Saturday, December 29, 2018

Black Heart Blues 

December can be an epic disaster of social events, over-eating, over-spending and over-extending. I found some relief when a couple of difficult projects were done and dusted, tucked away or sent off to the ether where they would no doubt die in the cold lonely space where neglected work dies. My calendar cleared up further when my volunteer commitments had been met and only one party was left. I took an evening to put up some Christmas decorations while playing a cheesy Christmas movie in the background (theme: when you’ve lost family, create your own etc) and I have to admit some seasonal warmth crept into my black heart.

Why the black heart? I’m not sure. It’s as though you’ve just discovered your hand has lost all sensation after driving a nail into it without noticing. That’s odd, you say to yourself, that should really have hurt. My job lately has been so soul-suckingly unsatisfying it has left me numb to whatever ridiculous thing happens next. The bleakness of the darkest November in 30 years certainly contributed. Meanwhile the hellscape of political machinations infecting our world is inescapable. I resolved to ignore it but no matter what, some kind of terrible news slips into your life like an unwanted guest.

I thought I could outrun that black heart but you don’t get far if you can only get around to running once every few days (see “work”). Maybe a good night’s sleep would do the trick but where did all the good nights go? I thought I could drink it away but that’s a bit of a cliché isn’t it? I thought the company of friends would take it away but you can only impose yourself on friends for so long. I sought out art only to find those unscrupulous thieves called artists not only have your number but they will call it and who answers that call? The black heart.

The black heart. That inky celphalopod who lurks and slips into any nook and cranny. That fairground funny mirror who reflects your own corrupt and morphed image of yourself. It’s a box, opaque to everyone else but transparent to yourself and it is disgusting, smelling of the rot of your own septic guts. Who are you? You voiceless director, making me your whipping boy, pressing my face in the mess that is my life. You are a spectral bully and if there is one thing I hate, it’s a bully. When you live in a time that venerates, celebrates, champions and elects bullies and their bullshit, it’s hard to see the bright side. There was a time I would have avoided typing that word but it’s too late for that now. We live in a golden age of bullshit. It is an era when that word went from unacceptable to the only way to describe the world.

I guess that’s a cynical view of the world, life and everything but that’s what the Black Heart does to you.


Seen in… November 

Band of Brothers, more like horde of hunks. Image via The Movie DB

The weather of November lends itself to the interior, as in the interior of your home watching your television. Despite a dark and murky November and typical busyness I was able to get to the cinema a few times and finish a few series I've wanted to watch for awhile.

Marvel’s Daredevil Season 3

Like another Marvel series, Punisher, this is a very well scripted and paced show with death and violence as its focus. Unlike Punisher where the main question is “Why shouldn’t I kill my enemy?”, Matthew Murdoch aka Daredevil struggles with defeat and the idea that a murder would be the easy way out.

Band of Brothers

Like Platoon for a different generation of actors, this HBO mini-series from 2001 feels contemporary and fresh like a wound that won’t heal. It’s the story of Easy Company, the group of American paratroopers that fought from Normandy and worked their way through the European theatre of World War II. We follow the company from their initial training and through their many perilous battles. As an American story, it sometimes flirts close to American jingoism, yet the reality of war, its tactics, its fears, its horrors, its boredom and its shock reminds us that it is a universally human and terrible thing. There are an incredible number of actors in this huge ensemble and many, who were unknowns at the time have gone on to fame and recognition. You might want to watch it with the open just to cure the itch of finding out the answer to “Where have I seen that actor before?”

Paddington was so fun they made another one. Image via The Movie DB

Paddington 2

I’m not even sure why I watched this. I wasn’t a particular Paddington fan as a kid and I didn’t see the point of making a feature length film of a little talking bear who had moved to London. Perhaps after watching so much grim and intolerably violent stuff I just wanted a relief. A break from blood and gore. A break from the depressing news cycle of racism, misogyny and hate that passes as politics today. Well, lo, a golden gleaming ganache appeared before me and without even asking if I needed it, I had already consumed it. This is one of those “all ages” films that plants itself in its own invented world of magic realism as Paddington’s adventure starts with a wish to buy his aunt a birthday present but winds up as a treasure hunt and jailbreak. You don’t need to really know anymore than that but rest assured if you let yourself slip into this movie like comfy slippers you’ll come out relaxed and revitalized just a little bit. Visually, it’s movie “hygge” and Hugh Grant is a surprise as a dastardly villain who shows more range in this one small role than in the last twenty years of his career.

Read more »

Friday, December 21, 2018


Here's to more cheers and less fear this year. Merry Christmas everyone!


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Book Launch 

It's that time of year and The Absurdly Quotidian Omnibus has landed. Has it "landed" or "launched"? "Book Launch" is an odd expression. Is it like a boat launch, struck by a bottle of champagne and pushed down a slip into the water? No. Is it like a rocket launch whereby a tin can packed with enough explosives to thrust it beyond the atmosphere? No. I guess the idea is that this thing, this collection of ideas illustrated in words and printed and bound is let loose upon the world. Will it take flight? Unlikely. Will it hold open doors? Definitely not heavy enough for that. Will it keep you company on the privy? Hopefully, if the author is lucky and if even luckier, it will sit comfortably on a shelf for years of posterity, a time capsule of sorts - though please refrain from burying it in the backyard for future generations to find.

Labels: ,

Sunday, December 02, 2018

I am an Office Worker and I am Human Too 

Typing Pool (MSA)
They are doomed or making a better life for their ungrateful brats who will grow up to sing about not working in an office.

As someone who spends a lot of time sitting, standing or in the proximity of desks in offices, I am personally offended by the narrative cliché of a protagonist who could imagine no worse fate than working in an office or at a desk. Songs sing the deathly fate of being chained a desk. Oh moan! Forsooth and gadzooks! A paying job that requires little more than sitting at a particular style of furniture should not cause you worry.

A recent fantasy film depicts young wizards summoning their greatest fears and of course our hero imagines working at a desk as his greatest fear. What? Popular music and films all at some point have an exasperated character whining that they wouldn't want to "waste their life behind a desk" or they'd just die if they had to become a "desk jockey". The British program and its American derivative, "The Office" both highlighted the slow requiem that is the mindless office job. Another comedic icon, Mike Judge, ruthlessly satirized American office employment with his classic, "Office Space" and now in his new series "Silicon Valley" has expanded his milieu to include office drones sitting behind dark screens typing endless lines of code. Yet I have to ask, what's so bad about being paid to sit and think?

You know who spent a lot of time at a desk and didn't waste their life? Einstein. Newton. Alice Munro, James Joyce, William Shakespeare and any other great writer you can think of, and not just scientists and authors but philosophers like John Calvin and Thomas Hobbes. Also artists like, Bill Watterson, the creator of the beloved comic series, "Calvin & Hobbes". Would you really say any of these people wasted their lives behind a desk?

The great sculptor Rodin demonstrated in his masterpiece "the Thinker" that sitting and thinking go hand in hand. Despite the health scare of "sitting", I can say I'm still alive and kicking (while sitting nonetheless), and I use a sit-stand desk, and yes I know, "standing" doesn't count as exercise. But do I complain about it ruining my life? No. Do you know why? Because this job pays for my home, it pays for food I eat, it paid for the grill on which I grilled the food that I eat, it pays for movies and shows, holidays abroad and memberships to galleries and museums. It provides a benefits plan that pays for my medical expenses and besides all that, it gives me something to do during the day.

Of course the old adage that “a desk job will kill” has actually found some (dubious) medical evidence that “sitting is the new smoking” which is codswallop. This the very definition of correlation vs causation (with a dash of deadline-driven journalism). There is definitely a correlation between someone who sits around a lot dying from heart disease but to attribute that to sitting would be like saying eating causes diabetes. Likewise don’t blame a chair for your decision to sit in it when the couch is equally to blame (as are any number of other evil upholstered perpetrators lurking in your home).

I say, don’t let the threat of an early death scare you from desk jockeying. Why just the other day, from my climate controlled office and ergonomically configured comfy chair, I spied two hearty gentlemen window cleaners ascending a 30-storey building in basically a basket, in minus temperatures no less and I thought to myself, “I’ll take the rather low possibility of desk related heart disease over a height related death fall any day, thank you.” That night I went home and kissed my university degree good night. I noticed my diploma and patent seemed jealous so I kissed them as well for good measure. Then I knocked my desk for luck and slept soundly.

Labels: ,