Half Arsed Blog Post

It’s important to post regularly. But I’m creatively deficient.

When I was seventeen and everyone my age was learning to drive, I decided against it. I saw the number of cars that were clogging up the arteries of British infrastructure and realised if I had a car, I’d spend the rest of my life looking for somewhere to park. Nearly ten years later (fuck!), I am still shuffling on and off trains and paying extortionate sums of money for a bus.

I was waiting for a train today. The station was in a state of pandemonium. Many trains were cancelled all were delayed. The voice of God came over the station speakers and declared:

“We apologise that the 14:00 train to Moorgate via Hertford North is delayed. This is due to someone being hit by a train.”

People react in two ways to such an announcement. Some tut and lament the travel disruptions such an event causes. Some, more empathetic individuals will spare a thought for the poor individual who felt so alone, who was in such a state of desperate despair that they felt inclined to end their lives. Then they will lament the travel disruptions such an act causes.

Being a human and therefore aware of my own mortality, I think about death frequently. We all lay awake at night with our minds screaming DEATH! At the top of its internal voice. When such an announcement is made, it means someone, an individual who had hopes and dreams and feelings, has died. There are just some things you’re not getting up from, being hit by a train is one of them.

It’s very rare that someone is hit by a train by accident. Trains tend to be limited to where they can go. No one has been innocently sitting on a park bench only to be taken by surprise when a train ploughs into them.

Someone died today. The impact of their death, for the most part, was confined to the mild annoyance of strangers. Is that the best some of us can hope for? As someone who doesn’t believe in an afterlife necessarily, it’s difficult to be concerned with how one is remembered. Once my consciousness is obliterated I suppose nothing will matter.

But it is odd. Our lives are easily snuffed out and the world goes on as usual. Our lives are brief and for many, are not particularly nice. How is it that on a planet of over seven billion people, we can feel so very lonely. In the age of social networking, when we’re all glued to our screens looking at the lives of others, do many of us lack a feeling of connection?

Who knows? I just know when I go, I hope it causes people’s flights to be delayed.

“We apologise that the 19:40 flight to Bali has been delayed, this is because someone has been hit by a plane… we don’t know how it happened either.”

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We Awkard Many

Speak to anyone long enough and they’ll confess to some level of social insecurity. Whilst I feel I can objectively say that most people don’t feel as useless as the small social circle I inhabit, it is there nonetheless.

A brief Google involving two key words ‘social’ and ‘inept’ brings up a host of results, the top ones being how to ‘deal’ with social awkwardness and a test to find out just how socially awkward you are. It’s quite mainstream then, to have no idea how to behave like a human being, who biologists tell us, are social beings.

The odd thing is, if we all feel, to some degree, that we are socially inept why do we keep up the pretences? Why do clubs exist? Does the monotonous music played at a volume as to make conversation impossible work in our favour? Is it there to save us the bother of trying to connect intellectually or emotionally to other human beings?  We’d be better served if they played some good music, save us the hassle of trying to think of anything of any value to say, whilst helping us connect emotionally, rather than just playing whatever drivel Drake happens to be spouting. I hate Drake. Every one of his songs sounds identical and yet each one has makes me feel like despairing in their own unique way.

How have we got to this stage? How has a race that’s managed to build the entirety of what we call ‘civilisation’ become so… useless? The one thing that apparently helped us get to where we are, our ability to work together, our innate socialness that constructed the pillars that hold up society as we know it, is in fact a very frail and fragile thing.

Have we become more self-aware? Has the internet connected us so well, that we’ve time to look at ourselves and find us wanting? Is it technology? Has technology made our lives that much easier that we have more time for self-reflection?

I was once working on a film. Which sounds fun to say and makes me sound like my life is somewhat interesting. I was to be an extra in a film, the filming date was cancelled due to wind, the weather kind, the director didn’t have a stomach ache, Colin Firth wasn’t farting like mad. Anyway. A load of us were transported to a warehouse to try out our costumes.

We were a rag tag band from various backgrounds thrust together by fate. Beautiful friendships could have been made. Love that echoes through the ages could have come about. If we only talked to each other. We arrived half an hour early and had to sit in a canteen somewhere. We could have opened our mouths and started speaking, but we didn’t. What we did was scoop out our phones from our pockets or from depths of bottomless handbags. We looked at these screens and tapped away endlessly to avoid any kind of interaction.

Well I didn’t. My phone was playing up. I was reading Catch-22, which makes me intellectually superior to anyone else there. It does. I mean it’s entirely possible that someone else was using their phone to read Catch-22 but to that I say ‘shh!’

Britain has  been described as ‘the loneliness capital of Europe’, albeit as far back as 2014, which may not seem like a long time, but that was when I still had hope. Is a sense of social detachment ingrained in our DNA? Was the British Empire just a huge reaction to our overwhelming feelings of loneliness? Did our ancestors cross the seas and steal people’s countries, so we can feel less lonely?

You’ll notice I’ve thrown a lot of questions out there, to which I don’t have any answers. The truth is, I’m very drunk. I just left a club. I was with a group. I couldn’t take it anymore.

Someone I think I love was there. She disappeared. There was a long queue for the toilets. So I disappeared too.

The Sideways Leaning Man

I’m currently in a very low state of mind. When this happens the Sideways Leaning Man often makes an appearance, because he’s easy to draw and instills me with a sense of clarity. When I look upon the Sideways Leaning Man the rest of the world melts away and I am left with such stupid piece of art work that I feel, albeit briefly, that everything might just be okay.

I did a few mock ups of the Sideways Leaning Man on Paint. Be aware that when drawn by hand, the Sideways Leaning Man has a more artistic quality. There’s a complexity to him. He is more than a thinly drawn sketch. Figuratively speaking of course. He is literally a thinly drawn sketch. That is what he is.

The Sideways Leaning Man Sees Injustice and Speaks Out.

Sideways leaning man

 

The Sideways Leaning Man Scoots Down a Person, Becoming the Very Thing He Hates

Sideways leaning man scoots a man down

 

The Sideways Leaning Man Looks out the Window, Sees More Injustice, but is Now Too Apathetic to Do Anything About It.

apathy

I’m sure the Sideways Leaning Man has appeared in this blog at somepoint before. I think he witnessed the end of the world in a doodle dating back years. Anyway, there he is.

The Fuzzy Rambler is now on Twitter giving out useful words of wisdom to all. I am screaming down a cardboard tube into a pit filled of screams. I have 1 follower. If I can make a difference to that 1 follower it will all be worth it. I doubt I will though, as I know that individual and he’s a miserable sod.

The Stephen King Conundrum

With imminent homelessness looming over me, lack of career and many personal failings, now seems like a good time to vent about Stephen King. I sit here writing now being disturbed by loud neighbours and loud flatmate and her loud offspring. The child got a laugh when she sung something loud and out of key, and now won’t stop. Children are like that, they’ve yet to cotton on to the law of diminishing returns and keep repeating the same shit over and over. They’re like small Stuart Lees only without the sense of self-aware irony.

Anyway, Stephen King.

I have a love/hate relationship with Stephen King. One thing we can say for certain is he is a very prolific writer.  He is one of the highest earning writers and has a huge back catalogue of releases. The Green Mile is hands down one of the best things I’ve read, let’s just get that out there.

Some of his novels are great, others are so damned awful it makes me mad. I would rage that there’s a conspiracy and he gets other people to write some, but I know that’s not true, as the bad ones stink of self-indulgence.

I have just finished reading the Bazaar of Bad Dreams, one of King’s many collections of short stories. My experience was meh. Or for a more thoughtful critique, it was ‘hmmmmm well, maybe some… meh.’

The first short story starts with a young child trying to prove himself cool by going to an old, run down and long abandoned service station where all the ‘big kids’ hang out. He finds some vodka, drinks some and falls asleep, then a man-eating car turns up, decapitates a guy, eats a woman and causes general mayhem before the aforementioned kid sets it on fire with a magnifying glass and it flies away.

If it was a piece of surrealism played for laughs, it would have been great. Unfortunately, there was a stony seriousness to it almost.

There were some nice stories among the turds. Nice being a fairly bland word. They were good ideas and read well, but the whole thing felt like it was written by a creative writing student. Creative writing students are the worst.

The law of averages dictates that with so many books to his name, some are bound to be shit. The shit ones don’t make the good ones any less good and the good ones the shit ones any less shit. The problem is, the name Stephen King sells. This means he can release any old turd he likes and get a few million for doing so.

And perhaps that’s the problem.

Or maybe he just writes what he wants and fuck the haters.

And maybe that’s the problem, because that leads to constant Dark Tower references or subplots to appear in just about anything he likes.

Hearts in Atlantis was almost a good collection of short stories, particularly the first entitled ‘Low Men in Yellow Coats’. That was almost a brilliant story. Troubled kid with a bit of a shit mother and his friend befriend a mysterious, gentle man who has low men after him. It’s never explained what he’s done in the past and there’s allusions to all sorts of potentially sinister things.

He’s a quiet lover of literature who helps out these poor kids where he can.  Lots of things happen and long story short the low men in yellow coats catch up with him… in a shapeshifting car and they demand he return to the Tower to use his psychic powers to help break the beams.

For anyone who has read the Dark Tower series this would be jarring. To people like me who haven’t this is unforgiveable. Don’t get a reader passionately engaged only to fuck them over at the last minute. An underwhelming ending is fine, endings are often just that, but a bullshit ending is just silly.

It would be like if Casablanca ended with the titular character turning into a squid creature and returning to his home planet before Earth is immediately destroyed. No foreshadowing, no clues, just that.

I mean I haven’t watched Casablanca, so that may well be what happens.

It’s irksome. King is still being held up as the figurehead of all things literature. People seem to hang onto his every word as if he’s still relevant. Maybe he is. But it seems like someone needs to give him some honest feedback rather than just seeing dollar signs. There are so many of his books that would never see the light of day if he didn’t have a famous name.

But he does, so instead they get published and he laughs atop a mountain of cash.

I don’t know what I’m doing, I just read a book I don’t like and I’ve got no one to speak to and writing this has allowed me to forget I have my own problems.

Yes, I’m bitter. Please keep writing Mr. King, but keep them good.

 

 

Thoughts

Everybody hurts, sometimes.

They were words said by a great man. Whilst it is undoubtedly from R.E.M’s worst song and releasing it did them all a disservice and tarnishes what was otherwise a good run, the sentiment is a good one.

Everybody hurts, sometimes.

And sometimes you won’t hurt.

These are words to live by.

This too shall pass.

What was I talking about? Who knows, another drink good barkeep. Do you know how it got to this? No? me neither.

Point is, everybody too shall pass, sometimes. No wait.

Point is.

I don’t know.

But dear god I hope it passes.

I hurt.

But everybody hurts, sometimes.

I Love LOTR, But Amazon can F*** Off.

*WARNING* the below is yet another opinion on the announced LOTR tv series. It gets nerdy. It gets angry and ultimately goes nowhere.

It’s time to discuss a serious issue.

The Lord of the Rings.

I love the Lord of the Rings, both the books and the amazing films. It’s one of the few franchises I think the films were actually better. That might be a controversial statement, but they cut out all the singing for a start, all that endless singing. Many fans have complained about the movies’ failing to include Tom Bombadil, but they’re fucking idiots. Tom Bombadil was shit and fairly inconsequential really.

The books, as we all know, effectively spawned what we know to be the fantasy genre we have today. The best genre there is. There’s a lot of shit fantasy, but that’s not the genre’s fault now is it? There’s a lot of shit everything. The point is, fantasy is great and The Lord of the Rings and the history of Middle-earth is some of the best fantasy out there.

We have recently seen the golden age of television. TV is surpassing their big screen counterparts. With more space and time to tell a story and develop compelling characters, we have seen some of the greatest shows to ever be made. Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire the list goes on. Sure, there’s a certain formula to a lot of the current shows, 2 parts violence to 1 part sex, but there’s a formula to everything in life.

So, taken altogether, Amazon’s recently announced LOTR tv series is something to get really excited about.

If you’re an idiot.

This is without a doubt the worst idea in the history of bad ideas. It’s worse than that one you had about buying a dog, now look at you, you’re outside in the cold picking up it’s shit aren’t you? You idiot!

For starters they [Amazon] paid $250 million for the rights to said franchise. That’s a lot of money. I mean, that’s a huge amount of money. If you got that amount of money in $1 bills and laid it out, you’d have $250 million $1 dollar bills, and you’d also be an idiot, why would you do that?

That’s quite the investment. It needs to pay off (or maybe it doesn’t, this is Amazon and they own everything, even me and my array of jumpers). It reeks of desperation. Amazon’s streaming service hasn’t been as successful as it would have liked, with the monolithic fantasy franchise Game of Thrones soon to be at an end, people are going to want their fix of swords and sex and dragons. Except, that’s not LOTR. George RR Martin’s, A Clash of Kings (I think, I can’t be bothered to research this) starts off with a detailed description of Theon getting a blowjob. I dare you to read the LOTR and find a scene where Sam Gamgee visits a brothel and gets his balls stepped on by a stiletto wearing dominatrix. Whilst there is no doubt a video on the internet depicting just this, what I’m trying to say is, tonally, graphic sex scenes would not suit The LOTR world. If Amazon are hoping to entice Game of Thrones viewers over to their channel, there’s a chance they could be disappointed. And if they spruce it up and throw in some gratuitous sex, LOTR fans will probably be disappointed.

More to the point, as already expressed, LOTR has the perfect adaptation in Peter Jackson’s trilogy. What more can they bring to the table?

Uh-oh, did I just hear the word ‘prequel’ on the wind. Like a black cat walking up your path that is a bad sign.

Prequel’s are, on the whole, bad ideas. Taking characters and events we know and love and forcing us to watch ‘how and why’ people got to that point and things are as they are, is often not only unnecessary, but painfully tedious. There’s very little tension to be had as we know where everything needs to go, and important back stories we are already aware of, because they’re hinted at or alluded to in the original.

Adding more detail, or delving into other ‘mysteries’ and tying up every possible loose end takes away much of the enjoyment to be had. Like Star Wars for instance, Star Wars is my childhood, my life if you will. I have no intention of watching whatever contrived piece of shit the Han Solo film will inevitably be. What made Han cool was all we knew was he was a smuggler with a Wookie friend. He was out for himself and he was badass. How he got there is entirely up to us as a viewer. How he became friends with Chewie is for us to decide and theorise, if we have that shown to us, an unlimited array of possibilities become whittled down to one. Also, Han was Harrison Ford, and he’s a charismatic stallion of a man, so that was the main allure.

Furthermore, didn’t we just have a LOTR prequel in that god awful Hobbit trilogy? That’s right, god awful! I love the Hobbit book, it was one of my favourites and was perfect how it was. Why they felt the need to turn one book half the size of The Fellowship into 3 films I will never know. Oh wait, money. Scrap that last bit. I often think if they took all the good bits from the 3 films and edit them together they could have one good film. There are many reasons the Hobbit movies were awful and I haven’t the time to go into all of them, but a large portion of the blame goes to all those unnecessary ‘prequel’ moments. All those dull and pointless scenes with the wizards investigating the possible return of the ‘Dark Lord’. As said, we know where this goes, it’s pointless, not to mention Galadriel banishes Sauron pretty easily. Then there’s one of the last lines in the third film, it’s a call back if you will (though it’s set before the original utterance, so maybe it’s a call forward?), where Gandalf says ‘Bilbo, there are many magic rings in the world and none of them should be taken lightly.’ Basically, he says that he knows Bilbo has a magic ring that he found.

Which makes him look stupid in the Fellowship when Bilbo disappears and he’s all like ‘Shit, how’d he do that?’ before spending ages researching what the hell was going on. Surely, having fought Sauron with Elrond, Galadriel and Saruman and knowing Bilbo has a magic ring, he should have put 2 and 2 together easily.

And what the hell was Legolas doing there? And who the fuck is Tauriel? Just to digress momentarily from my already quite lengthy digression, she was included to add another female to a male dominated cast. Now, whilst I applaud any attempt to organically insert some diversity, I’m not sure putting in an attractive woman whose only motivation is that she is in love with a beautiful dwarf she had one conversation with, is the right way to go about it.

Any way the point is the Hobbit was shit.

No it wasn’t.

The point is, prequels suck.

With a setting as rich as Middle-earth it could work if they set it way, way back and have it have no relation to the LOTR plot whatsoever. However, if they do that they may as well have not bought the rights and just made a series set in Bliddle-Blearth. The show plans to focus on stories “preceding The Fellowship of the Ring…” (http://deadline.com/2017/11/amazon-the-lord-of-the-rings-tv-series-multi-season-commitment-1202207065/), which doesn’t give us much to go on. Many of the events ‘preceding’ the Fellowship were summed up succinctly within the films and books themselves. How Gandalf knows Aragorn, how Sméagol became Gollum, how Sauron deceived all and became the Dark Lord, it’s all pretty much there.  Anything not included by Tolkien (and he included a lot), probably isn’t worth exploring.

All in all, what we will end up with is a wannabe Game of Thrones desperately trying to use an established name for viewership.  We’ll have a forced story with poorly drawn characters that all feels entirely unnecessary. It’s a symptom of the end of the golden age.  In a desperate attempt to keep it going, studios are going to throw money at big names in the hope to draw a crowd. It will not work.

I’m glad I got that out my system.

  

The Minute Collection of Absurdity.

Below is an extract from my latest waste of time – I mean work in progress.

 

Hubert J Watergipridget is, without a doubt, the greatest novelist that ever did live. It is said that his texts are so important, that many have cured seemingly incurable diseases. It seems that no genre, subject or medium was beyond his talents. His subtle political satire ‘All Politicians are Cunts’ is still as relevant today as it was when he wrote it some time in the forties.
Little is known about the author’s private life and education, in fact only a scant 5 800 page biographies have been written about him, as well as one ‘speculative biography’ which makes a few guesses as to what he may have been like.
Following the phenomenal success of The Tiny Compendium of Ridiculousness and the huge sums of money it brought in, researchers have conveniently uncovered another collection of previously unpublished Watergipridget works. These are for a more mature audience and as such, explore more daring issues and controversial topics. The Head of Humanities at Oxford University has gone on to say of the collection that it ‘is very much more of the same’, so we can be rest assured that The Minute Collection of Absurdity will do just as well as its predecessor.

When asked of his success and what advice he’d give others, Watergipridget remarked that “In life, there are those who work hard and with dedication and those who seek the easy path. Both are good options, as it’s all down to luck anyway. There are those with more success than they deserve and those with more failure than they deserve and the simple fact is, whatever choices they made, however talented they were and however hard they worked, none of it made the slightest bit of difference. We are all particles being fired through space, occasionally by sheer chance some of the right particles smash into one another and create something interesting, but more often than not they explode and fuck everything up.”
Watergipridget’s acceptance of the chaotic nature of the universe went beyond explaining the perplexing career advances of the undeserving, going on to become the driving force in everything he did, as well as the excuse for everything he did. He was once charged with drug possession, three counts of soliciting and the assault of a police officer. In answer to these crimes he simply stated “We’re nothing but insects scurrying around in the dust, a slave to electrical impulses in the brain and chemical reactions in the body. I have no more control over my own actions than a worm does whether he gets eaten or not.”
He was later released without charge. However, the policeman in question and a number of his friends did leap out from behind a bush and break his legs. They were let off as a result of using the same defence.
So, the volatile and bleak nature of the universe is often reflected in Watergipridget’s work, which of course, by his own admission, he can’t possibly take credit for because his thoughts are the result of the afore mentioned chemical reactions and electrical discharges.

This collection contains the following.

The Man Who Believed Himself to be an Octopus.  (An earlier draft can be found here https://thefuzzyrambler.wordpress.com/2016/02/27/the-man-who-believed-himself-an-octopus/)
I’m Old and Likely to Die Soon.
Of Mice and Slightly Smaller Mice.
He Who Watched All The Porn
She Who Watched Most of the Porn.
Never Let It Be Said.
And more, if the researchers bother to find any.

The Tiny Compendium of Ridiculousness can and should be bought here. If you don’t own a kindle, message me and I’ll phone you up at night and read the stories to you.