Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Two Eyes Made out of Coal

I think John McClane said it best: “Now I have a machine gun – Ho, ho, ho!”

The world is slowly easing down a little bit, Jack Frost is nipping at quite a large selection of body parts, and we’re getting into the final stretch now before Christmas hits. Still got a few days left at work, but I can feel an imminent respite in the air.

I was going to write a bit about the sad death of the brilliantly talented John Spencer last week, but I just don’t have the words. It’s another tragic death in a year that has been full of them. Today would have been his 59th birthday.

I had a good night out last night, and it reminded me again what a good life I have. A loving wife, a perfect daughter, amazing friends. I know I come off as the Grinch most of the year, and it always seems like there isn’t enough time or money or something…but, on balance, it’s a wonderful life.

Just in case I don’t get another chance to jump in here within the next few days, I want to take the opportunity to say that, whatever you do or don’t believe, and whatever you do or don’t celebrate, to all the friends of Sucker Punch who return to my crazed ramblings here on a regular basis: I’ll make a deal with you - Have an excellent holiday, stay safe, stay warm, stay happy, and love the ones you’re with, and I’ll try and do the same. Fair enough?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Time Bandits

Do you know what it’s like to be so ridiculously busy that you don’t even have time to go to the toilet anymore? I am in pain! My bowels aches with the pain of a thousand digested meals aching for release. I need to find time to give birth to “Gigantic Christmas Turd Baby”.

Wife and daughter both sick with bad colds. I’m still hawking up gelatinous chunks of my own lungs as I come out the other end of Bad Cold. Still nowhere near finishing Christmas shopping. And my insides are battling me with vicious kicks.

Stealing a few hours for myself later. Movie, beer, fun.

And at some point I still have to schedule in that trip to the toilet. Before Christmas, if I’m lucky.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Future Tense

2005 has started to give off a smell of boiled vegetables and urine, keeps forgetting to turn the stove off, and shits itself almost daily, whilst 2006 is nearing the end of its third trimester, and is kicking like Jackie Chan suffering from ADHD. Yes, I’m hovering in that uneasy purgatory where I look back over the last twelve months to make sense of it all, whilst trying to look forward to the next twelve to figure out what my next move should be.

2004 was full of changes and challenges. The birth of a daughter. Fighting for a new job. Life was big and scary and often wonderful.

But 2005 has been a year of mostly living inside myself. I think that comes mostly from the fact that the two jobs I’ve occupied this year have been very quiet, with a three month lump in the middle full of fear and anxiety. It wasn’t quiet in the sense of not being busy, but quiet in that I haven’t really formed any significant new bonds in the last year. I don’t meet like-minded individuals, so I live in my own head a lot. My brain keeps me company.

Fact is, I’m only really happy if I’m with my wife or my daughter or with a small group of close friends (which, thankfully, I’ll be doing next Monday evening. Cold beer, squinting through cigarette smoke, and running off at the mouth about everything and nothing). Apart from that, happiness is a good book or comic or movie or song. Or writing. Then, the silence is glorious, interrupted only by the scritch-scratch of pen and paper, or the taptaptapclack of a keyboard.

This was also the year that I decided to take a break from film journalism. I was spinning my wheels with that, writing primarily for a totally inappropriate website that was interested only in the snark. Snark is easy and boring. It’s just being a prick in print, and I’m not interested in that. I want to tell people things. Things that are bubbling away in my head, not just talking trash for the sake of a cheap putdown.

I needed to start putting a stress-test on my abilities again. So I walked away from that gig, and ever since I’ve been writing only for myself. Man, it’s liberating. Free to wallow in self-indulgence, and free to embrace insane high concepts to see where they take me, and free to ravish language for the sheer maddening joy of seeing what I can make words do.

More of that in 2006, I think. (Although if a decent writing gig falls in my lap, you just know I’m going to grab it with both hands and kiss it passionately). And then there’s the challenge of writing complete works that I don’t abandon. But that’s a challenge that only exists in my mind, and I haven’t figured out a way to beat that one yet.

I also need to sleep more, even though I also want more hours in the day for myself. A problem I’ll have to try and work around at a later date.

Lots to think about still. Developing…

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Zuzu's Petals

Well, there’s no point fighting it. Christmas is racing towards us like the Road Runner roaring down the rocky highways of a yellow and orange Warner Brothers desert, and I don’t even have an Acme rocket sled at my disposal to stop it.

So I may as well just resign myself to the inevitable, and make sure I’m prepared with plentiful entertainments to make the season suitably jolly.

A couple of years back, I decided that at the AKA Grotto we would have a Christmas movie every year. (This is, of course, just an excuse for me to watch old movies. Let’s not kid ourselves.)

For the first Christmas in our new home, the choice was easy: It’s A Wonderful Life, the heartwarming confection about a suicidal depressive beset on all sides by small-mindedness, avarice, incomptenece, bullying and impending bankruptcy. It takes a particularly sick world to hold this movie up as The Spirit of Christmas, but I ain’t complaining. Dark, mean, and hard. Like Jim Kelly in a vendetta kind of mood.

Then, last year, I chose Planes, Trains & Automobiles. Yes, I know. My memory failed me on that one, ‘cos it’s a Thanksgiving movie, not a Christmas movie. Moving swiftly on...

This year, still mired in my strange 80s kick, I’m struggling to choose between two movies. Should it be Scrooged, with Bill Murray as (kinda) Ebenezer Scrooge, transposing Dickensian London to modern-day New York, and shifting the action to the life of a misanthropic television executive? With added Robert Mitchum for extra crustiness? And who could resist a side order of Lee Majors? Yes, TV’s Colt Seavers! It’s almost enough to make me start singing The Unknown Stuntman.

Or should I go for the classic (and I don’t use the word lightly) Trading Places? Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy when they were still funny! Jamie Lee Curtis when she was still hot! Denholm Elliott when he was still alive!

I think I’m going to have to make it a double-bill, because next year, I’m determined to choose Die Hard. Yippiekyay!

Well, I'm not the kind to kiss and tell, But I've been seen with Farrah.
I've never been with anything less than a nine, so fine...

Monday, December 05, 2005

Penetrating Logic

Brazilian singer Daniela Mercury is an ambassador for UNICEF and the U.N. anti-AIDS program. The Vatican has decided to drop her from its Christmas fund raising concert, because she planned to advocate the use of condoms to fight AIDS during her performance at the show.

The World Health Organisation has estimated that AIDS has killed more than 25 million people since it was first recognized in 1981. This makes Avian Flu look like the sniffles. So far, in 2005 alone, AIDS has claimed an estimated 3.1 million (between 2.8 and 3.6 million) of which more than half a million (570,000) were children.

Fact is: something as simple and inexpensive as a male latex condom is the single most effective method to prevent the transmission of HIV. And they make for great water bombs, too.

Speaking at a news conference, event organizer Father Giuseppe Bellucci stated that "She was excluded because she had announced that at the concert she would openly promote the use of condoms to fight the plague of AIDS."

No, I don’t understand either. Given a choice between a raincoat for your rod, and the slow and painful depletion of your immune system, is it really so difficult to work out which is the lesser evil?