cartoon worm speech bubble

   FOR SOME REASON or another I had an earworm (def:  a song or melody that keeps repeating in one’s mind – but in my case just words) of ‘Jim Jarmusch’ rattling about my head for the last two days. Not films he’s directed, nor any tangible elements from his flicks, just his name bouncing around. I have no fucking idea why. I haven’t seen any of his films since Broken Flowers, several months ago. Nowhere in my recent readings has his name cropped up, not in mags or books or even the internet.

Yet the name ‘Jim Jarmusch’ continued to repeat randomly in my head for several days. Now, here’s the weird thing. I’m not religious at all, nor spiritual. I am logical and as rational as my free will allows, if we have free will (that’s an entire other debate!). So this evening I sit down to write and as I await my three year old laptop to splutter alive, I see some events guides that I picked up several days ago. One happened to be for the Edinburgh Film House who show indy flicks and generally arthouse stuff, steering clear of vacuous schlockbusters.

I flick through it thinking of taking my girlfriend to something, I read back to front often, I don’t know why, and then BAM! – Edinburgh Film House had an entire run of Jim Jarmusch films on that ended just recently. Apart from the fact I am annoyed that I never knew they were screening Ghost Dog, one of my all time favourite films and monstrously underviewed, it was another of those very strange coincidences of reading or hearing about something, something uncommon, that then becomes linked days later through your actions. This always freaks me out a little bit. But the rational part of my brain makes sense of it by thinking of everything as loosely connected in any given society. This particular earworm was my strangest ever as I simply had a name echoing down the corridors of my mind.

Still, it’s happened many, many times and I’m always amazed to a degree, pleasantly surprised, mildly baffled but not wanting to put some cosmic spin on it. Universes don’t align and there’s no destiny. Things simply happen, randomness is entirely non-random – either way, I like it. Jim Jarmusch! Jim Jarmusch!

Wooden-Computer-Keyboard

   I TOUT MYSELF as a creator of fiction. I sometimes lie to myself that I am a writer instead of my actual job. Not that my personality and identity is rooted in what makes me money.

I realise that my short stories and creative pieces in general have been diminishing. This is like a politician telling the truth – unintentional. For some reason or another, be it the seasons changing or my current lifestyle, my special part of the brain which produces many good ideas and the other part of the brain which produces motivation have ironically collaborated to put a squeeze on my output. I am of course blaming something else for my inadequacies.

As if the supply chain is regulated by Russia, and I live in Ukraine, I ran out of gas at some point and ignored the fact I was getting cold. Despite my blackberry harbouring many good ideas, lines, characters, plots, jokes and all the rest, externalising my stories has been arduous and very difficult.

I’m not going to bleat on about ‘writer’s block’, because my experience isn’t really that, I simply don’t seem to have the mental energy to extrapolate and successfully mine my conscious. This shall change – for I am off on holiday for two weeks. Stay tuned…actually that doesn’t really work for the internet, how about, stay online? Hmmmm…

fly away

A CHANCE MEETING,
Once full screen, now we fade
To black,
what else?

Confused hearts, dark, continuing
Until another sun rises,
Time goes on, but I’m no blonde,
Can our good intentions,
Be relied upon?

You made my mind unwind,
Once,
Now be so kind,
As to put it back, together,
Because,
If you really know me,
You will– remember.

IMG_0461

   IF YOU COLLECT vinyl or are old enough to simply have vinyl, you’ll probably agree that the sound of a record is different from that on a tape, CD or digital file like MP3 or wav. Digital music lacks richness, something only analogue can deliver which I guess explains why many music listeners still stick to the record player. It isn’t even about the sound system you have. A record that isn’t scratched will sound fuller and more pleasant on the ears regardless of device it is played on compared to digital.

What happened to the sound? Modern mass produced music all sounds the same – and there’s a reason for this. The production methods used by producers and the labels result in a loss of range in the music piece once it is finalised and fully edited.analog vs digital

Due to the format, vinyl has a greater range in volumes from the lowest to the highest in relation to each section of the song. New tracks however have a much narrower range and are compressed so that the overall sound of the track doesn’t deviate much from given parameters meaning you hear less rises and falls in tone and pitch. As a result the sound is cleaner and more polished but sacrifices variance of sound so that regardless of genre, mass produced music will sound the same sharing a similar audioscape. On LPs individual pieces of music are more distinct so you can make out the instruments more easily for example.
Radio has something to answer for as well, because from an audio perspective it is beneficial if all broadcasted tracks have the same master volume, meaning when you are tuned in you don’t need to adjust your dial due to differences in sound from play to play.

‘Hygienic’ production also leads to you being hugely disappointed at the live version of some bands having heard an album that had pristine vocals and instrumentals. Production can make anyone sound good – well – autotune will never sound good but you catch my drift. Plus, there isn’t the same excitement of rifling through the CD’s in a charity shop as there is with vinyl, stuff that has been around long before I was even born like Frank Sinatra’s stuff from the sixties.

   honest feedback

   I’VE HEARD OF people having beta readers, the book equivalent of a screen-test, who read a story and help the author to sort out issues they didn’t see themselves. Or simply to read a piece and critique it, say what they liked, what they didn’t.

The trouble is, people with beta readers are usually published authors. What do you do to get feedback on your finished or near finished stories? Family and friends are good and often willing, but also tend to be biased, so feedback isn’t always brutally honest like it needs to be.

But if you’re farming out your writing to someone else it raises all kinds of worrying issues such especially that of trust with your material. I don’t even like my writing leaving my laptop!

What’s the answer? Is there a ‘safe’ way? I don’t know.

TO ANSWER THE title, yes, in fact it fleshes it out in a good way and brings the story to life staying faithful (somewhat ironically) to Gillian Flynn’s original novel.

I’ve never been a fan of Ben Affleck but he pulls off Nick very well and Rosamund Pike is Amy. She really nails the character and is entirely convincing. I haven’t seen her in many films but she brings an Oscar worthy performance in Gone Girl.

The Fincher directed film is really well shot and is gritty enough when it needs to be to really show the characters traits and the depths or shallows of their different characters.

As a man, I read Gone Girl as my girlfriend had it, and wasn’t expecting much but it is a great look into modern relationships and the fucked-upness lying underneath everyones perfect veneer, in fact it’s almost too good. David Fincher really delivers by keeping the majority of the source intact. It is a nice return to form for him having butchered an entirely unecessary remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

If you read the book, you’ll like the film. If you haven’t I’m sure it’s still a great watch, but I feel reading the book and seeing the film is the way on this one.

money value  

   THE YEAR WAS…well…the year isn’t important. In fact, I don’t even know what year it is.

Imagine that for some inexplicable reason, money, in all its variants vanishes. You insert your card at the ATM, you thought you just got paid yesterday. You’re not even in debt. The balance is zero.

Surely a mistake? Then you look in your wallet. No notes, not a coin. You are not the only one. This has happened to everybody. Money as we know it has disappeared putting the brakes on the world. Stock exchanges go silent. Economies no longer exist.

All of a sudden, what people value is flipped.

Luxuries are pointless because there is no real need. What we need to live is essential: food, water and shelter. Who has these in abundance? Not the UK. We import so much of our resources and rely on office jockeys to such an extent, food in itself would be worth killing for. Without money only tangible goods have any value, a reality which we have been detached from for some time, like a sticker in a car window, gradually peeling away.

Rich people would be land owners, farmers, the producers, people who work the land and have an end product beyond some words on a document, which in themselves cannot sustain a thing. Wealthy persons whose net worth is represented by stock markets and virtual entities such as Facebook would be as poor as you or I.

It’s strange how one thing could singlehandedly change how we live, and in many ways would make us realise what the important things are above all else.

Just a thoughts.

political benchI SAT ON a bench.

I looked to my left. Sitting next to me was a liberal.

I looked to my right. Sitting next to me was a conservative.

I grinned to myself.

 

I looked to my left again. This time a conservative was sitting there.

Confused, I looked back to the right. The liberal was now there.

My smile vanished.

Next thing I know, the conservative is trying to sit on my lap.

The liberal is sitting closer and closer.

 

Anything, for a vote.

 

   the-guest-film

   CURRENTLY THERE ISN’T a great choice of films at the local multiplex. Last Wednesday, using the EE 2 for 1 ticket deal, I went to see The Guest.

Unlike many movie releases which get promoted to cinematic death, The Guest has gone under the film-radar like a stealth bomber. That simile loses some impact when I tell you The Guest, as a film, hasn’t killed anyone from 60,000 feet, but it does deliver some serious impact – or am I missing the ‘DVD falls from plane’ news story?

A brief breakdown of the plot: A man who was friends with a soldier who died in combat, turns up at the dead soldiers’ family home. What he does is tell the family he has a personal message to deliver. One thing leads to another and he makes himself quite at home, only for things to go very, very wrong. If you liked Drive this will be right up your road as there is a themed soundtrack throughout the flick from the seventies and the violence is equally graphic in places. The best thing about The Guest is the dark comedy spread throughout the movie with just the correct dosage in just the right places.

Dan Stevens is unrecognisable from his Downton Abbey character. I assume it is a deliberate ploy to avoid the horrendous Hollywood typecasting that plagues many films and actors careers. Well played. His acting is terrific in this, he really carries the film and becomes his psychotic character. The rest of the cast are solid except for the mother who’s best described as wet but don’t let that put you off. The guest makes for refreshing viewing and is one of the best releases this year.

Verdict? Guilty! – of being a top class thriller. Go and see it, it won’t disappoint, unless you are averse to violence in which case, why would you watch it anyway?

Keep an eye out for Chloe-Moretz’s male doppelganger!

Inside BBC New Broadcasting House, Manchester

WELCOME MR. PATTERSON, to Pear headquarters, I am Sheena!” She looked every part the PR woman, a smile for a face, glinting eyes and dressed immaculately in matching garb. We shook hands and she led the way through a recently polished revolving door into the main building.

A lackey of some sort followed her but never introduced himself. At best it was mildly off-putting, at worst a waste of his time.

“Would you like some refreshments Mr. Patterson? We have organic fruit juices, Sumatran coffee, Sri Lankan tea – French water.” All of these were present on a shiny  trolley next to reception.

“I’ll have some…is that Pear juice?”

She chuckled, yes of course it was.

“Well,” I said, “It only seems appropriate…” I nearly gagged but kept my composure; it was repulsive, every last ml of it.

“So, to business!” she smiled at me. “Let’s begin the tour!”

We chatted as we walked along a perpetual corridor. As yet we hadn’t passed anyone else since reception. We twisted and turned, she talked about Pear’s history. Fascination was not something she was capable of evoking. Yawns were masked by looking away from her radiance.

Suddenly we were walking down a strangely dilapidated, dingy corridor that had paint peeling off it. My observations hadn’t gone unobserved. “Workmen are coming in tomorrow, I’m afraid we weren’t able to have this area refurbished for your visit.” Without warning Sheena opened a door and shot a look at the lackey as if he had forgotten his place.

Her smile returned instantly. “This – is the ethics room.”

I walked inward. What lay within was a room with one miserly fluorescent tube missing its cover. There were no windows. The décor was all a bit eggshell white. In the middle of this oversized room sat a man, who made eye contact from behind a rickety desk adorned by a white telephone, its wire snaking straight toward an outlet ten feet away. I’ll never forget those eyes. If I was asked to recall what colour they were, I’d say desperate.

He said nothing, but looked in need of help. A red striped tie hung crooked from a shirt of wrinkles.

“You might not believe it, but we only require one telephone for all the Pear’s ethics enquiries. Our seed answers any enquiries, but of course we don’t get many. But the job is very important and most importantly rewarding to the seed.”

“Seed?” I asked quizzically.

Sheena smiled at me with twenty I-teeth, “All of our basic level employees are referred to as ‘seeds’ because we are all a team at Pear’s, so there’s no need for names you see.”

“Or individuality..” I mumbled audibly thinking aloud.

“Excuse me?” said Sheena, politely, before moving on.

“He is seed, and he is seed.” She indicated to the man at the desk and the lackey standing feet away, eyes fixed on the dirty concrete.

“So how many complaints do you receive each day?” I asked this to the seed at the desk.

“I’m sorry, but please direct all questions to me Mr. Patterson,” said Sheena evenly. “I’ll let you in on a little secret Mr. Patterson, we haven’t had a call here in nearly two years. I think you’ll agree, that speaks for itself.”

“That seems impossible!”

Sheena answered while scooting us out of the room and continuing the tour. “At Pear, nothing is impossible! We conduct ourselves impeccably as a company. Our employees report the highest satisfaction rates also. In fact many seeds will work overtime for free because they value their workplace so much. It is a mutual dedication. At the risk of sounding overly sentimental, there is a love between seeds and working for Pear.”

This was followed by footsteps echoing off the walls, as a rare silence began.

“Where are we going now?” I said minutes later.

“Deeper,” she said.

“Deeper?”

“To the core.” In the poorly lit corridor I no longer saw her smile. Her facial skin was tight, footsteps quicker.

It seemed as if we’d walked miles past door after door and still nobody else had been around.

“So how many seeds are there?”

“Never enough.” Her voice was colder.

“It’s very quiet down here, not many people around. Or windows…where are we going?”

“You, are going where all the other factory inspectors go.” She glanced sideways at me. “Somewhere safe, ethical. A place away from home.You’ll have all the time in the world to inspect the factory…”

The lackey smirked at this. The atmosphere changed for good.

“I don’t follow..”

“Do not address me unless spoken to…seed. You’ll enjoy it here, because that’s the Pear way, the only way.” She laughed the crazy laugh of a well dressed chameleon.