November Favourites

30/11/2016

November has been really good to me this year; it has probably one of the best months that I've had in a long time. I've been lucky enough to go to gigs, see old friends, spend time with some of my closest friends, see some really good movies and play some great games. 

Life


At the beginning of the month it was awesome to see Jon & Adam, whom I used to work with down in Brighton two years ago. They came up to visit me in Hull for the weekend and I showed them what the cold north is like as it was their first time up in East Yorkshire. We headed down Princess & Newland Avenues on the Saturday night where they both said how very different the night life was up here for both good and bad reasons (but mainly good with the massively cheaper price of a pint). On the Sunday we headed to York for the day and it was nice to just have a stroll around the Shambles, pop in and out of a few shops and most importantly; grab a proper Yorkshire Sunday roast beef dinner. I'll be heading away on a roadtrip through parts of western Europe in January with Jon so it was nice to catch up with him again before we go off on another adventure together like that which we did this January on the Interrail.

Film


Before Jon & Adam travelled back down to Brighton we managed to head to the cinema to go and see The Accountant. I went in to this film blind without reading any reviews or hearing much about what the plot would be but seeing Ben Affleck don a god damn Barrett 50 Cal. on every piece of advertisement for it, it had to be good right? Right. It was phenonemal, probably one of the best thrillers that I've seen in recent times as it just kept me on the edge of my seat all the way through.

It was my birthday on the 22nd and I was lucky enough to be taken to the cinema twice over my birthday week. Firstly, to see Fantastic Beasts and let me say that I have mixed feelings about this film, so mixed that I nearly forgot to even mention it on this blog post. For the first hour or so of the film I felt quite bored. Nothing seemed to be progressing fast enough and the sets and scenes seemed to skip from one place to another far too quickly without fully explaining who the characters were or what was happening. Eventually, things started to pick up and it turned out to be a fairly decent film, though it just didn't hit the spot for me. Hopefully the next films in Rowling's new series of FB films will be better.

The second film I got to see over my birthday was Allied. Lewis & I went to see this film blind having not read any reviews or heard much about the film other than knowing the basic level of the plot that Brad Pitt has to discover whether his wife is a Nazi spy or not and if she turns out to be then he has to be the one to execute her or be hung himself for treason! It was absolutely amazing. We both couldn't stop talking about it after we left the cinema, it was just so gripping and kept you guessing all the way through. My eyes were glued to the screen all the way through the film, I can't recommend it enough!

Music

Metal/Post hardcore/Rock is pretty much all I've listened to throughout this month after going to the BMTH gig back at the start of the month which I previously did a blog post on which you can read here. Whilst trying to battle the post gig blues I started looking for new music to listen to and decided to finally check out Architects after hearing a couple of their tracks earlier in the year. Man, I can't get enough of their latest album 'All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us' with Downfall being my favourite. This month Slam Dunk released some of the bands that will be playing next year and they haven't disappointed! Enter Shikari will be playing and are doing a 10 years of Take To The Skies celebration and boy did I love that album back in my teenage days - remember finger LED glow lights anyone? So the Take To The Skies album has been on repeat a lot since the announcement.

Why not check out the videos below if you haven't heard their music yet!


Architects - Downfall



Enter Shikari - Mothership 

Gaming

This time of year is always great for gaming, studios and companies are pushing out game after game to compete with each other over the Christmas market and while some can be hit and miss, this year gamers have been blessed with some awesome games. The two that stuck out to me this month have been Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered and Pokémon Moon. The original Modern Warfare came out back in 2007 and was the go to game for all of my friends and I online on our Xbox/PS3's back in the day. I still played the game right up until this year where I boxed my Xbox 360 into storage. This remaster is so true to the original with the sounds and visuals but gives the game a whole new lease of life with a modern gen lick of paint and sound levels, plus few more added features like the calling card system, new weapon camos and extra prestige levels. I haven't been on it a great deal but the games I've had I've had so much fun (and some degree of stress, as one does with CoD).

Pokémon Moon came out on the 23rd and I happened to have the week booked off of work for my birthday, result! Man oh man I just have not been able to put this game down. It is just so fresh and new but sticks to the original formula well enough that it doesn't alienate old fans of the game series. Some of the new features include a new trial system which replaces the traditional gym badge progression - I know, I know it was a little scary to think that they've scrapped gym badges this time around but I quickly warmed to the idea within the first couple of hours playing the game and now I don't think I could go back to gym progression now! The new Hawaiian themed region, named Alola is so fun to explore and after about 30 hours play time so far, I've yet to feel fatigued whilst playing which has been common in previous games. With the new region there are also heaps of new Pokémon to catch and train and some of the older Pokémon from the original 151 are back this time with a new Alolan look which has also changed some of their typing - for example, Vuplix and Sandshrew are now Ice types, changing from their original Fire typing.

I could ramble on and on about both of these games as I just can't stop playing them in my spare time but I think this is a good place to end this month's blog favourites. Have you had an awesome November too? What did you get up to? Let me know below and let me leave you with this awesome picture of me receiving my starter Pokémon in Moon which will always warm my heart. Cya!

20 Years of Pokémon & Anticipating Sun / Moon

18/11/2016


20 Years of Pokémon 1996 - 2016

Pokémon first took the UK by storm in 1999 with the release of Red, Blue & Yellow versions on the Nintendo Gameboy. I was 8 years old at the time and I can remember it like it was yesterday; the school playground was filled with kids trading the collectible cards and talking about everything to do with Pokémon. That year I was lucky enough to get a Gameboy Colour with Pokémon Yellow for my birthday and it took over my life, more or less. After school or football practice, on holiday - wherever I could and with parents allowing me, I'd be on my Gameboy and exploring the Pokémon world in hope of 'catching them all.'

Ask any millennial about their childhood or teenage years and Pokémon will surely pop into conversation; whether it be the anime TV show, collectible cards, Gameboy games or feature films at the cinema; Pokémon was everywhere you looked and it was here to stay. I distinctly remember (as does my Mum, who loves to remind me every time she hears about Pokémon) proclaiming to my Mum that I would love and play Pokémon even once I reached 80. Well, 25 years down and I'm still going strong - 55 to go! Don't just take my word for it on how much it impacted kids lives at the time though, below is the superb fan made trailer directed by John Wikstrom which shows how we grew up with it and also, nods towards the new entries in the franchise - Pokémon Sun & Moon. More on those later.


 Rediscovering Pokémon Thanks To Pokémon Go

Having played each instalment of the franchise (Pokémon Silver being my favourite) through my childhood and teenage years from 1999 right up until when Pokémon Diamond released in 2008, I eventually grew out of touch with the franchise and moved onto other games consoles and hadn't thought about Pokémon all that much. Now, fast forward to Summer 2016 and Pokémon had exploded in the media; adverts were everywhere for the 20 years of Pokémon celebration and the new mobile game 'Pokémon GO' which had just been released. 

I'd write about what Pokémon GO is but unless you live under a rock, you probably already have a general knowledge of what it is. The mobile game took everyone of all ages by storm over the Summer with people grouping up with friends to walk with phones in hand through streets, fields, shopping centres and places of interest in hopes of catching and battling Pokémon which would pop up on their phones. Over this Summer I went out countless times with my friends, some of which I hadn't seen in the longest of times in hope of catching the original Pokémon that we grew up with over 15 years ago. The Pokémon craze was so strong among everyone that it felt just like how it did when it first released when I was a kid; everyone seemed to be talking about and playing Pokémon. My friends, colleagues and I all started watching the original TV show again and some of us even rushed out and bought a Nintendo DS again to play the latest instalments in the franchise. Pokémon GO had brought the Pokémon franchise back to the masses and it didn't seem to be going anywhere any time soon.

Anticipating Sun & Moon

Pokémon Sun & Moon are released worldwide today, 18th November 2016 - with the exception of Europe which get it on the slightly later date of the 23rd and honestly, I am so stoked for this release. It's been awesome (and somewhat self torture) to watch some of my favourite YouTubers and online personalities that I follow get the games early and show the footage. One in particular is Ali-A, who is around the same age as me and its fun to see in him talk of how he also grew up with the franchise and see his enthusiasm for it. 


Looking back at the start of the franchise with the TV show having the trio of Ash, Misty and Brock who went on adventures to unknown parts of a world in hopes of bettering themselves and in pursuit of being 'the very best' and then the games which had a young child leaving home alone on an adventure to traverse the world, capture Pokémon, better his or herself and achieve something better in life; it all starts to reflect in today's world through the lifestyles that many millennials who grew up with the TV show and games are starting to pursue. Many young adults, including myself aren't content with staying in our hometowns and are solo-travelling a lot more, wanting to explore new areas of the world and learn about new cultures. Hell, we even carry our very own device on these adventures not too dissimilar to that of the in-game Pokédex - the smart phone.

I've preordered Moon and I can't wait to get it on the 23rd so that I can explore the awesome looking new Alola region, see new and old Pokémon and experience more of the awesome Japanese spiritual style story-telling. 

Are you excited for Pokémon Sun & Moon and are returning to the franchise? What are your favourite Pokémon memories? Let me know your thoughts on Pokémon down below!



Thoughts On Social Media In Today's World

16/11/2016

Social media is a powerful tool; it lets us stay in touch with our friends and loved ones within a few taps, clicks and swipes. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the three main social media platforms that I use daily, all of which have access to millions of users to connect to within seconds, to share our day-to-day life with but I sometimes wonder whether I'm using it for the right reasons.

My history with social media goes back to when I was a young teenager at high school in the early 2000's with Myspace being the place to be at in the online world, to the gradual shift over to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram through more recent years. From using social media for so long you tend to see a lot of trends that come and go, as well as how users interact with it and over the past couple of years I've found myself becoming more angered, annoyed and just plain fed up with the idea of it because of a number of issues that I have with social media that have all culminated into one big problem for me now.


Keeping up with the Joneses

You sign up to a social media platform, follow your friends, family and loved ones and then maybe you start following your idols, celebrities, favourite actors or people who you may look up to. At the start it all seems really awesome to have access to so many bits of information about these people, seeing information that you might have not otherwise have seen before signing up to social media. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's seen a public figure post a picture with a flash car parked outside a big house on an even bigger driveway, wearing the latest in trend clothes and having a loving partner by their side. They look so happy and with so many likes and comments from their followers who pine for something like this idea of happiness; commenting on that they wished they had what was in the picture. I see so many social media users go out and bust their arses off to achieve something similar to what that happiness was in the picture that was posted online; whether it be by buying the latest product on the market or by being a part of the latest trend - anything to get a feeling of belonging and achievement, and through getting likes, comments and views on their social media posts, users get a temporary buzz which makes them believe that they're doing something right.

I've been guilty of having this kind of behaviour myself a lot in the past and its by noticing these kind of effects that social media has on me before I choose to interact with images like these that I know its time to take a break from it, even if it does just mean closing the app and putting my phone down as it is posts like this which can cause me to question my happiness - am I making the right choices and achieving or doing enough with my life? Especially if I see that someone who is around the same age as me may have more than me and appear to be so happy in their profiles and posts. For all I know they could be miserable or in need but because of the idea of the happiness and a good lifestyle that they have in their pictures it begins to make me self loath and question my own abilities and happiness.

How Social Media Changes Our Interaction With Others


Above is a still from the video 'I Forgot My Phone' by charstarleneTV (click to watch) which shows the daily struggle that many of us have with phones and the internet invading and taking over our lives. I've watched this video multiple times since first discovering it a couple of years ago as I feel that I relate to it so much. I've been in countless situations like that in the image above, where I'm sat in a bar or having a meal with previous partners or friends that appear more interested in reading the next facebook status than actually having a conversation with me. At first I wondered whether it was me - was I too boring? Did I not have enough to talk about? Maybe something really big has just happened on social media and I need to check it out too? Eventually it really started becoming an issue for me and I started to bring it up to some of the people that I was socialising with. The reaction that I got from most people was that they didn't even realise they were doing it or that they were just quickly checking something out. My response was to simply ask them why it couldn't wait and wasn't being in my company enough?

Needless to say there were a few arguments between my past partners and some of my friends (friends who I no longer keep in touch with now. Funny how that works, huh?) and eventually I reached the point where I am at now where I try to not let it bother me. I find myself taking in more of my surroundings and things that are happening around me when I'm in situations where someone is constantly on their phone around me. It feels somewhat like a breath of fresh air, looking at whoever I'm with who is so wrapped up in their phone, eyes glazed over and doing the endless scrolling - to then looking at everything around me, noticing the weather some more, noises in the distance or just mindfully enjoying the silence.

Sometimes though, I wish I could go back to the time where mobile phones were still just a thing that you sent text messages and received phone calls on and weren't so heavily intrusive of our lives or even further back, to when they weren't even a thing but then I remember the pros to social media being a part of our lives now; We can connect to others who share our ideas, be a part of great causes, send hilarious videos to our friends to brighten up their day or send a quick hello to friends. The balance can be hard at times of knowing when to put the phone down and unplug but I think I'm getting the hang of it all.

How do you use your phone and social media? Do you ever feel the need to take a break from it? Let me know down below!

7 Great Reads That Changed My Outlook On Life!

11/11/2016



This is the first book post on my blog and I'm quite excited about it as firstly, I've never been a big reader in my spare time until the last couple of years and secondly because of that I've never really talked in depth about books before - so bare with me if I sound like a caveman who has just struck fire. Hopefully this list of books can help you out too if you're looking to better yourself or are just curious! 

I first started reading a lot more through Uni (as one generally does with the amount of essays you have to write) and at the time I was having a kind of quarter life existential life crisis which lead me into looking into a lot of philosophy, self help and mindfulness over the internet - you know, the usual google searches to try and find something to latch onto to help you through hard times. I eventually came across some videos of the renowned philosopher Alan Watts and was fascinated by his forward way of thinking that pushed the boundaries of his time. From there I was hooked on learning more about philosophy, mindfulness and a completely different way of seeing the world around me; and I began to pick up books from various authors which tackled the subjects around mindfulness and bettering oneself.

The Morning Miracle - Hal Elrod

This was the first self help book that I'd ever picked up in my life and if it weren't for my good friend Jack's recommendation of giving it a go I'd still probably be going through life right now, refusing to read a self help book, saying they're all a load of old fubar; how wrong I was. Aimed at changing your daily schedule, even if its just for one hour to get more things done - or less, depending on what you want out of your life, this book talks in a very no nonsense language that makes you engage with it by doing daily practices and exercises to get you into a new mindset in life. Admittedly, I found it hard to stick to the regime each day but overall, I now feel motivated each day, even if I have a free day with nothing scheduled - I set myself tasks, push myself and think on how I can better myself that day to make a better future for myself. It really did change my life.

"Look at it this way. If you quantify that, reading just 10 pages a day will average 3,650 pages a year, which equates to approximately eighteen 200-page personal development/self-improvement books! Let me ask you, if you read 18 personal development books in the next 12 months, do you think that you will be more knowledgeable, capable and confident - a new & improved you? Absolutely!"

The Secret - Rhonda Byrne 

A few years ago I watched The Secret, a documentary about life, the universe and how we are all supposedly connected and driven by a law of the universe called the 'law of attraction.' The documentary originated from the book by Rhonda Byrne who wrote about the supposed secret of the law of attraction that only few people in history knew of; these few people had power, wealth, happiness and prosperity - essentially anything they could dream of, they had it. After being intrigued by the documentary I eventually got around to reading through the book for myself and I'm pretty sure a part of my brain had a Doc Brown 'Great Scot!' moment of new clarity and understanding.

To cut to the chase, the book and theory is essentially about putting yourself in the right frame of mind and asking the universe for what you want out of life and so long as you remain in that positive mindset and actively push for your goals, the universe will make them attract towards you. I know, I know, it all sounds a bit far fetched and like someone cooked it all up to make a quick buck but just give it a try, even if its a quick google search to see the basics - it really does change your outlook on what you want in life for the better. I've seen results myself first hand with money, adventures, friendships and relationships.

The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho (novel)

I picked this novel up after reading a lot of recommendations on Amazon about how it changed peoples lives and with Will Smith & Madonna having nothing but praise on the back of the book I figured I HAD to give it a go. With the theme of the pursuit of happiness, following one's dreams and life lessons, this book really opened my eyes. I remember reading it on my journeys back and forth from Brighton to Hull and I can vividly recall finishing the book and looking out of the train window and just thinking to myself 'Whoa, that explains a lot in life.' I won't spend long singing the praises of this book as really I found it best to go into it without knowing too much about the story but you should totally add it to your reading list! 

The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving A Fuck - Sarah Knight

I picked this book up after seeing it featured on a video from one of my favourite YouTubers, Hannah Witton (click the image below to watch). Finding myself growing more and more angered, stressed and disheartened by a lot of things in my life at the time before reading this book, I knew that I needed something to help me re-evaluate what really mattered to me and what to properly focus my efforts and emotions on. Sarah Knight's writing style is absolutely hilarious and so easy to read, and with little exercises within the pages that get you even more involved with the book than simply just reading it, I felt like it really made the book personal to me. 


I could go on and on about this book until my fingers get RSI but the picture below that I took whilst reading it was one of the main pages that stuck out to me that I'll always remember. Now I know how to give my fucks accordingly! 


The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle

Without a doubt one of the hardest books that I've ever read. The long winded chapters and very religious heavy themed style of writing did have me disheartened a few times whilst reading it though occasionally through the long slog of getting through the book I'd come across some diamonds in the rough; life lessons, thought provoking lines and enlightenment. Serious TLDR treatment for this book is, to put it bluntly - we as humans spend too long wishing for the future or living in the past, we never truly live within the present moment and to do that is something very few master. This book helped me try and remain in the present and over the last year since reading it I've noticed a change in my outlook and my personality. 

Become What You Are - Alan Watts

This was the first book by Alan Watts that I purchased after watching a load of his teachings and speeches on YouTube and it is filled front to back with highlighter markings over quotes, paragraphs and lines that stood out to me and completely blew my mind. Alan Watts is renowned for bringing the Eastern philosophies and teachings to a Western audience; with his books focusing techniques from Buddhism, Taoism and Zen ways of life - the collection of writings within this book go over living in the now, being in the present moment and living a more calmer, fulfilling life - which is what we all want, right?

"Therefore, the important thing is simply to begin - anywhere, wherever you are. If you happen to be sitting, just sit. If you are smoking a pipe, just smoke it. If you are thinking out a problem, just think. But don't think and reflect unnecessarily, compulsively, from sheer force of nervous habit. In Zen, they call this having a leaky mind - like an old barrel with open seams which cannot contain itself."

The Book On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are - Alan Watts

Currently still on my reading list with just another 100 or so more pages to get through until I'm finished, this book has been my go to read before bed most nights and I should really set aside more time to get to the end of it. The second book by Alan Watts that I've purchased and I plan on purchasing many, many more of his works. Watts was on a whole other level of awakening, understanding life and death and how to live life to the fullest extent. My life has changed so much for the better from reading his teachings and writings, I can't wait to explore even more from him and other authors like him.

"For unless one is able to live fully in the present, the future is a hoax. There is no point whatever in making plans for the future which you will never be able to enjoy. When your plans mature, you will still be living for some other future beyond. You will never, never be able to sit back with full contentment and say, "Now, I've arrived!" Your entire education has deprived you of this capacity because it was preparing you for the future, instead of showing you how to be alive now."

This is one of my favourite quotes from the book and sums up the theme of the book beautifully. A theme that I'm trying to embrace each day more and more, and one that I think a lot of people really should also do!

I hope you guys manage to read at least one of these books as I think they'll really help anyone who is currently in the same negative mindset that I was in myself a couple of years back. Have you read any of these books, if so what were your thoughts? Let me know below!

Bring Me The Horizon @ Sheffield Arena 2016

08/11/2016 Sheffield, UK


What better way to get warm on a cold, dark and grim Sunday night at the start of November than to go and see Bring Me The Horizon return to their hometown as a part of their UK arena tour. I've been looking forward to this gig for so long - after seeing them last November at their sold out show in Doncaster with my mate Andy, I knew that with the larger capacity of Sheffield Arena things would only get better and I wasn't wrong. My good mates Lewis and Reece also managed to bag tickets this time around as well as Andy. We don't get the opportunity to see one another very much lately with work and general life just getting in the way so the four of us couldn't wait to get to Sheffield and catch up before the gig. 

Basement and Don Broco supported the night and things kicked off massively, the arena was absolutely packed and as we moved closer to the front ready for BMTH we still had our own little bubble and weren't packed into the crowd like sardines which made the experience even better. After a few rounds of beer and an insanely good round of music over the sound system which fully hyped us up, BMTH came out to the Yorkshire crowd chant that is always awesome to be a part of!

A video posted by Luke (@hiluketaylor) on

BMTH's setlist was a real emotional trip down memory lane with tracks from Sempiternal, Suicide Season and their latest album, That's The Spirit. My favourite moments from the show were from Can You Feel My Heart and an instrumental visual piece which lead into Doomed, which had Oli talking about his personal struggles of losing loved ones, his wife and friends. All in all, the atmosphere of the night was so intense and it felt like the music meant so much to everyone in the crowd, as well as the band.




Twelve years on, looking back and listening over their material, right back to their first EP 'tiwteoyswmf' its awesome to see how their music has grown and matured. I was 12 at the time when I first started listening to them. Now I'm turning 25 and looking back at how their music has helped me through both hard and good times I can't wait to see what future music they bring out and to see more of their live shows!

Do Not Change The Subject
Let's Go Chase The Sunset
Bring Me The Horizon
Bring Me The Horizon, Now.
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