Sunday, 22 July 2007

Part III.

'I thought it classic...'

Idealizing, Part II.

From Always Merry and Bright: The Life of Henry Miller:

'Typically, during the years that Henry was catching the clap and learning about women from burlesque, he also built up an intense idealism about love and was always looking for a woman to worship. His mother always told him how much he had adored her, and he seemed to be seeking another woman to serve. Cora Seward, a schoolmate at Eastern District High, seemed to meet his need fully. He was thoroughly intimidated at first glance by the physical Cora - with her firm upstanding breasts, full mouth, and apple blossom cheeks - but he was completely annihilated by the image of her which his yearnings created. She seemed too perfect ever to be possessed. Everything about her appeared radiant, romantic and distant; her porcelain blue eyes shimmered like icebergs, mirrors of her Arctic soul; her hair was perfectly blonde, like Guinevere's in The Idylls of the King. He was as helpless as Galahad. . . All he wanted to do was adore her from afar.

'Though the other boys thought it easy to jump in front of her and give her a squeeze in the dark before she could resist, Henry could never treat Cora in that common way. He made no progress in his love affair: he really didn't want to make any. After all, for sex there were plenty of beery old sluts slinking around Herald Square - Henry needed a woman to worship.

'In the summer of that year, Cora went to Asbury park with her family while Henry began his drudgery at Atlas Cement. With Cora physically removed, he liked her all the better, and he wrote long, serious letters to her. She answered him only a few times during this bitter season, but whether or not a letter waited on the mantelpiece for him, he experienced a lot of romantic anguish.

'Several times he had the same dream. He and Cora, a perfect Cora, were at a party together. As usual, Henry played hard to get, ignored her and even treated her disdainfully, until George Wright announced that Cora, disgusted with his behaviour, had fled the house. Wild with grief, Henry rushed out to bring her back. But it was too late! Repeated, the dream became wearisome. Worse, the dream was true - Henry was driving her away. He said that he wanted Cora, but he wanted a divine ideal; he could not accept the fleshly Cora and rejected her by his reverence.'

Idealizing, Part I.

I was browsing through films to rent the other day, with my mother, and we got onto the conversation of horror films. She can't stand them and can't watch them. Not the gory ones anyway.

The gory ones, of course, aren't the scary ones. You see one as a kid maybe, and you're terrified. But you become desensitised. I've seen Hostel, all of the Saw series, etc. I find the Saw franchise particularly interesting, and, unless I'm being terribly naive, to me those films realise (or at least attempt) the zenith of the genre. They all more or less rest on the same basic premise, which is this: What if you woke up in a situation of unparalleled horror? A horror beyond words, too terrible to imagine? And what if it wasn't a dream, but a reality? Your chest/jaw is going to be ripped open by a reverse-bear trap, unless you can fish out a key from corrosive acid/a dead person's stomach? What if the series of events could lead to revenge on the people who you consider to be variously accountable for your young child's death? And so on. It's the height of visual and psychological torment. And yet I, and many of my friends of various dispositions towards the genre, can watch these films and not be haunted by them. Why?

Because horror is, of course, not about what is shown, what is said or done; it is precisely about what is hidden, unspoken, undisclosed - and yet teetering on the parameters of your consciousness. Hitchcock has been spoken about as the 'master of suspense'. He may not have had the special effects budget (or capabilities back then) to create the graphic spectacles we are presented with today, but this worked to his advantage. 'Suspense': meaning, literally, to suspend; not to remove, or obliterate, but to captivate the audience by evoking feelings in them that the worst is always just around the corner, a monstrous apparation that is omnipotent in the mind because it can only ever be cauterised by realisation. Scary, in other words, is that which you know exists, but which you refuse to confront. If you confront it, if you throw off the sheet and say, 'This is your monster,' it is no longer as terrible.

It can never be as terrible as it was in your mind.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Snakes on a Barge

Edit 15/03/09: In the absence of the photographs taken that day, which I used to weave this crazy tale together, the story itself makes little sense. They seem to no longer be online. For sentimental reasons, though, I'm keeping it up.

It was a gloomy day in Bristol, and a group of friends were attending the 2007 Dot to Dot festival. Drinks were quaffed, cigarettes legally smoked, and a good time had by all.

Waiting for the next band to start, the crew couldn't help but notice a mysterious man sitting next to them. He was toying with something in his hands, and kept looking into middle-distance, as if towards a camera. Thankfully I'd brought my special hooded top, designed to camouflage against the Bristol skyline. I donned my hood and watched with interest, trying to work out the nature of his endeavours.

I couldn't see what was going on. It looked innocent enough, but on closer inspection I could see that some process was already underway before our very eyes.

He's building something! But what, and to what nefarious ends? It appeared to me like some kind of grotesque butchery carried out in the name of medical science. I saw limbs, heads, eyes, all the subtle hues of the rainbow. Yet the weather was darkening; no rainbow in sight, only a diabolical bungle of twisted body parts and ideology. As the fingers worked frantically at the bloody mess before me, I could only imagine what manner of evils were finding new shape and life in the ovarian promise that his hands were delivering.

Then it all became horrifyingly clear.

A reptilian army. And he was breeding them. Yet still I could not fathom in what name this abhorration of nature had been so bastardly wrought. My mind was racing at the speed of danger, trying to piece together the parts of this terrible jigsaw puzzle - but nothing would fit. Just then, as the barge jolted my senses and sea-nausea took hold, I saw in an instant a terrifying vision flash before my eyes...

I saw their innocent heads, full to the brim with hopes, dreams, desires, thoughts of love lost and love anew, all dashed. This villain, this progenitor of abomination, was planning to release his army unto the unsuspecting heads of the gig-goers!

I knew I had to think fast. The next gig was in less than ten minutes, and if I didn't act quickly, that reptilian army would have seized a strangehold over the ship, and its inhabitant's necks, that would surely prove impossible to break.

I watched closely. There was undeniably a communication of sorts passing between this man and his evil army. I maintained surveillance under my hooded disguise. It wasn't spoken communication, nor any sign language i recognised. I looked closer. Surely not...

Of course!

I took a moment to compose my thoughts. It made sense, and yet I was loathed to believe it. The reptilian army was being controlled by his posing!

There was no time to think up a plan; already we were being ushered into the venue, the place where it seemed we would all meet our makers unless something could be done - and fast.

We took our places amidst the throng of music-lovers, and I broke the news to my accompanying friends. After much hushed deliberation, no response was forthcoming. The band came on stage, and I silently prayed. The situation was utterly hopeless. Just then, the diminutive Emily grabbed at my waist:

"The reptilian army is controlled by his posing, right?"

Sure. Where was she going with this? The band continued to tune their instruments, a sound of unparalleled menace to my ears.

"Well, he seems to master them by way of his indomitable ability to pose all the time and with greater breadth of expression than any man I've seen. If all of us pose as hard as possible, maybe we could sway the army into our powers!"

It seemed crazy, but things were about to get a lot crazier. Without hesitation, I began to rally the others. After explaining the situation as quickly as possible, they all agreed. It was now or never.

Ellen and Emily posed with all their might, biting their cheeks til blood spilled, pushing their lips out til their upper jaw strained.

"It's not working!," Emily cried out in despair. The wicked genius' posing ability was too great, and the army remained poised on the ceiling, waiting to strike. The girls' efforts were producing a visible effect though, as the army writhed and twitched in confusion. Ellen stepped forward.

"We need your help Matt. Our posing is distracting the reptile army, but they remain under his sway. You have to join us."

"No problem" I replied, and stepped in to join them. But as I moved, I felt Ellen's hand on my shoulder.

"Wait. If we're going to break his power over the reptiles, we need to summon all our posing power. Matt," she sighed, "we need you to pull the gayest face ever. This isn't about MySpace or Facebook. This is about saving mankind."

I turned around and looked her in the eyes, then smiled. "Don't worry about that." But I was worried. Deeply worried. Even still, I knew that what Ellen was saying made sense. I looked around to see Emyli and Keiran had already begun.

As soon as I saw Keiran's face wracked with effort, I knew that I would have to emulate that level. We all would. I joined Emily and Ellen and we turned around. Ellen began to count.

"One... Two..."

"Quickly, there's no time!" I shouted across at her, as the first frogs and snakes began to drop from the ceiling.


A flash of light.

I looked up in disbelief. We had not succeeded in swaying the reptilian army into our powers. No, the sight that stood before me was far more remarkable.

Covering the ceiling was a thick layer of green, yellow, orange and black goo. The army, to our astonishment, had exploded.

"Damn you!" cursed the evil genius. "Now I have to sit through this sub-Klaxons shite for the next forty minutes!"

"You're insane" I called out across the room. "For while that is now true for all of us, did you stop to think about the consequences of releasing a reptilian army into this room? Did you really think that your posing was controlling the creatures, or just driving them to destruction?"

The man stood in shock, the raw substance that he used to craft the army now dripping, lifeless, into his hands. Dust to dust.

Then we saw Kate Nash, who played an awesome set and then had sex with me for twelve hours afterwards.

Back on the deck of the barge after my romp, spirits were high. The clan had defeated the evil spawn and saved Bristol, and perhaps humanity. The evil genius, who turned out to be some guy called Michael, was released from the mania that had previously saturated his thoughts, and joined in with the ensuing mirth.

"Just one question, Mike. How did you get all those reptiles to breed with each other so easily?"

"Ah," he responded, "that's simple. I gave them some frog's-porn!"

Friday, 13 July 2007

Monstrum In Fronte, Monstrum In Anime

The new effort from You Say Party! We Say Die! who will, delightfully, be making up numbers (and indeed, exclamation marks) on the forthcoming Los Campesinos! UK tour.

It's only the ruddy single of the year, innit.