Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Justice League movie thoughts

I meant to post this a while ago, but I got distracted. Seems a little late now, but oh well.

I’d loved Batman v Superman (Ultimate Edition especially) despite it being critically mauled and many people hating it (the movie appears to be like marmite), so despite the bad reviews for JL I still wanted to see it. Maybe some of you still wonder ‘what would somebody who liked Batman v Superman think about Justice League?’

So here are my thoughts… Mild spoilers (assuming you know about Superman).

I enjoyed the movie quite a lot. That *quite* is the operative word, because it’s been the movie I was most hyped for this year and by all rights I should be worshipping the movie. It IS entertaining, more entertaining in an obvious manner than BvS which many found glum and plodding. It does have significant flaws though, that should never have been the case and mar the movie’s potential.

First, the positives. More Battfleck. His look is perfect, he’s the living embodiment of the Arkham Asylum/City Batman, right down to the gold utility belt and armour plating. And his performance I still love. He’s still my favourite Batman.

Character interactions. It’s great to see a DCEU movie with these characters I love interacting with each other. Honestly those are the best bits of the movie, better than the action scenes.

Colour and general cinematography. It’s more colourful than BvS which is generally a positive when it comes to my preference – I love vibrant colour. When the CGI isn’t heavy (see flaws), the movie looks gorgeous. Like the scene with WW and Cyborg in the street in what I think was Gotham (always and forever the best looking comicbook city).

The credits sequences. The first is okay, a classic comicbook scene/piece of fan service that isn’t executed that well. The second is pretty good, and gives a much more positive direction for the Justice League movies after this (if they make more) – without spoilers, it’s seriously just the way they need to go now. My only criticism is you have to wait literally the entire length of the credits, which is ages. I can’t remember the last time I had to wait that long for a scene.

Flaws! The Flash while often funny and a nice character, sometimes was played a little TOO awkward. Also, Joss Whedon, we really don’t need that many interjected jokes, this isn’t Marvel. I hope the Flash continues to be funny but less in an awkward way, and he gains more confidence and charisma.

The runtime. Warner Bros forced the movie to be under 2 hours which is utter bollocks for a huge teamup movie, especially one that introduces three entirely new main characters. The movie moves too fast at times and so doesn’t give enough weight to its story. It’s not a huge deal but with movies like this they need to take their time and flesh it out. There is one bit in particular that really seems like there was a missing scene. There are also numerous scenes in the trailers that aren’t present. Seriously, fuck WB for not learning their lesson from BvS theatrical edition.

The villain. Yay another CGI villain. It’s not as awful as in Suicide Squad but he’s just not interesting. What CGI villains are? He has no presence. Probably because he’s literally not there.

The plot… isn’t that bad if you know the essentials of things like Motherboxes, Steppenwolf, Darkseid etc. If not (like most of the audience), you won’t really know what it’s all about. Darkseid’s name is mentioned literally once without context and that’s all the confusing reference you’ll get. Steppenwolf keeps addressing ‘Mother’, but Darkseid is not a mother.

While this isn’t ideal especially for people not versed in the comicbook lore, the plot to me and general shape of the entire movie, action included, felt like a full length live-action version of one of the classic Justice League animated episodes. It’s just that kinda thing. I love that show so I was pleased but that kind of thing doesn’t translate so well into ‘mindblowing movie’, and especially not one that gives you much to think about after.

Superman. He’s always been a problem in Justice League things, because he’s so powerful that you often feel like the rest of JL are superfluous. Hence the need for good writing to get around this. No such thing in this movie – when he shows up all tension drops and you wonder why the rest of JL don’t just go home. He’s the permanent top trump card and once that is out the game might as well be over.

Now, the most glaring issue. The CGI. At times, when it’s not excessive (which isn’t that often), it’s fine, or at least not distracting. But there are many times when it looks like it’s a decade old, or even older. Times are just plain bad. Those purple tendrils. Water scenes and speedforce scenes just seem blurry and foggy, like you’re watching on VHS. All Superman scenes especially near the end when he’s fighting are the worst. It’s just inexcusable to have poor CGI for such a huge movie now. Such a shame.

Connecting to this, special mention goes to Cavill’s face. I know the dumb-as-hell reason for it, but I didn’t really notice too much about his upper lip when I was concentrating on it. It was his whole face that just looked wrong. Like there was something off you couldn’t quite put your finger on. It just about ruined every Superman scene, especially when he was smiling, which he did a number of times. That itself is fine, but not when you have an uncanny valley face.

One more flaw is that the soundtrack was simply forgettable for the most part. Hans Zimmer MADE Batman v Superman. His score was brilliant. Here the Danny Elfman score just isn’t engaging. Another great Zimmer score was sorely needed to elevate the action parts of this movie.

All in all, it was an entertaining movie and if you love these characters and want to see them on a big screen doing what they see, then go and see it at the cinema. It won’t be as good off the cinema for sure. That will be when the flaws are more obvious.

While I still want to watch it again and I got a lot of a kick out of much of it, it was disappointing and frustrating that movie execs, director/studio-pandering reshoots (I actually think it’d have been better without Joss Whedon stamping his mark all over it), a poor villain and cheap looking CGI, and an unworthy soundtrack stopped this movie from being amazing. It could have also much benefitted from one more DCEU movie before this one. A solo Aquaman movie would have been the best fit, given he had less of any kind of arc/development than Cyborg or Flash. That would have meant only two new main characters introduced instead of three.

Well, there you have it. An enjoyable disappointment. Like many things in life.

 

Justice League

The UK General Election 2017: Voting for Corbyn

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On the 8th of June I’ll be voting Labour. I’ve never voted Labour in my life nor really considered it. While this may be a bit of an echo chamber I wanted to say why I will be this time, despite the fact that I do not have full confidence in a Labour victory, and wonder if they will in fact sadly suffer a large defeat.

I am not voting them simply ‘to win’, and then consider my vote wasted if/when they don’t. I am voting for them because I believe the more support shown for a left alternative the better.

When I was in school I was somewhat vaguely a nationalist, fiercely individualist and proud of our country. Iraq War aside, I was running more or less entirely off my own steam. John Major was in power and then Tony Blair, and politics to me then was simply choosing between two sides both of whom may have been the same lots of people. I found UK politics tremendously dull and stagnant, and it’s no wonder my grasp of things was all over the place or entirely missing, with nobody in charge to instil in me a sense of fairness and empathy for others on a political scale. Instead I turned for a while to anarcho-capitalism and it’s values of inherent self-interest.

My politics have drifted and fluctuated and changed a lot over the years, turning from right to left and lefter still (with brief stray moments far away from the trend), but I know that Corbyn’s attitude and policies are far more in line with my own current and developing principles and sense of fairness and justice than any other politician I have come across.

I am voting for Corbyn because he is the underdog, unfairly hounded by the media who for some reason have virtually given a free pass to the toxic, self-serving, sneering harridan May. I simply do not understand how people can support her in any way. Whether this election runs on politics or personalities, in both senses I find May horrible. I’m not sure I could stand to see her smug victory face.

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I am voting for Labour because the Tories act like they can get away with absolutely anything, say anything, or not say anything at all, and still win by a landslide. The media narrative pushes this as well, and it’d be naive to believe a great amount of people don’t believe this. May could rip a fox apart on live TV and the people would chant strong and stable. Or ‘better of two evils’. I am aghast that this is the case, that after everything people will still vote Tory, and I am determined to stand up against these prevailing winds, even if my voice is lost.

I am voting for Labour because whether this election is or isn’t about Brexit, I consider the Tories to be the worst by far in both regards, and Labour the best chance at standing up to them and diminishing their overall strength. I have zero faith in May and the Tories handling either the country or the Brexit negotiations with anything less than arrogant Trump bluster, incompetence and savage self-interest, and letting the common people bear the harsh brunt of the decisions.

I am voting for Corbyn because I stand up firmly against the ideas that having a beard, not wearing a tie, protesting, not standing up to the national anthem, having peace talks with those we are fighting, and wishing for nuclear disarmament are contrary to being a good leader, or even simply bad qualities to have as a person. I stand up entirely against the nationalistic, jingoistic and xenophobic view of what a leader should be in this day and age – frankly, I stand up against my past self.

To reiterate, Labour may well lose, and it may be by a lot. If I believe in the values I do, if I am opposed to the things I am, then I must do my small part in making them lose by as little as possible. I must do my small part in demonstrating that there will remain support for a true left in the UK. I must lend my voice to the argument that we cannot go on with two almost mirror image parties, go on with the status quo, or with no real lasting change.

I am voting for Labour because I must do my bit, even against all odds, against the prospect of the left dividing and disintegrating for a long time. If I can do anything to stop or slow this happening, even something miniscule or seemingly negligible, then I should.

I am voting for Labour because I see this more and more as a battleground, one where I see clearly which side I should be on. I do not see it as a party divide – I have never been one for party politics – but as something more fundamental, based on attitudes. I understand the right wing. The right believe their money is theirs alone, they worked for it, it’s theirs. That makes sense. They believe in family and work and country, and often faith. The left believe that we should all do what we can to help those less fortunate and make the world a more equal place than it was before. The right believes in conservatism – looking to the past, for traditional values – and the left believes in progressivism – looking at the past but heading to the future and trying to improve our lot, even if that upsets the apple cart. I am not interested in stability and security. I am interested in change.

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I am voting to stand my ground against those who would use ‘do-gooder’ as an insult. Against those who believe nationalist values, security and stability and military strength and isolationism and homogeneity are the most important things for a country rather than addressing the plight of the disadvantaged and vulnerable. That it is better to wave a flag and bow to the Queen than help the homeless off our streets, or to fund the NHS, or to stamp out fox hunting, or educate people.

I am of the opinion altruism, unity and looking forward are essential to the world and its necessary progression and enlightenment, and that looking backwards is only a good thing when it comes to learning from our history and our mistakes. I do not want to stagnate and I do not want to regress. The world has so much further to go and this snail crawl there is not good enough. As a technocrat I believe the left is the way most likely to lead to a New Enlightenment. Invention and scientific breakthroughs owe little to traditionalism.

I am voting for socialist values – despite once seeing socialism as a dirty word, like many still do – because I now believe self-interest is wrong, that it is wrong to not look beyond your own doorstep. Everybody is different, some of us more empathetic than others (and it takes all sorts… almost all sorts…), but while I am no bleeding heart (and often a misanthrope) I decide to lay my hat with those who consider helping others a positive thing.

I argued with a friend during Labour’s leadership election over Corbyn. He believed, as many core Labour voters do, that voting Corbyn in would spell the end of the Labour party. He argued that the most important thing was getting the Tories out of power, and that I was in a privileged position to talk about principles when people were starving and dying out there. He was right, I am in a relatively privileged position. But you can’t simply call for empathy and alleviation for those suffering most right now and decide that that clearly far outweighs support for those countless millions of the future, all those later generations living under the yoke and suffering from the fact nobody ever took a stand against the system because of self-defeating prophecies.

I do not vote on party lines, I am not, except in the present terms, a ‘Labour voter’. I believe that as long as those proposing real change are crushed or ignored or voted against, we will always flip flop back and forth, that people will continuously suffer as they have been doing throughout our political history. It should NOT simply be about who gets into power at one moment to the next. Labour, Tories, Labour, Tories. It’s about exacting change that will last, and not condemning future generations for more of the same, more blame game, more ‘look what your lot did, let’s try our lot now even though we did the same too but worse’. I find looking back at our incredibly long and gruelling two-sides-of-the-same-coin political history frankly shameful, especially that we call ourselves a democracy.

It is not simply the case that people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake now. It is the case that they have always been at stake, and that they always will, unless we show our support for what we think is right and fair in the grand scheme of things. Regardless if it will win or not.

No apathy. Accept cynicism and pessimism and move on, do it anyway. Tell people what you want. You must, or you are not just robbing yourself of a voice, you are letting down those most vulnerable in our society – those now and those that will exist in the future – who need your vote.

I was once young and confused and drawn towards an obsession with the Union Jack and our imperialist history. I was “British and proud”. Now I can quite honestly say I am not proud to be British, and see little to no reason to be.

But I would like to be.

 

Change

 

Awesome Batman Art #2

More great pictures of Batman, his family and his rogues!

 

Nathan Szerdy

Cards by Nathan Szerdy

kidnotorious

arkham_riot_by_kidnotorious

Tom Kelly

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jaytablante

by jaytablante

Brandon Holt

Brandon Holt

Dan Hipp

by Dan Hipp

Godmachine

by Godmachine

Alex Rodway

by alexrodway

Dave Seguin

Dave Seguin

chasingartwork

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Awesome Batman Art #1

And now for something completely different…

To break up this blog from writing and writing about writing, I thought, being a massive Batman fan, as well as loving cool and interesting art as much as anyone, I’d start including posts showcasing some great art of Batman and his family and rogues gallery that I’ve collected (of which there is an infinite amount out there).

Giving artists their credit is important of course, so I’ll only include ones where I know the artist.

(If anyone wants any of these pictures taken down, just ask)

 

Happy-Mutt

by Happy-Mutt

Francis001

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Blule

Batman by Blule

Daniel Scott Gabriel Murray

Mr. Freeze by Daniel Scott Gabriel Murray

Alex Garner

Batgirl-26

Vvernacatola

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Tyskas

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Vartan Garnikyan

Vartan Garnikyan

Ben6835

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Nox-dl

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Favourite quotations #7

“An artist who in all he undertakes exceeds his powers will nonetheless at last draw the crowd along with him through the spectacle of a mighty struggle he affords: for success is accorded not only to victory but sometimes to the desire for victory too.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“Active, successful natures act, not according to the dictum ‘know thyself’, but as if there hovered before them the commandment: WILL a self and thou shalt BECOME a self. – Fate seems to have left the choice still up to them; whereas the inactive and contemplative cogitate on what they have already chosen, on one occasion, when they entered into life.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“It’s a fiction, not a moral treatise.” – Marquis de Sade, Quills

“I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.”  – Edgar Allan Poe

“Depression presents itself as a realism regarding the rottenness of the world in general and the rottenness of your life in particular. But the realism is merely a mask for depression’s actual essence, which is an overwhelming estrangement from humanity. The more persuaded you are of your unique access to the rottenness, the more afraid you become of engaging with the world; and the less you engage with the world, the more perfidiously happy-faced the rest of humanity seems for continuing to engage with it.”
― Jonathan Franzen

“He: What’s the matter with you?
Me: Nothing.
Nothing was slowly clotting my arteries. Nothing slowly numbing my soul. Caught by nothing, saying nothing, nothingness becomes me. When I am nothing they will say surprised in the way that they are forever surprised, “but there was nothing the matter with her.”
– Jeanette Winterson – Gut Symmetries

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”  – Ray Bradbury

“One should absorb the colour of life, but one should never remember its details. Details are always vulgar.” – Oscar Wilde

“A little talent is a good thing to have if you want to be a writer. But the only real requirement is the ability to remember every scar.” – Stephen King

“Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. Truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.” – Neil Gaiman

“Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.” – Terry Pratchett

“I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically, in whom feelings are much stronger as reason. I am so thirsty for the marvelous that only the marvelous has power over me. Anything I can not transform into something marvelous, I let go. Reality doesn’t impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.” – Anais Nin

“The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.” – William Butler Yeats

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”
― Theodore Roosevelt

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” – William G.T. Shedd

“True rebels hate their own rebellion. They know by experience that it is not a cool and glamorous lifestyle; it takes a courageous fool to say things that have not been said and to do things that have not been done.” – Criss Jami

“And thus I clothe my naked villany
With odd old ends stol’n out of holy writ,
And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.” – Shakespeare, King Richard III

“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.” – Anne Lamott

“A man writes because he is tormented, because he doubts. He needs to constantly prove to himself and the others that he’s worth something. And if I know for sure that I’m a genius? Why write then? What the hell for?” – Stalker

“We’re lost in a cloud
With too much rain
We’re trapped in a world
That’s troubled with pain
But as long as a man
Has the strength to dream
He can redeem his soul and fly

Deep in my heart there’s a trembling question
Still I am sure that the answer gonna come somehow
Out there in the dark, there’s a beckoning candle
And while I can think, while I can talk
While I can stand, while I can walk
While I can dream, please let my dream
Come true, right now
Let it come true right now” – Elvis, ‘If I Can Dream’

 

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Favourite quotations #6

“Which of us would dare to call himself a free spirit if he would not wish to pay homage in his own way to those men to whom this name has been applied as an insult by taking on to his own shoulders some of this burden of public disappprobation and revilement? What, however, we may call ourselves (and without being in any way defiant) is ‘free ranging spirits’, because we feel the tug towards freedom as the strongest drive of our spirit and, in antithesis to the fettered and firm-rooted intellects, see our ideal almost in a spiritual nomadism – to employ a modest and almost contemptuous expression.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“You can’t be a proper writer without a touch of madness, can you?” – Madeleine, Quills

“As long as people are still having premarital sex with many anonymous partners while at the same time experimenting with mind-expanding drugs in a consequence free environment, I’ll be sound as a pound!” – Austin Powers

“I desire the things which will destroy me in the end.” – Sylvia Plath

“We all build internal sea walls to keep at bay the sadnesses of life and the often overwhelming forces within our minds. In whatever way we do this–through love, work, family, faith, friends, denial, alcohol, drugs, or medication, we build these walls, stone by stone, over a lifetime. ”
― Kay Redfield Jamison

“Don’t run down dyed hair and painted faces. There is an extraordinary charm in them, sometimes.” – Oscar Wilde

“If you liked being a teenager, there’s something really wrong with you.” – Stephen King

“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“There are stories that are true, in which each individual’s tale is unique and tragic, and the worst of the tragedy is that we have heard it before, and we cannot allow ourselves to feel it to deeply. We build a shell around it like an oyster dealing with a painful particle of grit, coating it with smooth pearl layers in order to cope. This is how we walk and talk and function, day in, day out, immune to others’ pain and loss. If it were to touch us it would cripple us or make saints of us; but, for the most part, it does not touch us. We cannot allow it to.
“No man, proclaimed Donne, is an island, and he was wrong. If we were not islands, we would be lost, drowned in each other’s tragedies. We are insulated (a word that means, literally, remember, made into an island) from the tragedy of others, by our island nature and by the repetitive shape and form of the stories. The shape does not change: there was a human being who was born, lived and then by some means or other, died. There. You may fill in the details from your own experience.” – Neil Gaiman, American Gods

“Some humans would do anything to see if it was possible to do it. If you put a large switch in some cave somewhere, with a sign on it saying ‘End-of-the-World Switch. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH’, the paint wouldn’t even have time to dry.” – Terry Pratchett

“Ordinary life does not interest me.” – Anais Nin

“What a wee little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words! His real life is lead in his head, and is known to none but himself. All day long, and every day, the mill of his brain is grinding, and his thoughts, (which are but the mute articulation of his feelings,) not those other things are his history. His acts and his words are merely the visible thin crust of his world, with its scattered snow summits and its vacant wastes of water-and they are so trifling a part of his bulk! a mere skin enveloping it. The mass of him is hidden-it and its volcanic fires that toss and boil, and never rest, night nor day. These are his life, and they are not written, and cannot be written. Everyday would make a whole book of 80,000 words — 365 books a year. Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man — the biography of the man himself cannot be written.” – Mark Twain

“But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” – William Butler Yeats

“I have a deeply hidden and inarticulate desire for something beyond the daily life.” – Virginia Woolf

“And for a long time yet, led by some wondrous power, I am fated to journey hand in hand with my strange heroes and to survey the surging immensity of life, to survey it through the laughter that all can see and through the tears unseen and unknown by anyone.” – Nikolai Gogol

“I have immortal longings in me.” – Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra

“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.” – Carl Sagan

“You see this situation? This isn’t your fault Clay. That’s out of your hands. You’ve got a few choices. You can get angry at this, you can. You can lash out at the world or you can just laugh at it. Crying or laughing, that’s all you got.” – Legit

 

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Favourite quotations #5

“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.” – Albert Camus

“It is obvious that my head does not stand properly on my shoulders; for it is well known that everyone else knows better than I what I should do and not do: only I, poor rogue, do not know what I should be at. Are we not all like statues with the wrong heads on them? Isn’t that so, dear neighbour? – But no, you, precisely you, are the exception.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“Some things belong on paper, others in life. It’s a blessed fool who can’t tell the difference.” – Madeline, Quills

“Any idiot can face a crisis – it’s day to day living that wears you out.” – Anton Chekhov

“If I can’t feel, if I can’t move, if I can’t think, and I can’t care, then what conceivable point is there in living?” – Kay Redfield Jamison

“Don’t let the emptiness of this dull and awful world kill your imagination.” – Lonesome Wyatt

“No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.” – Oscar Wilde

“If you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.” – Stephen King

“Tell them stories.” – Philip Pullman, The Amber Spyglass

“Perhaps the only difference between me and other people was that I’ve always demanded more from the sunset; more spectacular colors when the sun hit the horizon. That’s perhaps my only sin.” – Nymphomaniac Vol 1.

“I know it’s crooked, but it’s the only game in town.” – Canada Bill Jones

“All we have to believe with is our senses, the tools we use to perceive the world: our sight, our touch, our memory. If they lie to us, then nothing can be trusted. And even if we do not believe, then still we cannot travel in any other way than the road our senses show us; and we must walk that road to the end.” – Neil Gaiman

“It is often said that before you die your life passes before your eyes. It is in fact true. It’s called living.” – Terry Pratchett

“If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.” – Anais Nin

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” – Cesar A. Cruz

“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” ― G.K. Chesterton

“The world has become so serious that humor is a risky profession.” – Bernado Erlich

“How did I go from being full of bluster and cheer to being empty and afraid? Usually a man has to be incarcerated, or see his fellows slaughtered, or lose a child, or…doesn’t he? Normally, in a normal person, yes, I think a blow of some sort would be required to install the fearful void where there had been the hale stand-and-deliver. But a coward may just lose his sheen, as it were, and precipitate into his true state, overnight, or over a few nights, or over some modest period of time, without any sudden cause. The sheen after all was false, a gloss, like the thin wax sprayed on an apple.
The wax wears off. Spots appear, the flesh softens, consumers (friends, lovers) back off, and one is taken from the top shelf, even if just in his mind, and is headed for a bag to be sent to the sauce factory. One defense is a commensurate loss of mind, which will allow the sodden apple to be giddy about the saddening. The commensurate loss of mind can be voluntary, as a tactic of camouflage or diversion, or it may come naturally as a contingent wearing off of essentially the same wax. At any rate the empty, afraid, ex-hale, post-stand-and-deliver fool will not accept at first that his wax is gone and that he is in decline. And then he will.” – Padgett Powell, ‘Losing the Wax’.

 

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Favourite quotations #4

“It never got weird enough for me.” – Hunter S. Thompson

“Blessed are the hearts that can bend; they shall never be broken.” – Albert Camus

“We think that play and fairytales belong to childhood – how shortsighted that is! As though we would want at any time in our life to live without play and fairytales! We give these things other names, to be sure, and feel differently about them, but precisely this is the evidence that they are the same things, for the child too regards play as his work and fairy tales as his truth. The brevity of life ought to preserve us from a pedantic division of life into different stages – as though each brought something new…” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves – in finding themselves” – Andre Gide

“Imagination stimulates pleasure. In these kinds of pleasures the imagination rules everything – it is the real motivation!” – Dolmance, Marquis de Sade

“Sorry, I don’t mean to bore ya, but there’s no such thing as an aura. Reading auras is like reading minds, or tea-leaves, or star-signs, or meridian lines. These people aren’t plying a skill, they’re either lying or mentally ill. Same goes for people who claim to hear God’s demands and spiitiual healers who think they’ve got magic hands. By the way, why do we think it’s okay for people to pretend they can talk to the dead? Isn’t that totally fucked in the head? Lying to some crying woman whose child has died and telling her you’re touch with the other side? I think that’s fundamentally sick. Do we need to clarify here, that there’s no such thing as a psychic? What are we, fucking two? Do we actually think that Horton heard a Who? Do we still believe that Santa bring us gifts? That Michael Jackson didn’t have facelifts? Are we still so stunned by circus tricks that we think the dead would wanna talk to pricks like Jonathan Edward? Science adjusts its views based on what’s observed. Faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved.” – Tim Minchin

“I understand the concept of optimism. But I think with me what you get is a lack of cynicism.” – Tom Hanks

“The artist’s job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.” – Woody Allen

“Mine could not be a story about the building of character, but about its erosion, about the slow accumulation of small forces and events that ultimately dries the soul and leaves the heart empty.” – Gonzalo Munévar, The Master Of Fate

“You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.”
― Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men

“Perfume was first created to mask the stench of foul and offensive odors… Spices and bold flavorings were created to mask the taste of putrid and rotting meat… What then was music created for? Was it to drown out the voices of others, or the voices within ourselves? I think I know.” – Emilie Autumn

“Don’t try to solve serious matters in the middle of the night.”
― Philip K. Dick

“There were days when she was unhappy, she did not know why,–when it did not seem worthwhile to be glad or sorry, to be alive or dead; when life appeared to her like a grotesque pandemonium and humanity like worms struggling blindly toward inevitable annihilation.”
― Kate Chopin

“But… it’s not what you put in, is it? It’s what you leave out… That’s what you remember. The silly things, the little things… It’s what you leave out. That’s rock and roll.” – Almost Famous

“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.” – Oscar Wilde

“Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.
Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”
― William Faulkner

“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear” – Stephen King

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
― Philip Pullman

“There are stories that are true, in which each individual’s tale is unique and tragic, and the worst of the tragedy is that we have heard it before, and we cannot allow ourselves to feel it to deeply. We build a shell around it like an oyster dealing with a painful particle of grit, coating it with smooth pearl layers in order to cope. This is how we walk and talk and function, day in, day out, immune to others’ pain and loss. If it were to touch us it would cripple us or make saints of us; but, for the most part, it does not touch us. We cannot allow it to . . .
. . . No man, proclaimed Donne, is an island, and he was wrong. If we were not islands, we would be lost, drowned in each other’s tragedies. We are insulated (a word that means, literally, remember, made into an island) from the tragedy of others, by our island nature and by the repetitive shape and form of the stories. The shape does not change: there was a human being who was born, lived and then by some means or other, died. There. You may fill in the details from your own experience.”” – Neil Gaiman, American Gods

“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.” – Terry Pratchett

“Had I not created my whole world, I would certainly have died in other people’s.” – Anais Nin

 

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I Wish You A Merry Christmas

I’m dreaming…

 

The father of Christmas, December’s paternal watcher, glides through the night. Blooded in green and red, driven by horned beasts that pedal the air with cloven hoofs. If you listen right, you may hear the bells on the wind.

Outside ghouls ice the windows. The wind chases itself through the skeleton trees. On high the moon hangs huge and fat in a nest of ink. Perhaps we will be gifted with the white rug coming down, perhaps not, but all truths of Christmas remain in our heart and our memories, and we can bring these forth in nostalgia, in movies and music, in simple sights and inventions, and in possessions by those Yule spirits that infest even common wood and stone with mulled fireside haunt.

Think of A Christmas Carol, and think of It’s A Wonderful Life. Think of Dickensian London, with snow on every day, feathering down onto black top hats and bonnets, feathering into the mass quilt. Drifts of Yuletide carols pass around gloomlit corners, hang under streetlamps and tip-toe the cobbles.

Think of good things in your life, things that have happened long ago and were good then and will always be good, and good things that will yet come to pass.

If you do not celebrate or officially recognise Christmas, enjoy your own festivities whenever they occur in the year, and leave others to theirs. Do not seek to ruin things that bring others joy or meaning.

Do not focus too much on semantics, or past meanings. The origins of things are never clear cut, nor are they often what they seem. Now, you make your own meaning. Christmas can be as religious as you like, but it need not be so necessary for others. Things change. Things are always changing. Whether your celebration be Christian, pagan, or secular, it is at its heart a festival about sharing.

Yes, you can never hear it enough: Christmas is about sharing; company, food, drink, gifts, cards, love, laughter, and life.

Do not think too much on the commercialisation of Christmas. Where there are gifts to be bought there is always money to be made. Think instead on those receiving such gifts. And remember, the thought is what counts.

To give is to receive.

November is old age, and December is the death of the year. Christmas is the year’s deathbed. A deathbed is no place for grievance, for old hate, for worry, for hubris. It is a place to forgive, to make amends, to make the most of what is left to you.

Hold candles to keep the darkness at bay, or embrace it as an old friend.

Take the time to be thankful for the good things.

If you have a home, be it costly, dirty, and broken, on this day be thankful.
If you have food, be it cheap, tasteless and out of date, on this day be thankful.
If you have a friend, be them unreliable, stubborn and offensive, on this day be thankful.
If you have family, be them difficult, irritating, and stuck in their ways, on this day be thankful.
If you have health, be your nose running, your body exhausted and your head aching, on this day be thankful.

Baubles and tinsel, multi-coloured jewels that glow on green needles. Presents wrapped in bows and glitter huddle together for comfort, gifts awful and brilliant, asked for and unwanted. The December Father looks in at the windows, nods his head. He pulls away the sprites with big eyes and sharp teeth, who remain outside under the knives of winter. You’re under his protection now, just for now, before he retires to his polar battlements, sailing long over seas where blue tentacles of northern Cthulhus whip the waves.

Drink, eat, and be merry.

Do not be an island among islands – calm usual angers and encourage good feeling, good sentiment. Remember the unspoken charities: charity to family, to friends, to strangers and to enemies. Charity can be in mere words.

Reach out. Make effort where you did not before. Think about the lives of others, even those you do not know so well. Think that, at our core, we all share the same experiences: those of life, love, strife, hurt, loss, and confusion. Give a present or card to someone you never gave a present or card to before. A gift does not have to be big or expensive; it could be homemade, and it need not even be a material thing at all.

People want, and need to be thought of, especially at this time of year. Tell someone you love them, you like them, that they are a good person, that they deserve happiness and if you had it in your hand you would give it to them first.

I am a misanthrope most days of the year, and regularly filled with pessimism, cynicism and frustration, and I do not really know what non-romantic love is, and yet on this day I love you all dearly.

If you are with others on Christmas, treat them as well as you are able. Pass over your differences. When a tongue should be held, hold it. When laughter should flow freely, free it.

If you are alone on Christmas, remember that not even in the darkest and most silent of times is there such a thing as true loneliness.
Put your ears to the floor, and listen. Listen carefully.
Do you hear it? Do you feel it?

They are awake, and they are listening back.

Merry f. Christmas,
S.S.

Favourite quotations #3

“If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.” – Hunter S. Thompson

“Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being.” – Albert Camus

“…If I continued to harbour any hope for music it lay in the expectation that a musician might come who was sufficiently bold, subtle, malicious, southerly, superhealthy to confront that music and in an immortal fashion take revenge on it.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“The only unnatural sex act is that which you cannot perform.” – Alfred Kinsey

“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.” – Joseph Campbell

“Men know they are sexual exiles. They wander the earth seeking satisfaction, craving and despising, never content. There is nothing in that anguished motion for women to envy.” – Camille Anna Paglia

“When did mediocrity and banality become a good image for your children? I want my children to listen to people who fucking ROCKED! I don’t care if they died in puddles of their own vomit! I want someone who plays from his fucking HEART!” – Bill Hicks

“To laugh is to risk being a fool. To weep is to risk appearing sentimental. To reach out to another is to risk involvement. To express feelings is to risk exposing your true self. To place your ideas, your dreams, before the crowd is to risk their loss. To love is to risk not being loved in return. To live is to risk dying. To hope is to risk despair. To try is to risk failure. The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing and is nothing. They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love or live. Risks must be taken because, the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. Only a person who risks is free.” – Leo Buscaglia

“In order to be successful, one must project an image of success at all times.” – American Beauty

“Shrug off the restraints that you have allowed others to place upon you. You are limitless. There is nothing you cannot achieve. There is no sadness in life that cannot be reversed.” – Clearwater

“I don’t care if you’re black, white, straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, short, tall, fat, skinny, rich or poor. If you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you. Simple as that.” – Robert Michaels MD

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” – Anton Chekhov

“Apathy is a sort of living oblivion.” – Horace Greeley

“Life is not an easy matter… You cannot live through it without falling into frustration and cynicism unless you have before you a great idea which raises you above personal misery, above weakness, above all kinds of perfidy and baseness.” – Leon Trotsky

“In all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable is each other.” – Carl Sagan

“The futility of everything that comes to us from the media is the inescapable consequence of the absolute inability of that particular stage to remain silent. Music, commercial breaks, news flashes, adverts, news broadcasts, movies, presenters—there is no alternative but to fill the screen; otherwise there would be an irremediable void…. That’s why the slightest technical hitch, the slightest slip on the part of the presenter becomes so exciting, for it reveals the depth of the emptiness squinting out at us through this little window.” – Jean Baudrillard

“Show me any guy who ever said he didn’t wanna be popular and I’ll show you a scared guy. I’ve studied the entire history of music. Most of the time, the best stuff is the popular stuff. It’s much safer to say popularity sucks because that allows you to forgive yourself if you suck. And I don’t forgive myself. Do you?” – Almost Famous

“All we have to believe with is our senses, the tools we use to perceive the world: our sight, our touch, our memory. If they lie to us, then nothing can be trusted. And even if we do not believe, then still we cannot travel in any other way than the road our senses show us; and we must walk that road to the end.” – Neil Gaiman

“Imagination, not intelligence, made us human.” – Terry Pratchett

 

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