Ranking Pets

Does what it says on the tin.

7. Rabbits
Names: Thumper and Cottontail

Rabbits are the worst. 

My sisters and I were suckered in by the fact they look cute and are traditionally portrayed well, like Bugs Bunny, Bucky O’Hare and Buster, Arthur’s mate.

But when we got them we realised they are awful pets. 

They didn’t like being held, they didn’t do much and they lived in the garden, taking up space I had previously used as a stand in for Wembley stadium. 

We had the long eared pains for a couple of years but the novelty wore off pretty quick. Our only real interaction with them came as we chased them around the garden after their many escape attempts. It would have probably been better for all if we’d just let them take their chances on their own.

After a while my mum took over looking after them as we got bored of the twitchy nosed tools. It’s a sign of how much we’d gone off them that Thumper, the last bunny standing, was dead for a few days before us kids realised, my mum curious as to how long it would take (note: Mum had disposed of his body compassionately, just didn’t tell us of his untimely demise).

6. Pet Rock

Name: Forgotten as changed often.

I got these as a gift. They were basically some rocks with faces on. They sat on my shelf.

So, how are these better than rabbits?

  1. They took up less room
  2. None of my pet rocks ever bit me
  3. I never used a rabbit to squish a giant spider

Yeah, so Rocks > Rabbits. Unless you’re making a stew.

5. Tamagotchi

Names: Gwyneth, Willow and more that I forget.

For those who don’t remember, Tamagotchi were a big deal in the late ’90s. These pocket sized electronic pets were everywhere and kids were obsessed with them. One such kid was my youngest sister.

Unfortunately, the kids were so invested in keeping the crudely animated blobs alive that they weren’t focusing in class. And so, my sister’s school banned them. But I was in big school and so took on the responsibility as our teachers were more worried about stopping their students smoking or getting pregnant.

I renamed the thing Gwyneth after Miss Paltrow, which makes no sense as I wasn’t a fan of hers. But I must have had a reason.

At first I kept her alive to help my sister, but soon she’d lost interest and I was obsessed with keeping it going. Gwyneth lived quite a long time before she bought the farm and I replaced her with Willow. Willow didn’t live as long and after that, jaded by the losses, there were a few others who didn’t last long.

4. Hamster

Name: Pablo

I inherited Pablo after my second attempt at uni. He was our flat pet and originally belonged to my flatmate Phil. However, I took custody and he lived with me for a while.

Hamsters are odd pets. They’re quite shy and dislike being held, which limits their fun factor. However, they are very cute and at least do stuff like running on their wheel.

I spent a lot of time talking to Pablo, jabbering away to him when I was alone. It was company while everyone else went about their lives and I stayed in, hunting jobs.

He put in a good innings by hamster standards but sadly went to play on the big wheel in the sky.

3. Goldfish

Names: Squishy and Fang.

I expected Squishy to die from the moment I got him. 

I won him at a funfair, and he was tiny. I gave it a couple of weeks before I had to flush him.

But the little guy surprised me. He grew quickly and seemed in good health. He even survived a fire in our halls. And the drive home from Lampeter. 

In fact, Squishy would live for another seven years, joined in 2006 by Fang, who is still going. 

They might not be the most entertaining of pets but I loved Squishy for his survivor attitude and the connection to my uni days. They’re also quite calming to watch and, like hamsters, easy to talk to.

2. Dogs

Name: Carrie.

Honourable mentions: Phoebe, Millie, basically every other dog I’ve met.

My little sister really wanted a dog. After years of pleading and promises my parents relented. Unfortunately, the dog we got was Carrie.

Part Jack Russell, part English Bull Terrier, part unspecified dog and part hellhound, a family new to dogs couldn’t have picked worse.

We had her a few years during which she moved from cute puppy to raging bitch. She’d lunge for other dogs, for cyclists, for pretty much anything that walked or crawled. She would drag our cat about by the scruff of his neck, the cat too soft and dim to run away.

Finally, she bit all three of my sisters. My mum realised my little sister, driving force of Team Dog, was scared of the white ball of rage. Carrie was rehomed and the Page family chalked up dogs as a failed experiment. 

Two of my sisters are now firmly on Team Cat. But me? While I love felines, I still want a canine buddy.

This is because every other dog I’ve met has been tidy. I’ve dog sat for friends and I love dogs. I mean, cleaning up their shit is a drag.

But I genuinely love dogs. MWF’s mum has a Jack Russell who is amazing. All my mates’ dogs are ace too.

And so I would really like a dog in future, with my preference being for a French Bulldog.

1. Cats
Names: Tom, Jerry, Tiger, Yoga, Tad, Llew, Midnight and Pumpkin. 

As the above list shows, cats are the most consistent pet I’ve had. There were cats when my mum brought me back from the hospital, and there has been at least one cat in the Page house since then.

MWF is a crazy cat lady waiting to happen, and so early on we knew that we would always have cats. 

Enter Midnight, our wonky eyed cat who was followed by Pumpkin, a manic ball of energy who speeds around the house like a white and orange Tasmanian Devil. Sadly, Midge and Pumps didn’t get on, so Midnight has returned to MWF’s mum’s house while Pumpkin is now the boss here.

Pumpkin recharging for his next assault

Cats tick a lot of boxes. They are cute and like attention, without being needy about it. They have distinct personalities, and are entertaining to watch, there’s a reason cats dominate the internet. You can play with them but they’ll also just curl up and chill with you. And they are loveable. 

In my opinion cats are the best pets. You can disagree. But you’re wrong.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO. 


10 Video Games I’ve Loved Part 2

So last time around I’d gotten as far as my time at uni playing Halo so will continue here with another game that ate up hours of potential studying time.

6. Tiger Woods PGA Tour (year unknown)

You couldn’t pay me to watch golf. It’s interminably dull and mainly seems to include shots of the sky as a tiny white speck flies towards a hole followed by rich, posh idiots.

Despite this at uni my mate Rich and I would spend ages playing a simulation of the “sport”. I think the appeal was that it actually took skill to play, and that it was slow paced which gave us time to drink gallons of tea and chat.

It was another game I wasn’t particularly good at but I improved over the years and I quite liked the challenging part. Probably because my degree, in Film Studies, was quite easy in places.

This game is the only reason why I can name a golfer aside from Woods, Luke Donald. 

7. Angry Birds

This game kept me sane on night shifts, when it wasn’t driving me nuts. The idea is stupid, but simple; pigs have kidnapped your eggs so your flock hurls itself suicidally at them to get them back.

The flick and tap style of play is easy. The levels are increasingly difficult and there is some strategy involved, and I’ll confess this is the first game that I sought out cheats for, watching walk through videos on levels that frustrated me.

I wasn’t proud of it, but it was that or sacrifice my iPod Touch to a rage quit episode. In the end I had to delete it because I was wasting hours playing it and getting increasingly angry at the green pigs.
8. Mario Kart

Returning to university to do nursing would turn out to be a mistake, academically speaking. But I met MWF and I quite enjoyed the extracurricular aspects of my year.

It helped that the gods of student accommodation smiled on me and I had five quality flatmates. Flatmates with whom I would hang out watching DVDs and playing intensely competitive games of Mario Kart on the Wii.

I mentioned while discussing Halo that driving games are not my strong point and to begin with I would crawl over the finish line in last place. However, as the year progressed I managed to get better and even got a few wins for Waluigi, who I’d adopted as my go to character.

My improvement was basically that I got better at throwing shells at opponents and would only crash once a lap. Unless we were playing Rainbow Road, a course designed by a sadistic madman which even threw Emma, who was freakishly skilled at the game.

After crap shifts on placement or mind numbing lectures I’d camp out on our sofa, screaming at the screen as Waluigi became a magnet for every banana, shell and oil slick in existence. It was an odd way to unwind, playing a game which could be incredibly frustrating, but it worked, and was a good flat bonding experience.

It also gave me a reason to invite MWF over before we got together, giving us a chance for us to hang out and for me to kick her ass all over Bowser’s Castle.

9. FIFA 13

I’m sure FIFA 13 isn’t the pinnacle of the series, but I picked it up for 50p and used MWF’s xBox to play for hours while I was unemployed. I’m six seasons into a career game managing Bristol Rovers (I elected not to manage Swansea because I would be far too emotionally invested in the game) and could probably have used the weeks of game time more productively but my obsession has gone too far.

Despite having got all the way to Champions Cup glory I can’t quite until I bag an FA Cup title, completing my collection of trophies at the club. The FA Cup is my white whale, and I will chase it round perdition’s flames before I give it up.

The other way the obsession manifests itself is that I will find myself thinking about squad decisions for future games (“I’ll rest Bale against Stoke and West Brom, and that way he’ll be fresh for the Juventus match”) or weigh up what I need to get during the transfer window.

The game has also showed I am far too emotional to be a manager, in that I hold grudges against players who ask for transfers or demand pay rises too often, and after Euro 2016, in a fit of patriotic pride I wound up buying four Welsh players.

I’ll probably keep playing, FA Cup glory or not, until MWF and I trade in for an xBox One and then probably get hooked on the latest version.

10. Pokémon Go

This year saw the release of a brand new Pokémon game which used augmented reality to allow you to hunt for the pocket monsters in the real world. It was actually a sneaky ploy to get children, and childish adults, outside and exercising, with players getting rewards for travelling longer distances.

For a while it was inescapable, people playing it everywhere, old people whinging about it in the press and stories of bizarre situations Pokémon trainers found themselves in. 

It’s probably peaked now, and my own usage has dropped off because I’m tired of being swarmed by Pidgeys.

But I still have it and play now and then, and am still kinda obsessed with being the very best. The game isn’t helped by a few annoying flaws and the fact that as mentioned certain Pokemon have reached vermin status. But it’s fun and it means that folks are getting outside more, which makes it better than many if the other games I’ve written about.

Anyway, that’s my ten video game loves. If you have any thoughts, you know what to do. BETEO.


10 Video Games I’ve Loved Part 1

I’ve recently been watching Dara O’Briain’s Go 8 Bit on Dave, where comedians come in and play computer games. It’s been a real nostalgia kick as they’ve played games I used to love like Sensible Soccer, Snake and Tekken 2. 

Inspired by this I thought I’d write about games I loved over the years, and am doing them chronologically. Let’s crack on.

1. Tetris

In the early ’90s my big sister and I saved up and pooled our money to buy a first generation Gameboy, which was roughly the size and weight of a brick.

Despite it being coveted by four children there was an odd Gameboy truce where we shared it fairly, possibly due to the fear that Mum would confiscate it.

We only had two games- Super Mario Land and Tetris. 

Of the two the more basic Tetris was my favourite and massively addictive. Deceptively simple it ate up hours of my life and I can remember playing it for so long that as I laid myself down to sleep I would still see the falling shapes before my eyes.

It didn’t save your scores, so you were only ever in competition with yourself unless you passed it back and forth. It is also the first game where I experienced the “rage quit” and would throw the Gameboy down in disgust, leaving craters all over the house.

2. Sonic 2

I never had a Sega MegaDrive, and jealously eyed my mate Dai’s. He had several games, but the major one for us was this the second outing of a blue hedgehog. As Dai owned the console I had to play as Sonic’s sidekick Tails. Which kinda sucked, but still it was fun and the music still echoes somewhere in my brain.

3. GoldenEye

Split screen.

It was all about the split screen. The missions were fun, but the multiplayer was where it was at. My friend Geraint owned a N64 and was a lot better than me on this, so the infrequent occasions where the red came down his half were moments to savour.

One thing I loved was that the film had a host of classic Bond characters to choose from.

4. Snake/Snake 2

Talking about old phones with younger people will make you feel old. The advances have been so quick that something from less than 20 years ago seems like an antiquated relic.

For example, my old Nokia 3310, which I loved and used for years despite dropping it out of a first floor window, putting it through the wash and countless drunken nights out. Robust nature aside, the best thing about the phone was this game.

It basically involved guiding a blocky line (or slightly better rendered snake in the sequel) around eating things, which made it grow longer, and seeing how long you could last before hitting yourself or the sides.

It’s simplicity made it an addictive pleasure and a great way to kill time. You’d compare high scores, and obsess over beating your own.

 I once left my phone with my friend Dan and returned to find he’d set a ridiculously high score. After a frustrating week of falling short I finally accepted defeat and reset the game, wiping the slate clean.

I recently found it on the Play Store (named Snake ’97) and it turns my phone into an old Nokia and the obsession is back.

It’s already become my go to app for when I’m bored.

5. Halo series

At university two of my flatmates had consoles, and my buddy Ralph had an Xbox and graciously allowed me to spend hours in his room making Master Chief run into walls and crash Warthogs (driving games have never been my forte). I played this so much that once after a marathon session I walked to the shop and realised I still had the target dot in my vision.

Despite my lack of skill (on my watch MC died more times than Jean Grey) I absolutely loved the game, and despite favouring more straight forward games, I quite liked playing one that had a plot and after the first went on to the second.

I got majority obsessed so much so that for a project Ralph made a short film about me playing the game and flying into a rage when someone accidentally turned off the console. Easiest acting I ever had to do.

I’d graduated when Halo 3 came out, but still managed to complete it in two player mode, although my then girlfriend wasn’t happy that after going to visit her I disappeared to kill aliens.

I really need to check out what happened after 3.

Any thoughts?  You know what to do. BETEO.


Gig Review: Manic Street Preachers at the Liberty Stadium, Swansea

At the age of eleven I watched the 1997 Brit Awards and came away with three clear impressions- the Bee Gees were awesome, Geri Halliwell was a goddess and that I quite liked Welsh rock band the Manic Street Preachers. I asked for, and received, the Manics’ Everything Must Go album, which was the fourth album I ever owned.

I listened to it a fair few times and loved a couple of tracks from it (“Design for Life”, “Australia” and the title track) before it slipped down my rotation list as my collection grew. However, I was pretty excited when the band announced a 20th anniversary tour where they would perform the album.

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Unfortunately, the tickets were released when I was asking and watched as my friends celebrated getting their tickets. Thinking I had missed out I was a little glum but moved on. Then at Christmas, MWF revealed that she had got us tickets as a present to me. This was very cool of her, especially as she’s not a Manics fan at all.

And so having just turned 31, I finally saw a band that I’ve liked since I was eleven. And they did not disappoint.

They played their classic album almost in full, which meant their set kicked off with the anthemic “A Design For Life”, a bold choice to use one of their best known tracks as an opener. I stood and sung along as best I could, helped by a couple of ciders and enjoyed hearing half forgotten songs like “Kevin Carter” again. The band played with practised ease and obvious enthusiasm, with front man James Dean Bradfield chatting easily with the crowd and introducing the songs.

The crowd responded well and even darkening clouds and distant flashes of lightning didn’t effect their enthusiasm. Even when the clouds opened later on during the set it had no noticeable effect on the mood of the crowd. But then this was an open air gig in Wales, it wouldn’t be the same without the rain. JDB stated “I love the rain” adding that some of his happiest memories are in the Welsh rain.

The first half was Everything Must Go and the second saw them branch out, revealing just how many amazing songs they have in their back catalogue. The guitar led early work like “Motorcycle Emptiness” and “You Love Us” sitting comfortably alongside more poppy later work like “Your Love Alone Is Not Enough”.

As expected for a Welsh gig by one of the pillars of the 90s “Cwl Cymru”, patriotism was running wild. JDB wielded a guitar bearing the red dragon, Welsh flags and shirts were abundant and it reached it’s peak during their performance of “Together Stronger” the band’s rousing theme for the Welsh squad’s Euro 2016 campaign. Featuring a summary of the national side’s past misfortunes and a tribute to Gary Speed, it proved a very moving experience and I’m not ashamed to say I got a little choked up.

They closed their set with one of my personal favourites, “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next” and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, leaving having been reminded of just how good a band they are and the quality of their back catalogue and filled with renewed affection for the group.

I spent much of yesterday with “If You Tolerate This…” and “A Design for Life” vying for playing on my mental jukebox and I fully intend giving their albums a spin in the coming days.

Support was provided by Public Service Broadcasting, who we missed due to arriving late and the psychedelic, progress noodling of Super Furry Animals, who were quite fun with a set ranging from cheerful Beach Boys style efforts to full blown trippy excess.

All in all, a good night out, even if it highlighted my age. Not just because an album I loved has turned twenty but because I happily spent some of the gig in a seat. Although I did relish what may be my only chance to step onto the Liberty field.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Twelve Thoughts About Spice World

The late ’90s. Spicemania is running wild, the girls are global stars and everyone knows them. Furious debate rages over who the best Spice is (I flip flopped between Emma and Geri, finally settling on Emma).

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They release a movie which is part A Hard Day’s Night and part crappy kids TV show. I only watched it this year, at MWF’s urging, and I have some thoughts-

1. The Cameos Are Insane

Elton John turns up about three minutes in and the cameos just keep coming. Bob Hoskins says “Girl Power”, Stephen Fry is a judge, Hugh Laurie is Poirot and Bob Geldof lets them do this-

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Why, Bob, why?

2. King of the Cameos is Roger Moore

He plays the group’s manager and bosses their tour manager over the phone with weird quotes. He also wears his old Bond costumes and strokes various animals- cat, rabbit, piglet.

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Taking the money!

There’s a strong sense these were done in one day as halfway through one scene the piglet squeals and Moore just powers through like a boss. You get the impression he just wants to finish, pick up his cheque and go home.

Being Moore though, he’s still suave as all hell.

3. Aliens turn up for no reason

The girls go for a pee and some aliens rock up. One gropes Mel B and Geri kisses one and then they leave. It has no bearing on the plot.

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Now that's what I call a close encounter

4. I’m 80% sure they only got Meat Loaf for one gag

As their driver Loaf is asked to fix the toilets, at which point he says: “I love those girls, and I’d do anything for them. But I won’t do that.” It made me smile.

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Meat Loaf

5. 90s fashion was terrible

Seriously, I can’t believe the Spice Girls were the coolest people on the planet at this point.

6. There’s a subplot about their friend who’s pregnant. I don’t know why.

I have no idea why, but when she gives birth Geri chimes is with “Now, that’s girl power!”

7. The Gary Glitter song is awkward

Glitter has been pretty much deleted from the pop culture landscape, so it’s weird to hear the girls performing one of his songs. Apparently he was also due to cameo but that got axed as allegations surfaced, obviously they thought it was fine to keep the song.

8. Victoria is the worst actress

The bar isn’t that high, but she is far and away the worst of the bunch.

9. They complain about their nicknames, but then play up to them throughout

Mel C is obsessed with Liverpool winning the league. Mel B is lairy. Emma is disturbingly child-like at times. Posh is shallow and snobby. The only break is Geri who dishes out random facts and is shown to be boy-crazy.

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Random. And wrong (it's the whale shark)

10. Spice Force Five probably would have been a better movie

Seriously, missed opportunity.

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11. Geri’s boobs can apparently rouse someone from coma

Geri, Mel C and Victoria visit a teenage boy in a coma. Posh tells Geri to take her top off, but then says she’s only joking. However, the possibility of seeing Ginger Spice’s breasts is enough to have woken the boy up.

A boy’s desire to see naked Geri is probably the film’s most realistic moment.

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Realism

12. It’s actually kinda fun

Look, it has some clunky acting, groan worthy jokes and a silly plot but it somehow works in a so daft it’s fun way.

There seems a genuine feel good factor behind it and it powers through. Also some of the fourth wall breaking is kinda smart. It’s a mess but it’s an entertaining one.

Although that could just be nostalgia talking.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Book Review: The Death of WCW by R. D. Reynolds and Bryan Alvarez

The Monday Night Wars took place during my break from wrestling, but it was a historic and important time for professional wrestling. The two major companies WCW and WWF (now the WWE) went head to head. For a while WCW was in front, thanks in part to the fact it was bankrolled by Ted Turner and boasted a hot faction in the NWO (New World Order).

But a few years later WCW was gone and Vince McMahon the owner of WWE bought it for a song. What went wrong is the focus of this book.

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The book is fantastically in depth, following WCW on an almost week-by-week level as it finally got on top, dominated and then imploded. The writing is passionate and engaging, with a sarky, informal style that really worked for me.

The writers capture a snapshot of the behind the scenes chaos that ensued within the organisation, and the terrible decisions that led to its downfall. Some of the gaffes and ideas are laughable, almost irredeemably stupid.

It seems that the egos of certain stars ran wild, refusing to accept that they needed to step aside for fresh faces and instead hogging the spotlight until the audience got bored and switched channels.

At times the book is overly negative, WCW’s good points (they had a quality roster) are rushed over in favour of the stupidity that ensued and the bad matches. It’s easy to understand why, those are far more entertaining and explain the rapid decline of WCW.

For wrestling fans it’s fun as it expands on the stories you kinda know and shows the slow decline of the company. For non-fans it won’t win them over, but as a fan of several involved in the story I thoroughly enjoyed it, even if some of my heroes come off poorly.

Still, it’s an absorbing and entertaining read for wrestling fans.

Verdict: Entertainingly snarky and cutting it does skew negative a little too much but it gives a blow-by-blow breakdown of the errors made by WCW management. A good read. 7/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Fail Better

I’m glad I failed at…

It’s cliché to spin failures as lessons we can learn from and improve after, but like a lot of clichés it has basis in truth.

Of course, sometimes it’s a while before we can look at our failures in this way. Failure stings and you need that to pass.

So what failure am I glad about?

Tough one, I fail a lot.

Probably the one I got most out of was my first (and, so far, only) foray into politics.

Yes, I once stood in an election.

In 2007 I ran for Student Union Entertainment Officer at Lampeter.

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Lampeter Student Union, my old stamping ground

I’d like to say that I ran because I thought I was the best man for the job, or out of some sense of duty to give something back to the student community. But if I said that I’d be lying.

I stood because I thought being Ents (as we called it) would be (a) fun, I mean it was just organising parties and (b) easy, see (a).

And my major motivation was fear. Fear of what was going to happen after uni. I’d already realised that a Film Studies degree wasn’t going to smash down doors for me and being Ents would look good on my CV.

Also it would be an extra year in the safe cocoon of Lampeter. I had several friends who were staying on for MAs or who’d deferred, why not join them?

For those who didn’t go to Lampeter it might be hard to fathom that this tiny town in West Wales was hard to leave. You knew pretty much everyone, it was quiet and cheap, so people stayed. I knew students who had been there well over the standard three year course. People seemed to get stuck there, it was a safe place to hide until real life came calling.

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True for many

And I wanted that cocoon.

So I registered to run.

To be honest, I realised pretty early on I was unlikely to win. The four other candidates were members of big societies or teams, which meant voters. One was the current deputy, and another was heavily involved in the union.

I was just a slacker who was fairly well liked (I hope), but at a campaign meeting we knew I needed to be a lot of people’s second or third choice under the alternative vote system. Even then, it was likely I was heading for a pasting.

My friends and I tried to estimate how many votes I’d get, and set about pestering classmates, teammates and flatmates.

At the count I came in third. I survived a few rounds but eventually the leading two were beyond me. Still, part of me was chuffed.

Third!

So why am I glad I failed?

Well, I think being forced from the warm bosom of Lampeter was for the best. If I’d stayed my path would have been very different, and my life vastly different. And while it’s been bumpy and could be better, but I’m pretty happy with where I am with my life.

Besides, I’m not sure I’d have been a good Ents officer. There was probably more to it than socialising and organising parties. I knew the previous officer and she’d obviously worked hard at it, and it hadn’t been without stress as she was ludicrously accused of racism because the MOBO society felt they didn’t get enough nights.

So perhaps both I and Lampeter’s students dodged a bullet.

But if that’s the case I’d view my campaign as wasted time, which I don’t, because I actually got a lot out of it. I enjoyed campaigning but the major highlight and best part was having to give a speech at Hustings. With around 200 people in attendance it was the biggest crowd I’d spoken in front of.

Beforehand I was extremely nervous. I reread my speech and tried to remember all those public speaking tips- go slower than you want to, breathe, look up from your notes, picture the audience in their underwear (not helpful, more distracting if anything).

But once I got up there it went brilliantly and found my groove. People laughed in the right places and I got sincere applause at the end. Afterwards people congratulated me and praised the speech, which was a big confidence boost.

A friend who was running for SU President said that she’s seen a new side of me, that my speech made my campaign seem more real. Before she’d thought I was treating it as a joke or trying to blag my way through (if only she’d known the truth!)

She said she hoped I’d win and it would be good working with me. In the end it didn’t matter, both of us lost. Shortly after Lampeter had to merge with other universities. We’ll never know whether our regime could have stopped the rot.

(We do know, it had sod all to do with the union)

That speech remains one of my proudest moments. Unfortunately, I lost the speech, having leant it to a mate. Which is a shame as it would be nice to have kept it, to see what I said and what my campaign was based on.

All I remember is my opening:

Ladies and gentlemen, you are looking at your next Entertainment Officer…… It’s definitely one of the five people on stage.

It got a laugh, even if my friend Rich was worried I’d gone in too cocky and blown it. The punchline was a relief for him.

I’m glad I failed, but I’m glad I tried. The campaign was fun, and the response I got was a confidence boost and helped me feel good about myself.

Failing was part of getting me where I am, and I don’t regret it. Although I did like that on return trips to Lampy I heard many complaints about the person who’s beaten me (petty, moi?) and there is part of me that wonders if on an alternate Earth I absolutely stormed being Ents officer and there’s a building named after me.

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The Chris Page Building?

Well, you never know.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Film Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

When I was a kid I loved the cartoon Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles (as it was known here in the UK), I collected the toys, I played at being a ninja with my friends, I had a Donatello cake at my birthday party (despite Raphael being my favourite), I was a massive fan and eagerly watched the old movies, which now look terribly dated and badly done. I of course grew out of the Turtles and moved on to other stuff, but whenever they’ve been revamped I’ve had look in, with mixed reviews (the later cartoon series was pretty boss, but the live action show and the CGI movie from 2007 were distinctly lacklustre) .

So I was curious that they were rebooting it, although the presence of Michael Bay made me skeptical. Surprisingly the movie is rather enjoyable and lots of dumb fun.

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A lot has stayed the same- April O’Neil (Megan Fox) is a TV reporter who’s stuck covering the dull, frothy “and finally…” stories with cameraman Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett), but wants to pursue more serious news like the mysterious Foot Clan who are taking over New York. Tipped off she witnesses a vigilante attack and stop a Foot robbery, but is unable to get enough evidence.

When the Foot Clan try to draw out the vigilante April witnesses four attackers take them out and follow, capturing a photo of the foursome who turn out to be giant ninja turtles. She gets a photo of them and realizes that they are the same turtles her father used in his lab research into a revolutionary mutagen. She visits his former partner, Eric Sacks (William Fichtner), who explains that the mutagen was a cure-all and that he thought all the samples had been lost.

Meanwhile the four turtles arrive back at their base where their sensei Splinter (voiced by Tony Shaloub) punishes them for going above ground, however, when they mention April’s name he sends them to find her. April is brought back to their sewer base and Splinter explains their connected history. April saved Splinter and the turtles from the lab fire her father started after discovering that Sacks was in league with the Foot Clan’s leader Shredder (Tohuru Masamune), to release a virus and then use the mutagen to save the day and get power and money.

Exposition time: Splinter explains it all

Exposition time: Splinter explains it all

The Foot Clan have tracked April and attack, with the heavily armoured Shredder seriously wounding Splinter and Leonardo, Donatello and Michelangelo all being forced to surrender to spare him. Raphael is believed to have died and April is hidden before they blow up the base. Raphael (Alan Ritchson) has survived and with April and a reluctant Fenwick they set off to rescue his brotherS and stop Sacks and Shredder’s plans.

Can they rescue Raphael’s brothers? Will they be in time to stop Sacks’ diabolical plan? And just how long until Mickey’s flirting with April becomes seriously creepy and leaves you wondering about the dynamics of mutant turtle and human crossbreeding?

Here’s the thing, this movie is dumb in lots of ways. Firstly, there’s the fact that as soon as Fichtner appears on screen as Sacks you know he’s dodgy, because, well, it’s William Fichtner, he looks suspicious at all times. It’s so obvious that the reveal of his evil alliance can only be a shock to the particularly dim witted.

Would you trust this man?

Would you trust this man?

And Shredder’s new robotic armour just feels a little too Transformers-y I get why it’s been done, to make a 4-on-1 fight seem more balanced, but Meka-Shredder doesn’t really work for me.

 

Meka-Shredder

Meka-Shredder

There are other flaws too, changing the origin story to make April a vital part of the Turtles history just feels a little too convenient and unnecessary. Also, April is a bit of a dull character. We see her driven to be a success and find the truth, but she shows very little of the grit that she’d require and for most of the part she’s just there to run around and help a little. Sure, they try and make her a strong female character by having her prove vital to stopping the plan at the end (oh, sorry, is that a spoiler, that the Turtles win?) but her character is so flimsy and underwritten that it’s hard to care.

Megan Fox does okay with what she’s given but it’s not really a performance which will stick with you or win many fans.

That being said, it is fun, the action sequences are done fairly well and the film is loaded with laughs, mainly coming from the always entertaining Arnett or the wisecracking Turtles. Best among these is goofball Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), who quips his way throughout proceedings and who’s lovably dorky antics ensure you warm to him far more than the human players.

The rest of the turtles fall into their traditional roles- Raphael is the gruff, loner of the group, Leonardo (voiced by Johnny Knoxville) is the noble leader and Donatello (Jeremy Howard) is the geeky tech genius. All are done rather well and the design on them is quite good, especially in changing each character’s attire to reflect their personality a bit more.

tmnt turtles

The turtles are just as likable as when I was a kid and today’s kids should like their jokey dialogue and goofy physical humour, and they are the film’s strongest asset. Sure, it’s light on any real drama and it’s ridiculously overblown in places, but as Fenwick tells April, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of froth.

Verdict: It won’t change your life and it’s a tad predictable, but this is still a fun, goofy action movie which is carried by the wisecracking, dorky antics of the Turtles and should win over a new generation of fans for the franchise. 6.5/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Mixed Bag: Earwig, Envy and Eponymous Adjectives

Just some random stuff culled from Plinky (which seems to have stopped updating) and The Daily Post.

It will be mine. Oh, yes, it will be mine

Was there a toy or thing you always wanted as a child, during the holidays or on your birthday, but never received? Tell us about it.

The Ghostbusters firehouse toy. Young Chris loved that thing. My best mate, Dai, had one and we’d play with it all the time, and I think it was probably top of my wishlist for years, but I never got it. I got Ecto 1 (the car) which was boss, but to this day I still want the firehouse. I may even look for one on Ebay when I get done posting this.

gbfirehouse

I can’t let go

Write about a noise — or even a silence — that won’t go away. (We’ll let you interpret this in different ways…)

“Let It Go” from Frozen. That song is always with me now. I wake up in the mornings with it on my lips. It’s been over a week since I last watched the movie and it haunts me.

frozen elsa

I’m British, honey, our names don’t mean shit

Some writers’ names have becomes adjectives: Kafkaesque, marxist, Orwellian, sadistic. If your name (or nickname, or blog name) were to become an adjective, what would it mean?

Pagish- Would be to describe the style of writing or talking which swings wildly from sentimental romanticism to borderline sleaze and crudeness. Or to make groan inducing jokes.

Not Guilty

What’s the one guilty pleasure you have that’s so good, you no longer feel guilty about it?

Musicals and rom coms. As a younger man, I’d always be slightly bashful voicing my love for things like Dirty Dancing, The Sound of Music, While You Were Sleeping and Grease, but as I’ve gotten older and more secure about myself I can admit that I love those movies and not worry it makes me look like a loser.

I look like a loser for other reasons.

Video star

Of all the technologies that have gone extinct in your lifetime, which one do you miss the most?

VHS tapes were rubbish, I know that. They warped over time, the picture could be really jumpy and they were massive. Seriously, if you went for a movie fest at a mates you could throw your back out carrying half a dozen videos.

But I hate that they’ve gone. They’re chunkiness made them feel more substantial. And the whole thing of the warping kinda showed how much you’d watched the movie or show over and over. Also, there was taping off the TV, which was amazing. I know you have DVR and downloads now, but you could have a physical hard copy of whatever you stumbled on during the night. Or make compilation tapes of TV series or weird double features on the longer tapes.

Actually, I miss audio cassettes too. They were boss- mix tapes were brilliant.

Yeah, I miss cassettes. I am so damn old.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Maddie Magellan

When I was in my early teens one of the shows I loved on TV was Jonathan Creek, which featured Alan Davies in the title role of a magic trick creating genius who turned his superior intellect to solving crimes with the aid of his sarky writer sidekick Maddie (Caroline Quentin). The show is still going at the moment, although Quentin left years ago and has been replaced with Julia Sawalha and Sheridan Smith. While they’ve continued to be quite good fun, the show really lost something with the loss of the Maddie character.

Jonathan and Maddy

Jonathan and Maddy

They’ve recently started repeating the old episodes on the Drama channel, and they really hold up, well, fashion aside (there was a pretty impressive she-mullet in tonight’s episode). The key to it is the relationship between the central duo, with Davies being rather endearing in the role of the clever, geeky Creek who’s awkward at times and he clashes with the sarcastic, cynical Maddie. And the series had a really funny, quirky feel to it and never took itself too seriously, hamming it up with the deaths and overly elaborate set ups.

creek

What I really love about the Maddie character most of all is that she was totally the boss of the duo, Creek may have had the skills to solve the bizarre crimes but Maddie usually found the cases for them and was feisty, quick witted and funny, often coming out on top in her arguments with Jonathan.

The other thing cool thing was that while she was a curvier woman, Maddie had massive self-confidence and was rather sexy. Now, I like curvier women anyway, but I really dig that they made her a charming, attractive character who I can never remember being ridiculed for her weight and had a string of guys interested in her and a massive will-they-won’t-they angle with Jonathan. I think they did hook up in the end, and I’m sure like most things it killed the show.

It was nice to have a major character who was a curvier woman, and the show should be applauded for that, and the way it portrayed and treated her.

I don’t think I would’ve said anything at the time, because as a teen I was less inclined to voice opinions which were against the norm, but I had a thing for Caroline Quentin back then, and sarky, curvy and confident is still a type I really like.

A more recent picture of Caroline Quentin

A more recent picture of Caroline Quentin

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.