The Social Network

Just finished watching The Social Network and, rather ironically, I had to blog something about it.

First off, if you haven’t seen it, check it out. The direction by David Fincher is excellent, the music by Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) really works well, and the writing by Aaron Sorkin is very crisp and beautifully put together. And it’s the writing that has really got me thinking.

I just finished the second round of re-writes tonight on the script I finished just after Christmas. I know, 6 weeks, what can I say? I’m a lazy arse. Anyway, watching the film tonight I can’t help but wonder if what I’ve written is any good or not.

Now no one can say as no one has seen it yet, but you see I have this aversion to emotional trickery. You know, having characters say and do unrealistic things in order to get a rise out of the audience. The intellectual equivalent of going *BANG!* just to scare people. My script has none of that. But without it will an audience be able to relate?

My good guys think they’re doing the right thing, but so do my bad guys. Will people be able to understand that, or will they just not give a damn about either of them. And that’s what matters in the end, for me as an audience member anyway, whether there’s an emotional connection with the characters or not. That’s why films like Inception don’t work for me. ‘Clever’ though they are, I just don’t give a damn about any of the characters.

Really there’s only one way to find out. Once I’ve finished up this draft I’ll give it to someone to read. If at any point they say “I’m half way through,” I’ll know it’s boring enough to put down and I should just move on.

Actually, moving on is what I’m doing anyway. I’ve got another idea ready to go, as well as a book I want to continue with. Which I tackle next I guess I’ll find out in a little bit.

NB: One thing watching Social Network made me realise (actually two things) is (a) if you’re going to blog about stuff blog about real stuff that matters, to you at least; and (b) get on with it! No one ever won a race by thinking about going for a jog. Or as my yoga swami would say (yes, I have a yoga swami now) “Good intentions are not enough, you need to do some work.”

With that in mind, I have some work to do.

An all round update

Ok, so where is everything at the moment?

First off, I’ve decided not to do the food blog idea (for the moment). I mean I’m hardly keeping this one up to date, so if I started another one that’d just be two blogs I’m not doing. But I am still cooking and I am still posting recipes, so it’s not like I’ve moved away from the cooking idea completely. I’m just putting it on hold until I can give it my full attention.

ohmmm...

What I have been doing though, which is a bit unexpected, is meditating every day for over a week now. Ok, so ‘every day’ is a bit of an exaggeration (as is ‘meditating’ probably ;)), but I have managed to sit for eight out of the last nine days, which is still a win as far as I’m concerned. If I can keep this up I’ll be enlightened by the end of the year, lol.

The day I missed was all down to work. I’ve been meditating in the morning you see, after doing my yoga (I am still doing the yoga every day since I started, which is a good few months now!), but that day I had to get up at 5:30 to go to work, so there wasn’t time, and I just plain forgot to do it in the evening when I got home. Of course this only goes to underline the fact that I need a new job. Plus I’ve been reading Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness, by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, which quite simply states that if you believe your job is interfering with your spiritual development then you probably need a change in career. So that’s my main priority for the moment, finding something else to do for cash. I know what I’d like to do, which is write, but I’m also looking at other possibilities too.

That being said the writing is going well. I’m on the second round of rewrites on the script I finished before Christmas. Once that’s done I’ll give it to a friend to proof read, then I can go back to the book I started working on recently. I’ve also got a few other script ideas I’m playing with, so hopefully come the summer I’ll be ready to start chasing down agents and production deals. And no holding back this time. I’m not going to get bogged down with the ‘reality’ of what’s possible. I’m aiming for Hollywood, and ain’t nobody gonna stop me!

Bye Bye, Twenty Ten

It’s been a wacky old year, with a lot of the really interesting stuff happening in the past few months. But I don’t want to bang on about all that like it’s the end of something and the beginning of something else.

The whole new year thing is somewhat arbitrary, and generally based on religion. If you want to get technical there’s an argument for the ‘new’ year to start after the winter solstice, once we’ve had our darkest day and the nights start getting shorter again, but that’s not what I want to talk about either.

Let’s talk food, time wasting, and accomplishments.

First up, check out me Christmas dinner!

christmas dinner 2010

Similar to the dinner I made for Thanksgiving, but a damn site cheaper let me tell you; and just as tasty. It’s Redwood Co’s Cheatin’ Meat Free Roast Turkey for me from now on.

Also, food wise, plans are on the drawing board for my food blog idea. Just needs a wee bit of formatting and we should be good to go.

Want to see something fascinating? Follow the link and go check out the level crossing outside Abbey Road Studios. Now no guarantees, as time of day in the UK is a factor, but I could spend hours watching all the tourists annoying the drivers as they try to recreate The Beatles’ famous album cover photo for themselves. NB: For those of you who aren’t British, when someone is waiting to cross at a level crossing and you’re in your car, you have to stop and let them cross. And you can’t go until the crossing is clear, it’s the law! ..hehehe..

And finally a wee celebration. Last night I finished the script I’ve been working on. A solid 92 pages of movie gold! 😉 Of course now the re-writing process begins, but I’m well chuffed to have something to re-write finally. It’s been a long time since I finished anything substantial (if you don’t count Christmas dinner that is, haha). Next year I hope to knock out a couple more in fairly quick succession, now that I’m in the groove, then I can see about finding an agent. Wish me luck.

Ok, have fun in 2011 y’awl. See you after New Years.

30 Days of Kiki : day 28

day 28- a picture of you from last year and now, how have you changed since then?

This is me a year ago, fresh off the boat from Carlisle after my brother’s wedding, showing off the staff bag I designed and my mum made while I was there (thanks mum ;)).

staff bag

And this is me last week on the moustache shenanigans photo shoot.

hey! calm down, calm down!

How’ve I changed? I guess the becoming scouse, growing my hair (head and face) and telling everybody to “Calm down, calm down!” all the time has been the major change. Apart from that nothing much is new really.

Actually, what an odd question to be answering. We change daily, moment to moment, so you may as well ask, How am I the same? As the Buddha said, not only can the same man not see the same river twice, but there is no one to see the river.

That being said (and so as not to be boring)… I have managed to give up all forms of intoxicants (and by that I mean alcohol – I don’t count caffeine in that list), I’ve been more solidly vegan and come up with many recipes, I’ve come to understand what I do and don’t want in life more clearly, and I’ve become more decisive in moving away from negative influences for the better. Overall it’s been quite a positive year.

The challenge is Now (and there’s a statement!) is to invoke further change, massive change, and get out of this rut I’m still pretty much in. Maybe change is constant, but it doesn’t seem like it sometimes. Then again, that’s what the blog’s all about, so I’ve got that going for me. 🙂

ps: The moustache shenanigans final photos are on their way. They’re just being photoshopped up into their final form at the moment, and then they will be released upon the world.

Week 33: A search for meaning

Been kind of a bitty week this week. My shifts in work changed, which was good as it gave me the weekend off, but then I was cat sitting away from home at the weekend, which limited my ability to do new stuff (like writing, etc.). Plus I’ve got no money, again, which also puts a bit of a dampener on things. I failed to come up with a new recipe, but I did manage to do something new – go to an open air cinema – but still I’d like to have done more.

I have however had much time to think, and think I have. I’m not sure this blog is achieving what I set out to do in the beginning. Namely, a Brand New Life. I’m still single, still in the same old job, still in the same old flat; nothing’s changed. I’m doing more things, but not making many new contacts. I’ve been so caught up in ‘stunt blogging’ I’ve forgotten the point of it all.

So I’m going to let myself off the hook (kind of). No more weekly reports. I’m not even sure if many people are reading them, so what’s the point? I’m still going to blog new things I get up to, but they’ll be on an as-and-when basis, not every week. I’m going to concentrate on making big things happen, not just lots of little things. If I want to make big changes in my life I need some big ideas.

That being said, here’s my ‘report’ on going to an open air cinema for the first time.

outdoor cinema

It was at Syon House, which is the same place where the London Tropical Zoo is that I’m doing the fundraising for. I had the pleasure of being joined in this escapade by the very lovely Sarah, and the film we saw (along with a large group of middle aged women!) was Dirty Dancing.

hey johnny

Now I’ve already blogged the film itself, so I’ll just mention here a few things about the experience. Being outdoors to see a film is great. Just lazing about on a blanket, having a wee picnic, was great fun. We had to wait for the sun to go down before the film started (of course), and once it did it got a little chilly. It was at that point I stated to wish I’d wrapped up a bit warmer.

I did at least bring an umbrella, which came in very handy about 15 minutes before the end, when it started chucking it down. Thankfully though the rain didn’t last long (and the cinema people very kindly gave us all free pac-a-macs to keep us dry) and we got to see the end uninterrupted.

nobody puts baby in the corner

I can recommend seeing a film outdoors if you get a chance. If you live in London there’s plenty of opportunities coming up. Just remember to wrap up warm, take a blanket, take some food, and take a brolly. Those are my survival tips. 🙂

cabbage and carrot summer salad

Also, I’d like to mention the conclusion of my Thrive in 30 experiment. It was an interesting thing to do, and I’d suggest you give it a try if you’re at all veggie/vegan, thinking about going veggie, have in interest in nutrition, or just want to get an idea about how what we eat effects us in out daily lives.

I must admit, I haven’t been able to put all his lessons into practice yet (mind you, a lot of them I was doing already), but I have learnt a great deal, I have taken a lot of information on board, and I’ll be incorporating more and more of his ideas as I go along. And the great thing is I can revisit each lesson as and when I like, so I’ll never stop learning.

Sign up now and see for yourself. It’s a win win scenario, believe me.

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? 🙂

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 🙂

Report 12: A new look and new ideas (& Chocolate Chip Cookies)

I was very discombobulated this week, and whilst it’s been fun having an excuse to use the word discombobulated in conversations with people, it really wasn’t worth the aggro.

Not that anything specifically bad happened, I was just so busy with work, and so physically drained after having the bad back, that I couldn’t get my head in gear or get anything done. In fact my ‘new thing’ this week came about by accident. I got paid on Thursday, so I could finally afford the new jeans I needed to complete the look I’ve been working on. It’s nothing amazing but I like it. See what you think.

kiki's new look

Works for me. Can’t wait to try it out on the world (still a bit too cold to go out with just a shirt and jacket on).

But the one up side of this discombobulated week is I’ve have had plenty of time to think about what I’m doing, what i want, and what I’m doing this blog for, and I’m going to make some changes.

First of all I’m going to stop doing two vegan recipes a week and stick to just one. I learnt with the Chilli Wedges that it can take a lot of experimenting to get a recipe just right, and sometimes I haven’t the time to make three or four versions of two different recipes. Plus you get pretty sick of eating the same stuff all the time, especially when it hasn’t quite worked. So from now on I’m just going to do one recipe and do it well. If I’ve time to do two or more great, but I’m not going to push it. There’s no rush after all.

Second I’m going to try and do more impressive new things, not that that’s always going to be possible (time and money being the biggest restraints), but where I can I’m going to do more adventurous things that involve more people. That was the point after all, to get me out of the house making new connections and possibly finding some chica to share the newness with, and I’m not achieving that staying home ordering vegan footwear off the internet.

And third… well, third I’m going to keep pretty much as it is. I mean I like reporting on what I’m up to script-wise, as it keeps it on my mind and makes me try and do more. I’m just not going to make it an integral part of the Brand New World. The more I can do the better, but if I can’t so be it. You can’t do everything, can you.

I think these changes are for the best. They are for me anyway. I’m not going to be a slave to a bloody blog for Christ’s sake! I mean think about it; this week I only had two days off, during which (if I’d stuck to the programme) I’d have had to do a new thing, which can take all day, write part of a screenplay, a session of which can take a good four or five hours straight, and invented two new recipes, again, many hours of cooking, all of which I’d have to fit around general life maintenance of washing, shopping and tidying up, not to mention a bit of me time for chilling out and the like. It’s just not do-able. So from now on I’m going to do less, better. It’s the way to go.

Anyway, enough of that nonsense. Here’s a recipe I think you’ll like.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

chocolate chip cookies

1 cup of plain flour
1 tsp of baking soda
1/4 tsp of salt
1/3 cup of dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup of unrefined sugar
1/3 cup of agave syrup (or maple syrup)
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1/4 cup of corn oil

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and chocolate chips in a bowl. Mix the sugar, agave syrup, vanilla essence and corn oil thoroughly in another smaller bowl, dissolving as much as you can the sugar.

Add liquid mixture to the dry stuff and stir until just mixed (don’t over-do it). Put a sheet of grease-proof paper on a baking tray, then take small, slightly-larger-than-a-golf-ball, sized lumps and space out on it, pressing down so they make cookie shapes (I get about 10 from this mix).

Put in oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown (check after 8 minutes to be safe). Remove from oven and put on a wire rack to cool, and that’s it. A nice simple recipe that I’ll think you’ll enjoy.

Ciao 🙂

Report 11 – Bad backs and blog envy

It’s been a difficult week in the Brand New Life this week. I did my back in last Sunday (Lord only knows how, I was just sat at my desk working) and so spent most of it lying down resting. It’s a bit better now though still a little tender. Hopefully by next weekend I’ll be back on form again.

Unfortunately the enforced period of stillness gave me plenty of time to think, and I was a little unimpressed with myself. I’ve been checking out other blogs, and there are people out there doing far more interesting stuff than me and making it look a hell of a lot nicer. I’m thinking of www.sleepycity.net and www.thegluttonousvegan.com to be precise; two people doing, a: far more interesting things, and b: much better presented vegan cooking, than I am. Now I know there’s no point comparing yourself, but I also now know why I’m getting only a couple of hits a day (and often zero) and why the majority of my comment traffic are spam (seriously, they’re starting to get on my tits now).

So I need to get my thinking cap on and decide where I want to go with this. I may introduce a more random element into the New Things part, like making a list of more outlandish feats and drawing one form a hat each week; and I’m tempted to do one really good recipe a week instead of two kind of okay. I dunno, I just need to think of something. I’d ask for suggestions but no one’s listening (begging the question: What the f*ck are you doing this for?).

Anyway…

Recipes Done:

I’ve got a Spicy Potato Wedges recipes I’m working on, and a one for Simple Salsa, but they both need a bit more work (testing is a little… erratic, to say the least). Hopefully they’ll be up tomorrow, time permitting.

New Thing Done:

Apart from have a bad back, I went booze free for a week. Finally, after trying to do it way back when I started this blog, I managed to do it. It’s only a lousy seven days, but it was a challenge for me, especially the last 2-3 days or so. I just really fancied a pint. Well, it just goes to show how reliant I am on drink doesn’t it. Need to nip that one in the bud if I’m ever to gain spiritual Enlightenment (no pun intended… or achieved no doubt). It’s contrary to the practice of mindfulness.

Writing Done:

Only wrote about 2 or 3 pages this week, as I couldn’t sit and type for too long with my back, but still I managed to do something. Oddly enough it’s a scene I’m pretty sure I’m going to cut eventually, for time or just coz it’s unnecessary, but I felt like it needed to be out there (kind of like it wanted to have it’s say). I mean I like it, it’s pithy and the dialogue puts a smile on my face, but I’ve got this nagging feeling that it’ll have to go before the script is done, and my nagging feelings are rarely wrong when it comes to stuff like this.

Right, that’s it for now. Feel free to comment so that I know someone out there gives a damn. Audience participation is always welcome.

TTFN

A steep learning curve

Ok, so here’s what I’ve learnt from my first week of blogging:

1. Don’t make proclamations you want to be true but which never will be.

ie: I ain’t giving up booze. I could barely last a week without a drink. First thing I did when I got home yesterday was go out and buy some beer. Much as I would like to not need the odd drink now and then it just ain’t gonna happen, so let’s just deal with that fact and move on. Maybe one day, when I’m more spiritually enlightened I’ll pack in drinking, but not today.

The point is to not get bogged down in this stuff. Things like drinking, or listening to your iPod, are just tools for separating yourself from the world. Cocoons to hide in that keep you ‘safe’. That’s what I want to do less; less hibernation. I want to deal with the world more, not hide away. So that’s what I’m going to do, not a blanket ban on things, but just less, with more of other more constructive things taking their place. That should prove more effective than what I’ve been doing so far.

2. Don’t be a slave to your blog.

As the strangely rambling post below about Buddhism shows (now deleted because it was complete gibberish), whilst it’s ok to want to write something every day, some days you’re better off just leaving it ’til tomorrow, when you’ve got something to say. Or when you’re not on dial up. Or when you’re not getting interrupted every five minutes. Your blog deserves your full attention, but only when it’s convenient to you.

3. Focus, damn it; focus!

Your blog needs a goal. It’s no good to ramble on about whatever’s in your head, you need to have a clear purpose, otherwise why would people read it. So, with that in mind, here are the new blog/challenge rules, as of now:

First, this blog will last a year, starting January 1st 2010. By the end of it I will have

a, a home (bought, or rented, but out of town and with a decent view of some sort)

b, a new revenue stream (so I don’t have to spend my days broadcasting second rate porn to lonely Norwegians)

c, a missus (kids optional)

d, a car, and a dog (non-essential)

Since pretty much everything in life centres around money I’m going to focus a bit on that. I’m going to work on my script writing, the simplest way I have of making a lot of money quickly without major effort on my part. If I work every day I’m not working at my ‘real’ job, I should be able to do one every two months fairly easily, giving me 6 complete scripts in 12 months to approach agents/producers with.

I’m also going to work on veganising my favourite recipes, two a week, so by the end of the year I’ll have a fairly decent cook book of over a hundred recipes. Another possible money maker.

As well as these two ideas I’m also going to continue doing something new every week, as well as the odd random weekly/monthly challenge I’ll set myself just to spice things up a little and thereby increase my chances of meeting Miss Right. The results of all this I’ll be putting in my weekly report, published every Sunday, summarising the results of my actions.

I think that’ll do for a start. I’ve got the rest of the month to mess around with the format, fine tune it a bit, but come January we are good to go.

Welcome to My Brand New Life

The purpose of this blog is simple, to make me make changes in my life. As it stands now I am utterly uninspired. I want to wake up each day and be excited about where I’m going and what I’ll be doing when I get there, and to do that I need a kick up the arse. So this is me, kicking me, up the arse.

I won’t quantify what my new life will be like (to do that would limit the possibilities from the beginning) but I imagine it will involve a new everything; new job, new house, new social life, etc. Other than that your guess is as good as mine at this point; and that’s the way it should be. After all, the journey is half the fun.