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Saturday, May 22

The Things I Do When Not Out On A Friday Night

After the escapades of an alcohol-flooded Thursday, there was absolutely no way I could face any kind of alcohol yesterday. I could barely face the waking hours, never mind the thought of condemning my brain to more confused and wavering periods.

It was with this in mind that I politely declined the proposal by a couple of housemates to pop up to our old student union bar at the halls we lived in. It wasn't just my lingering hangover that made the decision for me, to be honest: it's a horrible place.

It's a classically crap, small, dark and dingy student bar, with a couple of dodgy pool tables which we know how to 'fix' for a night of free games. Basically, not a brilliant place. I guess it was OK when it was 2 yards away from the door to the hall that I lived in, and when every night there'd be a load of people I knew in there, but now we live a good 5 minutes walk away, and everybody who was there last year has also moved out to various areas of London, I no longer feel the need to go there.

That, and the fact that it feels quite weird being there when you don't actually live in the halls any more. It's like that scene at the start of American Pie II where they're not quite sure if they're the cool older guys at a party, or very sad for trying to fit back in with those younger than them.

I'd rather go to the pub in the other direction from my house, which is an even shorter walk away and is infinitely better. But, as I said, I wasn't in the mood for drinking, no matter where it was going to take place.

Instead, I had the house to myself, and watched a bit of Friday night TV. Excuse me if I slip into the mindset of a teenage girl and proclaim that I am actually going to miss Friends when it finishes next Friday. I've managed to stay away from reports of the final storyline, so don't spoil it for me! (Cue 20 messages telling me how it ends...)

I was just about to sit down and watch a DVD (more on that in a minute) when my mobile rang. I will spare the blushes of the caller, but suffice it to say that she was, erm, tipsy and very talkative. I do like receiving those types of calls! It makes me feel good that I'm not the only one who thinks ringing people is a good idea after a few drinks. It's never a good idea.

Anyway, after that phone call, I put the DVD on, and settled down to watch it. A few of my housemates came back halfway through, but were so good as to be quite quiet whilst I finished watching it, for which I thank them.

What was the DVD, I hear you cry. It was a film called Thirteen, which was out in the cinemas here last autumn, and has just been released on DVD this month. I had been fully intending to go see it in the cinema, but just hadn't got round to doing it. I was thusly very much looking forward to it last night.

It didn't let me down.

I want to write a full review of it, but to fully voice my thoughts on the fim, I'm going to have to include loads of spoilers and plot giveaways. This is why directly below this paragraph it seems as if there is an enormous gap. Highlight the gap and you will be able to read my 'review', including the numerous plot spoilers. For those of you who haven't seen the film yet, don't read it. Go see the film. Now. This instant. Go.

And now I'm at a loss for inspiration to write. Typical. Here goes nothing.

Firstly, a few words on the plot of the film. The basic plot is your fairly standard Nice Girl wants to be as popular as Bad Girl, but eventually discovers that being a Bad Girl isn't as good as being a Nice Girl. However, this film develops that plot by including a number of subplots that push Nice Girl to become a Bad Girl, and then also brings her angst towards her parents and general rebellious nature to the fore.

The screenplay was written jointly by the director and a thirteen-year-old girl, and is mostly an autobiographical account of this girl's life. The nice twist in the casting is that the writer does not take the role based on herself, but instead is the Bad Girl who convinces the main character to leave behind her geeky and girly pretensions in favour of thongs, boys and drugs.

The various characters, brought to life by some great performances by the cast, all have their own roles to play in the reasoning behind Tracy's (the main character) spiral into the darker sides of teen life. Take for instance the boyfriend of her mother.

There is a very brief little flashback shot of him overdosing on coke in their kitchen, and her mother rushing in to help him. She then slams the door on Tracy, telling her to go away. A little later, Tracy calls him a "fucking cokehead" in one of her many outbursts that seem to occur every time she returns to her house.

I have to say that Evan Rachel Wood, who plays Tracy, does fantastically well in the film overall, really showing just how fucked up she becomes due to the lifestyle that she has chosen. The scenes where she bawls at her mother and all of those around her are completed with such intensity and passion that you really identify with the character. Not bad for a young actress.

Nikki Reed, the co-writer / basis of the film, also plays her role brilliantly. She is Evie, the supposedly hottest girl at school who takes Tracy under her wing and introduces her to the various ills of modern society. She is everything that Tracy wants to be, and does everything that Tracy wants to do, from guys to drugs, from smoking to looking good.

As I said above, the actress who plays Evie was in fact a 'Tracy' in real life. Now as Evie, she is able to be the person that she wanted to be, but without any of the dangers and ills that befell her if the plot of the film does in fact follow her own life. You can see how much she is enjoying this role by the glint that is always in her eye, and the permanent half-grin that she wears whilst taking Evie's actions to the limit.

It is quite disturbing and worrying to watch this film as a guy, because you have these two young girls (supposedly 13) on screen, trying to be sexy and show as much flesh as possible, and yet you feel incredibly wrong for finding them at all attractive. I checked the ages of the actresses themselves on, and finding out that they were both 16 at the time of filming made me feel slightly less worried about it.

Even a character in the film has this same problem. The two girls decide to come on to Tracy's next-door neighbour, a guy around my age. They come into his house, and basically clamber all over him, whilst he is constantly telling himself that they are "jailbait". He eventually throws them off of him and tells them to get out, to the response of some very foul langauge from the two girls.

But that's enough about the plot itself, what really grabbed me about the film as a whole was the imagery and cinematography. Most of the action is shot on handheld cameras, resulting in very jerky framing of each scene. This is perfectly in accordance with the fast pace of the film, and the intense emotions which tend to dominate each scene.

Compare this sort of camerawork to that used in The Virgin Suicides. There, in a very melancholy and depressing film, all of the scenes are shot with stationary cameras, with lingering shots of the situation before and after any action and dialogue. In Thirteen, however, the cuts between scenes are sharp and the camerawork is as quick as the characters' tongues.

My favourite little element that I noticed throughout the film was the repetition of an advertising poster at various points. It was a basic white poster with the outline of a face and eyes in simple black lines, and then this bright red pair of glossy lips designed to grab your attention. Tracy ends up stood next to this poster at various times, whilst waiting for a bus or in a phone box.

I bring this up because the poster changes slightly as the plot develops. Initially, it is seen briefly, without much emphasis being put on it. As Tracy immerses herself in Evie's world, we see the poster more often, brighter and more intense than before. Then, at the end, when Evie has abandoned her, and her entire world is falling apart around her, there is a shot of Tracy at a payphone, attempting to call Evie without a response. Next to her is the same poster, but this one has been covered in graffiti and black pock-marks.

To me this serves as a visual illustrator of how Tracy's life has collapsed around her. She had the looks, the boys, the drugs, the life she wanted, but she has realised (or, it has been brought to her attention) that this life is in fact shallow and meaningless. She has lost the friends she had, and her new "friends" have left her too, wanting to find another victim or plaything.

The poster also serves a purpose earlier in the film, when Tracy is just making the transition from Nice Girl to Bad Girl. She goes to meet Evie at Melrose Avenue, to engage in some "shopping" with a five-fingured discount. Suddenly, the screen is full with lurid colours and images of consumerism.

Advertising is everywhere, and shop windows are lingered on by the camera, showing various wares and clothes in all of the colours of the rainbow. We see how the world today is bombarded with images of perfection and consumerism through saturated advertising, and to my mind this is an attempt by the director to apportion some of the blame for the creation of girls such as Evie to the corporate world.

Without this incessant imagery forced down their throats, girls such as Evie wouldn't seem so fantastical and glorious to girls such as Tracy. As Tracy's eventual downfall shows, this world is not all it is portrayed to be. It is dark, lonely and full of people who are not your friends, no matter how much they may appear to be.

So yeah, that's my few thoughts on the film. I did thoroughly enjoy it, and it was definitely worth 2 hours of my time. In fact it was evidently worth more than that, because I've now sat here and wrote this review of it! You really must go see this film.

Friday, May 21

Big Announcement

Mainly to flatter my ego, but also because I need somewhere reliable to host my files (NOT, they are absolutely terrible and shit and fucking shit), I have just purchased I will be very soon moving this blog to that address, so now may be the time to update your bookmarks and weblinks.

I've wanted a .com address for an incrediblely long time, and I've decided that my finances can just about cope with the strain for the time being. And now I have my very own domain. Yes, I feel very smug.

I will not be transferring this blog over just yet, because I want to give everybody the chance to learn the new address before this one is deleted. I'm not quite sure whether Blogger keeps this page up or anything which points to the new address, so I need to tell everybody before making the move...

PS. If anyone wants an email address, let me know. Not that you would, of course...

On Being Told That You Walked Home Yesterday With "Cunt" Written On Your Face

Or, the tale of what happened after the Criminology exam.

Firstly, the exam itself. I think it wasn't quite as bad as I was expecting, but that's not to say it went particularly well. I reckon that two of the three essays I wrote were pretty damn good, but the last one wasn't brilliant. None of them were exceptional, and one was mostly a rehash of the coursework essay that I'd done a couple of months ago. Nevertheless, I was relatively satisfied with the quality of the essays.

The post-exam period was much more interesting.

Two mates of mine (Kieran and Old Man Matt) had completely finished their exams yesterday, and I had a week off before my last one, so it was definitely time for beers. We went down to the local Wetherspoons, along with a friend of Matt's who I eventually found out was called Gemma, to get some food and more importantly some beers in.

It's all about Turf 'n Surf, I'm telling you. 10oz rump steak and a pile of scampi is all good. No doubt the accompanying pint of Stella aided things.

We were all chatting away about this and that, including Matt's tale of his own journey home from the Law Ball. It seems I wasn't the only one to have an eventful time that night whilst attempting to get home. At least I didn't get interrogated by military personnel. I tip my hat to you for that one Matt. That takes effort.

Anyway, we had a lot more beers, I'm not sure how many, and we were joined by Mike, another prospective lawayer and a good bloke. I was feeling fairly tipsy, and once again fell asleep.

Actually, I'll use the word "apparently" here, because I don't remember anything from this point onwards. This was only sometime around 6 in the evening, but I managed to fall asleep on the sofa we were sitting on in the Wetherspoons. It was then that I was written on.

Apparently, I had lots of swear words all over my face, including a prominent "cunt" and "fuck". I had absolutely no idea, and didn't know anything about it until today, when I rang Matt. It had confused me when I woke up today to find a text message on my phone from Matt that said "Rob check your face next time u r in the loos", as I had absolutely no idea what had happened. It didn't even register that it could have been due to writing on my face...

What apparently happened is that I woke from my slumber sometime around 7.30pm, and decided that it was time to go home. I was completely unaware of the blue writing all over my face, and none of the people I was with told me about it. They then watched me walking up the street from the window, and specifically people's reactions.

I got lots of stares and very confused looks, according to Matt. It was daylight too, I remember that much, so I must have looked a right state. As far as I can remember, none of my housemates were about when I stumbled into the house, and I went straight to bed.

I slept for a solid 12 hours, and thankfully didn't have to experience the worst of any potential hangover. I still felt pretty shitty though. I saw that there was no pen on my face as I went past the mirror into the shower, and thought nothing of it. I didn't even remember falling asleep in the Wetherspoons. All I can remember was leaving, and even that is hazy.

All was (hilariously) explained by Matt when I rang hime earlier. I haven't laughed that hard in a while, the image of my drunken self walking up the Finchley Road with "cunt" written on my forehead was just too funny. Apparently Mike took a picture on his phone, so I've told Matt to get him to send it to me. I desperately want to see what I looked like.

Oh, and what makes it even funnier is that one of my housemates apparently came into my room sometime in the evening last night, assuming that I hadn't got home yet, with the intention of using the internet for a little while. I was sprawled, quite ungracefully on my bed under the quilt, not moving, and the room looked like a bomb had hit it.

I rule.

I'm still uncertain as to why I've not been able to cope with daytime drinking recently. I used to be quite happy going on all-day sessions well into the night, but that's twice in a week that I've fallen asleep in the early evening after daytime beers.

I blame Stella. I don't drink a huge amount of Stella, but these two occasions I have been. There must be something in it which makes me sleepy. Either that or it is the sheer volume of it.

I can't be losing my drinking abilities, as I'm quite proud of how much I can drink. I don't do being sick either, that's cheating! I always find it difficult to understand how and why so many of my housemates throw up after drinking. There's nothing worse than being sick, not even a hangover. I'll take the hangover over being sick, definitely.

And that about sums it up. I'm not drinking again until next Friday, which is the day of my last exam. That also finishes at 1, so I will have to get myself prepared for a solid day's worth of drinking!

Thursday, May 20

Criminology Exam Tomorrow - Could Be A Massacre

My Criminology exam is starting in less than 12 hours. I have done an absolute bare minimum of revision for it, and I've only just about managed to reach that threshold. This is even worse than for that Evidence exam I had this time last week.

I'm fairly sure why I just haven't done the work for this exam: the subject has been incredibly boring since Christmas, and I've lost all interest in it. Pretty much the only reason I bothered to turn up to classes at all in the Spring semester was because Girl was in them. I generally didn't do the work, or if I did I did it in a disinterested fashion and without taking great care over it, and I contributed very little in class, which is most unlike me.

I did manage to get to at least 90% of the lectures, which stands me in fairly good stead for knowing the basics of each topic, if nothing else. That, and the fact that the exam is Open Book should mean I will pass without too much bother, but getting a high mark is going to be next to impossible. Especially true since my coursework (worth 25% of the final mark) was rushed and, to be perfectly frank, atrocious.

I don't know why I got so turned off the subject after Christmas, I just lost interest in it completely, and therefore didn't really concentrate on getting the work done, which in turn led to even less enthusiasm towards it and so on and so forth. An ever-deepening spiral of apathy, I'm afraid (Quick aside: what a great phrase that was! I need to use that more).

This week has been a prime example of how I've failed to drum up my interest in doing the minutest bit of revision. My last exam was on Thursday, which means I have had 6 days to revise in. No worries. I gave myself Friday off, since I'd been revising solidly for 10 days for the two exams in that week. Unfortunately, Saturday also turned into a day off. We were in the pub by 12.30 to watch some football, left it at 2 and I was back there by 4 to watch the second half of the Arsenal game. Of course, I had to stay to watch the trophy presentation, which meant it was nearly 5.30 by the time I left.

I was on a real high, a little drunk, and figured that I wouldn't be doing any revision due to the volume of alcohol milling around in my blood stream. Threshers and some more beer suddenly seemed like a good idea. 4 Stellas later in my living room, and I fell asleep on an armchair. This is why I tend not to drink in the afternoons, especially when it's sunny, because I get really tired by about 9 o'clock and generally fall asleep.

I woke up again at 10.30, and hauled my ass into bed for what was going to be a brief, 1-hour sobering up nap. After 5 minutes of lying there, I thought, nah, I'll just sleep through till the morning. I promptly woke up at 3.30 on Sunday morning with a raging hangover. A few pints of water, and it was back to sleep until 10, this time waking with no hangover.

For some unfathomable reason, I didn't crack open the books and get on with doing some work that day. I can't remember my exact reasoning, but no doubt it involved sitting around and doing nothing instead. I even started reading Thomas More's Utopia in the evening, which I'd been meaning to do for over a year, but had finally done so at one of the most inopportune moments. Sunday became another "day off" revision.

As did Monday, for the best part. I did manage to get a list made of the 14 or so topics that we covered over the year, along with various subsections, but then I once again did fuck all. I even went and bought the fucking Spectator magazine just for something to read. Talk about up its own ass with high-flying and convoluted ideas. I won't be buying that magazine again. As much as I do lean to the right politically, that was just too (small c) conservative for me. I'll cope just fine with Private Eye and the occasional Economist, thankyou very much.

Of course, Monday evening was taken over by Keown's testimonial at Highbury. I couldn't really revise whilst in the East Stand, surrounded by gooners and taking loads of photos, could I? Oh, and on the subject of random things to do, me and Pete went to Sainsbury's at 11 in the evening that night, because we were bored and it was a nice night out. Buying a barbecue whilst there was an even more random thing to do, but buy that barbecue we did. I pieced it together that night too, into the wee small hours.

The lengths I go to to avoid revision!

I paid a sort of lip service to the idea of revision on Tuesday, getting my books out and having a quick read of some little bits of them. Nothing too major though, I didn't want to peak too soon. Ahem. Of course, we had to try out the barbecue that night, so I was up on the roof for a few hours doing that with my housemates. We then popped to the pub for an hour, to watch yet more football, and the remainder of the evening was once more a washout.

This morning, I managed to get up at a reasonable hour. Well, 11 is a reasonable hour for me. Unfortunately for my good intentions regarding revision, it was the hottest day of the year, with not a cloud in the sky. I couldn't resist.

I did take my books and notes up onto the scalding roof with me, but it just didn't happen. No matter how much and how often I opened the books up, intending to learn a tiny bit from them, I managed about a page before getting thoroughly bored. It's the fault of all these Criminology writers, they all try to sound really intelligent and high and mighty. This makes them inaccessible, although no-one will dare tell them for fear of looking stupid. Fuck it, I'll say it. I know I'm not stupid, and that the style they employ is totally unnecessary. Think of your readers, not your peers in the publishing field!

On the plus side for today, my tan is coming on very well. There's a couple of spots that are a little pink and a little tender, but that can't be helped. I'm not a big user of suntan cream, you see. I have quite olive skin, and tan instantly, without burning that often, if at all. Therefore I go without suntan cream most of the time, and if I do use any, it's a very low factor, something like a 4 or 6. I'm a prime candidate for skin cancer, a housemate told me today. Meh. There's cancer on both sides of my family anyway, I'm odds on to get it at some point...

And now I find myself at my computer, at 11.20 in the evening before a 10am exam, feeling very unconfident about it. I'm such a conscientious person.

Actually, I'm not that fussed about getting a good grade in this exam, because I found out last week that of the 8 modules you sit in your final 2 years of your degree, only the best 4 count towards your final grade. That's the best news I've heard in a long time. Obviously you have to pass all 8, but it matters not a jot if you get 4 2:1s and 4 3rds: you get a 2:1 overall. Fantastic news! I could pass my degree after all.

Tuesday, May 18

Conclusions, Developed From Football

Football, it has been said, is not a game of life and death. It's much more important than that.

Recently, football has led me to do some thinking about the situation my life is in, and perhaps more specifically about the people in my life.

This is going to be quite a hard post to write, because I know that at least one, and probably more, of my housemates read this blog, and take onboard what I write here. The following is therefore a message to them:

Just read what is written here. Don't read into it. If I really felt terribly bad about it all, I would have brought it up with you already. Don't come and ask me about it, or tell me that this isn't the way to "communicate". Just read it and forget it. There are times here when I think aloud, I just write what I'm thinking without wholly thinking about it. This is one of those times. I need to vent some steam, to get something out of my system that is bugging me a little. I will bring it up properly if I think it needs to be brought up, but for now I'm just writing.

Anyway, on with the post proper.

I've noticed in the past few weeks that I've been watching football in my local pub by myself a lot more than usual. Arsenal have been (quite rightly) on TV a lot in the last month or so, and I have to go to the pub to see any game, as we don't have Sky in our house (But for some reason the four that are staying here next year, whilst three of us are abroad, have decided to get it installed this September. I distinctly remember a couple of them being dead against it last September, when it was still only 5 each per month, but now we have a change of heart. Go figure).

I generally don't like going to the pub by myself, it makes me feel very self-conscious and unliked, but such is my love of the Gooners that I've thought to myself, fuck it, I will go and watch. So there I am, standing alone in a crowd of people whilst my housemates are variously asleep, watching crap TV or doing nothing. Cheers guys.

And yet, when another team is on that one of us supports (in this case West Ham), the whole household seems to be ultra-willing to be in the pub with them, even though the game is of no consequence or interest to them. Why does this person command such willingness to be accompanied, yet I cannot muster a single person to ever go with me?!

It's not as if I don't do things with everyone else. I am supremely willing to do and join in with just about anything. I help, I fix, I mend, I organise, I do anything that anyone wants me to. I volunteer to go to the shop to get something, and always ask if anyone else wants anything whilst I'm there.

Sometimes, especially in the past week or so, I feel as if I'm being too eager, seeming as if I am desperate to be part of their group. I don't think I am eager, I'm just an amicable person, a willing person if you will. I don't know how I'm coming across to them, and at this point in time I'm fairly uninterested.

Is it so much to ask to go down the pub to watch some football? We're all football fans, and it's not as if Arsenal play crap, boring football. Take this example: the Saturday a few weeks back (the 1st), Arsenal had a game at 12.30pm. Could I convince anyone to go? Could I fuck. I can't remember if anyone else was even out of bed. Then this Saturday, West Ham had a 12.15pm kick-off. By half-time, at least 5 of us were there, with only 1 of us having any interest in the teams involved. How is this so different?!

To quote a letter given to me by a housemate at the time a few weeks back when we had an enormous falling out, the picture I paint of them and myself here is that I am bewildered by them, yet superior to them. That's not how it is. I just question sometimes (internally) how much I am a part of this household, whether I'm wanted or appreciated. Acknowledgement would be a start.

But yeah, this is just thoughts, feelings and rambling. Nothing too concrete. I guess I just need to find a few mates who are also Gooners. It can't be that hard in North London.

Oh, and whilst I'm bitching a little bit about my housemates, I'm so glad that they all now contribute to the costs of the Internet (20+ each month so far) that I pay for, even if it only took 6 months of asking for some sort of donation to it. Oh no, that's right, they still don't contribute. I was getting confused with the ideal world in my head...

Photos Now Online!!!

I managed to find a host (thankyou, so the photos from last night are now up and ready to view. Enjoy. I'm off to the pub to watch some football, rather than do some revision. I thus rule.

More Photos

Just another quick line to say that I've uploaded loads more photos from the last month or two, and they can be viewed at the photo blog.

I've also made the photos from last night's Martin Keown Testimonial, but I'm hunting for a new host which allows me to hotlink images. So far I've tried three, and none will let me do it. When I eventually find one, I'll put those photos up too.

When I get some time / can be arsed, I will probably write something here too. However, now is not that time, simply because we have a shiny new barbecue, and it's very sunny out. I'm off to eat undercooked, yet burnt, sausages. Hurrah.

PS. If anyone does know of a free host for images, leave a note in the comments.

Monday, May 17

Something Else Updated - Not This Though

So I've finally got round to updating my Photo Blog today. I've uploaded loads of photos from the past few months, and there's still a few more to put up there, which I will probably do tomorrow (i.e. never).

Not a huge amount of happenings to write about here, and I'm too tired to do it right now, so that'll have to wait until tomorrow too. I'm thinking of using it as an excuse to get away from revising, not that I usually need one. Usually I just don't do the revision...

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