Thursday, August 31, 2006


My American Odyssey is over, and I have come home, back to the same old same old. After nearly two weeks of what can only be described as a splendid time, reality has kicked in once more. I feel relaxed, which was the point of the exercise, but I also miss being in sunny Dallas already. My time there was probably the happiest I've been in a long time... being so far away from the usual day-to-day rumblings of life is a most agreeable situation - plus being in the company of The American always brings a smile to my face. I will return soon. It's already been decided. Just got to get the first term of school and the new job out of the way, and I'll be back flying over the Atlantic again. I can't wait.

The journey back was alright. I was feeling pretty down after saying goodbye - from being incredibly happy to utterly miserable in the space of a couple of hours... great! As usual, my inability to sleep while on a moving vehicle kicked in, so while I had the space to relax (the plane was barely half full, so everyone got to stretch out across seats) I couldn't drop off. I watched Mission Impossible 3, which was *meh* - though Simon Pegg was in it, which raised a smile, read, listened to music, just killing time. The now anthemic "Transatlanticism" by Death Cab For Cutie raised a few sniffles. The lyrics took on an awful level of meaning, and the combination of being tired and some overwhelming emotion hit me pretty hard. Depressed michael was back with a vengence, swiftly accompanied by the angry version when my mother - who was meant to meet me at the airport - sent me a message saying she'd slept in, and the train home was my only option. Across London, in rush hour, with a suitcase and a heavy box full of sweets and snacks the size of a small nation. Damn my love of Mountain Dew. Eventually got back home four hours after leaving the airport, collapsed into bed, and woke after a solid 16 hours of sleep. Brilliant.

Anyway, I'm now back, jetlag seems to have dissipated, and I'm trying to get ready for Monday and The New Job. I'm finishing off a few jobs around the house as I really won't have time soon. In fact, I have been most masculine today and built two walls - one in the garden, and one out in front of the house. They're not the most professional looking things, but they seem sturdy enough and hopefully won't fall over at the slightest breeze. As long as the local feline population don't just see them as new climbing frames, all should be well. I may even get around to painting the last bedroom over the weekend, then all will be complete. Shocking.

Friday, August 18, 2006


Snakes on a Plane. The stupidest title for a movie ever. It's preposterous tripe. It's cliche ridden. It's got about 1.7 million completely gratuitous 'eeeeeew!' moments. It has completely unnecessary nudity. The script basically sucks. The plot is full of holes. The acting is alright at best. It should be an absolute turkey...

...but it's actually one of the Greatest Movies Ever. Not 'Best Films Ever' - there's a major difference between Movies and Films. Films are works of art, classic pieces of cinematography like Dr Strangelove, Battle Royale (sorry, I like it!), Gone With The Wind. Movies are the things you can go watch, get a bucket of fizzy pop and a wheelbarrow of popcorn, switch off your brain and just enjoy the damn thing. See the works of people such as Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell for perfect examples. Snakes on a Plane is just amazing - and everything mentioned up there in the first paragraph is not a criticism, it's actually a celebration of plain ol' dumbness. Go see it, because you'll fully love it.

I may be slightly skewed in my opinion as the audience I watched it with were totally up for it. The crowd were completely different to anything I've experienced back home, applauding, shouting, shrieking. Hell, they even howled in appreciation when the title of the movie came up. This is how movies should be watched. Fully aces. People of the UK, take a lesson from your American brethren, and lighten up a bit when you go to the cinema. You've paid your money, so enjoy yourselves. It's a celebration!

Thursday, August 17, 2006


A big update, I think. There has been big events.

The last few weeks have been curious. Lots of not much is the best way to describe it, I suppose - hanging out around the house, catching up with a backlog of 360 games (I forgot how good Tomb Raider can actually be!), reading huge amounts of stuff for school, and generally trying to concentrate on making myself - for want of a much better word - 'better'.

Still taking the tablets, which is going OK. Still the odd day of horribleness, but nothing that can't be dealt with. I've also had my first therapist session which was... interesting. I have issues with talking about stuff with people I don't know - hell, I find it hard enough talking to people I know about how I feel - but she made me feel very comfortable, and we just... talked. I've another appointment after I return to the UK, so I'll go into it a bit further then, but it's certainly a different experience. The short version of Appointment #1 was 'michael needs to think about michael more', which leads me to where I'm sitting now...

Yup - here I am in the USA. Never been to the States before, but... well... I wanted a break before I start on the Teaching course, and couldn't think of anywhere I'd sooner be (and anyone I'd sooner be with). I'm staying in Dallas with The American (and her cat!) for just under two weeks of silliness, relaxing and meeting lovely new people. I've been planning on coming out to visit for quite a while, but it's only been over the last few weeks that everything has come together to make the trip possible. A few clicks on a mouse, making sure that flights were available, and boom - tickets are organised, insurance sorted, bus journey to the airport dealt with. All of a sudden, it's yesterday morning and I'm standing in Gatwick Airport with my suitcase and passport, ready to fly across the planet.

The journey was alright. Cattle class on Delta isn't the most comfortable, but the ticket wasn't too expensive, so I didn't mind. My travel buddies were fun, two girls on their way to Ecuador for four months (!), which we celebrated with Bloody Mary's for breakfast. The movies sucked (aside from 'Sneakers' oddly - the oldest film on offer was the best, though it's all about hacking and codes, so of course I'd like it). We were about an hour late leaving Gatwick though, so I missed my connecting flight in Altanta, Georgia. Mercifully my panic was allayed by the strange accented people at the airport -who all seemed to call me 'mayne' which made me grin - and they rebooked me onto one an hour or so afterwards. The second flight (Atlanta to Dallas Fort Worth) was much more comfortable, even though it was little more than a flying bus for businessmen. I got a window seat this time (aisle on the 777, fyi) and spent the flight gazing out the window at the clouds listening to my MP3 player. Stuff like Sigur Ros, Camera Obscura, Death Cab for Cutie and the like - nice and dreamy, perfect for 36000 feet. We were diverted around a huge thunderstorm which was incredible to watch from above, the clouds swirling about, the lightning strkes... amazing. It was then I realised that I'd never actually been on a journey like this before. Sure, I've flown to Ireland and stuff, but never off to another continent.

New adventure, new start. And most of all, new michael.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Sun Hits The Sky

Freedom! Sweet, glorious freedom!

Ladies and gentlefolk, my mission to get sacked from my job has been a successful one. The campaign of random non-attendance coupled with a complete inability to do the latest iteration of my job-spec has led to the Holy Grail I sought - 4 weeks paid leave and the termination of my contract. As of today, I am the world's happiest unemployed person! I may just eat crisps for the next four weeks, and possibly grow a beard. I can sit in the pub at lunchtime, knowing that in a few weeks I actually have a job I will enjoy doing to look forward to. And all the while, I'm still getting paid. That, my friends, is a winner. This is The Good Life.

Let us celebrate this joyous day with the following two fantastic songs. Download them, buy them, watch the videos, whatever. Just enjoy!

1. CSS - "Let's Make Love": Dammit, this is the stuff. A Brazilian band signed to Sub Pop? If there was ever cause for a WTF, that'd be it. CSS stands for Cansei de Ser Sexy (which means "Tired of being sexy", Portuguese translation fans!) and this song DIVIDES people. Some hate it, some adore it, worship it, and mop up the tears it makes them cry with handwoven silk handkerchiefs. This is a mark of TASTE. This is what I'd do if I had some. Check the video here.

2. The Walkmen - "The Rat": Shouty. Angry. Just plain dirty music. I want to scream the lyrics from tall buildings. Shockingly sexy use of minor chords. It's getting a *proper* release here in the UK soon, I think, but the song's been around for a year or so. The simple and understated video is here for you to witness. Watch and you'll see what I mean.

Right, let the beard growing... Begin!!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

London Calling

Well, that was fun!

The fourth wave of cards has been unleashed on the great unwashed, beer has been drunk, and I've completely spazzed my back. One of these incidents is (probably) unrelated to the others, but here's the report anyway. Ow.

Pretty much spent all of yesterday in London, wandering around after meeting my mother for lunch, killing time. I think I may well have had a drink in pretty much every bar in the whole area (or it felt like it anyhow) but at least if I ever go back, I know where every single bar, cafe, coffee house and licensed sex shop is. After 4 hours of strolling about, these kind of things get imprinted on your mind, y'know. Met up with a few of the lovely Mind Candy lot in Borders, where Dr Paul presented me with a little file of my designs AND some promo cards, including The Illustrious Gold Card That Everybody Wants. After making a few calls from a payphone in which someone had actually done a poo (it was there in the corner, but no other ones worked, and no, T Mobile STILL haven't sent me my replacement phone), I positioned myself outside The French House and waited. The French (as it is lovingly known) is one of my favourite places in all of London. Absolutely tiny, been there for years, and home to some very strange and wonderful people. You can wander in not knowing anyone, any time of the day, and you'll get dragged into a random conversation. My kind of place. Also, the world's greatest playwright Brendan Behan used to drink there, which is invariably a mark of quality.

Ben was first to arrive, followed by Dave Sledge and swiftly after, Jamie and Sara. We headed down Old Compton Street to our second meeting place, The Stockpot, for food. People mock me for having pancakes and ice cream for dinner, but meh - I'm living basically on sugar at the minute, so I don't mind. Plus if Americans can have pancakes for breakfast, who am I to quibble over timezones? European Chris then showed up, ordering a plate of offal, and we were finally joined by the last of our team (Marc) who got shockingly lost. Then it was on to Borders again (just round the corner) where the madness ensued. MC were running a couple of competitions at the venue - one which was solving a bunch of Wave 4 cards that had been blown up to poster size, the other a team competition solving puzzles that flashed up on a screen. A group of us did our best to put people off (cheering when question 69 came up went down particularly well), but needless to say, I / we didn't win. But I don't mind, because I had my Gold Card, which certain obsessive loons were eyeing up scarily. I swear, if I'd been there on my own, they'd have tried to pick me off like a pride of boggly eyed lions against a puzzle designing gazelle. I leapt over the rack of jazz CDs and fled into the distance for a swapping session and general chat with lots of lovely people I'd not met before. Card collections were augmented - one guy I met actually has every single card which I found scary - and stories were told. Then it was back into Soho to a bar called 6 Degrees for a few drinks on the MC tab. Needless to say it was decimated quite quickly, and time passed most speedily as I talked to what felt like pretty much the whole world. Come 11pm I decided it was hometime, so I did the huge round of goodbyes, coralled Jamie and Sara (and eventually a few others) off to the station, finally rolling in home around 12.30pm. So, a good night was had by all.

Oh, and the back? Well, this afternoon I was just heading out to the post office, picked up my bag and felt the damn thing go ping. I collapsed to the floor like a ragdoll, whimpering like an idiot for about ten minutes. The pain has subsided a bit - and I still managed to get into the village and back - but now it's a dull throb. Don't want to move that much, because even breathing hurts. Booo say I.