A Crafty Failed Journalist is Crafty

Monday 27 February, 2012

When I was in Secondary School, I developed this thing I called The Procrastination Hierarchy. It’s where you start with what you need to be doing, and then start doing something else, and then you get bored with that, so then you do something else instead, and then when that gets frustrating or the horror of three commitments going on at once gets too much for your mind to handle, you do something completely different. It achieves many goals at once:

1) Working on those (many) other things you hadn’t yet got around to doing
2) Avoiding the work that needs to be done most urgently

This carries on until, eventually, you’ve wasted so much time that you have no choice but to get back to your original piece of work and finish it.

The lesser procrastinators will finish and hand in what would have ended up looking like the half-arsed, late-started product of an allnighter it actually was. Those of us who perfected this method would know that a deadline is the kick we need and the closer it approaches, the more intelligent we sound, the easier it is to make a load of bumph sound interesting and relevant, and the easier it is for our imagination to run wild with us, so the work doesn’t end up looking like a carbon copy of the research papers we’ve taken the information from originally.

It’s a side effect of the sleep deprivation.

I perfected this method in 6th Form. I, The Queen of Procrastination, didn’t just go further and further up my tasks list and tackle them one by one to avoid the previous task until I was so far from the original task my mind was refreshed. Oh no. I multi-tasked.

I had, and still have, a lot of ADHD-like tendencies when I was younger, and working on school work and course work was no different. So I would get all the work I needed to do, all of my unimportant things I needed to do and I would flit from one thing to the next until I’d whittle down the tasks. That way, I wasn’t completely avoiding the original urgently done piece, I was adding bits to it as I went between everything, meaning I had less to do when it came to the deadline of the other pieces of work.

It was all a double, if not triple, whammy.

From what I experienced, it also worked well for University too. But I can’t endorse this particular method, as I dropped out before I could draw any conclusions. Any problems I had with seeing to my work had more do with the failure of the course, the lack of provisions available to me, and my declining physical health.

And so, finally why am I mentioning this, you’re wondering…

Well, here’s the funny thing. I have things I really, really, really need to do. Like quite a few things, actually. I have a list of it all. And to stop myself from whiling the day away over on Livejournal, like I usually do, I’ve announced a Hiatus there. And because I’m looking for a distraction from the other things I’m doing whilst I’m not working on them, and because I can’t go back to Livejournal without declaring myself a failure, I thought I’d pop over here and work my way up to announcing a hiatus here as well.

And, well, now I have. And it comes with the gift of letting everyone in to my little secret! Well, it wasn’t really a secret. People knew about my Procrastination Skillz and Methodz, they just didn’t appreciate them.

I’ve learnt to accept that, though. They say genius is never really appreciated. Just look at poor Sherlock Holmes.

So, here I go, to work on my Very Important Projects. I’d like to thank the person who inspired me to kick my backside back in to gear, but I don’t want to name him by name. He doesn’t know me, it’d just be weird and I wouldn’t like to risk an awkward atmosphere should we ever meet.

We probably won’t, but it’s better safe than sorry.

So instead I’ll say this:

Watch This Space!

A Failed Journalist’s Review of Priest. (Or As I Like To Call it: The Tale of a Ninja Vampire Slayer And The Case Of The Frightfully Similar Scenes)

Saturday 18 February, 2012

Before I really start, I’d just like to say that I’m not the best reviewer out there. On this here blog, I quite happily reviewed Jon Richardson’s Book: It’s Not Me, It’s You, and shared it with the world. On a previous blog I used to have, I wrote really higgledy piggledy reviews about DVDs that I’d watched, through recommendation and courtesy of LoveFilm, and after only a few entries, I fell into a formulaic pit and struggled to get out of it.

So, don’t think of this is as a review. Think of it as an article filled with observations, delivered with a hint of sardonic opinions, all laced with a hint of fangirling.
So, I watched Priest the other day. I’ve mentioned before that I am a fan of Paul Bettany, and the shenanigans involving his name. I’ve also mentioned in the LoveFilm entries that I keep my lists floating in titles by Cataloguing certain actor’s works, and that’s how I ended up watching Priest.
The premise is this: Paul Bettany plays a Priest in a dystopian world run by The Church. He fought vampires and lost, and lived in wait to avenge his friend. He gets word of stray vampires and vicious attacks outside of The City and turns his back on to the The Church when his plea of help fall on deaf ears. The attack happened on either his brother’s or his sister’s farm, didn’t quite catch which one, and his niece was taken hostage.
He figures he can kill two undead birds with one steak-shaped stone by getting his niece, Lucy, back and killing the creatures that killed his friend.
BUT! It’s not that simple. And if you think the Characters are bound to have a hard job going all Buffy The Vampire Slayer on everyone’s arses, think again! It’s me, your average viewer, who has the most work to do.
First of all, Paul Bettany’s American Accent is flawless. It’s not the first time I’ve heard him pull it off. He plays a very scary creepy fellow in a film called Firewall, starring Harrison Ford. He hold’s Harrison Ford’s Character and the Character’s family hostage, for reasons I can’t quite remember but an educated guess based on the title of the film would be that it’s for some sort of code, Sneakers Style. When the Character is being himself, the scary creepy fellow, he’s in Paul Bettany’s English Accent. And when the Character is being his Alias, he has a smooth American Accent that helps him blend in and even manages to sound extra friendly.
I spent a good half an hour thinking him to be the good sort of Hostage taker, but then he gave the son food knowing full well the kid would go into anaphylactic shock and I realised I had to re-evaluate my character reading skills. But that’s derailing.
My point is, is that I’ve heard Paul Bettany’s American Accent before, and yet this time it was different. It was quiet and on the raspier side of things. There were a few times I had to pause, rewind and turn the subtitles on to catch what was being said.
Then, my brain kept going into Intertextuality Overdrive as I saw many references to and scenes that looked worryingly similar to scenes in other films. For example, The Priest has a motorbike. What other Vampire Slayer do we know that rides a super-speed Motorbike in the dark?
And on that point, the Vampires that The Priest and everybody else has come to know are nothing compared to the Super Vampire that’s now in charge. And worse, the average Vampires have bred to such degrees that they aren’t just straggled groups to be dismissed. They become an army, headed straight for The City.
There’s a scene where Lucy is sitting at a table, in her Church Clothes, that she didn’t really wear to Church, wink wink, talking to the Super Vampire. He’s giving her all of this delicious food to eat whilst telling her how Sinning Makes The World Go Around.
Not exactly the same Conversation Topic, but almost exactly the same as the scene in Pirates of the Carribbean where Barbossa has all sorts of food laid out before Elizabeth for her to eat, so that Barbossa can enjoy eating by proxy.
There’s also The Church, which if you change to The Government and throw in Stephen Fry and Natalie Portman, you’d have V for Vendetta.
And Saving the best for last! What comes to mind when I say that a Damsel in Distress In A Victorian-Styled Dress is clinging on to the edge of a steam-train that is going to explode/crash, is being held on to by One Of The Heroes so that she doesn’t fall off and get mangled under the wheels, meanwhile The Other Hero is using their mode of transportation like a Surf Board and Orchestrating The Rescue Attempt with Very Good Timing Abilities?
If You said Back to the Future 3, You’d be wrong. It’s the ending of Priest! But glad to see we agree, there.
I’ll give the film points for a very good cast, and I didn’t actually figure out the bigger twist until a split second before it was revealed. I would watch it again, and I’d buy it on DVD if it was in the bargain bin…
But overall, it’s lame! It is So, So, So, So Lame! I mean, have you seen Slither? I love Slither, but it’s a lame excuse for a horror film that’s made largely viewable by the humour, cast and script. Priest has Super Ninja Priests that can jump up to and land down safely from great heights. At some points, it seems as if it’s a film made from collage of scenes taken from other films, a half decent cast and one good line. Which I’m sure was the token line they’d have used in the trailor.
The scene is this: The Priest has returned to The Catacombs that we saw him in at the beginning of the film, where the war between people and vampires had taken place, where his friend had been taken by the Vampires. He is with a Gunslinger, who went to The Priest for help because he’s in love with Lucy, despite Lucy possbly being only 17 and the Gunslinger guy looking 27…
The Priest throws his flare down the vertical tunnel so that he can see the bottom, only it’s so far down that you can’t really see the flare anymore. He turns to the Gunslinger guy and says “If anything comes up the steps that isn’t me, shoot it.”

It’s such a slick line! It is like no other line in the film, it’s said clearly, and it’s not the kind of line I’d associate with Paul Bettany. Paul Bettany, who made up football chants and immitates boxing announcers in A Knight’s Tale. Paul Bettany, the smug-faced explosive fast talker of a Gangster in Gangster No1. Paul Bettany, the quiet-voiced seemingly gentle man of a doctor, particular friend to Jack Aubrey, in Master and Commander.

My Mind Does Not Compute.

If anything, it shows just how versatile an actor Paul Bettany is. Does nothing whatsoever for the film, though. Except guarantee’s a decent amount of footage to turn into an advert. It is a line that provokes Meta.

It might sound as if I was disappointed with this film. I wasn’t. I did genuinely like it. Paul Bettany plays a Ninja Priest, and there’s a super army of Vampires heading towards a big Dystopian City run by The New Church to get revenge. What’s not to like?!

It’s just not something that I’d associate with Paul Bettany if Paul Bettany hadn’t have starred in it. But that’s the kind of thing you find out when you watch an actor’s back catalogue. You find films you wouldn’t normally like, you find actor’s in films not like any other thing they’ve ever been in, and you find other actors playing a role you wouldn’t normally associate them with.

Final conclusion of Priest:

My next Paul Bettany film, for the record, will be Creation. ~Ooh~

Another Dream That Never Came True

Monday 6 February, 2012

When I was about seven, I wanted to play the violin.

I’d always liked the sound of the violin, I liked the way they looked and I thought they were a lot more impressive than a guitar. Which is saying something, because I was pretty fascinated by my Dad’s guitar.

And even though I kept saying that I wanted to play the Violin, I think initially my Mum brushed it off as a flighting fancy. I was a hyperactive whirl wind of a child, and I couldn’t decide on what I wanted to be when I was older. I got bored with games quickly and I would flit from one thing to the other and back again to keep myself constantly entertained.

I’d be lying if I said I’d completely grown out of that now, but some of that still remains. I do constantly need something to do and I still flit from one thing to another.

Anyway, so, my Mum said no. She used to play the Violin when she was at school and she hated it. There were, of course, other reasons as to why she wouldn’t allow me to try and learn the violin.

First and foremost, they’re very expensive instruments and we were a very poor family. Some people say they’re poor and yet they can afford a car and the petrol costs on top. We couldn’t. We’ve never had a car, and if by some miracle we did, we wouldn’t have had the petrol money for it. We were really properly council housing and walking everywhere kind of poor.

So an expensive instrument I could potentially lose interest in? Not the wisest of investments. Expensive Instrument that would require expensive lessons to learn, in order to keep interest and motivation to play said instrument? A slightly better investment but even more out of our budget.

Of course, the biggest and most important reason my Mum had for not letting me have a violin, learn to play a violin, try and get some sort of really cheap deal going so that I could have a future in playing the voilin somewhat professionally so that the initial costs might pay off one day?

My disability. Which is why I can’t take it up now, even though I’d really like to.

Holding a violin for most children is awkward, but eventually bodies adapt, muscles build and tiring arms would stop being a problem. Between my back, my ill-proportioned body and my inability to sit comfortably on your average chair, it would have been a struggle to keep hold of a violin long enough to build up some sort of tolerance.

The older that I’ve got, the worse my body’s got. Sad, but true.

But I just wish I’d have gotten a chance to just try. I wish my primary school had had a violin in the instrument trolley, in amongst the rainsticks, xylophones, bongos, tambourines, triangles, maracas and other instruments that I don’t know the name of.

I remember being given a variety of instruments that needed to go on my knees, except they needed two hands to be played but I didn’t have a good way to sit on a chair that would have stopped the instrument from slipping out of place. I refused to play any wind instruments cos I was a germophobe, and I never saw them wash the mouth pieces. I didn’t even drink out of the same cup as my brother at home, I wasn’t going to share a musical instrument that had been emerged in someone else’s mouth.

So that left me with instruments I had to shake, twirl, spin or flick. Not exactly a set of instruments that you’d find a demand of in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

And I listen to music today with violins in, in fact I go out of my way to buy violin-based music, and I’m just as mesmerised. And it takes me back to when I was seven and wanting a violin. I can’t help but feel cheated out of something.

At least I could play the guitar, had a shot of the drums and gave the keyboard a go. The Violin has always been out of my reach.

And of course people have turned around to me and said I should give the Violin a go anyway. I feel like these people are living in a dream-zone. I can’t spend £500 on a semi-decent instrument, a further £100 on what I’m led to believe would be a low-quality bow, and all the extra expenses of polishes, resins, cleaning materials, strings on top on a whim, to see how well, or how badly, I’d be able to cope in learning to try and play the violin.

The problem is this new polar opposite attitude some people have towards disabilities. It is the exact opposite situation to where we were all ignored and considered useless. No, this new attitude brings a blindness to disability in such a way it’s just as harmful, in the hands of the wrong people. So what if I have a back that collapsed and nerve damage down my right arm! Stephen Hawking has a form of Motor Neuron Disease and he’s still giving life a go!*

Yes, it’s all wonderful that people have faith in us disabled people these days to be on par with the rest of society, now that we have the Equal Opportunities Movement. There’s practically no good reason, in these people with these opinion’s minds, for anyone with a disability to not at least try.

Except sometimes disabilities do actually impose physical impossibilities and do actually hold us back in life, in some circumstances; and holding a violin well and truly comfortable enough to play one song probably is one of them. It would be a large waste of money, that quite frankly needs to go elsewhere, just to see.

And I’m out of any situation now that might land a free one in my lap for an hour, like a good school could have done. I could have even had a chance in high school had we been able to afford some sort of private music lessons. There were school-stock violins in the music cupboard, for people learning through the private music lessons but weren’t at an advanced stage enough to justify having their own (way-more-expensive-and-less-warped) instrument.

Ah, I’m feeling wistful. It’s all a shame, and it’s all very annoying. It would have been nice to try, that’s all.

 On the other hand, because I can’t bare to end this blog on a bad note (Oh no, was that a pun!?), maybe it is better to have never loved at all than to have loved and lost the knowledge and experience of holding a violin and actually playing it. Even badly. Like with my beloved Guitar.

*Something which has actually been said to me.