Tuesday, August 26, 2008

readers digest

flash fiction in 500 words. harder than it looks, even harder to make it any good. still not happy with it but i'm learning, i'm learning. enjoy.

'I'm sick. I sleep all the time these days and when I'm not working I lie down, I read comics, writing letters I won't send, eating food dry and raw because I forget to cook and thinking, thinking, thinking.

I've stopped reading the newspapers - there was a story the other week about a fortune telling fish. Apparently this miracle fish was predicting flash floods and minor earthquakes in the lowland provinces of Japan and the local people had become torn between worshipping it as a piscine deity and grilling it over hot coals. At first it depressed me that this fish had warranted more column inches then say, the rising crime rate or the economic downturn but then I figured, what the hell, let the fish have it's glory. It's just my mood these days. I think it'll pass.

I don't watch the tee-vee anymore either. The batteries for the remote control gave up four months ago and I haven't got round to replacing them. This suits me fine. I've heard its beginning to eat itself, television, digesting and regurgitating ideas into slickly produced pools. Soon there won't be any programming, just a long shot of the same image being replayed over and over again.

So I'll just keep on writing my letters. I have a pile of them now, all to my brother.

He's dead, my brother, he died saving another kid who was drowning in six feet of water. Six feet man, can you believe that? Some people are that tall and then some, it isn't much. The kid survived, it was my brother who went under. The papers called him a hero and the mayor gave my grieving parents a medal - a posthumous award, which made about as much sense to me as banana skin shoes. He didn't need it, we didn't need it, so it sat growing dust on the mantelpiece for years until my father put it in a drawer and we forgot about it.
My parents still get letters from the kid he saved - isn't there an old Chinese proverb which says 'if you save a life you are responsible for it forever'? The letters are growing more infrequent as the time passes and pretty soon they'll stop altogether, but right now he wants them to know that he's graduated in law from UCL, has started training as a barrister with a firm in London, how it's all down to Tom, all down to Tom, your brave son brave Tom.

They're the letters I do send. The letters to my brother are the ones I can't. The ones in which I tell him I'm sorry for wading out into that murky water, with it's lethal shelf which falls away beneath your slow moving feet. I want to tell him that some days my mouth still fills with the blind, mineral taste of the river and I feel like I might choke on it. I want to tell him but I can't. '

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

showing your age in put downs

A short while ago I was heading home from work when a van pulled up alongside me and the passenger leaned out the window.

“Excuse me love,” he asked, “can you tell us how to get to the Level ?”

I began to tell him, secretly impressing myself with the succinctness of my directions. It was only when I looked up that I realised he wasn’t listening. He leered forward, until he was halfway through the open window.

“What are the chances of me and you…..” here he made some gesture with his arm. I’m still not sure what he wanted. It was either to give me an uppercut or fist me. I really couldn’t be sure.

I peeled off my sunglasses and squinted at him. I’d been to see Mudhoney in London the previous night and consequently ached all over. I hadn’t slept and had the beginnings of a fearful hangover. I shook my head sadly and replied,

“Don’t be ridiculous mate, you look like Corey Haim.”

As they pulled away I caught the driver laughing. Corey just looked at me blankly.

Unfortunately they hit a snarl of traffic up ahead which rather ruined their exit, but also meant I had to walk past them. Again.
Corey was already leaning out of the window – I’d already called my friend Sweetman for support but despite the fact that I was on the phone, he blared out,

“Oi! Love! Oi, you in the tight dress ! Oi!”

"What ?” I asked sweetly, but I with a heavy heart I realised I already knew what he was going to ask me.

“Who’s this Carrie Haim ?”

“Corey.” I corrected him, “From the Lost Boys ?”

“The who ?”

I gasped. Surely everyone has heard of the Lost Boys, right ? It’s one of my favouritest films. Then I looked closer. This kid was no older than twenty-two, twenty three at the most.

Jesus Christ. He had NO IDEA what I was talking about.
I’m not sure what had disturbed me more – the fact that I was being propositioned by a chubby man-child or the fact that I’d slapped an 80’s diss on him. I shook my head sadly. Imagine never knowing the Lost Boys.

Monday, August 11, 2008

a fully paid up member of the Hsktskt Faction

I received an email the other day from someone asking me why I’d be so sorely neglecting the blog recently.

In truth I’ve had an awesomely busy* couple of months, have had some fairly seismic changes to make** and on top of which have had to write *** the synopsis to THE NOVEL which is proving to be a task on a scale with poking yourself repeatedly in the eye with a sharpened pencil in terms of sheer enjoyment.

In order to glean some insight in how to make this seemingly impossible task slightly less hellish I had a brief scout on the internet for synopsis writing aids.

Eventually I found one. Initially it started off well – she had a clear-cut and concise list of detailed instructions in how to begin, including a list of do and do not which I thought was pretty invaluable.

Then she gave an example of how to begin using this novel;

“Begin your synopsis with an opening paragraph that presents a clear, brief view of your protagonist, his/her world, and the situation he/she is in when the novel opens. For instance;

"When the Allied League of Worlds withdraws from the Pmoc Quadrant to pursue the enemy Hsktskt Faction, Lieutenant Jadaira (Dair) mu T'resa and her squadron of SEAL (surgically enhanced/altered lifeform) pilots remain behind to provide planetary patrol. They have to; the aquatic pilots can't survive away from their native underwater environment on Kevarzangia Two for more than brief periods. Mainly they deal with remnant ordinance and space traps left behind by both sides, and which are hazards to the influx of refugees fleeing the war."
–BioRescue by S.L. Viehl ”

What ? WHAT ? Does anyone understand the premise to BioRescue ? My eyes have literally stopped recognising that paragraph as the English Language.

**been a bit bummed out
*** rewrite, rewrite and then fucking write again

Monday, July 14, 2008

Lyrics for Simple Kids

Learning lessons from song lyrics part I.

“She's a beautiful smile, she's a gleam in your eye
Dresses like a princess, playing games in your mind
Falling out of her top, runs a hand through her hair
Playing so hard to get, cause she knows that you care”

Right. Well from the start this girl sounds like a nightmare – ‘dresses like a princess’ ?
Which one ? Diana, the People’s Public Princess of Hearts™ ? Sleeping Beauty ? Princess Anne ?

And what’s this about ‘falling out of her top’ ? Call me a puritan but the last time I lost my dignity enough to fall out of my top was after two bottles of thunderbird and a litre of martini when I was fifteen. Wasn’t a good look then, can’t be a good look now.
However, this ties in nicely with the line,
‘Playing so hard to get’
If sitting there with your tits out can be considered playing hard to get - rather than say, not phoning for a day or two - then yes, she certainly knows how to be elusive.

I don’t need an excuse to hate Mika, even the sight of his trousers hinder my breathing, but he deserves to be sealed in a box and kicked off the end of the pier for this one surely;

‘Walks in to the room
Feels like a big balloon
I said,
'Hey girl you are beautiful'
Diet coke and a pizza please
Diet coke I'm on my knees
Screaming 'Big girl you are beautiful'.

Feels like a ‘BIG BALLOON’ ? What does that even mean ? This is meant to be a call to arms for larger women and in the first two lines he reduces it to a song which is the aural equivalent of slapstick. Bad slapstick. Like the Chuckle Brothers pitching their sinister brand of two man comedy in your living room. Expect to hear this being belted out by hen parties and numbskulls until the end of time.

This is my favourite;

‘I like the way you, act all surprised,
I like the way you, sing along,
I like the way you, always get it wrong,
I like the way you, clap your hands,
I like the way you, love to dance,
I like the way you, put your hands up in the air,
I like the way you, shake your hair,
I like the way you, like to touch,
I like the way you, stare so much,’

Now read it again. Try to imagine this woman he likes so much doing all those things, simultaneously. That’s not attractive, that’s a simpleton. That’s someone with no apparent control over their primary body functions.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

just a quickie, then

A few years ago I was spending a family Christmas at my sister’s. I’d had a shower, and as I was getting dressed I noticed a hand cream on the shelf – Aveda’s Hand Relief.
Ha, ha, ha. I thought to myself. That’ll make my mum giggle.
Still laughing I walked into the kitchen and exclaimed,
“That hand cream’s name is hilarious!”

Looking round I saw my sister’s other family was there – her future mother in law - an incredibly nice looking woman – a bit like a cross between Hattie Wainthrop and Jessica Fletcher. Not the type who might fall about laughing were I to point out that my mum’s hand cream sounds like the sort of thing you’d get from a hooker round the back of a skip.

My sister; “What’s hilarious ?”
Me; “Oh…nothing.”
My sister; “Yes there is. you said something about hand cream ?”
Me; “No, no I don’t think I did.”
My Mum; “Yes you did. You said the name of it was funny”

I swear she was trying not to laugh.

Me; “Yes, I did say that, but thinking about it, it’s not funny at all.”

I looked, not for the first time in my life, a bit of a idiot.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

asses all areas.

A friend of mine recently asked me how I decided what I wrote about in my blog. Actually, those weren’t her actual words, her actual words were;
‘What the fuck makes you think your life is so interesting that other people will want to read about it ?’

Which I prefer.

It’s a good point though – I don’t imagine my life to be any more compelling then say, yours or theirs, and I’d have to be a completely complacent numbskull to think otherwise. Similarly, ‘writing about things’ is no more specialised than keeping a diary or telling an anecdote – it’s just in the telling of – which is a more complicated and pertinently pretentious way of saying;
‘It’s the words you use’.

With this in mind, and in order to keep things simple so that my weekend addled brain doesn’t collapse under the weight of it’s own sleep deprived synapses and because even just typing these few lines has given me the kind of bewildered expression more commonly seen on my face when trying to solve a mathematical problem (and here I mean any mathematical problem - from equations and fractions and algebra to
deterministic finite automata string searches.) I’m going to save writing a ‘proper’ blog till tomorrow or at the latest, next week.

Sooooooooo, coming up soon - Tina as a transformer made of cardboard, what Finch had to say when we watched Battles together and why you should never, never assume that your friends think the way you dress is cool.

p.s – Something for you to watch instead - this band have made my year – I’m in love with their singer. I’m in love with the way their sound is that of sunshine seen through slowly melting honey. I was so in love with their Glastonbury performance that I saw them twice.

Monday, June 23, 2008

jeff bridges is aces

This post, incidentally has nothing to do with Jeff Bridges. I just really, really like him.

I’ve done a few things in my time that I’ve regretted but this weekend was the first time I’ve regretted not doing something I might later regret.
Ever woken up the morning after the night before with that small beast of dread curled tight in your stomach and an anxious clawing in your throat ?
‘What the hell was I doing last night ?’ you think dramatically as you search the room and your phone and your body for clues.

This is how I woke up ten o’clock on Saturday morning, having crawled into bed only three hours previously. Realising I (a) wasn’t in my own bed and (b) wasn’t alone I felt those first familiar shreds of sober self-doubt.
‘What the hell have I been up to ?’ I thought, before realising I was not only fully dressed but, as far as I could make out, non-violated. As I rolled over I discovered – in the punishing daylight – that I was in bed with an impossibly handsome man and clearly, nothing had occurred.
“Damnit.” I thought, hunting for my coat.
(Incidentally, if anyone wants to know what wakes Mikey up in the mornings the answer is nothing and no-one – not my phone ringing, not me searching for my coat, not my crashing into a bookcase. Nothing.)

It was only as I was walking home that the events of the previous night slowly filtered back to me. I had a flash of someone’s lounge, and music and lots of people I’d never met.
‘A party !’ I groaned, ‘Oh God, a party, what the hell did I do at the party ?’

Uh, nothing, as it turns out. I think I secured myself a seat, drank some cans and talked to some people. Nothing too outrageous, unless you count ranting at Doogle, and no-one counts that, not even Doogle. Briefly, I tried to remember if I’d danced, but not unless you count a brief running man which was out in the garden for no-one to see.
‘Oh.’ I thought, slightly disappointed.
Then I reached the probing fingers of my memory a little further back.
‘The pub!’ I recalled, ‘Jesus, what was I saying to that fella in the pub ?’
I remembered his face, slack jawed, eyes a little glazed with boredom. Could picture his downing his drink in lethargic despair as I’d talked and talked.

Then I realised I’d been talking about my trip to America, which I’ve been doing enough to bore my closest friends, let alone someone I’d only just met. Nothing too terrible there.

By the time I’d got home I was slightly annoyed that I hadn’t taken more advantage of my drunkenness and sleep deprivation to do something I might have, even only slightly, regretted. There’s no point spending all that money and going to all that effort only to domesticate what, I’m sure, are my wilder urges.
Next time I’m dancing like an idiot, caining shots and stumbling over in public. Only then will I awake the next day feeling rightly regretful.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

i just wanted to make your ears smile

Anybody remember mixtapes ?
Well done. You’re either as old as I am or older, which makes me feel better.

They were complicated, mixtapes. A friend of mine is making one for me at the moment and he has this to say on the subject;

‘doing this for girls is hard work... "will she like this one? hang on...she might take that the wrong way....don't put that on there she'll think you are stalking her"”

Here’s hoping he’s going for some obscure tracklistings;

track 1 - Without You by Air Supply
track 2 - So Fucking What ? by the Anti Nowhere League


track 1 - Song to the Siren - This Mortal Coil
track 2 - Too Drunk to Fuck - Dead Kennedys
track 3 – Hallelujah - Geoff Buckley

Chuck ‘Suspicious Minds’ by Elvis anywhere into that mix and you’ve got yourself a situation, buddy.

I was recently looking through a bag of ‘stuff’ from my past – a vipers nest of old tapes, photos, and assorted clutter and came across a mixtape from my ex-boyfriend who was both my first love and one of the hardest lessons I’ve learnt. He’d designed the cover himself and being a bit of an arty sort had drawn a picture of the two of us together. It was a strange mix of songs, culled I think, mainly from his dad’s record collection, and now if I ever hear Procol Haram’s Whiter Shade of Pale even now, fifteen years later, I’m transported to the wooded lane by his house with the taste of strawberry bubblegum on my lips and tongue and long licks of tall grass brushing the palms of my hands.

The mixtape is the past and the future people, and sticks in your mind even when you’ve long forgotten why ‘Love is a Battlefield’ meant anything to either of you. I suggest you make one for those you love today….they’ll thank you for it, I promise.

Monday, June 02, 2008

woefully mis-cast miscreants

I love vampires. I love comics. I love films. So imagine, if you possibly can, the sheer scale of my excitement when I found the film ’30 days of night’.

It had it all – asinine, aesthetically pleasing leads which lent the whole gory thing an air of flawlessness, as though the actors had been picked from the rejects of a Gillette commercial. This is no bad thing, as none of us want to see some boss-eyed harridan looming into the lens like a seahag at a porthole.

Blood guts and gore splattered hither and thither to such a degree that at one point it felt as though both of my eyes had ruptured and I was staring at the world through an oozing, scarlet screen.

Night vision – as the title suggests, most of the film is rendered in near darkness and shot on what appeared to be cutting-edge-o-matic cameras, the sort of MTV friendly cinema scope which, to my aged eyes was so bloody modern I nearly recoiled in fear. It’s all very well when music promos make me feel as though the future is accelerating into the distance without me but when films do it it makes me want to doctor my birth certificate by about ten years.

That aside, the film was going well, I’d settled into my friend’s ridiculously comfortable leather sofa, opened a can and kicked off my shoes. It was a shame then that they choose to cast a clone of Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys as the head vampire, Marlow. Much to my chagrin I found I kept hearing bursts of ‘West End Girls’ every time he swaggered, swathed or slithered onto the screen. It got to the point where I couldn’t look for laughing.

This got me thinking about other roles in films which could, and should, be remade with woefully mis-cast leads. The best we came up with was This is England with little Jimmy Krankie as Shaun, or Schindlers List with Kris Marshall as Oskar Schindler. If anyone can come up with any better ones let me know, I’m intrigued.