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Member of the Month - Valyrian Plastic

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pedroscalls asks: Well done VP on winning MoTM. My question is, if time and money were no object is there any route or race that you would really want to run?

Valyrian Plastic says: Thanks, pedro!

I still have my heart set on doing a Bob Graham Round at some point. I'd like to spend my free time on tackling the various hills individually and, ultimately, the various sections (by night, if possible).

If I finish the Cumbria Coast route by the summer, then I'd like to try a coast-to-coast walk where I'm staying in B&Bs along the way.

We'll see.
runnerbean asks: So deserved VP congrats... if you could invent something, anything for anyone with no money limits what would it be and why ?

Valyrian Plastic says: Thanks, Beans!

I like the thought of creating a confidence-boosting pill. It could send productivity through the roof, or it could lead to even more narcissism in our culture. (Everything's open to abuse, no matter how useful.)

Alternatively, I'd want a metal detector that only registers loose change, with a mile-wide radius for searching.
stuart little asks: Well deserved VP.

Just wondering what (if anything) are your long term running goals?


Valyrian Plastic says: Thanks, stuart!

I see Fleecy's asked a similar question, so I'm going to split my answer between you.

The only long-term running goal I really have is just that: to just keep running long-term. To give an idea of how "long", however, we have to go back to the Fountains Abbey Parkrun on August 9th 2014, when I ran the event on holiday in Yorkshire.

I felt I'd run hard at the event (certainly more than I was doing at Workington up to that point), but I was overtaken at the very last minute by two guys who I guessed were in their late-60s or early-70s. I distinctly remember thinking (and possibly saying) something to effect of, "When I'm their age, I want other twentysomethings to be eating my dust".
The Mighty Fleecy asks: Congrats VP! Tell me, do you have any top secret running goals for the long term?

Valyrian Plastic says: Thanks, Fleecy!

Continuing the theme of long-term running, the other thought on my mind is how much running I could achieve in a lifetime.

I have about 3400 miles logged as of now and don't expect my annual totals to rise significantly year on year. 100,000 seems like too lofty a goal, but 50,000 isn't unreasonable, provided there aren't any health setbacks along the way.
DocMoye asks: Congrats. You live in a beautiful part of the country but if you had to live somewhere else, where and why?

Valyrian Plastic says: Thanks, Doc!

I quite like where I am now, so I don't think I'd move very far. Maybe Keswick, as there's always work to be found and it would give me a great variety of places to explore.

However, there's also the downside of it not having a railway connection. I'd just have to hope other Fetchies come up for events because it would be harder to access other parts of the country than if I lived in, say, Carlisle or Lancaster. (I wouldn't want to live in any city bigger than them.)
westmoors asks: Congratulations VP. Who would you most like to meet and why?

Valyrian Plastic says: Thanks, westmoors!

Maybe not my first pick, but I'm going to say Ryan Gosling, partly because he's one of those actors I'll watch in literally anything (that list includes Amy Adams and Gene Kelly), so it would give us a lot to talk about, but also because the possibilities for mischief are just too good to ignore.

We could have a sitcom together. I'll be his long-lost autistic brother, Bryan.
Windsor Wool asks: VP - congrats. I see you run quite a few parkruns. What does parkrun mean to you and if you were at the the helm where would you take it going forward?

Valyrian Plastic says: Thanks, Windsor Wool!

Parkrun is a chance for runners of all ages and abilities to run side-by-side without shame or prejudice, which is why, if I was in charge, I'd keep it exactly the same. There's really nowhere it can go - in a figurative sense at least (which I assume is what you meant). As long as new events keep popping up and the word gets out then that's good enough for me.
LindsD asks: Congrats! Top five films? And film that you were most disappointed with?

Valyrian Plastic says: Thanks, LindsD!

My all-time favourite film has to be Raiders of the Lost Ark. I found it when the Beeb was showing the Indy trilogy in the lead-up to Crystal Skull, so I would've been 14 at the time. Loved it the first time and kept rewatching it until it usurped Return of the Jedi, which was my favourite Star Wars film back then, for the top spot. Just a perfect blend of action, comedy, horror, romance, westerns and fantasy.

I'm not about an order for the others, but The Incredibles is probably my favourite animation; favourite musical is Singin' in the Rain, of course, even though I only it saw for the first time last year; favourite sci-fi would either be Arrival or 2001: a Space Odyssey (both seen around the same time); favourite epic is The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and favourite official comic book film is Batman Begins. Not an "out-there" selection, but I think it could easily change once I start rewatching more.

I haven't been disappointed by much. About 95% of the time, I agree with what pop culture has already deemed either bad or good and the rest is just average. The biggest letdown is probably Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula. Ignoring the dodgy accents, it's just a surprisingly cheap-looking production which wastes so much talent on both sides of the camera.
Alice the Camel asks: Well deserved VP! What happened to the little books you used to write/illustrate? Any lans to move forward with these?

Valyrian Plastic says: Thanks, Alice!

I lost interest once I got my first real job and began working toward my GCSEs, so around September 2014. That was also the time I was thinking more about short stories and novel-length fiction that wouldn't need many (if any) pictures. If I were to ever go back to it then I'd only want to do the writing.

Though I did a lot of reading into Home Front life in WWII for my first novel concept, the conflict wasn't convincing and too many great books on that subject already exist. My latest idea is much better and just waiting to be written, but I still don't feel ready for it. (If only I had those confidence pills...)
Velociraptor asks: Very well done, VP, you are a credit to your parents. If you could go on a trip to any movie filming location, which would you choose?

Valyrian Plastic says: I couldn't have made it this far without you, Mum!

I'd like to follow in the footsteps of PaulaMc and visit the open-air Hobbiton set at Matamata, New Zealand. If I dressed up again, I could re-enact a crucial scene that the films left out.
jangles asks: I enjoy reading your film reviews.. Have you ever considered writing them as a career? Q: What is your favourite movie genre?

Valyrian Plastic says: Thanks, jangles!

The thought's crossed my mind a few times, but I think I'd need to find a fresh angle to make it worthwhile. Written critiques are a completely saturated market, and now that the means to create YouTube videos are open to anyone with a microphone and some editing software, not even basic writing ability is a barrier to entry.

I like having the freedom to pick and choose as well. I can skip over things I'm not interested in, but if they're what will get the clicks then I may not have a say in the matter.

My favourite genre would be science fiction, because of the way it uses cutting-edge visions of the future to discuss themes which resonate with modern audiences. So much more than aliens and laser battles (in the exceptional cases, at least).
Serendippily asks: Congratulations VP what is your favourite recipe :-)

Valyrian Plastic says: Thanks, Serendippily!

I would have to go with my shortcrust pastry recipe for its versatility. It's been used to make chicken, curried veg and spinach, sweet potato and feta pies, and proved just as good for tarts, mince pies and quiches.

The one I use is meant for a large pie cover only, so I usually make more for the base, but the original recipe calls for 165 grams of plain flour, 115 grams of lard or fat (I use crisp 'n' dry blocks), half a teaspoon of salt and 2-3 tablespoons of cold water. Cook for at least an hour at gas mark 5. It should be firm (but not too dry) and incredibly moreish.
Night-owl asks: Congratulations VP on MOTM and finishing read a book from each year of your life. Of all of those which was your favourite and why.

Valyrian Plastic says: Thanks, Night-owl!

To be honest, I had to look up the relevant posts I made on the thread last year just to remember what I read. I was in such a rush to finish the challenge that I didn't really savour any of the books, no matter how good they were.

Thinking about it, I'd like to pick two books as my "favourite" - one from a female author, one from a male - The Help by Kathryn Stockett (2009) and A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (2011). The former for how well it drew me into the setting and the latter for its moral themes and dark tone.

And, of course, I'm looking forward to watching their respective film adaptations.
Autumnleaves asks: Congratulations VP - what top running tip would you pass on to a beginner?

Valyrian Plastic says: Thanks, AL!

I'd just say: Don't worry if it's hard at the start. Keep your runs short and work your way up gradually.

It's certainly worked for me.
FergusG asks: Congrats VP. Which FT do you reckon is best - Fawlty Towers or Father Ted?

Valyrian Plastic says: Thanks, Fergus!

I've never seen Father Ted, so it must be Fawlty Towers by default. I marathoned the whole series in my teens and also saw a few episodes multiple times. One year, I even did the John Cleese goosestep in college for Comic Relief. I wonder if I'd get away with it nowadays.
postieboy asks: Well done VP, your blogging makes you a worthy winner. As fellow member of the geek brigade, what is your favourite fantasy genre and why?

Valyrian Plastic says: Thanks, postieboy!

That's a really tough one. I was enjoying Game of Thrones consistently up to Season 4, but it's become a mixed bag since then. There's so much that could be classified as fantasy beyond the typical medieval settings. Marvel, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter - I love certain entries from all these examples and there are others I could take or leave.

I think I'll play it safe and go for The Lord of the Rings. It's the most consistently strong series out the ones I've mentioned (if we don't count the Hobbit films), and I can appreciate the detail in Tolkien's original texts when I'm in the right mood, even supplementary works like The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.
Bintmcskint asks: Congratulations! :-) You are stranded on a desert island. You can take one type of food, one book and one Fetchie. What and who do you take and why?

Valyrian Plastic says: Thanks, Bintmcskint!

Food: A giant bag of oven chips, so I have something to go with all the fish I'll need to catch.

Book: War and Peace. It could be a long wait; might as well finish what I've started.

Fetchie: Jono., because I think we'd have a lot to talk about, and he probably knows a few things about surviving at sea.
Winniefree asks: Well done VP, love your blogs. If you could turn one book into a film which would it be and who would direct it?

Valyrian Plastic says: Thanks, Winnie!

I'd choose Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin. It's a horror novel about vampires in the Antebellum Deep South which borrows liberally from Mark Twain, Bram Stoker, Steven King and Percy Shelley. Very atmospheric, with occasional moments of gore (Martin excels at both these things), so I see David Fincher doing it justice.
Pothunter asks: Congrats! Like everyone else has said, your blogs are great! My question is: who are your sporting and non-sporting heroes?

Valyrian Plastic says: Thanks, Pothunter!

Outside of Fetch, I don't think I have any specific heroes - certainly not in the realm of celebrity sports (I don't watch sporting events in my spare time or pay much attention to the results). However, I think anyone who can pull themselves up by their bootstraps and achieve what they set out to do has my respect, so long as their intentions are pure and they don't take advantage of anyone, of course.

I once pointed to fashion-designer-turned-filmmaker Tom Ford as an inspiration, because he showed that it's never too late for a change of career. He might've already been wealthy enough to start a production company from scratch, but he's made two brilliant films without any prior experience in the industry, disproving the idea (as Malcolm Gladwell has discussed) that talent is always bound to youth.
.B. asks: Congrats VP, very well deserved. What would you really like to do as a job if anything were possible?

Valyrian Plastic says: Thanks, .B.!

I'd love to work in the film industry, preferably as one of the unsung heroes - a DP, an editor, a set designer, etc. One of the appeals of cinema is how it can transport you to new places and getting to shoot them for a living would take the experience to another level.
Seratonin asks: Well done VP. A well desrved choice of MOTM for your entertaining blogs and for being a good egg! Which would you rather binge watch - Lord of the Rings/Hobbit or Star Wars?

Valyrian Plastic says: Thanks, Seratonin!

Going back to postieboy's question, I think I'd choose Middle Earth over a Galaxy far, far away (assuming I don't have the option of skipping over the prequels and starting with Rogue One). I like the first Hobbit enough and the other two aren't awful, just too self-indulgent. I suppose the plus side in both cases would be the films suddenly getting much better halfway through.
BaronessBL asks: Many congratulations VP - who has inspired you in your life perhaps from a running point of view or someone you have found particularly inspiring in another aspect of your life?

Valyrian Plastic says: Thanks, BBL!

Without question, my Mum has been the single-biggest influence for my running, as without her I probably wouldn't have started doing it at all and just been content to keep fit by spending all my free time picking up cans off the street like my Dad. Not only that, I certainly wouldn't have found Fetch of my own accord, let alone build an identity for myself on the site.

I suppose I must also thank Ryan Gosling for giving me the inspiration to experiment with fashion and hair styling - two things I never bothered with until now. Until I got my new job, I was growing out my hair a lot more, as I thought it would be fun to see if I could make it "eighties-huge" (minus the mullet), so I'm actually making the effort to keep it in line.
cathrobinson asks: Congratulations, VP - very well deserved. Are there any blogs you have read on here that have influenced your own writing style for blogging?

Valyrian Plastic says: Thanks, cath!

I've certainly been inspired to do things because of other Fetchies (the pledge to read 50 books in 2015 was Night-owl's idea first), but I don't think they've significantly affected my writing style.

In terms of the topics I usually write about, however, McGoohan's probably been my biggest influence. There are quite a few blogs that I'm waiting for specific moments to actually write and publish, and I definitely want my Cumbria Coastal Way series to have a similar style to his own walking journals.
Heinzster asks: Richly deserved MOTM, VP.You sometimes post pictures of remarkable vegan food. What has been you greatest culinary achievement, vegan or otherwise

Valyrian Plastic says: Thanks, Heinzster!

Definitely eL Bee's birthday cake from last year, which certainly wasn't vegan, for how much time and effort it took to re-colour the icing and put all the bits together, and how it ended up tasting exactly like a store-bought cake - but better, obviously.

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