Thursday, 21 January 2016

"It's only forever, not long at all..."

Normally a time when resolutions have been made and possibilities seem endless, 2016 has resigned itself to an awful start. David Bowie and Alan Rickman both died at 69, both to cancer. I read somewhere how an O.A.P. offered their opinion on Bowie: "He was only a bleedin' pop star." Even today, someone on the dreaded FB commented "Not like he was saving lives or changing the world!"

To some extent, that's true. And yes, it can seem ridiculous to pour out such adulation and emotion when there's a refugee crisis, people starving and wars breaking out every five minutes. Just because these unknown people didn't release fifteen albums, it doesn't render their situation any less worthy or tragic. Much like when Princess Diana died, there have been many accusations that the public mourning is simply emotional vampires getting their fix.

In the pit of Mordor that is Twitter, certain Katie Hopkins-wannabes (who shall remain nameless) want to hold people to account over their outpouring of emotion. "You're not related to Bowie, therefore you shouldn't be upset/cry etc." Can't we find emotion enough for, say, a dead celebrity and a dead immigrant? Surely one is not more exclusive than the other?

Bowie was a zillionaire who lived a full and decadent life (one presumes). He traveled the world, lived the high life. There is room to embrace all. To get angry and upset about the loss. To inform people to 'get upset about this, but don't get upset about this' is ridiculous.

But then 'the world of arts' will always be first in line for the chop because it's all so disposable; populated by the pretentious, self-obsessed and indulged, right?
Art cannot cure cancer. If your house is burning down, an MP3 file is not going to be of any help - but to say it doesn't save lives is a fallacy. At my lowest points I turn to music, books and films as they have a 'saving' quality. They can pull you out of the pit you're in. Even if it's just a diversion to give your mind some space for five minutes.

Over the past week I've considered what creativity means to me. Yes, I loved Bowie's music, the films. But looking beyond that, at his working methods and style of motivation... that's where the inspiration lies.

There will be those who will say "But what about when he did THIS..." Whether it was narrating Peter and the Wolf, or appearing as the adult-form of the boy from "The Snowman" (OF COURSE that boy grew up to be Bowie!), his prime directive seemed to be that he didn't wait for approval. He didn't try to second guess what people wanted.  He was pleasing his own creative desires. That's not to say that some left-field projects didn't make you scratch your head, but it wasn't for us to figure out. Wouldn't it be fantastic if all creative endeavors could be like this?

Success and money buy you the luxury of not caring what others think. But a bigger implication could be that you get lazy and self-indulgent. Or, heaven forbid - HAPPY. There's an old creative myth that if you're too content, the inspiration and motivation dries up. So for Bowie to repeatedly turn out classic after classic was a huge achievement (Whether you believe the myth or not).

Not to paint Bowie as some Demi God, he wasn't without his own insecurities. He questioned himself and his work; his motivation. (Fascinating to hear Bowie discussing this: (skip to 3.20 mins in) He inspired, but also required inspiration himself - two of the biggest influences being Anthony Newley and Scott Walker. Bowie was idol-worshipped but take a listen to Bowie's response to a birthday message from Scott Walker. Somewhat surprisingly, Bowie had moments when he felt like giving up. It's well-documented that (creatively) the late eighties was not a good time for him.

Even when his life was drawing to an end, he created. To create from death seems paradoxical. To wrestle some beauty from it is even more unfathomable. His final album is dark. The videos bleak and twisted. When 'The Next Day' sprang from nowhere a few years ago, there was sudden panic that Bowie was dying. "Where are we now?" feels like a farewell. Three years on, he releases a new album - and dies two days later, to 99.9 percent of the world's shock. Death isn't for us to control - perhaps the only way he could claw some 'power' back was to orchestrate his creative closure?

In the video for 'Lazarus', Bowie scrawls away, seemingly with sheer panic that he couldn't get all of his ideas out of his head before time is called. Some never have the opportunity to start, let alone fulfill their potential; to have such a reach into people's lives. Bowie's accomplishments are, more so than ever, a source of incitement, encouragement and a positive reminder to blaze our own trails.

"I’m struck by how the whole country has been flung into mourning and shock. 
Shock, because someone who had already transcended into immortality 
could actually die. He was ours.
Wonderfully eccentric in a way that only an Englishman could be."
- Kate Bush

"He always did what he wanted to do. 
And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way. 
His death was no different from his life - a work of Art." 
- Tony Visconti

"A lot of people that I know are bugged with the idea that they have got 
to have an audience, or they have got to be liked. 
I think the more that you fall into that trap it makes your own 
life harder to come to terms with, because an audience appreciation 
is only going to be periodic at the best of times. 
You will fall in and out of favor continually. I do not think 
it should be something one should be looking for. You should turn 
around at the end of the day and say I really like that piece of work, 
or that piece of work sucked.
Not, was that popular or wasn’t it popular?" -- David Bowie

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

"For it is money they have and peace they lack..."

SPOILER ALERT! But you should have seen this film by now, so it's yer own fault.
"This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. 
It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. 
Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come."

Most of us are familiar with the whole "If you build it he will come" quote, but "Field of Dreams" is a whole lot more than that. I recently watched it again whilst on holiday (having not seen the movie for at least a couple of years), and I realised something very odd happens every time I view it.

"Field of Dreams" grows in importance the older you get.

That's not to say it held no value when it was released. It was an instant classic back in 1989, comparable to "It's a Wonderful Life" in terms of emotional fantasy. But I believe it to be a far deeper, richer experience.

On the surface it's an easy-going, "gentle" movie with deep sentiments running through it. It made me cry the first time I saw it - I was fourteen, and desperately trying not to blub in front of my Dad (who was also blubbing). A large part could be down to the late James Horner's heart-tugging score,which perfectly captures the emotion of the story. But it has the same effect every time I watch it - and it is intensifying with age.

Why does this film grow in importance the older you get? Having turned forty this year, this 'landmark age' forced me to take stock of where I'm at. What I've achieved. Where I've been and where I'm going. Lots of questions, confusion, self-doubt, sorrows... Things which "Field of Dreams" addresses with great perception.

So what is it about?


O Ye of little faith...

Or: Believing in something when the louder voices are telling you 'NO'.

The story opens with Kevin Costner's Ray Kinsella (his best performance) hearing a mysterious voice in his corn fields whisper "If you built it he will come". Ray eventually deduces that he should turn a large chunk of his land into a baseball field. Of course.

Struggling with mounting debts and the possibility of losing everything, Ray embarks on a journey of faith, of taking huge risks and the likely conclusion of falling flat on his face with nothing to show for it. 

Ray's fears are represented by the 'bad guy' of the story - his brother-in-law Mark (Timothy Busfield). Except Mark, in reality, isn't the bad guy. He's the voice of reason. Everything he has to say about Ray's seemingly foolish decisions is, on the face of things, sound judgment. Mark believes he is doing his best to protect his sister and niece.

But Mark is solidly grounded in unbelief. He's probably never taken a crazy chance in his life. What could have been 'the bad guy' role, Busfield never strays too far into being unlikable. As much as you're rooting for Ray, you can fully understand Mark's reasoning.

During a make-or-break moment, Ray has Mark in one ear informing him the bank will foreclose on his property, counter-balanced by one of the finest speeches in cinematic history.

Faith, in human terms, often makes very little sense. Knowing whether to push on or when to quit never gets any easier. Should you fulfill your destiny; be the person you were meant to be, even if it means giving up your dream for something more rewarding?


Dr. Archibald "Moonlight" Graham
We just don't recognize life's most significant moments 
while they're happening. Back then I thought, 
"Well, there'll be other days." 
I didn't realize that that was the only day.
 On his quest, Ray meets elderly doctor Archibald Graham - an ex-ball player who was full of dreams as a young man, but turned his back on his love of the game for a more noble profession. In one of the many magical story beats, Archie - as a young man - hitches a ride with Ray and Terrence as they drive home. By this point Ray is a dab hand at going with the flow, so he takes young Archie back to the baseball pitch.


Following a dramatic turn of events, Ray's daughter is knocked unconscious - and only one man can save her. Young Archie has to make the same decision again. He knows that if he steps off the pitch, it's over. No going back to living the dream as a ball player. But it's a decision he has made before, and he does it again. Crossing the boundary, young Archie Graham transforms into old Doc Graham; sacrificing his dream to save a life. But the other players - heroes that he aspired to be - congratulate him for his sacrifice. Being recognised and appreciated by his peers is Archie's "reward".

Fifty years ago, for five minutes you came within... 
y-you came this close. It would KILL some men to get so close 
to their dream and not touch it. God, they'd consider it a tragedy.

Son, if I'd only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes... 
now that would have been a tragedy.


The story has its share of characters that are burdened by life; the life they thought they wanted, or by the person they thought they were meant to be. James Earl Jones plays Terrence Mann, a reclusive author who resents his legacy as a 60's radical, when his childhood dream was to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. 
Later, Ray explains to Mann what caused the rift with his father, John Kinsella: Baseball. After an argument with his Father, Ray refused to play catch again. A decision he still regrets. Intentional or not, John imposed his love of baseball onto his son - but all it achieved was a breakdown in their relationship.

 I've been told over the years -  by women - that "Field of Dreams" holds a lesser impact for female viewers. They get it, they like it - but it's a film that's 'okay for men to cry at'. At the heart of the film is a father/son relationship.The story opens with some backstory about Ray's upbringing; how his relationship turned rocky with his Dad, and how Ray went off and did his own thing.

 Ray Kinsella:
 "Mom died when I was three, and I suppose Dad did the best he could. 
Instead of Mother Goose, I was put to bed at night to stories of 
Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and the great Shoeless Joe Jackson. 
Dad was a Yankees fan then, so of course I rooted for Brooklyn. 

But in '58, the Dodgers moved away, so we had to find other things 
to fight about. We did. And when it came time to go to college, 
I picked the farthest one from home I could find. 
This, of course, drove him right up the wall, 
which I suppose was the point."
"If you build it, he will come" might be the line that everyone remembers. But what it's really about is the other two lines of dialogue the magical 'voice' whispers:

"Go the distance" and more importantly - "Ease his pain."
 Ray Kinsella: Is there a heaven?
John Kinsella: Oh yeah. It's the place where dreams come true.
[Ray looks around, seeing his wife playing with their daughter on the porch]
Ray Kinsella: Maybe this is heaven.

At the end of the film, Ray finally has peace. Heaven isn't a tropical island or a place of luxurious indulgence - It's a playing field, playing catch with his Dad. But this personal gift from heaven isn't the end. People, in their thousands, begin to arrive at the field; all searching for their own peace.

The story resonates more the older I get, for all of these reasons I've mentioned. And as if it has a life of its own, it will continue to grow in relevance.  Some films entertain, some educate. And some are a gift.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

"There are certain RULES that one must abide by in order to successfully survive a horror movie..."

Wes Craven was not only one of the masters at creating these rules - but he also broke them.

Following the sad, untimely loss of film director Wes Craven, I've spent some time reflecting not only on his work, the man himself, but also the impact he had on my film-upbringing - which naturally pumps the blood of my writing.

I'm not a fan of horror films per se - that's not to say I've not seen my fair share, but for most part I find them repetitive and a bit pointless (other than to scare the pants off you). It also took me a good few years to realise that if I don't like being scared, it's probably best not to put myself in that position! (Having grown up with two older brothers, there was always that thing of stepping outside your boundaries to prove how cool 'n grown up you were... I was neither, but that didn't stop me trying. Fool.)

He's... er.... They're behind you!
My first introduction to Craven's work was 1984's "A Nightmare on Elm Street." Actually, my first introduction was Barry Norman's "Film '85" - a particular show closed with teenager Nancy being chased up marshmallow stairs into her bedroom... "It's just a dream! It's just a dream!" - Cue Freddy Krueger exploding through her bedroom door. What was THAT about?! 

At that time a relative of mine was working for CBS FOX video, so we were always borrowing preview tapes of movies - and soon enough, we had Elm Street. And boy was it scary to a ten year old. (TEN!) It was around this point that I'd become a special effects fan - in the space of a couple of years I'd seen FX masterpieces like "The Thing", "Alien", "An American Werewolf...","The Terminator"... and Elm Street was packed full of amazing visuals and exciting, original, catchy plot ideas. Even back then I could appreciate how the story moved - the story-telling is tight, pacy and full of imagination - even though I wasn't consciously aware of such things like story structure.
It's just a man leaning into a wall of spandex. Nothing more. Oh no.

This week I watched the documentary "Never Sleep Again", which follows the genesis of the 'Nightmare' films, from the low budget, humble beginnings with the first installment, to the, well, low budget-yet-increasingly successful sequels.

It's a fascinating watch, and if you have ANY interest in movie-making or story-telling: You have to watch it. Even if you don't like horror, it's a mine of brilliant stories and information about the process of making a film. (View "Never Sleep Again" here:)
ALWAYS listen to your kids!
Whilst watching the documentary, I began to view the story of the first Elm Street from a totally fresh perspective (I've not seen the movie itself for years). I don't think, until now, that I had fully comprehended Nancy's parents storylines. Being a Dad with two kids, the thought of not being able to protect my kids, but also having been responsible for creating this monster in the first instance really does pack a punch. The psychology behind the 'sins of the parents', who turned vigilantes in order to protect their own kids is one that I fully get. But when the monster returns, the only thing the parents can do is lock their kids in the house and put bars on the windows - ensuring no escape. Much like the later "Scream", Craven sympathized with and understood teenagers very well: They were the ones fighting against the control of the adults. They were not taken seriously by their elders. Grown ups were not to be trusted.

Craven hated censorship. He rebelled against his upbringing - which was restrictive in every possible area. From watching and reading interviews, it's evident that he also had issues with adults; how the young could be put in jeopardy by the lies of 'grown ups'. The inspiration for Krueger came from a 'Hobo' that young Craven had spied from a window. The 'Hobo' passed by, looked up and caught Craven's eye, scaring him off. Young Craven returned to take another peak - the 'Hobo' was still there. His eyes loomed in a threatening manner. The 'Hobo' was taking pleasure in scaring him.

The subsequent 'Nightmare' movies were products of their time, and it's fair to say they progressed into quips 'n kills; surreal ideas that were increasingly outlandish yet far removed from its more psychological beginnings.
Randy explains it all...
And I think that is one of Craven's biggest talents: He understood the psychology of fear. There was always something else going on with the plot and characters, should you wish to dig deeper. Especially in his later works like "New Nightmare" and "Scream", Craven was looking for ways to deconstruct fear. It's a shame that in the final week of Craven's life, his direction of "Scream" was criticized - to me, and a lot of film-fans, "Scream" is not only a masterpiece (not overlooking Kevin Williamson's amazing script), but Craven's direction was genius. There's a vitality to it. He was clearly having a lot of fun (at least that's how it comes across - although it is known that the producer was breathing down Craven's neck for the first few weeks until he saw a cut of the opening scene). "Scream" has a fantastic cast, it's funny, edgy, and certainly inspired me to write my own comedy/horror television scripts "Backstabbers".
Neve & Skeet learn all about corn syrup usages...
Audiences had grown wise to how movies work. "Scream" heralded the era of 'spoilers', as the internet elbowed in on the game. By the time "Scream 2" came to fruition, the fans were way ahead of the film makers. Even the unfinished script leaked on-line, which would be enough to drive any film maker to despair. But Craven had navigated many hiccups throughout his career: thinking-on-his-feet and at times making compromises.

Directing Kristy Swanson on "Deadly Friend".

New Line Chief Bob Shaye insisted on HIS choice of endings for the first Elm Street. "Deadly Friend" was meant to be Craven's own "Starman" (much like when John Carpenter made a departure from scares) - but test audiences felt let down because it wasn't another 'Elm Street': Meaning the gore quota was upped, and the movie became something completely different. Personally I would love to see Craven's "Deadly Friend" (originally titled "Friend"!!!!), because there was quite a sweet film lurking within, especially in the first half an hour.
Robot +...
... + Teen Girl, times by test screening meddling =
Whilst "Swamp Thing" was campy yet fun, and "Shocker" was an attempt to create another Krueger but didn't quite get under the skin. "The People Under the Stairs" is a dark, satirical fairy tale allegory on Regan-era class division and racism involving demented landlords that kept zombie-esque people locked up - yep, under the stairs. The unexpected twist here is it is the "monsters" that must be rescued and set free. They are the innocent victims of the story. A final mention goes to true-story drama "Music of the Heart" - Craven's one departure from scares, and his only film to receive Oscar nominations.

Oscar-nommed once more, Meryl celebrates with a jig...
Innovative, original, and from a lot of accounts a gracious man, Wes Craven delivered his final shock on the 30th of August, 2015. Film critic Kim Newman summed things up perfectly on Twitter:

"Wes Craven reinvented horror at least four times - 
most directors don't even manage it once."

Sidney Prescott: But this is life. This isn't a movie.
Billy: Sure it is, Sid. It's all a movie. It's all one great big movie.
Only you can pick your genre.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

"There are no two words in the English language more harmful than "good job"."


It's been a while since I've posted on here - mainly because I only write if I have something to say (which is generally a good rule of thumb, rather than just slapping out a few words that have little point or meaning in order to keep your 'on-line presence' up...).

Last night I watched "Whiplash" - finally - and I can honestly say it is the best film I have seen in a long, long time. Yes there were great performances, an excellent script, cinematography, editing... (why it didn't clean up at the Oscars in anyone's guess - it's the classiest film that's been out in aeons.)

Reservoir Drums.
The thing that struck me about this film are the two main characters: promising drummer Andrew (Miles Teller: An even more intense, younger John Cusack) and Fletcher, an aggressive sociopath whose charm and warmth can drop at any time to reveal a far less pleasant being.

What I loved the most about this film is that the 'villain' of the piece truly believes he is doing the right thing. In his own eyes, he is not a villain. He is doing what's necessary to get things done at the highest standard possible. So whilst it's easy to despise his behaviour (as a viewer I found myself hating Fletcher), you can also understand why he behaves the way he does - which makes it (at times) very uncomfortable to watch.

Jurassic Park 5 finds its newest predator...
It certainly pressed buttons with me. Having been on the receiving end of a couple of sociopaths in my time, it was painful to watch. I found myself really hating Fletcher's behaviour - and him - and it's been a long time since a film has provoked such an emotional response. Throughout the film I was hoping and waiting for Andrew to shove his drumsticks so far up Fletcher's arse that he would sprout antennae.

But he never does. Okay, he does jump on Fletcher at one point, but that wussies out in a blink. After Fletcher delivers his 'revenge' in the final moments of the film, it seems Andrew's career is over for good. But Andrew returns to K.O. Fletcher by... being exceptional. He could have stood on that stage and told the audience what a totally abusive bastard Fletcher was. But he didn't. He beats him by gaining Fletcher's approval. By playing the best he's ever played.

Revenge is a beat best served mid-tempo.
And that ending is a very uncomfortable piece of story-telling. Was Fletcher's method right, even if it was extreme? He got the result he desired. He pushed Andrew to breaking point and beyond. His mind games, mood swings and physical abuse would have been enough to make anyone walk away. But if Andrew hadn't faced such opposition would he have pushed himself that far? Just seeing the pair of them make eye contact during the final drum solo, the look in Fletcher's eye... the answer seems to be 'YES IT WAS WORTH IT'. And that's scary.

In an age where people are celebrated for idiotic behaviour/sex tapes/complete willing lack of education; where they become rich and famous for displaying zero ability or talent, or even any redeeming qualities, is it true that the recognition of genuine aptitude has to be so hard won?

Watching Big Brother makes me smash things, too...
As a writer, I know that the voices that drive me aren't those that say "Hey, you're great!". It's the voices from the past, from last year, ten minutes ago that spit venom. The one's that want you to fail. To clarify, I'm not writing for them, or trying to prove them wrong (though perhaps I am trying to prove myself, which I'm not sure is a good/bad thing? ) - I write because I want to. I enjoy it (mostly), and it's what I do. But I know that when I receive a rejection letter or a knock-back - unless it's useful, insightful criticism that I can build on - I have to use that as fuel to keep going.

Pushing yourself is fine. It's a necessity. You can't wait for things to just land in your lap. But I can honestly say that public humiliation and psychological abuse are not recommended as ways to nurture talent. Especially throwing chairs at your students (that never happened to me, but the mentor in question might as well have been...). Dealing with teachers, mentors or those who could be considered 'in a senior position' can be difficult - especially when you're never certain of who it is you're dealing with. Someone who smiles whilst hiding the knife behind their back is not beneficial to your own well-being. I've been on a self-imposed 'hiatus' from writing this year. Not because I've given up or don't want to do it anymore. More for my own sanity. Literally a physical snap occurred, and I've not really written since (Except this blog post). Being around people who say they want you to exceed, succeed, be your best - but then floor you with their own self-aggrandising agenda will only lead to a dead end - mentally and/or spiritually.

"Oh, good work Katie Hopkins on being all famous 'n such..."
So it's a difficult story to weigh up. The sudden note on which 'Whiplash' ends left me wondering "Oh, is that it?". But after a five minute internal argument, I concluded that it had to end there. Did we need to see Andrew bowling up to Fletcher, proclaiming "IN YOUR FACE, FLETCHER!"? Did the two need to hug it out, have a nice chat over a coffee?

Nope. The story ends when Andrew proves himself.

The. End.

Monday, 2 February 2015

"You don't want the bumpers, life doesn't give you bumpers."

Last weekend was a somewhat swollen-neck-gland/chesty cough kinda weekend, during which I watched Richard Linklater's experimental "Boyhood". Much like Michael Apted's "7-Up" documentary series (except it's a drama), we follow a story filmed across twelve years - The actors naturally ageing as the film progresses. The great thing about the film is that it doesn't give you what you want. Because life's just not like that.

It's the sort of movie that Linklater does so incredibly well. Much like "Dazed and Confused", not much actually happens. There's no real big plot twists or drama-for-the-sake-of-drama. Throughout the movie, I found myself hoping, almost pining that certain characters would change their ways or reconnect in some way. At one point Patricia Arquette's character comes to a rather sad conclusion:

Mom: You know what I'm realising? My life is just going to go. Like that. 
 This series of milestones. Getting married. Having kids. Getting divorced.
The time that we thought you were dyslexic. When I taught you how to ride a bike. 
Getting divorced... again. Getting my masters degree. Finally getting the job I wanted.
 Sending Samantha off to college. Sending you off to college. You know what's next?
 Huh? It's my fucking funeral!
I just thought there would be more.

 Being a father of two young children, there's a certain privilege and strange joy to watch lives blossoming. Part of you can't wait to see them grow, learn and become their own person. Another part of you wants them to stay exactly as they are now.

We could all do with more joy in our lives - so here's my top-whatever of joyful moments, cobbled together from the store cupboard of my dusty mind. I'm sure I've missed loads off, and that you've got far more classier stuff - feel free to message me with your suggestions!

1. The Truman Show
A man seizing his own destiny whilst delivering the perfect kiss-off? Yes please.

2. Head
Childhood hero Davy Jones performs a jaunty little dance whilst crooning Harry Nilsson's "Daddy's Song" - the song itself is a bit on the dark side, but the performance is so uplifting (with some rather nifty editing), it can't help but make you smile.

3. Back to the Future
There are so many moments in this film which make the voice in your head yell "YES!", but for me this is THE moment: George standing up for himself? Marty's life/future being saved? Seeing your own parents fall in love? Ruddy hell...

4. The Blues Brothers
There's a ton of great song and dance scenes to choose from, but what is better than seeing a car do a backflip, and watching a couple of Illinois nazis fly to their doom?

5. Tremors
Again, another movie packed with some great moments. In particular, this scene does not pan out how you would expect it to: The Gummers are in their basement, unaware that the Graboids are coming for them. They're dead for certain. OR ARE THEY?

6. Superman II
Ol' Supes goes through it a bit in the film, and at the end you think he's about to hand himself over on a plate to the nasty General Zod... OR DOES HE? Not only do you get a "YES" moment - you get another two "YES" moments thrown in for free.

7. Roxanne
The insult scene. Poor CD Bales is picked on in a bar by some flat-faced, flat-nosed flat-head - and defeats him with wit. And a punch. *The opening scene with CD taking on a couple of morons is a close second.

8. Bugsy Malone
The big showdown. Splurge frenzy. It's all gone too far. So pack it in, kids - and play NICE!

9. Mission Impossible
I NEVER GET TIRED OF WATCHING THIS SCENE. It is brilliant. Hilarious. Defies belief. It's nonsense - but fantastic nonsense. It's what FUN cinema is all about. "RED LIGHT! GREEN LIGHT!" As IF!

10. Les Miserables
After a lifetime of misery and hardship, they get to sing a song of freedom. It makes you want to explode.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

"If anyone can do it..."

Hey everyone,

I'm feeling a bit under the weather at the moment with a cold, so I'm going to hand over the editorial reigns to everybody's FRIEND, Ross Geller. Over to you, Ross.


Sorry if I sound a little bummed, but I stand (write?) before you today with a cautionary tale.

I think we've all said stuff that we probably wished we hadn't even started with...


So I'm in Central Perk with my friends Joey and Feebs, and we're minding our own business, having some lightweight banter about a new movie "Spudknuckles" that's coming out that has four carrots playing the lead roles. I said I wasn't too sure about it - not that I have a problem with carrots playing lead roles, but over the past few years the film's producers had announced it would have apples playing the leads, then bananas... I'm pretty sure at one point they said four combine harvesters were going to play the lead.

Forgive my sceptic viewpoint, but my response the announcement was a bit 'blah'. Not that my opinion counts for anything, but mine was that they just wanted to crank out ANY version of 'Spudknuckles'. So I reserve the right not to be doing cartwheels about it.

At this point our friend Joey walked in, catching the end of our chat, and says "Hey you guys, have you seen that Spudknuckle Lego set? It's the best!".

So, we're having a few laughs, then in comes Janice. I don't really know her THAT well (other than having a one-night stand with her, back in one the latter seasons of the television series... I forget... uh...), but anyway, unbeknownst to me, Janice had been listening in on our conversation.

For some reason, Janice interrupts, gets snarky with my friends, and then accuses me of being a hypocrite for my lack of excitement over the aforementioned carrots, and that I should know better - after all, I've just written a carrot-led story myself.

At this point, I should say that Janice is a big defender of carrots, which is great. I love carrots too. Janice works tirelessly promoting equality for carrots, and good on her for doing so.

But when somebody calls for more carrot-led stories, then accuses you of only doing so because IT SELLS, it leads me to think:

So to clarify: You want more roles for carrots, yet when someone writes one you accuse them of doing it for the money.

ANYWAY, I replied to her somewhat pokey accusation that I wasn't writing a carrot-led story because it sells, but because that's the story I wanted to write. I wasn't chasing the money. (In fact, my next story is about a potato. True.)

And with that, Janice was gone. So I finished my latte and went for a stroll around the block, when imagine my surprise when I see Janice, and she's all like:

Shouting from the rooftops.It seems that Janice had cherry-picked a couple of sound-bites from my private chat with my friends (as private as being in a coffee house is) - had stuck these sound-bites together in order to start some sort of debate.

Which subsided into:

But the more I thought about it...

Now, I'm pretty academic, but I'm sure that 1+1 does not equal WTF. (I've run this past my friend's quantum physicist wife, and she says in some rare cases this can be true. What do I know?)

SO: A fairly private conversation between friends (men and women), which I believe we are all free to do without outsiders breathing down your neck. I'm pretty sure I didn't sign any disclaimer that anything I say could be taken, misconstrued, whipped up into a frenzy in order to create attention for another person's mission.

Seeing how our conversation in Central Perk was cut short by Janice fleeing out the door, I thought we could continue it, along with her friends at her apartment. The debate went on, and it all got a little -

Somewhat frustratingly, Janice had seemingly little desire to listen (at one point she casually accused me of liking potatoes more than carrots, the implication being I was 'carrot-ist'). Growing increasingly bored, I left - with Janice's words "I'm gonna be blogging about this, f*****" ringing in my ears. Such charm.

How could this have been handled better? If there was any perceived 'beef' between myself and Janice, she could have spoken to me in private about her feelings, rather than the hit 'n run tactics of slighting someone in front of their own friends, then running off to the safety of your own domain before the discussion could really get going.


All this leads me to conclude that Janice cannot be trusted - either as a friend or as a professional.

There was clear lack of common courtesy and professional integrity. I'm all for creativity and dramatisation, but when you see someone create something founded out of context, it's a little disconcerting. How can you be yourself around someone knowing that anything they may take offense at will be extrapolated into an open debate?


Oh, hang on. My friend Chandler wants to say something...

Thanks, Ross. Chin up, buddy.

Wow. So what can we take from Ross's experience with Janice?

We should all know that whatever words you put out in the world are public domain, and that's fine. But that doesn't mean you should expect innocent conversations with friends to be picked apart and repackaged as faux headlines.

So, to conclude - BEWARE! Anything you say may be selectively cut 'n paste and slapped together in order to create click bait!