Dangerous work, well documented

So there I am, 10ft off the ground, on my hands and knees precariously perched on a ladder across a perspex roof with aluminium frame. I was attempting to finally mend and seal-in the panels that blew out in the storm some month before.

“Quick!” I shout to the missus. “Take some photos -if I fall through they could be great.”

Off she goes and strolls back some time later to snap snap snap.

“Make sure you zoom-out to show the context,” I said, “so you can  see the EXTREME danger I’m in!”
(I may have been slightly exaggerating in this, although only slightly.)

Snap snap snap.

“Maybe take one from over there,” I pointed, trying to ensure the best location was covered in case of an accident. Every cloud has a silver lining an’ all that -plus it’d be nice to show future generations the final images of their grandfather.

“Are you getting the perspective?”

“YES!” she snapped.
It wasn’t the camera this time. She had had enough.

Finally, after spending a few hours trying to wash/ brush/ scrape Tec7 sillicone off my hands I was able to sit down to examine the results.

47 photos she took, of which this is the best one:

1-IMG_2159-1Luckily, the camera was set to take RAW images, so I was able to recover this level of detail from the almost-all-white images.
2-IMG_2161-2

Here I am squirting in the sillicone.

 

 

 

4-IMG_2171-5This is my good friend, John McSweeney (without whose assistance I’d never have managed), looking on.

3-IMG_2170-4Pardon me for posing in this one. Cheese!

 

So there you have it.

Tough work, but I’m glad we had someone on hand to document the day. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

SIMPLE SOLUTION: What to do with Old Folks

THE PROBLEM: Many people end up looking at the bare walls in a nursing home (or anywhere else) for any number of years towards the end of their life. It’s a sad whimpering, prolonged farewell to an otherwise possibly somewhat-in-parts-at-least enjoyable existence.

THE SOLUTION: Play videogames.

Yes it’s true that many old people can’t function in different ways -no mobility in their legs/ fingers/ head or even lack of mental awareness itself. This, I agree, is tragic.

However, others are sadly waiting to die. Go on, ask them if you think I’m just being cruel. They have been thrown in a home or even sitting in their own house all day long, looking out the window -or worse- at the television!

It’s true and don’t blame me for saying so -a lot of older people are leading sad lives.

But why??

Think about it -there’s no need to sit there staring at walls -get in some practice now while you still can on something like

mk8Mario Kart

 

bf4or Battlefield

 

gta v flyingor Grand Theft Auto

tetris1or even plain old-fashioned Tetris.

 

Whatever you’re having yourself!

Think of your future! Don’t leave it too late!

Play videogames now and secure your happiness through the otherwise grimmest days of your life.

I hear what you’re thinking: “But I can wait until that day comes and play videogames then!”

No, that would never work. Too little too late. You’d be conditioned not to know or have any interest in it. Like everything else, the world of videogames takes time and effort to learn. It’s not something you can easily pick up in between worrying about your last bowel-movement or if you’d taken enough pills this hour.

Which type of game suits me best? Which console? How do I control that guy on the screen? What am I supposed to do here?  …There’s a whole world out there that, chances are, you never even knew existed.

Videogames exercise the brain as well as hand-to-eye coordination, etc.. They’re perfect for ancient people who otherwise sit in one place for hours on end doing nothing.

“If only I hadn’t wasted my life by not playing videogames…”

-William, aged 79.

 

But remember: Whether you are currently into videogames or not -don’t leave it too late to begin. You will regret it if so.

Do you want to be the one sitting in a home like my mate William, aged 79, with the wind rattling your nose-hair, not a soul nor a thought to keep you company other than the peeling magnolia paint and the single echoing thought hitting off the hard edges of the remnants of your brain:
“If only I hadn’t wasted my life by not playing videogames…”

But there are more advantages to older people playing videogames:
Suddenly they’re not as needy. Feel guilty for not visiting them? Great -pop online and run around shooting them and their geriatric A-Team. You can even talk with gramps while you do so over the headset -if he’s not too busy blowing you up with grenades or rocket launchers.

If you still feel the need to visit them in person though, best make an appointment -they might have a clan-session scheduled. It’s not easy being a gamer, but once you got the gaming-bug and have all the time in the world to play you have the perfect-storm for Gaming Greatness.

 

“I haven’t felt this alive in years!”

-Gramma Mavis, full-name and age withheld in case her slow-coach toy boy discovers how old she really is (90).

 

Move over kid, you are gonna eat Gramma Mavis’s dust.
 

 (As with all posts in this site, this is © Copyright May 2014 Stanley Rumm, unless otherwise stated)

What makes Gravity a Great Film? -The Plot.

image001

I would like to say something that I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere about the movie GRAVITY, directed by Alfonso Cuarón.

No spoilers. Almost everything mentioned below happens in the first 15 minutes or so.

 

Apart from utmost praise of the visuals, I’ve seen a lot of bad-press and dismissive reviews of “the plot”. But (and I know I’m not alone) this is precisely what I’d like to pick-over… the plot and what it does is amazing. The rest is a distraction. A beautiful distraction, but a distraction.

First shot of the film puts us in awe. There is no doubt that all of us are minuscule ants in an amazing, wonderful, beautiful, yet daunting world.

 

Sandra Bullock (Dr. Stone) is in space with two others. She is depressed. She is anxiety-ridden. She is worn out, burnt-up and dead inside. Possibly the only thing pushing her on is her career, but her breakdown is inevitable and it’s coming up fast.
From minute-one she is not feeling well. It is clear she is already suffering:

“Dr. Stone, Houston, medical is concerned about your ECG reading.”

“I’m fine Houston.”

“Well medical doesn’t agree. Are you feeling nauseous?”

 

She then (clearly out of breath) proceeds to change the subject, talking shop. Her fear of discovery-leading-to-the-abortion-of-the-mission is stressing her out further.

…But we’ll get back to that in a little while…

 

I’ve read a lot of criticism of George Clooney in this film: “He plays George Clooney”/ “he plays Buzz Lightyear”/ “he’s a comic-book too-smooth caricature without a hair out of place in the worst situation possible, making him and the movie unbelievable”.

 

Well I disagree and here’s why –

How does one deal with anxiety / nausea/ depression/ feelings of inadequacy?
Whilst in that moment, should we

a)    Concentrate on these ‘bad thoughts’, wonder why we are having them?

b)    Try to work through the processes and steps that lead us to this nasty negative place?

c)    Panic?

d)   Try to put a plan in place that will stop this happening in future?

e)    Ignore it/ free our mind/ then when free, proceed with dealing with what’s in front of us?
 
To little-ole-me at least, the correct answer is and only ever can be (e).
Maybe there’s a little more to it than that (or not), but that’s the crux of it.

 

Enter Captain George. 
From the beginning, Clooney is clowning around, making small-talk, jokes, belittling the seriousness of the mission.

“Houston I have a bad feeling about this mission”

“Please expand.”

“OK, let me tell you a story… It was ’96 –I’d been up here for 42 days –every time I passed over Texas…”   

…And now we’re no longer worried about the mission or the million things that can (and will) go wrong, but instead listening to George’s calm voice as we (Dr. Stone) are free to mechanically work through the job without over-thinking the overwhelming
problems at hand or running through our own fears and doubts over and over.

 

Next Houston asks “Sharif” for a time estimate.

“Nearly there,” he tells Houston.

“Could you be a little bit more specific? Indeterminate
estimates make Houston anxious”.

“No no no Houston –don’t be anxious. Anxiety is not good for the heart.”

 

 

So before anything has even happened, in the first couple of minutes while the camera is still in the process of zooming in on the initial location, we’ve had talk of medical, ECG (which monitors heart, nothing to do with nausea to my knowledge), nausea, anxious, anxious, anxiety… “not good for the heart”.
 
This is a movie about Anxiety.  The Gravity of Anxiety, if you will.

 

Soon an issue arises and Houston asks Dr. Stone how long it’lll take to fix?

“One hour”, replies Dr. Stone. Clearly she doesn’t suffer
from Sharif’s Indeterminate Estimate Syndrome, nor obviously, his lack of anxiety.

The first sign of real danger comes when Houston says:

“NORAD reports a Russian sattellite has incurred a missile strike.”

Captain George’s eyes dart to Dr. Stone to check her reaction.
She takes a little longer to consider what she has heard before looking to George to gauge how to react. 

Seeing him smiling calmly back is reassurance enough to keep her working methodically.

 

Now Houston continues the sentence and Captain George immediately spots the danger.

He checks his less-experienced co-worker who is still floating merrily on his wave of calmness.

Now she pauses and asks (stutters) …
“should we should we be worried?”

His reply?

 No, let’s let the boys down there worry for us.

Isn’t this ‘Certainty’ exactly what we all crave? Dr. Stone (‘we’) is already on the verge of panic but put it down to experience or writers’ prerogative, Captain George knows nothing is achieved through panic –smile and if you can’t control it, continue doing what can be done.

It’s not that he did something to avoid catastrophe, but even if he rushed everyone back to the ship at this point it would make zero difference. In fact it would almost certainly whip everyone into so much of a frenzy they would almost certainly die during or soon after the first debris-strike.

Still, he’s concerned enough now to gently enquire, without raising suspicions, how much training she has actually had.

 

Soon the debris hits and Dr. Stone is sent reeling. She is out of control. Too much is happening for her to focus on any one thing. She is thinking of everything, unable to concentrate on anything that might possibly save her.

Kowalski’s single-minded order is all that is there to save her. “You must detach!”

“What? Are you mad!? How can I possibly detach myself!? I’ll die if I do -I can’t do it anyway!” we would all scream back.

There is just too much going on. Too much to concentrate on. Too much to worry about!

Yet that one single command is the key: Detach.

Whether it’s in space, at work, in the kitchen… when everything is too much to take in… first of all detach. Worry about all that other stuff some other time.

Detach.
 
Every fibre of your being is screaming at you “NO! DON’T LET GO!”

You find it impossible to concentrate enough to do the opposite to how you are seemingly programmed to react.

 

…Finally she detaches and is alone. Still reeling, but now like a bunny in the headlamps, fear has her frozen.


Now her body is running on instinct. It takes her a long time, but finally she is forced to breathe again.

 

 

To do nothing -but breathe…

Now, through the magic of (this new) cinema, we are taken seamlessly through her spacesuit visor to see the world from her point-of-view


to witness the world as she sees it –reeling…

Still out of control, but calm enough now to function, she gets her bearing and reaches out for the first time  as if to say OK, I’m ready now –I’m completely in your hands.

 

 

This is the point where she regains control of her senses.

She is powerless, she knows it, but she is no longer panicking.

Now the camera exits her visor again so the story can
continue…

 

…OK, I’m sure none of us wants me to continue giving a blow-by-blow account of how I see this movie, so I’ll stop that now.
On Clooney though -I’d just like to say this: his character is a caricature –he plays the perfect human being who is able to cope with this situation without once saying or doing the wrong thing. But that’s not a flaw with the actor or the plot -it is the whole point.

 

This is exactly how to handle such a situation/ such a person –in a perfect world.
Or out of it.

 

Clooney’s “caricature” is not a distracting misstep to an
otherwise impressive movie –he is there to demonstrate how to handle this situation perfectly.

 

Later in the movie he is even more perfect, but I’m sure you’ve considered for yourself why this is, if you’ve seen it –or you will come up with your own explanation when you do.

 

Another “misstep” I’ve seen levelled at this film is
complaints of “B-movie plot insertions” –trying to quickly get us to root for the protagonists by crow-barring in some hokey past trauma that serves no purpose other than to make us feel sorry for them.

Usually the guy who tells us the biggest sob story is the one who gets killed first.

 

In Gravity, Dr. Stone tells us “I had a daughter…”

In this movie, such hokey dialogue is most certainly not emotion-time-filler-in-between-disasters.

It itself is the point of the movie. …Well, yes, it is shorthand for “whatever trauma you’re having yourself”, but what do you expect from a 90-minute action movie?

Anyway… this movie is inside out.

It has also been said that the “3D and space f/x” mask a vacuous, too-simple plot. But no, I strongly disagree  -the 3D and space f/x distracts us from the real purpose of this film. It doesn’t ram it down our throats like some more-commercially-minded or sincere-yet possibly-misguided filmmakers might do.

Instead it dazzles and blind-sides and impresses us so much with its visuals that we may not take onboard –or at least don’t mind taking onboard if we do- what it is saying.

It tells us a difficult story without mentioning it at all.

After all, who would go to see GRAVITY outside the arthouse-set if this was known as “A Movie about Depression and Anxiety”?
Gravity is not a movie about Space. That’s why it’s called Gravity when there is Zero-G in it.

 

 

 

 

Wolf Of Wall Street/ Lord of the Flies

I’m glad I went to see Wolf of Wall Street at the cinema. Mainly I’m glad because if I hadn’t I’d end up owning it eventually on Blu Ray or DVD and I’d prefer not to. It’d stain the wall.

If it’s not too old-fashioned-sounding to say so, I found it a sordid film full to the brim with greedy sordid individuals I would not like to spend time with ever. I didn’t like them. I didn’t envy anything about them (although Leonardo’s wife is the hottest thing I’ve seen in a while, must be said -Margot Robbie will go far in cinema, I predictably  predict.)

For such a long film none of the characters were raised anywhere above caricature-level. Then again, I’m not sure any of them would have anything approaching a character of any kind anyway, so I suppose I can’t put that down as a bad mark against the film itself. Still it was just one truckload of drunken drug-fuelled stoopid people blowing their bonus in stoopid ways after another.

There were hints at some depth here-and-there, such as the scene where Leonardo tries to bribe the FBI guy on his yacht. Yet apart from that, what was actually on display here for three hours?? Con men blowing their bonuses, fearing getting caught, then (briefly) “getting caught”. Life’s a party, then you die.

For all that, the film was very well made. Let me say this: It is a good film. Scorcese and team does a great job (as far as I’m concerned) in portraying this debauched manic existence that the whole of “the Western World” (led, it must be said by the USA) seems to idealise as the pinnacle of existence. 

It’s a horror movie and I was suitably horrified. But what depressed me most of all was the laughter. The guy two seats away from me laughed continuously for the three hours. Someone said the most inane thing on the screen, this fella broke down laughing. Someone snorted coke from a hooker’s tits, this guy was in stitches. Someone collapsed on a glass table as he choked on a piece of ham and this guy nearly fell out of his seat.

And what’s worse is after a while the whole cinema seemed to be laughing too. I found nothing funny in the whole film. As I say, to me it’s a horror -and pretty good at it (don’t get me wrong -I won’t be seeing it again)- but how or WHY were these people laughing!?? I have no idea.

The screen was filled with ugly people doing ugly things and almost everyone in the room I was sitting in seemed to enjoy what they were seeing. Maan that depresses me.


Lord of the Flies
is the film that came to mind while I was watching it. What would happen if a lot of grown-up kids were let loose with wads of money and there was nobody around to take notice? Is this not precisely what Reagan unleashed on the world in the 80s?

In this I reckon the movie makes a good point -nobody was at the helm.

…So what was everyone laughing at!? These shysters and con-people screwed as much of the world as they could get their hands on. Their counterparts “on Wall Street proper” did likewise -and continue to do so today -business as usual even after millions of people worldwide have had their whole existence overturned by stock-market crashes.

Yet The Wolf Of Wall Street, to my eyes and ears at least, is causing people to look-on and do nothing but laugh along with these people and even, I daresay, to yet again ADMIRE them. Admire them!?

And make no bones about it -for the most part The Wolf of Wall Street is not so much a casual-observer on the fence  as it is riding the fence doggie-style along with the protagonists.

Must say, by the end I felt drunk and more than a little dirty.

Good film. Didn’t like it. Glad I saw it.

 

OOYAY KINDLE

OOYAY is out now on Kindle. Priced at a bargain $4.99, possibly plus taxes and currency fluctuation, depending on your area.

Author-signed tactile 3D paperback edition still available for just $12/ €10 with FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING if you’re a traditionalist like myself.

 

I’ll link to the amazon.co.uk site below, but you can find it in the currency that’s applicable to you on your Kindle or Kindle-app.

 

 

Allow yourself to view the world presented in the earlier section of the book as though through the eyes of a child and I promise you a unique and mesmerising ripping tale.

 

 

Digital Cinema -not all it’s cracked up to be

 

Am I the only one bothered by the look & feel of digital cinema?

I mean, Roger Deakins did quite well with what he had to work with in Skyfall, but that much-celebrated Shanghai sequence looks to me more like a sleek corporate video presentation than “a Film”. The parts set in Britain were no different in look & feel from an episode of The Apprentice (in HD).

Something is lost in the crisp, perfect cleanness of digital cinema. It’s like taking a hi-res scan of an old painting and presenting that as the thing itself. It’s not.

Film… actual celluloid has its own qualities, inconsistencies and depths that only add to a great film. They are not blemishes or mistakes, no more than a blob of paint or the weave of canvas are on the Mona Lisa.

Why should I go to the cinema to see a digital film when soon after I’ll be able get the exact same image at home on Blu Ray with no disturbances or interruptions from strangers with anti-social habits?

It seems to me, that instead of promoting 3D as the key-feature to entice people to cinemas, they should be using and promoting actual analogue FILM. You don’t get that at home.

Well, mostly.

 

 

Looper -what is that all about then?

 

I’d like to talk about the movie Looper, which I saw today -but I won’t spoil the ending.

I can’t say this movie is exactly my cup of tea, but it’s great to see a mainstream movie that is actually about something for a change other than the usual goodie Vs. baddie affair.

In this case, it’s clearly all (/mostly) about child abuse/ ending the circle of violence (whilst not doing so overtly lest it put you off)
-and it’s just how such a subject should be presented if you ask me.

After all, we learn nothing from being lectured or spoonfed hard-to-take information, but wrap it up in an interesting sci-fi tale and we can learn all about it vicariously whilst puzzling and arguing over loopholes and paradoxes to our heart’s content. It has nothing to do with any of that if you ask me. It’s another Superman’s Underpants film -we should look beyond the easy-to-pick-at frontage to see what it’s actually about.

In that, it’s old-school cinema -it’s not that it’s there to teach us all a lesson, but there’s plenty going on under the skin if you choose to look. View it as a straightforward Time Travel movie if you choose not to.

Bruce Willis is excellent, playing a complex character who does some not-so-nice things. Levitt is very good too, but I must say I was most distracted by his eyebrows throughout. Not since Julia Roberts’ lips in Oceans Twelve have physical features upstaged the person to which they were attached in a movie.

Overall, Looper is a little bit too violent/ aggressive for this sensitive little soul, but I guess that’s the point.

 

In what way is this film “about child abuse”?

 

First of all, there’s the first shot of the film (if I remember correctly, I’ve only seen it once and I can’t capture still-frames for this piece -if it’s not the first shot, then it’s the first person we see) -a close-up of a proto-typical “abused child”, forced to eke out its existence in abusive circumstances. Since this is “a time travel movie”, during this extended shot we are invited to consider this child’s past and likely future.

Secondly, consider every child we come across. One has been abandoned by his mother at an early age and is already traumatised by the experiece. Will he have a future that is free of abuse? One is the child of a stripper and is on the target list of his “surrogate father”. The only ‘possibly non-traumatised’ child is left alone just long enough to have violence come a-knocking.

Consider also the upbringing of the main character (Joe?)
To be honest I can’t remember the details, but he did not have a happy childhood and it is clear that when Jeff Daniels/ “Abe” discovered him, the work was already done that qualified him for his life as a Looper. As a result of Abe’s intervention his violent life could take on a more structured form. So you could say the abuser showed him how to abuse -and this is what he has always done.

Also think of Abe himself -a man from the future -our future-self (or the typical future-self of each character in this movie). He too is a victim, doomed to exile in this dreary “past”, reinforcing this cycle of violence, ensuring its continuance.

There is also the “Kid Blue” character to look at, who appears to love Abe as a son would a father (or an abused child toward his manipulative abuser perhaps? -Think of how Abe behaved toward Joe when he wanted something from him -“I gave you all you have” type dialogue -Kid Blue likely got the same speech regularly and has obviously taken it more to heart than Joe has.)
Either way, Abe appears to return this love enough not to kill Kid Blue, but clearly he isn’t averse to violent outbursts when he feels its called for.

 

There are many paradoxes and loopholes to Looper, but the main one that bothers me is this (and this last bit I’m afraid will be a spoiler):

 

Highlight the text between the following markers to see the ‘spoiler’:

 

– –

The premise appears to be that the main kid (Cid I think?) is given a chance to be spared the cycle of violence, whereby the victim ultimately becomes the perpetrator, by him being freed of his “abuser” to be brought up in the care of his loving mother… therefore, by the time he grows up he presumably has “learnt” not to become the “evil Rainmaker”, going on a rampage, killing all loopers. Therefore, the world of “Looping” continues. ?

– –

OK, it doesn’t ‘bother’ me. It makes me smile. This is a movie after all, not a psychology journal. There’s enough in it to consider at least. Even if most people don’t consider such things while they watch a movie, it’s the reason why fiction is so powerful -it allows us all to take on board (if only perhaps on a subconscious level) topics and truths that otherwise cannot and will not be confronted.

 

Disclaimer: I’m not suggesting for one minute that everyone who abuses becomes an abuser. It is a theory at least that “abusers” of every kind learn to be like that during childhood. Thankfully it’s not as simple as that in real life.