How’d it go? – July 2021

Let’s not waste any time this month, shall we? The highlights of my July were receiving my second Pfizer vaccine shot (hooray!) with, once again, practically no side effects, and going to a Titanic-themed escape room with my family, followed by the first meal out at a restaurant I’ve had in literally longer than I can remember. The meal wasn’t great, but it was wonderful just eating somewhere different. The escape room (https://www.houdinisescape.co.uk/) was initially purchased as a Father’s Day gift for my Dad two years ago which we’d booked to do in early 2020, but had to reschedule it due to the whole pandemic and whatnot. It was a lot of fun, with some puzzle-types I hadn’t come across before, although the experience might have been improved if it hadn’t been the hottest day of the year and we didn’t have to wear thick life jackets over our clothes. The host for the show was incredible though, he really knew his stuff. We’d meant to watch Titanic the night before but alas ran out of time, but that’s fine, I’ve seen it so many times that I can just play it in my mind.

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How’d it go? – June 2021

June felt like a very short month full of very long weeks. Whether this was due to the constant pressure of finishing the previous “How’d it go?” post (I literally didn’t start it until halfway through May, then scrambled to finish it before the end) or because the work weeks dragged and the weekends flew by I cannot say. The main breakthrough from this month was, despite last month’s misgivings, I went to the cinema! And then, I went to the cinema again, for a double-bill! We’ll get into the films soon, but I immediately take back my lack of enthusiasm for going back to the big screen; watching A Quiet Place Part II was far better in a big, dark, loud room than it could ever have been at home. I was more engaged, engrossed and emotionally invested knowing I couldn’t pause the film or do something else at the same time, and I’d taken that for granted in the year since I’d last been. Of course, when it came to the second visit I was, as per tradition, a little late to the first film (Fast & Furious 9) but that had about 30 minutes of ads and trailers, so nothing was missed. I’d allocated 20 minutes between films to grab a bite to eat, but the extra trailers from Fast 9 and a very busy entertainment complex meant my plans ran long and I was once again a little late to the second screening (In The Heights). I figured it would be fine given the trailer quantity of the first film, but it turned out for this screening they’d opted for practically no trailers whatsoever, and I’d missed the first 5 minutes. Fortunately the entire first musical number is on Youtube as a trailer, so I’ve caught up now but I was very frustrated with myself for the first half hour or so of the film.

Speaking of films, let’s get into them, shall we? Oh, and as this is the halfway point post for the year, I’ll be providing updates for where I am with everything resolution-wise. Spoiler alert, I’m not doing well!

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How’d it go? – May 2021

To me, May felt like an exceptionally long month that was both eventful and really dragged along. It’s been a pretty dour month for reasons I’ll soon get into, but I’m aware that many friends of mine, some of whom may be reading this, have had a horrendously tough go of things lately and I want to let them know that I’m here if they ever want to chat. I’ve told most of them this personally, but if you’re having a rough patch and need someone to talk to, drop me a line. So what was up with my May? Well, it was a bit of a rollercoaster, and much of it I don’t want to dwell on too much, so here’s the highlights:
– Murphy, our beloved 6-year old labradoodle-slash-tornado, had a bit of a scare that required an urgent rush to the vets one weekday night. He was really down, off his food, unresponsive etc. Turns out he was absolutely fine, we still don’t know for certain what was wrong with him, he’s all better now and we’ve found out he has an exceptionally large spleen but it’s nothing to worry about. That’ll be £360, please and thank you.
– I received my first vaccine shot, very unexpectedly. For those of you not in England, the vaccine rollout here has been pretty slow, with it initially being available only to those most in need (the elderly, at-risk and frontline workers, which absolutely makes sense and I have no problem with) then they gradually decreased the age at which people were eligible for it. Very gradually. I’m now eligible, but in early May when I received my shot I wasn’t, but the mother of a friend at work heard of some spare vaccines that would otherwise be thrown away if we didn’t get there shortly. Long story short, we waited for almost 2 hours, received shots, and whilst my buddy’s arm went completely dead soon after I received no ill effects whatsoever. Hooray!
– I was due to have a weekend all to my lonesome – something that hasn’t happened in a very long time – when my wife took the dogs up to see her parents now that travelling and staying over is allowed. It also coincided with the cinemas reopening, so I put two and two together and came up with at least one solid day of theatre-hopping to see whatever might be showing, but at the very least Kong Vs Godzilla (or vice versa, who cares?). Alas she had a work emergency that delayed her leaving for a day and required my assistance (which, I want to clarify, I didn’t mind offering at all), and my Dad got wind of me being alone without those pesky pups and figured it’d be the opportune time for he and I to lay a patio together, and that the next day I could then pop round to their house and see my grandparents, who I hadn’t seen in well over a year. As in literally not even seen on a phone, they don’t quite comprehend Zoom calls. It was great to see them, and my sister’s new house, and to make progress on the patio, but it was far from the relaxing me-focussed weekend I’d been hoping for.
– And yeah, at the time of writing I still haven’t been back to the cinema, and to be honest I’m not really that bothered. I don’t miss it, mainly due to the time factor. If I’m going to see a 2-hour film, you need to add at least thirty minutes either side for travelling, and as my local cinema showings vary from having 10-30 minutes of ads and trailers, you can’t afford to be very late at all. So that 2-hour films is now eating up at least 3 1/2 hours of your day, and my days are already pretty full! Obviously I’m going to go to the cinema again sometime, but looking ahead at upcoming movies there’s precious few for which I’m not thinking “Meh, I can wait ’til that’s streaming.”
– Easily the main event that’s got me down this month, and which is sparking my recent obsession with time, is that I’m now working back in the office full time, whereas I’ve been mostly working from home for about 4 months now. I’ve loved working from home. There are fewer distractions, lunchtimes are accompanied by doggy playtimes and often involve better food and the company of my wife, and the lack of commute has been heaven. I cycle to work, which allowing for getting changed takes about 45 minutes each way, so that’s an hour and a half I’ve now lost every day. Yes, it’s good exercise and a decent decompress after the day of work, but I’ve been doing better and more varied exercises – weights, yoga, longer dog walks – without the need for the bike rides. And my stress levels have gone up and sleep times dropped way down since I’ve been back in the office. It’s not good at all, but I am of course grateful to have a job, and to have had one all throughout the lockdowns.
– All that being said, because I was having such a shitty month and I had a little extra cash rattling in the bank account, I decided to treat myself to the Jurassic Park Gate and T-Rex Lego set I’ve been ogling since its release. It’s due to be discontinued next year, and I finally broke down and bought it. I haven’t finished building it yet – it’s huge and I’m pacing myself – but expect some photos next month.
So that was supposed to be a brief run through of the month, but I’ve already rambled on for way too long. Let’s skip to the movies, shall we?

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How’d it go? – April 2021

Just like March, April just sort of disappeared from under me without anything major really happening. Genuinely I think the most exciting thing that happened was I got a haircut, for the first time since November. What a thrilling life I lead.

April did see the Oscars take place, but I did not. At the time of the ceremony I’d only seen three of the best picture nominees and very few of the films nominated for acting or indeed many other awards. I’d caught all the animated feature nominees, but that wasn’t exactly an exciting race this year. I recorded the ceremony, heard it was terrible, and so haven’t watched a single moment or highlight reel. If there’s some aspect I should check out, please let me know, but otherwise it’ll get deleted from my SkyQ box soon. Anyway, let’s cease dwelling on what I didn’t watch, and get onto what I did, shall we?

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How’d it go? – March 2021

What do you mean it’s April? Don’t be ridiculous.

After the eventfulness of February, March just kind of trundled along for me. It wasn’t the most exciting of months, and honestly there’s not a lot to report. I got back on some podcasts, failed another marathon attempt (less dramatically than last time, more on this later) but no-one else in my household – or in fact anyone that I know of – got COVID, so there’s that. Let’s skip the preamble and get straight into the movies, shall we?

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How’d it go? – February 2021

The themes of this update are patience, procrastination and putting things off until the right time. My February was overshadowed by two separate events, the first of which occurred on February 6th, a Saturday. You may recall one of my resolutions for 2021 was to run at least a half-marathon every month, slowly increasing my distance over the course of the year, eventually building up to running a full marathon. Well on the 6th of February, 37 days into the year and with just two half marathons under my belt this side of 2020, I got up, went for a run and thought “Fuck it, why not today?” Yep, I tried to run a marathon, with no proper preparation, no real route planned, and having eaten no breakfast. This is, to date, one of the stupidest decisions I’ve ever made, especially when you factor in the route I did take involved so many hills it could’ve been shown on MTV in the late 2000s. Ridiculous. I made it just over 30km (about 3/4 of a marathon, so still my longest run ever) before my wife – who I also hadn’t informed about what I was doing – phoned me to ask where in the blue blazes I’d got to, and how badly injured was I. She had an errand to run in the direction I was, and I couldn’t really walk any more, so she picked me up, took me home, and justifiably called me a numpty. Unsurprisingly it took me over a week to get into any kind of decent running shape again.

The second momentous occasion of the month occurred 2 weeks later, on the 19th February, a Friday, when my aforementioned wife tested positive for COVID-19. I’ll start off by saying she and I are both fine. Her symptoms were pretty mild – headaches, upset stomach, fever – all are gone now, and I didn’t have any whatsoever. The day before I’d tested negative, and we gingerly kept a distance apart but didn’t go nuts with it. Our toothbrushes still shared the same pot, but less time was spent hugging than either of us liked. Anyway, in the UK a positive test result means the whole household must self-isolate for two weeks from the start of the symptoms, so we couldn’t leave the house until this past Saturday (27th). That meant no pops to the shop to restock our meagre supplies – fortunately we got a grocery delivery a few days in, but they didn’t bring everything – no going for a run and, crucially, no dog walking. We arranged for a friend-of-a-friend to take the dogs out on the weekdays, and we played with them best we could – or rather, as best as they’d allow, the grumpy sods – at the weekend and in the evenings. I’ve never been more grateful to have a garden, although once you’ve run from the back door to the side gate and back again 231 times in a bid to run a 5k, you can’t help but wish for a bigger one. By no means do I intend to imply we’ve been through anything close to the ordeals of many others. At the end of the day we have each other, we have an outside space, and my wife recovered completely, but paying someone else to take your dogs for a walk when it’s literally all you want to do is a bizarre feeling, and dammit we got down to our last can of Pepsi Max, which is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

So, what did I learn this month? There’s no need to rush something you’re comfortably building up to, it’ll more than likely hurt if you try tackling it too early. But also, don’t wait until you’re almost out of supplies before going to get some more, as who knows if you’ll be able to. Every task has its own sense of urgency. Sometimes you’ll put off writing a couple of reviews until the end of the month in order to reach your one-review-a-week goal, but then on that last evening you’ll have a combo of your utter gobshite arsehole imbecile neighbours having a karaoke rave party during a fucking pandemic until 2am in the mother-fucking morning, and then plumbing issues that take far longer to fix than intended, so you miss your self-imposed deadlines and end up behind. However, there are few things in life more satisfying than the kah-THUNK! of a dislodged toilet blockage you’ve spent three solid hours plunging away at, so there’s that.

Anyway, that was a longer intro with far more personal information than any of you wanted, so let’s get into the movies, shall me?

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How’d it go? – January 2021

A new year rolled around and wouldn’t you know it, in the grand scheme of things not a lot changed. In some ways this pandemic seems to be improving, and in others it feels like any real change is at the very least months away. Nationally, things are grim. For the past four years, no matter how bad things have gotten, we here in the UK have at least been able to mutter under our breath “At least we’re not in America…” but now if the world is looking for a country to look down on, the UK has to be pretty high on that list, what with the double whammy of incompetent leaders and the calamitous Brexit ripples flowing into full on waves of destruction. Wow this post started out negatively! Sorry about that. Let’s abandon the socio-political bollocks and get down to how my year is going on a more personal scale, shall we?

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2020: What Kind of Year Has It Been? Plus Plans for 2021

2020 was some kind of year, right? Many people have been describing it as the worst year in their lifetimes, and quite rightly so. On a global scale the past twelve months have been devastating, so I’m not going to go there. Instead I’ll just go through what I got up to, in relation to the resolutions I made this time last year.

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Mid-2020 Update

I think it’s safe to say that 2020 isn’t exactly going to plan. It’s not been a stellar year for anyone, and listing off the many and numerous trials that either have been or are still testing the world at large isn’t going to do anyone any good. Suffice to say I’ve found myself home a lot recently, not that the activity on Life vs Film would have led you to such a conclusion. It turns out that being stuck inside for almost three months with nothing but a bunch of streaming services and a decent sized DVD collection still isn’t enough to actually make me watch and review more films. In fact, compared to this time last year I’ve only reviewed a third as many! How is that even possible? So what have I been doing? Good question, and to answer it let’s run through my 2020 goals at this roughly half-way point through the year: Continue reading

Life Vs Film in 2020

Happy New Year! It’s a new year (it’s not a new decade, don’t get me started), so let’s take a look at everything that happened to me in the past twelve months. Those of you who just follow my exploits on the blog will be forgiven for assuming that I’ve been in a coma. I haven’t, it’s just that, like pretty much every year, I started out on a fairly average trajectory and rapidly spiralled into doing nothing, but that’s only here, what about everywhere else? Well, I think the best way to look at this will be to run through my resolutions from 2019: Continue reading