Thursday, June 29, 2006
They can be Ice Cream, they can be Black Dog.
(I'm not going to get all weepy over capitalist agendas or the like. I'm not going to deny I am a consumer.)
They have so much potential. In some ways it's the most popular medium for the unconventional. Feature films, pop-music, books, they all can be strange and successful, but I think adverts do more by way of the unexpected. There's less of a governing formula for the commercial. There are some, many really, that are so flat and routine and I can't see how they are any kind of success. But others break through.
There are music videos as well. I guess. Here is the organic process of my writing. My ideas are stillborn as soon as I start typing.
That said, music videos are adverts for the artist, the product. They're called 'promos'. They promote. So I'm not so wrong.
However I'm not here to get all nostalgic for the great campaigns that I've seen in the past. There are too many. Some have become pop-culture. Ferrero Roche. 'You know when you've been Tango'd.' The man from Del Monte, etc.
Last night I saw one in the cinema that I liked. Fairly simple: a man with a door-handle makes his way through various landscapes, placing the handle on thin air and opening a portal to somewhere new. It was quite serene, pretty, and was a situation that probably wouldn't occur in any mainstream medium ie. unexplained magic. The commercial ends with his using the handle to get into a car.
I'm not saying that was a great advert. Once he got to the car, I felt let down, I lost interest, and so can't tell you which make or model the advert was for. So it's a failure.
But the first minute or so of exposition-free, ambient adventure I liked enough to want to write about what can be an inventive short-film medium.
Other recent campaigns I've enjoyed include the Ben Affleck/Lynx Click commercial, the one for Honda that has the moustachio'd man singing The Impossible Dream by Andy Willaims as he drives speed boats and motorcars, and one for Becks (?) that has marionette, stop-motion, cel-animation and live-action versions of the same character, doing a little dance together. All distinct, all neat in some way. I'm a sucker for that last one. I wouldn't let being stabbed in the mouth distract me from watching it.
Last night I also saw my newest advert enemy. Some commitee's wank to sell Oystercard/London Buses, Trains, Tube, to increase awareness of their monopoly. (I suppose you could get a cab, but then you'd get raped. No, it's true. I saw it in an advert.) It tells in frantic fashion how a trendy, energetic young buck stomps around the capital doing all this great, fun, interesting stuff. His gobby narration accompanies throughout, somewhere between football commentary and a rap. That 'somewhere' being a field of shit.
I don't believe for a second this prick exists. Nobody lives like this in London. I hate outright any advert that implies the lifestyle young people are supposed to have. I don't want to be these people. I don't want to use my hair gel to re-shape my hair four into different styles a day, all bad.
You look no better than I did when I was that fuzzy tramp, except you're making an effort to do so.
Uh, and popular consensus among magazine-reading women is that you look hot if you look like human foam from Hollyoaks.
The picture on the monitor is going fuzzy and the cactus near me are shrivelling up. A stack of blank Cds next to me have started to melt. I must be ranting.
Think happy thoughts. Think you and Evangeline Lilly on a tropical island.
So. Yes. There's adverts that I hate. That I would fight my way out of The Playboy Mansion to escape.
A lot of these adverts include the phrase 'Then have a laugh with your mobile phone!' and '...is not endorsed by any celebrity.'
You know I'm no more bored with my mobile phone than I am with my can-opener. When I'm not using it, I can't say I look or think about it all that much.
What I do like about my can-opener, however is that when I clamp it on to a tin it plays a little sample of glass breaking, Phil Daniels shouting 'Oi!' and then it pipes out a polyphonic version of the first four bars of Parklife. It's proper funny mate.
There's also adverts that I'm not fussed about, they come on and neither thrill nor disgust. Adverts for Muller products, or anything involving babies. They aren't aimed at me, nothing misleads me into watching.
But then there are adverts that, well, I don't fully know what was meant by them. They have a detail, a kink that sometimes has me talking to the TV. 'What was that about? Why did, Whuh?'
Here's an example. Cheese String, a sort of imitation cheese in a plastic tube, that can be torn into strips if you choose to eat it (the cheese, not the plastic. Tho' telling the difference is a task), ran an advert recently that went sort of like this:
A schoolboy walks along a hallway, in his school, eating a Cheese String snack. He's stopped by one of his teachers who asks 'What is that?' We then get a series of sped up clips showing the manufacture and distribution of the Cheese String product. Cows, farming, milk, factories, vats, delivery, shop-shelves etc. After seeing all this the child then shrugs, says 'It's just cheese.' and walks off with a knowing smirk on his face.
But what is that all about? What was the clip of all the farming and shit for? Does the boy always think like that? 'How did you get to School today Steven?' Cue him cocking his head and recalling in detail how his car was built, how his father was raised, how petrol was extracted. 'Who would win in a fight between Jason Statham and Matt Damon?' 'What killed off the dinosaurs?' Perhaps kids come running up to him with potentially traumatising traps - 'What face does your dad pull when he comes?' No, no noooooo.
Maybe, like Christopher Walken in the Dead Zone he can see into the life of the thing he touches. In this case it's not people but processed food. Let's see the nightmare that would accompany him eating a Chicken McNugget.
But still, excusing the educational film that flickers in his brain, why is the answer 'It's just cheese.' seemingly getting one up over the teacher?
"I'm on to you Steven, you think you can keep flaunting these loopholes in the School Rules..."
"You show me where it says 'No cheese in the hall', sir, and I'll put this straight in the bin."
"I'm wise to your game Steven, you can't keep it up forever. And when you slip up, I'm going to be there. Just you wait and see."
"Oh yeah. Tell me where it says 'Don't crap in a Bible', too while you're at it. Why don't you think about that when I beat the rap."
Or maybe the teacher is just relieved that it isn't a knife.
I might not have mentioned this advert on it's own, if, in the same adbreak I hadn't also watched this one:
A woman, from Vanish has come to a circus to demonstrate a detergent's ability to clean clothes. The circus' resident wash-woman talks about the grime and grease and make-up that gets on the costumes she has to wash. The woman from Vanish looks at a clown, whose outfit is being used as an example of what the wash-woman cleans. She then slops baked-beans and gravy (staple diet of clowns. Beans with Gravy is widely accepted as the funny-man's food. Dylan Moran eats that and nothing else. Can cause spasms in the arms and hands, hence the stain problems.) all over the front of the clown. In a close up, the wash-woman grumbles 'Thanks a lot.' in a sarcastic and slightly cross manner.
Why does she say this? Has no-one explained to her what the Vanish woman is there to do? Couldn't she maybe work it out from the vats of hot water and packets of detergent to hand?
Does she think this woman has come here to tip plates of sauce over a clown just to upset her. To make her job harder? She is laundry woman for a fun fair, mind you, she may well be mentally deficient.
If so, mumbling 'Thanks a lot.' is a pretty pathetic response. Someone came to your place of work, and filmed themselves needlessly flinging KFC side-orders at things you have to clean daily, and your protest amounts to that?
There's blood coming out my nose, a black stain of increasing size is appearing on the wall in front of me, the windows are shaking.
Shhhhh. Just you and Evangeline. She's made you a hat out of palm leaves. Shhhhh.
So, anyway the clothes get cleaned, then compared to another brand's efforts, Vanish wins, the women are happy.
But it depresses me, it really does. Black Dog put that detail in there.
Thanks a lot.
But on the side of Ice Cream is the song 'Love Potion No.9' by The Clovers. It came on my iPod on my ay home and it's such a perfect little pop song. It has it's hook, it tells a funny, cool little story, has a sax solo, and clocks in at under two minutes long. There's so many good songs from this era. 'Runaway' by Del Shannon being potentially the best.
A while back ITV used to run a music video show called simply 'The Chart Show.' During videos, whenever there was any extended instrumental bit - a solo, or just the verse played with no vocals - facts about the band would appear in text on the screen.
As a kid I used to think the whole convention of the solo was so that the facts could appear during The Chart Show. Everyone from Mel and Kim to Aha wrote their songs to suit this format. That's what I thought.
This Blog takes up way too much of my time. But it's a fad. It won't last.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
I don't get excited about some things because of a change in me. Writing about my taste in comedy made me think in broader terms.
I will try and explain.
In the last three years or so albums came out by Beck, The Beastie Boys and (Jon Spencer) Blues Explosion. And I rushed out to get none of them. I even worked in a record shop at the time, they all would have been discounted a sweet 30%. Didn't care. I wasn't excited by the prospect.
Three years before that had you asked me who my favourite bands are, chances are you would have heard me say Beck, The Beastie Boys, and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. I might have said a bunch of other bands too, but still.
At some point, the change happened.
Right up until, well, last summer I was at my worst. I looked my worst, and behaved my worst.
I had messy, sometimes long hair. Sideburns that grew down my neck and looked like Wolverine's scuzzy brother's. You could have stuffed a mattress with my beard.
Before then I'd had no hair on top, and a little moustached goatee number. A number one all over. A deliberate attempt to uglify myself. A sort of protest against relationships and people. I looked like shit.
I dressed like the Unabomber. Thrift store outfits and the type of german army coat that well-groomed, well-adjusted men my age can look quite normal in. I always looked like I was about to blow myself up. It doesn't help that I'm always frowning. But the unkempt head, bad posture and shifty attitude set it off.
Around the house my nicknames were 'bear', 'monster', 'viking man me'. I'd gotten quite big. Bigger than I ever was. I felt like I was channelling this medieval vibe. Something in me that reached back to the dark ages. I ate lots of stew.
And I was so much more aggressive than before.
Perhaps because I'd taken up exercise, started playing football, that kicked a bit of testosterone into my system. All the bitterness I'd stored from University and before got some release. Football showed me I could clatter and bash people, and that carried over. The 'Viking' in me relished the chance to chop others down in the game. It was the first time I'd ever done anything like that. Aggression manifest. What is best in life? To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.
I grew prone to outbursts. Any major frustration and I'd pound walls and crates and boxes until my hand were puffy and purple. I took to burning myself with knives, anything I could heat up and sear myself with.
It's the thing with depression, you can't say where it ends and your personality begins. I argued then and sometimes now that there is no depression, this is all me. There are people I blame, will always blame for how far gone I'd got. Myself included. There are people now I thank who saw that help was needed and showed me compassion and consideration.
I ate books by David Morrell, Robert E. Howard. Books about violent outsiders. I pined for the wilderness. I wanted to live in a forest. I got really strange. My love of Heavy Metal had obscured any taste for other musics I had. When I was a teen, I'd not really liked Slayer. They were perhaps too hard, too fast.
Viking me fucking loved Slayer.
All the rest of my music went mostly ignored. I liked Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Pantera. That was pretty much it back then.
Treatment - seeing Psychiatrists, attending CBT sessions - went on while I was still this behemoth.
Then they gave me drugs.
Now maybe it was other things too. I hit my mid-twenties, maybe the change was natural. I mellowed.
Today, I still like Pantera, Megadeth, fuckin' Metallica I love. Metal is still mine. Always will be.
But I'm listening to Elliot Smith. That's not Viking. Hell, that's weedly-deedly music, shoe-gazing music which I used to spit on. What if I listen to more maudlin, catchy pop? What if the next three years sees me liking...Crowded House?
Fuck, the other day I downloaded a Sting song. Not any of the Police hits, or Englishman in New York. Nothing like that. 'It's Probably Me'. You don't know it. Sting and Eric Clapton, plays at the start of Lethal Weapon 3. Beautiful.
But not Viking.
If you look at me, the hair is shorter, the side-burns respectable, the beard trim. I'm not as beefy either.
Somedays, not often, but some days I wear outfits that are almost entirely from H&M. Not Viking at all.
What the fuck happened to him?
Did I get purged of a poison or robbed of my fire?
I guess he's still a resource. That aggression still shows up. I'm never going to be skinny again. Unless I get hit with some cancer or whatever. Listening to Metal still conjures up the ancient power sometimes.
But compared to how I was two summers ago, man - I've been homogenised.
I'm going to see if some photos can show some of what I mean.
Next, Mello- era
Can you see it? Is it even there?
In the last picture I'm eating the awesome cake I got as a leaving present from my friends at the un-named record store I mentioned earlier. It had 'Yippie-Ki-Ay Please Forgive Me Motherfucker' piped in icing on the top. It should have just read 'Yippie-Ki-Ay Motherfucker', but the girl calling it in was a bit shy about swearing on the phone and the cake people quoted her verbatim. The cake still rocked.
I don't know if I should feel Black Dog or not.
I do feel Black Dog about a dream I had last night. The type of dream that I'd expect as an adolescent, but not now. My already atrophied libido shouldn't be playing stunts like this on me.
And I was way premature anyway. In the dream we'd barely kissed. I was mortified.
I should have known it was a dream because:
It was in my old house.
I ate frozen ready meals, which I don't.
John Kerry was President of The U.S.A., but he shared his seat with a man in a Fozzie Bear outift. The outfit was missing the hat. They both spent their presidency marching in brass bands.
(This last bit had no connection with the wet part of my dream. Trust me. These type of dreams can throw me some unlikely faces - I had Cindy Crawford pictures next to my bed, but what did I dream about? Sally Field going down on me at Chesington World of Adventures - but I didn't experience any desire for either John Kerry, or his friend in the Muppet costume.)
Right. Well, if any of my more casual acquaintances read this post...the one where I publish on the internet what a secret freak I was. The one where I tell you about wet dreams I've had...well, I can just kiss goodbye any chance of getting to know you better. Bye Bye potential buddies. Bye bye occassionally meeting up to chat the pleasantries and such. Bye Bye.
I will contemplate this on the Tree of Woe.
I didn't watch it.
It's not that I missed it, or had to go to bed, I just sat in my room and read magazines. I listened to some Tool.
There was a time when Steve Coogan was one of my comedy heroes.
There was a time when I had comedy heroes.
I'm interested in Peter Sellers. I read Roger Lewis' mammoth The Life and Death of Peter Sellers and I think I have more Sellers' films than any other film comedian. But part of that is because he was a shit. He was bitter and malicious and paranoid and so I see some kinship there.
The other part is that, aside from Sir Alec Guinness, he is the greatest screen actor this country ever produced. Comedy or not, it is fascinating to watch him work.
I still enjoy comedy, but I don't get excited by it anymore. I guess this is my point. I don't feel the joy I once did over Vic and Bob, Fist of Fun or The Day Today for The Mighty Boosh, Nighty Night, or Peep Show. That's not to say I don't find these shows funny. Before they even had a radio show I had seen The Mighty Boosh live twice (I'm not trying to make an 'I was there before you lot were' boast here. I was there, and before you lot were. But that's more simple truth than 'nyahnyahnyah') and loved it. But how did I react when they got a television show? Meh. I might watch it. Depends what I'm doing.
I think there's only one comedy show on T.V. right now that I try and watch. And that's '8 Simple Rules' on ABC.
I love this show, but I have a hard time explaining to anyone why.
It's an American sitcom that started off being about a father's anxieties over his teenage daughter's dating habits. John Ritter played the father, and that's what got me into it, because John Ritter is awesome. And also because he was dead. He died still a cast member, sometime at the end of the first season ( I think) but the show continued with the theme being more about a single mother raising three kids.
So far so formulaic.
And I'm just terrible at articulating where the magic is. Why do I laugh at this show, when other sitcoms like, say, 'My Family' or 'Two and a Half Men' (Charlie Sheen in a My Two Dads situation) scream shit at me whenever they on, and I start bleeding out my eyes just coming across them in the TV Guide?
It might be the casting. Katy Sagal plays the mother, a veteran of something like a thousand years of Married With Children. She's been a voice actor too, probably most of you know her as the voice of Leela on Futurama. She's a natural at this stuff, I admire her. In John Ritter's absence they brought in James Garner to play a grandfather, Adam Arkin - who did years of great TV in Chicago Hope - as the mother's on/off new boyfriend, and David Spade.
No, shut up. David Spade is good in this.
Seriously he is. This is good.
Stay with me.
Well, anyway - safe reliable hands. These guys are all pros. They've done lighthearted, good-natured stuff all of their careers. I mean James Garner was Maverick and Jim Rockford, he's probably so light-hearted he floats like a balloon.
But is that where I am? Watching the light-heated, good-natured comedy (8 Simple Rules does end-of-episode morals even), the reliable comedy, and shunning the new and exciting and cutting edge comedy? Do I even want to bother? I laugh, don't I? Isn't that the whole point?
Actually, I do try and watch The Daily Show whenever I can. As much as I enjoy and respect Jon Stewart (ever see him do a bad interview? Oh did you? Oh. I didn't see that one.) the Ice-Cream status belongs to co-host Rob Corddry, who is so good at what he does, I'm going to make him the first picture I publish on this blog. Here is his face, and some upper body.
(You know, I've tried, but I can't get this text to appear not bold.)
I'm guilty of enough hyperbole as is, but fuck it, the man is the funniest thing on T.V. right now. See how I used italics and bold on the 'is' in that sentence? That's how you show truth.
But what would I know?
I'm going to take a break for a minute, but there's more I want to grumble about. That will tie into this in a way. See you above this one.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
For whatever reasons he didn't get on the plane he was scheduled to fly with, and came later.
The plane he missed was shot down and all the crew were killed.
Unrelated to this, I've just read that the Yakuza hire homeless workers to do the most hostile jobs in Japan's many nuclear energy plants. The plants are almost totally reliant on these illegal workforces, who move from factory to factory cleaning reactors etc. They're refered to as Nuclear Gypsies, I think. Unsurprisingly they are exposed to massive amounts of radiation, and die off from cancers and related sickness.
Needless to say that is Black Dog news.
However I've watched Back to the Future, and I've had a nice day being lazy. So I'm Ice Cream right now. It's nice when something as basic and as everyday as a pizza can get smiles all round.
I can't do what a pizza can by way of cheering people up, so I'm glad it's there.
I love Back to the Future. I really do.
I can't go into detail here as to how much I love and respect that film, as I'll end up writing rabid shit.
I worry, in the stupid way I do, as to how it could have turned out had any of the talent involved not been there.
I imagine in the 1980s a comedy sci-fi script about a boy accidentally dating his mother could have gone one of two ways - The Spielberg route, the one it took, joining the likes of The Goonies, Gremlins, Indiana Jones, The Explorers - sci-fi/adventure family comedies that are never too much of one thing. By that I mean they mix the elements just right - they're funny, thrilling, have heart etc. Back to the Future does that in a big way.
Or it could have been a typical 80's teen comedy. The type of throwaway fluff that Coreys Haim and Feldman turned out when their partnership was golden. It would have joined the ranks of Can't Buy Me Love, with Patrick Dempsey, or Dream a Little Dream (Feldman and Haim in an old man/young dude body-swap story) or Weird Science. I imagine it would have still been a cut above these, but I worry. The version that got made is perfect. Flawless. There's not one element wrong. Not. One.
You might find, if you stick with this, that I worry a lot about stuff that could have happened.
The sound effects in BTTF are worth mentioning here. When you next watch it, listen out for all the delicious clicks and whrrrs. The remote control Delorean scene is rich with all these audio details.
I envy the job of a sound engineer/designer. Ben Burtt, the man behind Vader's breathing, the scream of a T.I.E. fighter and loads others is a master. Nothing in any of those films sounds stock. Listen to the bar fight in Tibet towards the start of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Everything - glass breaking, fire, punches, machines guns being racked and then fired - it all sounds so fresh, so precise.
The little bubble of thought that was going into this entry just popped. I have moths living in my hard-drive and one just flew out. Now I can't remember what I was going to say.
Oh yeah, Pay-Offs. The Biff Knock-out has to be up there with Death Stars exploding in terms of whammy.
Yeah, I'm going to use 'whammy' to mean that satisfied release that pay-offs deliver.
This was meant to be a short entry.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Today my hands feel like woolen toys and my head feels like a tampon. It looks lovely out, but I'm going to stay in and drink lots of water. This is what I get for being such a basket case.
Anyway, yesterday I wanted to write about The Longest Day.
For any of you who haven't seen it (out of my readership of none) The Longest Days is this huge, epic movie about D-Day. You know, from the Second World War. The DVD case boasts '48 International Stars' - there pretty much isn't a single sequence that doesn't have a name star in it (John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Henry Fonda, Robert Ryan, Kenneth More, Peter Lawford, Rod Steiger, Robert Wagner, Roddy McDowall, Curd Jurgens, Gert Froebe and, uh Leslie Phillips just for starters), hell the film is so big it had 3 directors.
And it's superb. The scope of it, the scale, hasn't really been matched since. It manages to touch on so many different elements of the conflict. A Bridge Too Far, another film with a massive cast acting out true events, comes close in capturing that purpose, but The Longest Day goes one further in telling the story of the enemy just as well as it does the Allies. Saving Private Ryan might offer a more brutally honest look at the Normandy invasion - but it's a far more subjective film. The focus is much narrower. And personally I don't like the tone of the movie. I just don't.
So, D-Day. A one-shot. The weather is against us (I'll use 'us' to mean the Allies.) It's June and the weather is as bad as winter. There's a storm raging and we're planning on crossing the channel at one of the widest points to land at Normandy. If we aren't fast enough, if the German's get sufficient warning, then they can reinforce the coast and perhaps halt the invasion.
And it is just that. An invasion. In the South of England three million soldiers wait to cross the water and fight their way into occupied France. The biggest armada ever assembled - 4,000 ships - are going to drive them ashore and into battle. Commando Francais - who have fought all over Africa - are going to fight for the first time on their own soil, to try and take back their country from the enemy. The French Navy prepare for the weighty task of shelling their own shores to make way for the big push inland.
Gliders - basic engineless planes - are towed and then launched to deliver commandos into enemy territory. Their pilots have to safely crash them, in the black of night. Crash them. They can't land as such, becase there's no space. Parachute regiments are dropped over flooded swampland and occupied towns, hoping to secure key areas ahead of the landings. The French Resistance are sabotaging train routes and telephone lines to damage the German's abiltiy to respond to the imminent attack.
Before the beacheads at Utah, Omaha, Sword, Juno etc. - before any of the landing crafts hit the coast - men had fought and died. Richard Todd (a strange actor. His method, his speech is always weird to watch. Kinda like George Segal, he just seems to speak and act in a way different from other stars. I can't really explain how. Funnily enough George Segal is in The Longest Day. I caught a glimpse of a guy thay looked like him and IMDB'd to check. He doesn't get a line, but it's him all right.) plays Major John Howard, who leads his regiment to seize Pegasus Bridge. The Allies must control this bridge if the invasion is to be able to move quickly inland and take foothold in France. If the Germans anticipate losing the bridge they will blow it up. His team fight a thrilling skirmish. The alarm is raised just before they get to the bridge and they must shoot it out with the German forces there, at the same time disarming the bombs placed on the bridge. It's the stuff of adventure - grenades, machine guns, red-blooded heroism.
I mention this all in such detail, because I've been to Normandy. I went with my secondary school on the 50th Anniversary of D-Day, to learn about it. I've actually been to Pegasus Bridge.
And I learned nothing like what I just told you. I don't know how.
Only when I saw The Longest Day sometime in Sixth Form College did I recognise the places I've been and what they meant.
Maybe it's the fault of the teachers. I can't see how I would have ignored being told about furious gun battles, daring raids, the sheer gravity of this monumental invasion taking place where I now walked. Unless it was told in the most flat, unengaging way imaginable.
I retained next to no knowledge of it.
Perhaps I visited Pegasus Bridge the day after I'd been kept up all nights by the friends I shared my chalet with. I had been (fairly easily) tricked into thinking our little lodge was under attack from surly french teens from the adjacent hotel. This was done by Grant 'Craig' Taylor banging on a wall.
That was it.
I never saw a French teen that night, never heard them. Only reports from my room-mates, and this noise. I was told it was them throwing rocks.
Maybe my nerves were on edge as Grant had already tried to stab me through the mattress with a bread knife. I was on the bunk above him.
Even after the gag with the French Teens was over (it lasted some five hours) I was woken later because Matthew Crosby's face had turned into a skull and flown towards Paul Canova and Grant. They were quite shaken by that.
(It was later reckoned the skull thing was a trick played by an ultraviolet light. Whatever.)
But out of the entire trip, I can't remember learning anything of the invasion. I visited the cliffs at Point du Hoc, but do I remember anything said about soldiers having to climb them and attack concrete bunkers? Nope.
Tell a lie. I remember being told a parachutist got caught on a church bell tower. He was kept there ten hours or so, and was deafened by the bells, which rang alarms all night.
Do I remember how the rest of his company parachuted into town and were effectively slaughtered by the German garrison there already? Eh? That some were dead before they hit the ground. Eh? (this sequence is chilling in the film. The stark black and white photography. The bells ringing. The stuck parachutist's P.O.V. This one particular zoom-shot. I can't recommend this film enough.)
I can clearly remember Grant Taylor throwing a bit of ham at Nathan Alfred and saying 'Fucking Eat it.' But I can't remember any of the gravity, any of the courage, any of the fucking history of D-Day.
(I wonder if Grant, with the violence and occasional anti-semitism he displayed on that trip, was trying to impress something upon us all about the evil at work in Europe then.)
Anyway. The Longest Day - in particular the scene with Richard Burton at the very end ("It's funny. He's dead. I'm crippled. You're lost. I suppose it's always like that. I mean war.") belongs with Ice cream.
The fact we ever had to make war in the first place is Black Dog.
I mean, that entire invasion force faced horrible, miserable death. A lot of them met it. Had the German's not made the mistakes they did that day, the tide of the war might never have turned.
A generation of men suffered a war, for some it was even their second.
And I can barely cope walking down Brixton High Street.
(That guy who shouts 'Drum and Bass' at me - EVERY DAY - when I come out of the tube can piss off. He also tells me that 'Abba shun tea'. I really don't care what meals they skip. Leave me alone. Plus everyone walks so slowly. Gah.)
Anyway, I leave you with a quote from Sean Connery's character in the film.
"It takes an Irishman to play the pipes."
Friday, June 23, 2006
For now, it's all The Black Dog.
Do you ever get asked 'Why are you telling me this?' in the middle of whatever you are saying? It can cut deep. Stops me dead. I give up.
But it turns out 'Just fuck off' works as well, if not better.
The Black Dog also owns the cack-handed destruction of the person I care most about in this world.It's gonna sound self-pitying if I tell you I knew someone in their prime and my actions/inactions have crushed the life out of them. They won't get those years back, and I don't know if they'll recover.
Every day we both see that in each other. The destroyer, the destruction.
The Black Dog seemed to thrive off the massive collection of green, dead, mutant insects on a window-ledge at my work. Sometimes with insects you spot one and then notice that there are, in fact, hundreds of the fuckers running about with him. Your eyes adjust, I guess. In this case it was just hundreds of bugs laying on their backs, kicking the legs that hadn't fallen off, all dying.
This is a shit post. I'm sorry. Nobody will read it however, because no Google search offers up my blog. I might try using a phrase that isn't likely to be found on another site.
Anyway.Hopefully tomorrow something.
Thursday is new comics day, except when a bank holiday messes it up. Today new issues of The Ultimates and All-Star Superman hit the shelves. (I really didn't want to say 'hit the shelves' - uh, but I have already.) Two of the best, perhaps just the best, comics running at the moment.
Given all the things I love about comics, this is easily Ice Cream territory. But what to write about?
Today, what stood out about comics greatness was the pacing, the layout, how the narrative progresses. It's all about timing.
See, with comics you can work in a visual medium, but give the viewer a control over the timing of the story that other formats can't quite achieve. I'll talk in terms of pay-offs.
In a film, you can write the great pay-off (Hans Gruber's dive off the Nakatomi Plaza, for me the zenith of bad-guy doom, because the audience and he see it coming.) and the audience watch it as it happens. We have no control over the pacing of it, that's all done in editing for us. It's not a bad thing, most of the time it's a good thing. In the hands of experts the cut and flow of the film is a pleasure in itself. Comedy is the same. Timing is...well you know already.
But you don't ever pause a dvd, take in the moment (ho, shit - he's holding on to her watch. What's Bruce Willis going to do?) and anticipate what happens next.
Comics let you do that.
Sometimes Comics are all about that.
If the layout is good, and sometimes it really is, you have to turn the page to get the pay-off. You can pause and take stock. When you are ready, you take the whammy.
If the layout is bad then sometimes the whammy part is on the facing page. In these cases it's usually the first thing you see when you turn the page, but you have to go read the left page because that's how you read. Dipshit.
But in the good layouts - like it is in The Ultimates - then turning the page is unrivalled in all fiction. The bottom frame of the right hand page can be loaded in such a way that achieves a unique level of suspense. YOU have to find out what happens next, YOU do it. Today in Forbidden Planet I even made a kind of "Eeeeeeee." noise because of something I hoped would be round the corner. (When it was, my grin could be seen from behind my head. There were more people willing to stand next to the guy who smelt like the lost property basket at a swimming pool than would stand by me.)Novels can't achieve that because the story isn't bound to the format in quite the same way. Page layout changes with how the book is bound.
Video games, which give you the biggest control over narrative short of writing something yourself often fail at the Pay-Off part of a story. Mostly because whatever you defeat is done in a frantic fashion. You seldom 'Hasta La Vista' anything in video games. You 'ohshitohshitohshitohshitohshit' until one of you dies. Kinda like sex.
Anyway. New Comics Day = Ice-Cream
Piece of hot fat that jumped off my frying pan while I was cooking peppers, and landed on my scalp. Black Dog, you are a bastard. I mean the fat had to jump up higher than me and then come down again, on top of my head. It must have been the size of an old five pence piece.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
So props go out to both of them. Not 'props' meaning respectful admiration. No, Matthew gets a boxing glove from Teen Wolf 2, and to Ross I give a water pistol used in Flight of the Navigator.
The title, yes, the title. The Black Dog. Black Dog can of course mean a black dog. It is also the first track on Led ZeppelinIV/Four Symbols/Old man with sticks. I once read Katie Puckrick's autobiography and in it she tells of how she tried to dance to Black Dog to impress a boy. She also spent nearly all her childhood in a full-body cast. I'm not sure if the two are connected, but Black Dog is damn hard to drum out on a table, let alone dance to. I can't say why I read Katie Puckrick's autobiography. I think because it had a picture of her on the front.
Black Dog is also how Winston Churchill, and myself, refer to Depression. He probably thought of it as 'accidie' too, which is a marvellous word.
This Blog is mostly about that part. Each time I bother with this, I'll list the things that have the paw prints of the Black Dog on them. My big bads.
But, if there are any, I will also list the Ice-creams. Here I'm using Ice-creams to mean anything that works against the Black Dog. The pleasure. Ice Cream, real ice-cream is invariably good to me. Hence the name.
It could be cathartic. Or it could be letting the poo moments of a day get the better of me.
I nearly called this thing 'Can't You Just Snap Out of It?' But as pointed out to me Black Dog contains the B, L,O,G that make up part of the word Weblog. In that order.
I could have also called it 'The Crunge'.