Saturday, 28 March 2009

Kunt, cunts and the ever changing circle of friends in Manchester.

It's a sad time for the new batch of international students. After only a couple months together they're soon to depart again for their respective homes. I know precisely what it is they're going through and while I don't know them as well as I wish I did, I can't help but feel a tinge of sadness creep up as they discuss farewell parties and last nights out as a group. It's funny to think how close you get to people when you're thousands of miles away from home. The more time you spend with them, the more your new environment feels like a bit of a surrogate home. For some, it may be easier to leave, for others it might be impossible. It should come as no surprise that I fall into the latter and while I miss my family and friends immensely everyday I'm here, I'm starting to identify England as my new home. This doesn't mean that I will never return to the states but it does mean that my foray to the UK has become more long term than I had previously thought on that first plane trip to the UK in September. It's sad that I'm having to express this through a blog entry but I'm afraid my communicative tools are fairly limited at the moment and this will have to do. Besides, I've always found it easier to write my thoughts than it is to speak them. I've found myself to be very thoughtful and nostalgic of late and it's made this decision to stay that much more difficult. Remembering nights with a good movie and my parents or crazy kate nights with some of my closest friends always make me crack a very sad smile. It seems that the distance has also put some space between my relationships with some of my closest friends stateside. This obviously makes me quite emotional and I'm in no way blaming anyone for this, it's just one of those bitter truths to face. I'm still very thankful for the time spent talking to them and also very thankful for the new friends I have made over here. There's no way they could ever replace my American friends and I'm glad they haven't tried, they're just my friends, nothing else.

Moving onto different areas that have less to do with how I'm feeling and more to do with how I'm spending my time here. I'm still working loads and still loving it tremendously. The staff at fab are getting better and better and I feel like they'll be important people in my life for a long time. This week has been a hectic one at work with many highs and lows. I have worked 5 days straight and will work one more tomorrow night before a three day respite, which I am very excited about. There hasn't been much in the way of exciting times but Wednesday was without a doubt the most interesting and humorous night thus far. It started off in a rather tortuous fashion with an performance by 'comedian' and 'musician' Kunt and the Gang. I chose to put those words in quote because he was neither funny nor musically inclined. The only way I could describe his act is a 6 year old learning how to swear and then putting it to pre made casio beats and melodies. Once he was through bombarding us with his terrible tunes, the real fun started. I served a gentleman who picked up on my accent and began spouting off hate speak against Americans. He was doing so in jest so I was a good sport about it and I felt better about him when he bought me a shot of tequila. I noticed that he was chatting up a girl who was not enthralled so when his back was turned I advised he that it might be prudent for her to leave, unless she fancied him. She said no and thanked me and was on her way. I felt bad about ruining this guy's chances but he proved to be an asshole in the first degree so I thought being his pulling nemesis would be fun. He tried once again with a couple of girls who once again seemed desperate to get away from him but unfortunately were too polite to just turn around and walk away. After a couple minutes he came rushing up to me demanding a round of drinks for the three of them (he was quite drunk at this point). I poured the drinks and told him his total. He was unaware that he had run out of money so he went scouring around the bar to raise the necessary funds but to no avail. He continued chatting with the girls so I walked up to the three of them and very blatantly asked for the necessary monies to purchase said drinks. He pulled me aside and said all he had was an atm card and was there anything he could do to boycott the payment. I said no and told him to go to an atm right up the road so he could pay me. After a lot of loud noise and disgruntled behavior, he agreed and left his phone behind for collateral. As soon as he left, once again I told the girls what was happening and advised them to vamoose while they had the chance. As they were leaving I apologized on this moron's behalf. They said there was no need but I assured them that someone owed them an apology and they left on cloud nine b/c of my well mannered ways. He came back, paid for the drinks (which he didn't drink) and left again, but not before the staff took pictures of me on his phone for him to find later! He left, I drank his discarded drinks and had a good laugh.

Since then, work has been fairly standard and uneventful. I've come down with a bit of a cold, so naturally the manager Ash made me a hot toddy (water, whiskey, honey and lime) to ease my aching throat. Only in a bar do they prescribe whiskey for a cold! Tomorrow should be quite eventful as well. It's the Fab Cafe movie night and we are putting on "watchmen", the movie recently released based on the graphic novel. I've wanted to see it for a while now and am excited at the idea of getting paid to see it!

I have also made a new friend this past week. I met her at a club called Opus. I was on my way out and we got to talking while she had a cigarette. Her name's Orlaith from the green hills of Ireland. There's no romantic involvement because she's currently got a girlfriend but we should be having a night out on the town sometime next week. I can't wait to do something fun with a fun person. Meeting new people was one of the things I was most excited about when I came back to Manchester and now that it's finally coming full circle, it's a great time to be alive! I think that pretty much brings us up to date so I will take off for now. Thanks to everyone that's reading, leave me a comment on here and let me know what you think. I'd love to hear what everyone wants to read about and what they like about my little internet journal. I'll be talking to everyone soon. In the words of Gary, 'peace and fuckin' yeah'.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

The ever interesting life of the working Steve

It's been a while, and while I feel I don't have much to update you on, I've received several requests about putting in some time on the blog so here goes! Some big news as of yesterday is that I have finally officially unpacked all of my stuff in my own place. My friend Bovies let me know that he was moving out of his place and in with his girlfriend so he offered me his. It's a shared flat with three other people but I have my own room and bathroom (which is currently giving me no hot water for a shower). Aside from the temperature frustrations with the water, I have no complaints and am excited to have this basic necessity finally taken care of. I had been living with my Malaysian friends for too long and didn't want to over stay my welcome. They're great guys for putting up with me for as long as they did. I haven't met any of my new flat mates but I've been told that two of them are doing a masters degree. One in law and the other in engineering. I have also gathered that the genders are split in the flat with two males and two females. I'm looking forward to meeting them but am a little afraid that my bar tenders schedule along with their busy students schedule may interfere in the way of much social contact. Such is life I suppose.

Things at fab are going very well and I'm enjoying all the work I'm getting there. I'm generally getting between 20-30 hours a week and I'm always hoping for more. The work itself isn't much to write home about but the people I work with are great. Among the notables are Sneaky, Sam, Gary, Vicky, Debs and Ricky. Sneaky usually works days and is notorious for practical jokes and now having 0 sexually transmitted diseases (way to go sneak). Sam strikes an intimidating pose with long hair and an even longer and bushier beard but he's class in a glass and a very good guy. Gary's the assistant manager and is a lot of fun to work with and has introduced me to the world of Simon Pegg before 'Shaun of the Dead'. Vicky is fun little ball of energy and unfortunately for her is usually tormented because of her very real and wholly amusing fear of sponges. When I say fear of sponges, I don't mean she can't touch them or she doesn't like them. I mean she will literally run out of the bar screaming if someone comes at her with a sponge, talks about them or pretends to eat an imaginary one. I have never met anyone with such a strange phobia but one look at her reactions to them and you'd know it's real. Debs is another very kind coworker of mine and she's loads of fun to work with! Last but not least, there's Ricky who may be insane. He's wildly imaginative and while some people may find him odd or slightly left of center, I think he's hilarious and loads of fun. He fits right in with fab and he does an extraordinary job. The more I work with him, the more I learn and become better. Everyone I work with is wonderful and they've definitely made working there a joy these past two weeks.

One of the other parts of fab that I'm looking forward to are the nights in the (hopefully) near future where I will get to try my hand at dj-ing. I downloaded a program for my mac, which allows me to dj from my iTunes library so keep your fingers crossed that someday soon I might be behind the dj booth with free drinks and playing my favorite songs. The only downside to the dj's at fab is their incessant desire to play 'Sweet Home Alabama'. Every time it comes on, I shudder and since everyone behind the bar knows I hate the song, they rag me and insist I must love it. Needless to say, if I start dj-ing, that is one you won't be hearing if you're anywhere near the bar.

In the coming weeks I'll get to exercise my weakened drumming muscles when my friend Gary and I take a trip to a studio and get a little music playing in. I haven't played drums now in over two months and while I miss it immensely, I'm slightly worried that my skills have greatly diminished. We have a 5 and a half hour session booked so hopefully by the end of it, I'll regain the 'magic'. This is something that Gary and I have talked about doing for months now and it's finally happening April 3rd. 

I suppose the last thing of note in the recent weeks has been my first celebrated St. Patrick's Day. Spending it in Manchester was an absolute gas and even though I had to work during the day, I made the most of it after work. I concluded work with an Irish Stew and a whiskey and then went round Gary's before heading out to Czech Bar where they turned Irish for the night. I had another Stew and a couple pints of Guiness and Foster's and then the night began. There was drinking and karaoke for most of the night before it dwindled down to just Gary and myself listening to music into the wee (Scottish, not Irish) hours of the morning. My ability to stay up far too late has been tremendous lately and I'm positive it has to do with my new job. I walked home and got in about 5:30 in the am and promptly went to sleep for the last time in the Malaysian's house.

That's all folks! I'll try to live excitingly enough to update sooner than two weeks from now.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Who knew I knew how to be a bartender?

As many of you may know, I was recently hired at a cult movie bar called Fab Cafe. This was the job I had set my sights on early on into my job hunt but when I handed in my CV, they weren't hiring so I moved on. Earlier this week Helen the manager called and asked if I could come in for an interview the following day around 5, I said of course and I was giddy with glee! I went in and had to fill out a little questionnaire. It was fairly standard for the most part but I knew I was going to love working there when I got to the last two questions; 'Why does Roadrunner always get away and do you think this is acceptable?' and 'Have you ever killed anyone? If NO, would you kill someone and how would you do it?' Bing thought this made them sound like a cult instead of just a bar focused on cult movies but I thought it gave the place character and it began to remind me of the atmosphere I was used to working in The Record Exchange a couple years ago.

The interview must have gone well enough because that evening they called and offered me the job. I went in for my first day last night not really knowing what I would be doing, but excited about the possibilities and ready for my first bar tending job. I got there around 9:30 pm and started at 10. I met one of the regulars named Tony who apparently is NEVER allowed to have a shot of any kind. He was Mancunian in every single aspect, drunk, angry and utterly hilarious. I met several members of the staff and immediately felt comfortable joking around with them. I was starting with two other new hires and we got off on the best foot as well. There's Scarlet who has a bit of a goth feel to her and is a very warm and lovely person. There's also Brad, the first englishmen I've met with such an American sounding name. He's a fellow music aficionado so needless to say, we got along very well.

Along with the amazing atmosphere and hilarious decor (pictures will be coming soon), the most important aspect of the bar is the great music played day in and day out. I had a great time singing along to the likes of David Bowie, The Cure, The Kinks, The Stones and so on. It was great to know I was at work but enjoying such great music. The job itself was fairly standard, stand behind the bar until someone asks you for a drink. I found that mixing drinks and 'pulling pints' came fairly easily for me and I never felt like I was out of my element. Hopefully that confidence will transfer over tonight when I work again! 

Another added perk of this bar tending gig is the staff drink afterwards. Apparently it's fairly customary to have all the staff share a drink after the night's finished so it was nice to set down with my new boss and my fellow budding bar tenders. I had a Jameson straight up, which garnered some respect from my fellow staff and I really felt like I had earned it. I explained to my boss Helen about my desire to work as much as possible and she set me up to work two more shifts in the next three days. I can't wait to learn more and then start to really come into my own at this new and immensely fun job. To top it all off, I got back and had the newest episode of the Office (I know...I love it, I can't help myself) waiting for me to serve as the perfect night cap before collapsing into 'bed' around 4:30 or 5 in the am!

On a slightly sad note, Phish is playing the first show in over 4 years in Virginia, and I am missing it. I'm hoping I'll get home in time to see them post the set list in real time. I also signed for free mp3 downloads of the show so I guess it'll have to do. Keep your fingers crossed that they do a Europe leg of the tour (but don't hold your breath)!

Alright everyone, I'm off I love all of you and I'll speak more of my mind later!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Just a little something I've been mulling over...

MGMT...everyone should listen to them.

Is MGMT what Gnarls Barkley should have been? With the miraculous amount of hip involved in the comprising members of Gnarls Barkley, why have I been left somewhat unsatisfied? Dangermouse alone commands the respect of any hipster and wannabe alike, but why has this collaboration with the tremendous Cee-lo left much to be desired? Never to fret because all the unanswered questions left behind by Gnarls have been answered by MGMT on their new record ‘Oracular Spectacular’. All the soul missing from all aspects of Gnarls Barkley’s two records have come up in every aspect of the latest offering from MGMT. The songs may have a distinct sound that might not bring to mind soul upon a first listen but they still have a definite groove and emotion behind them. These songs could swim on their own in very simple terms but the added layers and sounds are never superfluous but only show that there’s still room for originality in music today. When everyone wants to focus on trying to be original, MGMT clearly is original just by doing what they want and they should be rewarded for it. I don’t know if they will have the mass appeal that Gnarls have but that’s what helps make them special. Here is a band that you can share with all of your friends but don’t have to be punished for liking by mass appeal and radio exploitation. Maybe I would have felt differently about Gnarls if ‘Crazy’ hadn’t been drilled into my psyche by everything from my cd player to the radio and even the restaurant I worked in, but their second album just doesn’t have the magic that make it memorable. That’s the difference betweens these two groups, the mass notoriety that destroyed the real appreciation they could have garnered. MGMT have that special something, the sing along-able choruses and the hum along-ing quality in their melodies that keep you singing them long after you’ve turned them off from your ipod. I urge everyone to give this wonderful band’s new record a thorough listen and make up your mind. 

Monday, 2 March 2009 cup runneth over.

I write today with a bit of a dilemma. Today i was roused from the first rem sleep in a while by phone ringing. I wasn't familiar with the number but decided to answer regardless. Much to my surprise, it was Helen, the owner of a bar called Fab Cafe who offered me a job interview tomorrow. Fab Cafe is this really cool little bar situated underneath a massive building on Portland Street just off of the big Oxford Road. It's a cult movie themed bar and as such, has great character and personality. The jukebox also plays a variety of kick ass tunes and near as I can tell, the entire staff seem like great people. This is the place I set my sights on when I first began the tedious job search a little over a month ago. If all goes well, this job could provide me with more regular hours than I am getting now (since I started at the catering agency, I have worked a total of 8 hours in almost 2 weeks time). It would also afford me the luxury of not pretending to be too nice and courteous to the exceedingly wealthy, pompous pricks that saunter into Old Trafford before during and after the matches. After giving it a lot of thought, I think I may try to work the occasional match because of the good money and general ease of work. I may also try to work the occasional concert at the MEN Arena, but that's mainly for my love of music and I'd try to work more specific concerts that are more down my alley. 

Enough job talk, it seems like that's all I'm ever doing lately. I'm sure all of you reading this now know that I've decided to start deciding what I want to get tattooed on me. I started a group on facebook and I would love people to take a look at the pictures on the group's page and let me know what they like because these pictures could end up making up my eventual tattoo. Other than that, the days have slipped by without much in the way of news. I've been laying low and spending time with a select group of people. I cooked dinner last Thursday for them all which turned out to be lovely. If anyone has any interest in Shrimp Fra Diavolo, let me know and I'll pass along the recipe. The meal turned out very well and Bing provided a couple of bottles of white wine that complemented the meal wonderfully. Way to go Bing.

My friend and temporary housemate Darren had his 22nd birthday Friday and in lieu of the regular student past time involving drinking heavily to the point of black out, we went out to dinner at a Japanese restaurant. Darren explained to me that in this group of friends, the birthday boy or girl treats everyone else to dinner, which I'm still trying to wrap my mind around. In a state of confusion I sat down to dinner where for once, I was the minority. A couple of the guys ordered all the food which sounded like a lot but they assured me it was only the starter. What?! If I recall correctly,  the starters were all sushi and consisted of 45 salmon rolls, 30 king prawn rolls, I believe 15 with octopus and 15 with eel. What a starter for 10 people to share. I had never really ventured into the raw world of sushi so needless to say I was a little nervous. As it turns out, I love sushi! It was all delicious despite Prescott sitting next time recounting times a girl he knows throwing up the first time she had sushi and how it's generally an inevitability. Afterwards, we went for a couple pints at this great little night spot called Odder Bar. Odder offers a variety of services ranging from quiet lunch or dinner spot with great food and reasonable prices to crazy party bar on the right nights. It was packed! They were playing a great selection of songs that I didn't know but enjoyed thoroughly and I think everyone had a great time.

I think that may sum up everything that's happened in the past few days. I hope this finds all the people closest to me, and I hope it finds them well.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

A promise of what's to come...Ireland and the second job.

I haven't been sleeping too soundly lately. I imagine that this could be happening for several reasons, the biggest one probably being the couch upon which I'm sleeping. Don't get me wrong, it sleeps better than most I've experienced but there is no comparison to a warm bed with clean sheets which I haven't experienced in roughly a week and a half. Never fear, I am doing everything possible to focus on any and all positives and I have come across a couple. This morning I received a call saying that my interview yesterday at MEN arena went well and I was offered a job. Before I can start working, I have to undergo the training regimen which consists of a weekend of 9-5 at the fairly luxurious Midland Hotel. I'm not sure what they training will involve but once I've finished with that, I'll be able to start working security for the big act concerts and events that roll through Manchester. Naturally I am excited about this prospect because of the chance to see many artists without having to pay the price of admission. Some of the artists I'll have the chance to see while making money include The Killers, Kings Of Leon, B.B. King, Eric Clapton and AC/DC. Needless to say, I am enthralled with the prospect at getting a step closer to the music industry and while I am starting fairly near the bottom of the totem pole, I hope it may offer me a chance to work my way up.

In other news, I decided this second foray into the United Kingdom was a second chance at seeing more of Britain and Europe. In keeping with that spirit my elementary school chum Erin informed me that she would be in Ireland in late June for a couple of days and extended to me the generous invite to join her and her group. I've never been to Ireland before so I jumped at the opportunity to not only see an old friend but to also see more of the world. June cannot come soon enough!

Not too much happening since I last updated so this one is fairly short. I'll do what I can to keep you as updated as I deem necessary.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Everyone should listen to Elbow

Alright, so far, I'm doing well with this whole blog thing. I suppose it's still a little early but dammit I'm proud of myself! Not a whole lot has happened in the period between my last blog and this one, but I figure this friends and family time writing me emails asking what's new. I don't imagine anyone is too bothered by sending those emails but I'm here to make the Steve information hit you that much're welcome!

Alright, Sunday night I decided to celebrate the tips from Saturday by going out with Gary and Julie from Cavendish for a couple drinks and goofy participation in a pub quiz, a staple of British drinking culture. Our friend Lance was hosting so I had another reason for going. Figuring a poor performance from our tiny team (we had three participants, most other teams had 5 or 6), we landed on the team name 'The Shit out of Lucks'. I still kind of hoped for 'Sarah Palin and the Rape Kits' but that got turned down; I guess she's not suitable fodder for parody now that she's not employed high enough up in our executive branch of government. As it turns out, our team name was fairly accurate, early on into the quiz we noticed that most of these questions we were not getting. We reached the general knowledge section and things started picking up slightly but it was the music and movies section that we really knocked out of the park. Still being down a few points all attention was turned to the drawing portion (the team with the best drawing received 5 extra points). I won't go into the details of my drawing but it was stupidly patriotic while mocking the British government as well but nevertheless it rocketed our team into third place and got us free shots. You take what you can get I suppose.

Monday is an uneventful day where nothing happened and I only ventured out of the house right after waking up to meet a couple friends from one of my classes for lunch. The burger I ate was very eventful and by far the best burger I've had in the UK, and rivals some burgers I've had in the states! Also, having lunch with Jamille and Anthony was a good time, they're an interesting couple of guys and I'm looking forward to spending more time hanging out with them.

Today was had it's ups and downs, I didn't sleep well so needless to say I wasn't in the best of moods when I was roused from my sort of sleep this morning. It wasn't easy shaking my mood but I persevered regardless because I had a job interview today at 8 pm. The interview was at the Manchester Evening News Arena (MEN Arena) and was through a company called Showsec that provides people to do minimal security work such as keeping people from spilling over into the aisles or jumping onto the floor and so on. I got there at 7:30 and got to wait around and make small talk with some of the fellow interviewees. They took us on a tour of the arena, lead us to a dressing room where we had a presentation and then the interview. I was in a group with a very annoying little woman who was insistent on making herself heard on many superfluous occasions. I decided that she seems to be one part suck-up mixed with equal parts egotistic nightmare perfectly content simply hearing herself talk. Still, it wasn't about her and I proceeded along with the interview. It went well enough and I will know apparently in a couple days whether or not I got the job so keep your fingers crossed everyone.

That's all I'll say for now as there isn't much else of note to really put in here. I hope this news finds any and all readers in high spirits and I shall surely update soon.

PS-In regards to my title, Elbow is a band recently discovered by me with the help of Cheranne and I urge everyone to explore their catalog of material. It's a very British sounding band which I think may turn some people also might make people expect something different than they really are but if everyone gives it a chance, I'm sure everyone will like them.