But at least this year I also don’t hate it the same way I usually do.

Coming To A Close

This weekend, I saw my final performance of the year – I know there’s only three weeks to go, but still, I’m pretty sure I was seeing stuff ’til later in the year last time round.

This weekend I was at the BBC Radio Theatre (as a plus-one for the friend who’d managed to get the tickets) to see Neil Gaiman recording a programme that will go out on BBC Radio 4 on Christmas Day.  As it turned out, he’d also brought along some friends, including Mitch Benn, Peter Capaldi, and some refugees (his words, not mine) from the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.  It was a good evening and lot of fun to see.  It’ll also be interesting to see what makes the actual broadcast.

The previous weekend, I’d been to see Tamburlaine at the RSC in Stratford for the matinee performance on its final day. I did enjoy it, although some casting choices were a bit odd to me, particularly in the second half, where the same actress is doing two roles – one as the wife of Tamburlaine, and one as the heir of the dead king, aiming to overthrow Tamburlaine.  It’s a credit to her that it was impossible to confuse the two roles as she played them, but it still made things rather more complex and odd than they needed to be.

I’ve already got several theatre visits lined up for next year, but just for now it’s on pause. Which is fine by me.

Dickhead

There are times where (as many people already know) I’m an absolute dickhead. This is the (fairly short) tale of one of those times.

One of the reasons I wanted to visit Toronto (which I finally did earlier this year) was because I’ve been a fan of a band called the Cowboy Junkies (who I’ve written about several times, and saw twice in November) for a very long time – since the first time I heard their “Trinity Sessions” album, in fact.  The Trinity Sessions was an album that was all recorded at the Holy Trinity church in Toronto, with only one ambisonic microphone to pick up all the voices and instruments.  It’s one of my all-time favourite albums.  However, I’d never seen a picture of the church. (This is relevant)

Then, on the anniversary of the recording of Trinity Sessions, they put a photo on their Facebook page of the church

And I thought “I recognise that church“. It turns out we’d gone in and visited it while we were in Toronto, and I hadn’t even realised it was the same place.  Indeed, we only went in because it looked interesting (and was hidden away down a little side-street, so we’d only glimpsed the place and its architecture) and it turned out to be a great little find, because it’s beautiful inside, as well as having an absolutely massive organ. (Fnarr)  And I knew it was called the Holy Trinity church. I just hadn’t connected the two.

So it took me another six months to realise that I’d actually been in the place, despite all the clues that were there.

And that, in this case, is why I’m a dickhead.

Upgraded

Last week, I upgraded my internet connection to an “Ultrafast” one – known by BT / Openreach as G.Fast.  Apparently they’re slowing down the roll-out of this in favour of full FTTP (Fibre To The Premises) roll-out, but for now it’s the best speed I can get.

G.Fast offers a guaranteed 100Mbps download – and I’ll get compensation if it dips below that – which is amusingly ridiculous. When I moved here six-and-a-bit years ago, I was only just able to get ADSL and a 2Mbps connection. It was painfully slow, although it did enough for the necessary at the time.  When FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet) came here, I got it, and went from 2Mbps to 75 overnight.  At that point I could do streaming TV and so on with no problem at all.  And now I’ve doubled even that. Truly insane.

I wasn’t actually aware that this tech had been installed in my area, but BT sent me a promotional mail about it at the start of November, and I’d dragged my feet on it a bit.  But then I got a “Black Friday” promotional letter about it as well, where I could also get it installed for free, for an extra £1 a month on what I pay already.  Well OK then.

(As an aside, it’s the only “Black Friday” deal I bothered with at all – and only because it saved me money on a product I was actually interested in)

The engineer came round on Friday to do the installation – it needs some changes at the cabinet, and as it’s still new stuff, they’re doing it with engineers rather than self-install.  This had a happy side-effect, in that he also appears to have finally fixed the line problem that’s been plaguing me for more years than I care to mention.  (And has cost me the price of an engineer visit on one visit out of the five, because they worded the ‘fix’ badly, but that’s a dead issue now)

Ever since I moved in, the line has been dodgy on occasion, and it’s just got worse over time. The broadband connection has been fine in general – unless I have to make or receive a phone call. At that point the crackles on the line were enough to knock out the broadband connection. BT insisted this wasn’t possible, and that all the options I suggested were Just Wrong. (Because obviously I don’t work for them, so what could I possibly know?)  In that time, I’ve had five master sockets, and swapped from ADSL to FTTC for broadband, so I knew it was nothing in the house. It was always either going to be a fault in the line (“Oh no, sir, that’s not possible, more people would be complaining if that were the case”) or in the cabinet itself (also apparently “impossible”)

Anyway, this time the engineer could hear the problem, and tested to find where the problem was. Surprise surprise, it was in the cabinet.  So while he was redoing connections for my new broadband, he had a look round the cab, and the terminators on my line (I dunno) in the cab were “worryingly loose, I could just pull them off, didn’t even need pliers“. When he came back to the house, oooh look, what a surprise, no crackle on the line.

So, I’m now working with a 150Mbps download connection, and a lovely crackle-free phone line. All told, bit of a win.

Phoneless

Via an article on Raptitude ( The Simple Joy of “No Phones Allowed”) I came across a company called Yondr whose idea/offering seems simple and pretty brilliant.

Basically, they create “phoneless areas” for concerts (as well as other events, but mainly concerts) by locking them away.  The smart bit is that they’re not stockpiled somewhere (which would be way too tempting for thieves etc.) Instead, they’re put in a pouch that locks, and the phone stays with the owner.

If the phone is really needed, there are unlock-stations outside the concert area, so the bag can be unlocked and the phone used.

But – as per the article, and as per my own experience – people in general are fucking lazy, and even that extra effort of moving twenty yards to unlock the phone to use it is more than most can be bothered to do. And so those people stay in place, watch the concert (or whatever) and aren’t distracted by their phones.

I’ve griped (on several occasions) about concerts now where more people seem to be filming the gig through their phones than actually watching it and how distracting that is for those who actually want to see the performance (although Yondr won’t fix the other issues mentioned there of people constantly chatting to their mates while the show is on, or keep going to the bar etc.)  and this seems like a really good way of reducing that desire.

Yondr don’t say how much their service costs to install – I assume it’s not going to be cheap – but I really do hope it’s something that both venues and artists support and promote.  I know I’d be more likely to go to a gig/venue that was ‘phones-free’…

Easing Up, and Planning/Preparation

From here on, the rest of this year is considerably calmer than the rest of it has been.

I’ve no more overnight stays away, and while I’m still doing stuff, it’s to a lesser degree than before. And about time too.

While it’s easing off, I’m also working out what I’m doing – and what I want to do – next year, which is entertaining.

As usual, I’m trying to not fill things up too much for the coming year – although there’ll be enough stuff to keep me going.

But for now, I’m going to just enjoy it being a bit quieter, a bit calmer, and hopefully just catch up on some downtime. Hopefully

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