All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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Four favourite movies (or TV Shows) of 2013

Day of the Doctor-horz

~ in no particular order ~

~ 1 ~

The Day of the Doctor | Written by: Steven Moffat

How could this not be on my list? Over the last twelve months it’s been mentioned countless times on this blog and, as the date drew closer, my excitement levels continued to rise, eventually reaching fever point the evening before the worldwide simulcast event. Perpetually worried that it would be pants, my fears were appeased within minutes of the show beginning as Steven Moffat and the cast and crew had shaped one of the best episodes of Doctor Who in quite a number of years. This isn’t just one of my favourite television/movie moments of the year, but one of my highlights of 2013, period!

~ 2 ~

Star Trek: Into Darkness | Directed by: JJ Abrams

The first film in JJ Abrams’ rebooted Star Trek franchise was one of the last films I saw before becoming homeless again in 2009. As such, the memory of this extremely good sci-fi action film is closely intertwined with my memories of that brutal period of my life. Approaching it’s sequel, Into Darkness, I was aware that it may resurface some unpleasant memories, but I also hoped that it would become intertwined with the new direction my life was entering. Fortunately, the latter proved true. Although not quite as good as the first film, Into Darkness was an excellent blockbuster movie that had me entertained from the word go.

~ 3 ~

Once Upon a Time | Created by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz

I’ll be honest, I watch a lot of television. Not only is it one of my primary coping mechanisms but it’s a field of entertainment that I’ve always dreamed of working in. Amidst the random fare that I’ve watched over the last twelve months there were some obvious stand-outs: Game of Thrones (S3), Nikita (S3) and Parks and Recreation (S4), but the show that most captured my imagination this year was Once Upon a Time.

I initially began watching this show because of the presence of Robert Carlyle – one of my favourite actors – but was soon swept away by the strong female characters, intricate storylines and sheer sense of fun the show offers.

(PS…I still have to catch up with season 3, so no spoilers please!)

~ 4 ~

Iron Man 3 | Directed by: Shane Black

Although last on this list, this is probably my favourite film of the year, mainly because I had more fun watching this gleefully over-the-top comic book adaptation than I had with any other film or television product of the last twelve months. Filled with exceptionally well realised set-pieces – the attack on Stark’s home, the barrel of monkey’s sequence, the CGI overload of the finale – I dare anyone to sit through this film with a bored expression on their face!


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My Life in Television

Over the last year I’ve been writing a sporadic series titled  ‘My Life in…‘ where I highlight the films/books/moments/music that have defined me through each year of my life. Today it’s time to settle onto the couch, as we look over the last thirty-four years of television and all the series that have defined my life.

The rule is simple, for each year since my birth I’ve chosen a show that debuted in that year. These are not necessarily the best television series of each year, but the ones that speak of who I am in my soul.

My Life in Television

poltergeist

No poltergeist was summoned during the writing of this post (I hope!)

1978 ~ GRANGE HILL

Ahhh, Grange Hill. Anyone who grew up in the UK during the 80s will now be flashing back to that magnificent theme tune and remembering Mr Bronson, Mrs McCluskey and Todd Carty (pre-Eastenders). Anyone who grew up outside the UK will now be wondering what the hell this show is…basically it was an ongoing children’s drama set within a comprehensive school; cue storylines involving drug overdoses, mischief-laden school trips and visits to the headmaster’s office. An absolute classic!

1979 ~ NOT THE NINE O’CLOCK NEWS

Aside from Monty Python, this is one of the greatest sketch comedies ever. Rowan Atkinson, Mel Smith, Griff Rhys Jones, Pamela Stevenson and her future husband, Billy Connolly.

1980 ~ YES, MINISTER and KICK START

Yes, Minister – one of the finest political sitcoms ever made. Kick Start – one of the finest ‘perform tricks on a motorcycle’ game shows ever made!

1981 ~ ONLY FOOLS AND HORSES

(Possibly) my favourite British sitcom of all time and the only one to ever make me cry.

1982 ~ THE COMIC STRIP PRESENTS…

This fantastic half-hour comedy series starred Dawn French, Robbie Coltrane, Jennifer Saunders and more. Notable in my life for the single greatest “Famous Five” spoof ever made!

1983 ~ BLACKADDER

If you haven’t seen this comedy series…finish reading this post, leave a jovial comment, then head to your local DVD retailer and pick up the complete series box set. Personally, I love Blackadder II, mainly because Miranda Richardson is magnificent as Queen Elizabeth and Stephen Fry, as always, is superb as Melchett.

1984 ~ THE BILL and CITY LIGHTS

The Bill; a quintessential British police drama than ran until 2010. City Lights; a not quite as quintessential Scottish sitcom that ran until 1991.

1985 ~ TELLY ADDICTS and NEIGHBOURS

In the mid-90s, my family applied to appear as contestants on the television quiz show Telly Addicts. We weren’t successful, but it didn’t deter us playing along at home each and every week. As for Neighbours, this was required viewed for a teenager in the UK when I was growing up. It probably still is! :p

1986 ~ CASUALTY and THE SINGING DETECTIVE

Casualty is a looooonnnnggggggg running drama/soap based in a hospital. Think Grey’s Anatomy without the musical episodes. In researching this article I was surprised to find it is still running. Meanwhile, The Singing Detective is one of the monuments of television drama and demands multiple viewings!

1987 ~ GOING FOR GOLD

A quality quiz show in which contestants from all over Europe competed to win something (I don’t remember what!) The only thing I can remember about this show was the theme music, which was composed by Hans Zimmer – now an Oscar-winning film composer!

1988 ~ THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE

This BBC adaptation is still the greatest interpretation of C.S. Lewis’ classic children’s novel. The fact I used to have nightmares about being attacked by giant beavers is in no way a comment on its quality.

1989 ~ QUANTUM LEAP and SAVED BY THE BELL

Saved by the Bell; the show that introduced me to the beautiful Tiffani Amber Theissen. Quantum Leap; the show that (Doctor Who aside) defines my early teenage years. Fun Fact: When Scott Bakula uttered the phrase “Oh Boy” during his appearance in Chuck, I almost died of glee! :p

1990 ~ TWIN PEAKS and THE CRYSTAL MAZE

Twin Peaks is one of the few masterpieces of television…The Crystal Maze, not so much, but was a damned entertaining game show that once upon a time I aspired to be a contestant on.

1991 ~ MR BEAN

I adore Rowan Atkinson. That is all.

1992 ~ HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES

One of the most important television series of my life; I miss this show with an intense and fiery passion.

1993 ~ CRACKER

One of the greatest crime dramas ever!

1994 ~ TAKIN’ OVER THE ASYLUM and DUE SOUTH

Takin’ Over the Asylum is the single greatest drama ever made on the subject of mental illness and should be required watching for anyone working/interested in the field of mental health. Due South is one of the greatest Canadian television series ever and should be required watching for anyone with a Mountie fetish.

1995 ~ HAMISH MACBETH

If there is a man or woman able to watch this show without falling wildly in love with Robert Carlyle, I’ve yet to meet her! If there’s a man or woman able to watch this show without falling wildly in love with Shirley Henderson, I’ve yet to meet her! As for Plockton (aka Luchdubh in the show) I’ve been there…and it’s gorgeous!

1996 ~ THE PRETENDER

All I really remember about this show is that (a) I loved it and (b) they stopped screening it midway through a season so I never found out how it ended.

1997 ~ BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER

I have written extensively of my love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so I shall say no more about it here.

1998 ~ SEACHANGE, THE MICALLEF P(R)OGRAM(ME) and THE GAMES

There are only four Australian shows on this list, and these are three of them! SeaChange reminds me of my relationship with Louise and the early days of my time in Australia. The Micallef P(r)ogram(me) is the greatest work of Australian comedian (and genius) Shaun Micallef and The Games is possibly the greatest thing to ever be produced in the history of Australian television.

1999 ~ SPACED and FREAKS AND GEEKS

If you have never seen Spaced, you’ve never lived. The same could be said for Freaks and Geeks, but considering it has yet to see an Australian DVD release, few people in Australia have. Their loss!

2000 ~ BLACK BOOKS

The greatest ‘set in a book shop’ sit-com ever made.

2001 ~ SMALLVILLE, UNDECLARED and 24

I’ve often ranked Undeclared as one of the greatest comedy series ever made. But, like it Freaks and Geeks predecessor few people have ever seen it due to a serious lack of DVD release outside of Australia. 24 (and Jack Bauer) is a majestic work of absolute beauty that few people ever really appreciated (or understood), whilst Smallville is one of the great genre shows of the last twenty years. Well, until the hideous monstrosity that was Season 7, that is!

2002 ~ FIREFLY

Yes, it’s the second most over-rated series in the history of television. But it’s still pretty good! :p

2003 ~ ONE TREE HILL

Again, I’ve written a lot about this show in the past, especially how it once saved my life.

2004 ~ RESCUE ME and WONDERFALLS

Wonderfalls – the greatest ‘series that no-one’s ever heard of’ in the history of television. Damn you television networks for cancelling this masterpiece! However, a massive thank you to the networks, cast and crew for the exceptional drama series Rescue Me; one of the ‘must watch’ shows of all time.

2005 ~ HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, INVASION, WEEDS and SUPERNATURAL

Look, I couldn’t choose, okay? How I Met Your Mother is a magnificent sitcom that’s helped me no end over the last several years. Invasion is an underrated gem that introduced me to Alexis Dziena. Weeds is a magnificent opus of delightful writing and incredible acting. Whereas Supernatural is not only a show I’ve turned to in times of great distress but one of the finest urban-fantasy series in recent memory.

2006 ~ 30 ROCK and TORCHWOOD

In regards to 30 Rock: Tina Fey, genius. ‘Nuff said! :p And…if I can’t have Doctor Who (damn you year of birth!) at least I can take some solace with Torchwood.

2007 ~ CHUCK, THE SARAH JANE ADVENTURES and SKINS

It was impossible to pick between these three shows. All have saved my life. All are exceptionally well written, beautifully performed and deeply inspirational. Three of my favourite shows of all time.

2008 ~ FRINGE and jPOD

Fringe; a masterwork of science-fiction that took me years to fully appreciate. jPod, yet another show no-one ‘s ever heard of that I adored! Go Canadian television!

2009 ~ COMMUNITY

The greatest comedy series currently being made. And not just because it stars the magnificent Alison Brie! :p

2010 ~ TODD AND THE BOOK OF PURE EVIL

This show helped my survive the chaos that was 26 February 2013; it is also a magnificent and creative comedy-horror series!

2011 ~ GAME OF THRONES

However much I want to dislike like this show because I (occasionally) love being a ‘lone wolf’, I just can’t.

2012 ~ GIRLS

Some of its male characterisation aside (a problem that also affected Sex in the City), this is one of the few series of late that I’ve developed an attachment to.

~ FYI, I deliberately left out animated series. Perhaps I will return to these in the future! :p ~

~~♥~~

Other titles in the “My Life in…” series:
| …movies | …books | …animated movies | …happy memories | …music | …video games |


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My Life in Video Games

Over the last several months I’ve been writing a sporadic series titled  ‘My Life in…‘ where I highlight the films/books/moments/music that have defined me through each year of my life. Today it’s time to get our geek on, as we look over the last thirty-four years of video gaming and all the titles that have defined my life.

The rule is simple, for each year since my birth I have chosen a video game that has resonated throughout my life. Not necessarily the best video game of the year, but the one that would feature in a collection that speaks of who I am in my soul.

My Life in Video Games

My Life in Video Games

1978: Space Invaders (Taito)

1979: Asteroids (Atari)

1980: Pac-Man (Namco)

1981: Frogger (Konami)

The above four games are classics for a reason! Frogger, inparticularly, has long been a favourite of mine! :p

1982: Q*Bert (Gottlieb)

This is one of the first video games I can remember becoming addicted to.

Jetpac

Jetpac (ZX SPectrum)…the first game I ever saved up my pocket money for!

1983: Jetpac (Ultimate Play the Game)

I believe this was the first game I saved up and paid for with my own (pocket) money.

1984: Paperboy (Atari)

When I became a paperboy for real in 1990, I was severely disappointed I couldn’t get away with the shenanigans depicted in this classic game!

1985: Skool Daze (Microsphere)

Obviously being at school wasn’t good enough, I had to play a school based simulator in my free time! Some would call that ‘obsessive’! :p

1986: Kid Icarus (Atari)

Nintendo’s often forgotten hero; countless hours were lost to this game during my childhood. Curse you, Eggplant Wizard!

1987: Mega Man (Capcom)

I’ve been a Mega Man fan from the very beginning. I remember getting the first Mega Man during a shopping trip with my Nan in Hounslow, west of London. Two days later she confiscated it for two days as punishment for something. A few years later, one of its sequels got me into a world of trouble after I stole a little bit of money from a giant whisky bottle our family kept in the dining room so I could afford to purchase it. Damn you, Mega Man! ;)

Mega Man

Mega Man (NES)…this guy was a b*****d, until you remembered you could pause! ;)

1988: Chase HQ (Taito) and Parodius (Konami)

Firstly, Parodius is the greatest side-scrolling shoot-em-up of  all time! Secondly, Chase HQ is a game I have tremendou nostalgia for. A true classic.

1989: Prehistoric Isle (SNK)

I have many fond memories of playing this side-scrolling shoot-em-up with my brother at the Aberdeen leisure centre. He was far better at it than me! :)

1990: Super Mario Bros. 3 (Nintendo)

Greatest. Platform game. Ever! Now…who saw The Wizard?

1991: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Nintendo) and The Legend of the Mystical Ninja (Konami)

Two games with legend in the title, two games that are legends of my life in video games. A Link to the Past set me off on my Zelda obsession whilst Mystical Ninja saw my walkthrough tips published in a video game magazine. Possibly the first time my name was ever in print! :p

1992: Ranma 1/2: Hard Battle (Atelier Double) and Tiny Toon Adventures (Konami)

They’re tiny, they’re toony, they’re all a little loony…if not for Super Mario 3 this would be the best platformer ever. As for Ranma 1/2, it’s here purely for nostalgic reasons as – once upon a time – I was a massive fan of Ranma’s hot/cold water shenanigans! :)

Link's Awakening

Link’s Awakening (Gameboy)…the greatest video game of all time!

1993: The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Nintendo) and Secret of Mana (Square)

Okay, all you Ocarina of Time fan boys and girls, I’m sorry to break this to you but Link’s Awakening is THE best Zelda game, period. As for Secret of Mana, this is the only game to come close to Zelda’s brilliance and I have many fond memories of working my way through this game.

1994: Point Blank (Namco) and Ballz (PF Magic)

Ballz, the only beat-em-up I know where you can spank your opponents and one of the only beat-em-ups I ever really enjoyed playing. These two points may or may not be related! :p As for Point Blank, many (many) hours (and coins) were wasted playing this with Diane in Alice Springs; some of my only happy memories of that period of my life.

1995: Yoshi’s Island (Nintendo) and Chrono Trigger (Square)

If it weren’t for Tiny Toon Adventures and Super Mario Bros. 3, Yoshi’s Island would be the best platformer ever. As for Chrono Trigger, it is a work of true genius! :)

1996: Super Mario 64 (Nintendo)

This is here for one reason and one reason only; I hate this game so much it nearly destroyed my love of Mario for the rest of eternity!

1997: Star Fox 64 (Nintendo)

Whilst Mario, Samus and Link get all the glory, people like Pit and Star Fox are forgotten. Which is a shame, for this sci-fi shoot ’em up was pure quality!

Yoshis Island

Yoshi’s Island (SNES)…(almost) the greatest platform game of all time!

1998: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo)

I was always disappointed with the N64 after the genius of the Super Nintendo. However, Ocarina of Time is simply one of the most essential gaming experiences of all time. If you’ve never played this game, add it to your bucket list immediately, for it is a work of supreme genius.

1999: The Longest Journey (Funcom)

The last of the PC based, brain busting adventure games I played and a game that is criminally unknown.

2000: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (Nintendo)

This game features the greatest video game sub-plot of all time; the three day, re-uniting the lovers storyline. Beautiful! :)

2001: The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages/Seasons (Capcom) and Golden Sun (Camelot Software Planning)

Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons are criminally underrated Zelda games that I’ve spent many a long hour enjoying. Whereas Golden Sun kept my mind busy during the long flight to Australia.

2002: Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (Konami)

The Castlevania series are – alongside Battletoads, Ghouls and Ghosts and Mega Man – the hardest video games of all time. Great fun!

The World Ends With You

The World Ends With You (DS)…I would sell my soul to own this game again. Superb!

2003: Zoo Keeper (Robot Communications/Success)

Bloody addictive puzzle game that has helped me on many occasions with controlling self-harm and various anxiety attacks. Why not try it for yourself, as you can play it here for free! :)

2004: The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap (Capcom)

Another criminally underrated Zelda game that just happens to be one of my favorite in the series.

2005: Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (Konami)

See Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

2006: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Nintendo)

I love, cherish and worship this game. Midna is one of my favorite female video game characters of all time and its story is possibly my favorite of the series. However…damn you stupid Wii fishing controls! :p

2007: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (Nintendo) and The World Ends with You (Square)

The World Ends with You is easily the greatest game ever made for the DS…and yet it never received an official Australian release. Philistines! Meanwhile, Phantom Hourglass is a glee filled Zelda adventure that simply has to be played.

Burnout Paradise

Burnout Paradise (XBox)…the only XBox game I’ve ever played, for obvious reasons! :p

2008: Mario Kart Wii (Nintendo), Lego Batman (Traveller’s Tales) and Burnout Paradise (Criterion)

Yeah, yeah, I know. But I had to include three games for this year as there was no way around it. I have incredibly fond memories of Mario Karting with Diane in Alice Springs, Burnout Paradise is the only game I’ve ever played on an Xbox console (mainly because my brother was one of its makers) and Audrey would never forgive me if I didn’t include Lego Batman (especially given the bonding we’ve been doing over it!)

2009: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (Nintendo)

Those friggin’ bunnies! Similar in many ways to Phantom Hourglass and equally enjoyable. This is noteable for featuring my second favorite final-boss fight in the history of the Zelda series (topped only by Twilight Princess‘ epically awesome final battle!)

2010: Monster Hunter Tri (Capcom) and Metroid: Other M (Team Ninja/Nintendo)

Just as Audrey would never forgive me if I’d skipped Lego Batman, I know Meadhbh would never forgive me for not including this. As for Metroid: Other M, its sexism aside, I had a great time playing this game. I just wish we had more strong, kick-ass female video game characters!

2011: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Nintendo)

Meh. I really, really wanted to love this game, but I don’t. The controls are pissing annoying, the (usually beautifully designed) bosses are incredibly boring and the dungeons are some of the weakest in the twenty-five year old series. Although there are some redeeming features (the music, revisiting the characters and the Horde Battle) they’re not enough to raise this above ‘meh’, especially given the amazing installments that have come previously.

2012: Lego The Lord of the Rings (Traveller’s Tales)

A game that helped me get through my recent depressive episode. Although it’s good fun, it’s my least favorite of the Lego video games.

Spirit Tracks

Zelda: Spirit Tracks (DS)…because I can’t bring myself to post a Skyward Sword image!

~~♥~~

Other titles in the “My Life in…” series:
| …movies | …books | …animated movies | …happy memories | …music |


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Minimal Movie Monday

  Secretary

For those of you who have been living under a rock (like I pretty much have been for several years :p) the idea behind a minimal movie poster is to capture the essence of a film as minimalistically as possible.

The idea behind this post is to put that to the test.

Below are twelve Minimal Movie Posters that have had their title/cast cunningly removed. How many can you identify? For if the artists have done their job properly, it should be all of them!

Oh, and just to be a little naughty, one of the posters is for a television series…but I’m not gonna tell you which one! :p

Minimal Movie Poster Montage


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My Life in Music: Albums that have defined my life

Welcome to another installment in my occasional “My life in…” series.

Previous installments have seen me cast my eye over the movie industry, the literary industry and the more personal, happy moments of my life.

For those who have missed the earlier installments, the premise is simple: for every year of my life I select one album that means the most to me. It doesn’t have to be what I consider the best album of that year, but the album my life would not be complete without.

Unlike the earlier posts, I decided to impose a few restrictions to prevent certain artists overpowering the list:

(1) Album must have been originally released in the allotted year (no re-releases)
(2) Artists can only appear as album of the year twice (no restrictions on ‘just missing out’)
(3) No film score soundtracks (with the exception of Local Hero which is musical nirvana)
(4) No compilation or ‘best of’ albums (with the exception of live albums)
(5) All albums must be relevant to my life (i.e. not selected purely based on critical acclaim)

My Life in Music

~ 1978 ~
Play Gaelic (Runrig)

I’ve always found it rather serendipitous that my favourite band (of all time) released their debut album the year I was born. The band, originally called ‘The Run Rig Dance Band’ was formed in 1973 by brothers Calum and Rory Macdonald as a three-piece dance band that predominantly played wedding receptions. Following their first gig at Kelvin Hall, Glasgow, they have gone on to release thirteen studio albums across their thirty-nine year history.

More than any other artist, Runrig are the musicians of my life. I first came across them in 1999, when they played a free concert to celebrate the (unofficial) millennium in Inverness. Not being aware of them at the time I heard only a couple of songs from a distance and, as my love for their music grew to epic proportions, have long regretted not attending this concert in its entirety as I’ve never been in a position to see them live again.

Their first album, Play Gaelic, was (as the title suggests) performed entirely in Scottish Gaelic and throughout their career Runrig have continued to write and perform songs in their native tongue.

Despite having gone through several line-up changes, including the replacement of lead singer Donnie Munro after he left to pursue a political career, Runrig are still performing to this day.

Hopefully, they will continue for many years to come.

~ 1979 ~
The Wall (Pink Floyd)

My last girlfriend Diane was a huge Pink Floyd fan, and who isn’t? Although I had heard this before, whenever I think of this album I remember a rather lovely, low-key evening of dining, chatting and bathing that she and I shared together.

Aside from that, this is one of the world’s great albums and one of the few accepted classics on this list of defining music of my life.

~ 1980 ~
Remain in Light (Talking Heads)
Just missing out: Flash Gordon (Queen)

It was Louise (she who is responsible for introducing me to many great musicians) that brought Talking Heads to my attention. In much the same way as when she first played me Nick Cave, I was not overly impressed with them. Although I have grown to like them over the years (although nowhere near the level of love that I now have for Nick Cave, see below) this reason is a defining album of my life as it provided the soundtrack to a rather delicious evening of…well, I shall let you use your imaginations about this! :p

~ 1981 ~
Dead Set (Grateful Dead)
Just missing out: Reckoning (Grateful Dead)

Another classic band that I have loved for a long period of my life, harking back to my teenage years of loneliness and confusion. When they were featured on the Freaks and Geeks soundtrack it was impossible for me to hide my excitement. A true classic.

~ 1982 ~
Craigie Dhu (Dougie MacLean)

As this list continues, it will become apparent just how much Scottish music has meant to me through my life. The music of artists such as Runrig, The Proclaimers, Peatbog Faeries and Paul Mounsey touch my heart in ways that other nationalities fail to do. Perhaps this is because Scotland runs deep in my blood, blood that is spoken to by the music of the land I love so much.

Dougie MacLean is a singer-songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and OBE recipient. His song Caledonia has long been considered the unofficial Scottish National Anthem and was my introduction into his music. I discovered it on an album called From the ends of the earth, a live album composed of tracks recorded at two concerts (one in Scotland, one in Australia).

From there I went on to listen to each and every one of his albums, Craigie Dhu being a personal favourite.

~ 1983 ~
Local Hero (Mark Knopfler)

Considering I spent a long period of time in 1999 tracking down as many locations from the film Local Hero that I could, it should go without saying that this is one of my favourite films of all time.

A large part of my affection for this movie is the sublime score from Dire Strait’s front man, Mark Knopfler.

Quite possibly the most played album of my life and, after a five-year hiatus, I am once again the proud owner of this musical masterpiece courtesy of a 50% off second-hand CD sale in a local store. The $2 I paid for that copy is perhaps the greatest bargain of my music purchasing life!

~ 1984 ~
From Her to Eternity (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds)

I didn’t know who Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds were until I met Louise in 2000. When she first asked my opinion of them I stared at her blankly and said one word: ‘who?’. Almost immediately she pulled out her Discman and slipped in The Boatman’s Call album, forcing me to listen to what would become one of my favourite songs of all time; Into Your Arms.

Initially I wasn’t a fan. I found his music un-compelling and rather boring, a reaction that I cannot understand having to this day. Over the years my love for every one of his albums has grown exponentially and woven themselves into the fabric of my life for the rest of time.

~ 1985 ~
Brothers in Arms (Dire Straits)

A group (and album) that I discovered courtesy of my father’s extensive music collection after discovering the great Mark Knopfler courtesy of his Local Hero soundtrack. The title track has long been a personal favourite and one that caused a monumental squee moment when it was used during an exceptionally good musical montage in the superb Canadian television series Due South.

~ 1986 ~
A Kind of Magic (Queen)

It wasn’t long after watching Highlander for the first time that I listened to this album, again courtesy of my dad’s collection. Although there have been better and more widely acclaimed Queen albums, it’s connection to a film and television series that has been a major passion of mine through my life elevates this album onto the list.

~ 1987 ~
Heaven on Earth (Belinda Carlisle)

There is only one reason that this album is on the list. The song Heaven is a Place on Earth was a song that played at my very first school disco, held in a Church Hall in Portlethen that same year. Whenever I hear that song I think of this night; dancing like a fool with my friends, trying to persuade the tuck shop lady to give me free sweets after I lost my pocket-money and my father pointing out Haley’s Comet streaking through the sky after he came to take me home.

~ 1988 ~
Sunshine on Leith (The Proclaimers)
Just missing out: Kylie (Kylie Minogue)

I had been a fan of this album for many years before Louise walked into a HMV in Edinburgh and purchased the entire back catalogue of The Proclaimers. For weeks the only music that played in our bedsit was the contagious sound of these Scottish twins.

For years my affection for The Proclaimers was a source of great teasing amongst my friends (especially Grace, who had an almost allergic reaction to their music). This teasing reached a climax when I finally had the opportunity to see them live when they performed in Melbourne to mark the release of their Restless Soul album.

~ 1989 ~
Parallel Dreams (Loreena McKennitt)
Just missing out: Bizarro (The Wedding Present)

When I decided to travel to Scotland I knew I would have to listen to Standing Stones once I reached Orkney. In fact this song was one of the driving desires that led me to these great islands.

Sneaking away from my tour group I sat in the shadow of the Ring of Brodgar, gazing down toward the Stones of Stenness, and played this haunting melody. For as long as I live I will never forget that blissful moment of peace and serenity.

~ 1990 ~
Charcoal Lane (Archie Roach)

The first musical gig I ever attended was in November 2002, when My Friend the Chocolate Cake and Archie Roach performed a duel concert in Melbourne. Having heard only one of his tracks before (courtesy of the Seachange soundtrack) I was blown away by the talent of this great man. Within weeks I had procured his entire back catalogue and spent many mornings listening to his music as I went on my morning walks along Elwood Beach.

~ 1991 ~
Waking Up the Neighbours (Bryan Adams)

Bryan Adams has long been one of my guilty pleasures (I Wanna Be Your Underwear, anyone?) For a period in the mid-nineties, whilst all my peers were relishing in Oasis, Blur and the Britpop explosion, I was sitting in my room singing along to this Canadian soft-rock genius.

~ 1992 ~
Get Out (Capercaillie)
Just missing out: Cut (Hunters & Collectors)

Capercaillie are a Scottish folk group led by Karen Matheson. Rightly considered at the forefront of Scottish folk music, Capercaillie have garnered world-wide recognition and applause over the twenty-eight years they have been performing.

Aside from their most recent album (Roses and Tears) I once owned every CD they’d ever produced, including the little known Glenfinnan (Songs of the ’45), but it was Get Out that continually eluded me. After finally tracking it down on eBay my hands were literally trembling as I unwrapped the parcel and slipped the shiny disc into the CD player.

I think part of me knew how much that album would go on to mean to me.

~ 1993 ~
Fumbling Toward Ecstasy (Sarah McLachlan)
Just missing out: Bat out of Hell II: Back into Hell (Meat Loaf), Jamu Dreaming (Archie Roach)

During the late nineties (courtesy of two of my favourite shows at the time, Due South and Buffy the Vampire Slayer) I fell for the music of Sarah McLachlan. For anyone who has listened to her music this shouldn’t be too hard to understand. Superbly written songs (Hold On) mixed with a haunting voice and beautiful instrumentation render her CDs some of the best mainstream folk you will ever hear.

Although I am a fan of Surfacing, as well as her early work of Touch and Solace, it is this album (and it’s sister recording, The Freedom Sessions) that live on in my heart. Coming at a time when I was lost and directionless after leaving school these albums helped me realise I should follow my heart. A decision that ultimately led to my backpacking odyssey around Scotland and Canada.

On a sidenote, the title track of this album inspired one of my Buffy fan-fics, which can be read here if you dare!

~ 1994 ~
Grace (Jeff Buckley) and Intimate (Toni Pearen)
Just missing out: Setting the Woods on Fire (The Walkabouts)

It is impossible for me to prioritize which of these wildly opposite artists is more important to my life so I had no option but to call it a tie.

Grace was Louise’s favourite album and Hallelujah was our song, as such it will remain one of the most important albums of my life, even though I cannot listen to it these days without feeling emotional pain.

Meanwhile, Toni Pearen was one of Louise’s least favourite people. She could never understand my fascination with the E-Street and Australia’s Funniest Home Videos star and would often tease me mercilessly about my attraction to her. After first discovering she had released an album during the 90s I vowed to track it down, a vow that was reinforced several years later when I decided to move to Australia.

After months of searching I tracked it down on cassette in a second-hand music store in Prahran and, for a moment, felt pure happiness at succeeding in a long-standing life goal.

~ 1995 ~
Different Class (Pulp)

One of my favourite albums of the 90s and one that secured its place in my heart when Sammi and I karaoked Common People in 2008.

~ 1996 ~
Naked (Louise)
Just missing out: Bothy Culture (Martyn Bennett), A Whisky Kiss (Shooglenifty)

The very first album I purchased! To this day I will stand by my statement that I purchased this for the high quality of the music and not because a hot woman I fancied the hell out of was singing about being naked!

~ 1997 ~
Two Houses (Paul Gross & David Keeley)
Just missing out: The Boatman’s Call (Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds), Impossible Princess (Kylie Minogue)

I loved Due South. I loved it from the very first episode and continued to proclaim my love for it until the very end of the often criticised, grossly misunderstood, final season.

The reason I purchased this album was solely down to my love of the show and lead actor Paul Gross. Little did I know as I walked out of HMV Cardiff all those years ago I would be clutching one of those rare albums that provide the music for key moments of someone’s life.

This album was one of the few that accompanied me around my backpacking trip to Scotland. I listened to it on trains, buses and ferry. I sung it as I hiked roads, glens and forests. I listened to it so much I wore the cassette down so much it wouldn’t play any more.

To this day I know every word, to every song on this album, and it will forever remind me of one of the best periods of my life.

~ 1998 ~
Little Plastic Castle (Ani DiFranco)
Just missing out: Transcendental Highway (Colin Hay)

Annie is the person who introduced me not only to Ani DiFranco but to this album. As we drove around the wilder regions of Canada having random adventures and creating life-long memories, this album played through the car’s stereo system. Whenever the title track plays I think of heart stopping trips to mountainous hot springs and when I hear the second track, Fuel, I am reminded that good songwriting will always trounce manufactured mainstream pop.

~ 1999 ~
Nahoo 3: Notes from the Republic (Paul Mounsey)
Just missing out: 7 (Wolfstone), Mule Variations (Tom Waits), Trail of Stars (The Walkabouts)

My second favourite album of all time. No more needs to be said other than this is a work of a musical genius at the top of his game.

~ 2000 ~
Oops, I Did It Again (Britney Spears)
Just missing out: Faerie Stories (Peatbog Faeries)

I first hear the title track whilst staying at the Glenfinnan Sleeping Car – a backpacker hostel made out of a disused train sleeping carriage nestled at the side of Glenfinnan railway station. Although it is far from my favourite song of all time, this album would go on a few months later to provide the soundtrack to my arrival in Canada.

For those first few weeks this song was playing everywhere I went, cementing it as one of the defining albums of my life as it will forever remind me of this glorious period of my life.

~ 2001 ~
One Eyed Man (Mark Seymour)
Just missing out: Too Close to Heaven (The Waterboys), Loss (Mull Historical Society), Solar Sheers (Shooglenifty)

After listening to (and loving) Seymour’s track Home Again on the Seachange soundtrack I was keen to discover more of this artist. Whilst randomly perusing second-hand music stores a few weeks after arriving in Australia I saw this album sitting in a clearance bin for a few dollars.

It became the first album I purchased in Australia and over the years has become one of my favourite albums.

~ 2002 ~
Curious (My Friend the Chocolate Cake)
Just missing out: Time and Tide (Battlefield Band), Beautiful Collision (Bic Runga)

My Friend the Chocolate Cake was the first group I saw perform live. This album was the one being promoted during those concerts.Thus a life-long love between it and me was born.

~ 2003 ~
City of Walls (Paul Mounsey)
Just missing out: Final Straw (Snow Patrol)

After Runrig and Serena Ryder, Paul Mounsey is my third favourite musician of all time and this album contains my all time favourite track of his; Taking Back the Land.

~ 2004 ~
Disarming (Ember Swift)
Just missing out: 40 Days (The Wailin’ Jennys), Day of Days (Runrig)

In 2005 I attended the Port Fairy Folk Festival for the first time. In the lead up to attending I put aside a small amount of money to buy a few CDs from artists I had never heard of before, artists who I would hear for the very first time during the festival. Madviolet was one, Serena Ryder another. The third was Canadian Ember Swift, who stunned me not only with her musical prowess but the divinity of her lyrics.

Although I’m not sure if it still exists, unlike the other records I purchased during this time, I adored Ember Swift so much I fought through the anxiety to purchase this album from her personally; scoring a signed CD and brief conversation in the progress.

~ 2005 ~
Storyboard (This is Your Captain Speaking)
Just missing out: Everything in Transit (Jack’s Mannequin), Unlikely Emergency (Serena Ryder)

I purchased this album on a whim on my way from work in 2005. After a stressful day at the hostel I swung by Polyestor records on Brunswick Street and bought this on the strength of the cover art alone. I had never heard of the group, had no idea what their sound was like, I didn’t even know their genre.

It has since become not only one of the defining albums of my life, but one of my top five albums of all time.

~ 2006 ~
If Your Memory Serves You Well (Serena Ryder)
Just missing out: At War with the Mystics (The Flaming Lips), Eyes Open (Snow Patrol)

After a difficult year, by the end of 2006 I was slowly beginning to rebuild my life. I had a job, was preparing to begin college, felt more secure in my social network and was in a relationship with a woman I loved. As a birthday treat I purchased Serena Ryder’s new album from JB Hi-Fi in Prahran on my way home from my first day in my new job.

I knew I would love the album based on my affection for her debut Unlikely Emergency. What I didn’t know is that this album contained a song that would go on to become my favourite song of all time: Weak in the Knees.

~ 2007 ~
The Story (Brandi Carlile)
Just missing out: A Brighter Beat (Malcolm Middleton)

This album will forever and eternity remind me of this blog. It is impossible to count how many times I listened to this album whilst writing the early posts that laid the foundation for this blog. The Story, Turpentine, Again Today…whenever I hear these stunning songs I am transported back to those lonely, lost days of attempting to rebuild my life the only way I know how.

By taking risks, by pushing the boundaries, by being me.

~ 2008 ~
Funhouse (Pink)
Just missing out: Feel Good Ghosts [Tea Partying through Tornados] (Cloud Cult), Is it OK (Serena Ryder)

I’d always liked Pink but I didn’t truly love her until this album. Alongside the hideous All Summer Long and The Living End’s White Noise, this is a major soundtrack to my time in Alice Springs and my relationship with Diane.

~ 2009 ~
Middle Cyclone (Neko Case)
Just missing out: Lungs (Florence and the Machine)

Another artist that Louise introduced me to. When she first played Blacklisted I had no idea who the artist was nor why her music dug into my soul as deeply as it did. By the time Fox Confessor Brings the Flood was released I was an all out fan. So when Middle Cyclone was released in 2009 I knew I had to purchase it.

Little did I know that it would become the last CD I’d buy before becoming homeless later that year.

~ 2010 ~
I Speak Because I Can (Laura Marling)
Just missing out: Innerspeaker (Tame Impala)

It was my father (a continuous source of great music) who introduced Laura Marling to me. During one of the many phone calls we shared to keep me sane throughout my homelessness he informed me Laura Marling had won a Brit award for this album. At the time I didn’t know who she was, but the next time I was online some weeks later I made a point to look her up.

Ultimately I tracked down the entire album and over the course of an hour found renewed inspiration during a difficult period of my homelessness.

~ 2011 ~
Travels in the Dustland (The Walkabouts)

When I think of artists that I love unconditionally, very few spring to mind. Runrig goes without saying, as does Serena Ryder. After those would follow Paul Mounsey, Nina Simone and Pink. The only other that I can think of is The Walkabouts, a critically acclaimed yet criminally unknown band hailing from Seattle.

My first introduction to The Walkabouts came when I purchased the album Trail of Stars in a discount bin of an Inverness record shop. Although I liked it, I had never heard of the group before and over the years this album disappeared as I moved across the globe.

Years later, after falling in love with Charles de Lint, I began to notice he would frequently list this group as one of his musical inspirations throughout the writing of his novel. Reminded of my enjoyment of Trail of Stars I found a copy of their anthology Watermarks: Selected Songs 1991-2002 in Polyester records and purchased it.

From the moment I heard the trio of opening tracks (Till I Reach You, Rebecca Wild, The Light Will Stay On) I knew this band become something special in my life; and not for the first time, I was right.

This album, their first in six years, marked the end of my music purchasing drought that began with Neko Case in 2009.

~ 2012 ~
Harmony (Serena Ryder)
Just missing out: Nightflight (Kate Miller-Heidke)

Given I have written of Serena Ryder (and this album) quite extensively of late, all I’ll say is that Harmony is pure musical bliss and I couldn’t have hoped for a better album to end this most tumultuous, surprising and difficult of years.

Other installments in this series:

My Life in Movies
My Life in Books
My Life in Happy Memories

~ What albums define your life? No matter how cheesy or embarrassing. ~


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My Life in a Movie

Whilst exploring the rather magnificent blog Voices of Glass yesterday I came across this excellent post. Being a movie lover, an aspiring writer/director and someone’s who’s lived a life that would make a rather spectacular film, I have decided to play along.

If my life were a movie, this is what it would be…

1. What periods of your life would you want it to be about? Why those periods?

Given my love of unconventional narratives, there is no way I would allow a movie of my life to be made in an A to B to C structure. In fact, if someone decided to make a biopic about me after I died using the conventional format I would come back and haunt their ass!

To fully tell my tell you would need to cover everything, from the early days of naive childhood through the social anxious teenage years and into the dark periods of mental health and homelessness in adulthood. Only this could bring out the links between childhood events and how they impact upon events later in life.

In fact, let’s start the movie with my birth, Tristram Shandy style! :)

2. Which well-known actor or actress would you want to play you in it? Why that/those actor(s) or actress(es)?

Childhood:
Jackson Brundage because he kinda looks like child-me and shares the same mischievous energy I had at that age.

Teenage:
Tobey Maguire because he doesn’t really look anything like me but he could nail the nervous, socially awkward teenage me.

Adult:
David Tennant because he looks absolutely nothing like me but shares the same naughty glint in his eye that I do. Plus, he’s David Tennant.

3. Which well-known actor or actress would you want to play your significant other/partner? Why that/those actor(s) or actress(es)?

Childhood:
Hannah (my best girl friend and first crush) would be played by Caitlin Blackwood because she is beyond awesome!

Douglas (my best male friend and partner in crime) would be played by Pierce Gagnon because he is beyond awesome!

Teenage:
Kathryn (my sister) would be played by Kate Winslet because she reminds me of my sister more than any other actress.

Natalie (my school time crush) would be played by Nina Dobrev, because (ironically) they could be dopplegangers!

Adulthood:
Louise (my first girlfriend) would be played by Maureen O’Hara because no other actress would be able to capture her spirit.

Kathy (my second girlfriend) would be played by Vanessa Hudgens because they look a lot alike. Plus, it would be nice to see Hudgens play a darker role for a change.

Diane (my third girlfriend) would be played by Toni Collette because I can’t think of a more beautiful, talented actress to depict this woman.

In addition, from teenage onwards:
Meadhbe (my primary hallucination) would be played by Karen Gillan because they’re both Scottish and she has the range to be cruel and nasty whilst retaining her ethereal beauty and mask of kindness. Plus, she shares my birthday and is from Inverness :p

And other important people:
Annie (a good friend and object of youthful lust) would be played by Serena Ryder. Okay, I’m cheating slightly as she’s a musician, but I want Serena Ryder to play Annie in mymovie! Got a problem with that?

Grace (a good friend) would be played by Audrey Hepburn, because they share the same intelligence and beauty, have a more than passing resemblance and, in all honesty, who wouldn’t want Audrey Hepburn to play one of their friends in a movie of their life?

Sammi (a complicated friendship) would be played by Jenna Louise-Coleman because she always reminds of Sammi.

4. Which well-known actor or actress would you want to play your parents? Why that/those actor(s) or actress(es)?

My father would be played by Trevor Eve because he is beyond awesome and reminds me of my dad rather a lot.

My mother would be played by Maggie Gyllenhaal because she is beyond awesome and no-one else could pull this role off.

5. What era would you want it to be set in if not in your actual era? Why this era?

It would have to be contemporary; which given the need for 80s and 90s flashbacks would mean lots of wonderful fashion to showcase as well as provide a myriad of options for a corker of a soundtrack CD!

6. What would you want it to be called? Why did you choose that name?

Oh, tough question.

My first reaction would be All that I am, all that I ever was as it’s the title of this blog and would reflect the overall message I’d like to see in the movie. However, long movie titles are few and far between as these days people want short, snappy titles that they can tweet without taking up the entire 140 characters and/or reduce to a handy hashtag.

But you know what, screw the Twitterati, I like All that I am, all that I ever was so I’m gonna stick with that! :p

7.What genre would you want it to be? Why did you choose that genre?

If a movie were to made of my life that was pure drama it would tank spectacularly at the box office because (a) no-one wants to watch a severely depressing tale of a suicidal homeless person and how he became that way and (b) it wouldn’t accurately reflect my life.

Any movie about my life would need to include random faeries, an aerial dragon attack, the occasional spanking and sword fights. All but the spanking being things generally not seen in low-budget indie dramas about mental health and homelessness.

Thus, I suggest a new genre: Urfandacows (Urban Fantasy Dark Comedy, with spanking!)

This way, the heavy drama of MH/suicide/homelessness could be told within an urban fantasy world that depicts the continuing disintegration of my mental stability (hallucinations, mania et al!) Think David Lynch directing an episode of How I Met Your Mother that’s been written by the scriptwriters of Black Books and designed by the guys behind The Dark Crystal (with the occasional spanking!)

C’mon, who wouldn’t want to see that? :p

8. Write a one paragraph description/advertisement for the movie.

You don’t judge a book by it’s cover…so why judge a human by their circumstances?

9. Which one message would you want audiences to get from seeing that movie?

Be yourself, because everyone else is taken.

10. If they were to make a movie about your life – who would you least like to see it and why?

Given I have no qualms about sharing my entire life with the world in blog form I don’t care who sees a movie about my life.

The more the merrier, I say!