Saturday, 22 January 2011

50 Movies in 20 Days: COMPLETED

I am now, as you would expect, frankly sick of watching movies. An idea which at the time of conception seemed both challenging and fun turned out to be both gruelling and enthralling. I have learnt so much in so little time, and forgot it all so much quicker. My nights have been long, my days a great deal longer. My friends, I have floated through the clouds of Heaven and crawled through the fires of Hell. I have watched 50 movies in 20 days!

Regardless of the tales that I could tell, or the horrors of which I could speak, there’s something that everyone asks for above all else… lists! It appears that my journey of enlightenment, justification and self discovery, can be summed up into just two lists: The Best 5 Movies and The Worst 5 Movies. Unbelievable!

I’ll give you your list, but do amuse me briefly.

The First Movie. The First Day.

In hindsight, knowing I intentionally filled The Final 50 with hits, misses and maybes, it would have certainly made sense to have kicked things off by watching a sure bet miss with my spirit still excited by the challenge. However, as I had spent the day stuffing my face and boozing my brain at the office Christmas do, I opted for an easy watch and early night.

I got the ball rolling on day one with Black Dynamite – think Shaft, Super Fly, Dolemite, but more action and more comedy. It’s a modern day parody of the 70s blaxploitation genre that produced, among others, the aforementioned. It was funny, it was entertaining, and it was time to go to bed.

One down. A job well done, I thought. Only forty-nine to go.

The Fiftieth Movie. The Twentieth Day.

[See opening sentence]

ONLY FORTY-NINE TO GO!? What was I thinking!?

By now I wasn’t thinking, by now I couldn’t think. If you had offered me a penny for my thoughts you would have come out shortchanged. My brain had been fried and the pan had been left out on the kitchen worktop for days. By now the last thing I wanted to do was fortunately the last thing I had to do to complete this challenge. Some solace at last found.

The original plan was to watch Sharktopus (I left this till last as I knew it would require little-to-no concentration to follow) with a couple of friends. However, one had decided he had better things to do, and the other had decided that Facebook is an unreliable messaging service if you don’t check your Facebook for messages – which he of course hadn’t. So I finished as I had begun; tired, alone and set for an early night.

Sharktopus, as expected, is quite difficult to enjoy on your own. It’s one of those movies that are (intentionally?) made for you to laugh at, and not with. So although the entertainment value is higher than The Aviator (pun, not comparison), all of the fun is lost when there’s no one to go head to head with on in-film commentary slights.

Sharktopus ended, and with it so did the challenge. I informed the World and the World replied, ‘Good job. Now get back to work.’ No speech, no nominations, no awards. Not even an invite to a show where they recognise and award movie brilliance. Just the self satisfaction of knowing that if I can watch 50 Movies in 20 Days, I can do ANYTHING!

Your lists, you bastards.

The Worst 5 Movies

5. Mirrors
4. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
3. Superman Returns
2. Dorian Gray
1. The Box

Dishonourable mention: Beauty Shop; Cool as Ice; Coraline; Jennifer’s Body; Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian; The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

The Best 5 Movies

5. Gridlock’d
4. Pan’s Labyrinth
3. Magnolia
2. Chicken Run
1. Good Will Hunting

Honourable mention: A Beautiful Mind; A Simple Plan; Chopper; Citizen Kane; Dead Poets Society; Rescue Dawn; Schindler’s List; The Aviator; The Curious Case of Benjamin; Button; You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger.

A to the . . .

Sunday, 12 December 2010

50 Movies in 20 Days

I have set myself an epic challenge! [See Heading]

So, what’s it all for?

Well, I’m a bit of a download junkie when it comes to movies, so much so that I’ve amassed a backlog of over 400 movies – that’s 400 movies I have but have never seen! To justify the greed I have set myself the challenge of selecting 50 of these movies to watch in the upcoming 20 days I have off work – Dec 15th to Jan 3rd.

Lunacy? Maybe.

I sincerely hope that the hours spent watching all of these films during the busiest time of the year will prove to be less taxing than it’s been selecting ‘The Final 50’.

The first cut was the deepest (and easiest). I scrolled through 400 plus files and was able to generate a shortlist of 125 movies – piece of cake. The next stage however was a drawn out process which lasted 7 days and involved me going over the list again and again and again, cutting movies bit by arduous bit.

I had to seek guidance in the form of friends, of family, of colleagues, and of Twitter. Unwanted recommendations were put forward, suggestions were made of what to cut, and movies were reinstated as the list fluctuated, ebbed and flowed into The Final 50 below.

It may not have been so difficult if there was a theme or bar of standard, however I wanted The Final 50 to be a movie mash up, bringing together the good, the bad and the dreadfully ugly.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, The Final 50:

  1. 10 Items or Less
  2. 17 Again
  3. A Beautiful Mind
  4. A Simple Plan
  5. Arlington Road
  6. Aviator
  7. Beauty Shop
  8. Black Dynamite
  9. Bulworth
  10. Casualties of War
  11. Chicken Run
  12. Chopper
  13. Citizen Kane
  14. Cool as Ice
  15. Coraline
  16. Dead Poets Society
  17. Dorian Gray
  18. Dream Girls
  19. Driven to Kill
  20. Good Will Hunting
  21. Gridlock’d
  22. Invictus
  23. Jennifer’s Body
  24. Kids
  25. Lakeview Terrace
  26. Lost in Translation
  27. Love & Basketball
  28. Magnolia
  29. Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus
  30. Mirrors
  31. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
  32. Notorious
  33. Pan’s Labyrinth
  34. Raising Arizona
  35. Rescue Dawn
  36. Rise of the Footsoldier
  37. Schindler’s List
  38. Skarktopus
  39. Spanglish
  40. Stir of Echoes
  41. Stomp the Yard 2: Homecoming
  42. Superman Returns
  43. The Box
  44. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  45. The Devil Wears Prada
  46. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  47. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  48. The Shining
  49. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
  50. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

It’s not for charity; however donations towards popcorn, nachos, hot dogs and slush puppies would be greatly appreciated.

You can follow me on Twitter and find out how I get on with #50MoviesIn20Days.

A to the . . .

Thursday, 28 October 2010

The Late Train

Hate them all you will - and we will - but you've got to give it to London Underground; commuters of the grey cloud city have been handed a mother of a 'late pass'. We freely tap our snooze buttons; take time to prepare our cups of tea; indulge in generous helpings of BBC Breakfast; wait for trains less congested to arrive, and even stop by stores en route for doughnuts and coffee, knowing fully well that if we are late to the office, no real explanation is required.

'Sorry I'm late boss, the trains were a nightmare.'

And they probably were, at some probable time, on one of the probable lines you probably should have been on a lot earlier.

What's so sweet about this setup is that everyone from the new recruit to the office veteran has been screwed-a-plenty by our nation's national treasure of a public transport service – God bless our Queen. The phrase, 'Sorry I'm late boss, the trains were a nightmare.' does not raise alarms of deceit, but instead rings with familiarity.

Pick a card, any card; someone was taken ill on a train, someone was found under a train, or someone has pulled a passenger alarm on a train. You mavericks of unrelenting disturbance, I say thank you on behalf of London City. For on our mornings of gross lethargy and disregard for time, your past endeavours can be recalled promptly to generate an often fabricated nightmare of a journey.

Without taking the gloss off of our heroes in blue, there are two additional saving graces for any late employee:

Firstly, it doesn’t matter how late you arrive at work, as long as a departmental colleague arrives later. If you do happen notice a few absent colleagues, don’t be too hasty to pull your ‘Train Card’ (these lose value with excessive use). Instead, take your seat as if you’re 10 minutes early. You might as well be. The only person who’s actually late is the last to arrive in the office. In fact, even if you arrive 5 minutes early you’re still late if you’re the last to arrive. It’s office law.

The second is more of a desperate manoeuvre than a grace. You’re late, and you know it, but it’s Thursday and you’ve already used two ‘Train Cards’ this week. Unless your travel route makes the news – you’re now desperately praying for a crash or power outage – you’re screwed, and all recent displays of tardiness will be brought to the table. There’s only one thing for it, Krispy Kremes . . . for everyone!

More often than not this could all be avoided by resisting the urge to hit that all too easy snooze button. That snooze button which only serves the purpose of multiplying the number of times you’re angrily woken up in the morning.

But in reality, who really wants to be early for work anyway? The cleaning lady and the milkman, that’s who.

A to the . . .

Thursday, 8 July 2010

The Problem With Smartphone Users

...and by ‘users’ I mean addicts. If you have ever tried to have a conversation with a smartphone user then it’s likely you’ll know exactly where I’m heading with this one.

It’s also likely you have a smartphone.
And likely you think that it makes you cool.
But more than likely it just annoys everyone else.

Yes, the smartphone is indeed the technological manifestation of that nerd in school who knew way too much and really should have been bumped up a year. His hand was raised for every question; he did his science homework; he was reading newspapers during lunchtime while the boys played football. The teachers loved him, the girls thought he was weird, and the guys just wanted to punch his face in.

Universally, smartphone users tend to have a knack for involving their smart(ass)phone in every conversation. The two main culprits are uncoincidently also the market’s two leading competitors; BlackBerry and Apple’s iPhone.

BlackBerry Users – The Over Nurturing Mother

With their phones reaping in instant messages, texts, emails, facebook alerts and much more from who knows where, it’s no wonder the baby won’t stop crying. Instead of giving it a good slap or dare I say putting it on silent, BlackBerry users continuously cut you off mid-sentence to attend to each individual beep and rumble as if waiting to hear from Supernanny herself. What’s worse is that they do it with a cringe worthy reticent grin on their faces. The face a mother might give her child the first few times they look up and splutter, ‘mama’, completely blown away as if each time was the first.

iPhone Users – The Proud Father

With an app for almost everything – literally – iPhone users see every conversation as a platform on which they can show the world what new (and often useless) app they have acquired. Congratulations, you’re long faced child is now walking, talking, reading, writing, graduating, working or getting married. We’re very pleased for you, but can we now get back to the matter at hand?

iPhone users fail to grasp that those of us who don’t own iPhones don’t particularly care that if you shake your phone hard enough it will lead you to the nearest Starbucks. Go dunk your handset in a skinny latte.

World War 3g

It’s the ever perpetuating Apple v BlackBerry clash all over again. And once again it’s a bout that can’t be settled in the 12 billed rounds. I would leave it to the good old public to decide but general elections and X-Factor competitions strongly suggest otherwise. My scorecard (the only one that counts) is in, and it couldn’t be any closer. Apple’s iPhone couldn’t take this on its own merit, but thanks to the supposedly ‘already revolutionary’ iPad – that I haven’t seen a single person with – I have to give it to them.

Years of research, development and design was put into making the iPhone the most complete and compact handset on the market, so what did Apple then go and do? They threw buckets of cash into making a bigger and more obnoxious version! Now not only do Apple have two products that can seemingly do everything, they have a much larger one which is utterly impossible to ignore and will no doubt be filled by it’s users with millions of apps that will bore the rest of us stiff. Congratulations Apple, you win again.

With patience I await the unveiling of a BlackBerry twelve times the size of my Bold 9700.

A to the . . .

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

I am on twitter - @Greenbread

Hooray! In fact, I’ve been there for some time now, and have amassed a whooping 2000plus tweets. Is that a good thing? I don’t know.

What is good however is that now you can follow me in-between blog updates. A lot happens in-between blog updates, well going by my drop in consistency a lot should happen.

Since my last post, ‘Thank you for your application...’ I’ve actually started a new job. So for those of you who read it in jest, what’s so funny?

I’ll pass on the twitter review, as if you don’t already know about it you really have no business being online. If you’re on the ropes about whether to sign up or not, get off the fence and get involved! I must warn you though, it is unreasonably addictive.

You can follow me at

Tune in.

A to the . . .

Thursday, 10 December 2009

‘Thank you for your application…’

Not only are they thanking you for submitting your generic covering letter, they’ve also been dazzled by your embellished CV. Great stuff, but don’t pop the cork just yet, there’s still work to be done. If you’d like to be relieved from the despair of daytime television, Jimmy’s Fried Chicken & Kebab, and conversations with the postman, you’ll really have to nail the interview. Follow these reliable steps and you’ll be nailing jelly to the wall.

ONE. Wear a bowtie – Yes ladies, you too. Nothing says ‘I can get the job done.’ quite like a tuxedo. You weren’t just going to wear the tie were you? That’s the kind of half-baked mentality that will make you ‘unsuccessful on this occasion.’

TWO. A pipe never fails to impress.

THREE. Establish your character with a firm handshake. It’s likely you’ve spent most of your time ‘in between jobs’ putting more hours into the PS3 and bashing all hell out of your bishop than applying for jobs, so try not to crush the interviewers hand.

FOUR. Research the company. Inside information will have employers feeling like you’re part of the team before the interview is up. Who’s sleeping with who? Who got kicked out of the local last Friday? Who used a sick day to get their Christmas shopping done?

FIVE. Put your feet up. Drag a chair over; plant them on the desk, whatever. It’ll make you appear comfortable.

SIX. Smile. Don’t be afraid to show some teeth. A nice smile can put a room at ease, especially if you have the kind of face that found its way into the adoption program.

SEVEN. If you don’t have an iPhone, rent one.

EIGHT. You’re going to want to appear like the hottest prospect since Mylie Cyrus, so get a friend to call you a couple times. ‘Sorry, could you give me a minute? I have to take this.’ Step out of the room, make a show of it, take a few tokes of that pipe.

NINE. They are going to want you ask a few questions of your own. This is a great chance to sell yourself, not the time to ask about the boring stuff you could have Googled. Try something suggestive like, ‘Is there a local gym?’ Flex the biceps a little.

TEN. ‘We are impressed by your visual eccentricities and the past experiences documented on your CV. But could you share with us some of your weaker points?’ Every candidate goes silent at this point. It’s a question you never take the time get your mind around, so when asked all you can think about are the weak points you don’t particularly wish to share. ADD, your disregard for authority, anger management sessions, the real reason you’re unemployed, rehab, your criminal record, the lady under your floorboards, it’s not really your iPhone, etc. Don’t say ANY of these things! Instead, with a face straighter than Ron Burgundy’s say, ‘I don’t have any.’

Now if you don’t get the job after that you may just fancy reassessing what you plan to do with the rest of your life.

A to the . . .

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

The Lunch Hour

Without a doubt the quickest hour of the working day. What to eat? Where to get it? How much to spend? . . . The possibilities are far from endless and as exciting as watching paint dry . . . in a paint pot . . . with 3D glasses.

There are options, limited ones, but options nonetheless.

If your day’s not too busy you’ve probably been weighing up these options from about 09:15 or so. You’ve just finished a bowl of Kellogg’s Special K (or a real breakfast if you’re one of the few people left not on a diet), and you’re staring at a monitor thinking, ‘what should I have for lunch today?’

It’s quite an important decision as it could affect how your afternoon rounds off. How do I feel? What did I have yesterday? Do I need a shit?

There’s always the safe bet, a sandwich. The marvel we know as sliced bread was created solely for this purpose. I can’t help but drool wondering how large sandwiches were before sliced bread was invented. The good old days when a chicken sandwich may have actually contained whole bones! Now you buy it, you open it and then wallow in self-pity. This is what my life has become, sandwiches on the bench in between the high street’s two longest serving crazies as they argue Brown v Cameron.

…worse still if you’ve been to Subway. Then you feel like a kid in a carnival trying to knock down three cans with one ball.

An alternative is the usually cost effective grease box – not as in soliciting, although there are similarities. Junk food, the nation’s favourite mass pastime after X Factor (there aren’t figures to back that up). It’s cheap, bad for you and ready to go. We feel good whilst eating our oil drenched chips and deep fried jumbo sausages, but the comedown is horrendous and it’s so hard to shake off the shame. Society is filled with wannabe health freaks that couldn’t tell a tomato from a pomegranate. ‘Do you know how many calories are in the chips alone?’ Nope, but I’m guessing not as much as your muffin tops.

Payday, lotto winnings (not enough to quit your job) or a colleague’s birthday can set up the best lunch of all. The sit down meal. We’d all love to eat out of the gold plated trough five days a week – and could probably afford to if we walked 14miles instead of taking the train – but it’s just not feasible. So when the opportunity does arise the concern isn’t why we’re eating out, but where we’re eating.

…’Oh, happy birthday by the way.’

As the month draws to an end and funds begin to run low, out comes the Tupperware. As sure an indicator of poverty as putting £5 worth of fuel in your car . . . and paying with coins . . . lots and lots of coins. Of course some people purposely cook for lunch, their meals contain meat, veg and some sort of side – it’s balanced. However, it’s most likely the dregs of last nights’ meal crammed into a plastic pack and your granary roll isn’t fooling anyone. Once done with the microwave are you greeted with, ‘Hmmm, that smells delicious’ or ‘Erm, that smells in-ter-res-ting?’

Seeing as you can (and most people do) spend most of the day eating at your desk anyway, it’s unlikely that the appeal of the lunch hour is food. We are of course at times hungry enough to eat a horse, though rarely given the opportunity to test the theory. The appeal of the lunch hour is knowing that for at least 60 minutes you’re free from the hassles of your job that make you wonder why you don’t just turn the alarm off each morning and stay in bed instead of pressing snooze. What’s a snooze really, other than a soon be reason as to why you were late and will as a result work through your lunch break?

A to the . . .