Saturday, 13 March 2010

An Adventure into Driving

I can't (legally) drive. I've had a few lessons so know the basics, but if it came to it and I had to drive a car any real distance along side other drivers, I'd fall apart. The problem is that there’s just too much for me to think about when driving, and I haven’t yet had enough practise for everything to become natural. If I could just steer, i’d be fine, if I could just work the pedals, I’d be fine, if I could just change gears, I’d be fine, but when I have to do it all at the same time, I can’t cope fully.

Recently, on a trip back to the homeland (Liverpool), I was fortunate enough to spend a bit of time tinkering with my good friend, Jonathan Mullin’s Mini. This was about as awesome as you can get for things to do. I love Minis, they’re utterly fantastic, and I love pulling things apart, so you’ll understand, I was in my element. We were working on the clutch and gear system, so we needed to see what happened when the clutch was depressed and clutch pedal, something I was keen to do, as boring as it sounds, because I got the chance to get behind the wheel of a Mini and feel like I was in control. Admittedly the car has no battery or wheels so it’s not like I was going to be going anywhere, but it was still cool. Having fiddle around with the clutch mechanism and bleeding it to remove all the air, we then went to the gears, something I was also keen to do. I remember as a youngster, getting into my parents car and practising changing gear, something I still do at 25, It felt good that I could shift from first to second to third to fourth and then into reverse, not advisable on the road of cause, without too much difficulty, which is hardly impressive. So anyway, the upshot of this is that I felt like I was driving, or at least in control of, and old, smelly Mini, which was marvellous. With luck, as Jonny and I are going to be getting a house together, we will somehow get the wheelless, broken Mini down to London so we can continue to work on it, and with luck get it to a drivable state, in which case I will be learning to drive a Mini, which will make me very happy.

In the mean time I will be learning on this

I bought this the other week and have been having fun driving around like a lunatic in the various racing game I have. It’s good fun and makes driving games much more enjoyable, if not a little harder. I’m still not at the point were I can work the gears as well as the pedals and driving, for the afore mentioned reason, but hopefully I’ll get there eventually. It’s fully equipped with force feedback, so the wheel has some weight to it and will turn itself if you hit a bump or drive on gravel, which makes it all very fun/arm straining. I’m still working out all the various nuances of the different game and driving techniques required to make it round a course without crashing or spinning or generally ruining your hopes of first place glory, but it’s all a learning process. I can hardly say that any of the techniques I’ll pick up here will transfer to actual driving, but you never know when you’ll be racing around a circuit in a high performance car.

So essentially, I’ve had the most car filled couple of weeks possible for someone who doesn’t even have a full driving license.

Monday, 8 March 2010

'00 Ten

So, in order to get myself writing here again, I turn to one of my most favourite topics to write about: film. In that sense, it's an attempt to make my next lot of entries here somewhat easier. But looking at the task I'm setting myself, in many ways it's a hefty task to undertake. That said, the last hefty task I undertook here seemed to go pretty well by several accounts.

I'm going to attempt to pick my ten films of the past decade.

A quick Google search shows that several media outlets have already attempted to do this, giving their opinions in lists extending all the way to top one hundreds. These lists make interesting reading, with everything from Borat to Team America: World Police making it into top tens, and serve to highlight the films that have ingrained themselves into the zeitgeist of the decade and the psyche of those who lived through it. However, it's difficult to see them as anything other than subjective lists. By the very nature of what is being attempted, I fail to see how anything else could possibly be produced. But it has still spurred me on to produce my own subjective rundown of my films of the last ten years.

In the last decade, I've grown from a teenager who watches a lot of films at the turn of the century, to a twenty-something cinephile at the end of 2009. In choosing my ten, I'll attempt to bring together the films that have played the greatest roles in this journey. They won't all come from the best films of the last ten years, or my favourite films, or the films that define the decade - much more likely, they'll be a mix of all three with a handful of other factors thrown in for good measure. Ultimately, they'll be my films and nobody else's. If you agree with my choices then wonderful; if you disagree, equally wonderful. Either way, we'll have plenty to talk about.

I plan to put together a review/explanation for each of my ten films, so expect my first selection here soon (if I get my act together, later on this week).