Monday, August 30, 2010

My Task List

So another week beckons, another list of mini tasks for me to complete...
1) I am going to try and read A Suitable Boy (honestly)
2) Go Surfing (booked for Saturday)
3) Submit my novel, you know the one that I tried to submit over a year ago and has sat on my hard drive ever since, to Penguin, who are accepting unsolicited manuscripts until the end of October
4) Order some more books from the library - just 10 more to read now on the BBC Top 100 list
5) Appear on the radio again on Friday
So quite an easy week really, but hopefully one that will result in me ticking another task off my list.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Food Festival Says No

In my quest to cook with a celebrity chef, I've already written to my favourite chef for a chance to be a guest in his kitchen (big clue there!) and this week I decided to write to the local council to see if I could cook with at least one of the celebrity chefs that would appear at this years Nottingham Food Festival. Unfortunately they said a big fat no, the reason being that it is a paid event and people may complain if they have paid to see a celebrity chef and instead get someone else as well. I'm sure given a chance I could be just as entertaining, but there we go! I fully understand their reasoning behind this and it was worth the try!
Oh well, back to the drawing board with that...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Katherine by Anya Seton - BBC Top 100 Reads 89/100

Katherine is a historical novel based on the life of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt. I don't do historical novels as a rule. I find that they are usually too full of references to the past that it some how detracts from the story in hand. I did find elements of this novel interesting and it did compel me to continue reading it, but half way through I became too over loaded with the historical references and notes to the past, that it made the text harder to digest. It is a stereotypical story in the sense that woman is betrothed to someone she doesn't love but falls for someone who is unobtainable. They eventually get the chance to ignite their love when circumstances allow them to be together and the rest of the story is their struggle to remain lovers whilst remaining within the boundaries set by their society.
I don't feel that this has changed my opinion of historical novels at all and unless you enjoy historical novels, then I certainly wouldn't recommend it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

On The Road by Jack Kerouac - BBC Top 100 Reads 88/100

Billed as the ultimate road trip book, 'On The Road' is a semi autobiographical tale of two friends searching for fulfilment by travelling back and forth across the United States. While the book regales us with their exploits and vivid descriptions of the characters they meet, what it failed to ignite me with, was any sort of empathy for the characters involved. We learn very little about Sal Paradise, the main character, other than he tends to go from one exploit to another. There is no reason given for his travels, other than he can do this and therefore he does. His travelling companion, Dean's ill regard of women, does not make him any more likeable, impregnating several women in the space of a few months. What I also failed to understand was what either one of them attempted to achieve from their travels. Was it some sort of hedonistic interpretation of chasing the American dream?

I'm also not sure whether the author was trying to mirror 'The Catcher In The Rye' in some form, but whilst Salinger succeeded in gaining the readers sympathy of his main character, Holden Caulfield, I ended up despising Sal Paradise and his travelling companions with a passion. Definitely one that I won't return to and definitely not one of the great American reads.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

This Week...

Well last week was a funny old week, I seemed to run from one thing to another and not having the capability to concentrate on one thing for more than a couple of minutes, which made doing tasks for my list incredibly difficult. I've managed to book the surf school for Saturday 4th September, so that will be another task off my list. Unfortunately I wanted to book it on the Sunday and try to squeeze the England match in on the Friday, but there is no surf school booked for then, so Saturday it has to be and I'll move the England match to October. The Vikram Seth book I gave up on and have now started 'On The Road' by Jack Kerouac, a paltry 290 pages compared to the VS book of 1500! I will go back to the VS book, but I'll get a few easy reads out of the way first!
As for this week, I've not got a lot planned:-
1) Finish On The Road
2) Read 700 pages of the VS book
3) Contact the local council re cooking with a celebrity chef (we have a food show in Nottingham in September so worth a shot to see if I can cook with one of them)
I desperately want to finish the BBC Top 100 reads list so a) I can start reading books of my own choice and b) so I can start on the learning a foreign language task, so I'm going to concentrate on completing that one for the feasible future.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Friday Radio

Well Friday 13th came and went without too much mishap. I was on the radio again for the paper review and a quick chat about my blog. I'm not sure if I've ever done this before (apologies if I have!) but thought I would just run through what happens when I go to the BBC Studios, if anyone is interested out there of course.
7.15am Arrive at the BBC Studios in Nottingham, sign in at the security desk and then make my way upstairs.
7:15am-8am Sit down in the waiting area with all the days papers and try and pick 4 stories that I feel are interesting and worth discussing. Any that I do feel are worth mentioning, I will jot down the details in a notebook as well as a few notes on my views on the story (hate hearing the newspapers rustle on air, so never take the actual newspapers in with me!)
8am-8:20am - The producer will come out to discuss what stories I've chosen - asked me on this occasion to drop one of them as it was discussed at length yesterday. Also chatted about being available for other radio shows, should they need me.
8:20-8:30am Taken in to the studio and head for the far desk, make sure I'm positioned correctly in front of the mike and then wait for the introduction from the presenter. You have to be flexible in terms of how long you discuss the papers for, as depending on what's happening news wise in the area, is dependant on your time slot. Most times I usually get chance to have a quick chat about my blog as well, so I always jot down a few updates before I go in, just in case I go blank when he asks me!
8:30am All over! I then get booked in for my next appearance - 3rd September, just in case you are interested!
Very occasionally you see the odd famous person around the studio. When I came out there was a girl sitting in the waiting area, who I later found out played 'Smell' in This is England - looking nothing like her character but as I drove away and listened to the radio, sounding exactly the same as she did in the film!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

BBC Radio Nottingham

Another reminder that I'm on BBC Radio Nottingham tomorrow at approx 8.30am - hope some of you manage to tune in!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Half Way There

Well, I've now completed 20 out of my 40 tasks, so I'm half way there, with just over a year left. Of course I would have liked to have been here a lot sooner, but hey, what can I say, sometimes life takes over and time passes you by quicker than you think. Of course the fact that I've got a lot more time on my hands these days helps immensely and I'm taking full advantage of the fact that I have, by trying to organise as many tasks as I can. My time off has also given me ample opportunity to think about my tasks as a whole. Unfortunately opportunities don't come to you handed on a plate, you have to go out and seize them and that's what I intend to do with the rest of my outstanding tasks - I'm going to get out there and instigate and grab every opportunity I can to complete the remainder 20.
My working list for last week, was nearly all completed bar the skinny dipping trip, which didn't come off due to some unexpected visitors on Saturday, but apart from that I completed all my goals for last week. Goals for this week are as follows:-
1) Read A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
2) Send an article proposal to vege/weight magazines
3) Book surfing
4) Plan which England match I will be attending
I'm also on BBC Radio Nottingham (again!) on Friday 13th August around 8:30am - a busy week ahead!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

32) Go To Watch A Baseball Match

I blame Ferris Bueller. Ever since his day off, baseball has always intrigued me. The huge stadiums, the atmosphere, the food vendors and the speed and the pace of the game - the all American dream. Unfortunately my funds wouldn't stretch to going to America to see the New York Yankees or a similar status team, so I had to look nearer home. After a lot of Internet searching and a few red herrings (apparently there used to be a team based in Nottingham but as they hadn't updated their website for several years and didn't reply to my emails, then I guessed that they were no longer playing), I eventually found a team in Rotherham, the Sheffield Bladerunners and today we decided to catch one of their last home games of the season.

Sheffield Bladerunners play in the Northern AAA league and were established circa 1985. We turned up to watch them on their home turf, at the Phoenix Sports & Social Club in Rotherham, expecting to see a little stadium, a few dozen people watching etc. Unfortunately we were at a loss to see where they played when we arrived and only managed to just glimpse a uniform in the far distance beyond the football pitches. There was no stadium, no people watching that weren't involved directly with the teams, but do you know what, it was great. We sat on the grass and watched 2 x 7 - inning games (double headers)and a bunch of individuals that were there for the pure love of the game and not for the financial aspects like so many other sportsmen. Okay so there were no home runs, but it still kept us entertained for the best part of 2 hours.

If I lived a little nearer, then I would definitely go to watch them again and I certainly wouldn't ever turn down the opportunity of watching a bigger game in the States, but for now I'm quite happy I spent a few hours on an otherwise boring Sunday completing another task.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Create A Short Film To Go On To You Tube

I had so many ideas for this that never seemed to get off the ground, but finally I opted for a short documentary on my friend, the actor Phil Lowe. Phil worked as an extra on many shows filmed within the East Midlands and notably was a reoccurring extra for Crossroads, where he uttered the immortal line 'night Chef'. I've known Phil for about 5 years and over the years have heard the stories of his life on set and always thought it would be a good idea to capture them all in one place.

Unfortunately my idea was better than my knowledge of film editing software. I eventually used Muvee, which is a basic editing package that allowed me to gain all the footage I required. What I really wanted to do was to include the pictures of Phil's life as an extra and just have the odd shot of him talking, so on occasions there is the odd shaky bit, as I didn't think these shots would be included. I've got no idea on how to still keep the audio but include the pictures, so if anyone can recommend a better editing software to do this, then please feel free.

So what I have is a very basic film, but I think it encapsulates Phil's stories of life on set - I hope you enjoy it and PS I don't think Shane Meadows has anything to worry about at this moment in time!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Lord Of The Rings - BBC Top 100 Reads 87/100

I first started reading The Lord Of The Rings when I was 10. Fuelled by my recent love of The Hobbit that my teacher had lovingly read aloud to us, I thought this would be an easy follow on. Suffice to say, I think I managed to read the first chapter and then gave up. Years later, it came up again on the BBC Top 100 list - I had already watched and surprisingly loved the films as part of an earlier challenge, but still my mind went back to being 10 and wondering if I would struggle to read it.
I read each book separately, which I think helped. Faced with a mammoth tomb of a book always puts me off - at least with a smaller book, you get a sense of achievement when finished. I found the books hit me in waves. There were parts that I totally struggled to understand or even follow and then there were huge parts that I loved and it become a struggle to put the book down. It is a wonderful story, but my mind doesn't handle fantasy all that well and I have trouble trying to create the scenes in my head that Tolkien is describing. I'm really glad I finished it, but would I read it again? Probably not. I think I preferred the Phillip Pullman books more.