The Smiths, Burroughs, Kerouac, and Ginsberg

The above is from the newly issued deluxe edition of The Smiths‘s “The Queen Is Dead“.

Here’s Derek Jarman‘s video rendition of something or other:

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Movies I've watched recently:

  • Best F(r)iends (2017) - IMDb 5/10

    2017-10-11 19:42
    * * * * *

    I saw an unfinished screener of this film, which divulged a work in progress that I nevertheless think will not be far from the finished product. Sestero plays the lead as a vagrant man, whose past leads him to convince a mortician, as played by Wiseau, to give him employment. Even though the plot is unclear and thin, the references to the film "The Room" and Wiseau's wonderfully weird acting brings this film some kind of life, Sestero's uncharismatic portrayal and the loose direction, the poor screenplay and some strange casting choices makes for a somewhat entertaining and funny, but ultimately forgetful film. Sestero told me the follow-up will probably be made in 2018.

  • Death Note (2017) - IMDb 2/10

    2017-08-28 08:20
    * *

    This remake of a near-perfect manga series, which has in turn spawned films, is now here and presented by Netflix. It starts out like a teen-angst emo trip, paired with death. Ryuk, a much-beloved character in the manga, is a Death God, who drops a notebook onto Earth. The book allows its owner to write the name of somebody and the person subsequently dies. However, there are loads of rules and caveats surrounding its use. This version is quite like "Hunger Games" was a version of "Battle Royale"; I can recall somebody saying that "Hunger Games" was "Battle Royale with cheese", which is an apt description for this version of "Death Note" as well. While the manga and prior films both contained elements that made the Sherlock Holmes short stories and novels successful through thinking and wondrous twists and turns, this film does not contain anything in the least good, apart from how the film makers opted to not display the character Ryuk much, other than in shadows. Lakeith Stanfield's acting is the only saving grace in this film, albeit short and boxed within its severe constraints (as it should be, I think). All in all: expect a high-school special without intelligence, and you will be alright.

  • Manchester by the Sea (2016) - IMDb 3/10

    2017-04-16 15:28
    * * *

    Just because the film naturally carries a containment of sorrow and gloom, it does not explain its complete dreariness. It's got bits of chronological experimentation and nice views of the sea, but otherwise, this is forgettable. See Ang Lee's "The Ice Storm" instead.

  • Fifty Shades Darker (2017) - IMDb 1/10

    2017-04-15 18:28

    I actually thought this film would not be as bad as the first one, but obviously, I was wrong. This is overwrought in no sense of the word, and if it were human, it would be incarcerated indefinitely. This film actually violates basic human rights in ways the first one didn't, so I guess that's what this new version brings to viewers. In no way is this erotic, interesting, or entertaining. The people involved in this should look themselves in the mirror and not make a third film, which _will_ be made.

  • T2 Trainspotting (2017) - IMDb 6/10

    2017-02-22 22:58
    * * * * * *

    This is more a film, I think, which is about aging and repeating your past than anything else. Sure, the characters are older, but I cringe a lot as Boyle has chosen to have them repeat some of their "fave lines" from the first film, 21 years later, for no apparent reason. The slow parts move best, for example, where Renton visits his father, despite that one being sappy. The "new girl", basically a Renton, doesn't bring much to the table. However, Robbie Carlyle steals the show; where Ewen Bremner's "Spud" previously did, by being a comedic maestro with his movements and druggy cadence, he is now converted into a caricature of himself - and yes, I am aware that druggies who have been on dope for more than two decades tend to turn into caricatures in more ways than one - while Begbie offers more. A lot more. Carlyle's acting is so strong that even Begbie's most obvious characteristics - e.g. as displayed where his son stands up against him by wanting to go to college to learn hotel management instead of joining his dad in a life of crime - turn interesting. He's a tour de force. Still, while this film is interesting and entertaining, it is too much of a parody of itself to become a truly interesting introspective. And the plot turn at the end was really a bit too tell-tale and boring to me.


Your brain on caffeine: some words from Matthew Walker

Neuroscientist Matthew Walker has recently had a very interesting book named “Why We Sleep” published1; below are some words from it, where your circadean sleeping rhythm is explained in relation to caffeine:

Your twenty-four-hour circadian rhythm is the first of the two factors determining wake and sleep. The second is sleep pressure. At this very moment, a chemical called adenosine is building up in your brain. It will continue to increase in concentration with every waking minute that elapses. The longer you are awake, the more adenosine will accumulate. Think of adenosine as a chemical barometer that continuously registers the amount of elapsed time since you woke up this morning. One consequence of increasing adenosine in the brain is an increasing desire to sleep. This is known as sleep pressure, and it is the second force that will determine when you feel sleepy, and thus should go to bed. Using a clever dual-action effect, high concentrations of adenosine simultaneously turn down the “volume” of wake-promoting regions in the brain and turn up the dial on sleep-inducing regions. As a result of that chemical sleep pressure, when adenosine concentrations peak, an irresistible urge for slumber will take hold.VII It happens to most people after twelve to sixteen hours of being awake. You can, however, artificially mute the sleep signal of adenosine by using a chemical that makes you feel more alert and awake: caffeine. Caffeine is not a food supplement. Rather, caffeine is the most widely used (and abused) psychoactive stimulant in the world. It is the second most traded commodity on the planet, after oil. The consumption of caffeine represents one of the longest and largest unsupervised drug studies ever conducted on the human race, perhaps rivaled only by alcohol, and it continues to this day.

Caffeine works by successfully battling with adenosine for the privilege of latching on to adenosine welcome sites—or receptors—in the brain. Once caffeine occupies these receptors, however, it does not stimulate them like adenosine, making you sleepy. Rather, caffeine blocks and effectively inactivates the receptors, acting as a masking agent. It’s the equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears to shut out a sound. By hijacking and occupying these receptors, caffeine blocks the sleepiness signal normally communicated to the brain by adenosine. The upshot: caffeine tricks you into feeling alert and awake, despite the high levels of adenosine that would otherwise seduce you into sleep. Levels of circulating caffeine peak approximately thirty minutes after oral administration. What is problematic, though, is the persistence of caffeine in your system. In pharmacology, we use the term “half-life” when discussing a drug’s efficacy. This simply refers to the length of time it takes for the body to remove 50 percent of a drug’s concentration. Caffeine has an average half-life of five to seven hours. Let’s say that you have a cup of coffee after your evening dinner, around 7:30 p.m. This means that by 1:30 a.m., 50 percent of that caffeine may still be active and circulating throughout your brain tissue. In other words, by 1:30 a.m., you’re only halfway to completing the job of cleansing your brain of the caffeine you drank after dinner. There’s nothing benign about that 50 percent mark, either. Half a shot of caffeine is still plenty powerful, and much more decomposition work lies ahead throughout the night before caffeine disappears. Sleep will not come easily or be smooth throughout the night as your brain continues its battle against the opposing force of caffeine. Most people do not realize how long it takes to overcome a single dose of caffeine, and therefore fail to make the link between the bad night of sleep we wake from in the morning and the cup of coffee we had ten hours earlier with dinner.

Caffeine—which is not only prevalent in coffee, certain teas, and many energy drinks, but also foods such as dark chocolate and ice cream, as well as drugs such as weight-loss pills and pain relievers—is one of the most common culprits that keep people from falling asleep easily and sleeping soundly thereafter, typically masquerading as insomnia, an actual medical condition. Also be aware that de-caffeinated does not mean non-caffeinated. One cup of decaf usually contains 15 to 30 percent of the dose of a regular cup of coffee, which is far from caffeine-free. Should you drink three to four cups of decaf in the evening, it is just as damaging to your sleep as one regular cup of coffee. The “jolt” of caffeine does wear off. Caffeine is removed from your system by an enzyme within your liver,VIII which gradually degrades it over time. Based in large part on genetics,IX some people have a more efficient version of the enzyme that degrades caffeine, allowing the liver to rapidly clear it from the bloodstream. These rare individuals can drink an espresso with dinner and fall fast asleep at midnight without a problem. Others, however, have a slower-acting version of the enzyme. It takes far longer for their system to eliminate the same amount of caffeine. As a result, they are very sensitive to caffeine’s effects. One cup of tea or coffee in the morning will last much of the day, and should they have a second cup, even early in the afternoon, they will find it difficult to fall asleep in the evening. Aging also alters the speed of caffeine clearance: the older we are, the longer it takes our brain and body to remove caffeine, and thus the more sensitive we become in later life to caffeine’s sleep-disrupting influence.

If you are trying to stay awake late into the night by drinking coffee, you should be prepared for a nasty consequence when your liver successfully evicts the caffeine from your system: a phenomenon commonly known as a “caffeine crash.” Like the batteries running down on a toy robot, your energy levels plummet rapidly. You find it difficult to function and concentrate, with a strong sense of sleepiness once again. We now understand why. For the entire time that caffeine is in your system, the sleepiness chemical it blocks (adenosine) nevertheless continues to build up. Your brain is not aware of this rising tide of sleep-encouraging adenosine, however, because the wall of caffeine you’ve created is holding it back from your perception. But once your liver dismantles that barricade of caffeine, you feel a vicious backlash: you are hit with the sleepiness you had experienced two or three hours ago before you drank that cup coffee plus all the extra adenosine that has accumulated in the hours in between, impatiently waiting for caffeine to leave. When the receptors become vacant by way of caffeine decomposition, adenosine rushes back in and smothers the receptors. When this happens, you are assaulted with a most forceful adenosine-trigger urge to sleep—the aforementioned caffeine crash. Unless you consume even more caffeine to push back against the weight of adenosine, which would start a dependency cycle, you are going to find it very, very difficult to remain awake. To impress upon you the effects of caffeine, I footnote esoteric research conducted in the 1980s by NASA. Their scientists exposed spiders to different drugs and then observed the webs that they constructed.

Those drugs included LSD, speed (amphetamine), marijuana, and caffeine. The results, which speak for themselves, can be observed [above]. The researchers noted how strikingly incapable the spiders were in constructing anything resembling a normal or logical web that would be of any functional use when given caffeine, even relative to other potent drugs tested.

It is worth pointing out that caffeine is a stimulant drug. Caffeine is also the only addictive substance that we readily give to our children and teens—the consequences of which we will return to later in the book.

Bonus quote from the book:

Setting aside the extreme case of sleep deprivation, how do you know whether you’re routinely getting enough sleep? While a clinical sleep assessment is needed to thoroughly address this issue, an easy rule of thumb is to answer two simple questions. First, after waking up in the morning, could you fall back asleep at ten or eleven a.m.? If the answer is “yes,” you are likely not getting sufficient sleep quantity and/or quality. Second, can you function optimally without caffeine before noon? If the answer is “no,” then you are most likely self-medicating your state of chronic sleep deprivation.

  1. Here‘s a great article on it. Also, this episode of BBC’s “Start The Week” where Walker’s talking about his book, is very nice, indeed.[back]
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


All I now hear is Blixa’s singing in “Armenia.

Tags: , ,

Review: Alan Moore – “Jerusalem”

This being from the mind of Alan Moore, there are no moralities dished out in regards to sex, God, culture, and politics, but there is, however, strong elements of graphic novels, fables, Anarchy, sexuality, lingual twists and reactions against boredom.

Where language is concerned, Moore makes it clear from the start that this novel will take some turns, which he’s not unleashed in graphic novels. If he did, it’d have been weird. For example this sentence:

“On the street’s far side a gnome-like woman in a headscarf walked along beside the Upper Cross Street maisonettes with circulation-dodging fingers hooked about the handles of her plastic shopping bag.”

After reading this long book, you get into the lull of parts of the language; even though my own sentence there may seem contrived, I’ll show what I mean: first, there’s the re-use of some words, such as “effervesce”, “scintillate”, and “terpsichorean”.

Then, we have a completely different take on language:

She concides to fellow the headvoice of her deportly salvia and triter murke her why beckento deylight, certing off betune the tries with their liminous feary-luc womencrustations, hymming washy thinks white mince have been a Bleatles’ camposition, jester keep her spillits up. She fictures hersylph in a beat on a raver with dangerin tease and murmurlate spies, which is a cheeryher propersituation dunder lunardecked asilent weirdlands which in surreality she caughtusly atemps to flinder path amist.

Moore delves high and low, and yet manages to swerve throughout boredom and despair, as I felt it; there were a couple of times where I thought of giving up the book, but somewhere around page 50 I found the story about the angel to be utterly charming and beautiful:

His circumstances were so wholly unbelievable he didn’t even have the wits to scream but took another step back with one hand clapped tight across his gaping maw. At the far edges of the figure’s epic mouth, also migrated up and to the left now, dimpled cracks of mingled Ivory Black and crimson crinkled into being as the pale, foot-long lips parted and the painted angel spoke. “Theis whille beye veery haerdt foure yew” it said, sounding concerned. The ‘is’ or the essential being of this coming while as, from your viewpoint, it apparently goes by will be a sudden and extreme veer in the pathway of your heart with things that you have heard concerning a fourth angle of existence causing difficulties to arise within your mortal life, that is concluded in a graveyard where the yew trees flourish, and this will be very hard for you. Ern understood this complicated message, understood that it was somehow all squeezed down into just seven mostly unfamiliar words that had unfolded and unpacked themselves inside his thoughts, like the unwrapping of a children’s paper puzzle or a Chinese poem. Even as he struggled to absorb the content bound in this exploded sentence, the mere noise of it unravelled him. It had a fullness and dimension to its sound, compared to a whole orchestra performing in a concert hall, such as the latter might have in comparison with a tin whistle blown inside an insulated cupboard. Every note of it seemed to be spiralling away in countless fainter and more distant repetitions, the same tones at an increasingly diminished scale until these split into a myriad still smaller echoes, eddying minuscule whirlwinds made of sound that spun off into the persistent background thunderclaps and disappeared. Now that it had completed that first startling quarter turn the table-sized face seemed almost to settle down into its new configuration. Only at its edges and around the mobile mouth and eyes were particles still creeping, dots of pigment skittering in little sand-slides round the fresco’s curvature and making small adjustments to accommodate the slight and natural movements of the figure’s head, the shift of gleam and shadow on its opening and closing lips.

I most fervently felt I had to abandon the book when the stories around the children popped up, even though they weren’t delved in mirth which most are; however, Moore is more intelligent than that, and it went to show that one did good with just pushing through it all.

At times, I must confess, I skimmed part of the book, especially the chapters where poetry flailed and almost the entire chapter of made-up lingo is concerned. However, there are plenty of times where Moore’s language itself filled me up, made me think of the book as a wholly new thing, akin to how Proust and Joyce turned shit on its head in their majestic tomes of weirdness, whispered clamour and wondrous tales of the everyday.

For everyday this is, even though it’s thinly veiled by different realities, sprawling through a lot of different dimensions; it’s no wonder that Moore both mentions Wittgenstein and Einstein in this book, without wanting to sound clever. Or he could be. If he is, I think he’s doing a shit job at it.

Anyway, this book isn’t all roses. I think it suffers some, from Moore having worked so much with writing massive and hugely influential graphic novels which all claim his language, and storytelling regime. I can believe—without actually knowing—that he really wanted to write this book without just escaping the graphic novel realm. He has the money to do fuck-all and just worship Glycon, but he made this, and we’re the better for it.

For now, it’ll be a little while until I head into something like this again though, out of sheer exhaustion. The many forms and twists that this book took during its turn are enough to make a shy, bald, Buddhist reflect, and plan a mass murder. In a lot of good ways.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Alan Moore re. KLF in “Jerusalem”

From Alan Moore’s “Jerusalem“, which I may actually one day finish:

All about will and flammability, so Alma says, and Roman thinks she’s right. Having the fire of will and spirit is a must, but useless if your fuel’s damp or goes up like tinder. What’s important is the way you burn. He can remember Alma telling him about how she has Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond from the KLF turn up one day at her house on East Park Parade to show the film of them torching a million quid up on the Isle of Jura, where George Orwell completes 1984. She says she likes a movie where you can see every penny of the budget up there on the screen but Roman’s not sure how he feels at first about all that potentially life-saving lucre going up the chimney. Still, as Alma points out, if the million had gone up their noses nobody would raise an eyebrow. In the end, Rome comes to the conclusion that it’s glorious, more than just a gesture. It’s the whole idea of money being burned, not just the actual loot. It’s saying that the golden dragon that enslaves us, that allows a tiny fraction of the global population to own nearly all the wealth, that ensures almost universal human poverty by its very existence, doesn’t actually exist at all, is made of worthless paper, can be taken care of with a half-box of Swan Vestas. Drummond is Northampton reared, a hulking Scot from Corby who goes to the art school here and works at the St. Crispin’s nuthouse for a while. Rome fancies you can see the town’s brand on the renegade rock-god: incendiary, justified and ancient.

Item twenty-seven, labelled Burning Gold by its green scribbled afterthought, was not a new idea – Mick thought he could remember Alma telling him of an American named Boggs that she admired who’d first done something very similar – although the details of its execution were markedly different. A ridiculously enlarged (or perhaps inflated) reproduction of a banknote, straddling the fine-to-non-existent line dividing art from forgery and rendered in authentic-looking pen and ink, it seemed to be accumulating more absurdist details as he studied it. It was a twenty, with a copyright line at the bottom stating this year, 2006, to be its date of issue. Details of typography and serial numbers were identical to standard currency, as was the colouration and the general composition of the counterfeit’s elaborate illustration. Certain elements of content, though, had been transposed or altered. To the note’s left, as on normal money, a vaguely amphibious-looking Adam Smith faced right in profile, wrought from mauve engraving with a face of gentian dust, a topcoat and peruke of thumbprint whorls. The capitalist visionary, however, now found himself in a staring contest with a matching profile over on the right, where a comparably meticulous lavender bust of Alma’s pop-terrorist K-Foundation mate Bill Drummond had been added. Simultaneously serious and satirical, the Corby-reared Scot’s resolute gaze drilled into the architect of boom and bust’s bland salamander stare of self-assurance. There was clearly no hope of negotiation. In the centre-ground between the men, the customary diagram detailing eighteenth-century pin manufacture had been skilfully replaced by a rendition of what Mick knew from his sister’s testimony to be Drummond’s celebrated burning of a million quid up on the remote Hebridean isle of Jura, where George Orwell went to finish 1984. Against a sphere of Spirograph complexity and finely hatched in tones that strayed from sepia to strawberry were four men in a ruined cottage. Three of them – Drummond himself, his K-Foundation partner Jimmy Cauty and their witness, the TV producer Jim Reid – shovelled crisp fifty-pound notes into a central conflagration, while the fourth, ex-army cinematic auteur Gimpo, captured the resultant cash-to-ashes alchemy on film. Superimposed in purple lettering above where it said “Bank of England” was the altered legend: “The division of opinion in slave manufacturing: (and the great decrease in the quantity of slaves that results).”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,