Week 25: In which our hero lists some stuff, does some stuff, and wins something

Ok, so what have I been up to this week? Well, after my lack lustre performance last week I’ve had my nose to the grindstone… a bit. So here goes;

First, I made a big list of “Every Idea I’ve Ever Had”. This didn’t take long, I’m sorry to say. Actually it took longer than I expected. Put down on paper it seems I’ve done quite a bit of thinking over the years. Most of it was rubbish like, as is always the way, but the good stuff is pretty good.

It was fun to revisit some old ideas, but many of them had to be discarded as they’re just not interesting any more, or technology had left them behind. Like ‘End of the roll’ for example – a collection of photos that people have taken to finish off a roll of film just so they can get it processed. Everyone uses digital these days, so there are no end of the roll photos anymore! A loss, I think.

However, many of the ideas still have great potential, so you’ll forgive me if I don’t list them here. You will be apprised of any progress as and when it happens. For now let me summarise my lisitng efforts thus: 4 product design ideas, 3 business ideas, 2 video ideas, 6 book ideas (including 1 potential series) and feature length 7 movie ideas.

The purpose of making the list is so I can select the best ideas, the ones with legs, and really start to run with them. I realised last week that, if I really want a Brand New Life, I need to be doing something new every week, not just every now and then. I need to be creating something, or writing something, or coming up with a recipe; something tangible that advances me forward in my attempts to do something new! To that end…

satan soundtrack cover

I did a couple of things this week. First was the artwork for my as yet unwritten horror comedy Fuck You, Satan! Don’t worry, this isn’t my thing for the week, this I just did to amuse myself. Actually I think it came out kinda nice. I also did a disc design which makes me smile too. πŸ™‚

If you’re interested, here’s a download of the playlist.

My thing this week was writing a step outline for Apogee/Perigee, a script idea I have about a boy who never talks. It opens with someone getting killed, and there’s a wolf in it, and that’s all I’m saying about it right now. This will be my art-house movie, my usual stuff being very commercial (and that’s how I like it). I won’t be coming up with a soundtrack for this one, as Fever Ray’s first album is all the soundtrack I need. If you want to see what I mean check out the video (incidentally, one of the most mesmerising videos I’ve ever seen!).

It will be a beautiful movie when it’s done. Hopefully I’ll get to direct it myself, once I’ve made a few quid selling scripts, and have a bit of a reputation. It’ll take me off in a new direction; the thoughtful, compassionate, critically acclaimed part of my career.

Remember all those competitions I was entering? Well, I finally won something! Just a tenner, but it’s the first time I’ve ever won anything on the National Lottery ever! Seriously. I once won Β£3 on some scratch-cards once, but that was when I bought 20 in a row thinking buying a batch would give me a better chance of winning. Technically it did I suppose, but the return on the investment wasn’t up to much, so I abandoned that strategy and never bought scratch-cards again.

But this time I won a tenner, after playing the same numbers both Wednesday and Saturday for 4 weeks. Collected the winnings today and immediately reinvested Β£8 in some more numbers for 4 weeks. If this keeps up I’ll be rich by the time I’m 40, hahaha.

And to finish this week, here’s a video that really made me laugh. Enjoy! πŸ™‚

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Week 24: In which our hero doesn’t feel very heroic

I wish I could say I’ve done a lot this week… but I haven’t (which is ironic, as I’ve had the week off work). Actually I’m torn: On the one hand I regret the missed opportunity 7 days off gave me; but on the other hand I view achieving nothing as an achievement in and of itself.

xmas at tunch's

I mean I did stuff this week – got my tooth filled, cycled a bit, met up with my army buddy who’s on leave for a few weeks, saw a movie (The Losers), read some books (some PG Wodehouse and a Parker novel), downloaded some tunes (too many to mention, but an album of Laura Marling), went to the osteopath (an absolute revelation, let me tell you!), plus a number of other random events – but nothing really creative.

I failed miserably in my attempt to avoid nightshades. I last about a day. Tuesday all I wanted was chips, and the soporific effect that went with them, and by God that’s what I got! I don’t regret it, it was what it was. I guess now’s just not the right time for me to give them up. Later, maybe.

I did at least do a nightshade free recipe, as a sort of act of contrition. I was going to do another one, a vegan risotto, but every recipe I researched online said you needed to use white wine, and what with my not drinking I couldn’t get my head around that, so I shelved it for another time.

So anyway, I’ve had my week off. I feel rested, refreshed, and now it’s back to work. Stay tuned.

ps: The picture’s got nothing to do with anything, unless you count equating Christmas with laziness… which I do. πŸ™‚

Kiki’s 3 orange soup

Bit of a misnomer this one, as there’s not actually 3 oranges in it. The name actually refers to the 3 orange ingredients involved – carrots, sweet potato and oranges. I was going to try and squeeze the juice of 3 oranges in there (no pun intended) but I think that might have been overkill, so I settled for 2 instead.

kiki's 3 orange soup

1 medium onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 sweet potato, diced
splash of olive oil
500ml vegetable stock
250ml boiling water
zest of 1 orange
juice of 2 oranges (approx 200ml)
pinch of salt

In a large pan saute the onion in olive oil on a medium heat until soft. Add the orange zest and saute for 1 minute more.

Add the carrots, sweet potato, vegetable stock, water and pinch of salt, and bring to boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft.

Take off heat and blend until smooth. Add orange juice, stir over a low heat for 1 minute, then serve. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

This soup isΒ so nice it should have a restraining order. We had one like it when we were away on our retreat and everybody loved it. The orange just elevates it to a whole new level. Give it a go, I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Week 23: In which our hero falls apart (physically, at least)

Man, what week. I’m exhausted! It started with a couple of night shifts (always fun) and ended with a long weekend Tai Chi retreat (which really is always fun, but also very tiring). Along the way I had a filling fall out, my right leg decided it was no longer going to work properly – giving out whenever I tried to put a lot of weight in it suddenly, I got bit on the head by some unknown insect that stayed icky for days, and my hay fever finally kicked in for the year with a vengeance. I don’t mind admitting to you, I’m pooped!

regine in repose

We had our regular yearly retreat at Braziers Park, a residential college and experimental community deep in the Oxfordshire countryside, where beasts run free, the lawns are comfy, and the (veggie) food is excellent. Actually, you hear some of the descriptions people give of it, and read their own literature, and it sounds far more hippy dippy than it actually is. In fact it’s quite a well run retreat centre, and an absolute pleasure to visit each year. The staff, both permanent and visiting, are always a lovely smiley bunch of people, you get left to your own devices pretty much, and there’s always a big stack of wood for the bonfire when you need it. What more could you want?

cock

There’s also invariably a cute girl or two to be appreciated all weekend, and this year was no exception. And as always, it never fails to bring home to me the fact that I’d quite like someone to share the old trials and tribulations with. But this year, thanks to my soberness (still haven’t touched a drop, and this will be the last time I mention the not drinking thing I promise), I have had the chance for some reflection. Quite simply, if I want to meet the kind of girls they get volunteering at Braziers Park, I need to go the kind of places those girls are known to congregate. Obvious I know, but never the less, a fact I obviously needed driven home. So I’m on the look out for opportunities – volunteering opportunities I suppose – to go places and do stuff that will be give me the chance to meet my future would-be missus. I’ve got a few ideas, but I could always do with more.

And I really need to go for it too. Faint heart ne’er won fair lady, and no one ever got lucky humming and harring about the place and being a candy ass about the whole thing (I’m sure Shakespeare could have put it better, but not any truer mark my words). That’s how I was, but no more. It’s time for a new me.

egg

NB: Ate my first egg for 2 years while I was away too. The chickens were very well looked after so I didn’t think I’d be accruing any bad karma by having one (or two). Tasted great too! You can always tell quality from the rubbish you get in the shops.

Off work this week just chillin’ with nothing to do. Experimenting with cutting out nightshades from my diet and hope to do a wee bit of writing. Also plan on doing a few recipes while I have the chance. Will report on all that in seven days time. Til then, keep on grinnin’. πŸ™‚

A musical extra-vaganza

Ok ‘migos, as promised, a few tunes for you to enjoy. I’ve done two playlists, one for the folky folk, and one for the unfolky folk.

As you might expect the unfolky playlist is the one with most of the antifolk tunes on it, but don’t let that put you off the other one (or vice versa). In truth they’re both a good mix of stuff, it’s just that the folky folk playlist is more lazy afternoon that the other one, that’s all. They’re both solid gold in my opinion (but then again I would say that wouldn’t I?) πŸ™‚

Also, for those of you who enjoy the Ok Go video in my previous post, I got sent yesterday a TED talk by the guy who made it. Check it out it’s fascinating (as you would expect from TED.com).

Cheers Ears!

ps: Just bought tickets for Diane Cluck in September. Can’t wait! πŸ™‚

Week 22: In which our hero discovers the many splendors of the anti-folk

Well I did it. One month without booze. And you know what, not as hard as I thought it would be. The second week was tough, but I didn’t know I was going to go a month then. The whole 30 day thing developed over time. Quite possibly, in fact, I couldn’t have gone a month if that’s what I’d set out to do. Then again, who knows?

Going to keep it going I reckon. For once one of my experiments has yielded actual tangible results. I never did feel any better/stronger/healthier when I went veggie, gave up smoking, cut out gluten, etc. but this time I do feel a lot better in my head for getting rid of drink. I’m more focussed, calmer (pause for a big laugh from those who know me), more positive (laughs again), and I just prefer the world this way. So let’s see how long it lasts. Got a big test coming up this weekend, a retreat with my Tai Chi group that is never short of beer, so we’ll see what happens.

Did hope to have a new thing for you this week, as I had a ticket to go see Laura Solon do her comedy show, but it was called off due to illness. However, as the title of this post suggests, I have been getting into me music a wee bit this week. And by that I mean I bought 9 albums and an EP, some of them at random, and not all of them ‘good’. But still, lots of outstanding tunes.

day 26 - kimya dawson!!!

Was already kind of into the anti-folk scene after hearing Kimya Dawson on the Juno soundtrack, and then going to see her live twice, but I got really into it because of a playlist I downloaded recently. So, off I went down Dada (the local record shop), iPod (and list of new bands to check out) in hand, and started buying random albums in bulk. One led to another, discoveries were made, advice was offered and taken, next thing I know I’ve got a massive stack of CDs to go through. And it’s not like I can afford it either. But what the hell, life’s too short eh?

I won’t give you a big list of who I bought (yet). Stay tuned, as later in the week I’m going to try and link to a downloadable playlist for you guys to check out. Gonna take me a few days to sort through everything and see what direction I want to go in, but hopefully I should have it up by Thursday. Check back then, it’s gonna be fabulous!

Oh, and to finish off here’s a little music video I found which is just the best thing ever; seriously!

Week 21: In which our hero goes offline, then goes glamping

Such an odd week this week. As well as not drinking I decided to do away with electronic distractions also; namely no internet, no DVDs and no iPod. I did allow myself some music, but no radio, and I tried to avoid listening to podcasts. Also, where possible, I left the mobile at home too. As best I could it was pretty total.

library selection

First thing I did, I read a lot. Got through three whole books in the first four days or so, as well as various bits of others. Then I started thinking. That was the point you see, without games to play, e-mails to check, and films to watch, I was leaving myself no refuge. I had to deal with my thoughts, and everything that involved.

Now I can’t go into too much detail on the general subject matter, as it ranged over many topics for a great length of time, but I can share some of the conclusion I came to. Here’s two extracts from something I wrote that pretty much sums it up nicely.

“…be centre stage in your own life rather than a bit player. And above all enjoy the life you’ve chosen, because you’ve got to do something day to day, so you may as well enjoy it, because it happening whether you do or not…”

“And remember, most of what happens to you is a construct in your head. They’re your thoughts, and opinions, and ideas; your moods and your musings; and not immutable facts. So you may as well construct a world you enjoy…”

Buddhists and Taoists will recognise the idea, it’s not original, but putting it into my own words really helped me put it into action. So that’s what I’m doing now, constructing a fun world to be in, because if I don’t, who will? πŸ™‚

first barbecue of the summer

Also, as a consequence of not sitting online for hours each day, I got out and did more stuff. Met up with the lovely Sarah and, in an effort to enjoy the glorious sunshine, we went for a walk down by the river, had a (non-alcoholic) drink in a couple of pubs by the Thames, then went back to mine for the first barbecue of the summer. The burgers were excellent (Redwood Company) but the kebabs were a little under-done. Also I normally put some tofu marinated in BBQ sauce on there to liven them up a bit. Still, as first barbies go it did the trick!

glamping

Later in the week I was very fortunate to go ‘glamping’ (glam camping) at the surprisingly lovely Layer Marney Tower near Tiptree in Essex. I went with the Badgers, a bunch who through many years attending The Big Chill, have gotten into the habit of going on mini adventures around the place together (usually Cornwall for a bit of surfing, but we’re open to possibilities).

We are most fortunate in that one of our number is the Travel Editor for Cosmopolitan magazine (I kid you not!) so we get to enjoy the generous fruits of the many publicity driven freebies she has offered to her (God bless you Mrs Mu!).

camping cornucopia

This was by far the swankiest bit of camping I’ve ever done. A massive hut that slept 6, proper plumbing, showers and even a hot tub! I was amazed, and very pleased (I am so over normal camping). A wood burning stove provided heat and cooking facilities – vegan curries and fried breakfasts were abound – and we were quite sated by the end. A good time was had by all, and even getting lost in the fields and absolutely soaked on a poorly planned ‘stroll’ to Tiptree didn’t dampen our spirits.

The interesting bit for me was that, without the internet, I had to go old skool and do everything by phone. From finding out about the unexpected trip, to planning the meet, getting train times and information, I am so used to just having all this at my finger tips. That’s where the internet comes into it’s own, as a resource. It only becomes a problem when it turns into a distraction.

I guess that’s what I have learnt from the whole experience, to keep things in perspective – life, the Universe, and everything – to get out more and just do stuff, and that 99% of how the world is is down to how I view things and what I do about them. As the late great Bill Hicks said, “How about waking up and enjoying the life you’ve chosen?” Amen brother.

ps: I’m famous! The very lovely and super cool Rickicupcake has featured me as this weeks Ask A Vegan on her brilliant blog Seitanic Vegan Heathen Check her out when you’ve got a mo, she’s the tops and well worth the effort. Cheers Ricki for the kudos. I’m well chuffed, hahaha πŸ™‚