Tag Archives: Life

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.

Welcome to Earth…Population: 0

I once saw a television show named “Life After People” where scientists, structural engineers, and other experts speculate about what could possible become of Earth should we face human extinction.

The premise of the show was that only humanity vanished from the planet, everything else remained the same. It’s important to note that unlike most post-apocalyptic shows that “Life After People” steered clear of what wiped out humanity in the first place.

The show focused on examples of urban and biological decay, the collapsing of cities and bridges. The show focused on various points after humanity vanished – one day, one week, one year, 10 years, 15 years, 25 years, 50 years, 100 years, 200 years right through to 100 million years in the future. It predicted so many changes and a vast difference even within a matter of years.

The first thing to happen would apparently be the disappearance of power, with nobody to control the power plants the would shut themselves down in to safe modes. All except power stations that run on water, those would keep going.

Within 36 hours major cities would start to flood due to nobody being around to control drains and sewers.

Within 10 days those dogs out of 400 million that have survived starvation will have to find ways to escape their homes and start scavenging for food.

Within 6 months rodents will have decreased in numbers, without humans they’ll have to return to the wild where they become easy prey. Eventually larger carnivores start to roam our streets and homes where we once lived.

After about a year weeds and grass start breaking through pavements and roads as the planet slowly starts to return to its natural green state.

Forest fires which were once controllable are now raging their way through woodlands and abandoned cities, destroying everything in it’s path. Rome once again burns to the ground as the ash replenishes the soil.

5 years on and many of the worlds most famous landmarks are overrun with vines and weeds. Steel becomes weak and structures that were once strong are now crumbling.

Natures revenge is hard and relentless, it’s taking back it’s world.

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.

 

M

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.

New Territory

I have recently ventured in to new territory, it’s dark and treacherous but it’s fun…..yes…….I’m talking about YouTube.

I finally caved and bought myself an Xbox One, which was a great decision. I put it off for so long, convincing myself that it wasn’t worth the money and that I should wait for a year or two but the gamer inside me was leaning more and more towards the dark side.

With the Xbox One comes unlimited potential for making videos, with the built in “Game DVR”, the “Upload Studio” and the ability to broadcast live on “Twitch”, the possibilities are endless.

So, for the past few days I’ve been using all of the above along with some computer software to try and make some entertaining videos.
While my YouTube channel is still in it’s infancy, I feel like the potential is there to produce some quality videos.

Anyway guys, if you want to check some of my stuff out it would be greatly appreciated.

If you have a YouTube account yourself, subscribing to my channel would mean a lot.

A year of beard

Over the past month I decided to let my beard grow out. There was no real reason for my decision other than I wanted a change in look and that I was bored of the “rough stubble” look. In the space of a month, I managed to grow a beard that was rather substantial in size and strangely comfortable to wear on my face.

Exhibit A

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As the recent days have passed and the idea of removing the chin warmer entered my mind, I felt sadness at the thought of separation. So, with much excitement, I announced to my family on Christmas that I was not going to shave the beard until, at the very least, December 25th 2015.

If nothing else, I really want to know how large of a beard I can grow in a year. Granted, I’ll have to maintain some sort of shape to it, otherwise it’ll just end up a fuzzy mess but aside from trimming it into shape, it will remain untouched.

For the next twelve months, I imagine that my chances of finding a woman, a “real job” as my family call it and the opportunity of being given social responsibilities will be slimmer than ever……..

Love, camaraderie, freedom

In my lifetime I have watched hundreds of television shows, I have enjoyed a fair amount and I can count on one hand the amount of television shows that I can say that I “love”. I have never however had a television show that I have felt I can relate to, most of my favourite shows are a bit outlandish and far fetched. There is however one television show that I feel that I can relate to – ‘Sons of Anarchy’

Granted, my life wasn’t as violent or as crime filled but in my teens I made some very heinous choices which affected those around me. For years I was on a path of self destruction, convincing myself that I was on the right path. I brought a gang fight to my parents front door, I was arrested, I caused a lot of misery and truth be told, even for a lot of my adult years some of those patterns stayed in place.

‘Sons of Anarchy’ may not reflect my life as a mirror image but some of the underlying principals of some of the characters just resonate with me. I’ve lost people close to me and then used it as fuel for my anger towards others, I’ve deceived my friends and manipulated people. For a very long time I didn’t care who I hurt, friends, enemies or family. My life was a clusterfuck of bad choice after bad choice for so long that there came a point where enough was enough. I could have carried down that path and ended up in a perpetual solitude handcrafted by my own design but I made the choice to take a different route and thankfully it was the right choice.

I like to believe that I am somewhat emotionless these days. I’m sure that if you were to converse with anyone in my close circle of friends that they will tell you that I tend to never show emotion. However watching ‘Sons of Anarchy’ has reduced me to tears on a number of occasions. The show is hard hitting and it doesn’t slow down to let you recover your emotions. It’s a barrage of kicks to the gut and to me it’s something that I’ve maybe needed.

“Chasing cash we don’t need and spending every dime to stay alive”

If you haven’t watched ‘Sons of Anarchy’ then I would highly recommend it to everyone. Next week is the last ever episode but it’s never too late to jump on the wagon. The first six seasons are on Netflix and Amazon Prime to watch. It’s a show that will tear you apart and put you back together within minutes.

Over seven seasons the show has given some monumental moments. Opie’s death and Tara’s death are two which I think hit every fan just as hard. Bobby’s death was a moment that was unexpected and just left a hole. Without spoiling last nights episode for anyone who hasn’t yet seen it, it was possibly one of my favourite episodes and it sends us into the finale ready for closure.

A side note for SoA is the music. Never has a show had such a perfect soundtrack, where every song choice works perfectly with what it is accompanying.

You’ll be hard pushed to find a show quite as compelling. It’ll be hard to say goodbye next week.

 

One of the hardest scenes in SoA to watch.

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.

The ramblings of a sober man

When we’re born into this life it’s a completely different world than the one we leave behind. Ultimately whether we realise it or not the world is changing rapidly every day. I see technology advance so quickly that it’s scary at some points, I watch beautiful pieces of land disappear under masses of concrete and glass and I see a human race who mostly don’t care.

I am by no means an environmentalist, I’m not a member of organisation that sets out to change the world. I am in fact a guy who mainly sits at home, reads comics, watches sci-fi and occasionally steps outside into the vast space that is planet earth. I don’t go all out to make a difference in the world and I don’t think any more or any less of people who do.

Over the years I’ve watched on countless occasions as wars and corporations and industrial effects have savaged lands and pushed the beauty of the landscape to the side. I often think to myself that I was born out of time, that I was never meant to be alive in this day and age and that my mentality would be better suited to the start of the last century. I look at images of streets with horses and carts, where everyone seemed genuinely happy to be there and where men, women and children would pass each other in the street and make eye contact instead of updating their Facebook with “Walking down street, saw minger picking nose, ewww lol”

Truthfully, I think the world we live in has gone to shit and that’s not a naive opinion. This is not my attempt at slating governments or corporations or the people behind technology. I can’t say anything about technology because frankly I would be a hypocrite seeing as I’m currently using a popular piece of machinery to type this very blog entry.

The financial status of the planet is enough for me to sit here and write and write and write about and I could also do the exact same for the crime rates around the globe. I could sit here and tell you that I think within a hundred years we will be run by a totalitarian government and our right to free will completely revoked. I could sit here and tell you that society today has made life virtually impossible for the people down below and that it is causing so many issues that the hierarchy of the world appear to be blind to………..I could tell you all of that but I won’t.

We’re born, we live, we die. That’s the general rule of life and whether we like to admit or not, our existence is pretty meaningless. What are we supposed to do with life? I say we’re supposed to fill it, fill it with joy and hope and love and every other emotion. Fill it with what we enjoy, what we want to do. I say we take life and ride it from start to end and make sure it’s the best journey imaginable. That’s what I say, but sometimes that’s not always possible. Frankly, this day and age make it so hard to truly enjoy it. For me I think I would be walking around in the Victorian times right now, on my way to some rendition of Sherlock Holmes with William Gillette or something along those lines.

I’m not a man of any faith, I don’t know what’s waiting for us all on the other side but I know that we’re supposed to enjoy what we have here. I’m planning on trying my damnedest to do exactly that, whether that involves indulging my mind in 16th, 17th and 18th century literature or reading the latest 2000 AD issue, whether it’s watching Charlie Chaplin classics or the latest episode of Doctor Who, whether it’s taking a stroll up the hills and mountains or the scenic route to the supermarket I think it’s important that we make the most of the life we’ve been given.

I know that this isn’t my normal type of posting but sometimes it’s good to get away from the norm, sometimes in life something will shake you to your core and bring on some sort of epiphany and that’s exactly what’s happened to me. Of all the great writers of history at my disposal, I remembered a sentence that just clicked with me, it wasn’t from Twain or Shakespeare or anyone like that, it was from a TV show.

 

“The hardest thing in this world, is to live in it”

Some reflection and closing thoughts.

After a sleep and some reflection I think I’m more downhearted than I was at 6am. As a country we made our decision, I’ll accept that but it doesn’t mean that I think it’s the right decision.

Throughout this whole process I discovered one thing, and that is that no matter what side of the fence people fell on, whatever their beliefs, everyone had a strong passion for this country.

We can sit here and say that those who voted ‘No’ don’t deserve to call themselves Scottish but that’s not true. They voted no because they felt it was the best thing for our country, the same reason that we voted yes (obviously we were right but we’ll never find out)

Whatever your emotions are today, just remember that we are all Scottish together, no matter how bitter that may sit on some peoples tongues at the moment (mine included).

We rejected independence but we don’t have to stop the fight for change. To all those who voted for the first time, keep voting. Don’t just not vote because you think it won’t make a difference, if as many people turn out to vote as did yesterday then we have a higher chance of being heard. Don’t give up on trying to change things for the better. We’re all crushed, I understand that. I sat earlier and actually thought I was going to burst into tears because this was such an emotional roller-coaster for us all.

One day the Kingdom of Scotland will live again, this just wasn’t our time. We can now either wallow in our own self pity or we can make sure that Westminster follow through on their promises, we can make sure that we make our voices heard. We can stand together, as Scotland, maybe not independent but damn fucking loud.