Tag Archives: art

Why Penn and Teller are the greatest magicians in history.

Magic is an art form, one of the finest art forms that you will ever come across. It has the great power of suspending reality and making you transport your mind, no matter how briefly, into a world where anything is possible. The clue is in the name, it is truly magical.

I’ve loved magic since as far back as I can remember. When I was around 4 or 5 I had one of those children’s magazines, I think it was ‘Rainbow’ (the one where bungle went tap dancing if I remember correctly) and the back page taught you how to make a coin disappear. I practiced and practiced so much but I’m not going to lie, I was awful. My gran and my parents were kind enough to make me believe that I had tricked them and I felt like a true magician. I can do tricks to this day, some are pretty spectacular and watching the reaction from people when you pull one of is what makes it so great.

Great magicians are everywhere, up until recently I worked with one of the best in Scotland. You can find magicians no matter where you go, in bars, at theme parks, anywhere that they can hone their craft. Then you have the obvious ones such as David Blaine and Dynamo, they’re great sure but I’ve never wanted to be them, I’ve always wanted to be Penn and Teller.

When I first came across Penn and Teller they weren’t performing magic or giving an interview, they were acting in a show called ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’ I didn’t know who they were but all I could think was “This guy is really loud”

Over the years I started to notice them more and more, they were magicians but they weren’t glamorous or over the top showy, they were real. There wasn’t the aura of “we have superhuman powers” about them, they have been always been two guys who have passion for what they do and that comes across in everything that they do.

Being from Scotland, it’s not a simple case of travelling down the road to see them perform so growing up I had to make do with VHS recordings and watching them on television. Nowadays it’s YouTube and still watching them on television, that was until last Thursday night. I finally realised my dream of seeing Penn and Teller perform live at Glasgow’s SEC Armadillo and without a doubt it is a memory that I will cherish.

You see what makes Penn and Teller great isn’t just the magic, it isn’t just the humour or the ability to captivate an audience with something as simple as playing a guitar while throwing cards away. It’s their ability to be relatable. “If we had real magic powers we wouldn’t be performing magic tricks, we would be solving the big issues” are words or something very similar to what Penn said while on stage. They give and give and always they let you know that they appreciate it.

After the show in Glasgow they stood in the bar area for what must have been almost three hours, meeting fans, taking photographs and signing autographs. At no point did they look agitated or fed up. They were welcoming and really made what was already a great night even better. They were in Scotland so naturally (as most people do when they come here) there was a bit of an accent problem but they made it work. One guy asking Penn to record a video with him and Penn replying “What? It’s OK I’ve had you translated”

I can’t really tell you what Teller says because obviously he doesn’t talk, but I imagine his inner monologue is just as warm and welcoming as Penns’ outer monologue.

I could sit here and write for days about how their tricks are the greatest I’ve seen, how they are the pinnacle of magic or how when watching them you’re scared to blink in case you miss something truly great. The truth is that what makes Penn and Teller magic is how they treat their fans, how they welcome you like an old friend and can give you a one night memory that will last for eternity.

I know that I’m basically writing some sort of love letter here and I get that but since I was the height of nothing I’ve dreamed about seeing Penn and Teller, for it to finally happen and leave the building that night feeling like I was on a cloud. I shook Penns hand, his magic hand dammit!

They say don’t ever meet your heroes, I met mine and it was magic.

812 Days

It’s hard to believe that this blog was my daily output, my safe space, my place where I would go constantly to release my inner thoughts and share them with the world. It’s hard to believe all of that when it has been 812 days since I last posted.

812 days is a long time, a day is a long time on some occasions. There’s two options I faced when logging back in, I could write down all the main points from the past two years or I could just continue as though nothing had happened and there had been no hiatus.

When I looked through my past posts it became apparent how much things changed. There were posts about TV shows that are no longer here, undefeated fighters who are now defeated, a YouTube channel that fell by the wayside and so much more. I think that’s the wonderful thing about having this page to look back on, it really opens your eyes to how much things are changing even when you don’t realise it.

Two years ago I had just gotten a new job, was single, living in my own wee flat which wasn’t the nicest place and spent much of time gaming and blogging. These days I share a beautiful seaside flat with my amazing other half (she puts up with so much nonsense I’m surprised she’s lasted this long) I’ve left that job for reasons that I cannot disclose and I spend much of my time…gaming and thinking about blogging. So most things have changed if not all.

In August of this year I’m hoping to study Media Analysis, I say hoping because I still have the interview stage to get past which is next Wednesday. I think that finally I can study something that I really want to do and hopefully progress in a career which involves writing and media and just bring together most of the things that I’m passionate about.

On a completely unrelated note, last night I went to see Penn and Teller live and it blew me away. I also met Penn so here’s a cheeky selfie

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As for this here blog…

I’m back, and I don’t plan on going away anytime soon.

 

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Growing up, Yellow, Fatigue and the Stinger….

I grew up, well sort of. I figured that it was time to get what my mother calls a “real job” and from Monday that entails me wearing a shirt and tie, something which I’m really not looking forward to.

I’m not sure what has come over me this year. I think it’s a mix of getting older and realising that there’s only so long you can live off of unstable work and also the fact that I really need more money in my life.

So from Monday, I’m a suit. While that will make my writing lifestyle take more of a backseat, it certainly won’t end it. I’m hoping that if anything it makes it slightly easier. Rather than laboriously working for hours at a time, I’ll take an hour or two here and there and it might not feel quite as intense.

On another, completely unrelated note, today I’m wearing yellow and I hope you all are too.

#WearYellowForSeth

I really try and avoid social media trends and everything that goes with them, but the sickness of any child is a horrible thing  that this world dishes out. This isn’t your typical trend either, this isn’t to “raise awareness” or “raise money” or whatever else. This is simply to show support to a small child with no immune system, to put a smile on his face. So even if you have yellow socks, wear them today and join in the love on Twitter and Instagram.

If I can do it with messy hair and an uncombed beard then I’m sure you can all join in too.

If you’ve been following my other blog about my journey to a healthier life then you’ll know that I lost almost 5lbs in two weeks. I was extremely happy with myself. I don’t know how I’ll fair at next weeks weigh in because I’ve been ill for the past few days after catching a bug from my nephew. My exercise routine has been virtually non existent and my appetite pretty much disappeared aside from some chicken cooked in soy sauce and rapeseed oil and brown rice two days ago. If my result next week isn’t as good as it should be then at least I know it was down to illness and not laziness. I did try to get some exercise done but my body was so fatigued and I struggled to breath with my swollen glands and agonising sore throat.

Yesterday I had to go and get a new photo taken for my driving license. I hated it. I hate those photos, you have to just look at the camera, and not use any muscles in your face. It’s like that look that you give someone when they say something that only they find funny.

Finally, it’s WrestleMania weekend. My favourite weekend of the year, being the big geek that I am. Next year I shall be in attendance once again but this year I’m watching from the comfort of my own home. There’s nothing like WrestleMania, whether or not the card itself is good, there’s still such a hype about it that you can’t help but get excited.

Sting has his first ever WWE match this year, and for the 12 year old child in me, that is the most exciting thing ever. Needless to say I will be giddy as hell come Sunday. Whether or not I actually manage to watch the event live is another question. It starts at midnight here and ends at 4am and as I said earlier, I grew up and got a real job and that starts at 9am.

We made it to one year.

Happy Anniversary to me, well more specifically this blog.

A year ago when I first started this, I wasn’t too sure how it would turn out. This wasn’t my usual template for journeying into the blogsphere. I had always been a person who specialised in music blogs so taking the leap and trying something else was an interesting choice and one which could have landed right on its face. Fortunately it turned out pretty well and a lot of you are still reading, or so my stats say anyway.

I know I don’t post as much as I used to or as much as I should but in the last few months things have just became so busy that trying to find the time to sit down and put words down is hard.

Not once did I truly envision that this blog would make it to be one year old and still be getting hits. That’s a testament not to me but to the patience of you the reader, the people who have waited for the latest post and then made the effort to read it. For that I thank you.

If we make it to a second birthday then I will reward you all with cake.

The greatest speech ever made?

I think that everyone has their “go to” video, song or book. I myself have many of them, in fact I have a “go to” library when I think about it. There is however one video that always draws me to it. I could write about it but nothing that I put into words could ever do it justice and so instead I’m just going to leave the video here.

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone – if possible – Jew, Gentile – black man – white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness – not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost….

!/images/photos/0000/0874/Great_Dictator_Pub_140-6_normal.jpg! The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men – cries out for universal brotherhood – for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world – millions of despairing men, women, and little children – victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.

To those who can hear me, I say – do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed – the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish. …..

Soldiers! don’t give yourselves to brutes – men who despise you – enslave you – who regiment your lives – tell you what to do – what to think and what to feel! Who drill you – diet you – treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men – machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate – the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!

In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” – not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power – the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.

Then – in the name of democracy – let us use that power – let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world – a decent world that will give men a chance to work – that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfil that promise. They never will!

Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfil that promise! Let us fight to free the world – to do away with national barriers – to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers! in the name of democracy, let us all unite!

A touch of the Man Flu

Today I appear to have been afflicted by that terrorising illness known only as man flu. As I type I can feel it attacking my nervous system and creating weakness in every part of my body. It’s at times like these when I wish I had some form of super power to protect me from illness. Nobody likes being ill but I absolutely hate it. If I get ill in the middle of the year I can normally cope, I just battle through it and get on with what I’m doing, hell this year I battled through it and went to a festival. When I get ill between October and February my body just shuts down, it’s a horrible feeling and I get annoyed at the slightest of things. 

On a plus side, being ill today allowed me to catch up on the New 52 Justice League. I had previously only reached issue 6 but I’m now all caught up and as much as I’m looking forward to the next issue I’m not impatient about it. Again that’s probably just my lack of enthusiasm for anything from DC or that involves Superman. The JLA comics have had some pretty good stories in them so far and the art work is just striking, I’ve actually found myself just staring at some pages and admiring the pencil work on a number of pages. If I’m totally honest though I was much more into the “Shazam” stories that were added at the end of each issue. I always did like DC’s Captain Marvel so it was good to have that thrown in and have it as an origin story, although I don’t like this total change to the name Shazam. Granted it’s what he was known as before but up until 2012 he was always officially Captain Marvel. 

One reason I do like the Justice League is for Green Lantern, and I don’t know why. I wouldn’t exactly call him a favourite of mine but I hold a soft spot for him. Green Lantern was my first ever introduction to comic books when I was a toddler so I always look at him as my gateway. All-American Comics #16 is my dream comic to own but truthfully I will probably never have the cash to buy a copy unless somewhere down the line I either win the lottery or write a best selling novel, both of which are as likely as Spider-man showing up in the Justice League Watchtower with cakes and Ribena.

Of course the other thing that could get me enough money to own a copy of All-American Comics #16 would be to write a best selling Comic, but alas my drawing skills are non-existent. So for now it looks like I shall have to be resigned to lying on the couch with the man flu, a bottle of Irn-Bru and Bill Bailey DVDs.

 

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Damn Forms

Today I took the first step in achieving one of my life goals, I got the registration forms through for my creative writing university course. Of course as always things are never simple, I actually think whoever designed the registration form took creative writing too far. It’s a bunch of boxes and words grouped together that actually make no sense, perhaps it’s a test to see if I am clever enough to study? Or perhaps people who design forms just don’t care.

I’m currently trying to wrap my head around it before I start filling it in. Perhaps I should just write them a story? I’ve been accepted anyway, this is just the formalities of actually paying for the course. In my mind I know that this is important but at the same time I’m looking at it and thinking it’s a hell of a lot of work that my brain can’t handle. I absolutely love to write, but ask me to fill in a form and I will try and avoid it for as long as possible. I think the only document I have ever been in a rush to fill in was the registration form when my daughter was born, that’s it. Anything else………paaah it can wait. Although at the very top of this form in massive type it says “RETURN THIS AGREEMENT BY 26/11/2013” so not only are they asking me to fill in a form but they’re putting a time limit on it? I suppose it’s good practice for the actual course. I’ve never been one for working to deadlines, my old Editor at the newspaper used to have to chase me three or four times and more often than not my work would reach her inbox bang on when the deadline was. Hey, at least I got it completed on time right?

I’m looking forward to this course, hopefully it will reach into my untapped creative side and train me in the ways of the Jedi. I shall be a padawan in the ways of creative writing, learning with my mind and bringing it to it’s full potential. Who knows, perhaps one day I shall write the worlds greatest novel, of course it would be science fiction. 

Speaking of which, we’re just over a month away from the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special, I don’t know about you but my nipples are rock solid at the thought of it. Of course I have immersed myself in a number of debates on Gallifrey Base which is both satisfying and frustrating at the same time. For those of you who don’t know Gallifrey Base is the internets top hangout site for Doctor Who nutters such as myself. You can often find me getting annoyed at people who make assumptions and then get mad at their own assumptions on there. It’s quite entertaining. If you are on there, hit me up my name is Valeyard87.

I guess it’s time for me to get back to trying to decipher this form and then to read the latest Superior Spider-man issue.

 

 

Superior Spider-man

When The Amazing Spider-man run ended at issue 700 I was a bit weary about where it would go next. Peter Parker was dead, Octavius had his mind in Spideys body and for all intents and purposes that could have been the end of the Spider-man comics. Spider-man defeated by Doc Oc in his last battle and then it ends.

Now however we have the Superior Spider-man series which pretty much picks up from where “Amazing” left off. I’ve been following this new run all year and I have to say that I absolutely love it. In my opinion it is by far the best storyline that Spider-man has had in quite sometime. We have Doc Oc running around trying to be a superior Spider-man and whilst he’s saving people and putting the villains out of business he’s doing it in the most polar opposite way to what Parker would have done.

So far we’ve had Spider-man kill Menace, create his own army, build robo-spiders, sever all ties with MJ, create some form of alliance with Jameson and we’ve even witnessed the mind of Doc Oc battle the conciousness of Peter Parker. All in all it’s making for some great reading. On top of that, the art work is phenomenal as it always is.

My only question is how long can this arc last? I’m thoroughly enjoying it and each issue is better than the last and occasionally we get a fantastic cliffhanger which makes me so impatient for the next issue that I attempt to draw my own. Although I have to admit my attempt at drawing Spider-man swinging through the streets looks more like a hot-dog lying on a bed of spaghetti.

There’s only so long you can keep Peter Parker dead without losing an army of fans. For me I don’t see it ever getting old, I am completely loving this new set up. It takes Spider-man to a whole new darker level but at the same time it keeps many of the fundamentals of the character. Gone however are the comedic one liners, which is mentioned a few times in the series. We also have the face off between Spider-man and the Avengers when they figure out that something isn’t right. That alone is an issue worth buying, not for the Avengers but for the writing of it. It’s all very anti-climatic but in a good way as it opens even more doors to the series.

All in all I’m very impressed so far with what we have, Superior Spider-man is a new spin and one that was needed. Lets hope that the quality keeps up because I’m completely immersed in it. I wonder if we’ll see a new form of Venom in this run…………

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Who’s better?

There’s an age old question amongst comic book fans. Who’s better? Marvel or DC? For decades fans have debated over which of the big two was better and I have no doubt they will continue to debate it for much longer. Both sides have a plethora of characters and have developed some spectacular stories over the years so it can be hard to really decide who would come up trumps in a battle.

For me my favourite comic of all time is Watchmen without a doubt. What Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons accomplished was a timeless and fantastic piece of fiction which really stands out for me as the greatest ever put in comic format. It is deep and it shows the vulnerability and frailty of humanity in a way which I had never seen before. Alan Moore tells a story which I feel a lot of comic writers now look back on and take inspiration from. It’s an emotionally charge, high octane piece of literature which was brought to life by Dave Gibbons in the most fantastical way.

For me when trying to decide who I think is better out of Marvel and DC I always go to Watchmen and it sways me towards DC. However, I really think that overall Marvel could be the greater of the two. Spiderman, and the Secret Invasion and Civil war series’ are genius. Marvel has always tried to maintain its continuity within universe whereas DC only started worrying about their continuity in the mid 80’s.

Here’s another point and one which I will probably get a lot of flack for but…………..I don’t like Superman. I think that when he died he should have stayed dead. Superman at no point earned his powers, he’s too strong. He basically has every power that you could want and it just makes for awful story telling. For me Superman stories are at their best when he isn’t invincible. I also don’t think you can call Superman a hero, in my mind heroes are people who sacrifice themselves selflessly, Superman can’t sacrifice himself because he’s not sacrificial 99% of the time and when he is it’s because of kryptonite which he isn’t even aware that it’s there at first.

Watchmen puts DC up in the ranks for me but Superman brings it straight back down.

I spoke to one of my friends Chris about this because I didn’t want to put up a blog without getting other opinions on this but strangely enough he’s also a Marvel fan so it made it pointless.

I’m in no way saying that DC isn’t good because of course it is, they have Batman and they published Watchmen. They just don’t impress me on a regular enough basis.

Sorting out my collection…

Over the last couple of days I’ve decided to sort out my DVD collection. It was on the shelves and it was just a mess, nothing was in order and I didn’t know what I had and what I didn’t have.  I’ve been building my collection for quite some time so I felt that I should give it some sort of love and devotion. 

My original plan was to go through it all and try and clear it out, get rid of some awful DVDs and make it look much neater……….that however, did not turn out to be the case.

As I sat in the middle of my living room floor I found myself surrounded by endless DVDs and try as I might I just couldn’t deal with the idea of parting with any of them. After the first few hours I had finally categorised and alphabetised the television side of the collection. It was at this point I noticed that I didn’t have certain box sets that I thought I did have. So naturally, as this was a DVD clear out, I took myself to Amazon and purchased the missing box sets. Instead of whittling down my collection, here I was adding to it.

The exact same thing happened when I got around to the film side of the collection. I didn’t have full trilogies or origin stories and so I just had to take myself to Amazon and add these as well.

My DVD spring clean turned into an expansion of the collection and a shrinkage of my bank balance. As I sit here now, typing this, I am awaiting the postman to come and hand me the boxes of DVD’s that I’ve ordered whilst he gives me that “do you have order so much from one place and make me carry it” look that he so often sends my way.

At least I know that tonight I will be able to sit down with a chilled can of lager and watch “Watchmen –Tales of the Black Freighter” content in the knowledge that the Watchmen section of my collection is now complete. Then tomorrow when I wake up I will go to the shelf and realise that I’m missing something important and no doubt end up back on Amazon. 

 

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