All entries for January 2007

January 07, 2007

Apocolypta

Watched the Mel Gibson film the other day. Beautiful visuals and really felt you were watching in on life unfolding. Was unremarkable and a bit too gruesome for my tastes and was basically just a long long long manhunt. The Mayans like the Aztecs had a civilisation built on superstition and involving huge amounts of human sacrifice and were constantly at war. The movie was full of wanton cruelty and I lost count of the number of people who were slaughtered….that is the thing that upsets me about humans. I can be selfish but I would never intentionally hurt someone (emotionally or physically) let alone kill them unless it was in self defence or defending family, friends or a loved one.

The rise and fall of civilisations fascinates me and a historian I forget made the astute comment that civilisations destroy themselves from within before they can be destroyed from without. This was a backdrop to the film and naturally they blamed the Gods and sought to appease him with human sacrifice.

But plenty of themes…..

Human greed…..a rather charming creation myth was told along the lines of man was made with a hole in him, a hole he fills by wanting and taking and he will continue to take until the world has no more to give.

Family…........divorce wasn’t really an issue in the film, although lots of husbands were killed off so plenty of single parent families. But a theme was certainly devotion to family and how desire to protect and look after your family can give you superhuman strength.

Superstition…..superstition is a really really dangerous thing but a sort of safety net people use to deal with the frightening fact we know so little about the world and there is so much random chance. It is also an instrument of control in the same way that religion can be used for this purpose.

Disappointingly the historical accuracy was terrible. I think Mel got the Aztecs and the Mayans mixed up. The Mayan civilisation ended a good five hundred years before the Spanish arrived. They also were not anywhere near as bloodthirsty as the Aztecs.


January 04, 2007

St Elmo's Fire review

I watched the best film tonight. St Elmo’s Fire. It is billed as “A Group of Friends just out of college struggle with adulthood. Their main problem is they are all self-centred and obnoxious”. Most of them are also in love with unattainable people and clinging to their college days when they clearly defined roles (the Frat boy, the party girl etc).

Basically they are all part of the “Me generation” and only care about instant gratification and personal advancement; loose in morals. It is hard to feel much sympathy for them but at the same time you are left thinking perhaps it isn’t their own fault they turned out that way, perhaps it is a fault of society.

You see all the cliched problems: drug addiction, unrequited love, debt, the pressure to succeed, promiscuity, and just a lack of moral fibre which are just as relevant today as then.

The question the film asks is are these problems indeed real or just St elmo’s fire….a natural part of growing up and something we all deal with.

I won’t ruin the plot too much! But I will outline some of the characters:

Billy is the frat boy who cannot hold down a job and is a bad father and husband and is only good at playing the saxophone and getting girls into bed.

Wendy is the least selfish character and devotes her life to helping people but harbours a crush on Billy.

Kirby is a sensitive and slightly unstable guy who develops an obsession with a pretty older nurse and is probably the most lovable stalker there is.

Jules is a slutty party girl who sleeps with her married boss to support her drug habit.

Alec is an yuppie wannabe politician who is desperate to get married to his girlfriend but has no intention of giving up his womanising.

Leslie is Alec’s girlfriend who is reluctant to marry Alec.

Kevin is a depressed writer who is secretely in love with Leslie.

Basically they all have their own trials and tribulations and some of them grow up and others do not. The subplots eventually collide leading to a grand finale. All the while they remain friends but eventually drift apart.

Some nice quotes

“They thought they could be friends forever but forever does not last”

“There are several quintessential moments in a man’s life: losing his virginity, getting married, becoming a father, and having the right girl smile at you.”

“You know what love is? Love is an illusion created by lawyer types like yourself to perpetuate another illusion called marriage to create the reality of divorce and then the illusionary need for divorce lawyers.”

“It’s St. Elmo’s Fire. Electric flashes of light that appear in dark skies out of nowhere. Sailors would guide entire journeys by it, but the joke was on them… there was no fire. There wasn’t even a St. Elmo. They made it up. They made it up because they thought they needed it to keep them going when times got tough, just like you’re making up all of this. We’re all going through this. It’s our time at the edge.”

The basic point is that none of these kids really have any problems other than those they create for themselve


January 02, 2007

My New Years Resolutions

1) Get back into the habit of doing regular exercise…....cos it gives me a buzz and gives me more energy and makes me a nicer person to be around. The problem is I can only be bothered to work out in summertime as half the fun of being in shape is flaunting your body.

2) Do some volunteer work…...this is hard because I want to a) make a difference and b) help people who actually deserve to be helped. I have this elitist view that the vast majority of poor people are poor because they are lazy and have a sense of entitlement that they deserve everything on a plate. I might do some sort of mentoring in inner cities or something. I figure young people are at a vulnerable age where they can so easily fall off the tracks and rather than concentrate on education get caught up in drinking, underage sex, drugs and crime.

3) Take up a new hobby. Most of my hobbies are quite solitary so I should really take up a hobby that will help me meet some more people my own age as at the moment my social life centres around a few friends from university and a drinking buddy. Unfortunately Im convinced most people my own age just socialise in bars and clubs so if I went to some sort of class or society it would be just full of old people. Need to find something that would be full of young people that I would enjoy doing as well!

4) Limit my coffee drinking…..I suffer from insomnia and it probably has something to do with excessive caffeine intake. I get into a vicious circle. I have insomnia so don’ get much sleep. So im exhausted in the morning. so i need coffee to keep me from falling asleep in class (and im the teacher so that won’t do) but that keeps me awake at night. Not to mention how expensive getting a coffee in London is these days!

5) Do some independent travel…...while I have all these dreams of going to tropical islands, living on a ranch etc I generally am too lazy to organise anything and opt instead for the family holiday which involves staying in nice hotels in civilised countries. But this year Im determined to actually go somewhere!


January 01, 2007

My first rave

While I claim to be a man of the world, truth is I have had a fairly sheltered youth. Ive never been offered drugs, never done drugs, never really ventured outside of the nicer parts of London, never been mugged, never been beaten up, never got into a fight, never been in jail, and never drunk till Ive passed out.

So naturally I ended up at a rave entirely by accident. I was with a friend and the London parties were hideously expensive to get into. So he says “I know a guy who knows of a party at a reggae bar in North London”. I think “Hmm. I do like a bit of Marley” so go along with it.

The moment we get off the tube I realise I am in a really really deprived area. The people milling around the streets have either a look of intense suffering on their face or just look cold and hard. I make the mistake of looking at a guy and he starts saying “What you looking at cuz?” and gets a bit of an attitude. I placate him and say “Nothing. Im just waiting for a friend and bored. Im not looking for any trouble”. He started swearing at me trying to rile me. I just take it. He tries to push me around a bit but I just restrain him. Eventually he gets bored and says “can i have a pound to get some wings”. I give it to him and his hunger gets the better of him and he disappears into the night.

My friend’s friend shows up. He is a skinhead with a short stocky build and a goatee. But he seems nice enough and claims to be a student nurse. We make our way to this club.

It turns out to be a deserted warehouse and there is an assortment of freaks queueing up. Girls with skinheads, white men with dreadlocks, piercings all over, multicoloured hair, people who look like famine victims….I feel very out of place wearing smart jeans, a Kenneth Cole white shirt and a wool coat. I think I was something of a novelty and people kept staring at me. Well at first. After a while people were too stoned to notice.

I had a walk around and surveyed the “scene”. The music was very odd and left me feeling most bemused. Im informed it is called trance. Unfortunately I think you need to be stoned or mentally ill to appreciate it.

We went upstairs where people were “dancing”. There was no rhythm so I just copied everyone else and felt faintly ridiculous. I flailed my hands around as if I was having an epilectic fit and let my eyes glaze over and kept my mouth open and let my tongue hang out.

I saw these rooms where people were snorting cocaine and injecting themselves with needles.

I did acquire a hippy admirer. This girl with blue and green hair, bald patches, lots of piercings and little discernible body fat launched herself at me and said “Happy New Year” flung her arms around me and attempted to kiss me. I dodged the kiss and gave her my cheek. I tried to get away but she followed me around. Eventually I just said to her “Look it would never work. When we go on our honeymoon youd just set off the metal detector at the airport”.

I got bored very quickly once the novelty wore off and also felt really tired. So I sulked in the corner and ate chewitts until my friend was ready to go.


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