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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One thing I got for Christmas

By now, many of you will have spent the day waking up at the crack of dawn, ripping open your presents and slaving away in a baking hot kitchen preparing a roast dinner to end all roast dinners. You will no doubt have had numerous moments where you wished you were sunbathing on a beach instead of partaking in the traditional family Christmas and occasions where you’ve snuck off for a sneaky cigarette so your Great Aunt Doris doesn’t find out about your nicotine addiction.

By now, you’ll probably be wishing for an oasis of calm amidst the riotous nature of the contemporary Christmas Day, a few moments to recharge your batteries and prepare for an evening of board games, temper tantrums and overly drunk relatives. So why not seize the opportunity to partake in a little blogging? For today marks the commencement of the Twelve Days of Christmas Blog Challenge!

And as its Christmas Day, we begin with: one thing you got for Christmas!

Now, given the fact that I live in relative isolation, surviving Christmas is always a difficult task for me. I don’t get to enjoy the hectic Christmas dinner, children throwing toys across the room or the random person in the corner of the room that may or may not be one of your relatives. I just have to find whatever outlet I can to survive this most insidious and lonely of days as safely as I can.

One of the things I do to get through the day unscathed is buy myself a present. In 2009, when I was homeless, I treated myself to dinner. In 2011, when I was still homeless, I purchased a couple of books from a local second-hand bookstore to provide me with a distraction from the big day. This year, I decided a DVD box set was the way to go.

As regular readers of my blog will be aware, my favourite animated movie of all time is the Studio Ghibli classic My Neighbor Totoro; which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. Not only is it one of the most perfect films of all time, it is also a film that has tremendous sentimental attachment, for this was the film that Samantha and I chose to watch during our day in Glasgow.

My Neighbor Totoro

My favourite of the six exclusive postcards

To mark the film’s 25th anniversary, Madman Entertainment saw fit to release a limited edition box set, consisting of: the film on DVD and Blu-Ray, an exclusive matchbox diorama, six exclusive postcards and a 176-page hardback book showcasing the art of My Neighbor Totoro.

This box-set was my Christmas present this year; and I am overwhelming happy with my decision! The book – a generous collection of concept sketches, fully rendered character designs and background paintings – is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen! The matchbox diorama, of a sleeping Totoro, is beyond cute. And I fully plan to frame the postcards in order to brighten up my rather drab cream walls.

Sure, some people may think that for someone living in poverty this purchase was a little excessive, but I do not. Since waking up this morning the urge to self-harm has been omnipotently present throughout each arduous hour. But after transporting myself into Totoro’s world, that urge has dissipated; replaced with a broad smile and a renewed spring in my step.

My Neighbor Totoro

The box set in all it’s divine glory! :)


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My Life in Animated Movies

Over the last several months I have 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. As it’s been a while since I wrote a fun post, here is ‘My Life in Animated Movies’.

For each year since I was born, until last year, I have chosen an animated movie that has resonated throughout my life. Not necessarily the best animated movie of the year, but the one that would feature in a DVD collection that speaks of who I am in my soul.

Animated Movies

1978       The Lord of the Rings    

This was my introduction into the world of Tolkien and, unlike the recent adaptation of ‘The Hobbit’, can be watched without the sudden need to fall asleep.

1979       The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

This was my introduction into the world of C.S.Lewis…although it’s not as good as the 2005 movie or the classic BBC serial.

1980       Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don’t Come Back!!)

Charles M. Schulz. ‘Nuff said.

1981       The Fox and the Hound               

This is the first animated film I can remember seeing at the cinema. My mother took my siblings and I to see this in Richmond (London) at a time when I was completely unaware of who Kurt Russell was.

1982       The Secret of NIMH       

Why are rodents so popular when it comes to animation? When the finished product is this good, who really cares?

1983       The Wind in the Willows            

This film used to freak me out. Seriously.

1984       Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind        

Hands up who can pronounce Nausicaä correctly? I saw this for the first time during a Studio Ghibli retrospective at the Cinema Nova in 2005, a magnificent feat of animated storytelling.

1985       The Black Cauldron        

Do you remember heading down to the newsagent as a child and spending your hard earned pocket money on pointless packets of stickers? Do you remember ripping open the packets hoping this time you’d find the one bloody sticker that was preventing you from completing the album, but you never did?

Disney’s The Black Cauldron was the only (the only) sticker album I ever completed and remains in all it’s disheveled, disintegrating glory in a box in my parent’s house as proof completing a Panini album was indeed possible.

1986       The Great Mouse Detective      

If this film hadn’t been made it’s entirely possible my life-long love affair with Sherlock Holmes would never have occurred, for this was my introduction into the world of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most beloved creation. (see, animated rodents :p)

1987       Footrot Flats: The Dog’s Tale     

John Clarke provides one of the voices; ‘nuff said!

1988       My Neighbour Totoro   
Runners up: Grave of the Fireflies, The Land Before Time

Simply the greatest animated movie of all time…ever…period! The only people who could possibly disagree with this accolade are those who have never seen it. Hopefully you’re not one of them.

1989       The Little Mermaid        

I used to have a crush on Ariel. Just saying.

1990       Duck Tales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp            

This film will forever remind me of my childhood. And dodgy NES games. And rediculously addictive theme songs.

1991       Beauty and the Beast    

Until I saw My Neighbour Totoro this was my favourite animated movie of all time. At one point I knew it word for word…not exactly something a childless man should be admitting to, which I guess is why I live a socially isolated life :p

1992       Aladdin               

A film I can no longer watch due to it being a trigger to the abusive relationship I was in.

1993       The Wrong Trousers      

Wallace and Gromit were never better than they were in this masterpiece!

1994       The Lion King    

As those who have read this blog know, I once served Jeremy Irons coffee. Squee!

1995       Toy Story            

The second best Toy Story movie, after its first sequel, of course..

1996       James and the Giant Peach        

Better than A Nightmare Before Christmas. Oooooo, controversy :p

1997       Princess Mononoke      

Often forgotten fact…Neil Gaiman worked on the script for the English language version.

1998       A Bug’s Life       

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again; David Hyde Pierce is a genius.

1999       My Neighbours the Yamadas    

Perhaps Studio Ghibli should consider using the word Neighbour in all of their movie titles, for this lesser-known animated masterpiece is superior to some of their better known films.

2000       Titan A.E             

I watched this in Halifax with Rachel. She didn’t like it. Although she, like I, did enjoy the very-Whedon ‘Bob’ exchange.

2001       Monsters Inc   
Runners up: Waking Life, Shrek, Spirited Away

For years after watching this movie Louise (and anyone who I told/found out) teased me mercilessly over the fact I bawled my eyes out when they say goodbye to Boo; one of my favourite animated characters in the history of animated film!

2002       The Wild Thornberrys Movie   

This movie was on the television the day after I was assaulted in 2007. I watched it curled up in a ball and remember thinking ‘why couldn’t you be the Rugrats Movie’? (as I have always loved the Rugrats!)

2003       The Triplets of Belleville             

Magnificent. Beautiful. Inspirational.

2004       The Incredibles               

One of the all-time great CGI movies and easily one of Pixar’s finest.

2005       Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit          

I very nearly didn’t get to see this movie as I refused to switch my phone off for the preview screening I was attending. The phone had no camera facility and I needed to have it on for work (as I was on call). Fortunately, they relented as long as they witnessed me putting it on silent (something I always do when going to the cinema anyway!)

2006       Happy Feet

I watched this with my parents on Christmas Day 2006; my last ‘enjoyable’ Christmas. Given I was suffering from Glandular Fever at the time I fell asleep when Mumble arrived at the zoo so, to this day, have no idea how the film ended as I didn’t wake up until the credits had started rolling.

2007       Ratatouille        

This is a film I watched during an anxiety ridden flight from Melbourne to London in 2008. My least favourite Pixar film, most likely because of the bad memories it brings of this horrible flight! Also, more animated bloody rodents!

2008       Ponyo  

Another Studio Ghibli gem.

2009       Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs        

A film that never failed to make me smile…until three days ago, when even this was unable to break the insidious depressive episode I’ve found myself in.

2010       How to Train Your Dragon
Runner up: Tangled

My favourite CGI animated movie of all time. Simply stunning.

2011       Puss in Boots    

I’ve never really been a fan of the vastly overrated Shrek movies, but this spin-off was quite marvellous. The short that accompanies it on the DVD is also wonderful :)

2012       Brave   

Perhaps it’s the red-headed Scottish heroine. Perhaps because it reminds me of Miyazaki. Perhaps because it’s highly under-rated. Perhaps because I watched it on a good mood day. I don’t know. All I do know is that I loved this movie from beginning to end and it should have received far more acclaim than it did.

See also:

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

and

Addy’s Top Twenty Animated Films of All Time


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My top twenty animated films of all time!

This is the first entry in my Top Twenty Thursdays. Every week I (or you, should you wish to offer a suggestion) will nominate a category and present to you my definitive top twenty.

Some of my choices may be arguable, some spot on, others down right laughable, but they’re my choices. What are yours?

Today we have my top twenty animated films of all time; CGI, stop motion, cel…as long as it’s animated and feature-length, it’s allowed to be included.


The Top Twenty…

20. Basil the Great Mouse Detective; a wonderful take on the Sherlock Holmes legend, Disney style.
19. Bolt; a surprisingly brilliant movie, fantastic fun for the whole family.
18. When the Wind Blows; an animated film depicting a nuclear attack, a must see.
17. Monster House; an under-rated, darkly comic masterpiece – complete with an animated Maggie Gyllenhaal. Woo hoo!
16. Toy Story; a modern classic.
15. The Iron Giant; an often forgotten gem, based on the Ted Hughes poem.
14. Up; a beautiful, haunting and intelligent family friendly animation.
13. Paprika; an eye-opening, sophisticated, challenging, disturbing Japanese animation.
12. Pinocchio; a classic Disney film that should need no introduction.
11. Toy Story 2; in my mind, one of the few sequels that betters the original.

The Top Ten…

10. The Land Before Time

It may have spawned dozens of un-necessary sequels but the original The Land Before Time is one of the animated classics of my childhood. Since first watching it in a cinema in Aberdeen I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen it since.

9. Monster’s Inc

I infamously (and somewhat embarrassingly) wept whilst watching this film with Louise. She never let me forget it – and I don’t want to – just thinking about that emotional farewell is setting the tears welling.

8. Sleeping Beauty

Just as I’ll always be a fan of the original fairytale. Just as I’ll always be a fan of Anne Rice’s adult interpretation. I will always be a fan of this stylised, beautiful Disney film.

7. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

A relatively recent film, I’ll grant you, but when a film possesses the originality, verve and energy that this does it’s a worthy addition. Until a few months ago I’d never seen it; I’ve now watched it dozens of times and never grown tired of it.

6. Grave of the Fireflies

If you thought When the Wind Blows was dark, wait until you see this remarkable offering from Studio Ghibli. The less you know before entering into it the better, but it’s based in Japan during WWII – and you’ll need lots of tissues.

5. Tangled

Perhaps it’s because the magnificent Zachary Levi provides one of the voices. Perhaps because, in comparison to other Disney Princesses, Rapunzel kicks serious ass! Whatever it is, I adored every second of Disney 50th animated feature. Especially the closing animated titles.

4. Whisper of the Heart

When people think of Studio Ghibli they think of Nausicaa, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and numerous other animated classics from this highly regarded studio. Alas, Whisper of the Heart is not one that comes to the minds of most, but it should be. Simple, engaging, touching and funny. I dare you not to sing along with country classic Country Road.

3. Beauty and the Beast

For over a decade this film rested at the top of my list but over the last several years has been notched down to third place. Regardless, it remains one of the most beautiful animated films of all time, easily deserving its Oscar nod for Best Picture. However, when I watch the film these days, I can’t help but look at it from a more adult perspective. And with Stockholm Syndrome coupled with the abusive behavior of the Beast, I find it unnerves me somewhat. What exactly are we teaching our children?

2. How To Train Your Dragon

The film that drop kicked Beauty and the Beast into second place! I cherished everything about this film; from the wonderful character design, to the inspired realisation of the dragons, to the stirring John Powell score, to the fantastic voice cast, to the ‘Spot David Tennant’ mini-game. If you haven’t seen it, go NOW! If you have seen it, watch it again. And then track down all the spin-off short films and prepare yourself for the Hammerhead Yak!

1. My Neighbour Totoro

Whilst sharing a tub of mint-choc-chip in a hotel room in Glasgow, Sammi and I were nattering away when she nonchalantly stated although she’d heard of it, she’d never seen this movie. On such stunning news, I found myself unable to prevent throwing a spoonful of ice-cream at her! How could anyone not have seen this film? In the few moments of silence that followed I thought I may have pissed her off, until a rather amusing ice-cream fight fed into a viewing of this masterpiece.

To put it bluntly, it is flawless.

To put it not so bluntly, it spanks the ass of all animated films and sends them to bed to think about what they’ve done wrong.