Friday, March 22, 2019

Two types of Torture



The Mount Wolseley Hotel - Bar.


There is muzak coming from hidden speakers, or perhaps this is what the beginning of insanity sounds like:  The Mountains of Mourne with sax and glockenspiel. 

Several big screen TVs, all of them showing the same thing:  Golf.  Could be worse.  Could be cricket.  Amateur cricket. 

In the 1950s, there was a belief that muzak could be used for brainwashing.  Golf too.  In the mid-sixties, signals were transmitted from the geostationary Echostar Satellite and picked up by anything that resembled an antennae, say, a putter or a four-iron.  The wielders of these implements were instructed to shut down half their brains and find jobs in the banking industry.

The Town I loved so Well on bassoon and kazoo, filling up the background.  Phil Coulter must be turning in his grave.  Wait, you say, Phil Coulter isn't dead.

A man can dream, can't he? 


Monday, March 18, 2019

Word of the day: Hovel.


Okay, its two years since the first novel came out, 


so the second one should be just about ready to roll through the printing press.  Except it isn’t.  It currently stands at thirty-two thousand words, or to put it another way, it’s half-a-novel.  It’s a hovel.  It’s a house without a roof.  

Writing sucks.  The first thing you ever do might be the best thing you ever did; just ask Flaubert and Kerouac.  You spend years of your life carving a story out of a giant block of solid misery.  You chisel off the rough corners and polish it until it sparkles like a ten-carat diamond.  You give it to your agent, and the agent gives it to three differ publishers.

And the three publishers say the exact same thing: “Oh.  It’s different.  It’s not like the last one.  We were hoping it would be just like the last one, but with less anger.”
“A stronger feminine presence.”
“More colourful Irish characters.”
“A contemporary message.”
“Less You.”

On that point, they all agree; a bit “less You” and it might find its niche in the market. 
“Could you make it more about Them?”
“Who are ‘They’?”  
“They’re a young couple in a Volvo SUV.”
“With a sunroof.”
“And a rack for a kayak.”

So, you revise your novel and try to make it a bit more Volvo.  You add some tepid workplace chagrin, a confrontation with a dishonest nanny and an entire chapter of mild S&M.  The agent re-sends it to the publishers and the publishers, who have their fingers on the weak pulse of the Irish middle-class, all come to the same conclusion.

“You need to make it a bit more Range Rover.”
“How do I do that?”
“Just change the S&M for rugby.”

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Ricky Gervais - Afterlife





Death is inherently funny. There you are, until suddenly you're gone.


A priest coughs and loses his false teeth in a grave. The corpse looks like Elvis. The obituary accidentally refers to a "beloved aunt" as a "beloved cunt." - Except none of this happens in Afterlife.

What have we got instead? You have the bloke from the hilarious 'Extras' clearly not having a laugh. Tony (Gervais) is mildly upset since the death of his missus. So mildly upset that he tries to kill himself, and take up heroin. In that order.

The mildness of his upset allows him to treat everyone in his quaint little village with disdain. Mild disdain. And the mildness of the locals allows him to get away with it.

Tony is just about as funny as the cancer that killed his wife. Which still makes him slightly funnier than Tommy Tiernan.

Ricky -- Get a life.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Love is a Battlefield -- Down the rabbit-hole #2

Trying to write, but that Pat Benatar song keeps getting stuck in my head.  Have to go to YouTube.  Try and exorcise it.





The opening shot depicts a runaway  -- OK, Pat Benatar is thirty years old, but nevermind --  A cop siren followed by a snare drum.  90 bpm.  A bus coming in from Jersey.  Pat's on the back of the bus, eyes closed, and she's talking her way through the intro:



We are young
Heartache to heartache
We stand
No promises
No demands
Love is a battlefield



Flashback.  Her Dad chasing her out of the house shouting, "you leave this house now...you can just forget about coming back."  This is the first time that dialogue is used in a music video.  Her Mom looks shocked, clasping her hands together, covering her wedding ring.  Nice touch.

Pat waves goodbye to her younger brother at an upstairs window.  She hits the road.  Cut to:  New York City.  She's walking the Mean Streets. Probably 7th or 8th Ave.  At exactly 1:06, as she strides past a peep show, a hustler spots the camera and turns his back.  Doesn't want to be seen by the kids back home.

A series of shots.  Port Authority/8th Ave Subway station/Her Dad's grocery store in Jersey




 ...And then BOOM!  Union Square.  A cluster of genuine New York 1980's freaks.



Cut.  Night.  She's walking up the stairs to the Satin Ballroom.  This used to be a topless "dime-a-dance" joint, but everybody is fully clothed and the dancers look more like something from a Weimar burlesque.



2:06.  We're introduced to the bad guy, choreographer and dancer, Gary Chryst.   This is how pimps ought to look and dress.  Black shirt, white waistcoat and a tan coloured jacket.  Don't forget the gold tooth.

At 2:42, she writes home and we see her brother reading the letter.  He falls back on his bed and dreams of the city.

3:03.  The second burst of dialogue when one of the dancers shakes off Chryst and screams, "Leave me alone!!"  --  This initiates the confrontation between Benatar and Chryst.

3:20.   The Michael Peters Choreography kicks in.  An Amazonian war dance.   You can see the resemblance between this and the work he did in Thriller, also 1983.  Eleven years later he will die from an AIDS related illness.



3:43.  That great choppy rhythm guitar kicks in and sits on top of the snare.



4:08.  Chryst and Benatar face-off in dance.  She throws a glass of water in his face and leads the other women out into the street where they dance towards a new day and a sunrise.  Except that's the West side/Hudson River.   So it's sunset, but let's not quibble.



Alright.  That's out of the system.  Time to get back and finish writing my goddamn book.