Thursday, 30 December 2010

The Gold Train Ticket from The Polar Express

contra omnia discrimina

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The Gold Train Ticket from The Polar Express

What does 'Contra Omnia Discrimina' mean?

Quite a few people have emailed me over the past few months asking what 'Contra Omnia Discrimina' means, as the phrase is often appended below most of my blogs posts and at the end of any email I send. Indeed, if you search Google for the answer, my blog comes out multiple times in search results. So, I thought I should define it here for future reference:

Put simply, 'Contra Ommia Discrimina' is Latin for 'Against All Odds.' It's become my mantra in life...

Contra Ommia Discrimina

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Monday, 27 December 2010

@ThisIsChrisO very nice! Where did you get it? Mines boring:

On Depression & Getting Help by Rob Delany

The passing of Andrew Koenig prompted me to write this, but it’s something that will apply to plenty of people.

I have dealt with suicidal, unipolar depression and I take medication daily to treat it. Over the past seven years, I’ve had two episodes that were severe and during which I thought almost exclusively of suicide. I did not eat much and lost weight during these episodes. I couldn’t sleep at all, didn’t even think about sex, and had constant diarrhea. My mind played one thought over and over, which was “Kill yourself.” It was also accompanied by a constant, thrumming pain that I felt through my whole body. I describe the physical symptoms because it helps to understand that real depression isn’t just a “mood.” These two episodes were the most difficult experiences of my life, by a wide margin, and I did not know if I would make it through them. To illustrate how horrible it was, being in jail in a wheelchair with four broken limbs after the car accident that prompted me to get sober eight years ago was much, much easier and less painful. That isn’t an exxageration and I hope it helps people understand clinical depression better. I’m saying that I would rather be in jail in a wheelchair with a body that doesn’t work than experience a severe episode of depression.

To clarify the timeline, I got sober eight years ago and my first episode of depression was seven years ago. I had been in talk-therapy with a psychologist for months and was getting used to life without booze. It’s my understanding that it’s not terribly rare for someone in early sobriety to get depressed. I started to exhibit the symptoms I described above and had no idea what was happening. My psychologist urged me to see a psychiatrist, as did my family, among whom alcoholism and depression are old pals, so to speak. Everyone wanted me to go on medication, except me. I felt that it would be “weak” to do so and that I could soldier through and get a handle on it. But everything got worse and it was terrifying. Most of my thoughts were telling me to kill myself and I began fantasizing constantly about suicide. The images of my head being blown apart by a shotgun blast or me swimming out into the ocean until I got tired and drowned played over and over in my head. My whole body hurt, all the time.
Fortunately, a tiny part of me recognized my thought process as “crazy.” I knew that if anyone other than me was describing these symptoms I would lovingly handcuff them and take them to the hospital and help the shit out of them, whether they liked it or not. So I tried very hard to step out of myself and look at the situation with a modicum of objectivity and “imagine” that I was someone who deserved help.
Quite literally I thought, “I don’t think anyone else would shoot me with a shotgun, so maybe, temporarily, I’ll postpone that and try this Lexapro that everyone who knows me is recommending.” It worked. It wasn’t magical, but it addressed some chemical issues in my brain that allowed me, gradually, to feel better and actually experience my life. I ate again, slept again, got boners when I encounted attractive women, and made normal number twos when I went to the bathroom. I didn’t and don’t feel euphoric all the time or anything. I still get angry, sad, and afraid sometimes. But I also get happy, excited, and horny too. I experience the full range of human emotions, rather than just one horrible one.
Just under eighteen months ago, after a couple of years of both my marriage and my decision to pursue comedy full-time, I experimented with a lower dose of medication and had another episode. It was as bad or worse than the first one, but thankfully I had some idea of how to deal with it. This episode drove home the knowledge that, like alchoholism, depression demands respect and attention. Whether it’s a “good” thing or a “bad” thing, I cannot pretend to know, but it exists and it can kill you dead.
My psychiatrist adjusted my dose and I got feeling better over time. If you know me personally, all this information may surprise you, as I think I generally have a pretty sunny demeanor. For most of my life, I’ve been a happy, optimistic guy. But for whatever reason, I’ve had depression of a serious, life-threatening nature rear its head a couple of times.

The sole reason I’ve written this is so that someone who is depressed or knows someone who is depressed might see it. While great strides have been made in mental health over the years, certain stigmas still exist. I strongly resisted medication at first. But after having been through depression and having had the wonderful good fortune to help a couple of people who’ve been through it, I will say that as hard as it is, IT CAN BE SURVIVED. And after the stabilization process, which can be and often is fucking terrifying, a HAPPY PRODUCTIVE LIFE is possible and statistically likely. Get help. Don’t think. Get help.

Reprinted with permission of the author ~ 
© Rob Delaney 2010

Image © Ryan Price 2010 (self portrait)

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Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Cat. Cuddly. Killer

What is a cat? Every child knows. Yet cats, among the most familiar of animals, are ineffably mysterious. What are they for? What do they want? Cats spend 85 per cent of their day doing absolutely nothing. Eating, drinking, killing, crapping and mating take up just 4 per cent of their life. The other 10 per cent is used to get around. Otherwise they are asleep, or just sitting. They say cats were the last animals to be domesticated, by the ancient Egyptians around 3,500 years ago. But it is cats that have domesticated us, in their own time, for their own reasons. Today, only a quarter of cat ‘owners’ say they deliberately went out to acquire a cat; in 75 per cent of cases, it was the cat that acquired them. And studies have shown that many more people claim to own a cat than there are cats. When your cat disappears for a while it is not, in fact, off on a hunting expedition, it is next door but one having another free meal or asleep on the window-sill with one or another of its many doting ‘owners’. Cats need to eat the equivalent of five mice a day. A cat given unlimited access to food will only eat a mouse-sized portion at a single meal. Is your cat eating five meals a day? Of course not: it’s dining out elsewhere, later.

"Most cats carry a parasite thought to have long-term, irreversible effects on the human brain. Toxoplasma gondii may turn men into grumpy, badly dressed loners and women into promiscuous, fun-loving sex kittens. Half the British population are already infected..."

One of the big selling points of cats is that they are clean animals that carefully cover up their own faeces. Except they don’t always - they only do it about half the time. They leave piles of the stuff all round the edges of their territory as a kind of malodorous ‘Keep Out’ sign. The polite word for this is ‘scats’. Milk, cat food and central heating are all bad for cats. Milk gives them diarrhoea, cat food rots their gums and central heating causes them to moult all year round. Then they lick off and swallow their fur, which clogs up their digestive system.

There are about 75 million cats in the USA, which are responsible for the deaths of a billion birds and five billion rodents every year. Right up until the seventeeth century it amused people to stuff wicker effigies of the Pope with live cats and then burn the lot. This produced sound effects that pleased Puritans but not cats: they have exceptionally sensitive hearing and can even hear bats.

Research has proved what every cat owner knows: apart from human beings, cats have a wider range of personalities than any other creature on the planet. And yes, they are intelligent. Very. When they can be bothered. There are numerous well-documented stories of cats abandoned by their owners tracing them to locations hundreds of miles from home. Can cats map-read? Maybe. They can certainly tell the time, as recent experiments have shown. The ancient Egyptians worshipped cats as gods: killing a cat, whether deliberately or not, was a capital offence. When a cat died, its owner was expected to shave off his eyebrows. Whose idea was that? A cat’s, of course. Cats don’t have eyebrows.

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Monday, 13 December 2010

News, Video & Sound: X Factor Winner Matt Cardle Covers Biffy Clyro Track "When We Collide"

The Original:

The Cover:

A house painter with Irish ancestry has won the X Factor.

As he celebrated his victory, Matt Cardle revealed his family were originally from Ireland.

"They left for England during the potato famine. We were originally 'McArdles' but we lost the 'Mc' over the years," he said.

As usual, pop judge Simon Cowell was the real winner with an estimated 20 million viewers tuning in, bringing in a record-breaking £25m (€30m) from advertising.

No wonder show creator Cowell has seen his personal stock rising by £40m to £165m in the past year.

The night had begun with finalists Matt Cardle, Rebecca Ferguson and boyband One Direction chasing the final prize of a £1m record deal.

One Direction performing a cover version of Natalie Imbrugulia's hit 'Torn', were an early casualty of the first elimination.

"I'm absolutely gutted for them, but all I can say is this is just the beginning for these boys," their mentor Simon Cowell said, as he joined the group, which includes Mullingar teenager Niall Horan, on-stage to say farewell.

One Direction member Zain Malik added: "We're definitely going to stay together, this is not the end."

Legal secretary Rebecca Ferguson and rival Matt Cardle then both performed their winner's single.

Following Cardle's performance, a cover of Biffy Clyro hit 'When We Collide', judge Cheryl Cole told him: "You sang that from the depth of your heart. Whatever happens tonight I wish you the best of luck."

Simon Cowell added: "Back to business . . . thoroughly well deserved both of you. Matt, that was an incredible song. The best performance of the whole series so far, but I can't call this. I have no idea what is going to happen."

Rebecca Ferguson then sang her winner's song: a cover of Duffy track 'Distant Dreamer'.

"That song was absolutely perfect for you Rebecca," Simon Cowell told her.

Dannii Minogue added: "Rebecca, that was a beautiful performance and I'm so glad you turned up at auditions."

Her mentor Cheryl Cole then told her: "I could talk about this girl all night. You've been a dream to work with and I hope you realise your dream tonight and are crowned winner."

However, moments later Matt was announced winner of 'The X Factor' 2010. His shock was apparent.

"I just wanted to thank everyone who voted for me. I want to thank Dannii and all the judges," said the 27-year old.

All the drama was over until next year. But with Simon Cowell preparing to launch a version of 'The X Factor' in the US, there is some doubt if 'Mr Nasty' will be appearing on next year's 'X Factor'.

These rumours were fuelled when Cowell was asked if he would commit to next year's show and he would only say: "The show will be back.

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In Sound: The Salvation Army Band Play on Gallowtree Gate, Leicester - Christmas 2010

I recorded this on the 11th December 2010 at 14:43 - a bright, winter afternoon in Leicester city centre. The Salvation Army played Christmas Carols to shoppers on Gallowtree Gate. My last Christmas in Leicester.

In memory of George Thomas Brown
12th April 1920 ~ 11th December 1999

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Sunday, 12 December 2010

A chair is still a chair

A chair is still a chair
Even though there's no-one sitting there
But a chair is not a house
And a house is not a home
When there's no-one there to hold you tight
And no-one there you can kiss goodnight

A room is still a room
Even though there's nothing there but gloom
But a room is not a house
And a house is not a home
When the two of us are far apart
And one of us has a broken heart

Now and then I call your name
And suddenly your voice appears
But it's just a crazy game
When it ends, it ends in tears

Darling, have a heart
Don't let one mistake keep us apart
I'm not meant to live alone
Turn this house into a home
When I climb the stairs
And turn the key
Oh, please be there
Still in love with me


contra omnia discrimina

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When I think of home
I think of a place where there's love overflowing
I wish I was home
I wish I was back there with the things I been knowing

Wind that makes the tall grass bend into leaning
Suddenly the raindrops that fall have a meaning
Sprinklin' the scene, makes it all clean

Maybe there's a chance for me to go back there
Now that I have some direction
It would sure be nice to be back home
Where there's love and affection
And just maybe I can convince time to slow up
Giving me enough time in my life to grow up
Time be my friend, let me start again

Suddenly my world has gone and changed it's face
But I still know where I'm going
I have had my mind spun around in space
And yet I've watched it growing

If you're list'ning God
Please don't make it hard to know
If we should believe in the things that we see
Tell us, should we try and stay
Or should we run away
Or would it be better just to let things be?

Living here, in this brand new world
Might be a fantasy
But it taught me to love
So it's real, real, real to me

And I've learned
That we must look, look inside our hearts
To find a world full of love
Like yours
Like mine
Like home...


contra omnia discrimina

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Saturday, 11 December 2010

CHOCOLATE By John Scalzi

Chocolate is God's way of reminding men how inadequate they are. I am
vividly confronted with this fact every time my wife and I go out to a
restaurant. When it gets to dessert, my wife usually orders the most chocolate-saturated dessert possible: It's the one called "Unstoppable Double-Fudge Chocolate Mudslide Explosion" or some such thing. 

I always wonder why anyone would want to eat anything that promises a
catastrophic natural disaster in your mouth.

The dark brown monstrosity arrives at the table, and my wife takes the first bite. Before the fork is even removed from her mouth, a small moan escapes her lips. Her eyes, previously perfectly aligned, first cross slightly and then faze completely, pupils dilating in pure
chocolate pleasure before the eyelids clamp down in ecstasy. The hand
not holding the fork clenches into a fist and starts pounding the table. The silverware rattles. After about six minutes of this, she finally manages to swallow the bite, realign her eyes, and take the next shuttle back from whatever transcendental plane she's been visiting. Slowly, her sphere of
consciousness expands to include me, her husband, her life-long mate, her presumed partner in all things ecstatic. "Hey, this is pretty good," she'll say. "You want some?" No, I don't. I want nothing to do with an object that does to my wife in one bite what I've worked for an entire relationship to achieve. It
wouldn't do any good, anyway. Men just don't have the same relationship with chocolate that women do. It's not even close. I wandered around the office today and asked men - "Chocolate. Your thoughts?" - and the result was always the same. First, a confused look as to why they're being asked about something so trivial, and
then some lame, obvious statement: "'s brown?" 

Ask women the same question, and you get responses like "The ONLY food group," "ESSENTIAL to life as we know it," and the ultimate casual swipe at every member of the Y-chromosome brigade, "better than sex." Ouch. Some women will try to make up for that last one by quickly
adding that chocolate is supposed to be an aphrodisiac. Uh-huh. Chocolate certainly increases desire; problem is the desire is usually for more chocolate. The best a guy can do is buy a box of chocolates and hope he'll be considered somewhere between the cherry truffle and the strawberry nougat. Don't get me wrong. Guys like chocolate just fine; it's just not essential to life as we know it. Respiration is essential to life as we know it; chocolate is simply one of those nice little bonuses you get. We won't usually pass it up if it's offered, but I don't know too many guys who would get substantially worked up if it were to suddenly disappear from the face of the earth (ironic in a way, as back in the days of the Aztecs, only
men were allowed to have the stuff). 

When I eat a chocolate dessert, I
enjoy it, yes. My world view doesn't narrow to include only the plate that it's on. Maybe we're missing something. On the other hand, we don't have to
pick up our silverware from the floor after we're done with our tiramisu. Life is about trade-offs like that. All I know is that come Valentine's Day, chocolate will be among the things I offer my wife. I can't truly appreciate it, but I can truly appreciate what it does for
her. Which is close enough.

Copyright © John Scalzi

John Scalzi is a columnist and humorist living in Virginia. For more
columns and essays, visit his website:

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Thursday, 9 December 2010

In Film: Leicester Market, Winter 2010

From the film maker:
"A short observational documentary about one of my favorite places. Let me know what you think? I’d be particularly interested to hear from the traders and other people connected to the market, I wonder if there are any stories set in the market that could be the starting point for a longer documentary? In case you’re interested, this was shot between 6am and 10am on a freezing cold (-3) Saturday morning. Shot on a Canon 5DMKII using a 24-70 f2.8 and a 70-200 f4. This is the first time I have properly tested the 70-200 and I’m pleased with the results." ~ Nick Hamer. Courtesy of Intrepid Media:

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Tuesday, 7 December 2010

In Photos: December Frost

Exclusive: Oy Vey! My Son is Gay!

Official Trailer:

Song: "The Word Is Love" from the movie "Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay!"

They say mothers are the first to know. Mums can also the first to deny - even when the signs are obvious. Add stunting family expectations to a mother's nose for trouble, and happiness might not be as close as expected. So is the case in the new romantic comedy Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay!, starring Carmen Electra, Lanie Kazan, John Lloyd Young, Jai Rodriguez, Saul Robinek, and Vincent Pastore. Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay! is the story of the Hirsch's, a Jewish family living in the North Shore of Long Island, where every Friday night Shirley Hirsch (Lainie Kazan) invites another "perfect" girl for Shabbat dinner in hopes that her son, Nelson (John Lloyd Young), will marry a nice Jewish girl. When Shirley and Martin (Saul Rubinek) once again set him up on a date, Nelson reveals that he is already seeing someone. Shirley and Martin are thrilled and can't wait to meet the lucky lady... But, soon learn Nelson's perfect mate isn't what they expected at all.... [RP]

USA Screenings start 24/12/2010. UK dates to be confirmed..

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Sunday, 5 December 2010

Grandmothers and Grandfathers

Have you ever wondered what the difference between a Grandmother and
a grandfather is? Well, here it is...

A friend, who worked away from home all week, always made a morning
available when he would take his 7-year old granddaughter for a drive in the car for some bonding time - just him and his granddaughter.

One particular Sunday however, he had a bad cold and just wanted to stay in bed. Luckily, his wife came to the rescue and said that she would take their granddaughter out in the car.

When they returned, the little girl anxiously ran upstairs to see how her
Grandfather was.

'Well, did you enjoy your ride with Grandma?'

'Great, Grandpa' the girl replied, 'and do you know what? We didn't see a
single tosser, blind bastard, dick-head or wanker anywhere today!'

Almost brings a tear to your eye, doesn't it?

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Saturday, 4 December 2010

Jesus on Toast

British artist Adam Sheldon recreated Jesus’ crucifixion using some pieces of burned toast and a scraping knife. His work of art is now on display at the Anglican Church of St Peter, in Lincoln.

33-year-old Adam Sheldon took on the project at the request of his mother, who worships at St. Peter’s Church. Before starting work on his 1.8 ,meters long, 1.1 meters wide masterpiece, Adam scraped the Last Supper on three pieces of toast, to perfect his technique.

He used a regular toaster to burn the pieces of bread, then dried and flattened them so they would fit in a giant frame. Using a scraping knife he managed to create the lighter parts of the artwork, and darkened the background with a blowtorch.

At first, the reverend and parishioners were stunned by Sheldon’s creation, because they didn’t expect something this original, but now they’re thrilled to have such art on the walls of their church. The artwork was so skillfully scraped, some believed it was actually painted on tiles, before realizing the tiles are really pieces of bread.

The toast crucifixion of Jesus was on display at the Anglican Church of Saint Peter until January 30 2010.

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Thursday, 2 December 2010

Papa, can you hear me? ((tags: Lyrics, Song, Release, Papa, Barbra Streisand, diary

God, our Heavenly Father
Oh, God and my father
Who is also in heaven

May the light of this flickering candle
Illuminate the night the way
Your spirit illuminates my soul

Papa, can you hear me?
Papa, can you see me?
Papa, can you find me in the night?

Papa, are you near me?
Papa, can you hear me?
Papa, can you help me, not be frightened?

Looking at the skies I seem to see a million eyes
Which ones are yours?
Where are you now that yesterday
Has waved good-bye and closed its doors?

The night is so much darker
The wind is so much colder
The world I see is so much bigger
Now that I'm alone

Papa, please forgive me
Try to understand me
Papa, don't you know I had no choice?

Can you hear me praying?
Anything I'm saying?
Even though the night
Is filled with voices

I remember everything you taught me
Every book I've ever read
Can all the words in all the books
Help me to face what lies ahead?

The trees are so much taller
And I feel so much smaller
The moon is twice as lonely
And the stars are half as bright

Papa, how I love you
Papa, how I need you
Papa, how I miss you
Kissing me goodnight

© Sony Records/Barbra Steisand 

Performed by Barbra Streisand for the film Yentl. Composed by Michel Legrand, with lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman.

[It might not be my art, but it is big art to me, today. He's gone......]

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I, The Fool

Hopelessly bound,
by the chains of love's grip;
the greatest gift,
yet fate's cruelest curse.

Why do I weep?
at knowing the joy,
the warmth,
at feeling the peace,
the flame,
the fire.

Why do I weep?
unable to be complete Unable to just 'be,'
unknown to the kiss,
the flame.

Why do I weep
at loving, not living
seeing, not touching
breathing, not sharing
holding, not loving?

because I, The Fool,
Deserve love no more?

Copyright © Ryan Price, December 2010

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