Month: February 2015

Comfortably Vexed

I used to be quite angry for a lot of the time, particularly when I was younger. In fact, when I was in my early twenties I had a permanent scowl on my dumb face – and for reasons I can’t quite remember. I think I wore it because I thought girls would think I’m edgy and a bit challenging. In fact, it just made me intolerable and annoying. I didn’t get much action back then!

I also used to have an opinion about everything! With my facial muscles seemingly frozen into that stupid, angry glare, I would spout utter horseshit about things I had absolutely no knowledge of. I rallied with such conviction and cool exasperation, anyone with half a brain overhearing me would have been driven to convulsions by my pantomiming and general arseholery.

But I believed in all of it – so deeply that I could have reached the earth’s core with my shit-bag opinions on stuff no one was interested in to begin with. What a prick!

These days I struggle to find anything to get that angry about. I’m too old and don’t have the energy to get worked up and punchy. Come to think of it, I would much rather reserve that energy for when Mrs Millard lowers her guard enough for me to sneak some love her way!

Also… what’s the damn point anyway?

Ok, so a bad result in N5 can get me a bit steamed for an hour or two on a Saturday afternoon. The aforementioned wife is no more challenging than any other form of mental cruelty, and with the exception of tearing my feet up on abandoned Lego constructions; my son is a perfect foil to almost all of life’s little attempts to water-board the shit out of me!

This is not to say that I don’t have some concerns and worries.

My ability to detect individual bacteria entering my circulatory system borders on the clairvoyant these days. Not a day goes by when I don’t feel a tinge of pain that requires a lengthy spell on Wikipedia or the NHS website for irrational idiots. Age seems to have delivered a growing trepidation towards mortality and good health – one that I can’t seem to dismiss, regardless of what Google tells me.

As I said earlier, my son is a miracle eraser towards those stupid things that would get me tight and a little vexed. However, the flipside to that coin is my newfound hysteria towards his well being and safety. I’m a crazy man when it comes to my son and heir. In fact, anyone calling themselves over protective clearly hasn’t walked a mile in my moccasins!

In short, my childrearing style takes the nurturing warmth of Mr. Mom, with the offensive qualities of a MOAB intercontinental ballistic missile. I can do the cookie-cutter shit, and I can also lay waste to a nation with the flick of the right button. That’s overprotective, my friend.

Anyway, maybe it’s best if I hold back on my parenting mémoire for now, and get back to the psychological profiling I’m conducting on his new school friends!

So, what else? You know… that’s pretty much it. Without wishing to sound like a psychotic who necks prescribed drugs like a member of the Jackson family, there really is very little I give an honest shit about these days.

Jobs and money always seem to come and go, and sometimes with very little in the way of forewarning. My extended family is an unreasonable monster that should be placed in a cage, and never fed after midnight. And everything else is slow moving traffic and minor train delays on a Friday night.

Honestly, what’s the point in getting all worked up over that? I guess the angry young man of yesteryear might have embraced such torment and drama as a way of attracting impressionable girls with a taste for the stupid. But the older model is far more interested in his raging cholesterol, and whether his son’s school teacher has a criminal record!

Paul Millard 2015

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Car-cophony

My car is making funny noises again. I thought I had this licked a few months ago when the nice man at the garage managed to fix that squeaky noise that I thought was a squirrel in my glove compartment. It wasn’t a squirrel, or any member of the Sylvanian Family for that matter. No, in that particular instance it was the heat shield thing coming away from the exhaust thingy. In all honesty, I pretty much knew it was probably the old heat shield thing on the exhaust thingy problem; I just like to test the mechanics.

More recently, my car seems to be a little slow when I accelerate and sounds really pissed off that I’m trying to move it in any direction. As a rule, this is usually because I’ve forgotten to release the handbrake… a simple thing to forget when you’re stupid and easily distracted by virtually anything that happens near you! However, this was not the reason for my current Autobot anguish.

I then thought maybe it’s because I don’t always select the right gear. However, an expensive trip to that nice man in the garage taught me that a 14 year-old Honda doesn’t like being gunned out of a parking space in 4th gear! So it can’t be that.

In desperation for an answer I spent most of Sunday morning poking around the engine. It was a total waste of sodding time… I couldn’t find the Flux Capacitor, or indeed any kind of time-drive that might be limiting the power to the Allspark!

Now, as you may have guessed, I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in the motor vehicle field. I’ll admit it; my wizardry with such things is akin to that dumb Irish kid in the Harry Potter films – I try my best, but it usually ends with something catching fire.

However, and as I have explored before, as an older guy a certain amount of wisdom is just assumed of me – usually by people who don’t know any better. I’ll give you an example.

A few weeks ago, one of those annoyingly attractive girls I work with asked me a car related question. I initially thought she had done it on a dare, or in an attempt to avoid working (not a bad reason in itself, but why involve me!).

Anyway, with a voice that could melt granite, and a flutter of eyelashes that made me forget I was married for a few seconds, she asked me what the below symbol on her dashboard means;

Snarky Tuesday Paul Millard Radiator TempI scratched my chin in a manly fashion, gave a knowing look as if I get asked this question all the time, and delivered my carefully constructed opinion to this damsel in distress.

“Does your car have a periscope? Because it might be that you haven’t lowered it or something.”

Based on the symbol, and my deep insight into Autonomous Robotic Organisms, I thought this was a damn good guess.

I later found out it has something to do with the radiator! Far be it for me to tell the car manufactures around the world their job, but that symbol is fucking stupid and looks nothing like any radiator in my house.

So, moving away from the office hottie with the periscope problem for a moment, what could my car be going through right now?

I know an engine is measured in horsepower, could it have a touch of foot and mouth? Is the battery connected to the accelerator pedal? If so, maybe I should stop flicking my hazard warning lights on each time I do a wicked bit of manoeuvring? (I do like to alert people to how good I am – particularly when you consider my car hasn’t been retrofitted with a hover system yet!)

Maybe the big end has gone? I’m not sure what any of that means, but I once heard Kenneth Williams say it in Carry on Cabbie.

What if I’ve bought one of those bloody Decepticons by mistake – and it plans world domination by limiting my ability to go 88mph down the A3?

Whatever way I spin it, I guess another trip to the garage is called for – and yet another conversation in which I try to disguise the fact that all of my car knowledge comes from an 80’s cartoon, Marty McFly, and mild sexual innuendo.

Paul Millard 2015

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The Dead Don’t Work For Me

Snarky Tuesday Paul Millard The Walking Dead2

I’m already sick to death with February! The prospect of stupid Valentine’s Day will usually bring out a gollup of spiteful resentment in me at the best of times. But it goes a little deeper than that. I’m fed up with the dark mornings, the dark nights, and the dark rings around my scathing eyes.

Weather forecasters keep scaring us with predictions for Day After Tomorrow’esque snow blizzards; my winter weight gain has reached its zenith and I have now started to collapse into myself like a dying star, and the expensive garden I built currently looks like a perfect medium to grow rice in!

This black dog of seasonal depression always hits me at this time of year, and usually continues right up until Christmas. As a means of escape, and to avoid a messy divorce, I try to lighten my mood with a little TV. Last year I worked my way through five seasons of Breaking Bad, the year before was a gruelling three seasons of Boardwalk Empire. This year, I thought I would try the hugely popular The Walking Dead.

Well, I’ve done the first season, and I got two episodes into the second, and promptly gave up.

I’m a big fan of the show’s star performer, Andrew Lincoln, and a sprawling story about a zombie apocalypse is just my particular brand of tea – as it were. In fact, I did spend a lot of the first two episodes nodding my head enthusiastically, and thinking, ‘Holy jumped-up bald-headed Jesus palomino! I would be just like him!’

As Deputy Rick Grimes, Egg, sorry, Andrew Lincoln, does a stand-up job and gives a believable grimace to an unbelievably horrifying situation. The American accent is no worse than Dick Van Dyke’s cockney horseshit, and as the hero figure, he plays it low key and from an everyman perspective I like.

Trying to find his family while coming to terms with the new, bitey neighbours, the show got off to a promising start – with the tension becoming as epic as the production itself. The camera pulling back on an Atlanta city street, slowly expanding the view and revealing thousands of “walkers”, was a real highlight of that first episode. For such a wide shot, it felt utterly claustrophobic.

The supporting cast do a reasonable job, and deliver the dialogue with just enough commitment to stop it going full cheese… and it’s always a pleasure to see the bat-shit crazy Michael Rooker on our screens.

But this isn’t a review, because as I said a while back, I quit the show after the first season.

Why?

Because it was just too damned depressing! I was feeling gloomy enough, without watching a band of people under constant fear of being eaten by a bazillion bastard zombies! It was too much for me, and this is coming from someone who is a seasoned horror fan, and loves a juicy plotline to slowly work through. I did five seasons of Breaking Bad in a month… The Walking Dead should have been a walk in the park.

But it seems to me (and I know this is only after one season), the show might ultimately suffer from its own longevity. What I mean is that whilst Rick and his fellow survivors might encounter the occasional moment of light relief (precious little in the first season, and non-existent in the first two episodes of season two!), that constant threat of being swarmed by happy eaters is just too much of a buzz-kill.

Oh… and I have since learnt that our ill-fated troupe of walking ready meals frequently run into other humans who also want to do nasty things to them! No, no thanks.

In short, you can’t help but feel they are simply running from the inevitable – like One Direction does from their inescapable obscurity!

Again, I know this is a short-sighted view, and maybe if I worked through the five seasons currently available, I may be proved wrong. But The Walking Dead was a little too gloomy for me, and filled with the kind of existential horror I normally reserve for dinner with my in-laws.

… and it’s only the 10th February!

Paul Millard 2015

Snarky Tuesday Paul Millard The Walking Dead1

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Time to Unplug?

I’m in the midst of a tricky home entertainment dilemma at the moment. No, I’m not referring to the fact that my wife now refuses to juggle with chainsaws since the new wallpaper went up, but rather that I’m questioning whether I should cancel my various TV packages and go rogue.

Our American cousins call it “cutting the cord”, which gives a somewhat gory connotation to practices best left in the maternity suites! With that said, it’s also a pretty fair explanation towards what is becoming a very common practice for those who no longer wish to pay inflated prices for a few hundred channels they don’t watch.

Would it not be more in keeping with this modern age to be able to select exactly what you wish to view? To pay for only what you consume?

It’s quite a tricky thing to pull off for us Brits, as we don’t have the luxury of choice found in the US.

First off you have the BBC TV licence fee of £145.50 a year. This is only avoidable if you ensure no TV aerial is ever connected to your lovely 40-inch LED! It’s a tough one to avoid, and wholly impossible if you want to make use of their channels, or any of the free-to-air services provided by the likes of Freeview.

Sky TV (evil Galactic Empire, and headed by melty-faced shitbag, Emperor Murdoch), has a vicious stranglehold on the likes of HBO and most of the UK sports franchises. This chokes our ability to subscribe to a dedicated streaming service that could offer any kind of alternative… at least, nothing that’s strictly legal.

For years we have seen the rise of clandestine websites providing HD coverage of Premier League football – which is arguably the biggest and most sought after cash cow for British broadcasters. However, this small band of rebel websites has provided some means of evading the dark lord Murdoch… providing you are willing to bend the rules a little.

For the most part, Netflix and Amazon Prime have our movie and TV box-set desires covered. And should you need to watch Game of Thrones as it airs (in order to avoid some miserable bastard in the office giving away spoilers), well… let’s just say that other ways exist to source what you need!

In fact, HBO have publically recognised that their shows are immensely popular with the swashbuckling torrent sites. But rather than become bitter and shitty about their expensive TV shows being raped and pillaged by men with peg-legs and parrots, they see it as a flattering testament to the quality, and desirability, of their programming. I’m not suggesting the executives are jumping around in delirium and joy towards those who download, but it is a unique approach to the anti-piracy argument.

I also feel that HBO have learned a tough lesson on this front, and by tying themselves in with the likes of Sky, have only limited themselves to a select audience who are paying over the top prices for an ever expanding list of unwanted channels. Perhaps it would have been more profitable, and less restrictive, to simply release the HBO Go app to the UK market. Time will tell.

Perhaps it’s not so much a case of what is on offer, but rather what the viewing habits of the household are, and how these choices drive the decision to pull the plug on a particular service.

The only thing I watch on “live” TV is Coronation Street. Everything else is Netflix, various box-sets that I pick up on Ebay, and with growing frequency, the wonders of YouTube. My son has recently moved away from the Disney and Nickelodeon channels, and now spends more time watching Netflix Kids, the free-to-air CBBC channels, and a bit of YouTube (Play Doh movies for the win!).

Strangely, my wife is the heaviest user. Our TiVo box is home to an ever expanding list of series links, ranging from whodunits, fashion and home-craft, and those TV shows that carefully document people who don’t sell their house, don’t move to the country, or don’t complete their grand design on budget!

Not being without its limitations, I do believe a phone call to my supplier is not too far away. Looking at the above, it seems I’m paying a lot of money each month for stuff I could get on a £20.00 Freeview box.

But what of the larger question towards a true a la carte TV experience? Will it happen? I think it will, but we have a ways to go yet. In the UK, the BBC and Sky are still the key players in this media brawl, and control just enough to keep most of us in line… and on the books.

From this brave new world, questions towards the validity of the BBC licence fee spring up frequently, and seem to gather more support with each new cycle. Such a decision would certainly be a game changer, and carry monstrous repercussions for not only the UK audience, but also for the global BBC community. Whether it should happen is another question, and is one I have mixed views on.

In short, with the shift in our viewing habits becoming more pronounced, shouldn’t how we select and pay for these services also change?

Cutting the cord? I think I prefer the term, “Virgin Media… I’m outtie!”

Paul Millard 2015

Snarky Tuesday Paul Millard Virgin Media(I’m not taking any responsibility for the above “joke”… it was the only Google image I could find!)

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