Monday, March 10, 2014

Making a change

It's not a matter of just want, or even need. I must change.
To put it very broadly, I'm 39 shortly and I'm not particularly happy with things.
Being a bit more specific, though, I need a whole change of attitude, of outlook and of shape.
It was actually last night when I looked at myself that it occurred to me that I'm not getting any younger and I'm starting to look it.
I've met a few people along the way, around my age and even a little older, who seem to have it right and I have to admit to a certain amount of envy and - to put it a weird way - desire.
And let's face it, sometimes I don't feel desirable.
There are no fountains of youth, I know that. But by looking after myself more I am certain I can turn some things around. It's not about age, by the way.
So the most immediate thing I can do is to make sure I am getting a decent amount of exercise every day. Be it simply by walking to the train station instead of driving or getting to the gym more (though that has proven tricky at times as I tend to keep getting an injury which stops me from going thus adding to the problem) it is a must.
I have done it before as well, eating a bit less and more of the good things plus consistent exercise and I should see results semi-quickly.
So that's one part.
I must have a different attitude when it comes to a number of things. Given I work in a largely negative atmosphere it is easy to let that slip under your skin.
It's hard to keep my mouth shut when I, quite regularly, encounter incompetence or just apathy. That too can get the better of you.
I've become a little reckless - or at least careless - in other more intimate areas and that's an issue at times. And I wonder what will happen when I fix the first problem - will it actually cause this one to snowball.
Probably a risk worth taking because health is important and it should go double for me. It's funny that during a period of a few years not too long ago I was not once concerned about weight increases and was focused on making sure I wasn't losing it (long story, genuine reasons).
I must ensure gambling isn't hampering my lifestyle. I very much enjoy a flutter and I know that one side of it is very much in control. Another side has proven problematic at times but someone said something last night that hit home a bit for me and, as much as I do enjoy the odd machine play (especially when you win) life would be a lot healthier if it can go.
My outlook isn't always great. Sometimes I feel like things go around in circles and while consistency is excellent it can also hold you back. There have been several consistencies in the last decade or so and I often wonder what might happen if one or two changed. Not that I've instigated any, though.
I know I can be better, have more vitality and enjoy myself.
This was the first step. 
The second step happens tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The 2013 Raymo awards

Another year at the movies is done and dusted and this year I saw a slightly below average 33 films at the cinema (thanks Reading and the JAFFA club).
Overall I think the quality was a little below average as well - I had 13 score an 8/10 or more (no 10s this years) and another seven score 7/10 or more - but it did pick up towards the end. I also had a frighteningly lowest ever score awarded in 2013.

So here's the top 5 of 2013:

1. Trance (9/10)
With not a huge expectation this film blew me away. Starring James McAvoy as Simon, an art dealer, who has misplaced a stolen painting after suffering a blow to the head in the process of stealing it. He is forced to undergo hypnotherapy by his cohorts and therapist Elizabeth (an excellent Rosario Dawson) becomes entangled in the mess. You have to really pay attention and, having now seen it twice, I'm still not sure you can pick what's going on even when you know. I left the cinema a little exhilarated after seeing this and since then has been the benchmark for the year.
2. The Spectacular Now (9/10)
Not a major release, I came across this one a little by chance but I'm glad I did. It helped that it's a little in the vein of last year's top film The Perks Of Being A Wallflower and, like Perks, has an engaging lead actor. I'd never heard of Miles Teller before but he played teenager Sutter Keely who parties his way through life always intoxicated and taking little responsibility - and he was mesmerising. The morning after one of his benders he meets Amiee (Shailene Woodley), the 'nice girl' who nobody really knows or likes, and his world is rocked. Also like Perks this doesn't sound awesome as a summary but it is all in the charm of the actors and the characters. Loved it.
3. Prisoners (9/10)
It was great to see Hugh Jackman not playing a superhero and if Prisoners is any guide he should play less of them and more 'real people'. Jackman is Keller Dover, a small town father whose world is shaken when his daughter Anna and her friend Joy are abducted. Frustrated by what he sees as the assigned detective (Jake Gyllenhaal) not doing his job Keller takes it upon himself to find the missing children. He drags Joy's father Franklin (Terrence Howard) into it when the police fail to detain the prime suspect, a mentally disabled man Alex (Paul Dano) and the lengths he goes to reach scary heights. This was a gripping film, much better than the trailer made it look, and even at over two and a half hours it didn't feel too long. That's the sign of a very good movie.
4. Rush (9/10)
Yes it is a car racing movie but one that completely surprised me. Though it looked good in the trailer the story of the rivalry between 1970s Formula 1 drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruel) was riveting. I must admit I wasn't aware of the story behind it so that contributed to the pleasant surprise and it is definitely not all about car racing - there's a human tale here about how far you would go to win. Hemsworth was pretty good but Bruel was awesome as Lauda, a man so bent on being the best he almost kills himself. The racing scenes are superb and, given it is a Ron Howard film, you wouldn't expect less. A must see if you haven't already.
5. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (8.5/10)
A sequel that was better than the original. While I found the book a little hard to get into the movie is much more engaging, though still a little slow to kick off. Now that they are winners of the Hunger Games, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) become targets of the Capital. Their rebellion in forcing the Capital to declare them winners by not killing themselves as seen an uprising brewing in the Districts and it is something President Snow (Donald Sutherland) is hell bent on controlling. A new game maker (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) is brought in and all the living winners of the games are thrown back into the arena in an effort to kill off their 'species'. Now I have to read Mockingjay, the final book, in preparation for the next film which, frustratingly, has been cut in half. Thanks Harry Potter and Twilight!

Honourable mentions: Lincoln, Gravity, Fast & Furious 6 (who would have thought the franchise could get better!), Star Trek Into Darkness, Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise did a good job even though he looks nothing like Reacher)!
Surprise of the year: We're The Millers. Totally inappropriate but very, very funny and I loved the bloopers at the end as well (particularly the Friends one).
Flop of the year: Only God Forgives. Setting a new low with a 1/10 (largely out of sympathy for Ryan Gosling who I quite like) I can't believe how bad this was. I almost walked out but suffered through to the end. Can't believe the same team behind the awesome Drive could make something so boring.
Movies I wanted to like more: The Place Beyond The Pines had everything going for it cast and story wise but it just didn't quite gel; American Hustle was really hyped and it did have some very good bits but felt very long and again didn't quite come together for mine.

Other thoughts: Man Of Steel came close to ruining Superman and the fact they are doing a Vs Batman movie next (and dragging Wonder Woman into it as well) isn't encouraging for either franchise. Hansel & Gretel was awful as well and Disney is doing its best to damage the Pixar name by releasing pedestrian movies like Monsters University and Planes (they weren't bad just not up to standard).
So that's it. What will 2014 hold? Looking forward to Captain America's next outing and I'm sure there will be some surprises along the way.
See you at the movies!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A new me in 2014

We all make meaningless resolutions around New Year's and I sincerely hope that this doesn't fall into that category.
Things are going to change for me in 2014.
I am making a concerted effort to live a healthier lifestyle, not just physically but overall.
I have set a goal of losing 5kg by my birthday, which is three months away, and I think that is an achievable goal. Ideally that number should be closer to 10 but I want to be realistic given the trepidation I have had about weight loss in recent years (and that is a completely different story).
So somewhere between those two numbers would be great, it would make me feel a bit more comfortable and give me encouragement.
To do this I must commit to the gym. I don't for a second think that I could become what society sees as 'buff' but the only way is up, really.
To make this change I must take a different approach to food and exercise.
Eat less, move more. It is a simple philosophy. I don't think I need to eat too much less, though, it is more what I am eating. So I am changing what I eat, ditching snacks like biscuits, and making fruit my friend.
To be realistic I will allow myself the occasional indulgence, such as dinner with the guys once a week.
It's not because I am closing on 40, which isn't next year by the way, but I do realise that as you get older you need to look after yourself more.
I also vow to enjoy myself, instead of feeling bad when I do things I perceive as bad for me. I know that it is fun, and I enjoy it for the most part.
No empty promises here, this is something that has to happen.
Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 05, 2013

I'm bad at commitment

I've been looking back at what I've written here previously and I've concluded that I'm bad when it comes to committing to things.
It's almost ironic, for reasons that I know but am not going to put out there into the world.
Old habits die hard. Amen.
I thought I was going along nicely and then I allow one or two little slip ups to occur and I just flip back into the problem I was trying to beat. I will beat it, make no mistake.
I've seen clearly enough what it can do to a person to know I won't let it happen to me. At the same time that knowledge should have been enough to help more significantlly to this point.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Simplify

I know it must sound like I'm all talk and no action.
While there may be an element of truth to that, some of the tasks I have set seem to be easier said than done, I do have a genuine desire to change.
I think the best way to change is to simplify life.
Exactly how life became so complicated I'm not entirely certain, but moving to a simpler life seems logical.
Key to this is deciding on what are distractions, particularly unhelpful ones, that are complicating things, making me feel bad or like I've made an avoidable mistake.
From what I can gather there are a few activities that I must look at.
One is a distraction that I should be avoiding, no question. Another distraction comes to mind but I'm not sure at this stage whether it is something I enjoy or not.
Trying to simplify life also involves simplifying your attitude and doing things on a basic level.
For example, I need to exercise more. It's something I have said for a while but every now and then I have to stop going to the gym because I do some kind of injury.
Instead of trying to be this buff adonis that you often see at the gym (which I'm not really trying to do given where I am starting from but it is hard not to notice - they are the ones looking at themselves in the mirror all the time. I don't blame them though, I probably would too!) I have to concentrate on going and exercising and improvement will come.
I don't think being an adonis is realistic but improving my fitness is.
Step one - go to the gym and exercise.
(I have something of a magpie phobia so that stops me from being outdoorsy in spring - not completely but enough to prevent long walks outside).
I've come across a few people this year who describe themselves as living a 'simple life' and I admire that. They seem fairly content with where they are at and that lifestyle seems very attractive,
I hope it is as easy as it sounds. I'm not suggesting that I will wake up tomorrow with a brand new attitude and lifestyle but I think I can start.
Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 08, 2013

It's all about choice

During my weekend away it occurred to me that I quite often make poor choices.
And having given it a little thought I have decided that I might have stumbled upon the meaning of life.
It has nothing to do with higher powers, not that I don't believe there is one, making contributions or good deeds, being a 'better person' or anything like that.
It's all about choice.
Now I know it is not a very well thought out argument and it is sure to be easily dismissed. But think about it.
Everything we do comes down to what we choose.
It's a little like one of those 'choose your own adventure' books you used to read as a kid. You reach a point in the story then you have to make a choice and that choice then leads in a certain direction and set of consequences.
Do you believe in fate or destiny? You should, because you are largely in control of that.
I don't buy the 'Sliding Doors' example so much because that allows too many 'what ifs' to come into the equation.
As I said I have developed a habit of making some poor choices. I know they are poor choices because of the way I feel afterwards. When you learn a lesson it is quite often done the hard way, come at some cost.
So given that I am responsible for my choices, and that means you are responsible for yours, then I only have myself to blame.
I concede it is a short sighted argument in some ways but it also makes a bit of sense. If I choose to gamble I should accept that I could lose, if I lose and choose to gamble more.....you get the idea.
It goes with all sorts of things, who you choose to associate with, what job you choose, who you choose to love, who you choose to sleep with, what you choose to believe, how you choose to live, what you choose to do with your time, what you choose to do with your money, etc.
For me, I have to start making choices conducive to a better life.
It means I have to commit to making sensible decisions about things like gambling, to ensure my lifestyle is healthy and limit the distractions from the responsibilities I have.
To have fun too.
I don't think it's about finding whatever you see as happiness. That's a flowery, somewhat indescribable, aim that never seems achievable. 
I think if you can be content with the choices you make then you're on the right track.
After all, isn't that what Dr Brown said at the end of the Back To The Future trilogy? 'Your future isn't written yet, no ones is. The future is what you make of it, so make yours a good one'.....
Surely that is the meaning of life, right?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Generation i - surprise CD of 2013

I must admit that I had never entertained the thought that there could be a new album by 1927 given it has been 21 years since the last one.
But a few days ago I bought Generation i and I've hardly been able to put it down.
For those overseas who may not know what I'm talking about, 1927 is an Australian band that were massive in the late 1980s largely due to the debut album called ...ish.
They released three albums  - ...ish in 1988, The Other Side a couple of years later and a self-titled album in 1992.
I was 13 when ...ish came out and it was one of those albums you could listen to the whole way through and not skip any songs. 'That's When I Think Of You', 'If I Could', 'Compulsory Hero' and 'You'll Never Know' were the hits and they are still great songs today IMO.
The second album is pretty good as well, the title track 'The Other Side' remains my favourite 1927 song and it also has some special meaning attached to it. I remember a mate of mine in high school telling me a story about how that song reminds him of a girlfriend he had who passed away a few years later.
The third release wasn't as remarkable and only has a couple of memorable songs and that's probably a good part of the reason why the band essentially parted ways.
I recall seeing 1927 in a pub in Sydney in about 1999 or so and they kind of disappeared after that until about 2008 when a 20th anniversary tour of the ...ish album happened. Then they supported Roxette in concert and formed part of what was my ultimate high school concert given they were my two favourite bands during school.
Back to Generation i.
As a fan I was always going to buy it but I didn't really have high expectations given I hadn't really heard anything new for 20 years.
On first listen it was strange but a good experience and I had the feeling it would be a 'grower' It certainly is. I haven't stopped listening to it either in the car on the ipod/ipad.
A sign of a quality album is the number of songs you transfer onto other devices and I moved eight of the 11 songs straight over, with another to come when I get around to removing it from the CD player in the car.
The stand out is definitely 'The Story Never Ends' but I'm very much liking 'City Talks', 'Nobody Knows', 'Fright Of Your Life' and 'Where You Are'.
The shame of this album is that it is likely to be largely ignored because of the amount of crap music out there that seems to be popular and clogging the airways. Hopefully some radio picks it up.
If you aren't familiar with 1927 then YouTube is your friend. If you look up any of the songs I mentioned earlier then you won't be disappointed.
Given the surprise nature of Generation i I wouldn't mind if they don't record another album, it is almost as good as ...ish I reckon.