Birthday Depression

Posted by | Posted in climate change, environment, film, Life, movie, plot | Posted on 31-07-2014

I might possibly be crazy as no-one else I know seems to get this way about their approaching Birthday so I thought I’d jot down how I feel as I approach 35.

Yep, 35 years old. An age that’s neither too old nor too young, for me it’s something of a nothing year. Just like all of the others.

Let us take my 30th as an example. I wasn’t worried about my 30th Birthday except in one specific way: It was my 30th therefore people would expect something of it.

A party, drunken nights out, some big event. The trouble was that like most of my birthdays I really couldn’t have given a shit.

The day was saved by Danni who organised a great day, with drinking, showed the original (and as far as I’m concerned: only) Transformers: The Movie at a small local cinema, with more drinking and celebrating as the evening went on. Just as well she did too because otherwise I’d have been sat at home with a beer/wine reading a book.

In the here and now as my 35th approaches my parents are asking me to update my Amazon wish list. I use it as a sort of bookmark for “things I will never buy and don’t really need/want but they looked shiny when I was browsing that one time…“. Friends ask/demand that I do or do not do parties and drinks and things either when they are or are not around, and many people seem to want to know what I plan-to-do.

On any given day I have no plans, ever. This isn’t some stubborn male thing, although it is more prevalent amongst my male peers I’ve noticed, perhaps it’s because we’re completely out of control of our lives.

Whenever I do make plans I inevitably discover that they conflict with someone else’s plans which were laid down during the time of William the Conquerer and are apparently recorded in the Bayern Tapestry so why didn’t I check that or at least respond to the FaceBook invite (I’m not on FaceBook)? Inevitably these plans take, at least historical, precedence and once this has happened for the 500th time (I’m a slow learner) you get the feeling that no-one gives a shit what your plans were anyway even if they don’t conflict with someone else’s, so why make them if it’s an exercise in futility?

Thus I find that like so many male peers I totally suck at planning things. So, no, I don’t have anything planned for my 35th.

Now the depression part.

Well I’m getting older, I’ve noticed it of course. I’ve been going to the gym and seeing a personal trainer for almost 2 years now. We’ve changed my diet, my drinking and I’m much more active. This has resulted in me achieving a little better health than absolute stasis. I am slightly fitter than I was, slightly less fat, slightly stronger and much, much, poorer. Oh fine I am also quite a lot happier that I’ve achieved that much rather than the stubborn and rapid decline that I was previously going through ;)

Still the fact remains that I’m greyer and things creak and ache more than they used too. These aren’t things I feel like celebrating or enjoying. The good bits sure, but most of those don’t revolve around this bizarre present giving ritual we’ve built up around “Birthday’s” as a special thing. It feels more “Hallmark(tm)” than Birthright. I long ago grew out of presents, most of the stuff I want I buy myself but more importantly the things that I want are either outside of the price range people can afford, or simply intangible.

I don’t want more stuff or possessions instead I want time-off, happy friends, world peace, good news, all sorts of hippy thoughts and mumbo jumbo like that. Now the thought of costing my friends money to buy me a round, or get me a gift disturbs me. It’s the opposite of what I want for them, from them, or our friendship. Sure when I was younger I loved getting toys, books, t-shirts and I still do get part of that feeling when they’re given as honest gifts but something has soured about the experience because I as an adult know it has cost them something in time, effort and money which are 3 things that I finally realise are more than just words.

All of this culminates in some mess of dreaded expectations, plans that’s don’t exist and a feeling of responsibility that I really should have done something with my life by now all because of a single date that comes by every damned year. It’s all atop the things that are already bothering me.

To end all this then please don’t get me wrong: If you enjoy your Birthday and celebrate it then I will be right there, buying you drink and handing you the gift that I spend time, effort and money getting for you and wishing you a sincere and heartfelt Happy Birthday – whatever you do just don’t entrust me with planning anything (see above) for it.

We are all different though, so as we would celebrate your Birthday as you would wish, could we just sort of … relax when it comes to mine? I’ll be out for a beer at some point – I would have been anyway. I’d prefer to buy my own drinks, and to only have between 2 and 4 in the entire night. No cards, no gifts, no crazy shit (crazy shit is alarmingly normal for me), I’d prefer to read a book, watch a film and chill out without organising, or being organised against my will.

That’s a Happy Birthday.


Dear Hollywood, there are no “big questions”.

Posted by | Posted in alien, aliens, evolution, film, movie, plot | Posted on 05-06-2012

Dear Hollywood,

There are no “big questions”, space is interesting in and of itself, Evolution cannot be “proven wrong” or to quote:

“Certainly, it makes an argument that will move away Darwinism, let’s just say!”
Logan Marshall-Green

More than that though, the “big question” of where we came from, isn’t a big question that needs any more “answering”, prodding, poking or jibbering on about with pseudo-scientific crap and Evolutions predictive usefulness is neither in doubt nor will it get somehow less accurate based on us learning something new. It’s like discovering the Earth isn’t flat but is instead a sphere, once you’ve discovered it there’s nothing you can learn that will flatten it again, you can only progress forward learning that it’s not a perfect sphere, how the weight of the ice caps and rotation affect it’s shape, etc. Knowledge is progressive. Besides which if we did discover that we were put here by aliens the theory of evolution would still be a valid Theory! Theory with the capital ‘T‘, the scientific Theory kind, the one where it’s a Theory because it has a testable and repeatedly and independently verified hypothesis that affects many disparate fields of science and just keeps working and getting more and more refined.

It could turn out that Bill and Ben the flowerpot men are actually time travelling planetary germinators who created all life on Earth and then started the clock ticking in 1952 and just really liked being on childrens TV for a bit so hung around and even in that case Evolution would still be a valid, testable and verifiable Theory with useful purposes in modern society!

Also, that would be a better plot than Prometheus has.

I feel this all of needs repeating since Prometheus appears to have based everything around the creation of man as being some separate, wonderful and distinct event perpetuated entirely by alien beings for completely mysterious reasons. That it did this at the expense of being a good film is a real shame because there are lots of amazing and interesting things about almost any possible alien species that have been extensively covered in literature for the past couple of hundred years which Prometheus decides are far less interesting than the tired old tripe it chose to rely on.

I found the film good, but disappointing. Good because the acting was solid, including some stand out scenes from Michael Fassbender – as David he really is the highlight of the movie actually, with a lot of awesome CG work and some obviously great direction. Disappointing because the “plot” is so tissue thin that it’s genuinely pathetic. Some places are saying that it cost ~£85 million to make, of which the plot must have taken… oh, £3.50 for the Starbucks coffee where it was scribbled onto a napkin. Everything, and I mean everything proceeded with total predictability. No surprises, no shocks except the odd thing jumping at the camera etc. Very derivative.

Who ever thought I’d have to call an Alien prequel directed by Ridley Scott: “Derivative”. Madness. Each character played their role just as you expect them to, complete with sentiments, sacrifices and wise cracks just when, where and how you’d expect them to be delivered right on cue with the major events in the film. Going in I couldn’t have guessed what the plot and storyline would have been, but within 10 minutes of the start you could have stopped the film and I’d have told you the ending correctly.

That’s not me being awesome, that’s the film being predictable.

Why not actually surprise the audience? Sure follow some star map found in caves that point to a star system 39 light years away, find something horrible, but how about it having nothing to do with mankind? Why try to make us “special” instead of just another thing in the universe, have the damned aliens find the very concept funny, most of us do! Have them be terrible, have them be enlightened beings, have them fallen from such heights, have them be machines or beings that have abandoned physical form, have them be near gods in their abilities and cruelty just so long as you have them be interesting instead of having them be (very human) people in funny wiggly looking spaceships.

Whilst I’m here asking for the unlikely and improbable, how about also having SPACESHIPS actually use their engines to slow down and maneuver, y’know, turn them around, or turn the whole ship and slow down. Constant thrust in one direction does not make you slow down, it makes you go faster in that direction, so if you’re pointing at a planet you will tend to smash into it very quickly. We can manage that on Pioneer you can even take the code if you like! It is open source.

Anyway, Prometheus – worth seeing I think, for the Fassbender and Rapace performances, also there’s some cool graphics so just set your expectations really low for the plot and then turn your brain off to make really sure.