The BIG THREE-OH-OH or 300 (for Purists)

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So I lay my head down to take a nap (I’ve been very busy lately and damned if it’s not tiring) and when I wake up, all fuzzy headed and wondering where the hell am I and what just happened. I pass the 300 follower point on my blog!

(How’s that for one long-assed opening sentence? Well I’ve got plenty more where that came from.)

Seriously though, I am pleased, excited, happy, (You like me, you really like me! Sorry Sally Field, I couldn’t resist.) and surprised. When I started blogging seriously back in 2011 I never dreamed that it would become such a huge part of my life.

Mind you I never knew that I was going to have two heath issues in one year (one of which was kind of critical) and have all that extra time to write. I did pretty good while I was working full-time at a real job, but my “not-real” job is a lot more fun and the lunch breaks are better.

You will all be happy to know that this is a short post. It will not be one of my 1000 word plus Margaret Mitchell length rants or reviews.

No, this is a quick 0410 in the morning shout of “Hurrah!” and thanks. Thanks to all you great folks out there who have made the ultimate show of interest and followed little old me.

I am eternally grateful and pleased to make your acquaintance.

Now go out and get your friends to follow.

Now.

Just kidding! I love you all for reading, following, commenting, and “liking” my stuff. Gee, it seems like I’ve said that before. The only fly in this honeyed ointment is that WordPress obviously do not give an award for the big 300!

So… what? Is 300 not as amazing as 200 was?

Still complaining aside, I’ll leave you all with one thought; this is how a blog post from moi looks when written at 0400 hours in the morning…after a nap!

Thanks guys! I raise my coffee cup in toast and say, “You’re the best!”

Cheers!
Cheers!

 

Cue Fireworks…

200 Followers!


Congratulations on getting 200 total follows on MikesFilmTalk.

Your current tally is 203.

After my not so brilliant day yesterday, things could only get better and they did. What is most impressive (to me anyway) is that things got better on the same day. Just when I’d grabbed my metaphorical bootstraps, pulled and nothing happened; I got two bits of fabulous news.

Firstly, it looks like I won’t have to starve to death, at least not this year, as some of my financial woes have been sorted. I’d love to tell you how  but I cannot. Suffice to say the “fix” as it were has nothing to do with illegal activities such as robbing a bank or selling addictive substances.

Secondly, I broke the 200 follower barrier last night. It is amazing that something so not related to my main issues could have improved my mood so much. My heart did a long and energetic Snoopy dance and my mind set off copious amounts of fireworks.

The human brain is an odd sort of duck. It is pretty damn resilient. It’s function, beyond that of the body’s Central Processing Unit (CPU), is to help us cope with certain emotions and it enables us to “switch hit” through every day (and not so every day) problems.

When I came home yesterday I was really down. I mean right at the very bottom of the darkest well in existence. But the human brain that I call mine started to immediately function as a pep squad; cheerleaders with pom-pom’s waving and doing handstands.

After I’d written my first draft blog post about yesterday’s events I already felt better. I felt good enough that I pretty much “canned” the first post and I re-wrote it. Talking things through with my daughter Meg also went a long way to improving my disposition. I wasn’t quite ready to do cartwheels of joy just yet, but damned if I wasn’t almost cheery.

After washing the dishes, I made a cup of coffee and went into the front room. I checked my emails and the other windows I had open and I realised that I had another follower or two. I immediately went into the fist pumping show of joy accompanied by my internalized Snoopy dance.

I woke up this morning, back aching and brain on temporary hold, came downstairs and put a load of laundry on and made my first coffee of the day. Switching on the computer I saw that I was still over the 200 mark and despite the firm lecturing I gave myself the night before about not writing about this so soon after my “bragging” 40,000 break-through post; I sat down and started typing.

I am now sitting in my living room. I’ve hung the laundry up to dry, finished my first cup of coffee and I’m looking out the window at a beautiful snow-covered sunshiny day. The confusion and hopeless feeling from yesterday is a million miles away and I am back on the optimism train in the first class section. *It looks like I didn’t need to dodge the train at all, I just had to grab hold of it and “hop” a ride.*

I am also sitting here thinking about that 4th draft copy of my ancient screenplay upstairs lying on the desk. I’m thinking that while I have all this enthusiasm, optimism, and vigour I’d better take a look at it and start again.

But first I’ll have another cup of coffee and enjoy the fireworks a bit more.

Urban Exploration: The Abandoned Hotel – Just A Coffee Break Away

The back of the reception desk and bar.

*DO TO THE FACT THAT THIS HOTEL VISIT WAS NOT OFFICIALLY SANCTIONED, I HAVE NOT GIVEN THE NAME OR THE LOCATION. BUT, FOR THE CURIOUS, IT IS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM.*

**This has been posted because of the interest generated by my other post about Urban Exploration. Time will tell if this is a popular enough feature to make it a regular thing.**

1. The building and it’s abbreviated history. 

The hotel first opened in the late 1500’s. It has been known by two names, one was when it first opened. In more modern times it was known by another. Writers, painters, politicians and celebrities have stayed in the hotel over the years. Infuriatingly I can’t find a specific date for when the hotel closed down. There are plenty of references to the fact that this historic place now houses a world famous coffee house and a hiking gear retailer, but, no date anywhere about when it closed its doors for the last time.

It had to be open as late as 2003 because I remember going there for a work’s party. It was old and had the look of a shabby but stately lady who’d seen better days. The carpet was plush, if a bit faded and the walls and ceilings were stained almost dark brown from cigarette, cigar and pipe smoke that had been exhaled over the years.

My daughter worked at the newly fitted coffee house and it became a regular talking point amongst the employees as to what sort of condition the place was still in, whether squatters were living there and if it were haunted. One of the coffee house managers told them that he had keys to the hotel and if they wanted to have a look to let him know and he’d give them the keys.

2. Entering the Dragon.

My daughter and a colleague decided to take him up on the offer and one day after their shift had finished they did indeed ask for the keys. Armed with the keys and nothing else but a growing sense of excitement they unlocked the door and went in.

Last orders, please. The Bar area of the hotel.

Despite the fact that the hotel had only been closed for a few years everything was covered in a thick layer of dust. This was probably due to the advanced age of the building itself, it was built in the late 1500’s and old places tend to manufacture dust, and it’s location in the town center.

The electricity was off and the whole downstairs area was dark, dank, and eerie. It was also deathly quiet. The entire hotel, in fact, felt as if it had been wrapped in an insulating layer of cotton wool that refused to allow the noise of the busy town to invade its dead halls.

The two coffee shop explorers wandered over to the reception desk and found most of the room keys were still mounted on the board behind the desk. Telephones and stationary still adorned the counter top. Letter boxes still awaited post for guests who were never going to stay there again.

My daughter’s exploration mate found where the mains electric box was and he turned on the electricity. The entire hotel hummed visibly as the electrics geared up and started running up and down its three floors. They both went to the lift (elevator) and went up to the first floor (second floor in the US).

They headed down the hallway and looked in rooms with open doors. Some of the rooms were in complete disarray, while a few others still had beds with linen on. They looked like a guest had just awakened and thrown the covers back to get out of the dusty bed.

In one room, they found holiday snaps (pictures) that a guest had left behind. Pictures of a better time, perhaps, but in the haste of leaving and heading to their next destination had been left behind. No one it seems from the hotel staff had bothered to collect the pictures and see that they were sent to the missing owner.

Still very clean, considering. You could spend the night here.

Besides an air of sadness the hotel felt as though it were still inhabited by some sort of ghostly guests. “The rooms,” my daughter said, “felt as though the floors, ceilings and walls were full of memories just waiting to come out and be noticed.” Not too surprisingly they both began to get a bit spooked by the place.

Especially after they’d found the ‘bird room.’

One of the hotel’s guest rooms had a broken window and birds from around the town had obviously set the room up as a giant nest haven and nursery for their young offspring. Nests littered the walls and floor. Broken eggshells and loose feathers were scattered everywhere. The only thing missing were the birds.

As they rode the lift down to the ground floor and turned the electricity off, they heard noise coming from the vacant floors where they’d just been moments before. This added to the already spooky feeling that they both felt growing in them. The beat a hasty retreat to the hotel’s connecting door to the coffee shop and it wouldn’t open.

Fighting back a rise of panic they began to bang on the heavy oak door to get someone’s attention. Finally after what seemed an age the manager opened the door. With raised eyebrows he asked them why they hadn’t just opened the door themselves as it was unlocked.

The creepy and slightly gross ‘bird room.’

They explained that it must have been locked or stuck. The manager shook his head. “No to both of those ideas,” he said, “It wasn’t locked and I opened it with one finger on this side.” My daughter and her colleague looked at each other and said, “Oh.”

3. The big finish.

The first floor hallway.

Neither one of them ever went back to tour the old place again. Like Shirley Jackson‘s The Haunting of Hill House, whatever walks the halls of that hotel, walks alone.

So Much To Do…So Much Time

Being off work, with a work related injury, has been a small blessing. It has also been a curse and a downright pain in the butt.

It has given me time to reflect, internalise and worry. It has also given me too much time to do too many things.

I have a gross of books that I want to read. I have at least ten (infinitely more if I am brutally honest) films I want to see. I also want to write about all the above mentioned items. I have at least four or more videos I need to make.

I could literally take an entire day to list all the things I should and could do plus all the things I really must do.

Having too much time on your hands can drive you slightly batty. Because you are not getting on with the everyday business of living your life, you spend way too much time thinking about it. *On a side note here, it’s fascinating how my spell check dislikes it when I use bold and italicise on a word in the middle of a sentence.*

I do have doctor’s appointments and exercises to do and I have to keep my boss informed as to my progress in terms of recovery and what the latest prognosis is of my condition. But these things do not take up much time or even effort.

Of course the worst thing about having too much time on your hands is the distractions.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube (which really is a duel edged sword), Pinterest, Stumbleupon…well you get the idea I am sure.

The biggest distraction of all is the housework. Also known as housekeeping, this mundane and mind numbingly boring task has to be done everyday.  If you don’t keep on top of it, you soon find yourself living in a proverbial pig sty. I am also developing  an almost OCD attitude  in terms of keeping the house clean.

housekeeping
housekeeping (Photo credit: pucci.it)

I just glanced out the window and realised that I didn’t even mention the garden!

Oh well, I guess I’d better do something. The trouble is I am kind of spoiled for choice. There are so many things that I could, should and must do that the list is huge.

I’ll just have another coffee and perhaps a cigarette, possibly a real one instead of the electronic one, and ponder a bit more about what to next.

Show and Tell

We moved to Fayetteville when I was fifteen. I started that fall at Fayetteville High School. I desperately wanted to take Drama, but there were no spaces left. The closest the school advisor could get was Public Speaking. It would have to do. On the first day of class I became devoted to the teacher.

He was a mountain of a man. He must have been at least six and a half feet tall. He had a barrel chest and wonderfully rich voice. He had been a bit of everything in his life before he, “Came back to the school that showed me the door and suggested I never come back.” One of the many things he had done  was work as a prison officer.
About halfway through the school year, the teacher wanted us to do a “show and tell” speech. He handed us our subjects. Mine was on how to make a Martini. I held my hand up and asked if I could do the speech on a subject I chose. He answered in the affirmative. Luckily he did not ask me what I was going to do.
When I was a lot younger I used to read a book series called The Brains Benton Mysteries.  Brains, as was suggested by his nickname, was a genius. He was like a young Sherlock Holmes. I adored the books and it was through one of them that I found the recipe for making gun powder. It was not exact, that would have been irresponsible.But it did list the main ingredients.
Charcoal, saltpetre, and sulfer. Saltpetre and sulfer I could get at the local drug store. In those days you could get your hands on loads of “cool” things. I remember getting Hydrochloric Acid and Formaldehyde over the counter. That did change very shortly when a new chemist started working there. Of course I had the other ingredient at home in the guise of charcoal briquettes.
After a lot of experimenting I made a small pile of gunpowder that could more accurately be called flash powder. I did tightly pack a bit and it did make a satisfactory bang when lit. I was inordinately pleased that I had cracked the formula. I wrote the measurement down in a notebook and never had the opportunity to make the stuff again. Well, until my Public Speech class came along.
I went home on Friday and spent the next two days making gunpowder. I managed to fill an entire coffee can with the stuff. I then wrote my speech outline and made a few index cards with the formula on them. Speech class was my first class of the morning, so on Monday I entered the room with my coffee can, index cards and my outline. The outline I gave to the teacher and I sat down with my coffee can and index cards on the desk in front of me.
When the teacher read my outline he raised his eyebrows and looked at me questioningly. I just grinned and nodded. This seemed to satisfy him and he then did a roll check and said that I would give the first speech of the morning.
I got up to the podium and using the chalk board I wrote down my recipe for making gun powder. I then explained where you could get the ingredients from. Then with a flourish I opened the coffee can asked everyone to pass it around and have a look. When the can came back to me, I opened the floor for questions.
Immediately from the back of room came the question I was hoping someone would ask. “How do we know it works, man” This was from the “druggies” in the corner. “Ah,” I said, “Now comes the demonstration part of my speech.” I took a box of matches out of my trouser pocket, opened the box and pulled a match out and lit it. With what I thought was a theatrical gesture worthy of P.T. Barnum himself, I tossed the match into the coffee can.
FOOM! In a split second a flame roughly about five feet tall shot out of the top of the can. This was followed by a huge black cloud of smoke. The teacher shouted at the class to open the windows. This action did not immediately help to disseminate the smoke which appeared to get worse. The general atmosphere in the room was one of great hilarity. There was a lot of laughter and shouting and coughing. The teacher then evacuated the class room and we all went outside to wait for the smoke to clear. Luckily no one hit the fire alarm. Although this was mainly because the smoke was confined to the speech room.
Once the smoke had cleared and we were herded back to our seats, the teacher asked me if I knew that was going to happen. I had to honestly say no. I explained that I had never made that much before and had no idea that it was going to be so spectacular. He believed me and did not send me to the Principle’s office for being a disruptive influence on the class.
He instead gave me an A+ for my ingenuity and flair. Looking back on my time spent in High School, I think it was the highest grade I ever got for anything.