Sunday, 28 December 2014

Packing for Belgium

Just finished watching the highly under-rated Porco Rosso with my girlfriend and now I'm just packing up for New Year in Belgium. Got everything more or less sussed as well, just a few more clothes need to go in a bag along with all the devices I'm juicing up for the trip. Plus I'm trying to come up with some real corkers for '20 questions' for the journey. Also Smints. 'Cus Smints are crunk.

I will be attempting to post while I'm out there, posts won't be too extensive but I'll try to keep updating. Hope there's some internet out there!

Friday, 26 December 2014

Back for Boxing Day

When I first said I didn't like McMuffins everyone thought I was crazy. Those people have clearly never had a real breakfast muffin in their life and luckily that's exactly what I woke up to on my Boxing Day. We got back home in the late afternoon and discovered that our house was freezing so booting up the fire was our first priority, I didn't dare go upstairs for a good half-hour in-case I froze.

Glad I did make it upstairs later though as Louis and I finally got a chance to finish off Telltales Walking Dead Season 2. While as a whole the season wasn't as strong as the first, it was a very tough act to follow and its final episode ended a lot stronger than I expected it to. They always manage to squeeze out one decision you are forced to make that you genuinely have to think about for a moment and then act on it, no matter how painful the consequence. That is certainly the games core strength and that makes it way more interesting than most games I've played.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas 2014!

Merry Christmas!

Had a little bit of a lie-in this Christmas morning, typically I am up well before 7am but I was feeling old and generous this year and let Louis sleep in for a little bit. We awoke to our typical cola-boiled gammon and a fried egg for breakfast and then dived right into the presents.

Highlights included my Luigi Amiibo from Louis, I was surprised with how nice the actual figurine was, he will look very nice on my desk. A power-bank (or battery brick) for longer journeys and a nifty little blender for all my iced coffee needs.

Travelled down to our cousins house for our Christmas roast along with several Christmas games. We started with an odd 'call my bluff' kind of thing where each family member wrote a mystery fact about themselves and everyone ad to guess who said what. I came 2nd! Then we did the 'Fish Whacking Relay' which involves wafting a paper fish across the hallway in teams. We came 1st! The family games somehow culminated in a game of 'Festive Beer Pong' where I learnt that Louis has terrible hand-eye co-ordination which maybe, just maybe, cost us the game. It was a hell of a lot of fun though!

Here's hoping that everyone had a really awesome and a Merry Christmas. This probably marks the last time I can wear my brilliant Christmas jumper until next year, I've received so many good comments for it so I will definitely be cracking it out next year.

Once again, Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas Eve 2014

Louis and I were in full swing helping out with preparation of our annual Christmas Eve party. I hopefully managed to make good on last years promise to help out when in reality I was about 10 hours too late to assist with anything, today however, we were doing everything we could to ensure this party was a winner.

And it really was! All the snacky bit I prepared earlier like the pigs in blankets went down a treat (I didn't even get one since they were so popular). We even managed to weasel in a brief Smash Bros tournament which resulted in possibly the most satisfying victory I have ever received. Louis and I are a total dream team and finally managed to win against the tyrants that are the Harper Brothers.

But now I'm kicking back in bed, mentally preparing myself for potentially another restless Christmas sleep since I am admittedly quite excited. Louis agreed to wake up at 8 so that when I'll set my alarm. A few years ago we would have been waking up much, much earlier than that just to fell the magic of a Christmas morning. Hopefully I'll be able to capture a small glimpse of that again this year.

Gingerbread House

No-one in the Durrant household has made a gingerbread house before... until today. Mum pitched it to Louis and I as the 'centerpiece of our Christmas Eve party'. Since Louis' girlfriend recently made a gingerbread house we treated him as the expect but he was no-where to be seen for the decorating and construction. Right after all the warm, doughy, straight-from-the-oven gingerbread was gone so was he. Mum and I were left to squidge gummy bears and jelly beans onto the walls and roof and cement it all together with icing - a feat much more difficult than it needed to be since Mum chose a oddly ambitious design for the house.

It's currently being propped up by some eggs in the kitchen ready for the guest to comment on it tomorrow, moments before they smash into it to get their delicious gingerbread.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Quotes and Sources

I do love it when I encounter an absolute goldmine of quotes for my next essay! The Walking Dead is my next topic of dissection as I look at how it's become a cross-platform phenomenon. This means I get to discuss the great comics, the pretty good TV show and the jaw-dropping video game series with some academic merit.

Pro tip for writing essays - if you have a passion for something you tend to write about it much better than something you couldn't give a monkey's about. Thank goodness we got to choose our own case study!

Prink Perks?

After having a really naff night sleep I awoke to a even naffer bedroom. Louis and his mates left quite a lot of trash around the place. This is where pirate rules would have become king: If alcohol goes unclaimed for 24 hours on your property, it legally becomes yours. Sadly, Louis' friends all remembered to either drink everything or take it home with them; no prink perks today.

We tidied everything up and eventually settled into the all time best Christmas film the isn't A Christmas Story... Die Hard. I always notice or hear something else to love about this movie each time I see it and the action never gets old. While there are plenty of good action films, Die Hard surpasses the competition through excellent characters. In the first 8 shots of the movie sets up so much about John McClane: He's a cop, doesn't fly often and has a sense of humour. I often use Die Hard as a yard-stick for people's film tastes in a similar, albeit less elitist manner to how Tarantino uses Rio Bravo. If someone doesn't like Die Hard they effectively say that they hate what the core of what films are all about: escapist fun.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Smashing Prinks

Getting very excited to use our chimney this year. We got all the wood ready and I again learned how to make those knotted bits of newspaper which makes the best ever kindling. Just getting prepare to snuggle up into the living room and watch a good Christmas film. Most probably Die Hard or Bad Santa, either are Durrant tradition.

Just finished up hosting Louis' pre-drink (or 'prinks') along with our own team Smash Bros tournament. However, since there was an odd number of us the group collectively decided that I should play by myself against two people at once. I very, very nearly won too, but Louis pulled off a Duck Hunt Duo combo with a Mr Incredible Mii. Got wrecked.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Mario Magic

Ploughing through Season two of TellTale's Walking Dead with Louis. Just finished the penultimate episode and I am very, very eager to see the finale.

As previously mentioned, my next Nerve Media article has been posted here! This time I looked at what makes the games of Mario so appealing and why he's such a lasting and impactful character.

Watch Revival

Now that I've got my watch strap fixed I'm disappointing that more people haven't asked me for the time. I'm strutting around at home with my (what feels like brand new) watch slowly getting used to wearing a little hunk of metal on my wrist again, kinda like it actually.

Louis and I had an brilliant little bonding session again over Smash Brothers. We decided to go online as a team against a pair of strangers for a few rounds, once or twice we got whipped, but when we won a game, the amount of high fives and screaming could rival any fraternity party. We also got around to decorating the Christmas tree after Mum threatened to do it herself and break Durrant tradition. Tree looks good though, it's admittedly a bit smaller this year which made it a tad tougher to space out the decorations but it does really tie the room together.  

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Gaming Involves Waiting

More presents were purchased today along with a neat little trip down memory lane to my old 6th form. Louis and I popped in to drop off some books Louis won but needed to buy himself with a voucher from the school to give to the teachers so they could give them to him (I feel stupid just writing that but that's exactly how the school does this each year.) I just came out of possibly the worst Dota 2 experience ever as it took us wel over an hour just to get into a game as our friends had connection issues which were just unexplainable and unsolvable. In the end we got in some ransomers and I proceeded to play very poorly and everyone quit after one game since it was past midnight then. I was actually really pumped for a nice gaming evening with friends but it turned into a flight delay of an experience where I then got to sit next to the screaming baby.  

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Smash Brothers

Brief trip to Brizzle this morning to pick up Louis and see his accommodations which was actually pretty damn swanky in places. Of course, no journey to Bristol is complete without popping into Ikea, at least in Mum's eyes. Buying furniture and eating meatballs is slowly becoming a Durrant tradition it seems, I'm certainly not complaining though. Especially if there's meatballs involved.

Got a chance to show off the new Smash Bros game to Louis when we got back. In return he introduced me to this really interesting documentary series on Youtube called The Smash Brothers which is all about the competitive scene around my favourite fighting game. On the surface it actually sounded pretty naff, as much as I love video games, they really are not portrayed as neatly or as professionally as many people would like. However, King of Kong proved that it can be done well and The Smash Brothers genuinely proved to be a really fun and interesting watch. Especially some of the later portions which deal with the players themselves and what motivates them to play the game.

It's all available on Youtube if you want to see it. The first episode is here and is just 20 minutes long and it was pretty hard to stop watching more once I started. It is rough around the edges, but it shows a real understanding of what makes an engaging documentary.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Xmas Present Shopping is Hard

I never thought that the internet at home would be worse than the one in my uni let. I'm writing this on a word document first so I can copy and paste it into Blogger. Then I'll inch closer and closer to the wi-fi box until all is good.

Rounded up a bit of my Christmas shopping this year, I ticked Dad off the list which is brilliant since he is notoriously difficult to buy for. Hope he's a fan. In-between that I've been adding the finishing touches to my next Nerve Media article about Mario and started a draft lift for my top 10 games of the year which is always fun to make and write about, stay tuned for those a bit later on.

Sunday, 14 December 2014


Another Breaking Bad day for Mark, Jamie and myself. We loaded ourselves up with all the various snacky bits from One Stop and binged on junk food and Netflix. No regrets. Mark has just entered season 5 and things are once again heating up, I'm pretty sure he'll make these viewing sessions quite regular now that I'm back in town for a bit.

My parents also persuaded me to watch a little bit of the newest TV sensation Gogglebox which I have very mixed feelings about. Intrinsically, it is the same kind of entertainment as watching a Youtube 'Let's Play' video as they line up several personalities and make them watch some recent telly, we see their responses to what they watch. Commercially, the show has hit a  home run, as have internet 'Let's Play' videos so someone at Channel 4 really understand that niche very well. I however, typically abstain from watching those kind of shows, even online ones (unless there is some genuinely interesting personalities behind it). The charm of Gogglebox is totally reliant on it's on-screen personalities which are all everyday brits; this is also where the show fails to capture my interest. I only care about other peoples opinions about topics if I am responsive to their authority on what they are discussing.

Simply put, I don't actually care, or find it interesting to watch two hairdressers discuss the X-Factor voting decisions. Especially if their personalities and actions come across as forced due to the presence of the camera (again, I think this is something the producers cottoned onto very early and is why a lot of people like watching it). But with me, spotting a contrived moment on the show just shattered my immersion further and reminded me of exactly what I was watching, which lead to me questioning my decision to watch the show in the first place.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Chilly in Newbury

Packed up all my stuff in the neatest manner I've ever done ready to venture back home today. My girlfriend's parents were very kind enough to bring me back home since it was only a slight detour for them, and they were treated Dad's first (and hopefully not last) batch of pistachio cookies. I forgot just how cold it is back in Newbury but I think my hot water bottle will keep me nice and cosy throughout the night. My Christmas holidays have officially started now!

Back-to-back Xmas Dinners

My social calender exploded recently with a series of spur-of-the-moment house parties and Christmas dinners. My own house jumped one very nice meal on me the day before it happened along with secret santa, I got three pairs of xmas themed socks which I was genuinely really pleased with despite the common cliche of people not enjoying socks for presents.

Last night I was at my girlfriends house for an incredibly manic dinner as it was mostly reliant on the Asda order arriving on time, naturally it was hours late so everything was rushed. I even went over to another course mate's house just to prepared pigs in blankets and stuffing for this dinner to run it back over to the main house. Fortunately, the dinner was delicious and very almost 'home' quality.

Big ol' meal!

After quaffing that dinner down we all headed to what was officially the last TV group party before the xmas break-up tore us apart. And it was really quaint since no-one was drinking exclusively to get drunk so everyone had a really nice and chill time. We also had someone going around with the same Fuji 'Polaroid style' camera that Lucy had to take some pictures that make everything look vintage and old fashioned. This was undoubtedly helped by the fact everyone is wearing hideous, yet timeless jumpers.

Rocking very hard with my other TV Studio group

Another smaller one next to next years potential housemates

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Wet Run

Stressful day in the studio today doing our drama. At every turn we had some technical difficulties holding us up and since I was PA I was very eager to get the ball rolling nearly all the time since the number of rehearsals make or break a studio day. Luckily, once again we came out clean and our final product actually looked quite good - my other peers were also surprised with just how well it turned out.

Returning home I knew I had to chop up some music files after volunteering to help out on a xmas studio show tomorrow and I had to prep a mini pitch for our original TV show (Take Me to Hell). In between all of this, my old running course-mate wanted to go on another 7K run... in the middle of possibly the coldest, wettest and windiest night I've ever seen in Bournemouth. Oddly enough I wasn't too knackered at the end of it and by golly, the shower afterwards was glorious!

Just in case anyone wanted to marvel and drool over another piece of Louis' brilliant artwork, he actually knocked out a really sweet poster for our pitch tomorrow:

I'd watch it!

Rest in Pieces

Finding a good mug is incredibly difficult. It takes many years to find that perfect vessel for your hot beverage but for a very long time I had this mug in my life. It was red (my favourite colour) and established my character quickly. It also felt damn good to drink out of. That mug departed from this world after a badly placed yawn and stretch combo that sent it hurtling to the ground. No longer will it bring coffee to my lips or bring a smile to my face as I ask myself: 'Which mug shall I use today?'

I am reminded of an anecdote I will never live down, despite being too young to even remember it, yet I still feel remarkably guilt for my actions. Apparently one night when I was around 3-4 years old I was being especially moody and just generally being rather grumpy and bad-tempered. In an effort to cheer me up Dad ran and got one of his childhood treasures: an egg cup in the shape of an owl. He showed it to me with great fondness and knew that it probably would lift my spirits. As soon as he passed it into my hands I hurled it to the ground in a fit of rage; it shattered instantly.

I would give anything to turn back time to prevent it from being smashed as I know that even today, I would love to know what that egg cup looked like.

Farewell to my most faithful of coffee companions after I scooped him back together again.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Bro Time at Last

For the first time in ages I played some games with Louis and his friends. This was actually really cool since we haven't spoken much over the past few weeks, let alone played any games so that was a ton of fun. Naturally, we played some more Dota 2 which I am terrible at, especially after the 2 month hiatus. Getting some really high hopes for Christmas time now since It'll be a chance for the bros to get back together.

Plus, in our one time segment called 'Awesome news that makes me a kid again' we have the brand new Grim Fandango Remastered game-play trailer. Very, very excited for this one even though I've played the game over a dozen times, this new version could be the definitive one; especially after you see 'dem shadows.'

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Double House Party

Attended two house parties over the past evenings and on both occasions people sought me out to tell me how cool I was. To which I always reply: 'You haven't met my brother yet.' Genuenly though I was saying to my girlfriend last night about how much I liked the people on my course right now, everyone just gets along and has a really good time - there is a real sense of teamwork with a lot of the projects we do together and I couldn't imagine a better group of people to be doing TV production with.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Socks in the Winters

Over the past week I have been having some really, really ropey nights sleep. I'm talking about spending the better part of an hour trying to fall asleep each night, an issue I haven't really been having for many years and my current bed is actually quite comfy. Nailed the problem last night though as apparently sleeping with socks on really does the trick. Guess I'm just getting a bit tall for my duvet now and I just need some extra protection form the chilly outside.

Finally got around to doing my weekly shop today and even managed to pick up a bottle of advocaat! My girlfriend also donated a mince pie to me after I helped her write her Breaking Bad essay. Eating and drinking something deliciously Christmassy just helped me get right into the mood of the holidays. It was about this time last year I was doing exactly the same thing, ah nostalgia. 

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Take Me to Hell

By golly we were productive today. Our TV studio session went well and not well at the same time. We were doing our video game student lead project which was actually a ton of fun despite not quite being able to do some very fancy technical stuff which would have looked really nice but that is often the way. We also had a big panic moment at the start of our broadcast as the stopwatch managed to malfunction horrendously which threw us all off a bit. Some serious winging ensued but our final product looked brilliant despite the pandemonium in the gallery.

Immediately following that a coursemate and I got on with our 'homework,' to create a one-pager for a new series. Ultimately we settled on an idea we were all really pleased with, I'll see if I can set the scene here:

'Unsatisfied with being the head-honco of the most terrifying biker gang the world had ever know Malcolm wanted to rule hell. Quite literally. After personally sabotaging his own death-defying bike stunt Malcolm came face to face with the Grim Reaper for processing and to finally embrace his chance to get to hell to take on it's ruler. But due to a bureaucratic error in the records of the deceased, Malcolm was not sent to the land of sin and Brimstone in Hell, but rather Hull (after an unfortunate typo).

Doomed to roam the land of the living as a ghost, he enlists the help of the only person who can communicate with him from beyond the grave. And she still can't tie her own shoes. Maisey would do anything for a friend, as any 6 year old schoolgirl would, and this ghost was the only person who would give her the time of day. Mostly because Malcolm knew he could manipulate her daily actions into doing evil misdeeds which would ultimately make the Grim Reaper realise his grave error of keeping Malcolm where he doesn't belong.

Will Malcolm reach the warm embraces of Hell or will he begin to care too much about this little girl who thinks the world of him to even qualify for the position? After all, purgatory ain't so bad...'    

Think Sixth Sense meets Despicable Me and you'll be in the right ballpark of tone. We are calling it 'Take me to Hell' and we are pitching it to the group next week.

In other news I got the results from my 'Food Porn' essay back and I received a really positive 72% which means I got a first so I am dead chuffed.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Early Presents

University printers again proved to be a little bit of an issue. I jumped in early for some first-thing prints of scrips and additional pieces, ended up printing 121 pages and £4 worth of stuff ready to bring it all in and save the day. Turns out our lecturer made some last minute changes to our scripts and printed his own copies, rendering mine useless... bit of a shame that.

Otherwise I had a busy old day being a production assistant for our first ever studio drama. Effectively we recorded something in the same style as a soap opera and I called and cued all the shots for the director, just had to keep my eyes on the numbers and keep my voice loud all the time. I think I did an ok job too! Subsequently I did the final touches to our video game studio show tomorrow which everyone is quite excited about it seems.

Quite seriously dabbling about going in my new xmas jumper which was an early Christmas present from my girlfriend and it is quite possibly the coolest item of clothing I have ever owned ever. I popped round her house to pick it up and give her one of her presents, which was a pair of thermal socks which she was thrilled with. Good start to the present buying scene, hope I can keep it up!