Month of December 2015

Hello! Ranties… Rantlettes… I need a term to refer to my fans, such as it were. The Game Grumps have Lovelies, Pewdiepie has the Bros, I need a thing. Oh, and a cool sign off, cool sign offs are a thing. Erhem, point, back to it. So I’ve been quiet, I did warn you all I was taking November off to have a think and other than some bit pieces on the current deplorable state of our world, I stuck to that, but it’s December now and you’re probably wondering what I have in store for you right? I hope you are, I’d hate to think you’re indifferent about it because that would make me feel like I’m wasting my time here. So with that in mind, here’s the plan I’ve got laid out for December 2015 and moving on to the year ahead.

Firstly, owing to the success of the Decap Attack playthrough, Jonah and I are going to be taking on another holiday-themed video game, all I need to acquire first is screen-recording/video editing software (I used a trial version of a product beforehand but the trial has expired and to buy a key is like £200 so I said fuck that in every way known to the English language and grumbled for several minutes). The Let’s Plays have cottoned on it seems, people enjoyed the casual vibe and honest banter, which makes sense because it was literally just my brother and I playing a video game together, that’s 90% of our shared activities, the rest is political discussion and wandering around town or just me irritating him by squeezing his face or pretending to punch him, as brothers often do. I’ll do more of them, they’re fun to do, but please bear in mind they’re not going to be my staple thing, that’s not what I’m trying to achieve public recognition for – that’s no jibe against such types, I’m a strong follower of the Beard Bros and Game Grumps but I don’t want to be known as another beardy white boy playing video games for a living jumping on that bandwagon because it is still rolling strong. So yeah, there’ll be a Christmas one and we’ve considered some other games that’d be fun to do, I have a wealth of emulator roms and a Steam library full of stuff Jonah has never heard of so he’ll be wombling through that with total confusion, as will my audience no doubt, that could be fun.

Secondly, a Christmas special post, you’re probably expecting one, there was one last year after all. Well, I do have a fair bit to say on the subject of Christmas, albeit in what will be seen as a Scroogey fashion but with good justification. I’m not sure what to expect of Christmas yet, there’s been little mention of it around the home but depending on what happens will dictate what I post on actual Christmas Day. However, I can do some Christmas related posts beforehand so look out for those, interspersed with any recent topical news I feel obliged to speak out about.

Finally then, the new year! What is coming? VIDEOS. Yes, I’ve said this for a while but I have a camera, I have locations I can utilise, I have people willing to help out and I’ll soon have some editing software so the pieces are falling into place. A YouTube channel is being set up and a schedule worked on to provide enough content without overdoing it and balancing it between funny bits and serious bits. I realise there are a few things making my blog a task to get into – it’s very depressing stuff, it’s very long to read and it doesn’t always balance fun and serious discussion too well so people can be put off thinking they’re just subjecting themselves to more “How can we allow this stupid thing to happen?” style rants when there are a few “I watched a funny movie!” posts in the mix. Contributions from my audience are encouraged, not monetary (Though I won’t complain if you’re offering! Kidding!) but ideas of what you want from me. Let’s Play requests have come in and in the past, even article requests but these videos are made by me for you, it’s important for me to know what people want to hear about. I’m also tempted to do some lengthier discussion pieces for people to listen to in the background as they do whatever because I love those myself so let me know if that’d interest you. Like, say an hour’s discussion in a radio show style thing on a topic, using some bits and bobs found on the internet and in the news for talking points featuring myself and some other guests (friends I can desperately rope into sitting in a room for an hour talking to a laptop). So if that sounds good, at least as say, pleasant background noise, let me know!

So that’s that, keep watching this space on here and on my Facebook page. OH, Twitter, gonna get me on of those, seems it’s a thing that won’t go away anytime soon, start using them hashtags and what have ya. Keep watching, please keep supporting this blog and maybe one day you’ll see Old Man Wolfe in the trending section on your News Feed hmm? I did recently do some sponsored posts, reached out to over 7000 viewers, of those 7000 at least 250 of them checked the blog (Not massively impressive I know but it’s better than the usual “Hey, you have three good friends who read all your rubbish and like, four guys were bored” I get on here)

Signature sign-off phrase pending! See you all soon!

The Year Ahead

Trigger Warnings – Strong language throughout

Alright readers, are you all sober again? Hmm? I trust you didn’t all lose your phones and/or wallets last night, you probably lost your lunch but who am I to judge? Anyway, continuing on from yesterday, I’ve told you about my 2014, now let’s get onto what I want out of 2015 and how I hope to get on with it. I know what you’re thinking, resolutions are hooey, nobody ever keeps them going on into February, we all give up on that diet after one salad and that “I swear I’m going to work out” then becomes “I swear I’m going to work out the best possible way to do nothing productive”. However, I think putting these goals up on a public domain that I can easily access might make them stick with me better and I’ve already got people willing to help me achieve some of these goals so let’s see what happens, maybe I’ll give you all a progress check next week

First up, lose weight, not a lot, just enough so that when I look down, I see my belt buckle and not my belly. I get told all the time I’m worrying over nothing and that I’m still as handsome/ugly as I’ve always been, the only one seemingly bothered by my pudge is me but therein is the big factor, it bothers me. My body is my own and I want to feel as attractive as possible in it, it took no effort to do that through my teen years but I don’t have a black void for a gut any more, if I eat fatty foods, it shows. I’m also annoyed that looking in the mirror, my jawline has rounded out so I look less like my former self and more like a bearded hamster. I am Jacob Wolfe, not Jacob Hamstere. Furthermore, people say they haven’t noticed but until I made it abundantly clear it wasn’t appreciated, I noticed over the past few months jokes about my appearance became targeted at my shape, namely the fact I am short and tubby – previous jokes about my appearance used to be about my messy hair or scraggly beard  but lately it’s been more about the fact I am shorter and fatter than most people I know. Terrific. So that ends there, I’m no longer taking sugar in my tea, I’m starting to take vitamins to help me improve all round, I’ve sworn off all sticky buns and cakes as comfort foods and I’m going to take up jogging. I didn’t today, boo me, it was raining heavily and my mood was low but if I feel better, I’ll go for it.

On a serious note, I have to get my act together this year, I’m twenty years old and I have no further education beyond lack-lustre A-Levels and some work-based training, I still live with my parents because of many many reasons but I’ll just have to get around it and I’m currently unemployed and single. The single bit, eh, no big deal, I’m single for the right reasons and I know what I really want in a relationship now so I have ideas how to move forward there but the rest of that shit? Got to clear it up. I’m going to get back on Jobseeker’s again, find a job that uses my new skills and pays a decent wage, save up a packet to get me some driving lessons and a car in the future, I’ll probably need help from the family for that (Dad did say he wanted to make my 21st birthday a big deal as he felt he didn’t do bugger all for my 18th so maybe I can talk to him about that) and then look into education and moving closer to where I attend. I need to decide what to study, I’d say creative writing or such but I’m not sure, I may well take up Foundation Psychology and work my way in that way, psychology is actually one of my main interests alongside history and film/gaming culture and recently politics. God I sound boring… Hey Jake, you’re an attractive single male, what are your interests? Mmm fucking love me some textbooks and Hitchcock movies, that shit’s the bomb. This resolution isn’t so much a silly little thing I’d like, this is serious, this is “Jacob, get your flipping act together!” so I must stick to this one, fat gut or not!

On the subject of my blog, I want to move it to YouTube and become a vlogger, though I need to find a way of making myself stand out and I promise you it won’t be “Look at me, I’m a zany twenty something with lots of material possessions I own as the backdrop to me jump cutting around the room and calling things crazy”, that’s just not me. I’ll aim to be funny and interesting, obviously, and probably more engaging or lively than I usually am in person but it’s not an easy feat for a guy like me, my main conversation consisting of the odd one-liner slid into appropriate moments and a series of distinctive shrugs and “Hmm” noises. I have someone willing to help edit and work on the videos, I already have someone offering to let me use some of their equipment and I’ll look into getting some of my own of course. I’ll probably post less frequently here but I’ll look into making the posts themed or something, have some better structure going as opposed to “This is what I feel like doing today, deal with it”. I’ve really got back into this, I lacked confidence and sometimes my confidence does wane with the view counter but I definitely think my latest posts are more coherent and generally better all round than my old material, but that’s for my audience to decide. So that’s going to take a while and might be difficult with everything else going on but I’m going to try my damned hardest to balance it all and if I can, maybe get TDWC into something I like.

Well, I’ve got a lot on my plate, it’s not going to be easy but I’ll keep record of what I do. I have a diary, journal, whatever, I stuck to the mood one pretty well and need to evaluate the results of that but yeah, decided I’d also get into writing a normal diary such as it were, day by day thoughts. Hardly going to be the work of Pepys but y’know, it’ll be good to look back on and I’ll be able to see just how far I did or didn’t make it over the year. Anyway, all that remains now is to wish you all luck in your own endeavours and I hope you wish me luck in mine!

And so let’s look forward to a glorious future, hopefully, maybe, optimism for the win. I’d love it if you could like and share what you see here and as usual, please check out the link below and click that like button to get updates from me in your feed and the opportunity to catch these posts the moment they go up! Feel free to hit me up with comments and messages too (Be tasteful, spam will not get responded to)

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My 2014

Trigger Warnings – Strong language throughout

Are you excited readers? The new year will dawn upon us soon, it’s time to make plans you’ll never stick to and get so shit-faced your first words of 2015 will be “Oh my fucking god, kill me”, your first morning will have you wake up to being upside down and almost blind with your arse out and your guts on the floor. I’ll be starting my new year entirely sober, bored and probably sat on my butt in front of a screen but I’m not complaining, tis how I almost always start the new year, the only new year I ever spent away from home I spent sat in front of my girlfriend of the time’s TV instead… both of us, I didn’t just turn up and lounge on her sofa like some sort of intrusive sloth. Anyway, as is the tradition, this is the time of year where we all look back at the last twelve months and judge how far we have come and how far we still need to go. Tonight, I’ll talk about how far I’ve come, tomorrow, how far I need to go, a post in two halves such as it were.

I started this year with nothing really, my social life was dead in the water because my pockets were empty and my mood was awful. I had a small circle of people I could kill some time with now and then but for the most part I was just going through the motions. I’m in a similar stance now but something about it then seemed even less worthwhile, maybe it was the lingering feeling I was there because I didn’t get up, as opposed to biding time to come at it again. Anyway, I eventually got my ass back on job seeker’s, I’d been out of pocket since losing my job as a bartender and needed the money to get by. Shortly after that, things started picking up and I was learning to market my skills a bit better, a few job trials but nothing really went my way for a long time. Socially though, I improved, I got myself into a cosy relationship that I was quite happy with.

I won’t divulge into details of the relationship but you’re all aware I’m single so you can tell it didn’t last. I could bitch and whine or make them out as a callous cretin but I’ll avoid it, in spite of everything I just don’t feel venomous or anger towards them, I just keep out of their way and they keep out of mine. I learnt a lot from the relationship though and they helped me understand so many things from different perspectives – gender identities, contemporary feminism, philosophy and even how to be a better writer. The relationship wasn’t one of the body but more one of the mind but I suppose putting two people like us in a room together for too long was either going to be phenomenal or disastrous and so it started as the former and ended as the latter. If you’re reading, hello, hope you’re well, I’d be surprised if you did follow my blog but then again maybe I wouldn’t be. I’m not sure what I’d say to you if we met in person, I’m sure you feel the same probably, undecided if you’d punch me or kiss me but I shan’t overstep the line either way, just know that I do still think about you at times and I’m thankful for everything I gained from what we had, I like to think I am a better man now than I was then, and I don’t mean that with arrogance or bravado but with the opposite, I have learnt the value of listening, of measured selflessness and that we are more than a collection of traits, we are all vast and wide as oceans and just as mysterious. Thank you for that.

Sentimentality aside, the break up was about May time I believe, the details are hazy but it was around that time I started working at Oxfam. I quickly proved myself as a capable worker and found myself being entrusted with greater responsibility as time went by, my manager telling me I was being considered for a managerial role myself. I enjoyed my time at Oxfam, I met some good people and I got to see some of my old friends more regularly in an environment that was engaging without it being “Let’s meet up and stare at televisions and eat stuff”, now we were working together, we came to understand each other a bit better. I finally mended a long since shaking bridge with a friend of mine who has become irreplaceable over the past few months and I got to see sides to my best friend I had not seen before, all of us becoming much closer and much stronger as a unit and as individuals. I have no regrets there, this year to me is defined by the bonds I forged, the friends I made and the old friends I grew to know much better than I once did, holding them through tears and having them cheer me on to make something myself. I became warmer inside, warmer than I had felt before, much warmer than I started the year, a bitter and grumpy man simply existing, now I was working hard, spending time out being active and giving something back to my community.

Autumn rolled in and I got the job. I like to think I did pretty well, with everything considered, and my colleagues came to realise that I was not the shadow of my manager, I was a leader in my own right, I could feel that level of respect from them and it was demanding, sure, every issue that cropped up had a face staring towards me for directions. As the job came to an end, the overall evaluation came as a disappointment, I had not lived up to what I expected of myself or the targets I had been set, management is a challenging line of work for a man who barely says more than twenty words a day. I had my confidence shaken, some had doubted my capability in my role and went about their problems with me in ways I didn’t feel satisfied with, namely going around me to my superiors but hey, that’s the world of work, not everyone has it in them to come up to someone and resolve problems in such a direct manner, even myself at times. I took a step back from Oxfam after that point, to rest, to try and enjoy the festive season with a fair sum of money to my name, which I used to get some essentials for the future and to thoroughly spoil those that I cared about, knowing I wouldn’t get the chance too often. I did it because, well, even though not one of them would say I owe them anything, I felt I did, I had started this year so bitter and cold but each of them gave me something, each of them made me laugh, supported me through tough times and I had grown to love them all in ways I never did before. Blah, mushy…

The year has brought joys and sorrows. Ok, so I had my heart trampled on again, my cynicism towards romance is at its absolute peak now but through careful discussions, I came to understand what I REALLY want in a relationship, not what I told myself I wanted, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that things will work out and I actually feel some hope there. I felt a sense of elation on my birthday though, that for me was brilliant, that so many would show up even without seeing me for so long, just to celebrate my birthday and all of them paired their contribution to the party cost and then some, it reminded me that for all my money worries and dead love life, I’ve got good friends, in that sense I am rich. Granted, this is all a bit doey-eyed but it’s New Year’s Eve, it’s what we do, followed by ridiculous promises tomorrow.

So where am I now? Well, back to being unemployed and single but I have a better sense of who I am, how I feel and I now have a blog I actually put effort into, friends who actually want to spend time with me (Like, few weeks ago, met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in years and my god, it was like we’d never been apart, it was just natural friendly banter all the time, we shared a lot about ourselves and we’re meeting up again soon) and I have more experience of work, a better attitude and the support and resources to do more than claim benefits and rummage around for job opportunities like some sort of beggar, now I’m a desirable employee… though a car would help. Plans for the new year! Woop!

Anyway, happy new year readers, hope 2014 was your year and if not, fuck it, here’s another one, maybe it won’t be shitty, maybe it will, let’s find out together shall we? Hit like and share on here and be sure to check me out at my Facebook page, it’s funny now and then and the comment sections are a hoot (Though if this ever takes off, beware ze trolls!)

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2014 Retrospective

Trigger Warnings – Mentions of suicide/depression, related to Robin Williams

2014 was a pretty full year, granted it’s not quite done yet but I’ll be damned if I’m waiting to the very last second for every single morsel of news and trivia to include in here. I had originally thought of making a month by month Charlie Brooker-esque look back at the news of the year – media, films, business, politics, technology, war – all that jazz and more but my god was there a lot to cover, far too much to squeeze into my usual article length. I mean, when I look back at the year, it feels like it went on forever, not like 2013 which sorta came and went for me at least.

A strange year, we lost many great names and we saw twerks and jerks all over our News Feeds – Russell Brand became a ‘revolutionary’, the battle for equality escalated tremendously with victories for Gay Marriage cropping up across the US, Scotland voted on independence, photos were hacked and made global, cinemas cowered from cyber threats, Rocket Raccoon became a recognisable character to the mainstream and we learnt the dark truths behind some famous faces of yesteryear. So much to cover on one little blog, some of it I only really rediscovered in my research and was surprised at how recent things had been and just how much had happened. I’ll cover what I can, in brief summary.

So globally, the most searched names were those of Robin Williams, Jennifer Lawrence and Kim Kardashian. Robin Williams being one of the most tragic losses, at least to me and to the public community, and he served as a reminder as to the truth of depression – that outward appearances do not portray inner feelings for this man who brought nothing but joy felt such intense sadness and pain inside that it eventually overcame him, that’s a blog post in itself, something I can relate to, but I’ll leave it be for now. Jennifer Lawrence, of course, was constantly in the public eye for her various film appearances in the likes of Hunger Games films and X-Men First Class, as well as being a victim of the nude photo hack scandal. To clear up my stance on that one, she’s a victim and no she shouldn’t have just not taken the pictures of herself, that’s like saying if you don’t want to be robbed, don’t own valuables, victims are victims, criminals are criminals, stop blurring the lines. Yes, leaving a door unlocked will let a burglar into the house more easily but I can walk post a door and not open it, if someone goes ahead and walks in where they’re not invited, they need to be punished accordingly, we shouldn’t shrug and say it was inevitable. As for Kim, Kim tried to ‘break the internet’ by posing naked on a magazine cover, apparently forgetting the internet already knows what she looks like naked. I heard talk of it being brave or bold or stupid or whatever, I just shrugged, it was the least spectacular bit of ‘news’ I’d ever read, it’s why I’d never even considered doing an article on it – I refuse to make my blog into a celebrity gossip dump.

In film, we had the undying popularity of Frozen linger on well into Christmas this year, so much so various shops had to enforce maximum budgets on customer purchases for Frozen merchandise, we had Guardians of the Galaxy make Marvel a shit ton more money than they already had, there were Hobbits and Ninja Turtles all over the place, Lego became a film… somehow, Divergent joined the roster of “Dystopian teen fiction made into long running Hollywood money machine” novels, and we learnt that Benedict Cumberbatch REALLY can’t say penguins and that apes can outmatch the military. A lot of good films, a lot of not so good films, a lot of films I meant to watch and didn’t but the most part of it was “You know what we need? A team of characters standing around in epic poses whilst stuff explodes, it made Marvel rich, it must be the key to immortality or something” – so much so the freakin’ Penguins of Madagascar parodies the scene with the penguins stood in the trademark everyone-is-here-let’s-stand-back-to-back position and their leader saying to hold the position until maximum coolness is achieved. I still have a lot of these films to catch up on, Big Hero 6 looks fun, definitely need to see The Theory of Everything and wouldn’t mind giving some of the others a go just to say I have done. Of course, there was the fiasco with The Interview, which has been resolved with online releases, though there is a discussion in that for another day maybe.

World news, the big charity pushes this year were the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that every fucker and their nan took part in and the fight against Ebola, which America handled by saying “OH GOD NO AFRICANS WILL KILL US ALL, EBOLA IS EVERYWHERE!” whilst actual charities worked hard to clear up the damages and the rumours. We heard news reports on wars and conflicts across the globe, so much so it all sort of blurred into one horrid mess for people who didn’t follow these things, myself included. Conflicts in Gaza, Israel, Crimea, Ukraine, it became this endless stream of human beings just doing horrid stuff to one another and I daren’t even step on the subject because I just didn’t read up on it, it passed me by, I’m sure it did for most of you – the advantages of our lifestyles huh? We have our complaints and financial insecurity but there are considerably less guns and explosions in Shrewsbury, I’ll give you that much. In my neck of the woods, UKIP enjoyed a surge in support, much to my disgust, but at least the Greens did too. Scotland had their vote on independence and said it wasn’t for them, which to me is a wise decision, Britain as a whole barely stays afloat, breaking chunks off won’t do anyone any favours. Yes, that’s very brief and vague, so what?

Ugh, my gosh, over a thousand words, barely scratched the surface. I haven’t covered ISIS or Ferguson or the Sochi Olympics or Peaches Geldof or Conchita Wurst or… do you see my point? A lot happened this year, it’s impractical for a man of my limited resources to go into these things in one go so maybe this post will jog some memories of “Oh yeah, that happened” and start a few discussions. Truth be told, in this modern age, our attention spans are short, things don’t stay relevant very long – try it, do an ice bucket challenge now, see who gives a flip. Come 2015, we’ll have forgotten most of this year, I’ve certainly forgotten most of 2013 and 2012 before that. Anyway, perhaps slightly more interesting, tomorrow I’ll do a review of 2014 for me as a person rather than parroting Google searches. I have a lot to say there and it’ll be my way of signing off this year, letting it go

Letting it go… let it go… oh fuck

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Christmas Day Special – My Christmas of 2014

Trigger Warnings – None.

Merry Christmas folks! Sorry if this is up late but come on, credit where credit is due, even posting anything on this day deserves a pat on the back really doesn’t it? I hope you are all having a jolly good time of this festive occasion, my Christmas hasn’t exactly been what one would typically call Christmas Day but I’m not here to complain, not today, not on Christmas Day, I’ll save you that much. Anyway, Christmas and the New Year come so close together that it is at this time of year, particularly in the evening, we come to reflect on how far we have come since this same time last year and whilst I plan to do a personal post on all that another day, my mind still dwells there and I’ve been rather thoughtful tonight so allow me to share my musings.

So, Christmas was sort of cancelled this year, for us – our family has endured some hard ordeals that have been taxing on my father and my stepmother and a recent family incident destroyed the festive spirit of my Dad, the youngest of our family stole a great sum of money from other members and for a holiday all about family and togetherness, this came as a harsh blow. I’m all for second chances but if you knew the history, this kid isn’t on his second, he’s on his tenth, we’re tired. Anyway, moving on to less depressing subjects, we managed to enjoy some festivity here – there were gifts being passed around, we had a very large dinner and we’ve enjoyed some films and games, as well as you know, plenty of chocolate. Yes, Christmas is a cosy time of year for most of us, we cannot all enjoy it, there are those who still starve and scream even today and for that, we have to be thankful for what we have, as I am sure you are all aware.

I am thankful for a lot this year, even in spite of finding myself unemployed and some less than ideal health issues, mood issues and family issues but beyond that, I have a lot to be grateful for even so. You see, as Christmas looked set to be miserable, I was flooded with love and support from friends and even invitations to join them for Christmas next year if it looks set to be much the same. I dare not think that far ahead but the invitations are very much welcomed and maybe I will take up on one of those invitations, maybe not, time will tell and it is much too soon to make shots in the dark at what the next Christmas has in store for me. I like to think I have been very festive this year, I had a fair sum of money to my name at the time and did what I wanted to do the most with it – I wanted to spoil those close to me, to buy them thought out gifts to tell each of them that I care because each of those people that got something, they got me through the year, they gave me strength and I knew I would not get the opportunity to indulge them too often so I figured why not? I find the most joy in the joy of others, sounds cheesy and stupid but I do. You know what sound I love more than anything? A gasp, a gasp of surprise when you have got someone something they did not expect, when they put their hand to their mouth and smile. I find it deeply satisfying and maybe there is an element of selfishness in pursuing that reaction but it’s a redeemable selfishness surely? I’ll leave it to you to make that call.

I’ve not been a true saint of the holiday, I’ve done so few charitable deeds unless it was for someone within my family or circle of friends, I didn’t help out at a soup kitchen, I didn’t deliver toys to children in hospitals, I didn’t give my coat to a homeless man and such things are indeed praiseworthy, I wish I had the resources to do such things constantly and rest assured, come the new year, I will get back into charity work, it is rewarding and can be quite fun in the right environment. The new year holds a lot in store for me, mostly the reality that I must get my life on track and move forward from this endless wandering in circles. Still, as I said, it being Christmas, let me take this opportunity to thank you all for a great year – my blog is back and better than before, I have such good close friends and I have done so much with this year that it amazes me that this has been one year, it has been a long one for me but what I’ve gained from it, I am happy to have found.

Merry Christmas readers and a Happy New Year to all. Give me a little present of a like and a share and be sure to like my page on Facebook. Thank you for reading and let’s see what the new year brings for us all!

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Chains Of Avarice

Trigger Warnings – None

Christmas is coming, unless you’re Australian, it already came, or you don’t celebrate Christmas in which case I apologise, this article probably won’t interest you. As I was, Christmas is coming, it’s almost here for us here in the UK and so in honour of that occasion, I plan to do two little Christmassy posts, today and tomorrow. Yes, I am that dedicated to you my readers that I will be giving you all the gift of two festive posts, I hope it beats another ugly tie or pair of socks. Granted, your feet will be no warmer but perhaps your mind will be a little more open.

Right off the bat, I’m going to assume we all know the story of the Christmas Carol, if not then you either REALLY don’t celebrate Christmas to the point of not acknowledging it even exists or when someone mentions fiction, you look confused like “People write stuff that’s not true? I thought that was just The Sun?”. Zinger, I know. Anyway, as a brief recap the Christmas Carol is the story of a greedy businessman called Scrooge being visited by the ghost of his dead friend Jacob telling him to change his ways or spend eternity bound in the chains of his greed and so Scrooge is visited by spirits that show him visions of his past, present and future which upset, disturb and enlighten the old miser so that come Christmas morning, he becomes a jolly philanthropist like none other. I’ve sometimes questioned if Scrooge actually changed or if he was just scared straight, certainly in the actual novel he has a hellish time of it meeting his unwanted daughters, seeing his own gravestone and realising that everyone who has ever been important to his life resents him, but he keeps the spirit of the season well and being scared into good will by visions of chains is much akin to having the moral imperative of virtuous behaviour for fear of fire and torture in eternity.

Erhem, pretentious musings aside, I love the Christmas Carol story, it’s one thing I have always wanted to act in but never have (Incidentally, as either Scrooge himself or Bob Cratchit), my acting career has never really existed beyond some dynamic reading and a bit part in a school play. My favourite interpretation of the story you ask? Well, I love the one filmed in Shrewsbury but I most commonly watch the Muppet version, I like how it brings forward the core message of the story in a way children and parents can watch, it’s devoted to the story but not too seriously and it’s much more visually pleasing with colourful puppets and impressive acting than say, plain old animated versions for kids – we all know kids engage more with anthropomorphic characters than emulated realism. I bring up the Christmas Carol because I feel there’s an important part of the message people forget and that is just why Scrooge needed to change his ways. You’ll probably shrug and say “Come on Jake, he was greedy, all he cared about was money and he was a bitter old man ignoring those in need, that’s a bad guy, the story is his redemption”. Key point there, he was greedy, the story is about how his GREED is a curse, not his money. Greed has a much broader definition than a lust for gold and silver.

I often get called Scrooge for not being festive out the wazoo as I don no antlers, wear no silly jumpers and don’t constantly burst with excitement, nor do I sing along to any carol or song but I think a modern Scrooge would actually take part in those things, Scrooge is not a caricature as simple as “Don’t like wreaths of holly? You grinch!”, give Dickens more credit than that, Scrooge is a man made bitter by years of isolation and he lusts for money because money doesn’t betray people, money makes sense, money can be understood in ways you can’t apply to people. So why would a modern Scrooge enjoy Christmas? The focus of greed has changed in the past few years, money is something we all yearn for, even those who have it, so judge someone by their drive for financial success is plain hypocrisy but what is truer now than it was in Dickens’ time is a greed for consumerism, a desire for receiving gifts and getting what we want, ensuring our Christmas is the best it can be, a modern Scrooge is the guy who has a clear cut Christmas list you can’t deviate from or he’ll begrudge, a man who doesn’t always return kind gestures at this time of year, a man who complains when he receives the accursed wrong gift. I’m looking at you entitled children of the world, your parents got you the wrong make of iPhone? You’re the Scrooge now, your selfish greed will be your undoing.

At this time of year, some of us go overboard, in particular parents wanting to spoil their children rotten with brilliant presents, which can present a problem. I saw a Facebook post recently that made me think, parents shouldn’t label games consoles and bikes as being gifts from Santa because then less fortunate children might question as to why Santa got them some new jumpers and a couple of action figures whilst his best friend Timmy got an XBOX One and an iPad. Maybe this is the poor boy in me speaking but I resent such spoilt children and people who do so, it is excessive and only fuels this greed in the child, who will expect more and more as the years go on. I got games consoles at Christmas, sure, but it wasn’t mine, it was a shared gift and even then Dad would tell us “If you want something so big for Christmas, Santa will have to bring you less gifts to make room!”, which we agreed to, even by needy child logic that seemed fair. Do not make your children slaves to greed and if you must buy them big gifts, tell them it was you that bought it, not Santa, make it fair and help your child realise that the gift is not just a reward for good behaviour, but a sacrifice and an investment made by those that love them and should be revered as such. If you say Santa gets them everything, their love is for Santa that day, not the parent and they feel they deserve everything they get in life, which is a terrible lesson to teach because it’s not true – good work can go unrewarded.

Greed and impatience are cornerstones of our society really, aren’t they? That cannot be avoided but if it could, this is the time of year for it. We all neglect certain people in our lives, mostly those that are strangers to us, but let us not forget that it was greed that doomed Scrooge, not money, Scrooge didn’t find salvation in throwing every shilling he had into a lake, he found it in selflessness – buying a feast for his loyal clerk, rekindling the love lost in his relationship with his nephew, donating to charity – money in itself can be used as a force for good if the person that holds it knows to keep the spirit of selflessness in their heart

As always readers, thanks for your time and a Merry Christmas to you all! Please, spread the word, let us remember what this time of year is all about! Remember to like, comment and follow me on Facebook at my official page, call it a gift to me from you!

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Tragedy and Equality – TDOR Special

Trigger Warnings – Death, suicide

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. No, this is not a day in which war veterans dress in women’s clothing, this is a day in which we remember those who were killed or driven to suicide by violence against them for not identifying with their birth gender. I am sad when I think that we live in a world in which people die for being themselves, for daring to want something for themselves outside of the status quo and whilst I personally have never questioned my gender identity, I’m lucky to be so comfortable and self-discovery is a difficult process only made harder by stigma and stereotyping

Transgender Day of Remembrance, shortened to TDOR, began in 1998 and was the idea of an advocate for the Trans* community, Gwendolyn Ann Smith, to honour Rita Hester, a transgender woman who killed herself in that year. Using the 20th November as the annual date, she said we need to take a day of the year to just think about all those who have died because they simply wanted to exist in a different way to the way society expected them to, because who they said they were was not defined by what they had in their pants. The transgender community is under a constant threat, a threat of violence, bigotry, ‘correction’ and eradication, often in brutal and twisted manners. I mean, it’s appalling to think anyone should have to die for who they are and it is still a big issue for many communities seen as being immoral or subversive when they’re actually just normal people like you or me

I didn’t take part this year, I’ll say that now, I didn’t even know it was a thing, I bet many of you didn’t either but the good thing is that this is the same time every year and if you google TDOR followed by the year number, you can soon find venues across the USA, UK, and some venues in Canada, Australia and New Zealand where people are doing services to honour those who passed away for their gender identity and you can make donations to charities working with people who need help in understanding themselves and who they want to be. I feel bad for not knowing this was a thing so to make up for it, I’m getting the word out here, pass it on, make a note of it for next year and if you believe people have the right to be whatever the fuck they want to be, do something small to show some support and maybe attend a local TDOR event next year

Now, I sense an argument brewing with some of you, a ‘special snowflake’ deal along the lines of “Ugh, trans people get an ENTIRE DAY for them? When is it Straight People Day? Or Cisgender Day? Why don’t we get special events?”. Why? Because not once have I ever been oppressed or discriminated against for being a straight cisgender man, I’ve never been bullied for liking girls or wearing trousers and having a beard. We cisgender straight people are not a minority, we don’t need positive representations because we are the social norm at the moment, we are what people are ‘supposed’ to be and these events are to help change our attitude from “A normal person is someone who is straight, cisgender and upholds the status quo” to “A normal person is a human being that breathes, eats, shits, thinks like all the other ones do, their genitalia, sexual partners and dress code are irrelevant”. I’m not against my own gender or sexual orientation, I know I have a go at you but let’s face it, we’re lucky that the system favours us and in a modern world, maybe favouritism should be a thing of the past so that anyone, be they gay, trans, pan, asexual, aromantic, genderfluid, agender – can be just that without being prodded at or mocked or called sinners or anything hateful.

I know it might be hard for some of you to accept but if you’re happy with who you are in terms of knowing which bathroom facilities are for you, knowing what clothes you can wear without being laughed at or called a tranny or if you just know you’re a guy or a girl because heck, you’ve got those bits, why not, then you’re a lucky person. You grew up happy in the stereotype and don’t get me wrong, if that’s you, that’s you, I’m not saying all men should wear a dress sometime or don’t bash homosexuality without trying it, that’s silly, but some people grow up questioning themselves, asking why they just can’t fit in, why the world doesn’t make sense for them in a way it does for everyone else. I can’t begin to empathise, I’ve always been happy in my own skin in that regard but I do know something – human beings should not be attacked or driven to suicide because they want to be themselves, imagine how you would feel if people thought you were a freak of nature because you were white, or straight, or for what you wore, imagine if it made you a victim of violence or people called you by the wrong pronouns all the time or changed your name so as to call you Henrietta instead of Henry or Dave instead of Davina. It’s not on, it’s not fair and so I think at the very least, the absolute minimum we can do is set aside a day of the year to stop and think about these people and how they must feel when we treat them the way we do. Who knows, maybe one day we will live in a society in which we stop intruding on people’s genitals and sex lives and men can wear make-up without getting punched in the teeth and kicked into pulp? That’d be nice