HobbyHarri











 

That’s all I wanted to share today.

 

Will post fuller posts when all my work is done & I’m home with my loving Ma & Dad, my awesome brother and my senile cat. Oh, and my dead cat. I forgot he’s still there. Don’t worry, he’s cremated. That would be weird otherwise, huh.

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{November 29, 2011}   Problems Sleeping & Je Ne Sais Quoi

I handed in an essay last Tuesday and it’s had repercussions. For the last 3 nights I’ve had trouble sleeping, and last nights I dreamt that I was worrying about the essay, but that it had been chosen as a prime example of all that is good about an essay and was read to the whole University. Can you get more wish-fufilling than that? Anyway, it’s been giving me problems with thinking and remembering and typing, so this blog is quite late. Not sure how late. Should have blogged, but kept forgetting. Still very committed, but don’t know how to deal with this state of mind in which all I really can do is allow myself to be hypnotised by the world outside my window or Youtube or absent-mindedly eating 3 bananas and half a bag of mint imperials. I was going to write something else in this paragraph, but I got hypnotised again and now I think I should microwave the pasta and go to bed.

 

Tomorrow’s going to be good though. The 2 hour lecture of the day was moved to Monday, so we have the day off. Apparently tomorrow is the day that many people including lecturers at Universities around the UK are going on strike against some pension changes that’ll mean they’ll have to work harder and longer for less. Something along those lines. I’m guessing that’s the reason for the re-scheduling. Good for our lecture man. I do need to go sleep now. You can probably tell that my linguistic and story-telling ability has degraded to a 9 year old kid, thumbing through the dictionary to help with their ‘What I did in my holidays’ essay. Unless you’re interested in the psychosis of sleep-deprived students, I think yoou’ve just wasted your time with me ūüėÄ

 

Oh yeah, I also set myself a goal of learning a new magic trick everyday, but that’s not happening at all right now. It will though, I swear! Once I’m back to normal functioning and my next essay’s done. Going to play ‘Phoenix Wright’ while I eat spaghetti.

 

Goodnight. o



Today is November 23rd, and it’s my birthday. Temporarily. You see, last Friday, one of my friends was very ill, so I spent the day with my family instead. Now that I’m back and she’s better and we have no work due immanently, we designated this Wednesday to be my fake birthday. I spent an hour looking up magic tricks that I could feasably do over a lunch table, but when I got to the American diner and we got our food… it’s easy to forget these things when your stomach’s screaming ‘Mercy!’ and your tongue’s singing ‘Gimme gimme food, gimme gimme food, gimme gimme.’¬†Our portions weren’t even that big, but I’m still stuffed now (5 hours later, though I did eat more, though I also missed breakfast, though I did eat some popcorn later). I think I was the only one who was amazed that they had a salt and pepper shaker, plus¬†a giant SUGAR¬†shaker. My friends thought I was eating salt. If I were a true magician I would have kept my mouth shut and just poured a load into my mint-chocolate milkshake. I broke that illusion instantly, but they were still weirded out a little by my adding the sugar to my milkshake.

One of my friends gave me a lovely present – a blue & silver bracelet with a ring, a heart and a key on it. She said that she remembered that I like keys, and she saw me wearing a blue sweater that she liked & thought it would go well with it. Sitting here in my flat I can see the sweater, but at the time I couldn’t remember it. I think it’s bad policy to look confused when someone’s just given you a present. There was a table in the way, so hand hugs were in order. She also gave me minty chocolates. OM. I just ate one. They’re perfect. Possibly even better than After Eights, because these have a praline centre with little crispy mint chunks. Advertisement Break!: Thorntons’ Mint Batons. Because you want them. Mmm-mm!

 
Then to the cinema for the new Tintin movie. Already convinced of it’s brilliance by the cast (Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Jamie Bell, but I don’t know who he is), the writers (Steven Moffat, king of Doctor Who, and Edgar Wright, king of general geeky awesome-crafting) and the director (Mr Spielberg), I was not prepared to be let down. And I wasn’t. The graphics were beautiful and constantly awe-insiping. That I did not expect. Nor did I expect just how good Craig would be at voicing the villain, or Pegg & Frost’s overly English accents, or the violence levels (Tintin had a gun in hand very early on in the film, not many children’s heroes use guns at all, unless¬†shooting at inhuman monsters, usually with laser guns). And you know what? The balance between cartoon and real life that seems so strange in the trailers, is perfect. From the moment Tintin first stands up, I’m already lost in it all. When’s it on DVD? Can we see extras? I want to see Daniel getting pissed off about having to wear a leotard with a camera helmet. Andy must be quite used to those things by now – he was in one for Planet of the Apes, right? Must see that movie sometime too.

 

And the magic? Well, that film was magic enough for one day, don’t you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re right not to be satisfied with that answer. While we were waiting to be let into the right cinema screen, I did one short card trick for my friend. I felt nerves in my hands, but I must be a lot better now, because they weren’t shaking this time. I think that’s a first for me! It was only one trick, but I’m proud of it. It’s a variation of the typical ‘Is this your card?’ routine that I invented myself. After maybe two months of being proud of its uniqueness, I bought a little book of Tommy Cooper jokes and tricks and found my routine. It’s half crushing, and half inspiring. I guess it shows I’m on the right track, huh?

 

Night x



{October 26, 2011}   Secret.

There’s a secret secret that I’ve kept secret for quite a while, but I thought that people should at least know that there¬†is¬†a secret and that it has consequences that can’t be kept secret. What I mean is that I am going with a secret number of friends to a secret location to witness (or take part in, it’s a secret to me) a secret event. I don’t know what will happen, who will be there, and I or we will be anonymous ourselves. We also are bound to secrecy before and after the event. What cannot be kept secret is that I will be gone for the next 3 days and quite likely won’t be able to post on Friday.

 

The reasoning behind the secrecy is two-fold. Firstly, it is because the group that organises these events is named “The [insert name of correct location] Secret Society”. It wouldn’t be a good secret society if everyone went around telling anybody what happens and who they are now would it?

Secondly, it is to make it special. Their aims are, in essence, to create events that are literally once-in-a-lifetime, that only a select few can ever know about, and that even fewer can actually experience.

 

I only hope that the event itself is as special as they make it out to be, because I’m travelling f***ing miles.

———

All that I will and can say is that it’s Halloween themed and that there will be magic tricks. For those who don’t know, I adore magic. When I think about it, it makes me feel like I’m in love, except without the confusion and worry of ‘Does he like me?’ and ‘he’s staring at me all the time… is that a good thing?’ (I still don’t know the answer to that one).

 

———–

On a side note, at this point in time if you google the word “mystery”, the first result you get is the wikipedia entry for ‘Mystery’, a Canadian pick-up artist (real name; Erik.¬†http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mystery_(pickup_artist) )

 

 

 



{October 5, 2011}   Blood, Money and Magic

Today I earned a fiver. There’s a common cold research clinic at the University which needs volunteers who have just got a cold so that they can test some non-harmful but probably not beneficial medicine on them to see whether or not it is indeed beneficial. All you have to do is get ill and go to them. If your timetable fits when they need to see you, you go to them later for a 5 hour session in which you can’t eat or leave. You then take their meds for however long it is, come back for one more 1 hour session, and then they pay you EIGHTY WHOLE NON-COUNTERFEIT POUNDS. If your timetable doesn’t fit with theirs, then you get a fiver for your time. I may not have earned ¬£80, but considering I was only there for around 10 minutes and all I did was fill out a couple of forms and breathe heavily through my nose for 15 seconds, ¬£5 is pretty kick-ass.

Went off to the shops and promptly spent it and a bit more on a pair of shiny new headphones from David & Goliath, who do plenty of funny and cute and yet cool clothes & accessories. They’re brilliant – so much louder than my weedy, tin-noise earphones, totally immersive when I want to block out annoying noises or just want to really involve myself in a movie, and they look pretty funky too.

The shopping didn’t stop there though. There was a really rubbish box of magic tricks I just had to buy. It’s been really annoying me, seeing it and not having one. Did I mention that Cardiff has a ‘Hawkins’ Bazaar’? Brilliant shop, great for the kid inside. They sell all sorts; toys, joke items, beginners’ juggling equipment, magic tricks, pranks, outdoor games, funny books, and so on forever. In the magic section they only have beginners’/kids’ things – really tacky tricks, plastic magic hats, sponges in rabbit shapes… I only have professional things. Half of magic is tacky rubbish. It’s time I knew the tacky side. It’s great and awful all at the same time! I mean I know it’s meant for kids and all, but I wouldn’t put it past any magician to have once used any of these seriously at some point in their life… ahah… and it’s weird because it has the whole ‘as a magician, you must be mysterious and superior to your audience at all times’ thing going on in the instructions. Here’s a quotation; “Pick up the cards which didn’t get into the hat and make a big noise about how poorly [your volunteer from the audience] did!” Oh dear. Yes that’s the way to impress people and make friends as a kid – humiliate and make fun of them when they volunteer¬†to help your performance,¬†and prove your superiority through your knowledge of how best to drop cards so that they fall straight down instead of fluttering off course.

My favourite is the thumb tip.

I may sound like I’m being mean about this, but I love it. While I don’t know if I’d do any of the tricks here seriously and regularly, I certainly don’t regret buying it. They’re all very gimmick-based, and all the props are very obviously specially made, and therefore obviously gimmicks, which makes the audience’s job a little easier… which now that I think about it sounds like a challenge… to pull off a tacky little trick with tacky props, but still trick a grown-up audience and be entertaining… Maybe later.

While I was there, I thought I’d buy a little tube of fake blood. A couple of reasons:

1. If I leave it in view in my room, I’ll always have it partially in mind, so I might get some inspiration for Halloween. Don’t know exactly what I mean by that, if I’m planning to do a Halloween magic trick or prank or gruesome gift, costume… Just general inspiration so far as I know.

2. To help my blood phobia. I figure that if I occasionally have a look at it or put some on my skin, it might help me get more comfortable with it. Just writing this is making the flap of skin between my thumb and forefinger feel tingly, weak and full of veins. Also, having put some on my left arm earlier, that area’s feeling a little like it’s actually bleeding gently – no pain, just… seepage. Well, I’ve certainly done well to write this! But then I’ve always been good with not visualising what I think and say.

I’m feeling very ill now. Not from the blood talk, it’s the cold. Very sore throat which apparently can’t be soothed by healthy fruits, water, tea or honey & lemon flavour gum. I really hope I don’t get properly ill. My energy’s low enough to start with… ahhrgh. Well I won’t let it get in the way of my plans. If cancer can’t get in the way of someone living life to the full, then why the hell should a cold, eh? Yeah!

I need to go drink tea now. Na-night. o



{October 4, 2011}   Bay II: Return To The Bay

Well today was great. The 1st lectures of my life were on today so I had to set the alarm this morning. I left it on the table again and, because the walls are quite thin here and I care about my flatmates’ sleep, I shot out of bed as soon as I heard it. I managed to shut it off before ‘La Bamba’ got too loud and annoying, but because I was still actually half asleep I had to fall over. Luckily I was awake enough to direct myself to fall on the bed. Very strange experience.

Oh, also I’ve decided that I am most certainly not a clubbing person. If I feel ill to physically be in a certain place… If I’m in a place that has music so loud that it feels like it’s turning my skeleton into jelly, and then shaking¬†the jelly, then I don’t want to be there. So far as I know there was no magician, but even if there was I just did not care. Oo, real downer last night. Apparently, for the clubbing-type the Freshers’ Ball experience was quite mixed, either being ‘Amazing!’ or ‘Crap’. So I guess I’ve even got some of them¬†on my side.

Today fixed that though, as while yesternight was weird and lonely, today I had the company of a friend and a trip to the bay to clear our muddled minds – wow. The clocktower has just donged for midnight. I really need to adjust my body clock, or if not at least to stop starting these blogs just before I plan to go to bed. Back to the story though… There’s not much to say really beyond how great it felt to be sharing that experience and acting as tour guide. I went inside the Millennium Centre for the first time and had a peep in the gift shop. Don’t know why but it was called Portmeirion, which is where classic Brit TV show ‘The Prisoner’ was filmed, so naturally they had a small section of wall devoted to related gifts. I also noted ¬†they sell books on welsh language, Doctor Who notebooks and abnormal playing cards (for example, 1 deck they sell has blank sides). I probably won’t buy any of those things, but nice to know that they’re there.

I’ve really got into the student head-space now, it’s great. I just walk around everywhere looking at amazing goodies and then complaining to my friend or shopkeeper that it’s very expensive and that I have no money (even though as a student I actually have bags at the moment but am playing it safe to last me through the term (even though I’ve probably saved a few small bags already by only going out once during Freshers and then not buying anything there)).

I’m still feeling a bit blue for some reason. It just came back to me. I think it’s because outside of my room the flat corridor smells so strongly of smoke that I’m less keen on hanging out there. I certainly won’t prop my door open anymore – it’ll damage my sanctuary. The kitchen’s pretty darn clear because of the window & all the food that gets made/heated there, but it’s just the threat of inhaling any of that vile stuff on the way there that bugs me. I mean jeez, cig smoke is just the smell of degenerating health, isn’t it? I don’t know if it’s been properly proven that 2nd-hand smoke hurts people but I don’t really care, because I just can’t bear to have to smell daily¬†the smell of gradual hurt, pain and death. I may be exaggerating but I really feel I have the right to be if his mindless self-harm is starting to harm my life too.

Argh. I shouldn’t get myself riled up before bed. I need to relax and tune the world out.

I wish I had some good headphones. Then I could block out the rest of the world’s noise at night, and, if I wanted to, really immerse myself in my music or a film! Had a look around ‘David & Goliath’ today and they had loads of good looking ones. Maybe that’ll be a really worthwhile investment to flush away my midnight blues.

Oh yes, and I’ve learnt a simple rope escape trick. Like a lot of magic tricks it’s more of a brain teaser than a trick really. I mean if you covered my hands so you couldn’t see how I was doing it, I’d say it was magic, but not a trick. But then also if you put someone else in the same situation and left them long enough, they could probably work out the logical solution.

Now I’m in puzzle mode. Damn. No winning this game, is there? Next Aim is to just go to sleep. Go on. Stop typing. THat’s ri-no, stpo…



{October 1, 2011}   Smoke & Mirrors

Today was going to be a magic day. When I’m in the practicing hobbies mode, I tend to allocate individual days to specific hobbies depending on certain things. It tends to go that if I have lots of energy it’ll either be juggling or guitar, and if I’m just mentally alert it’ll be either magic or art. So today was supposed to be for reading up on magic history and/or learning/practicing tricks. I did the shopping (1st time in Lidl – they are darn¬†good you know, great prices but the bread’s solid as Memory Foam), had another walk and supped a mini pot’s worth of Earl Grey while people-watching… all of this helps to get me in the creative-inventive-artistic mood.

Today was¬†going to be a magic day, but then I realised how expensive socks are. That was my one big quest for the shopping day; to buy some more socks so that I wouldn’t have to do my laundry quite so soon. The first place was selling bad socks at a blistering ¬£5 a pair. ALL¬†the other shops had no socks – I got lost in one place for a while, apparently trapped on the bottom floor from which you can only get out using the hidden escalator. I don’t know how to explain this… but personally I find there’s something particularly panicking about being stuck somewhere, surrounded by bland, large lingerie. I guess some part of me remembers that episode of Father Ted a little too vividly. But also I think there is something inherently spooky about a section of a store filled with near-naked faceless mannequins and wispy, weird-shaped clothing that comes in mostly white, some black, and the rest in old-ladies’-stockings-brown. Even La Senza had that problem, extending their colour range only to include the occasional flash of red or purple – and they’re meant to be specialists¬†in that area! It’s like hearing of the greatest magician in the world, and then going to his show and finding that he only does tricks with sponge balls, cards and the chinese linking rings. Mostly I’m left asking why it has such a reputation when all it sells is mundane, boring, and in some cases actually kinda repulsive?

 

Today was¬†going to be a magic day, but all the walking and the searching and the getting lost and the scary bras and scary prices and the cig-smoke smell of the flat I retreated to and the fact that according to BBC iPlayer I can’t watch Doctor Who until tomorrow… I just feel quite glum now. I just want to sleep and get rid of this blue mist and neck-ache and start over again in the morning. I just don’t understand why anyone would smoke anymore. Is it still cool in some places or in some groups? We all know the harm it does now; real permanent, life-shortening damage. And not to mention the cost of the damn stuff. I bet students that party lots and smoke have a lot more trouble with their money. I just don’t understand what could draw people to it, and to stay with it, when we know what it really is now. I just can’t see how you could start, and how you could bare to continue. I wish I was strong enough to confront people about things like this, because if they can’t confront themselves with the reality of what they’re doing to themselves, then maybe what they need is for someone caring to tell them they’re wrong.

 

One interesting thing that I did notice with all that walking was how everyone seemed to be drawn to reflective surfaces. It seemed like just about everyone who passed a reflective surface, be it a mirror or store window, looked in to check themselves. I don’t really understand that personally – is it something vain? Or insecure? I mean I think I’d only do that if I was on the way somewhere important and needed to make sure that I looked smart before I arrived. But with everyone else… they’re just so attached. There’s no conscious need to check, they just see it and for a few seconds they can’t look anywhere else. I like mirrors. I like to see myself in them too. But getting briefly transfixed by myself while I’m out and about? It’s like looking at photos of a friend when you’re spending time with another friend; it’s nice to see, but now is in no way the right time. You can stare into your own eyes and turn about and smarten yourself up, sure. If you want to appreciate the moment though, shouldn’t that be pretty well confined to being on your own, prepping for the day ahead or when you’re bored or getting philosophical about what it means to be you?

 

I guess it was a magic day after all, even if it was a little convoluted.

 

I just don’t understand how anyone could find any magic in their smoke and mirrors. But then again, I’m sure many of them won’t understand how I can see magic in coins and roses.



{September 30, 2011}   Performing Nerves

I want to talk for a bit about nerves. I’d like to say ‘specifically the subconscious kind’, but I’m not even sure that that’s getting it right… I’m talking about the nerves that you can’t feel, you can’t understand and you can’t compehend why they’re even there. You didn’t think “Oh, that bit’s so tricky, what if I screw up…” You didn’t feel butterflies in your stomach or your heart beat raise. You didn’t feel or think anything, and you have no reason to be nervous anyway.

And yet it happens. Whether it be because this time you’re recording the guitar piece that you’ve practiced and perfected, or because you’ve hardly performed magic in front of anyone before (no matter how good friends they are and how well you know them and they know you), or for no reason you can discern, it will happen. Your hands shake. They fumble at the chords and picks that, seconds earlier were flowing perfectly as though you’d known them for years. Now it’s like some weird game of tag where you have to plot ahead to get a chance at cornering and grabbing them so that you can hear them squeal in annoyance. Now that simplest of card tricks is something quite extraordinary, but not in the way you’d have liked, as your hands tremor with such a magnitude that everyone¬†laughs nervously. The trick gets done, and all are amazed you could pull off such a feat when your fingers seemed so compelled to grant the cards their freedom. The speech that you were so proud to be giving suddenly becomes something to be nervous about… now that your vocal chords are chattering like novelty plastic teeth.

I hope that somewhere in the world of science, where the most intelligent of people are dedicated to research such topics as what chemicals will reduce the appearance of ageing and how can we make a hotel in space, there is someone trying to figure out what these phantom nerves are, where they come from, and whether practice really is the only cure.

———————————-

Prompted by my day of guitar practice. I’ve finally worked out how to play this lovely piece; ‘A Girl, A Boy And A Graveyard’ by Jeremy Messersmith. It’s one of the most beautiful songs I know, so it’s really great to finally have it worked out. Very difficult to play and I certainly can’t sing along with it just yet, but it’s pretty much there. I wish I could share it now, but there’s something about the guitar that makes it very hard to record normally. I think I may need to buy specialised equipment for it because it either comes out very quiet or horribly distorted. Not to mention the phantom nerves!



{September 3, 2011}   The Joy Of Pickle

The productivity today is the kind that puts other days to shame. Woke energised, happy to leave my comfy warm bed, went downstairs & sorted out everything!¬†I’ve sorted things with Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs and filed about a wardrobe’s worth of papers, books & folders from school, haaa..

I’ve got the same hunger pangs as yesterday, but I guess this time it’s brain food. I had hoped to make it a day for magic trick learning, but after all that I’m plastered to my guitar & paying intense attention¬†to the TV. HUgely looking forward to Doctor Who in an hour in which there are monsters under the bed for real. I Love Doctor Who, that’s one of the fundamental things you need to know about me – I will¬†work for that show some day somehow. I will.

Mmm, Cornichons… that’s the 3rd thing I’m doing now, eating mini-pickles straight from the jar, very vinegary, could hardly be happier right now – wait, Bowie music on the tele! Ah, happiness! Shit, out of gherkins, must hunt/gather.

Well, perhaps if I get more sorting out of the way today while I’m still in the mood then I can have all of tomorrow to focus on either hobbying or blogging about preparing for Uni… I may do both.



et cetera