Behind Enemy Lines

I am currently quite upset with the magazine I work for. I wrote a very negative review about a film I felt very negatively about – in other words, I told the truth. However, the magazine did not print the piece I put a lot of time and effort into writing – seriously, the film was painful to watch. My job as a journalist was to tell the truth. The magazine’s job should have been to print my pretentious, biased viewpoint in its full 400 word glory, but my crusade was cut short by the iron claw of Marxism. Here are some episotolary emails:

Editor:

I have just received 5 copies of Behind Enemy Lines to give away!!!

Whoopsie a review slating it then wow do you want to win a copy! Lol

You have left me with a nightmare here btw

Me:

I can’t lie – it sucked… though maybe there are readers with a morbid curiosity!

But evidently, I was wrong. Readers would prefer to win a crappy DVD and not know they’re going to hate it. The only reason I even chose to review Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia was because I thought it was that documentary Ross Kemp made about Afghanistan. I was wrong, and I’m sure many of the competition winners will make the same mistake I made. Maybe some of them will think they’re getting Ghostbusters or Mommy Dearest; I don’t know. But for those people, here is the questionable review in full:

Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia

* [one star]

I think it is always good for a reviewer to admit their bias against whatever is being reviewed. I am first and foremost not a movie person. I don’t watch films often, but when I do, I like to be either thoroughly educated or thoroughly entertained.

Sadly, Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia managed neither.

The Tim Matheson (Animal House) directed film is co-produced by WWE Studios. In the starring role is WWE Superstar Mr. Kennedy. Obviously there is some special treatment among the ranks, as Mr. Kennedy was allowed to keep his trademark peroxide blonde hair.

Although the direct-to-DVD third film in the Behind Enemy Lines franchise – available as of April 27 – is based on Colombia’s real life FARC communist terrorism group and – as the special features section reveals – all military equipment used is authentic, all attempts at realism end there.

I did try to give this film the benefit of the doubt, but as every factual account of FARC’s actions – reported through dialogue or news bulletins throughout the film – is punctuated by another character advising the group to “stay frosty”, that the terrorists were “preppin’ for a rumble in the jungle” or a succinct “dude”, the educational possibilities of this film turn farcical.

Character development is built up relatively well throughout the movie, as long as you don’t question the existence of a group of Nietzschean supermen prowling around the Colombian Amazon.

Surely being a Navy SEAL isn’t all high-fives and offers of “beers on me” after every clean head-shot.

In fact, from the first revelation that the SEALs “love America” to the final shot of two dead American soldiers being saluted by their regiment while a voiceover quotes the Navy SEALs oath, I would go as far as saying this film is nothing more than not-so-subtle propaganda for the US military.

Viewers are supposed to think “how cool would it be to be one of these soldiers” – but it wouldn’t be cool. Two of them died. If I was there, I would die. I do not want to die, and for that reason above all, I did not like this film.

For a film with the single raison d’être of explosions and gore, there wasn’t very much of either. Special effects were laughably unconvincing and the violence – remember people die in this film – was unrealistic and reminiscent of a cartoon.

For a more realistic exploration of Colombia’s ongoing problems with FARC terrorists, I suggest you look it up on Wikipedia then go paintballing in Colombian army fatigues.

I can’t lie – it sucked… though maybe there are readers with a morbid curiosity!

A quick catch up

I have been in a lull for at least the last month – which is why I haven’t posted anything. Sorry for the absence. Although there has been a lot going on over the past month, I haven’t had the motivation to keep the blog up to date. Even writing pieces for the magazine were difficult for the same reasons.

Wikipedia says: “A recent meta-analysis found that, contrary to the stereotype of the suffering artist, creativity is enhanced most by positive moods. Negative, deactivating moods with an approach motivation (e.g. sadness) were not associated with creativity, but negative, activating moods with avoidance motivation (e.g. fear, anxiety) were associated with lower levels of creativity.”

Thanks.

Goodbye education

I finished uni and am currently waiting on results. If my dreams are accurate (which they will not be, of course), I have managed 81% for my dissertation and somewhere around 30% on both exams. I’ll keep you posted on that one. Maybe.

Hello foreigners

I’m off to Croatia in three weeks, on what I have tried to convince myself is a photography holiday; but which I know is more likely to boil down to extensive drinking, stressful travelling and being raped on beaches and public transport. I can’t wait! We are flying out from Brighton (?) on the 29th and have a hostel in Dubrovnik booked for the first night. After that, we have a week of unplanned mess to make.

Return of the Mac

After that, I have no plans for the rest of my life minus one thing: on October 22nd, Fleetwood Mac (the Rumours line-up minus Christine McVie, my favourite member) are playing Glasgow. Regrettably, they are playing the SECC, but it doesn’t matter! I managed to get two tickets before they sold out. They may have been overpriced, but £140 for a two and a half hour show by one of the best geriatric bands in the world isn’t too bad! I have been looking at the set list (they play the same show every night) and I have calculated I will cry at least nine times before the show ends.

I had no idea the band was going to bring the show to Scotland, so when I saw the story on the front page (!) of The Herald on Wednesday, I was in shock. Beautiful, beautiful shock. They even made the political cartoon!

IMG_1973

An excuse for more photos

RR Angela gave me a sharpie the other day, which I have started using in some sketches. I’ve been trying out a new style which has been described variously as: a departure from the usual “Gauguin-style self portrait that I’m used to”; and prison art. I realise I need to pay a little more attention to the preliminary sketches, but these examples were each completed within ten minutes, just to test the new style and see how it worked out.

This one is standard fare, making up this blog’s mandantory Joni Mitchell mention:

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This was inspired by the Fleetwood Mac ticket scam affair:

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And this one just makes me laugh:

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Toilet Humour

I feel incredibly guilty when I receive blog traffic from Total Politics. These users are  looking for the proposed SNP-friendly political blogger advertised on their site under this address. I feel this guilt especially when I post blogs like the monstrosity below. Part of me – my inner conservative – genuinely wants to make this a proper, professional, journalistic blog. Sadly, this professional aspect is easily suppressed, which – since I often forget this blog is available through Google – may one day prevent me from entering the news industry. The remaining part of me would like to welcome you back to the journalistic hovel that is Easy Realism and hopes you enjoy your stay – even if you were looking for serious analysis of Sturgeon.

The new DSLR camera is great, thanks for asking! We’ve gotten on very well from the beginning – even though I was, and still am, unprecedentedly broke after buying it. Plus I still don’t really know what I’m doing with the thing. That is beside the point. Results so far have been visceral: I made someone throw up yesterday just by describing the results of my latest artistic project. Personally, I think it is a pretty interesting idea: I’m taking pictures of all the things that really piss me off about my family. I’m turning the negatives of family life into productive positives. Here are some of the early collections of images from this ongoing project, all based on my sister’s stomach-turning habits and ignorance of basic hygiene or decency:

1. These are some pretty bog-standard things to get pissed off about. I mean everyone forgets to flush now and again. That can be forgiven. It may even be an attempt to save water:

piss

Though for the sake of cleanliness, please for God’s sake, don’t let a pot get all orange and weird with mould. Because the internet is a totally inadequate medium for MY ART, I am unable to convey the smell that came off this thing. The mould had a smell:

pot

Our shower is broken. The “on” button is messed up. I improvised with some tape to get the thing working again, on the promise that it would be properly fixed within a few weeks. That was eight months ago. There is now some black thing presumably LIVING underneath the tape and the whole set up is frankly disgusting. I use the shower to clean, not to be contaminated by some tape-dwelling rank as fuck creature. The shower head itself also needs to be fixed as it keeps falling down mid shower and soaking the floor. I want to fucking kick the thing in every time it breaks while I am trying to wash and focus my anger on that fucking makeshift tape “on” button bullshit thing!

broken

Again, this must be some attempt to save the fucking planet by not using so much water: my sister has this fucking habit of spitting out her toothpaste and not washing it away. I THINK IT IS ACTUALLY RANK. Sometimes I have to wipe the toothpaste-spit away by hand before shaving. The thought of her spit inadvertantly touching my face makes me boke. I want to strangle her every time I see STUFF in the sink that should have been washed away. I want to fucking choke her. Here is an example of her having spit on the tap itself:

spit1

2. I spoke a few blogs back about having problems with food and in an attempt to reverse this food-aversion, I started buying more fruit. In particular, I started buying melons and grapes. Melon was the saviour of my stomach – until my fucking sister started taking my fruit for herself.

food11

I said she “takes” my melon for herself, not “eats”. As this picture clearly shows, she doesn’t fucking bother eating my food, she just fucking pokes at it, ruins it with her fucking teeth, and fucking leaves it behind. Not only does this mean she has to go and clean her fucking teeth and leave spit all over the tap like a fucking savage, but leaves her not-eaten dinner in the living room to fester and not be eaten and grow stinky mould all over it until I clean it up like the fucking butler. More melon, James??!?

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3. “Right, some cunt keeps leaving her fucking pants in my toilet!”

pants1

“I just came in here for a shite and look what I need to deal with!”

pants2

4. Not visceral enough for you? Here’s what she did when she took off her underwear:

yuckypissblood1WHAT THE HELL IS THAT!?!? Yes, that’s right. It’s a half-congealed globule of period blood. On the rim of my toilet. Just left there to stare at me until I CLEANED IT OFF WITH A BIT OF TOILET ROLL. Here’s a close up for you:

yuckypissblood2That opaque shadow makes me want to fucking throw up.

5. So then, I came downstairs, and I saw this on the wall. I thought the toilet was following me – ghosts of periods past dripping their way down my kitchen cupboard like a menstruating Slimer.

wallpissBut no, it was actually worse. Some absolute manky twat had broken a glass and chucked it into the basin – already filled with crockery and water. Great, broken glass actually in the sink WHERE I HAVE TO PUT MY HANDS.

ksink3You absolute bitch!! Fucking clean up your own fucking mess! I am not your fucking butler!! I cut my foot on the floor because there were shards on it. My sister thinks everyone around her is a fucking tool. She came home and I asked her about this incident. She was the only one in the kitchen when it happened and it was pretty obviously her fault. She tried to pretend she had no idea what happened. ABSOLUTE BULLSHIT. There is no way this could have happened without her noticing. The official line that came out of her disgusting, Colgate mouth was “I had my work uniform… over there… it must have knocked it”. Call the fucking ghostbusters, Slimer has taken over her clothes as well.

ksink1And the worst bit? Kathy takes her fucking side; believes the ridiculous lie and is taken in by the farcical acting! I got the blame for the broken glass and stained sink – even though I was bleeding from the foot! Walking wounded!!

I have been considering options for what to do with these photographs. I’m thinking I should take photographs of every globule of menstrual blood for a year without telling my sister and turn it into a lovely calender, with a different period for every month. She’d like that. Or maybe I’ll just take a fucking shit under her pillow and resign as fucking chambermaid.

It just sickens you.

The internet is rife with corruption, disrespect and dirty, dirty porn. This will come as news to noone. However, I’ve been finding more and more evidence of this web-age paradigm corrupting mainstream media and our children!!

I found this disturbing and wrong programme schedule on my beloved http://www.tvguide.co.uk/. CBeebies is obviously under the control of some massive internet paedophile ring headed by an ageing Jabba the Hutt, out to brainwash your children’s minds into thinking it is the norm for older gentlemen to act in such a way:

paedotv

And even the Dutch are not immune to the internet’s hegemonic deconstruction of values. Case in point, this interview (and part two) with Easy Realism Regular Reader Joni Mitchell (she must be. I mean, come on, everyone Googles themself at least once a day). The Dutch translation clearly reads: “She is a slut and a slag. Because of the internet. And there is nothing we can do to stop it”.

slut-and-slag2

Look at the pain on Joni’s face. There IS nothing we can do to stop it. Won’t someone please alert the Daily Mail?!

star-wars-jabba-the-hutt_lALL YOUR CBEEBIES ARE BELONG TO US!!!

I should not be allowed an internet.

1. I got my fancy cigarettes yesterday. I haven’t tried the Black Russian Sobranies yet, but I did give the much lusted after Natural American Spirits a try. I had built these up in my head as something special. Turns out I was wrong. Biggest vice let down ever.

2. To make up for this upset (I spent like £8 on those cigarettes!!), I went looking for the much lusted after DSLR camera on the net. I found an auction site which was selling a Nikon D90 for £4. I got excited. I was ecstatic. I went a bit overboard with the bidding. Turned out the website was a scam – THAT’S RIGHT, SWOOPO, I KNOW YOUR GAME – and I made the rookie mistake of spending £10 worth of bids on fuck all. That’s right. I lost a tenner to scam merchants.
3. I went into uni at 17:05 to do dissertation work. By 17:15, I had blown £300 on a Canon EOS 400D on eBay. DSLR lust took over and I was thinking from the groin. God, what a fool. I have £60 to last me the next three or four weeks. Even then, pay day isn’t going to bring me any joy. The worst part is, I don’t even know how to use a decent camera.

I can’t even write anything beyond this, I am in such disbelief. Please, someone, reassure me that I have not made a dire mistake!

Low Density Depression

This may or may not surprise you, but here at Easy Realism Towers, we are prone to bouts of depression.

I have been trying to come up with a rationale for this most heinous of downers (yes, I am trying to cheer myself up with Wayne’s-World-esque turns of phrase) for the past couple of weeks.

Am I doing too many shifts at my shitty job? No. I am doing maybe two shifts at the weekend. Hardcore shifts, one may argue: six or ten hours of “serving” the undeserving rich for less than minimum wage; building up serious pressure headaches from having to stare at these people through the disdain.

Am I making enough money from this otherwise needless weekend stress? No, but that doesn’t bother me too much. I make around £250 a month at present. I don’t have to stop myself from going out whenever I want as long as I don’t ruin my earnings on food* clothes or the much-lusted-after DSLR camera.

*Freudian slip: I just wrote “ruin my earnings on food”. Since this post is, for me, some surrogate psychology session; I may as well let you know that I have – at least partially – admitted to having a problem with food, after a thousand empty arguments with Kathy. Not a disorder. Not a serious problem. Just a minor problem. I have started buying more fruit to counter this minor problem. It is easier to imagine finishing a few slices of melon than some massive pasta, then the stomach demands more without feeling overwhelmed by a full on meal.

Speaking of arguments with Kathy, we had a huge fight – a battle – about smoking in the house. She said she was fine with me smoking outside, just not in the room in case of deaths (even though that is totally not going to happen). She reassured me lastnight that she was not “getting on” at me, then slowly built up a barrage of nip nip nip nip nips about how there are no benefits to smoking; how I am damaging myself; how she treats long term smokers on a weekly basis, and so on. Right now, I find “long term” an absurd concept. I have no long term.

Speaking of long term damage, I managed to find a supplier of these fancy cigarettes I have always wanted to try: Native American Spirit. I think this may be an invented memory since I cannot find a source of this information anywhere, but I am sure I read that these are the type Joni Mitchell smokes. I also bought these fancy bastards because I was incredibly tired when I found this site and thought I had money to burn. How foolish of me.

I am trying to get some work done with a function band just now but am not giving myself enough practice time and therefore holding everyone back. I don’t have time for this commitment right now.

I am experiencing dissertation panic as the whole thing is due in maybe two weeks. I wanted to go to Spain to see my dad before he moved back to Scotland, but because of the work load and making less money than I would like to, I can’t afford to go.

As blog catharsis goes, this has been rather good. A permanently recorded snapshot of low density depression. Surrogate psychology works better than the real thing. Thanks, doc; just don’t let anyone read my file.

Skins: The antithesis of cultural snobbery.

I just watched Skins.

I was really sceptical – like a lot of people – when I heard they were changing the entire cast for season three; and I didn’t like the first few episodes because I was so ingrained in the deep psychological flaws of the original cast. Cassie will probably always be one of my top-ten TV characters.

However, after the last (literal) couple of episodes, I was Twittering endlessly about how – given time to properly develop the characters – the third series was fast becoming as good as, dare I say it, season two.

Tonight’s episode seven was fantastic. From an objective point of view, probably the best yet. Episode six was incredibly powerful, but – like I did with a lot of season two – I was applying the situations to my own life and memories. Nothing beats a bit of televisual catharsis.

The reason tonight was so good was because although I couldn’t connect to it as deeply as other episodes, I was completely enthralled by the storyline, the new interactions between – finally – developed characters (JJ and Emily were obvious, but also between Emily and Cook and Freddie and Katie (honestly, never saw that one coming)).

Might I also point out that my favourite character is Naomi – one of the few characters I did not write off during episode one.

I even like Cook now – the outfits he wears are supposedly a mash up of violent youth culture over the past 50 years, which I think is a fantastic allusion – particularly since it is so malleable a medium.

I complained about the unrealistic feel I got from series three at the beginning: everything was over-the-top, special effects – and there still is an element of that – but the Bristol underworld does not play so big a part anymore. More to the point, it has been given its own place in the background: an integral part of the class system* building up around the characters in a way far more obvious than the previous series. Effy Stonem lives in the same house, yet now, the fact that she comes from a middle class part of the city is far more important. Bring on the bourgouise disillusionment.

*I am arguing that class is becoming less and less important with someone over MSN right now – what a charlatan I am.

One thing I was able to apply to this realisation of how important the class system is in Skins was that I was born to middle class parents, and am of the generation of the characters, regardless of being older than the original cast. Boo hoo.

But from my objective viewpoint, the series revealed itself to be – intentionally or otherwise – modelled on Dostoevsky’s “The Idiot”. I only realised tonight, with the revelation of JJ’s autism, that he could be argued as taking the role of Prince Myshkin. Perhaps this was all too obvious since he was episode seven’s protagonist.

However, on a grander scale, Effy Stonem must be modelled on the damaged and damaging Nastasya Fillipovna: knowing that everyone loves her on sight, but does not really care; treating those around her as objects and experiments.

Perhaps thankfully, her character seems to be opening like a matroshka doll and allowing her true self to come out from within a beautiful shell.

My only concern is that when the main character in Skins – or any programme, since they are all so homogenous anyway – opens up like this, the series is surely drawing to a close. Please don’t leave me, Skins! I need you.

Final point: the music was, yet again, incredibly important. Thank you, Alex Hancock, for giving us an episode littered with Debussy – and thank you, anonymous gatekeepers of the rolling credits, who gatecrashed the screen before the actors names were given and rightfully spelled out the words “Music by Claude Debussy”. I knew we were listening to Clair De Lune on the first two chords, but suppose other people didn’t? Why deprive them from enjoyment out of some ridiculous snobbery?

On that point, there is far less snobbery in culture. I won’t go any deeper, but it is something to think about: maybe that is where the class system is breaking down. I will probably blog on this at a later date since I have decided to launch a journalistic campaign in favour of free downloads and against the restrictions on YouTube from the music industry generally which are hampering my enjoyment of life – no hyperbole.

Anyway, yes, Skins, yes, thumbs well and truly up.