Thursday, December 30, 2010

Just One of Those Things

What? Gone already? Cripes.

The year was notable for me as I was able to complete a number of collections. I shall warn you now (with the ever ready 'nerd-alert') that this may get a bit geeky. I know it's a bit pathetic, but it's just one of those things about me that makes me 'me'. Obsessive Compulsive perhaps?

#1. My Agatha Christie collection.

Publishers can be pure evil sometimes. They release a whole range of titles in matching jackets and then, without warning, they change the jackets but NOT the ISBNs. This makes it extremely difficult for the customer to order the missing titles. For a few years, I was missing a couple of titles from the Agatha Christie collection and I refuse to start again on the new-look jackets, having spent the best part of a decade collecting these beauties. For the past two years, I was searching for ONE final title - Endless Night - I even had friends across the globe looking for it on their travels. I was beginning to believe it had never been published in this format as an evil ploy invented by Harper Collins to make sure no one could ever have a complete set. However, thanks to eBay, I finally got my missing piece to the mystery and I almost shed a tear of joy.

#2. My Alfred Hitchcock collection.

This is another collection that has taken me over a decade to complete, mainly because some of the more obscure titles from his oeuvre were simply taking a while to come out on DVD. Admittedly, my copies of Elstree Calling and Waltzes in Vienna are not of the highest quality, but I don't care - I am just proud to own them. This allowed me to work on my Hitchcock blog - - which involves watching all of his films in chronological order and blithering on about the experience. It's not exactly Julie & Julia but it keeps me off the streets knifing Asian grannies.

#3. My Swing Out Sister collection.

I have been a fan of Swing Out Sister since their "Breakout" debut and even though they've not been at the forefront of the music scene, they have been successful for over twenty years albeit mainly in Japan. Their albums are frequently hard to find, especially here in Australia, so I have had to rely on specialist shops and the good old internet to find the albums missing from my collection. A few months ago, I found the one album I needed - Filth & Dreams - on Amazon "through one of these sellers" and I was so happy. It was released in 1999 and I have been searching for it ever since. It's a superb album too.
By the way, there are a great number of 'best of', 'Remix' and 'live' CDs, but that's going too far. I am content with the main studio albums.

#4. My Star Trek collection.

Woah, I really am a complete nerd/geek/saddo. Yes, I now own every DVD of official Star Trek - even the rather less-good animated series (thanks Joel!)
I had avoided watching Star Trek: Enterprise for many years, thanks to that f***ing awful theme music (Yes, it really is that bad) but when I bought the entire series with some vouchers I got for my birthday, I had a huge amount of fun watching all four seasons - season three is particularly awesome!

#5. My Robert Rankin collection.

When I was 18, I was living in Bedford and having an awful time. I was screwed up and I hated pretty much everything. However, I picked up Armageddon: The Musical in a book shop and I was hooked. For a long time, I was collecting the paperback editions of Robert Rankin's titles, but over time I began finding hardback editions in second-hand shops. I now have every available hardback edition of his books (as far as I know - no one seems to have information about the first four books of the "Brentford Trilogy"(sic) ever being available in hardback. If this is not the case, I may not have finished this collection yet).

#6. My Roger Corman/Edgar Allan Poe collection.

In my youth, I loved watching 'seasons' of films on BBC2 and Channel 4. It may have been Hitchcock, Astaire & Rogers or Marilyn Monroe... but one which I particularly adored (and seemed to be aired rather frequently) was the season of Roger Corman films based on Edgar Allan Poe stories. There were only seven, but each one is a Gothic delight. Oddly, it took me ages to get a hold of my favourite one - The Premature Burial - as it was only ever available as part of a 'double bill' pack, and that is no good to someone like me who likes to alphabetise.

#7. My Avengers collection

It has taken years for The Avengers to be released properly on PAL system DVD - far too bloody long. However, here they are in all their glory. It's one of the finest TV shows ever produced and, heavens to Betsy, aren't those boxes splendid in their design.
Interestingly, I haven't had to pay for ANY of them. They were all bought with Amazon vouchers or as gifts! (Thank you Rohan, Vanessa, Louise, Adam, Family etc...)

So, that is my year of 'completion'.


In other news, let's take a look at the highs and lows of 2010 as far as I am concerned...

I watched a frightening amount of TV on DVD - but I am unashamed about that. I don't have much of a life, but I enjoy the simple pleasures.

I watched:

All three seasons of Veronica Mars (which was much better than I had expected.)

All four seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise as mentioned above.

All six/nearly seven seasons of Medium which I had previously avoided because I didn't like Patricia Arquette's fringe. However, I got past that and realised how much fun the show was.

All nine seasons of Roseanne. God, that show was genuinely funny and good (well, most of it).

All six seasons of The Avengers (well, five and the remaining two and one third episodes of season one!)

Both seasons of the 21st Century version of Terry Nation's Survivors - they really should make more. Oh, and Phillip Rhys is beautiful.

Three and a half seasons of Sliders. Oh dear. I remember this being good. The first season was fun, the second reasonably OK, the third was 'iffy' and season four was absolute trash. I just struggle to sit through an episode.

Oh, and I think I watched all five seasons of Quantum Leap this year too, but I might be getting my timing all wrong as it was early in the year or late last year.

Doctor Who was disappointing this year. Still good TV, but I cannot deny it, I miss Russell T Davies' touch. Steven Moffat seemed to be so much better when he wasn't trying to change ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING! Oh, and I have no qualms about saying it, Amy Pond needs a damn hard slap. I'll slap the Moff while I'm at it. RTD spent five years making us believe this world of science fiction was in our world and made a real family drama out of the show (brilliantly) but Moffat has made it feel like a mere bedtime story set in a different land so I have felt very departed from the show and characters. That said, Matt Smith is a very good Doctor - it just would have been nicer to have Mr Tennant stick around for another year or two to smooth the transition between executive producers.

Series four of The Sarah Jane Adventures was the best yet. Very strong stories and the characters have grown terrifically - considering this is a children's show, it's damn fine entertainment. RTD's episodes were fantastic.

Misfits proved itself to be one of the finest things on television whereas The Inbetweeners went rapidly downhill in its third series resorting too frequently on bodily fluid gags and cruelty to animals. The squirrel scene was the moment I lost the faith.

In non-TV related items, I celebrated my 35th birthday with a Murder Party which went down very well indeed; I won two awards for 'rep of the Year' in two different states; I lost a heap of weight; I went on a TV show; I wallowed in depression (again); and spent many hours playing in 'Monstro City' thanks to the MoshiMonsters website.

As the year draws to a close, I have little wisdom to give. I have come to consider that I am not living my life, merely waiting and I ought to do something about that.

I have also learned that it is becoming extraordinarily difficult to use Kirsty MacColl song titles for these posts... so I may have to start mixing it up and using Swing Out Sister song titles or those of from Beverley Craven's songbook.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The One and Only*

I have never been showered with awards. I once won two tickets to see the pantomime version of Aladdin at our local village hall after winning a painting competition at primary school; I won the coveted badge of honour for 'Most Outstanding Personality' at college; but I have never been the sort of fellow whose mantelpiece is adorned with trophies.
Athletics was never my forte. I was rather good at hurdles but my aversion to all types of competitive sport hindered my chances of standing atop any form of pyramid. I once arrived back first after a cross-country run, but to be fair, there were only three of us running and the other two competitors buggered off to the pub midway.
Oddly, despite coming from an incredibly talented family - all of whom can sing, paint, play instruments, draw, act etc - I did not receive these genes, instead ending up with all the neuroses, dodgy eyesight and eczema instead.
So, this past month, I was deeply honoured and somewhat surprised to receive TWO rather special accolades.

Firstly, I won Victorian Sales Representative of the Year, as voted by the booksellers around the state. A week later, I was bestowed with New South Wales Telesales Rep of the Year. (To those not in the know, I work as a sales rep for a publishing company. I am a "Telesales Rep" which means I do the same job as a "Road Rep" only over the phone and with a lot of faith in imagination. I have accounts in most of Australia's states.)
Having worked in the sales department for ten years, I was deeply touched by the nomination, let alone the eventual win.

Initially, after that first win, I was a little flummoxed to say the least - perhaps considering that it was a miscount so I took the award humbly (albeit spoofing Sally Field in the process) and ironically.
However, the following week, with win #2, I conceded and began to accept the praise.

The prize I got for the Victorian Award was a bottle of very expensive champagne. Sadly, I gave up drinking two years ago - but I let my friends indulge themselves with that.
The New South Wales Award consisted of two bottles of wine (once again, '"shame about the sobriety") and an engraved champagne glass. The latter arrived by mail, but die to an unfortunate mix up, they sent me somebody else's so I had to post it back again.

Last week, when I thought the excitement had died down, I was present at a Quarterly Briefing at which the entire office was in attendance. Our CEO made me take a bow as everyone applauded. I was so flustered, I bowed like someone who has just done a landing from a trapeze or a six-year-old at his first nativity - arms flung out backwards, fingers splayed. I must have looked a right wally!

Today, at our monthly sales meeting, the Sales Director and the Trade Sales Manager joined our team to present me with another token of appreciation - a couple of beautiful tumblers and some exquisite dark chocolates.
Once again, I was all nerves and fretful verbal inadequacies. I am just not used to compliments or praise!

But I was touched. Deeply honoured yet aghast.

This all comes at a rather awkward time for me - so soon after my post about my depression - but things like this do help one get some perspective during those darker moments. That persistent black dog that hounds me tries to make me believe I am a fraud and that I don't deserve the honours; this in itself can be difficult to quell. But with this continued recognition from my peers and clients, I can smack that bitch in the face with assurance and legitimate pride.

* Please forgive the title of this post - yes, it's rather egotistical, but give me this one as it is unlikely to happen again...