Pacemaker

The bitter cold in my room is beginning to worry me.  Can you freeze to death from prolonged sessions in a mildly cold room?  I ask myself that question now as I drink coke and plough through this writers block.  Coke is awful, evil capitalist superpower dragging my morals across the floor as I take each sip.  I don’t particularly care though, I care about Newcastle, and Simon Sheffield, and history, and Tom Cruise.  Can all these things be represented through my early lonely university experience?  I ask myself this question as I put a second jumper on to clothe myself from the dread.  The coke is nice, yet I can taste the sugar more than usual.  Perhaps it’s because I’m having one of my transparent periods, where everything seems clear.  My typing hands are possessed by some writing demon, a friend inside me I don’t see often enough. Or an enemy I’m at war with.

I can see out of my window two men across the bridge.  Are they workers?  Honest people, that actually contribute to society?  Possibly electricians, the white box they are circulating around looks full of electrics.  One of them is on the phone.  I wonder what he’s talking about.  Probably how they are ill prepared for the job at hand, but still require payment. Are they lazy or righteous?  They’ve gone inside to what I envision is a much warmer building than the one I’m sat in. Although it has warmed up a bit, thanks to my ability to switch the heating on.  I can hear the coke fizzing still.

Continuing to stare out of my window is meaningless; I need to get out there.  Talk to people; not let my anxiety control me.  Who would I talk to?  The homeless guy outside the old baths?  He doesn’t scare me like the rest of them.  There is a patience too him, an enormous sense of experience.  He doesn’t need your change; he’s had your change.  I finished my coke.  This is far more rewarding than my university course.  A foundation year. What a joke I am, what a failure, what a reject.  Maybe not that last one, I am sure I have some fans out there. Selasi from Kenya reads my blog on a library computer that he commutes to after his school day.  He is a well of Kenyan, adopted by rich parents, saved from the Nairobi slums.  Lived through turmoil and now he enjoys my witty rhetoric on a Woody Allen film.  This is my dream.

Shall I research for this?  Is my goal to plunge through page after page in the library?  I’m not entirely sure what this is.  Is it real, or am I just asking myself too many questions.  It’s too abstract, too indefinite to be called anything.  There’s no need for a title or a description.  My teeth hurt from the coke, I’m regretting drinking it. The plan was to write about the new Daniel Radcliffe films, and it’s transformed into this.  I have sat down at my laptop and metamorphosed into some languid poet. Or a fool.  The sentence before the last probably doesn’t make any sense under the microscope.  The green pen of the a-level marker would ruin those few words, and then write a series of ‘poor comments’ in the margin.  Thank god that’s over with.

I have 11 minutes left until I have to start getting ready to leave.  Or meet.  Or whatever it is I’m doing.   Putting a time limit on this makes it all the more exciting.  Will this ever be read?  Another question that will probably never be answered.  A question that will be lost in the stratosphere of my subconscious when I delete this in 10 minutes.  That was a fast 60 seconds.  I’ve always had this notion of time passing at the same rate as normal; making it easier to suffer through three periods of German when I was 14.  However now I see time for what it is.  A traitor.  Someone we put so much trust into for them only to kill us.  I’m going to stop now.

 

Super Hans Live: THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS

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The idea of seeing Super Hans live is a dream to me.  He is the single greatest sitcom creation in history.  Peep Show would not be the same without him, and as an insane fan of the series, I jumped at the chance to get a ticket to see the drug addicted musician live.

It’s such a bizarre concept.  A side character in quite a niche sitcom goes on tour.  What will it be?  A comedy set or a DJ set?  In the end it wasn’t really either, and became a mix of hilarity, a really varied music set, and a mad night out.  The crowd were clearly all massive Peep Show fans like me, and when Hans finally strutted on stage like Liam Gallagher, the place erupted. Suddenly Red Stripes went flying as Matt King melted into his most famous role in television.  Then, the laughter came, because you can’t help but laugh at the funniest guy in history as he prats around in his fur coat.

And, it’s interesting, because where does Super Hans start and Matt King end?  About 5 minutes in, it didn’t matter.  No longer was it about fitting the gig into some contrived category, but an utter chaotic triumph.  A remix of ‘Lets Dance’ by Bowie played and it was like being in a rave, never have I heard such a heavy version of that song.  I mean credit to the actual musicians here, especially the DJ bouncing behind the front man, who dropped banger after banger.  Not to say King didn’t do anything, it was just more about being the character for him.  At one point pretending to play the guitar opening to ‘Fools Gold’ by The Stone Roses, before throwing it to the side a few seconds in to continue to float about.

Effectively, it evolved into a blend of a stage play with a bassline, with King getting more and more involved with the people gleaming up at him.  The crowd being amazing, with mosh pits forming, chants beginning, and the shouting of ‘This is Outrageous’ was always followed by the shouting of ‘This is Contagious’.  What more can I say about a brilliant experience.  Peep Show fan or not, there is no way anyone would not find joy to bouncing around to Super Hans.  He is a hero of the millennials, myth, a legend, and this tour will answer no questions, but will certainly raise a few heartbeats.

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Side-note: After this, me and my flatmate went to a club in Newcastle called ‘theCUT’ which had it’s indie night on, also pretty cool.

I have writers block.

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Do I even like poetry?

No, you just think that you do.

I think that I like it.

Describe liking something.

I can’t.

No-one can.

Maybe I do like poetry then.

You don’t.

Stop telling me what to do.

Grow up.

Has this become a poem?

Grow up.

I’m grown.

You’re not acting it.

You don’t even exist.

I exist.

In my head?

In everyone’s head.

Like a parasite.

Like a warning.

A warning about what?

Problems.

Everyone has problems.

­ Exactly.

Side-note:  More like ‘writers laziness’.

Why the Ryder Cup is the Greatest Sporting Event in the World.

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The occurrence of this comes quite posthumously, as the Europe teams dominance basically died at Hazeltine on the weekend.  There are no doubts in my mind that the American team crushed us.  And as irritating as the native fans were, the golf that was played was unbelievable.  Near enough every single member of the US team was on fire, and leaps ahead of the European team.  Now, we all know the reason for this (Brexit), but I’ll save that for the moment, and attempt to describe the feeling the competition gives me, which I hope is achievable even if you don’t like Golf, or joy.

Golf is literally the worst sport in the world and if you’ve seen Robin Williams bit on it, you’ll know what I mean.  To play, it’s painful if you’re rubbish, and I’m 90% rubbish, so rounds of Golf just turn into stress for me.  Watching it is the complete other end of the spectrum, because suddenly everyone is really good at it.  Moment after moment you are blown away by the skill of the professional player, and when it comes to the Ryder cup, everyone turns it on a little bit more.  There is no prize money, thus everything is fuelled by pride and competitiveness.  The best way to describe the passion of it all, is to go through the golfers slap.  It’s effectively a ‘lo-five’, except the two players hit each others hand extremely hard. They hole a long putt, win a point for the team, then proceed to hit each others hand like they’re trying to punch a door through.  Yet they don’t feel a thing, as the adrenaline pumping through them numbs the pain, and if you’ve tried this with your mate, it really fucking hurts. There numbness amplifies, and you find yourself sat on the sofa feeling the same as them.

Sport at the highest level is always riveting, but there’s something about the Ryder Cup that is so intense.  There is a similar tone with a massive football match (I’m talking Liverpool/AC Milan Istanbul champ league), a tight Wimbledon final or the Ashes.  I’ve realised that the breathtaking entertainment comes the rivalry, which is weird.  It’s weird because Europe vs the US isn’t really an old fight, there is no old enemy feel there.  Then they start playing Golf against each other, and a deep sporting hatred is born.  Before you know it, Rory Mcilroy is screaming back at the American fans to keep quiet as he holes a long putt.  It is just sheer passion, passion that arises from hitting a small ball with a club.

I’m glad Europe lost.  The competition is heightened even more now that the teams are more balanced.  Also, we deserve it, and it will hopefully be a secret message that we should have never voted to leave the EU.

 

Side-note:  The second greatest sporting event is of course the Kabaddi world cup.

Discovering a Dislike for a Newspaper

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And then realising you hate all of them would be an apt continuation of the title for this piece.  Though considering I haven’t read every word of every paper ever written, I’m probably not qualified to say that I dislike them all.  But I do dislike the Sunday Express. I’m not entirely sure what possessed me to buy the 25th of September 2016 edition, other than I needed a crime article for one of my lectures.  Thankfully, there was an article on the the front page that I could skim through, so I took it over to the counter.  Can’t even tell you how much it was.

Arriving home, I read the story I needed to, then decided to have a gander at the rest of the paper.  It wasn’t an enjoyable experience.  The inside page spread was a large piece on the recent labour leader election.  Now I’m a Jeremy Corbyn fan, so I’m slightly blinded, but they were talking about him like he was a prolific murderer.  They couldn’t believe he’d won a majority again and are preparing for another downfall.  Now this whole thing about how the media creates a false persona of Corbyn is described well by the fake news reporter guy whose videos make the rounds of Facebook.  Watch that if you come across it, rather than me discuss it, because I really don’t care enough.  All I have to say is that it amazes me this two page article got past the editor.

The rest of the paper consisted of some generic news stuff, that was fine to read, and some awful tabloid stuff.  It also included a full sport pullout, where every page was populated by football apart from one that was actually quite an interesting look at the upcoming Ryder Cup and it’s relation to Brexit.  That was the highlight.  The trouble I have is that I don’t who the demographic for this paper is?  It’s certainly not me and I’m baffled that it’s still in publish.  I’d be interested to meet the kind of people that read this stuff.

 

Sidenote: This is all exaggerated and I can’t work out the point of it.  It’s just I’ve had a distaste for the newspaper business and it’s been clogging my mind.

The Wire: An Actual Review

Having finally finished ‘The Wire’ after starting my crusade with it almost a year ago, I’d thought I’d write a bit about it.  And for the first time I’m actually going to label it as a review, but only in the sense that I’m going to break down every season and ‘review’ my thoughts on them.

Season 5

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I’m starting here because obviously it’s the one I’ve watched the most recently, so it’s freshest in my mind, but also because it’s my least favourite.  And it’s a shame that it’s my least favourite, because that seems to be the popular consensus, which I’m trying to shy away from. However this season for me felt more like a chore, just to get to end so I could write this.  Due to this, it’s probably the season I’ve watched the quickest, though it is only ten episodes long (first problem).  The problem I have with the season is that I stopped caring about the events and the characters.  All the character building of the youth in West Baltimore felt lost and the plot lost all its momentum.  What seemed like an incredible rising climax at the end of season 4, had suddenly been replaced by a really strange turn of events.  Now I didn’t hate this season, mostly because of my already existing admiration of the major characters, but none of it really interested me.  The serial killing plot line felt sloppy, being an excuse to throw McNulty in the fire and the Sun newspaper narrative was half cut to say the least.  Effectively what had been a very rich piece of writing ended on a poor ten episodes, with the amount of cringey lines and uncharacteristic events rising.  Despite this, the season wrapped up okay, and overall, thanks to the other seasons I felt satisfied with the closing moments, even though it was a little disappointing.

Season 2

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Now, this is the season that grew the most on me, as at first I wasn’t too keen on the sudden change of pace from season 1.  Then I began to build an affection for the characters, with the world around them becoming thicker.  Immediately Bunk was more involved, who in honesty is a mystery of the whole series, being seriously gripping but also a lot of the times a foil for the rest of the cast.  The new addition to the team in Beadie Russell was nice, with her vital role growing as the season went on.  And on the other side of the coin Nick Sobotka was a complex new arrival to the game, tragically endearing, and his appearance in season 5 was probably the highlight of that season.  Most of all, the partnership between Prez and Lester emulated around the core team, and Prez’s rise of esteem was incredibly satisfying. Consequently you have this mix of great core characters, not the mention the advance of Stringer Bell, with a meaningful story-line.  And by meaningful I mean that everything in the narrative happened for a reason, and tied up to a thrilling climax.  For example, I hated Ziggy Sobotka’s character, a lot of his nature felt forced, but the shootout scene when he goes back and forth from the car made it all worth it.  This season was a slow burner for me, though a very enthralling one.

Season 3

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For the most part this season is a blur for me, and the one I remember the least about. This doesn’t mean I didn’t like it though, quite the opposite, I loved this season.  It boils down to one major reason and that’s Stringer Bell.  Throughout the whole of The Wire he was my favourite character (even though he’s absent from the last two seasons).  His attitude and demeanour create this wonderful villain, and in some ways anti-hero.  Idris Elba plays him so that it’s impossible to hate him, and allows his demise to be as heartbreaking as any of the deaths in the rest of series.  He’s only a small piece in a diverse 12 episodes and alongside his power surge you have the rest of the cast struggling with their own issues. The most intriguing being the introduction of Lieutenant Colvin and his attempt to legalise drugs, which starts of bizarre then grows to be a plot line that asks many curious questions.  There wasn’t a step this season took that felt off or strange, and each character had their own time in the spotlight.  Even the repeat fall of Prez was paid off in the next season to great extents.  Overall this season changed the game for the whole series, it felt like a stopping point for the original narrative, and left an effective feeling of completion to the original battle the wire team was facing.

Season 1

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Looking back at this season is more of a nostalgia trip more than anything else.  It’s where it all began, and where the characters were introduced.  If you compare this season to the last one, you can see how far everything has come.  All of the characters are sat in a different position to how they started and the Baltimore setting has completely shifted. This season was also simpler times, a team of police using a wire tap to crack down on Avon Barksdale.  An enigmatic king-pin who’s really just in it for the game.  The highlights of the season again are a blur, but I have great admiration to what the show used to be.   McNulty and Bunk analysing a crime scene, Prez and Lester cracking codes, Herc and Carver fooling around, and Daniels begrudgingly steering the ship.  You also have D’Angelo Barksdale playing a major role, and his death in season 2 is amongst the most tragic, with him being probably the deepest character, with the largest arc in the whole series.  However the most important thing this season brings is the character of Wallace, played wonderfully by a young Michael B. Jordan.  His heart-wrenching end (dealt by two equally loved characters) is arguably the highest point of the whole show, as well as the most harrowing.  To talk about this season is just about talking about the wire, which quintessentially this season is, and a great introduction to the epic series.

Season 4

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I’m ending with my personal favourite, and I think the most critically acclaimed season of the show.  And it’s weird, because this is the season that goes away from the classic wire format.  It sets up more of a look into Baltimore life, or even just slum life, by going through the struggles of young teenage males in the area.  Despite this, it still has the original cast with their own battles.  The beloved Bubbles is hit hard during this season, making a lot of his scenes uncomfortable to watch, but it feels right with the tone of the season.  Prez returns triumphantly as a teacher trying to make a difference, being the eyes and ears of the audience for a lot of the series.  McNulty is absent in the most brilliant way, leaving Bunk to buddy cop by himself and Kima is suddenly given plenty of weight to carry too. Omar is still relevant and I’ve noticed I haven’t really talked about him yet, and that’s not purposeful because he is a fascinating character, it’s just he’s always there and more of a constant of the wire, rather than a piece to pick out.  The same slightly goes for Marlo Stansfield, who takes the pedestal of Stringer Bell well, bringing a new sadistic side to the drug trade of Baltimore.  Also Tom Carcetti, who is played fantastically by Aidan Gillen, became a favourite of mine as he attempts to a make a real change to the city.  It’s hard to write about this season because it is so full of depth and I have a great affection for it. There’s a reason it’s considered the best season of television of all time, and I don’t have to describe it.

 

Sidenote:  From this, you’ll be able to tell I’m a massive fan of The Wire.  Yet, I’ve barely scratched the surface and left a lot of stuff out that I wanted to talk about.  I’d recommend to binge the show and find out for yourself.

Jamie T – Trick: I Have Been Broken

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I love Jamie T.  Having stumbled across him a couple of years ago, I became obsessed with his music before I saw him at Leeds festival in 2015.  Even then, I kind of missed his third album release ‘Carry on the Grudge’.  So his newest album ‘Trick’, that has just come out, is my first of his that I’ve witnessed as a concept.  By that I mean listening to the LP in whole, as a piece of art itself, rather than individual tunes.  And it has completely and utterly broken me.  I have been crumbled by it’s brilliance.

Through listening to it in order, I have found that the album has no real progression, or a threading story throughout.  However I have only listened to it in full once, so this is very much a first impression.  Despite this, there is certainly a load of variety on ‘Trick’, including a mix of classic Jamie T and his more recent melancholic tones.  There is also a fair amount of poppy sounds on this record; ‘Dragon Bones’ for example is very much a Jamie T song, but has this really catchy vibe.  What astounds me is that he can have this, but then he can also throw a song like ‘Drone Strike’ at you, which is essentially a filthy grime track.  I guess it’s both experimental and contemporary at the same time.

The reason I have fallen for this album though is because of the feeling it gives me.  Pure joy. My first listen was laid in bed with my earphones in and it kept me awake for hours.  A grin on my face was constant and it filled me up with nostalgia of his Leeds set, as well as my first discovery of him back when I was 16.  If you are fan already, you will adore this album like me, and if you’ve never heard of Jamie T, you’ll be surprised by a lovely, yet interesting piece of work.

 

Sidenote:  I write more at the bottom of these things than I do in the body, therefore I’m going to start calling them ‘sidenotes’.  Anyway, writing about music is about as pretentious as it comes, thus I apologise, but Jamie T – ‘Trick’ is really really good.

Reflecting Exam Results with a Syrian Disaster.

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Original piece: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/17/this-picture-of-a-wounded-syrian-boy-captures-just-a-fragment-of/

Above is a picture that I became familiar with the night before A-Level results day.  This was a big day for me, because I needed to get certain grades to get into university.  Except seeing this picture and seeing the story behind it, made me put things into perspective. I’m well aware of how lucky I am to be born into the western world but I’ve always liked the notion that you put your problems into perspective.  The stresses of the western life should not be compared with those in the East who are in turmoil.  Though that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be thought of, or create worry. Since the major Israel/Palestine conflict, and the vote to bomb Syria, I have become slight numb to the issues in the Middle East right now.  Or I’ve become fed up of being a minority in my sadness.  I don’t particularly want to get into the story or begin a geopolitical debate with myself, so I’ll just leave this unfinished.  However leaving it on a note that my results are important to me but that this story shattered me gives me no peace of mind.  Though I guess that’s the point.

 

In all honesty I had real trouble writing this, and it possibly took me about 4 hours to write just that small paragraph.  I realise how vague it all is, and the stress of results day and sorting out university has actually got to me, which I guess is ironic looking back at this. The main goal was to write a full thing on this, though I think laziness and a rise of other controversial pieces coming from the ‘boy in the ambulance story’ has halted me.  This is all very much like talking to myself very slowly.

The Leadmill Comedy Club

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You know, I’ve discovered recently that people actually review comedy.  I haven’t quite got my head around this yet, because it fits into two categories in my opinion: funny or not funny. Therefore I write this with hesitation, or a caution to the reader, as my thoughts come very similarly to Mark Kermode reviewing a comedy.  If it makes you laugh, it’s pretty good.

The 3rd of August 2016 saw me going to Leadmill comedy club.  First of, Leadmill is one of my favourite places on earth.  It’s a place that swapped a bag of skips for free entry to a club night, and it gives out Red Stripe for 30p every now and again.  Not to mention the great music, free tacos and top atmosphere.  Before this turns into a really awkward ‘clubs to go to’ piece, just know that it’s a really cool venue.  The headliner was Paul Tonkinson, who I was slightly familiar with and yes he was funny.  Incredibly so, and he’s got this weird mix of smart comedy with that Yorkshire style.  Essentially you get all the cliche’s (hilarious ones) of a working class northern comedian, blended in with some charming satire.  A particular bit where he played Brexit through an impersonation of Europe (just French) was notably comical.

With this semi-famous headliner you get three other acts, who are either touring comics or paving there way through the scene.  One of those being the compere, who basically just did his job without really creasing you.  Then there is the other two, where a real divide happened. The first of the two (David Whitney) really made me laugh.  His style is described as political satire and ‘proper filth’.  All I can say is that he was equally both and I was not surprised to see that he’s got a strong reputation on the circuit.  Next was a guy with a great name but not a great set, Winter Foenander.  This is about as near death as you could get and it was almost at that point when you feel desperately sorry for the guy. The thing is is that he did have some humorous lines but by then it was kind of awkward to laugh, or move, or make a noise.  Overall though, the stem and meat of the whole comedy was really enjoyable, whilst mostly sober.

I wanted to write this without talking about the actual comedy, but it’s ended up with me saying ‘funny’ a lot.  There’s just no other way to look at it.  The Leadmill have had people like Sara Pascoe and Mark Watson to the event, so you get the sense that it’s quite prestigious.  And the highlight of the evening has to be the Copacabana tables.

 

A real comedy website that makes far more sense than this, where @brucedes writes is: http://www.beyondthejoke.co.uk/

The Beach – Book Review

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I have called this a review just because of the semantics/titling.  It’s more like a ‘I’ve actually got through a book and fucking loved it’ kind of thing.

You wouldn’t believe the amount of time I spend in charity shops looking at books thinking I could buy and read every single one of them.  ‘The Beach’ is one that I actually bought; think for 70p.  And to say I’m late to the party with this one would be an understatement, considering it was published 20 years ago and the author (Alex Garland) has gone on to write and now direct many massive films (28 days later, Ex Machina etc). Though I guess a book is for the time that you read it and not the time everyone else did, if that makes sense?  I mean I read Emily Dickinson poems in school 150 years after she penned those bad-boys and thought they were as sexual as the Victorians did.

Anyway I picked it up because I saw Garland’s name, being a fan of his work in film.  And I’ve got to say I’m pretty much in love with the guy after I conquered this book just last night.  It’s a story for the backpackers, which I’m totally not and I profess that any travelling I do is nowhere near Eastern Asia, where the story is set.  To be honest the plot is quite difficult to describe because about half way through the book I was convinced it was about nothing; simply a meandering tale about some gap year tossers looking for a lovely patch of sand.

The events of the narrative crept up on me and the dark characterisation of the voice  of the book (Richard) is slowly unravelled before being thrown in your face by the final third. Minor spoilers here but the imaginary friend plot played a bigger role than I thought it would and becomes the main arc with about 100 pages to go.  And for me these were the weakest points of the novel but it’s honestly brilliant when it picks up the pace towards the end.

Essentially I found that this book was a series of escapism writing, but the sort of escapism I don’t really want.  This is probably why I liked it, a nicely paced travel book suddenly became a real blood and anguish thriller at any moment.  It had the ability to shock me and interest me, though most importantly engage me.  I banged out about 420 pages in a week and it’s inspired me enough to write this, so I must have enjoyed it.

To give it a score would be cheap, but I would definitely recommend it to anyone and now I’m eager to see the film adaptation, that I’ve heard is shit.