Sunday, 30 December 2018

Christmas Week

Great time with the famalam. Nothing major to tell. One of my presents was a subscription to Netflix, so I've spent the last few days doing weights and watching animation- Rick and Morty, Bojack Horseman, Big Mouth. All funny stuff. Well, except for the weights.

I've spent the last few months reading The Sum of All Fears by Tom Clancy, a 'political thriller' about the possibility of nuclear war becoming more likely due to a missing Israeli warhead and an incompetent president. First published in 1991, it foresaw the Clinton / Lewinski scandal, the questionable intelligence of Bush Jr and the hazardous shortcomings of Trump. That said, despite President Fowler, the fictional world leader, having these aforementioned issues, he still comes across a thousand times more eloquent than any of them. (Obama was a lot more respectable and capable, mind.)

It may be a highly acclaimed release, but I read Clancy for war stories. This is a war novel with no war in it. There's some offensive action that takes place in the last eighth of the book, but a lot of it is one long build-up to a terrorist act, and a quick retribution. Like all the Clancy novels I've read, it's heavy, masculine, formal, intensely-detailed and, for all I know, well-researched and realistic. It just wasn't that much fun. Red Storm Rising and Without Remorse were better.

There was a movie adaptation of TSOAF, but it isn't on Netflix. It's apparently very different.

Saturday, 29 December 2018

I am not getting on with Citalopram.

At the end of September I mentioned I'd switched meds from Sertraline to Citalopram, both antidepressants.

I wasn't feeling much of an effect from the former, so I moved to the latter. After what I now realise is a quarter of a year, and after changing the times of ingestion from midday to the morning, I decided to let my prescription run out.

I didn't feel much of a lift from Citalopram either, but what I did feel was very tired. I'm constantly falling asleep at weird times, struggling to keep my eyes open in work, and feeling a lack of motivation to go to the gym. Hence, earlier this week I decided to book another GP appointment.

The earliest they can fit me in is Saturday 12th January. Half a fucking month away.

The advantage of this stop-gap is that by the time I get to see my GP the Citalopram should be thoroughly out of my system. I can start afresh on something else.

The reason it's taken me so long to make the decision to come off the drug is that I've had problems with sleeping my whole life. If I have a bad night's sleep, it's normal to me. But if I have an elongated string of bad nights, coupled with repeatedly crashing into REM in the middle of the afternoon- something I can get away with on my days off- my body will eventually tell me that something I am putting in it isn't helping.

Despite still occasionally fitting in a gym session, or doing weights at home, my body weight is still climbing through the mid 80kgs (possibly 13'5! FUCK!)

I still feel the same negative emotions about myself that I did before I entered therapy in 2014, and way before I ever started taking depression meds. So, do I switch to some third drug? Or do I come off them altogether and see what happens? I guess my GP will know.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Fight on Deansgate, Mad Friday, FTLOSF Update

My gossip about N-Trance being Brexiteers got into gossip e-rag Popbitch, and I've realised I can link the email here. Great. You should subscribe.

Went out on Mad Friday. Tried the new Peaky Blinders bar, in the unit that housed Sakana. The new bar has a 1930s theme with waiters in flat caps and vintage style décor adourning the walls and ceiling. The upper level has been opened up It's not a patch on what it was, but the live band 'Scratchpad' was good and the venue looks a lot bigger after the restaurant area was removed and the bar reinstated right at the back. Interesting place, thankfully void of contemporary RnB, but lacking coathooks on the backs of the toilet doors.

I had a wander around after this, and saw 9 police officers arresting one guy outside Vanitas. Great use of my taxes, guys.

Saw this on Deansgate:

The other thing I feel compelled to share is the range of videos from the For The Love Of SciFi event I went to at the start of the month.

I was there for the Predator panel

and some of the orchestra

But there are a whole range of videos featuring the Stranger Things panel

The Star Wars Special

The Rocky Special

The E.T Special

A talk with Lou Ferrigno

With Ray Parker Jr,

and with Brigitte Nielson

I plan on checking them all out soon.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Is it Possible to Lose Weight over Christmas?

What is it about Christmas that leads us to put on weight? Alcohol? The gym being closed? Chocolate? A lack of routine? All of these and more?

I'm wondering why Christmas has to be such a dangerous time for people like me, who have clothes they can no longer fit into. Why can't we stay healthy at these times? Furthermore, why can't we get into a better shape during the Christmas period? Well, the short answer: sugary and salty food fires up our brains' synapses, giving us a hit of dopamine, a pleasure chemical. With each mouthful of tasty but unhealthy food, the dopamine travels to the brain through a neural pathway, and with each journey, that pathway is reinforced, meaning the brain will rely on that journey to get pleasure: not other journeys, or other forms of pleasure. Hence, it's important to enjoy a range of other simple pleasures: family time, friend time, movie time, book time. Whatever you like. Just not junk food.

The gym might be closed, but we can always work out at home, or get outside to walk or run. Most of us have time off, meaning more time for exercise.

Food over Christmas is a bone of contention to some people (although bones are normally all that's left after Christmas meals). The average Christmas meal is turkey (protein), sprouts (protein, vitamins C and A), carrots (as above, with a wad of calcium) and potatoes (calcium, potassium, vitamin C). It's all pretty healthy really. The only thing spoiling that is the desserts, the chocolate selection boxes and the alcohol. And when your dad's teetotal, there's no reason to drive on family gatherings, which allows for a few scoops. So moderation is key with lots of home workouts and self discipline.

I was 82.6kg on Wednesday. Not ideal. I'd love to be at 77, and wearing the suit trousers that currently don't fit. I'll check on my first gym session of the new year, on the 2nd.

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!