A New Blog!

For the last year I have been writing on here, and I have really enjoyed it.  The problem I have is that it’s not really focused, or has a main theme.  So I’ve opened up a new site, for all of my film ramblings.  This way I can begin to narrow down what I want to write about.  This blog won’t go away, and the small audience I have will still get the odd post, when I feel like writing something that’s not film related.  This could be political talk, book talk, or even a short story.  If you’re interested in film chat, go here:

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(I quite like that I’ve named my ‘more focused’ blog with the word focus in it)

 

Results – 12/06/17

These are the words written when I think today.  It is June. The sun is not out, but it is warm.  My feet ache from walking, though I have not walked far.  Tapping and lawnmowers is what I hear.  A droning.  A moaning.  A systematic approach to thinking.  Being displeased with the current situation of sitting, and rising up to attention.  To flow, I allow my fingers to move, not my brain.  My brain moves too slow, or so quick it appears slow.  Like the earth spinning.  Like clouds moving.  Cumulonimbus.  Full of rain and dampness.  An uncomfortable setting of clothes.  It creates an itch, completely scratch-able yet completely avoidable.

Is Jeremy Corbyn a fashion icon?  Is the culture he presents strong or weak?  My answers to both these questions is no.  My answer to most questions surrounding the labour party leader is no.  The answer to most things in general is no.  Yes is not a complex enough answer.  Yes appears perfect and absolute.  No requires explanation.  Explain yourself, said American serial TV detective to the unassuming suspect.  They never explain themselves.  It was a victory for the left, the 2017 snap general election.  It was victory for the Owen Jones and the indie twitter goons.  I celebrated this victory heartedly and for once felt content with political views.  Frustration had fled away from me, and hope replaced it.  Laughter is the key, and at the centre of it all.  Laughter at Theresa May, and the failings of the uninformed.  The blindness of the ignorant must be mocked, and not shunned.  Mocked to the point of obscenity would be my preference in the future.

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The plan is to continue to be amused by the current political climate.  An amusement at the red versus blue, and the desperate colours in between.  A more pragmatic attitude would be welcome in me.  Where would I find it from?  Coffee or adderall?  Patience is a nice word to use.  Patience for a film to inspire me or a politician to anger me.  My anger stems from those who follow, not those perpetuate.  At this time it seems as though no-one is following Jared Kushner, except for perhaps his father-in-law.  I can’t wait to hear him speak.  His voice must be of an odd nature, or a crude one.  It must whine or croak for it to have been hidden for so long.  I picture a United Kingdom with a strange coalition.  At the top sits Corbyn, alongside Nicola Sturgeon and Tim Farron.  They are on a peculiar mound inside the houses of parliament and Farron is lighting up a joint whilst tweaking a newly fitted reverend band.  Kushner enters, before a state visit from the American president.  He delivers a statement and the coalition laugh at his voice.  An echoing laugh and the speaker calls order.  From then, they begin to tease him on the President’s policies of coal mines, an industry worth about 1% in workforce and effort.  Kushner cries, then goes home, only to realise that James Comey has in fact eaten the whole Trump family.

Edgar Wrights new film Baby Driver is in cinemas soon and it is just making me want to un-follow Wright on twitter.  There must be a limit on the amount of posters created for a singular film, and the amount of times a director can self promote.  At least the film is something to look forward to, away from this sea of current boring cinema.  Wonder Woman as a concept and a film falls right into that, and whatever anyone says, it’s still a superhero movie.  Thankfully, my mind hasn’t been on writing about film and has been fixated on the election.  That is not going to change anytime too, thanks to a literal non-existent government.  A non-existent government that may soon be a Tory slash 1980’s right wing collaboration.  The notion of reverse Northern Irish devolution is both terrifying and hilarious.  Also a possible chance we can fight terror with terror, thanks to a return of an IRA movement.

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Passing judgment or thoughts on the recent terror attacks is hopeless and I have just about given up fighting for any sort of flagship position.  Being passive is the way forward, and muting tweets is my new favourite hobby.  My timeline (without creating my own echo chamber) is slowly being catered to less nonsense and stupidity.  I’m not blocking out varying views, but stuff I can live without, like a tweet a minute about Rhianna.  I’m not even sure I’ve spelled her name right.  Either way, I can’t run away from the horrors of the world, and I’m still very much in the camp that the world’s demise is incoming.  However there is much to be excited about, such as the cricket, a sport in which I’m happy to say England are quite good at.  For now.

 

Frustration Leading into the General Election

Passing opinion is incredibly dangerous.  You could be ill-informed, inexperienced and ignorant.  I’m all of those things, and so giving my opinion is like stabbing myself in the eye.  Or the brain.  Political opinion is even tougher, because it requires context and history, something that is hard to gauge at a first glance.   When the snap General Election was announced, I wrote this short story thing.  The point of it was basically an attempt to stay away from caring about the vote, and to refrain from passing comment on it.  Yet here I am, with that post deleted, writing about how I am already frustrated by it all.  I think I get more on edge about these things than most people, and scrolling through twitter for most of my day doesn’t help.  Every tweet about the upcoming election makes me want to run head first at a wall.

Politics as a trend is something that you see all over twitter. It is cool to be on the left and have somewhat socialist values.  This is because on the surface, those values seem the most genuine and caring.  It also has something to do with virtue signalling, as coming across as compassionate certainly leads to slightly more popularity.  Twitter is a game of circles and to be a part of your desired circles, you have to lean to the right (not right) side politically.  This is all very boring, and seriously annoying.  I see countless tweets every day that are immensely pro-labour and anti Tory.  Hating tories as a joke is funny and it’s a joke I make fifty times a day, but some of the outlandish things written about them via ‘cool’ or dare I say it ‘indie’ twitter is sickening.  How can anything be achieved, how can any of the corrupt political system be broken down when a whole side of people blankets the Conservatives as ‘poor people haters’.

The Fox hunting debate could be the most bizarre argument of it all.  It is literally a conflict between an elite group who want to barbarically hunt an animal, and everyone else who for some strange reason don’t like it.  The tories sit in-between desperate for funding from those elites and to be able to keep whispering in their ears.  It’s strange that people are so adamantly against it (I mean the general public, not actual animal rights campaigners), because it’s such blatant fake morality.  Fox hunting is no more evil than buying a Coca Cola product or using an Apple phone, yet where’s the tweets about them. The left sits in this position of being as hopelessly dumb as the right, because of whining about a minority hobby that comparatively is just as evil as everything else in the world. Ignorance is a given in all of culture and politically I’m pretty sure it has always been a trend amongst my demographic.  I just don’t want people going into a blind vote, whoever they are voting for.  The cynical side of me wants those clueless votes going into Labour, and in time I hope that the party don’t let us down.  At this point, I can’t see them winning, they’re being far too nice for that.  All the party needs a little but of ruthlessness to get into power, and then mould the socialist values around them once they’re in.

On the 8th of June, I will be voting Labour for mostly logistical reasons.  Logistical in a sense that right now a majority Conservative government means no leeway with policy. Even if Labour don’t win, we need more seats in there so that we can balance the delegation of power.  With Labour, we will hopefully have more security with Europe, and a possible super soft Brexit.  It also means a change in leadership, and a massive one.  For the first time, possibly ever, we will have someone in charge who actually cares.  Jeremy Corbyn, a man there for all the right reasons.  I can never get my head around the dislike towards him because sure he’s a plonker, but a plonker who is naturally geared towards helping people.  You can’t say the same about Theresa May, who is the epitome of the walking-talking panderer.

To explore this deeper, there must be a look at the rise of this weird Marxist regime from American university campus’.  The idea of communism and far left rituals being useful is certainly in the zeitgeist.  What I obtain from it, is the impending doom of mankind, and a definite feeling that civilisation won’t last another century.  I mean this is a big step from being frustrated by UK election twitter, but it always sidelines my thoughts on anything. It gives me this ‘whats the point’ overview.  It’s why I get angry at people getting angry, or agitated by those passing judgement whilst being intolerant themselves, because it all doesn’t matter.

Side-note: This is partly inspired by twitter and partly inspired by the Joe Rogan Experience.  I think I’m probably going to delete this post soon because I can’tquite articulate what I’m trying to say.  Perhaps I should go back to being mute and focus on more important things, like watching Alien 3 in the middle of the day.

An Infinite Jest Odyssey [1]

The only things I know about this book are through the YouTube videos of Sailing La Vagabonde (Riley is a massive fan of Foster Wallace) and from the film The End of Tour (which I have wrote about – https://insiderobbie.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/the-end-of-the-tour-inspiration/).  Cult author David Foster Wallace was an interesting character and so this book is a way into his mind more than anything.  It is a mammoth, clocking in at over 1000 pages and the foreword by Dave Eggers is a warning of how tough it is.  That sounds like the perfect kind of novel to write about, and I’m hoping it works out better than War & Peace did.

Pages 3 – 55

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This book has a unique chapter setup, where they are short, and basically all called the same thing.  Consequently 55 pages may not seem like a lot, but it has felt like a journey already. The text is precise and full of description, making each line incredibly dense with information. However it is still beautifully written, and reminds me of the other great American novels that I have read, such as The Great Gatsby or One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest. The narrative is disjointed and confusing, probably purposefully so in a sort of post-modern way.  It appears that Wallace is picking out parts of the story and jumbling them up, and that makes it jarring but enjoyable, in a Pulp Fiction kind of way. From this Wallace presents moments, instead of a series of them, and tells them with an effective comedic tone.  It comes across as him poking fun at the situation whilst also mind-numbing you with exaggerated scientific terms.  I’m pretty much hooked on the book already and I want to read more of it; I’m just not sure if re-telling the plot will ever be possible.  As far as I can tell we are sometime in the near future, and it is a balance of stories between different characters with different problems.  The world is perhaps somewhat breaking and at the centre we have Harold Incandenza, a tennis protege, who is equally conflicted as he is genius.

Wallace is aware of his skill and his use of similes is remarkable.  An example of this would be, on page 5: “My chest bumps like a dryer with shoes in it”.  Now this is beautifully observant, but shows the uniqueness and oddity of the book.  Wallace constantly drifts off into a bizarre realm, yet keeps his writing poignant and stylistic. The humour and wit is what keeps surprising me, and at the top of page 12 Hal says: “I do things like get in the taxi and say, the libary and step on it”.  I found myself chuckling at this, and this whole chapter is one of the most intriguing.  It is a conversational exchange that is both funny and challenging, leading up to the climax that shows the first themes of loss in the book.  There are some parts of this first 55 pages that I cant’t get my head around, like the technical terms that are completely made up by Wallace.  Despite this, as I’ve said, the characteristics of the writing is brilliant enough to keep me going at this point.

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What I’m loving most about the book is that it is coming together like all my favourite novels, and on top of it has this layer of Wallace individuality.  I would recommend it to anyone who is a lover of fiction, or has studied English Literature, and can understand the intricacies of the storytelling.  Overall I’m thinking about the book a lot, which is exactly what I wanted.

Side-note:  I bought a second hand copy of this book, and when I unwrapped it, a German trivial pursuit card fell out of it.  It is like the start of a great mystery.

A War & Peace Odyssey [3]

Second edition: https://insiderobbie.wordpress.com/2017/03/27/a-war-peace-odyssey-2/

I have given up

Somewhere in the middle of the second part of the novel I realised I wasn’t enjoying it, and not in a necessarily bad way.  I greatly appreciate the books brilliance and it’s certainly an easy read, I just don’t know what I’m getting out of it.  The mountain feels climbed to me, and I’m sitting at the top anxious to go back down.

The truth is, I have a found a new book to agonise over, Infinite Jest.  It feels closer to me and a more intense experience, so expect an Odyssey on that not long after this has posted.

A War & Peace Odyssey [2]

First edition: https://insiderobbie.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/a-war-peace-odyssey/

Part Two: Pages 112 – 200

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This part is definitely the War part of the novel.  Tolstoy is detailing a battle between the Russian and the French army, as well as the diplomacy that comes with it.  At the centre is Prince Andrei, who was introduced in the first part.  He is an interesting character, as Tolstoy in this chapter clearly outlines his faults, but in the first part he was almost shown as a god from the perspective of Pierre.  This part is gripping in its tales of war, however I found some of it quite disorientating.  Not because it is complex in its language, but due to me noticing Tolstoy’s over indulgence.  Many of the chapters in this part seem to be a back and forth between armies and leaders.  It’s fascinating enough, yet it came across as bloated.  Thankfully, in the closing moments of this part, the pace picked up and the building tension was paid off.

What I’m finding is that this book is an easy read, and I think that is diminishing my ability to read between the lines of the narrative.  It presents itself as Tolstoy enjoying himself as he crafts the story together, rather than anything greatly profound.

A War & Peace Odyssey [1]

Odyssey definition: a long wandering or voyage usually marked by many changes of fortune.

I’m not going on an Odyssey, I’m reading a book.  War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy is one of the most celebrated novels of all time.  Being the annoying vacuum of culture that I am, I decided I would give it a go.  I use the term Odyssey because the thought of this book is terrifying.  It is 1200 page long story about Russian nobility during the height of Napoleon Bonoparte’s European dominance.  Thankfully, I caught the BBC version of it last year, and it gave me the courage to buy and now read the mammoth novel.  What I’m going to try and do on here is breakdown the book, for my own benefit and also to hopefully show that this book is not scary at all.

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Part One: Pages 1-112

I am so glad I watched the BBC television version before reading this.  It means that I can put names to faces and remembering characters is much easier.  And remembering the characters is key.  It’s key because Tolstoy bounces around between them and of course they all have long Russian names.  Though each character is carefully designed to be recognised when they appear.  For example, Pierre, the most protagonist like is described as overweight and unattractive, as well as been easily noticed by his bold political views. The princes and princesses each have their own traits and this allows Tolstoy to separate their stories from one another.  With that being said, I was surprised by how interwoven the characters are and how close together the situations are.  It seems to flow from one dinner party to the next, making the narrative tight.  However the universe is clearly expansive in its issues as the dialogue between the players is very complex.  They are mostly discussing Napoleons advancements and this opens up conversations about politics during wartime.  It’s as interesting as it is hard to pick apart and so far I’m really enjoying the book.  The first part is a simple read and I’m starting to fall down the rabbit hole of Russian nobility of the early 19th century.

This Is Outrageous: A Radio Show

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host ben on the left and myself with the glasses on the right

My flatmate Ben Grogan is doing a Masters in Mass Communications, which means that he has been at university for a long time.  It also means that for the last few years he has been hosting a student radio show.  With us realising that we has similar interests, I jumped on a new show with him entitled This Is Outrageous (a peep show reference).  So, on Mondays 1 till 3pm we take over Newcastle Student radio to mostly talk absolute nonsense, with some music in between. The aim of the show is to try and be as different as possible, whilst also mimicking some of our favourite podcasts along the way.  For example this week we interviewed DJ G (George Oxley) who is a young Bassline deejay from Sheffield who is opening up his own club (links below). We also discussed the OJ Simpson case, picked and reviewed some films I had seen this week, and tried to play music people may have not heard yet.  It is a total working progress, but we are having fun with it, so if you need a companion in your life on Monday afternoons you know where to go (again links below).

Listen here: http://nsrlive.co.uk/ (only works on certain browsers, chrome to be sure!)

DJ G soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/djgoxley

His new Bassline club: https://www.facebook.com/011Four/?fref=ts

The Movie Doctors & Trainspotting: Book Reviews

I read these two books over about a week and it felt great. Reading books is a great feeling. It is an accomplishment when you finish them.  A race that has been won.  A mountain that has been climbed.  Now I haven’t read War and Peace in a few days but a book about films and a beloved cult novel.  This doesn’t make me less proud of my self.  I have burned through around 800 pages and it has left me extremely content.

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I was gifted The Movie Doctors by my flatmate because he knows how much I admire it’s author’s Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo.  Famously the BBC radio film review team, they are literally the best double act in movies.  If you have never watched/listened to their reviews on Radio 5,  I would highly recommend it.  This book is pretty much non-fiction in its style, with the ‘doctors’ part of it being the foundations of the content.  Essentially, they use illness diagnoses to discuss film.  It is cluttered with movie references and recommendations from Kermode, with a dialogue with Mayo every now and then to keep it grounded.  A must read for film geeks, as the the spectrum of the industry discussed is broad.  Simply read, and put together,  I would push anyone towards this book as I’m sure there’s something in the pages for them.

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I bought Trainspotting in Edinburgh and was surprised by how much I was engulfed by it. The film is very precious to me (reviewed the sequel on here) and I have this rule (that I often break) where I don’t read the original novel of a film that I love.  This is due to me believing that a film can stand on its own, but I succumbed to Scottish pressure and read the legendary piece of fiction.  The short answer is that I loved it.  It now sits nicely in my brain next to the film where it can stay to be a companion to it.  The Scottish style in which it is written so brilliantly by Irvine Welsh is thoroughly entertaining.  It makes the book so readable and the world so easily to fall in to.  Every chapter is full of mental remarks and incidents that are strange but profound.  Alongside the film it is gritty and real but most of all fun to read.  There is a chapter in this book that hit me so hard, and was so unexpectedly gruelling and heart wrenching that I had to take a quick break before carrying on.  Overall, you have to read this book, it is as seminal to me as The Beach was (also reviewed on here) and is timeless as a work of art.

I have bottled down 800 words of pure thrill into two paragraphs so this feels less of an accomplishment.  Next I am going to read War and Peace and hopefully get a certificate when I turn over to the last page.

He Will Not Divide . Us

Tell me Shia LaBeouf isn’t crazy.  Tell me we aren’t looking at the slow breakdown of a celebrity.  Over the last couple of years or so him and his performance artist team (LaBeouf, Ronkko & Turner) have certainly suggested that.  From the outside it has been a viewing of an existential crisis as well as watching a man reflect on his own weird individual life.  However his latest project is his most impersonal, and a chance to see that him and his partners are attempting to make a movement for good.

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The whole thing is really simple: outside the Museum of The Moving Image in New York they have set up a camera & mic that is being broadcast live on the internet, and they have invited anyone to say ‘He Will Not Divide Us’ in front of it.  It’s effectively an attempt to bring America together post the appointment of the highly polarising Donald Trump, though the actual website gives a list of convoluted reasons for the project.  In short, and after 3 days of the 24hr stream, it’s brilliant.  Every time I go to the website something profound is happening and I’ll definitely be spending a lot of time there over the next four years (or however long Trump lasts).

It has done that awful thing to me where I have a sudden faith in humanity and it has shifted by political views back towards the left.  This is because I have been glued to the people who have shown up to say the words, or protest against them.  Take the guy who took a 12 hour bus from Toronto for example and has been rapping an inch from the camera with Shia today.  Or Ally and Maximilian, who for a while formed a community around the camera, a group of friends.  The words are now rarely said in repetition, like they were initially by oddity Jaden Smith, and have become more organic.  It took less than a day for people to start mixing up the phrase, or singing it.  I love these people and every second I watch the stream, I want to be there more and more.

Last night and this morning it really peaked for me.  Around UK midnight time a man appeared with a ‘Make America Great Again’ cap on, yet there was no real tension.  He stood there with his thick moustache, Harley Davidson t-shirt and tracksuit bottom as he rallied the crowd.  At first he was questioning the whole thing, and was crudely whispering to the camera, but after a while he blended in with the scene.  It was like he had been converted, or better yet become an example of the project being successful.  Everyone around welcomed him in and thus his reactions to it all was fascinating.  His aggression was humorous and his warmth likeable, showing no divide between a Trump supporter and non-Trump supporter.  Then there this morning when I woke up, the master of fun was there alone.  A guy carrying a tent dressed fully in pink, professing his own internet art.  He passed on messages of challenging yourself and forcing failure so that you can improve, while of course sometimes throwing in the divide mantra.  And this actually inspired me.  For whatever reason a random guy hundreds of miles away made me think about my own life, which is a bizarre feeling.

Every so often Shia pops in, to pump up the group.  He bounces around saying hello’s and love yous to everyone and these are probably the best moments.  It’s when the energy is lifted and the repetition comes.  Though it also brings conflict, because understandably people are sceptical of the man.  A video that will no doubt go viral and become a staple of the livestream is a few seconds where he screams at a young guy who is against the project.  And obviously this defeats the purpose of the coming together and respecting different views idea, but it also shows the passion of it all.  I’m a passionate person and I have felt a great deal of it watching this stream.  The spirit and joy that these people are in  is really admirable.  I see only positives, and when something bad happens I’ll look silly, but I cannot get over how cool it is.

I have utterly fallen in love with the stream and it’s literally made me emotional.  It shows the power of kindness and from this has swayed me back towards the left side of politics. I’ve found that you have to look past some of stupidity that appears within people and realise that we are all the same.  We are all imperfect and shameful, but have the ability at times to show a bit of unity.  This stream mostly just makes me laugh, yet still I feel changed by it, and I think that is the ultimate goal of art.

Watch it here and you will understand exactly what I am saying: http://hewillnotdivide.us/

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Side-note:  This is a form of art explaining another form of art again, so i apologise.  I have been moved by all sorts of stuff recently, not just this daft pretentious performance. Mostly by the debut album of Spring King, which is called Tell Me If You Like To, and is absolutely brilliant. I’ve already started assigning people in my life to songs on it when I hear them, which is a sign of something I adore.  Listen if you like indie/punk or if you’re a fan of not being depressed.