Saturday, 28 September 2013

It's been a couple of weeks since my last confession (and consequently it's a long one, sorry)

Not that I've sinned. I don't think I have. But life's been busy dear diary and Latvian bots, and I haven't felt like writing much lately. But some fun has been had, some gigs have been gone to, and I have discovered that some people are less than I perceive them to be, and I am disappointed. It takes a lot for people to disappoint me - as a first class A1 fuck up, generally I am the first to excuse the poor behaviour of others, when people are a bit shit I know through my own fallibility how easy it is to be shit and unintentionally hurt/offend/let people down. But when people need help, you give it. At the very least you make sure that they are okay, or that someone else is helping them. And I find myself massively disappointed in those who don't. No doubt I won't harbour any ill feeling towards them for long, I've tried to hold grudges in my youth and I just can't do it, but it has removed a layer of trust I previously held in some people. There are some people who will never fail to live up to expectation, who value people as people, and others, others who ultimately only value you while you have something to offer them. Hey ho. I guess it's like when you loan someone money and they don't pay you pay you back. You don't write them off, but you must write off the debt, and recognise that you can only ever afford to give to them what you expect never to see again.

But anyway, the last few weeks. Gigswise, I went to the Mad Nanna gig at Dulcimer on the 14th and Robert Curvengen on the 19th, and I somehow found myself in 42nd Street on Tuesday night. I'll go into the gigs in a moment, but I have to admit, despite probably being the oldest person there for at least half the night, I had fun. It's not what I would prefer to do week after week after week these days, but I danced to bad music, and old indie music with people who are excited and enthusiastic about life, and yes, it was a lot of fun. I'd promised one of my friends a lift home, and about 1am she cashed it in. As we were leaving I found one of my friends, sitting on the pavement outside, bummed a cigarette, and agreed to come back and rescue him from the horror of the young people after I'd fulfilled my lift giving promises, which I duly did, and the remainder of the night was spent having a bit of a catch up and moaning about the young people, as old folks are wont to do. Gave him a lift home, got home about 3:30, woke with the child just after 6am, wrecked all the following day. Awesome evening all in.

Back tracking a little to Mad Nanna on the 14th, that was awesome fun. Kate had been so excited about this for weeks, and excitement like that never fails to infect. Mad Nanna are from Australia, producing a wonderfully discordant sound that jars and enchants in equal measure. Kate's excitement was not misplaced, and I enjoyed them immensely. Also on the bill was Nick Mitchell as Chalaque, joined by Pascal Nichols for an awesome set, and Sweat Tongue, a trio from Rotterdam performing an incredible set of screaming, ladders, thrusting and fairy lights stuffed down oversized underpants worn as overpants. Final act was Sky Needle, and I don't remember a huge amount (it was over a week ago), but I do recall lots of fantastic homemade instruments, I think that one of the chaps from Mad Nanna was in the line up, along with the most ridiculously beautiful boy on drums (not the kind of boy you'd be interested in, rather the sort that makes you weep that you cannot draw or paint, and so cannot paint or draw him) and fronted by the fabulous Sarah Byrne who spent most of the set with her back to the crowd. She had no need to court her audience, we were already captivated.

Robert Curvengen was at the Bay Horse, supported by Andreae/Birchall/Cheetham and River Slaughter both of which were excellent. I hadn't seen Sam Andreae play since the Bark! gig a few months ago. Always awesome to see. River Slaughter is David McLean and Callum Stephen Higgins performing a dark encompassing set, set off by awesome visuals drawn largely from Tombs of the Blind Dead. Curvengen's set was mesmeric and immensely powerful. And that is where the evening went peculiar. I remember speaking to a couple of guys, I remember walking up the stairs in the Bay Horse, and then I remember sitting in my car, staring through golden street light infused raindrops on my windscreen. The intervening time is gone, though I can trace it back through messages on my phone to know that nothing bad happened. Where the time went is a mystery, and worries me a little. This is not an experience I can explain, nor one I care to repeat anytime soon.

The last few weeks have been consumed with the finalization of Cattenberg's house move last weekend, and getting ready for returning to university, this week having been the first week back. With the delay on the simplification of our separate living arrangements, I don't feel quite as ready for the start of term as I'd planned, nonetheless, there is a lot to do this year and the Woodcat shall be hitting the ground running. And swimming. Lots of swimming. Swimming pleases me greatly. Although I've got to say that I was a little weirded out by the guy eating salt and vinegar Hula Hoops in the showers yesterday... Yeah, life. All of that.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

If she was just a little bit bolder, and a decent amount wiser, Miley Cyrus' Wrecking Ball could actually have been an intelligent, provocative statement on how women are taught to objectify themselves. As it stands it's more than a little sad.

Watch it. You should. Yes, it's derogatory. And naively, grotesquely sexualised. Many people are criticising this video, and Miley herself, as a "wank fest". But I watch this and I see several things, most noticeably, failed potential for a provocative statement on how women are objectified within society, more often than not, by themselves, and how this objectification demeans men as much as women.

Firstly, the lyrical content. Yes, rather than simply watch Miley licking a sledgehammer and writhing naked bar her Dock Martens, it is relevant to watch the video in conjunction with the song it promotes. This is a song bemoaning the loss of a relationship, and admitting a fair degree of fault for the way in which it went wrong. And specifically, refers to a lack of intimacy in the relationship, and in the attempt to heal it. The protagonist of the song, as with the protagonist of the video, goes in with a skewed view of how to bond with another human being, that in the romantic stakes, she will only be valued as a sexual plaything, and as such, must bit her lip, wriggle and writhe no matter the discomfort level of lying naked on rubble, and lick EVERYTHING in an effort to maintain her erotic image, her levels of attraction. Miley has been criticised for this left, right and centre, yet if you look to the words of the song, she acknowledges that the approach is wrong, that intimacy, personality, rather than sexy sexy sex sex is ultimately what people want, what they stay with. Sexy might turn your head for a time, but without intimacy it doesn't hold your attention or your heart.


I came in like a wrecking ball
Yeah, I just closed my eyes and swung
Left me crashing in a blazing fall
All you ever did was break me
Yeah, you wreck me 

I never meant to start a war
I just wanted you to let me in
And instead of using force
I guess I should’ve let you in
I never meant to start a war
I just wanted you to let me in
I guess I should’ve let you in 

So far, so full of potential. The recognition that girls are taught that men only want them for sex a) demeans them, b) demeans men by assuming that men want less than women do, and c) showing how going in with all your sexy bits a-shaking to try and salvage something only further emphasises the lack of closeness, the lack of viable relationship.

If this was what this video had sort to achieve, this would have been awesome. Someone, rather than just sexualising themselves, opening demonstrating the pain and futility of this kind of debasing behaviour. Women are taught that they are only valuable as tail, then are derided for thinking of themselves that way, and this is something that needs to change. The social objectification of women, that women align standards of beauty with identikit features and sexuality with behaving like a triple X porn star. Women need to reclaim womanhood, and actually learn something. Women are attractive. As they are. For their imperfections, and their perfections. For their humour, their hobbies, their skills, for the way they treat people. In this, women are attractive in exactly the same way as men. And when women find men (or other women) interesting based on quirks of personality, compatible humour, intellect, sense of evil, mutual desire to take over the world whilst monologuing about it shamelessly, women need to remember that they are being assessed in the same way as they assess. Yes, a guy may check out your arse. But if he's looking for more than one night, he'll be looking more closely at your personality. And portraying the failure of recognising this, the horrible pain on both sides of someone debasing themselves to what they are (wrongly) taught that they are, portraying that would have been brave.

If this had been the cause Miley had sought to align herself with, the massive nudity, and writhing and licking may actually have worked with this. Unfortunately, recent gold bikinis and racially subjugated backing dancers mean such a theory as to hopeful intent cannot wash, as does her decision to employ Terry Richardson as director. Richardson, of whose work Rie Rasmussen said "He takes girls who are young, manipulates them to take their clothes off and takes pictures of them they will be ashamed of. They are too afraid to say no because their agency booked them on the job and are too young to stand up for themselves. His 'look' is girls who appear underage, abused, look like heroin addicts … I don't understand how anyone works with him." He is a photographer that allegedly gets every body naked, tries to bed his models, and then gets his assistants to photograph the acts taking place for posterity, or just to embarrass conquests further down the line with exibitions such as Terryworld. Yes, this would be the man to employ if you wanted to make a statement about women being more than objects, and the soft porn styling of the video further reflects this, the lack of nuance, the soft edges remove any potential statement, other than "Look at me! I'm not Hannah Montana any more! Look at me, I've got boobs! And a vagina! And I want to use them! I'll do anything you want... No really, I will..."

All I'm going to say is, she's young, and having grown up as a Disney clean teen, she appears to be embracing the virgin/whore dyad with relish, instead than exploring how such offensive pigeon holing can be erased, and society can learn to view women, and their sexuality, as equal to that of men. Women are not "good girls" or "bad girls", we have our desires, just the same as men, and these are perfectly natural. We are not less for wanting to do something for which there should be no moral judgement so long as both parties are consenting adults.

I hope Miley develops a more nuanced portrayal of herself, I really do. Ultimately, for all the (failed) potential, this video reminds my of being in the supermarket, and stumbling on the uncomfortable sight of a child of about 8 mimicking the gyrations and gestures of a Britney Spears video. At such a young age, girls are already taught that this is what makes girls valuable, and this is upsetting and unsettling, and fails to provide young women for a model of themselves based on worth, instead chopshopping them into a commodity, slightly less valuable than the sum of their lady parts.

Sometimes I miss...

...desire. Reciprocated, unreciprocated, feeling it, being desired. Desire. Yeah, I miss that sometimes.

I also miss having a cat.

And pickled onion Monster Munch. I seriously can't remember the last time I had pickled onion Monster Munch. Better get on that. That one I can do.

Having a cough is a bitch, Bitch.

Kittencat has been a bit croupy for a couple of days, so I've been making the bathroom mega steamy at bath time, slathering her in Vick's Vaporub and giving her all the medicines that help, and she's on for a pretty speedy recovery. Unfortunately, Kittencat likes to wrap her arms around my neck and cough and sneeze in my face when she's ill, and especially at night. I believe it's quite a common phenomenon in small people. But my immune system is shitty, even more so when I've had no sleep, and I could do without a cough. Coughs make me sick, and I lost my tea. Urgh. Too much information? Most definitely. Sorry, Bots in Latvia.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Today I have been getting more than mildly irked about people who don't know the difference between being acquitted and being innocent

So Michael Le Vell. Acquitted. A lot of people are confusing acquitted with innocent. In a case of one person's word against another, it is important to remember that you just don't know. There are a lot of arguments on the Twitter saying that this case was a waste of public funds, but it is important that people aren't exempt from legal proceedings just because a large proportion of the general population like shit TV. Basically, if a conviction can only be obtained by deciding if an actor, or indeed anyone, is lying, an acquittal is not the same as saying the potential victim is lying instead. All an acquittal means is that the strength of evidence is not enough to convince the jury beyond reasonable doubt. Unfortunately, there are only two people in this who know the truth of it, despite any personal feelings or suspicions we have no right to judge either of them.

Life confuses me

Life confuses me. People confuse me. Late night drunk truths expressed via surprise text confuse me. And then I remember that drunk truth based on memories from years before are not the same as current truths. And when morning and sobriety comes, and the take-back duly arrives, life becomes simple again. I am no longer confused.

What I dun on Sunday night

We'll start backwards, it suits my memory better. Having been the purveyor of lifts home Sunday night, Monday morning began with a trip to Philly Phil's work to return a debit card carelessly discarded in my car, but unfortunately without PIN. Seriously, half a present is just no fun...

A week or so ago, Joincey had alluded to the idea of beers via one form of social intertubing or another, and a tentative arrangement was made for pubs on Sunday, before I, in my infinite wisdom, said "Ooooh, gigs." Just like that. It was a choice of two,Conquering Animal Sound at The Castle, with support from Shield Patterns and Tekla, or Roro + Nacht Und Nebel + Lumbers + Suk Ninmyo put on by David Birchall at Thomas Restaurant and Bar. Joincey wasn't getting into town much before 8ish, so I had a beer with Corky in the Castle before deciding which gig to go to. Philly Phil and his new squeeze arrived, and nice times and chats were had before I decided that, except for Conquering Animal Sound, the acts on the line up are local, and so the chance to see them play will occur again soon... And skipped off to the experimental noise gig instead.

I didn't arrive in time for Suk Ninmyo, but walked in during the Lumbers set instead, and a beautiful set it was. When I walked in, guitar strings yielded to fingers lightly, quickly, slowly, lightly, more intensely, music making love to your senses, before being taking over by noise so brutal it murdered you, and buried you, in a hole, on a building site, with hammer drills and loud everywhere, and poured concrete on top of you, and danced a little stampy jig on your newly concreted grave, then a beautiful sense of calm, the world afresh, anew, and gradually folding into the busy of the continuation of the world. Lumbers creates incredible immersive soundscapes, and this was no exception.

A brief break followed, during which I chatted/moaned about nothing in particular to Joincey, before the next set which was Nacht Und Nebel, a chap based in Nottingham, a set of minidisc manipulations a set of cello sounds/processings. It was an interesting set, and felt dark and dense, though it didn't move me significantly, and I will confess to having spent a fair amount of this set examining how the light fittings fit into the beams in the ceiling, and most of the rest of the time looking around the room identifying who I knew/knew of. Interesting, but not captivating. 

Last on the set list was Roro. Joincey left as the set started, not wanting to get into something that he couldn't stay out for (I'd would've offered a lift home, but I think he needed to be home early for work). This guy is awesome. And hilarious. A seemingly haphazard percussion set, infused with a fantastic sense of humour. Seemingly accidentally knocking a jingly thing onto the floor and rolling it around a little, this turned into a sequence of laying out coffee stirrers into the words "cup of tea". Back to the percussion, then David Birchall came across and joined Roro with his guitar, wrapping his arms around it and scratching the surface, and up the lengths of the strings, reminiscient of how my mum's cat wraps herself around my arm and scratches it when she's playing.

After the gig it was time to head back to the Castle to see the last five minutes of Conquering Animal Sound , quite fun interesting pop that made me want to hear more, despite the brevity of time I heard them play (thanks Mr Knox for the free gigness), and a brief chat with Lex before meeting back up with Corky and Philly Phil for final beers. I'd sent some messages out to see if anyone else was out to play also, as when you go out less than the average bear it's nice to try to see as many people as you can when you get out to play, but sadly all said it was late and tiredness won out. Corky and Philly Phil were on fine form, and ace company. After a while tiredness took a hold of Corky too, and Philly and I had one last drink propping up the bar, and chatting to Tekla and her boyfriend Jim. I've not yet seen Tekla play, and this was the first time we met, but she is a lovely lady, interesting and open to talk to. Somehow we managed to embarrass Jim and Philly Phil a little by discussing all sorts of lady things, as well as music and life and Kittencat and all manner of things inbetween.

Eventually it was time to leave, as always inevitably comes around, so I gave Philly Phil a lift home, and when I got myself home, retrieved the monitor from Cattenberg in the spare room so he could sleep the remainder of the night undisturbed, and got myself into bed, ten minutes later a bleary eyed Kittencat had a coughing fit and wandered sleepily into my room to have the remainder of the nights sleep pressed up against my face, coughing into my eyes, nose, mouth, and grinning with a beauteous expression bordering on rapture as she snuggled up with her arms tightly round my neck, murmured "I've got you Mummy" and fell asleep, as the coughing gently subsided.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Here's a smirk

When I watched Serpico the other week, there is a bit at the beginning of the shooting range scene about an hour and a half in. I'd forgotten where I recognised it from, but I'm pretty sure it's the sample at the start of this.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Confessions of a screen addict

Season 1 of The Newsroom (Finkelman) - Is this a bran muffin? I'm going to watch this all again in a week or so. I freaking love it.

Westworld - The beautiful thing with this is that they don't try and moral out the possibility of sentient robots turning on depraved humans, the portrayal of the humans does it all for you. Happy to rape and murder without a second thought so long as there are no consequences,this is a film that is a) brilliant as a human escapes mass murdering machine, and there are a surprising number of instances that you may find yourself noticing characteristics and scenes from Terminator (1 & 2) appear to be based on Yul Brynner, and b) an astute, uncompromising and unpatronising view of the ugliness of humanity.

Serpico - I watched this, and then a few days later I was in the pub, and someone decided that one of the guys looked like Serpico. It was quite uncanny. I'm glad I watched it beforehand, otherwise I might have found myself laughing somewhat inappropriately. Genius film.

Soylent Green - Because people will do anything to get what they need. And they need Soylent Green.

Season 5 Castle - Now, you know I love Castle, but this was disappointing. Tenuous relationship doubt painfully levered into stories, and leaving the series cliff hanger as a proposal vs job offer scenario? Sheesh. Bored already. No doubt I'll still watch season 6, but with less zeal.

Breaking Bad, weekly is killing me. I NEED IT ALL NOW, BITCH!

First Blood - Although a war veteran, rather than robots, First Blood is similar to Westworld (vaguely) in its brutal depiction of humanity at it's worst. Stallone is never called on to justify his position, the other people do it all. This stark, one sided way of depicting such a story, the idea of giving your villains enough rope to hang themselves is pretty lacking these days. Cinema audiences are assumed to be too stupid to fathom these things for themselves, and must have the prescribed moral spelled out in words of one syllable or less and rammed down their throats.

Seasons 1, 2, 3 Lost Girl - Canadian, faux feminist supernatural type drama, centering around a succubus with bisexual tendencies. She has had a thing with a boy, and a girl, and refuses to be shackled to a label of good or bad. So far so good if you were looking to assess it in terms of open mindedness about women, and sexuality, and yadda. But her supernatural healing is based in her having sexy sex, and ultimately, the box is not as good as the cock, and only the boy's sexy boy junk will heal her. Who says patriarchy is dead?

Heathers - Carrying on with Christian Slater films is a good thing

Frances Ha - I think I smiled nearly the whole way through this film, to the point that when I left the cinema, my face hurt a little from my perma grin. It's really beautiful. Go watch.

Only God Forgives - Awesome. Very red.

Season 2 Once Upon a Time - Terrible, and tedious, and highly addictive. Robert Carlyle is Rumpelstiltskin, and that is reason enough for watching it in my book.

15 Storeys High - Because it's brilliant. And because I acquired both series in a box for the princely sum of £4.50. Bargain.

The Place Beyond the Pines - Missed it at the cinema...

Limmy - Because.

Scarface - Because.

Big Trouble in Little China - Because.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Elizabeth Taylor? Paul Newman? Hurt. Sexual tension. Family tension. Failed ambitions and guilt. What more can you ask from a film? I don't do girls (so far as I know), but Elizabeth Taylor could have offered me an alcohol rub anytime, and I would not have said no. I love this film.

Think OJ meets the Halocaust

Is this a bran muffin?
It's carrot bran, it's new.
This is a very carroty muffin.

I've just finished series one of The Newsroom (Finkelman). I LOVE GEORGE FINDLAY. I really really do.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Cattenberg finds it disconcerting that technically he was subject to the longest relationship I've ever inflicted on anybody

Only mildly disconcerting. Cattenberg is staying in the spare room over the last couple and the next couple of nights because of the Kittencat's birthday, and we've been chatting away about odds and ends, and somehow we got onto longevity of relationships. I can't remember how it came up, but Cattenberg reminded me that when we'd been going out for about six whole months, and had either just found out or were about to just find out about Kittencat, someone had said to me that if he hadn't suggested making things more serious within a set period that I should end it. Now, I should hasten to add that my head was nowhere near that sort of thing back then, I had student debts aplenty, and had downsized my life to accommodate clearing debts and saving, and I had no plan for thinking about children or serious relationships for at least the next three to four years. So it was irrelevant to me and the situation. At the time, I'm pretty sure that neither Cattenberg or I were thinking about the long haul. That said, our conversation tonight started around this, and I have to say that looking on it, I can kind of see the point the helpful soul was making.

In the beginning of a relationship, it's all shiny and new and you want to spend all your time together, and although I don't think jumping into something before you know someone is wise, after the first 6 months - 2 years you do generally know someone well enough to test drive the living together idea, if you're still madly enamored and can stand them and everything, chances are that you should be wanting to think about a potential future, even if it's not very far ahead. If you aren't, then you have to think quite seriously about not just whether you're wasting someone else's time (after a certain age biological degradation is a serious concern, reproductively and otherwise, and it's unfair to decrease someone's opportunities and chances for getting what they want), but also your own. Although you may be comfortable coasting along with someone that you aren't in love with, they fill a vaguely significant other shaped hole, don't annoy you too much, and also the sex, you risk missing out on something that would make you happy just because what you have is, well, it's okay. It's not amazing. But all your friends are settling down, they've got girlfriends/boyfriends/ferrets/allotments, and you feel a little lonelier than when everyone was out until 11am drinking tequila out of a bottle in a shopping trolley racing hair raisingly fast down a hill, or deciding to have a barbeque by a duckpond in a field at 5am after a three hour limbo competition using a detached strip light as a bar (all a little hazy, but definitely happened, somewhere...). And you've got someone to get naked with, watch TV with, talk to when everyone else is too busy to. And yeah, it's nice. You don't want to end up with them, but, it's nice. And you coast. And you coast. And then you end up a little trapped. And running away is suddenly a much bigger deal, because you're older, and less pretty, and a bit fatter, and more irritable, and even more of your friends are all relationshiped up, and all you remember about meeting people was getting drunk as a skunk and letting the beer haze do the rest. And you look at what you have, the little you have, and you worry that despite how lonely you are, you'll be lonelier on your own, that you'll never manage better, so why not settle, why not make it work? But if you aren't happy so early on, you aren't going to get happier. If you aren't interested in talking to your significant other, you aren't going to find them more interesting if you just give it a little more time. You're just going to wake up one day with the courage to run away, only to find yourself less interesting to other people.

Cattenberg said that he didn't really find it worrying that he was subject to the longest relationship I've ever inflicted on anybody, but that people do tend to judge you on the length of your previous relationships, that somehow the perception is that how you have been previously indicates how you will be in the future. I can understand this, I've lived in house shares, I've heard these kind of discussions - "Well, he was like that with Soandso, and Soandso..." - but, and this possibly puts me in a minority, I've never been attracted to the serial monogamist, and I've never really been one myself. It's rare that I've done the coast with an alright relationship thing, generally I've had little enough patience to get bored and irritated with that which is not right quickly enough to kill it nice and dead. So yes, Cattenberg was my longest relationship, and there were a couple of stints of around a year, give or take, but I've generally been a 2 week to 2 month person all my adult life. Because if it's not fun after 2 weeks, it's not going to get funner.

P.S. I feel I ought to state that despite not being a serial monogamist, I've been in love. Maybe I will be again. Being in love is awesome. Relationships, when you're in love, are awesome. But the serial monogamist is a creature that scares me, the idea that someone is with you because they can't be alone rather than actually wanting to be with you is a terrifying one.  I ended something once with someone I really did love because for them it wasn't about being with me, it was about having a girlfriend. And that felt lonely as hell.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Despite blurry patterned bathroom glass, it's still pretty embarrassing to find yourself naked in the bathroom on window cleaner day.

And I'll swear blind the window cleaner avoided eye contact whilst smirking uncomfortably when he called later for cash monies. Should've told him he'd already been paid...

It's been a busy, unproductive time at Cat Lady Towers. Kittencat has moved into the older room at nursery, and although she likes it, such a change inevitably brings anxieties. Much of my time at the moment is tied to cuddles, and talking to her about seemingly tiny things, but to ignore them would be folly. She can't fully express, or even fully understand, why she's worried, so it's important for me to minimise these things for her, to keep her grounded and secure, and to recognise when what she's saying is expressing something far wider and talk to her about it. Kittencat also had a birthday today, she's three, and has spent much of the day running around shrieking, calling our regular games birthday games and taking full advantage of me being a softer touch than usual. She had nursery this morning, and they made her a cake and a card, and she took a couple of toy cars in to tell the other kids about at circle time, and she was generally a bit spoiled.

I'm going to bed. There are things I want to write about, but I don't have the words right now. I'm tired, my shoulder hurts, I'm worried about people I love, and I'm regressing into an antisocial shell. Not a self destructive alcoholic antisocial shell. Seriously, I'm not 27 any more, apparently I'm more mature and wrinkly since then. But despite rekindling my love of watching vast quantities of TV all in one go (currently on The Newsroom, before taking the timely decision to dedicate some serious hours to The Sopranos) I think I need to see more people again. Thankfully it the start of term in a few weeks.