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The Rucksack Project

Every year thousands of people are out on the streets, sleeping rough and struggling to eat. It’s a sad part of life and one that no matter how hard we try, it’s never really going to go away. What we can do however, is make a small difference to the lives of those who are affected by it.

The Rucksack Project was set up in November 2009 when founder Matthew White saw that the season of goodwill was more centred on people stressing and worrying about the unimportant stuff.

“We have really lost the meaning of Christmas, so I did something in 2009 that was so simple and anyone can do and it will make a real difference to peoples lives.”

The Rucksack Project is a project that takes place on different dates, in different cities throughout the United Kingdom. The aim is to pack a bag of warm clothing, food, a flask, books and any other items that can make a difference to those living on the streets.

Making up these rucksacks and taking them out to give to the homeless is not only a good way of doing something helpful but you’re also making a huge difference to someone’s life. It’s hard enough for someone living out in the streets during the warm months of the year but to live out in the street during the winter months is an entirely different situation.

While the rucksack project isn’t a long term solution to helping these people, it does make a difference and you are helping to keep them warm and give them something good in their lives, even if it only last a short time.

I don’t ever use this blog as a means to promote charity and perhaps I should do it more often, however this is one that I do feel strongly about.

If you want to get involved then please visit http://www.rucksackproject.org/ to find out where your local event is taking place and for help in what to donate.

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Back to Normal

It’s time to take this blog back to some normality. The referendum for Scottish Independence is now over and I realise that my last few posts were all about that. For Scotland and myself, the fight continues but for this blog, it’s time to move on.

This is the time of year that every television fan gets excited about, it’s the new TV season. Old shows return and new ones make their presence felt in an attempt to make an impact. For me, having a subscription to USTVnow is such a relief, it means that even though I start having really late nights, I also get to stream the shows as they air across the pond.

Every year I have my calendar set up, each show is anticipated greatly and I love sitting down with a cup of tea to watch them. This year there’s a notable absence of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ ‘The Tomorrow People’  and ‘Dexter’ which makes me sad. It feels like over the past few years I’ve lost so many great shows from my planner and so far not many new shows have lived up to them. While there are other shows which gradually over time I’ve just lost interest in i.e. ‘Two and a Half Men’ and ‘The Big Bang Theory’

I will get around to start posting on the shows which I’m enjoying. As time goes on I’m sure opinions will change and shows will get dropped from the planner.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D deserves a quick mention here, mainly because something has perplexed and shocked me. (SPOILERS BELOW)

Why kill off Lucy Lawless in her first episode? Was this supposed to set the stage for the rest of season and make the audience realise that nobody is safe? Or was it simply a bit of stunt casting?

I have to say that I was so happy to see The Absorbing Man added to AoS. It’s about time that the show had a real villain, hopefully they make the most out of him and this years season is a great ride to be on.

Also a quick mention to ‘Gotham’, I surely can’t be the only person who felt that there was no need to rehash the Waynes death yet again? I will get around to writing up a full review but I need to watch it again because after seeing that alleyway scene played out for the 100th time, all I could think about was how fed up I was of seeing it.

The end is nigh.

So…….

For the past few months I have been writing (a number of things actually) and I’ve kept pretty quiet about them. Only a few select people know about them, purely because I couldn’t be fucked with the pressure.

I promised myself years ago that at some point in my life I would write a book.

My first attempt came around 6 years ago when I tried to write a book called “Death of the Butterflies” Which was a time travel concept set in a future dystopia. I scrapped that idea when I didn’t know what I was doing……….May I add that years later, a television show called Continuum came along with pretty much the story in my head!

Then over time I tried many others. I just never had the time nor patience to put them down into words and so it was always pushed to the back.

A few months ago I was talking to a very wise person who told me “write what you know” and being the narcissistic prick that I am, I decided to start detailing my fucked up and crazy path in life, intertwined with some serious intellectual musings.

I’ve now almost finished all those words and after speaking to a few people who actually know about these things and who have read a few segments, I can now say that within the next four weeks I will release my first book.

“The Life and Times of a Mad Scotsman (without a box)”

A complete diary of some of the crazy shit that’s happened to me.

Taking that advice was some of the best advice that I have ever taken because about 6 weeks into writing it I realised that when I sat down and actually wanted to, I could write for hours on end. So, with that in mind, I started on a little side project. I started fleshing out some ideas and writing what will become my first actual novel.

“Smoke and Mirrors”

A tale of bio-chemist who’s life has been manipulated around him with the sole purpose of thermoforming a populated planet. This one, should hopefully be completed within six to seven months.

After chatting to the lovely people at Amazon, they gave me a package which suited my needs (and quite frankly cost me fuck all) to get self published.

Anyway, the point is that months and months of hard ass work is coming to a head very soon.

The Social Media Machine!

My mornings are fairly routine, the only real variable is what I ingest for breakfast. To start with I wake up (I’m sure most of you are familiar with doing that) and then I’ll have a bath while I scroll through the mornings news. Eventually I’ll drag myself out of the bath and make breakfast and a cup of Earl Grey before sitting down to start typing away. Occasionally I’ll head over to Twitter and see what’s happening, which normally is not a lot.

This morning something in the “Trend” section caught my eye. This morning, trending throughout the UK was #tired.

At first glance I thought perhaps we were in the clutches of some strange Science Fiction plot come to life. Beings from another universe had come and made this island and its inhabitants full of fatigue. I can just imagine it now, the entire country is struggling to move while somewhere Richard Burtons voice is echoing out;

“And so it came to pass that fatigue set in across the land. Yet at the same time no one would have believed, in the last hours of early morning that British affairs were being watched from the timeless worlds of space. Few men even considered the possibility of being awake for the rest of the day and yet, across the gulf of space, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded this island as idiots, and slowly and surely, they drew their plans against us.”

Then I realised that it’s simply another case of the “Social Media Revolution” where every emotion, action and personal issue is shared for all the world to see. A Wednesday morning, day three of the working week, students aghast at the thought of attending school for the third day in a row, surely they will all be physically and emotionally tired.

I’ve never understood our need to share everything with the world. 15 years ago the thought of telling the world that you had a spot on your gooch was a horrible idea (it still is might I add) but society today seems to find it morally acceptable.

Don’t get me wrong, I myself have been guilty in the past. I have shared things that I shouldn’t have although nine times out of ten I realise almost immediately that I have been sucked in to the false security of social media and quickly delete my post. The problem is, once something is on the internet it’s out there for good. Sites such as archive.org keep records of almost every web page on a regular basis, available for anyone to see.

Some people are in denial but it is quite apparent that social media is taking control over the way we do things. Even certain types of cheese have their own Twitter and Facebook accounts. It’s quite frankly ridiculous.

Now before you close down this page, take a look to the right hand side and find my Twitter box. Make sure you press follow, we wouldn’t want you missing out the next time I get piles would we?

Doctor Who – Top Ten Episodes

Choosing your top ten Doctor Who stories is a pretty tough job, with 239 television stories to choose from it gets rather difficult. Choosing number 10 is always easy, it’s always that episode that you know should be in your top ten but you don’t love it that much and choosing your number 1 is easy because that’s just your all time favourite story. Choosing numbers 9  through 2 is quite another story. The other problem you face is that there’s ten to choose and currently 11 Doctors which ultimately means you’re going to leave at least one Doctor out (unless you choose a multi-Doctor story, but lets be honest are any of them top ten worthy?) It’s a difficult task and one which should not be taken lightly, after all a top ten list on the internet is set in stone. Once I choose this top ten, it will be a reference point for anyone wanting to quiz me on my favourite Doctor Who episodes.

I did debate with myself whether or not to choose any Big Finish stories in this list and decided that I should probably leave that for another list so as not to confuse people who’ve never heard a BF story, the same goes for novels. So without further ado, here is my top ten Doctor Who Stories.

 

TEN – The Doctors Wife

I really really wish I could put this higher up my list, it has Neil Gaiman writing it and he is by far my favourite author. Not to mention we get a new enemy and someone who, for a while, you truly believed could put an end to the TARDIS. Matt Smith utters one of his best lines as the Doctor when House tells him that he’s “killed hundreds of Time Lords”  Matts line? “Fear me, I’ve killed them all” it doesn’t matter how many times I watch it, that line still gives me a chill. All in all a very deserving number ten.

 

NINE – The Time Warrior

The introduction of Sarah Jane Smith to the TARDIS. I could really just leave it like that couldn’t I? Truth is that there’s so much more to this story than just the debut of Sarah Jane, there’s also the introduction of the Sontarans in one of the best reveals of the classic series.  The end of part one sees Linx take of his helmet and turn to the camera revealing a hideous alien who was just terrifying. I remember watching that on VHS when I was younger and being terrified and to this day it still hold that little bit of terror for me. Jon Pertwee at his best.

 

EIGHT – An Unearthly Child/100,000 B.C

Where it all began. 1963 introduced the greatest television show in history to the world and it all started here. Totters Lane, a policeman, a grumpy old man, a teenage girl and two teachers. I rarely see this in a top ten list and I can understand why, it’s in black and white and the production values are extremely low but I love it. I can definitely count it amongst my most watched Doctor Who episodes ever. Back then we had a completely different show, there were no Time Lords, no Gallifrey no mythology. Everything was just brand new and exciting, nobody had any idea that 50 years later we would still be watching this show and that it would have such an incredible history to it. The plot for this serial is genius, I love it. It’s always a tie between this and The Aztecs when I want to watch some good old Hartnell.

 

SEVEN – The Ultimate Foe

A controversial one I know, how many people would put a story from Trial of a Time Lord on their top ten? Well I just did! Why? It’s easy, overall TOAT was poorly written and wasn’t strong at all no matter how you look at it. Aside from this being Robert Holmes final script which sadly he passed away half way through writing, I really think that this gave Colin Baker a fairly decent final story, although nobody knew at the time that it would be his last. When people think of Colin Baker it’s fair to say he gets a lot of flack but ultimately it was more the writing of his stories that made his run so miserable. In my opinion  this was as good as it got with the Sixth Doctor. Let the abuse begin for where I’ve ranked it but for me it nailed it. The revelation of who the Valeyard is, the return of the Master, the creepiness of being inside the Matrix, some of the paradoxical stuff we were thrown. It has all the makings of a classic and for me it just is.

 

SIX – The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances

Moffat haters calm down. I think we can all agree that this was the pinnacle of Christopher Eccleston’s series. It took us to the second world war, introduced Captain Jack, had some truly terrifying moments with those damn gas masks and “Are you my mummy” still creeps me the hell out.  This is an story about the consequences of peoples choices and I thought it was perfectly written and the acting just nailed it for me. This was when Christopher Eccleston became the Doctor in my eyes.

 

FIVE – Human Nature/Family of Blood

“Here Russell, what do you want me to do with my episodes?” – “Erm, how about you turn the Doctor human?” – “Won’t that piss of the fans?” – “Do it so he’s only a pretend human”
That’s sort of how I imagine the conversation going between Russell T. Davies and Paul Cornell when planning Series 3. Of course Paul Cornell had written the 1995 novel “Human Nature” which the story was adapted from so I know the conversation didn’t go like that, but it’s nice to imagine. Weird that for me, I think that David Tennants best story as the Doctor is the story where he’s not actually playing the Doctor. I could have put Blink in here and truthfully I love Blink but it’s just not one of my top ten. Human Nature and Family of Blood just nail it for the tenth Doctor, scary ass Scarecrows, the girl and the balloon is something from the nightmare of a child and Baines is one creepy little man. A great resolution as well and one that sort of sticks a tiny lump in the back of your throat.

 

FOUR – The Caves of Androzani

A man in a gimp suit and Peter Davisons swan song. It’s both heart wrenching and slight funny at the same time. Sharaz Jek just cracks me up every time I see him but when you delve into the story he’s a very complex character. When I first saw him I thought this was going to be it, this is going to be the man that kills the Fifth, he’ll do something truly evil and kill him…………..if you haven’t seen it yet I won’t spoil it. There is a great scene ( I think anyway) with Peri and Jek. It’s often rated as one of the top Doctor Who stories and who would disagree with that? It’s just a shame that Peter Davison’s run wasn’t more like this because then it would truly have been brilliant.

 

THREE – The Enemy of the World

Oh how I leaped for joy last month, when the BBC announced that they had found and were about to release The Enemy of the World. My excitement level went through the roof, my heart started racing and my palms were sweating. I had heard the audio tracks and saw the one episode that was remaining but I had been waiting years for this. It immediately goes in at number three because it’s Patrick Troughton at his best. A dual role and a fantastic performance as both Salamander and The Doctor. Patrick Troughton is my Doctor and finally getting to see this work of art was like all my Christmases coming at once.

 

TWO – The Deadly Assassin

You give me anything that adds to Time Lord mythology and I’ll just lap it up. If you’re looking for a story that really bulks up on that mythology then you can’t do any better than The Deadly Assassin. The Master, The Matrix, a dead President, regeneration limit and more. This episode truly added to the essence of Doctor Who. It’s Goth feel was fairly typical of the stories we were getting back in the days of good old Tom Baker and it was just fantastic.

ONE – City of Death

My all time favourite Doctor Who serial. It never moves from this top spot and many contenders have tried to knock it off. Romana II is my ultimate companion, if I could have any companion round for a Sunday roast it would be her. I just wish that I had gotten to see Romana II and Troughton together. Alas Romana did her travelling with Tom Baker and this story is just the best I’ve seen. Appearances from John Cleese and a tremendous cast ensemble. A perfectly written story with a good few twists and turn thrown in. Some great cliffhangers, some amazing one liners and the Jagaroth! The Jagaroth are amazing and I wish that somehow they would come back into the modern day series. Scaroth just blows me away and the ending is nicely suited. Duggan! Duggan is the single greatest character ever written for this show that wasn’t a companion, he loves to hit things and he’s just hilarious. City of Death is my number one and it deserves it without a shadow of a doubt.

 

So there it is, my top ten Doctor Who stories. Sadly Sylv and McGann didn’t make it into the top ten and it’s not because I didn’t want them there because I love them both. It’s just that McGann only had one on screen story and lets face it, it wasn’t great (his acting was spot on but the story itself wasn’t) and Sylv just didn’t have a story for me that sits in the top ten. Remembrance of the Daleks just sits outside at number 11. Not long now until Day of the Doctor and perhaps, just maybe it will take one of these top ten spots.

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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