Category Archives: THING

How much is a billion?


1 billion = 1,000,000,000 = 1,000 million  (in European terms)


1 billion seconds = 11,574.074 days = 31.79 years (start counting now)


1 billion inches = 15,782.83 miles (roughly the distance from Dublin to New York, then back to Dublin, then back to New York, then back to Dublin, then back to New York)


1 billion people = roughly the population of the USA x 3


1 billion acres = roughly seven-and-a-half times the size of France



What do you most hate doing (that must be done)?

I like to think I’m a fairly fair equal-rights kinda guy. I tidy things around the house, make dinners, put away the dishes, etc., wash the odd pot, go shopping, look after the kids -homework, play, etc.. I’m a bit of a house-all-rounder you could say, but I have to admit Mrs. Rumm is better at some of the above than yours truly. And I have to admit I don’t mind at all to admit that.

I realise it’s not OK to admit that and leave it at that in this day and age, but we all have our talents and specific likes, dislikes and phobias. No matter what I do, at times Mrs. Rumm will undo and redo it to her liking. Best of luck to her I say. As I said, I’m an equal rights kinda guy. I’d never stand in her way in having something done precisely as she feels is needed. It’s true that she does some things best -by best I mean, to a degree where we can both be satisfied.

Similarly, I’m the go-to guy when the grass needs cutting, lightbulbs changing, TV & electronics setups, computers, DIY (to a degree), etc.. I don’t think Mrs. Rumm has ever attempted to put up a shelf in all our years together. But I’m not bitter. As I say, I’m an equal rights kinda guy, but I’m nothing if not fair. She has no interest in these things and it’s not worth the hassle overseeing her trying to cut the hedge anyway.

Nobody set the rules to these unwritten tasks or who has to do them. Or to what degree. They might not suit everybody in the house at all times, but on the whole, there is something of an understanding when it comes to who-does-what. More or less.

But for the life of me, there is one item in the house I cannot fathom:

…The washing machine!

The thing makes no sense believe me!

Mrs. Rumm sometimes leaves little instruction notes for me if she puts something in but has no time to wait before going out. The notes look something like this:

Rince 10 (she can’t spell rinse you see)

Drain 13

Spin 5

Spin 5

…Like, HUH?

It seems one has to return to this device every few minutes to set it to the next task. Are ALL washing machines like this?? How is one expected to know such things?? Even looking at the above note (which she left for me this morning) I had to ring her for a decryption key. Were the numbers associated with the length of time on each setting? It appears not -they’re the numbers on the dial on the machine.

I was busy at that precise time I was speaking with her, so I said I’d do it in a while. Of course despite my best intentions, this minute lasted a while longer. But eventually I remembered and set it to Rinse -number 10 setting. Mrs. Rumm had added this would take 10 – 15 minutes.

So off I went and got busy elsewhere.

Another few hours elapsed before I remembered and had time to do step 2: Drain 13…

…Well, you get my drift.
Honestly, this thing must have been designed by a woman who thinks we all think like that, or by a man who thinks women think like that. Maybe they do. How would I know??

But all’s I know is if more men used washing machines more of the time (I know -many do) then this kind of come-back-to-the-font-time-and-again nonsense wouldn’t wash for very long.

Can you think of any tasks best suited to women -or men? Or any tasks traditionally done by men that women would do better? And vice versa.

I realise I’ll be sneered at and worse for even rincing this topic, but thought it worth spinning round to see what drains.

Synecdoche, New York -Send me the bill


I had a  problem with Being John Malkovich. I loved its originality and its “fun-ness”, but I didn’t engage with the movie ultimately. I watched it a second time to make sure and yup, second time around I found it even more lacking. It was as hollow as the inside of John Malkovich’s head -the movie’s John Malkovich I mean of course.


I haven’t seen Human Nature yet, despite the DVD being on my shelf for quite some time. Soon.


Adaptation seemed a little too aware of itself. I enjoyed it a lot, but it felt a bit forced at times -as though the driving thought was “how can we take this a step further?” rather than “what is real for this world?”


I’ll have to watch Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind again, because I only saw it once and I think that was spoilt for me slightly by wearing (not great) headphones so as not to disturb the sleeping family upstairs. I liked the movie’s sadness and regret and its “struggle to do better”/ to rectify a lost relationship before it’s too late, etc., but again (with the cheap headphones proviso as a gimme) I felt like I was an outsider looking through a window at someone else.



That’s not something I can say about Synecdoche New York, the first Charlie Kaufman film made by Charlie Kaufman.


It’s not about me or anyone I know. It’s not even about the main character (“Caden Cotard”). It’s about living. Or at least, about living a life trying to know oneself.


It sounds a bit high-falutin’ I know -and I know some people don’t/ won’t/ don’t want to get it and that’s fine by me. I’m not saying everyone has to get it by any means, but I’d like to state for the record that it’s a lovely lovely film and I should have made it my business to see it when it played for a wet week in a distant creaky cinema some vague time ago in my not-so-distant past.


It’s quite hard to say any more about the movie because I think it’s the kind of movie that you feel rather than understand. In some ways understanding it and analysing it kind of defeats the purpose. It’d be like feeling sad, then afterwards looking for a reason to be sad. In a way, if you found that reason it wouldn’t measure up to the feeling you had before you found it.



It’s also the kind of movie that those who love it prefer not to say so, because


a) it’s personal -and “nobody else will feel this way about it anyway” -and “it sounds a bit lovey and artsy fartsy when I try to describe it” -and “I don’t know how to describe what I think about it anyway because I don’t even undestand it” -and “I just don’t want to” (not in an apathetic way, but in a selfish way -“this is my movie and I’m not sharing it with you”).




b)  it’s the kind of movie you get spat at for recommending to others when they rent it out and demand you pay them their money back for the rental and two hours spent viewing, not to mention the emotional trauma of sitting through something so off the wall.




c) friends will hate you and will be steadfastly convinced you hate the movie and that you feel “superior” and you only say you love it because it’s an independent movie that’s not a Hollywood blockbuster. And they thought it was a piece of shit.


And who needs that self-alienation? Friends should hate you for what you do, not for an ephemeral ‘other’ …best save up those “reasons I give my friends to hate me” for something that is actually me.


So, Synecdoche New York is a great film. But I’m not recommending you see it unless you’re ready to see it. It’s not a hard movie to watch. It’s not artsy fartsy. It’s not humorless. It’s just ununderstandable. In a good way. In a way that is fun to think about. And to feel.


In fact, I think you should see it. You owe it to yourself. Pay for it too. Send me the bill.


I won’t pay the bill of course, but I’ll frame it and say “I did a good deed” whenever I look at your bill on my wall. And a little part of me will think of you too when I look at that bill. In fact you could say, your bill will make you famous for a lifetime to at least one other individual.


Go on. Buy Synecdoche New York on DVD or Blu Ray or whatever today. And send me the bill.




….And one last piece of advice: DO NOT WATCH IT IN PIECES.

Wait until you have two full hours to spare without distraction (as best you can guess), put it on, then watch it to the end. You might feel like switching off, if only for a cup of tea, but I urge you to stay sitting and stay watching. It’ll be worth it. Don’t stop Don’t pause. Like all the best things, this movie builds. You can’t possibly appreciate that construction by stopping and starting.


Synecdoche New York -best film in yeeeeaars.




Tough Beans

It’s never the big things that get to us. Well, maybe it is, but the small things can be just as upsetting…

I bought two beanbags a couple of months ago. The first time “the cousins” called round, a week or two later, all the kids had a diving match on them. As a result both bags were somewhat deflated and virtually unusable. I/ we had sore backs and sore arses from sitting on them/ on the floor thereafter. So I filled one with the other and resolved to buy some more ‘beans’ soon. Today, over a month later, I went and bought those beans. It didn’t have to be today, but well, if not today then when?

They came in a clear-plastic bag around 5ft tall/ 2ft wide.
25euros -sheesh! But that’s not the worst of it. I haven’t even begun -patience!

I brought the bag home and set it against the wall in the room nearest the front door. As one does.

I didn’t have much time before I had to collect my son from school, so I forgot about the bag o’beans. As one does.

Went and picked him up, then returned home. I had also forgotten his friend was coming with us today. No problem there.

So we get in the door, put down the bags, etc. and within 2 minutes there was a call for me to come quickly… You no doubt guessed it… the bag o’beans had sprung not one but two holes -one in the middle, the other near the bottom. Clearly my son had taken it upon himself to play punch bags (as his friend intimated, but I didn’t want to hear any more at that time).

I tried resting it in a position where the beans stopped pouring out, but though I was successful eventually, my actions increased the flow in the short-term. I wanted to cry. I kind of surprised myself at how upset I was. Yes it was distressing, but ultimately it’s a small problem I know.

Still I was very near real tears and feelings of total inadequacy. I scolded the boy of course -somewhat vociferously as you can imagine. He was cowed by this, but it must be said he wasn’t too bothered. His friend however looked like he wanted to go home, so I closed the door to that room and told them not to go in there for the rest of the day.

A half hour later or so (after I calmed down) I thought I’d take another look. “Sure how bad could it be?” …As soon as I opened the door again, I again felt depressingly helpless. It’s not that the whole bag had emptied across the floor, but it was clear anything I might do to clear it was going to result in more spillage. I got an extra-large black plastic bag from another room and lifted the bag o’beans into it, which of course saw more spurts of tiny aero-beans everywhere.

I could now hear it pouring into the black bag at an alarming rate, but at least it was into the bag now and not on the floor. “How did you manage to make those holes?” I demanded to know, at last feeling like I might be able to handle the answer. “He dived onto it!” his friend pronounced (with serious and weighty glee).

This set me off again, pleading with the 4 year old (5 in a couple of months) to have mercy on his poor father, threatening him with consequences should he not mend his ways, yelping at his lack of undivided concern at the melting of the universe his actions had set into motion.

Just then I thought of something… I was supposed to pick up my daughter at 3PM! I rushed to the kitchen and you can imagine my sheer and utter panic as I saw the time… 3:22!


To put it mildly, the boys were bundled into the car and a new trail of blazing rubber was burnt through the road. It usually takes 10 minutes to get to the school. I don’t know how long it did take, but 3:22 itself was 20 minutes too late -and I wasn’t even there yet!

She was the last one left, but thankfully a mother of another child had waited with her. I couldn’t even begin to explain why I was late (although I tried -and failed). “Sure don’t worry -it happens to us all” said the mother with a cheery wave.

On the way home, my daughter began with the “where were you?s” and I just wanted to die. What made me feel even worse (like an infinite mandelbrot set, dig deeper and this thing has layers on layers that never end and each one is as stupid and pointless as the last) was that I had updated the firmware on my phone earlier that morning. Usually an alarm goes off at 2:45 to remind me to pick her up, but because of this update the alarm had been wiped.

Stoopid is as stoopid does and believe me today was me at my STOOOPID WORST. It was the perfect storm of Mischeviousness + Stoopidity + Timing + Lack of Timing + Sheer Panic +Bad Luck.

And today is only Monday.

Confessions of a Starving Author

Writing with a view to publishing is a kind of conceit. It has to be. Who would write if not for the belief it was worth someone else’s time, effort and/or hopefully money to read it?

To slave for many months formulating a mass of words with careful precision, without prior knowledge or care of a ready and willing market is at best a form of naïve arrogance.

“Of course they will love it if I do, for I know Greatness when I see it!”

This may indeed be true, but it overlooks the fact that they need to know it’s there before they can buy it –or buy into it even.


“But at least publishers and agents will read it when I send it to them and will recognise its unique brilliance and a bidding war will soon ensue!”

This, as one discovers is not quite the reality of the world in which we live.

When writing to such bodies/people you need to “sell it”, providing a concise-as-possible hook for them to bite on, as well as selling yourself. It helps if you are a one-armed Polynesian lesbian dwarf with a diverse and lengthy career and experience. As every publisher/ agent knows, this is a hook in itself for reporters and media presenters to latch onto in order to ‘inspire the market’.
Very rarely is the hook about the book.

So as you gather your résumé and try to make yourself look exciting or at the very least interesting, you realise that you are not that interesting or exciting on paper (even if you are Mr. Charisma or Ms. DahlingOfAll in person).

“Who cares about me?” you yell at that subconscious niggle you are otherwise ignoring –“it’s all about the book!” The book and its clear brilliance is the only thing that matters. That’s what people will be paying for after all!

So you prepare a synopsis that describes the story, before realising this synopsis captures none of the fun or imagination or depth or soul of the work you have slaved over. It reads like directions to a toilet.


“But at least the synopsis gives some kind of indication of the work –and anyway, the extract will sell it in itself!”

This is where you realise your book –your sweet and gorgeous bundle of supreme joy– is not the loudest in the room. It doesn’t scream and scramble-for attention. Nor does it demand it amid the chaos. It doesn’t sing and dance like the annoying guy at a party who everyone loves until he throws up on the rug; who you find next morning in your bathroom as you throw back the shower curtain, still singing and still dancing, with the water running, wearing your wife’s underwear; who rings you at work later in the week, still singing that annoying Macarena song you were so enthralled with after fourteen tequila sunrises. Now you owe him a favour because he entertained you so much. More importantly, now you will do anything to get him to shut up and to move him on. …And was there anyone else at that party? A shy witty guy attempting a subdued and possibly meaningful banter with the mantelpiece perhaps? Nah, don’t remember him.


“Yeah but can you be more specific about difficulties getting to a publisher?”

So anyway, I completed my first book in 1999. It was an overwhelming experience for me. I loved it dearly (still do) and couldn’t be happier if it had been an actual flesh and blood child. It was perfect. Still is –even more so.

I had waited until then to think of sending it off. To make a long story short, I discovered what was to be done next and did so over the next two years. Two or three chapters were to be sent to an agency or publishers, along with a cover letter and personal details. Three months later, on average, a publisher would reply saying “get an agent” and an agent would reply saying “we are totally full at the moment and couldn’t take on another author under any circumstances –call back within five minutes of one of our authors dying… with a number of books in that same style.”

There were some words of encouragement here and there (which one is advised to accept at face value, since nobody in the business wants to encourage a person they feel doesn’t have at least the basic skills), but the gist of it was “thanks, but no thanks”.

Most agencies receive hundreds of submissions each week, you see. If your sample chapters don’t captivate and/or your target audience isn’t clearly defined, or if an agency doesn’t deal in this specific type of book (and doesn’t want to), or if you can’t define the specific type or age-group you are aiming at, or if you made a mess of your cover-letter, trying to be too smart or it struck a wrong chord with the wrong agent (or more likely student reader) or the submission-before your one put the reader in a bad mood, or the weather suddenly turned overcast and she/he was hoping to have a nice weekend, or… you get the idea. Your baby, your masterpiece has maybe one chance in a hundred to be given anything close to any serious consideration, depending on any number of events beyond your control –and that’s even before a person peeks in your envelope to see if your presentation captivates at that precise time. ..One in a hundred thousand of even being read I would guess.


What’s that you say? Your book is a masterpiece of understated subtlety?

I have news for you… it’ll die on a trolley in an over-crowded emergency room as a phalanx of ingrown toenail and tennis elbow patients scream and beg and bribe their way to the front of the queue.

I’m not saying do as they do. I’m saying unless you are already inside you don’t get inside by being the meek and unassuming nice person you are striving to be. If you’re willing to put that person aside for the sake of your “career” in writing, then start writhing on the floor and holding your breath and kicking the ground like a spoilt and/or autistic two year old pronto. That tends to get attention.


After two years or so of submissions I was all but spent. All the time I was editing and tweaking the text in the book and in the synopsis and the cover letter, etc..

It didn’t help that the synopsis was vague no matter how I worded it. It didn’t help that the book, essentially is about a man who does nothing. Always.

It doesn’t help that the only way to understand what the book is about is to read the goddamned book –if I could have written it as short as a synopsis the book would be that length!


“I’ve read and enjoyed books where nothing much (and everything) happens throughout. I know there is a market for it –but who are these people who, like me, enjoy something not easy to define? How can this market be found and tapped into?”

Damned if I know.

And to be fair, I don’t blame the publishing industry. I understand it’s hard to make a buck without a specific target in mind. This is why virtually all books (and movies and tv shows and channels and anything else now) are geared to very specific sectors.


So I kept tweaking the book itself. Some friends read it –and eventually some friends of friends who didn’t know me. A pattern was established: around 60% of the people who started to read it could never finish it and could never really give an answer why –“it’s not the book –the book is great… I just don’t have the time right now” was the typical feedback from this sector (believe me I went out of my way to find ‘cranky’ people who would not have a problem telling me off if they didn’t like it).

A worrying number of people simply clammed-up, ignoring any questions I posed or emails I sent on the topic.

One person absolutely hated it and refused to read further than a few chapters. I really enjoyed this reaction, although I’m pretty sure she would change her mind on it if she ever read it to the end.

Of the remaining 40% (ie. those who read it to the end), not one person was anything less than overwhelmed or excited or “in love” with the book.

Almost all men (aged 30+ ish) who read it felt it was about them –mostly the ones I never met. This was a reason to read it for some/ the main reason it was too painful to read for others.
Most people who know me who read it felt it was about me (not true! not true!!)

Most people who read it were (/are?) female. Haven’t you heard? Only females read fiction anymore. (I have my own views on why this is, but too distracting to talk about now).

Females who read it to the end seem to love it for wildly different reasons –some because it’s “a feminist book”, some because it’s a skit on the pathetic nature of men, some because it captures the infuriating strength of a man within a relationship –even if he is ‘useless’ –and the book refuses to acknowledge the fact that the man is an idiot –indeed it goes a long way to proving the opposite. Who is right?

Such ambiguity is unseemly and never lends itself to a world where everything needs to be targeted to a particular audience. How can the book be targeted to feminists and men at the same time? The main character spouts a lot of crap –but curiously often it’s brilliant crap. Almost always it’s both crap and brilliant at the same time –even in the same sentence!

Is it meant to be taken seriously by the reader? I don’t know, but I have fun reading it. How can this book be marketed as “literature” when it is at times so devoid of literary quality and panders to the basest of thoughts and actions?


Anyway, you see the dilemma –the book is the best book ever written, but it’s impossible to know it without reading it. It’s called The High Kicking Kung Fu Soccer Playing Bunny Rabbit Tree and you can read it for free from HERE …but don’t go there yet -I’ll stick another link to it at the end -promise!

I hope to have it re-printed, cheaper and in different font, with different cover, etc. at some stage, but for now…


“Yeah yeah -get on with it -how do I get published?”

So after five long years of editing and half-dreaming of literary success, I felt I had to put this book behind me somehow. It was becoming impossible for me to move on. I had to draw a line under it. With that in mind I had it published, print-on-demand.

This doesn’t cost a whole lot –a few hundred euros. For that, almost all online bookstores worldwide will list the book and as orders are made the book is printed and shipped –ie. no stock necessary.

Even mainstream titles are often now “stocked” in this way. You might well have some on your bookshelf already.

I didn’t like doing it, but I did it for my sanity. I felt I would never write another book until I could see this one “finished”.


“So you learnt that lesson, eh? -Stay out of the fire if you can’t handle the kitchen!”

No sooner did I send the final pieces off to the publishers than I found myself “inspired” almost overnight to begin work on a new book. It was a miracle! –I hadn’t been able to write as much as a paragraph unrelated to The High Kicking Kung Fu Soccer Playing Bunny Rabbit Tree for nigh-on five years, now the words were pouring out of me. From first thing in the morning to last thing at night I did little else but write, write, write.

And it all felt right. I knew it was right. This was going to sell beyond a shadow of a doubt. This was an amazing story and the world would recognise it as such, so there was no need for me to go out and “push” the first book. Even though this second bore no relation to it, it would help sell the first one. I was absolutely, positively certain. How could I not be? The words were flowing from my fingertips to the keyboard quicker than I knew what they were saying, but when I read them back they made complete sense.

The broad outline of the story was in my head. The specifics of what was going to happen next was known (by me) roughly ‘two chapters ahead’. ie. As I typed the words that were being dictated to me from one part of my brain, another part was ‘seeing’ for the first time –and noting down– what was happening two chapters ahead.

Each day I was brimming with enthusiasm and a kind of giddy nervousness –what if I didn’t do it justice? What if I couldn’t make it to the end?

The one thing I had no doubt about was its mass appeal and the story’s own perfection. It wasn’t like any other book ever written and it was still al lot of fun from beginning to end, capable of being enjoyed on many levels if desired by the reader. In short: It was clearly a masterpiece!
…The doubts were only to do with my own involvement in its birth.


This nervous excitement and persistent disgorging of words and sentences and paragraphs and pages and chapters continued from August to April virtually non-stop.

[…There was one break for around two-weeks where I couldn’t figure out how the characters got from ‘Point P to Point R’ –ie. I didn’t know what ‘Point Q’ was, but I knew all the rest. That was quite worrying for a while.]

Finally, a few weeks before the birth of my son in 2005 the novel was finished. There was only ever one name for it: OOYAY. What else could it be called? It makes no sense to anyone who hasn’t read it, but to date everyone who I’ve heard from who have read it can’t think of a better title –or any title– to do it justice.


Months after the elation and relief and the sweat and the fear and anxiety of not being able to do it and the adrenalin wore off I was dumbfounded at the lack of response from the agent I had ‘chosen’. When finally a curt reply arrived I was knocked sideways. How could this be possible? The book was written by a higher authority than me –I had merely channelled the tale and set it down. But now, it was being ignored? How could that be even possible??

Once again I found myself trawling through agencies and publishers. Some gave a nod and recognised that it ‘sounds’ original, though none chose to read more than the submitted chapters. “Not for us”.

Usually I sent the submission to the main branch of an agency or publisher, but would receive a reply from the Children’s Dept.. Herein lay my old friend: Target audience.

I’ve heard everywhere that now more than ever the growing sector in the publishing world is “Kids books for Adults”, but still it didn’t seem like the publishing industry is/was geared for it.

There’s the ‘Under 9 year old’ section.
There’s Teenage/ Young Adult section.
There’s Adult, which is has its own sub-divisions.

Which one is Ooyay? None… All.

Is it “Fantasy”?  Yes –NO! Not really. No.

OK, Ooyay is a small blue dog. And he kind of… talks. BUT the book isn’t about Ooyay himself, I hasten to add. Ooyay is not the main character!
…What else would a serious, over-worked and thoughtful agent do but immediately pass such a submission onto the Children’s Department?
Obviously, the children’s department notes that it doesn’t feature blood & guts so it’s not for boys. It doesn’t feature love-interest dashing boys, so it’s not for girls. NEXT!


Truth is, for me, Ooyay is about growing up and experiencing life in all its thrilling unpredictability, and putting aside childish things, and learning to cope and surf through the unpredictable nature of everything –and coming to a kind of peace within oneself, which is both familiar from childhood itself and alien to everything you’ve ever been taught. There is a kind of contradictory bargain to be struck between the child and the adult within us all–

“I won’t pester you and prod at the inside of your eyeball and nag you with childish thoughts and perhaps painful memories all of your life, if you only play with me once in a while,” cries the child.

Ignore this voice at your peril.

So, this is a fun book for youngsters, but it’s a fun and more deeply emotional ride for adults. It sticks with the reader long after the last page has been turned –something I struggle to find in most works of published fiction these days.


Again, nobody has read it to the end without coming forward with anything less than ‘top marks’ –friends and strangers alike. It has garnered 5 star reviews from each online book-review site that agreed to review it (check and Everyone loves it!

How then do I reach a fraction of its potential audience?

I’m not a salesman or businessman or analyst. How the hell would I know?


So people who’ve read either (or both) ask me how the next one is coming along. Worse, people who’ve never read either ask me when the next one is coming…

It’s coming. Slowly. In truth I’ve started and re-started a few different ones. There is one in particular I think would/will be amazing –if I can do it justice. But it’s a lot of pain and heartache to rush off down the path of writing (at least when you’re determined to write things that have never been written before). It’s a path I’m not eager to traverse yet again at such a breakneck speed –but traverse it I definitely will. I just need to recover some part of that naïve arrogance I had ten years ago when I wrote the first one, if I’m ever to do so quickly.

If that never happens I’m happy to plod along at the slow pace, building the work brick by brick. Eventually it will be a sight to behold, I have no doubt.

Until then, it gives me untold joy when I hear any reaction to either of my books.


The High Kicking Kung Fu Soccer Playing Bunny Rabbit Tree by K. Michael Forde is available as a free download here. Or from almost any online book retailer (that price is too expensive I know -I hope to be able to make it cheaper sometime in the future, in the meantime this edition will be a collector’s item one day believe me)

Ooyay by Stanley Rumm can be downloaded free here until 31st of December 2009. The official Ooyay website is here.

A Christmas Message

All day I’ve been afflicted with tummy knots, cramps and the most infuriating bubbling, raspberry outbreak of semi-fluid wind this side of the North Atlantic. It’s the kind of ailment that usually lands in the week between Christmas and New Year when you discover (as if for the first time each year) that rum chocolate balls, turkey, beer, wine, biscuits, cake, fresh brussels sprouts and stir-fried leftovers are possibly not the best thing for the gullet. In one sitting at least.

It’s hard to trust. So far today I’ve had several false alarms on the bathroom-fire-drill front, but better safe than sorry in this matter I find.

Now I’m off to cut my fingernails, scrub my hands and make mincemeat hamburgers for all the family, which could possibly send the lot of us over the edge, but being the positive type of guy I am I’ll risk it.

If I don’t post again in the next week send flowers.

And Merry Christmas!

Underrated Movies (part 3)

This series of (some of) my favourite under-valued movies begins here.


The Last Detail

I haven’t yet met a male of the species who has seen this movie and doesn’t think it’s anything short of a masterpiece.

After viewing, Mrs. Rumm said “yeah it’s alright, but there’s no women in it.” She’s wrong in that, but in essence she’s right. It’s all about the men.

Still, do all stories have to involve a woman? I’m sure there are some perfectly good tales involving mostly women. I might even think of one and mention it here shortly. This one happens to be about some men.

A young sailor is being taken to prison by two MPs, one of whom is played by Jack Nicholson. The banter between them (written by Robert “Chinatown, Shampoo & others” Towne) and their whole outlook on life & living, goals & ambitions is all male. That’s not to say it’s stereotypical bravura-male or over-the-top dumb bullheadedness, but somehow it gets to the heart of manness without ramming it through the other side. Nor does it need to go over the top. It is pretty x-rated language if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing though.

Hal Ashby made a number of classic near-perfect films. This is one of them.
Even Randy Quaid is excellent in it. No really!

*STOP THE LIGHTS*: I have now met one man who doesn’t like this film. He found it dated and unnecessarily coarse. Must say I disagree with both issues, but just thought I’d pop that in for balance.


The Red Shoes

One for the men above. Perhaps one for the women here. Then again, what the hell do I know? I’m a man and I love this film. I think every woman should see The Last Detail and everyone should see The Red Shoes too.

Yes it involves ballet. Yes there is a 20 minute unbroken ballet in the middle of it. No I’ve never been to a ballet nor felt the urge.

But it’s not about ballet, in my view. It’s about art -and what it means to create art -and to live for art -and needing to be a part of it -and being in the thick of it -and being unable and unwilling to think of a life without it.

The Red Shoes oozes class, but it’s not stuffy. Much of its cinematography especially is very daring. Tricks are played with the camera and with certain scene setups that would make you sit up and take notice if it had been made in 2009. Not to show off, but to convey thoughts and emotions and ideas beyond what can (or should) be put into words. Its deep colour is like a warm duck-down duvet you want to wrap around you and dissolve into forever.

But again, it’s not all artsy and grand -yes, certain characters are cold and distant, but this is merely the result of the life they lead… or the life they lead is a result of their one-track-mind.
Art is Life/ Life is Art. If it is any other way for you, then that rule does not apply and you do not belong here.

It’s not exactly a love story, but a passion story. That passion has nothing to do with ballet in particular so much as Art in general. If you have a passion (or once had a passion) beyond the physical or material, you will fall in love with this movie and perhaps inspire you onward and upward.


The King of Comedy

I always think of The King of Comedy right after thinking of The Red Shoes (and vice versa). The two are forever linked for me. Maybe it’s because I first saw them around the same time (early/ mid eighties?). I honestly don’t remember.

But I like to think Rupert Pupkin is desperately trying to get into the world occupied by those people in The Red Shoes. He feels he belongs there. Nothing else matters to him except his art -which in this case is “comedy”. He lives for it. Or at least he wants to live for it. And live from it. And he passionately believes he can and should and needs to.

He can’t get a toe in the door, however. He’s too old to start at the bottom. He needs that one shot at the top and he’s willing to do drastic things, such as kidnapping, to get it.

Is he delusional? Is he psychotic? Is he really awful? Is it possible he can pull it off? Should he be allowed get away with it if he could?

I love this film for all of the above reasons, but also because it doesn’t go for the easy or pat answers. It’ll keep you thinking to the end and beyond. Then you’ll want to watch it again and you’ll find new things.

…New things such as, for instance… Remember Maury in Goodfellas? He’s the guy who sold wigs. He played some part in a robbery, then kept nagging for his cut until he was offed in a car. Well that guy has a cameo in King of Comedy… There’s a restaurant scene where Rupert has a date. ‘Maury’ is sitting behind him, briefly mimicking De Niro.


Here, I found it on youtube. We see ‘Maury’ in the background at the start. He comes back from the toilet or wherever, then he does his mimicking towards the end of the scene, before he leaves.
Have  a look…

Did you see him?

For me, if there is a point in this, it’s that this guy is “on the outside” and is trying to force an image of himself onto those in this “world of the movie”. He wants to be IN like Rupert wants in.

I guess it could also be some kind of outtake where Scorcese later felt De Niro made a better performance and hoped nobody would notice the guy looking at the camera in the background.

I prefer my take on it though. He’s not just looking, he’s playing to the camera -and the earlier shots of him only appear to be setting him up to doing so.

Scorsese hasn’t been thinking this outside-the-box in years and years. He should get back outside that box pronto in my view. He has been going a bit stale this past 10 years or so if you ask me. (…Of course nobody ever asks me, but if they did they’d know a thing or two I tell ya!)


One Night At McCool’s

I’ve never understood how this movie wasn’t a massive hit. It has so many hilarious threads that all come together perfectly it’s almost not even funny how funny it is.

Again, it could come down to the male-female thing, since we’re talking about it above. I’ve seen men criticise it for saying all men are dumb and their brains are in their underpants (these are the ones who don’t find Liv Tyler attractive.. !).
I’ve seen women criticise it for perpetuating the notion that women are evil, manipulative, conniving little vixens.

I don’t believe either is a valid criticism of this movie. I also do believe at least a nugget of truth can exist in both -which is what makes One Night At McCool’s so funny.



One Hour Photo

One Hour Photo is one of those movies that is hard to say much about without spoiling. I’ll only say, I don’t like serial-killer type movies (as I said in a previous post in this series), but this film does not fall into that hole in any way, shape or form.

It’s a movie about loneliness and idolatry and far away hills being green. It’s also a movie about faith and what happens when belief in a particular notion is cracked open. Anything can happen.

Robin Williams, alas, has become a kind of caricature. It’s hard to see him in a film without sighing at his no-longer-funny outbursts and twee pursing of his lips. But rejoice, for Robin Williams is nowhere to be seen in One Hour Photo! It’s like a different person. There is no likeable movie star on show. The man on show in this movie is like a blank canvas whose actions are beautifully portrayed by the guy who used to be in Mork and Mindy believe it or not!

We never know what’s in his head or where he has been.

Around the same time as this movie came out, Williams played a kind of similar role in another movie, Insomnia. I really liked his performance in that too, but I’ll have to watch it again before mentioning it here, so you could do worse than have a quality night in with Robin Williams ( ! ) by renting/ buying/ downloading these two films. If you haven’t seen One Hour Photo in particular you will find yourself re-evaluating everything you ever thought you ever knew about him.


More underrated movies here.



Alpaca Popstars!


Confession time: I’ve discovered Alpacas for the first time…

Alpacas. Yesterday.
Alpacas. In a field. Yesterday.


– – – – – – – – – –


My first reaction was how come all these camel/llama type animals look like famous singers?


– – – – – – – – – –


Have a look for yourself…


Paul McCartney!  (almacca)


Mick Jagger -(Aljagga) and proud fan


Liam Gallagher, obviously. (algalla)
Liam Gallagher, obviously.  (algalla)


Witney Houston and Leonard Cohen.
Do I have to say it? …Whitney Houston and Bob Dylan. Together at last. Bob is looking a bit like Leonard Cohen here too don’t you think?

(One mustn’t laugh. Whitney was going through a rough patch at the time)


Blur -well half of them anyway (albarn)
Blur -well half of them anyway (albarna)


Lady Gaga (algaga)
Lady Gaga (algaga)


A more relaxed Lady Gaga (alnotso-gaga)
A more relaxed Lady Gaga (alnotso-gaga)


The Stone Roses' Ian Brown
The Stone Roses’ Ian Brown


That guy from Take That (whothatpaca?)
That guy from Take That (whothatpaca?)


Have you seen any singing alpacas recently?