Monday, 10 December 2018

Christmas Meetups

Tuesday night: Depression support group Manchester DAB are meeting in Chapter One Books in the Northern Quarter. If it'll help, come have a chat and see if it's for you.

Friday night: Depression support group Talk About It Mate are hosting a Christmas social in Manchester pub Peveril of the Peak on Great Bridgewater St. It's close to Deansgate Locks so there's every possibility we might end up there. Get involved by joining the group!

Thursday, 6 December 2018

For the Love of SciFi 2018

On arriving at Bowlers Manchester it emerged that one of the three booked actors from the iconic 80s movie Predator, had to cancel. Bill Duke (Mack) couldn't make it, but Jesse Ventura (Blain) and Carl Weathers (Dillon) were ready for the photoshoot. It was planned for later in the afternoon, so when I bumped into my mate Paddy we had plenty of time to wander the stalls and set builds.

Last weekend we dropped into Bowlers Exhibition Centre for For the Love of Sci Fi, a huge science fiction convention with immense film sculptures and props, and headlining movie and TV stars from past and present. Typically, I forgot to go to a cash machine, the nearest one being miles away. But I could buy tokens on card and exchange them for signings and photos. I planned to look around and make a few purchasing decisions. I then forgot this, and didn't go back for them.


We found the stage where the interviews were taking place- Ventura and Weathers were discussing the Predator shoot in 1987, and taking questions from the audience.

If Bill could have been here,” said Ventura, the only white man of the three actors booked, “we could have been an Oreo cookie.”

We had a wander into a side room, where traders were selling comics, toys and other SF paraphernalia. There was plenty on offer, but traders were complaining that, due to lack of signage, they'd had bad sales.

I tried to get some shots of the Stranger Things cast (Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin, who play Dustin and Lucas) uniting with the ET cast (Henry Thomas - Elliott, Dee Wallace – Mary, and Robert MacNaughton - Michael) in a forest-themed photo set, but the stewards were on it like hawks. They want you to pay for the professional photos, so fly-by camera shots are discouraged.

Sly shot of the ET cast
ET Cast
Here's Paul Blake, AKA Greedo from Star Wars. We both thought Scarface lifted from his 'I don't have it right here' scene, when they go to the flat to do the drug deal. Turns out his son, also called Paul, is a Paralympic athlete.

A stall or so down we find Mike Quinn, who played Nein Nunb in Star Wars. He was Lando Calrissian's copilot. Great bloke.

Paddy and I got talking to Nick Maley, affectionately known as 'The Yoda Guy.' Nick, special effects puppeteer, has worked on over 50 films including Superman and Highlander, but is best known for controlling the Yoda puppet in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

He described making a second Yoda model some decades later. “I found the original sculpt in order to make a new model. You can be fluid the first time, but the second time you've got something to work to. (George) Lucas only handed over the outside of the mould, so there was no puppetry. I gave Yoda a lip extension. When I took it out of the mould it didn't look the same. I eventually tracked 6 lip moulds.”

A cool guy. Hope to bump into him again.

Later, we find him in the main hall 'conducting' the Piccadilly Symphony Orchestra, with Yoda on his arm.

Amazing to hear the themes to some favourite films being blasted out perfectly, right in front of me.

When Paddy and I grabbed some food in the canteen we realise we're sat a table or so down from Ray Parker Jr, of the Ghostbusters theme fame. Bustin' may make him feel good, but I didn't feel so good when he busted me selfie-bombing him.

One criticism I think all the males shared: the toilets needed an attendant. They quickly got out of hand.

At the other end of the enjoyment scale, the pièce de résistance: The photoshoot with Weathers and Ventura. On set is one of a number of Predators attending the event, tall people who dress up as the movie franchise's intergalactic hunters. A quick handshake with the two stars, a snap, and we're done. £67 for 10 seconds with 2 legends. And worth it.

Next year's FTLOSF is already in the works.
Johnny 5 from Short Circuit

Brigitte Neilsen

Gaming room

Trader stalls

Blade impersonator

Mechanical walking Hulk
Lou Ferrigno, the actual Incredible Hulk

Kylo Ren impersonator

Selfie-bombing the kid off E.T.

Ghostbusters set

Paddy with Ray Parker Jr. Wish I'd paid for this opp!

How Imperial Stormtroopers celebrate Christmas

Me, Paddy, and 2 imperial stormtroopers.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Saddleworth Santa Dash 2018

500 Santas squash themselves into a sea of red on Uppermill's main road, all facing the inflatable start point, some doing a two step, most of them wearing their registration number on their chest. I forgot mine, of course, but I've pulled out an old Christmas t-shirt from my days working in Walkabout. It has a kangaroo with reindeer antlers jutting out of its head, underneath which is the phrase WE WISH ROO A MERRY CHRISTMAS.

It's 1st December, and the Saddleworth Santa Dash is about to begin, a 5K stomp through the wilderness of Oldham's countryside. I've been training for it, but my insistence at drinking as often as possible over the last month has undermined my efforts.

Considering it's a hilly course and I'm hardly in good shape, my 31 minute time is suspiciously good. I'm wondering if I got lost or something. I'm sure I followed everyone else, most of whom flew past me.

Shout out to organisers Saddleworth Round Table. Good show. I'll probably try again next year.

First medal I've received

Monday, 3 December 2018

Tanya Bardsley's Prima Lashes Launch

Wednesday night saw the launch of Prima Lashes, 'supplying the Beauty Industry's finest with premium quality false lashes,' fronted by Tanya Bardsley of Real Housewives of Cheshire. Of course, I was there. What else would I be doing on a Wednesday night?!

I was invited to Neighbourhood by Go:PR and Events, headed by Steph Ledigo. After a complimentary cocktail and doughnut I said hi to a few of the celebrity guests.

Tanya herself

Antonella Brollini, video blogger with 92K Insta followers

Another great night. I bumped into some familiar guests from previous events, so it was great to catch up with them. Slightly outnumbered by women again, but everyone was friendly. No complaints, of course!