Friday, 16 March 2018

Backblog Conclusions

Just to sum up:

  • I posted things, most of which were no good
  • I didn't like them, and am not proud of them
  • I promoted a couple of them, but got embarrassed
  • Doing this didn't spur me on to start writing again
  • So I guess this is the end of the blog. Goodbye.

Saturday, 3 March 2018


I like The Idiot.

But enough about [YOUR NAME HERE]!

No, but seriously, folks..

I like the book The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Maybe you've heard of it?

For Christmas, I got a DVD of Akira Kurosawa's film adaptation from 1951.

It's pretty faithful, but apparently there was loads of stuff cut out of it, so it's a bit choppy. This version is 165 minutes long, but the original version was 265 minutes. That's pretty long. A minute for every day of a madman's year.

The original version is lost in a warehouse somewhere.

I liked this version, though. He seemed to 'get' the characters, which is the main thing.

Toshiro Mifune is in it. You might remember him from a billion other Kurosawa films. He's great.

Anyway, there's a scene in the film where Mifune looks incredible. I think the film is set in contemporary Japan, but I can't work out what he's wearing.

I have a theory that Kurosawa, or Mifune, or the wardrobe department, had a weird premonition of all male pop culture icons of second half of the twentieth century and amalgamated them into one bloke.

He's wearing a dressing gown - I'm not sure if it's a normal kimono - and his hair is all quiffed-up.

He looks like ALL of the following:
Elvis Presley
Clint Eastwood (who ended up pretty much playing Mifune in A Fistful of Dollars - a remake of Yojimbo)
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Wolverine (who's pretty entrenched in Japanese culture)
Harrison Ford
Bruce Lee
Al Pacino
John Travolta
James Bond (who loves dressing gowns)
Tom Selleck
Sylvester Stallone

And this is 1951, remember.

I think Mifune was an early choice to play Obi-Wan Kenobi (George Lucas loved him), so he has that going for him too.

Pretty impressive.

Anyway, here's a picture:

Yes, maybe I oversold it. It's possible. But it seemed like an interesting insight.

I have too much insight. And there's no hope insight. I think that's the saying.

There's no hope in sight.

There's no hope in insight.

There's no hope in insight in sight.

There's no hope in sight of insight inside.


The word "insight" looks weird to me now.


Friday, 2 March 2018

Drip drip drip

“Tell him what you said,” said Nick, grinning.
“About what?” Asked Jordan.
“About Walter!”
“Oh!” Jordan grinned too, looked at me, and then licked his lips before continuing. “We were talking about Walter, right? And how boring he is, yeah? So boring. And I was like, ‘hanging out with him is so bad you might as well call it Chinese Walter Torture!’”
I didn’t say anything.
“Get it? Like Chinese Water Torture.”
I got it.
“I got it,” I said. “ But it’s a bit racist.”
“How is it racist?” Asked Jordan, aghast.
“Yeah, how is it racist?” Asked Nick, another ghast.
“Chinese Walter Torture,” I said.
“What?” Said Nick. “His name is Walter. He is Chinese. Talking to him is torture. Fact, fact, fact.”

“He’s Japanese,”I said.

“Yeah, well…” Jordan convulsed, bemused.
“Yeah, well,” Nick picked up the baton. “There’s no such thing as Japanese Water Torture. It wouldn’t make sense.”

“How do you know?” I asked, and we spent the next minute googling “Japanese Water Torture” and the next three minutes regretting it.

“Walter’s dad’s in the Triads,” said Jordan, out of the blue.
“No he isn’t,” I said.
“He is,” said Jordan.
“Even if he was – and he isn’t – Triads is Japanese. If anything, his dad’s in the Yakuza.”
“Now who’s being racist?” Said Nick, for what turned out to be the first of a dozen times that day. We never agreed on now who was being racist, but he really wanted it to be me.
“He’s got tattoos,” said Nick. “Walter’s dad, I mean.”
“So has my mum,” I said, “ and she isn’t in the Yakuza.” Both true statements.

“Walter isn’t a very Japanese name,” said Nick.
“It’s not his real name,” said Jordan. “His real name’s Toshihiro or Toshihiri or something. Walter’s just his Western name. They got it from Walter White in Breaking Bad. His dad loves Breaking Bad. He’s obsessed with it. Walter’s sister’s called Jesse. And his dog’s called Barking Bad.”

“You know, it actually doesn’t sound like Walter is that boring,” I said.

They seemed to agree and we all went out to buy ham.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Caspar David Friedrichie Rich

I was going to do a photoshop of the Caspar David Friedrich painting Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, with a young ghost looking out at the mountains.

It would have the following caption:

'Caspar David Friedrichie Rich'.

It would be a play on Caspar David Freidrich and the cartoon character Richie Rich.

But then I realised that Richie Rich wasn't a ghost, no matter what the Simpsons might say:

Somehow, probably because of this Simpsons joke, I'd conflated the ghost and the rich boy.

I must have been further confused that the painter's name contained both Caspar and Rich. My brain had mixed it all up.

It's confusing.

I think the whole thing is muddied beyond repair. Of course, I could do a couple of things.

I could Photoshop the ghost onto the painting and put something like 'Caspar David Friedrich the Friendly Ghost' (or just 'Caspar the Friendly Ghost' for the intelligentsia).

Or I could Photoshop the wealthy child onto the painting and do the original 'Caspar David Friedrichie Rich'. But is Richie Rich recognizable enough from behind to make that obvious?

I really don't want to google "Richie Rich from behind" to check. Especially not at work.

It's a shame, because it seemed like such a perfect comedy idea at the time.

Oh well.

Also, I don't have Photoshop.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018


Vab is probably a word now, isn't it?

People probably use the word 'vab'. I don't know if they do, but they probably do.

I haven't seen it anyway, but it's the kind of thing that happens these days. People saying 'vab'.

I don't know what it might mean. I could check Urban Dictionary, but I'm not going to. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that we're living at a time when people are saying 'vab'.

It's pretty widespread now (I imagine), so soon it will penetrate mainstream culture. It will appear in the titles of Guardian thinkpieces and there will be a thing on the BBC News website - in the top ten most read stories - about 'vab' and how it's taking off. Then it will die out.

It's like 'on fleek'. Remember that? It lasted about three weeks from conception until it was put out of its misery by your aunt saying it in Whittard's.

The same thing will happen with 'vab' - a thing young people are currently saying.

I'm not judging it. I'm not saying people are wrong to say 'vab'. I'm just saying that they're saying it.

If you analyse trends, or even just pay some attention to the world around you, you can predict what's going to happen to a high degree of accuracy. You can say X is going to fall out of favour, Y is going to reach critical mass, Z is going to say 'vab'.

In this case, I'm not predicting the future - I'm just aware of how the present is going. I followed the thread. I used to know what people are saying, so now, even though I don't listen to anyone, I can be reasonably sure that people are saying 'vab', even though I've never heard it or even thought about it before about ten minutes ago.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018


My uncle sold mittens and was defensive about it.
“What do you need the individual fingers for?” He asked, often. He was always taking shots at traditional gloves.
On day, I felt like I might as well respond to this question, even though I didn’t really care. I half-heartedly suggested “Chopsticks?”
He did a little confused laugh, as though he’d never heard of anything so stupid.
“If you’re eating food with chopsticks, the temperature of the dish would keep your hands warm anyway. Why would you need the mittens?”
“What about sushi?” I asked, getting a bit more into it.
He wasn’t so quick with his comeback this time. Eventually, he said: “On the rare occasion where you happen to be in a situation where your hands are cold enough to justify mittens, and you happen to be eating sushi, then you can just use a fork.”
“Tell that to the Japanese,” I said. I’d clearly won.

It wasn’t just mittens, though. He’d started to expand his range into scarves. But with a twist. Literally.

Möbius scarves, they were called. He was really proud of the idea, and he could barely wait to tell me, even though I’d never previously shown any enthusiasm for his business, and mostly just shot down his mitten theories.

They were scarves in the style of Möbius strips. I think he’s only just found out about Möbius strips and was getting carried away. 

“So it’s not really a scarf?” I said.
“Yes, it’s a scarf,” he said. “It’s just one continuous loop of scarf.”
“One continuous loop,” I repeated (fully aware of how annoyed he was getting). “So it’s essentially a baggy snood? It’s essentially a baggy snood.”
He made a face and started winding wool. His assistant, Vida, was standing nearby. “Have you heard about these Möbius scarves?” I asked her. “It’s essentially just a baggy snood.” She shrugged.
I turned back to my uncle. “It’s essentially just a baggy snood.”
“Shut up!” He snapped. “Stop saying it’s essentially just a baggy snood.”
“But it is essentially…”
He slammed his hand down on the table. “What are you even talking about?!”
We were all quiet for a couple of minutes. Vida pretended she had to go to the toilet just to get away from us both.

After a while, things had thawed, and he was back on track with his sales pitch. “I’m thinking of something very specific for the Möbius scarf. Specific, but lucrative.”
“What’s that?” I felt bad for shutting him down before, so I thought I’d hear him out.
“You know those half and half football scarves they have now? It’s like one end is in the colours of one team, and the other is their opponents’? Like, if it’s Arsenal-Tottenham, it’s half red and half white? You know those scarves?”
“You mean, those universally derided scarves that everyone hates?”
“Someone’s buying ‘em,” he said, with a smile. He’d won that one.
“Anyway,” he continued, “ the genius of the Möbius scarf is that instead of one team at each end of the scarf, you can have one team on each side of the scarf!”
I’d tried my best to be encouraging, but this was the last straw.
“Geoff,” I said (his name was Geoff), “in your exhaustive research – which I assume you always undertake before a major product launch – surely you must have learned that a defining, if not the defining, feature of a Möbius strip is it only has ONE SIDE.”
He looked blank. Vida walked back in, read the atmosphere of the room, and went straight back out to the toilet again.

“What do you mean?” Said Geoff.
“If you put Arsenal on one side of the scarf, it’ll go all the way around,” I said.
He looked blank again.
“Where are you going to put Tottenham?”
He stood there for a few seconds, and then mimed holding what looked like a baggy snood. 
“On the other side,” he said.

Remember around 2012, snoods were in, like, the top five things people talked about that year? It’s crazy to think that now. With all the horrors of 2017, snoods wouldn’t crack the top hundred. We didn’t know how lucky we were.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Humphrey Cobb to thank

Eyes Wide Shut is a pretty rubbish name for a film, isn't it?

It's like something I'd name a blog post. Just a mildly interesting turn of phrase.

It doesn't even have anything to do with the plot of the film. No, it doesn't, Stanley. No, it doesn't.

It should have been called Sydney Pollack's Day Out.

*Googles Sydney Pollack*

*checks spelling*

*checks he was in Eyes Wide Shut*

*closes tab*

*nods and smiles*

In fact, that's what it should have been called.

Nods and Smiles.

Stanley Kubrick's Nods and Smiles.

Stanley Kubrick's divisive swansong: Nods and Smiles.

It reflects the themes of the film just as much as Eyes Wide Shut. Especially the nods.

Eyes Wide Shut... jeez.

Eyes Wide Shut UP, more like!

Ha! Good one, me.

You can't shut something wide.

Doors can be wide open, they can't be wide shut.

Legal cases can be blown wide open by a new, crucial, piece of evidence. They can't be blown wide shut.

And you can't shut something narrow either. Even the negation is incorrect.

He had such a good track record with film titles up until then, too.

The Killing has a killing in it. I assume. I haven't seen that one.

Paths of Glory had a bitter irony to it, but I think we have Humphrey Cobb to thank for that (he wrote the novel on which it was based).

Spartacus had Spartacus in it.

Lolita had Lolita in it.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb had Dr Strangelove and some jokes in it.

2001: A Space Odyssey is probably Clarke's work.

A Clockwork Orange has a clockwork orange in it, in the extended cut that's just been released, partially filmed at a now-citrussy Beaverbrooks.

Barry Lyndon has Barry Lyndon is it.

[What? Yes, I am going to do them all. Yes, I know I've already made my point. Yes, I know I didn't include Killer's Kiss for some reason.]

The Shining has the shining in it.

Full Metal Jacket probably refers to some kind of jacket in the film. I haven't seen it for a while.

But Eyes Wide Shut does not have eyes that are wide shut in it because, as I said, that's not a thing.

And the sort-of-Kubrick A.I. Artificial Intelligence is almost giving us too much information, but that's probably on Spielberg.

I suppose he was probably ill, so he can't really be blamed for such complete artistic failure. The title of the film, I mean. Not the film itself. Which was only a partial artistic failure.


I'm not going to publish this. I'm just going to throw it on the pile of draft blogs that is slowly accumulating. I'm happy to include weak stand-up from the year 2000.

And then, when I have enough of a backlog, and the banks of my river are about to burst, I'll drop the whole lot of them onto an unsuspecting public, like a... uh... baker, who.... hasn't baked bread for a long time, and then suddenly reveals that he has been baking bread all along, and here it is everyone! And sorry that most of it is stale now. It's probably not good to eat - it's been sitting in the larder for months and months. And - what's that? Who am I? Oh, you've forgotten who I am? Because I've been gone for so long. I see. I'm the baker. Hmm? No, not a professional baker, no. I used to bake for fun. I was quite prolific. I'd do a farmhouse loaf here, and a Chelsea bun there; a massive baguette one week and a crouton the next. Did they taste good? I thought so, yes. Did anyone eat the stuff I made? No, almost no-one.

Almost no-one.

Anyway, here's three hundred kilos of mouldy baps.

It's in a big heap on your lawn. Sorry, I didn't have any bags.

And now the dump-truck's driving away.

I'll wave and see if he can come back...

No, he didn't see me.




See you later.


That's how it will go.