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RAGE! Yes, rage and nothing else. I fully intend this opinion to be one-sided and lacking in all the conventions of website review. If you want to know how pretty the pages are, or how easy Amazon.co.uk is to navigate, then spend the time you would reading this opinion actually looking at the website. Click the bar at the top of your explorer window, type ‘www.amazon.co.uk’ and hit return. It’s free. Cheap? Yes, reasonable. Considering how much easier it is to surf the net from a comfortable chair then it is to pace the streets looking for a bargain (or, if you live in a place anything like the town from which I write, sod off to nearest city), it is no surprise that Amazon has become a popular website. It is also true that Amazon offers a wide selection of products from its main areas – i.e. books, videos and music CDs. Sites such as ‘cd-wow’ or others my more learned associates could point out, do, however, offer the same for better value. Cheap? Yes, reasonable. Now to the rage. My A-level history assignment called upon me to answer a question of my choosing about a period of history of my choosing. Like a true teenager, like all teenagers should, I chose Che. Alas, I encountered a problem, one which threatened to make my topic impossible to cover. There are no books on Che. Not on my watch, at least. Until I explored the vaults of Amazon.co.uk, which offered me a wonderful selection of books on my hero – exactly the kind I needed for my big assignment (assignment… is that an American term? Let’s say ‘essay’ for measure, or ‘homework’) because, as every student knows, coursework without quotations from people who have written books is no coursework at all, at least not coursework worthy of a passing grade. A few clicks later, with my Father’s credit card in my grubby paws, everything was in place. A modest ‘7-10 days’ was m
y promised wait. With that, I would be guaranteed enough time left to actually write the thing. A month later, the wrong books arrived. This morning, a full fortnight after handing in my completed coursework, half of the right ones have arrived. I’m too bitter to even thumb their pages. This, ladies and gentlemen, is my one-sided assessment of amazon.co.uk – they stink. They promise, then don’t deliver. They lie and get away with it. Why? Because they exist only within the cosy confides of the world wide web. There is no shop assistant to bark at, no manager to demand to see. I love the internet. I love that it lets me rant at you, I love that is provides me with access to as much pornography and free music as I desire, but anyone who believes that it has evolved beyond a means of communication, personal expression, information or titillation and into a practical way to shop and live out our life’s is waiting for a train that won’t arrive until they’re buried or too old to type properly. Go to your local book shop, or your nearest HMV, and buy your material items there. Photocopying machines still take up half a room, telephones are still held in our hands (not genetically crafted to our ear-lopes) and the internet is still a frivolous and largely ineffective thing. Amazon will be remembered much as that first ever TV advert for toothpaste – a shite example of something that has since been immeasurably improved upon. Back in 2003, the internet sucked.
I was going to organize a march this Friday, a demonstration against the war. We were going to leave our classrooms empty and march around the grassy verge adjacent to the building chanting slogans - “Not In My Name”, “Make Love Not War”, “No War For Oil” and “I’ll Be A Commie Until I Make Money”. At some point as I fell asleep last night – to the sound of haggard reporters and flying bombs – a vision of Sadam came to me (if it was really him…), his head attached to a spiders body and with the word ‘Iraqnaphobia’ scribed beneath. With a final yawn I dismissed the idea as being as crude as his oil. Because our voice would be the equivalent to that of Charles Kennedy every Prime Minister’s question-time – sadly irrelevant, and widely ignored. Yes, we’d have felt better. Reading the newspaper or watching five minutes of television is enough to make young people today bit their lips and wish for an opportunity to shout, scream and bang. Increasing numbers have created that opportunity, and proud I am of all of them – only a few months ago, I’d frequently berate my generation as apathetic and moronic, now it brings a tear of pride to my eye, watching my peers across the country act upon their convictions. But their cries are indeed like that of our only political figure-head – politely acknowledged, then forgotten. Nothing now will stop war in Iraq, least of all me and my friends banging drums and dancing to Barry McGuire. All that is left is to sit sour-faced and wait for the inevitable disaster that will prove us right, hoping against hope that it will not arrive in news of death. And that’s the catch, isn’t it? After weeks of vehemently opposing premature, unauthorized, unjustified and dubiously motivated military action in Iraq, they go ahead and ‘send in the boys’ anyway. So now there’s an
almost nation-wide case of emotional blackmail – if we’re so liberal and so caring about the suffering of others, we should be supporting our troops and praying they return safely, not waving banners and denouncing their acts of bravery. Well yeah, I pray they return safely. And not just because my career is dependant on it. Incidentally, I also pray the Iraqi civilians and soldiers remain safely. But our government can not expect support for this war. Our government does not deserve support for this war – even, I’d almost go so far to say, if it really did miraculously result in wide-spread middle-eastern democracy and peace. Because the decision taken was undemocratic in the first place. It was the wrong decision, even if, amazingly somehow, it was the right one, and our leaders have cheapened the system they wish to defend and impose. I’m sure many of us share this fantasy – loud and clear and right in his face so he could understand: “Blair, little fella, without the agreement of the people you were elected and are paid to serve, without full agreement from the international community that at all costs you must work with, not against, you can not rage war, get it?!”. To me it has always been that simple. Because the ‘imminent threat’ we are expected to believe exists from Sadam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction (which, astonishingly, have not made an appearance even as his power under-goes it’s greatest ever threat) are miniscule to the dangers of ignoring the will of the world. And scape-goating the French is as wreck less as it is transparent – injury, as it were, to massive, massive insult. Yes, Sadam Hussein’s treatment of his people is abhorrent. Just as is the treatment of people in hundreds of places in this world, not least of all America and Britain. And yes, the humanitarian rhetoric of Blair and Bush holds some weight. But I ask you,
if the mission is to end human suffering and help the needy, surely to God we should be sending food to Africa rather then send bombs to Iraq. Surely the ridiculous expense of artillery and bombs would be better directed at providing health care, food and water for the millions that are starving, every day, while we muse over war eating biscuits from our arm-chairs. The fact Sadam happens to mistreat his people is a political convenience for Blair and Bush, because if they truly sought to end the worlds suffering, they’d be starting else where. Violence perpetuates violence. Post-Sadam, all that will be left in the middle-east is anger and deep anti-western sentiment. A country will not emerge from decades of militant régime and conveniently fold into an American design. Even in the darkest corners of the desert, people are proud, and people do not want organized by a dogmatic force thousands of miles away. After the dust settles in Iraq, American involvement will become resented, and rebels perhaps more dangerous and more angry then Sadam will emerge. The divisions in the world will ultimately be widened, and, as one Guardian journalist remarked a few days ago, Osama Bin Laden and men of his inclination will be laughing. You can’t export democracy. You can not enforce peace. Time and time again this has and will be proven as a dangerous contradiction believed in ignorance. Of course my personal irony, as with anyone else who now opposes war, is that I hope I am wrong. If you like, I hope this opinion deserves a big fat Not Useful. I hope Blair and Bush emerge as heroes, and I hope most of all that those poor Iraqis are taught how to live in a country as equal and as healthy as America. I’m sure it’s the Bush administrations fantasy to help an independent country to grow as prosperous and powerful and their own. In the mean-time, we can gasp at the television between mouthfuls and do all the praying that is as
ked of us. Look at it this way: it’ll make a great movie one day.
Oh of course. What a silly question. The basis for any objection to Gay marriage and adoption can only be the misapprehension that, somehow, Gay relationships lack the love and security of Heterosexual relationships. Either that, or the believe that homosexuality is somehow ‘unnatural’, which, no matter how you disguise it, means you’re homophobic and not particularly useful. A relationship needs love, honesty and commitment, whether that’s between two people with different bits between their clothes-pegs or the same. Why should any two people in love be denied the opportunity to declare it, both in the eyes of the law and the eyes of other people they love? The answer is they should not. It simply isn’t fair. The reason there aren’t Gay men and women strolling happily up the alter today is that the dominant heterosexual majority still aren’t comfortable with the idea, which was exactly the reason why black people once weren’t allowed to mingle with white folk and why women once weren’t allowed to vote. In time enough this ‘debate’ will be deemed equally farcical and ignorant by generations that exceed us. There is still enough narrow-mindedness and religious fundamentalism to prevent this long over-due liberalisation, but as the human race evolves and grows up such restaining factors will erode and a brighter day will dawn – I for one quite fancy being around to see it. But of course there are the children. The precious, vulnerable little children. To give a child to a Gay couple would surely expose them to unnatural perversion too early in their life’s. Far better they stay in orphanages, or be given to any available straight couple. Please. What a child needs is to be brought up in a stable and loving home provided by a stable, loving couple – whether or not that couple befit the traditional picture or Husband and Wife, Mother and Father i
s irrelevant. I hate to break it to you, but the state of the world is thus people: there are too many children, and not enough love to go around them. How can we possibly narrow the chances of our little dudes experiencing a safe, loving environment with laws based on status-quo and, to be bold, blind and dated prejudice? A same-sex couple is not an unhealthy or abnormal example to set a new person as they embark in this world, because the world is made up of same-sex couples and heterosexual couples alike (whether you like it or not). What is unhealthy, and abnormal, is to set an example of instability, misery or neglect - something occurring in ‘normal’ families everywhere, every day. There is no truth in saying gay couples are better equipped to raise children then straight, just as there is no truth in presuming they are any less capable. But at least by widdening the playing-field and accepting homosexuality to be more then a ‘fetish’ or a perversion, by recognising the capacity for love and value in homosexual relationships and seeing what they can offer a child, at least by doing that then the chances of our neglected youth finding happiness will grow. What is wrong with that. Anyone against gay couples raising children should ask themselves a simple question – what exactly are you afraid of? I suspect, though I can’t be sure, that it’s that the child will grow up to be Gay as well. An argument that rather dissolves into it’s self, don’t you think?
Not that it’s any of your concern, but hip-hop and garage are not genres of music I’ve ever been greatly interested in. But I’m young. I want a culture of my own. I want to hear exciting music from my time and place, because, like it or not, this is my time and place, and the question that keeps surfacing in my mind is this: your generation had Led Zeppelin and The Doors, your generation had The Sex Pistols and Joy Division, your generation had the New Romantics, yours had Madchester and trance. What, pray tell, does that leave us? Certainly nothing to do with rock and roll, that’s for sure. Rock is riding increasingly shallow waves, producing bands that are not only generic and uninspired but, to curl one’s nose, ‘stylish’. Rap music is all well and good, but there is a limit to how far one can appreciate the guns and ‘bitches’ of the Bronx sitting in a Northumbrian middle-class suburbia singing at a pasty white reflection. So what I finally realised, to my initial dismay, is that the genuinely innovative and ground-breaking music in Britain today is pretty much where it’s always been – on the streets, not in the studios or on the television. The most exciting music is that which has yet managed to avoid the creative oppression of Sony, MTV, et al. Right now, that’s garage and hip-hop. In a few years of course, just like grunge and punk before it, less-accessible though infinity finer garage music will be lost in an ocean of hand-crafted replicas, who’s team of record producers will re-address the standard of the music to the detriment of music it’s self (though, of course, to the benefit of the multinational corporations they represent). MTV will kill garage, just as it joyfully strangles the life from rock music at present. Anyway, that’s all irrelevant. What is relevant, is a certain Ms. Dynamite. Music, above all, needs originality and sin
cerity to be truly great. Thank god then, that this beautiful, modest woman has both in bucket loads. Her album ‘A Little Deeper’, looks initially like the work of every other Britney/Christina/Whoever that currently wave their bum about, yet in reality it is the work of a hugely talented and mature musician. From the opening track ‘natural high’ (which to be fair, does sound a little cheesy) Ms. Dynamite asserts a confidence and vocal strength that accurately foreshadows the rest of the album. Her lyrics are wise and unmarred by pretense. Throughout the course of A Little Deeper, she tackles her life, her loves and loses, and her culture. She speaks out against drug abuse with a tact and precision that is neither preachy nor half-hearted. On the album’s crowning track ‘Watch Over Them’, in which she sings without any musical accompaniment at all, Ms. Dynamite reflects on black culture and sings, beautifully, about the counter-productivity of gang warfare in the struggle for racial equality – ‘damn hypocrite don’t be disillusioned, yeah life is tough but that’s not no solution, you go on like your brave – that’s an illusion, a brave man wouldn’t kill his own he’d start a revolution’. Her lyrics disregard poetic device, imagery, metaphor, ambiguity and instead resonate with raw, honest beauty and power. The song ‘Put Him Out’ is an unflinching address of unhappy women everywhere, calling for the assertion of independence and the rejection of being mistreated – this is the kind of ‘girl power’ The Spice Girls couldn’t have hoped to promote in their entire careers, let alone in one song. There is confrontation in her music, but unlike her male contemporary Eminem, the confrontation is neither over the top nor self-centered. I’m not black, nor am I women, but this music makes me feel empowered and, if I were either, quite p
ossibly proud. Music providing kids with footnotes on life isn’t an idea I usually entertain, but it must be said how many good messages Ms. Dynamite’s music carries. On top of this, of course, comes her talent as a vocalist, message or no message. Good singers have range, can hold notes and keep in time. Good singers win pop idol. The singers we’ll remember in ten years time (or at least should), however, are the singers with the enviable ability to carve their own sound, their own range, their own timing. Otis Redding could do that. Whitney Huston has done that. So too does Ms. Dynamite. Whether she’s rapping or singing, her voice remains unique and beautiful. Her sense of resonance, pitch and rhythm reveal a natural talent for music no amount of time or money could produce (although some people find the ‘I’m Ms Dy-na-mite tee-hee!’ annoying). ‘A Little Deeper’ contrasts the pain and soul of songs like ‘watch over them’ and ‘brother’ with the more jungle, hip-hop sounds of single ‘dy-na-mi-tee’ and ‘now you want my love’. ‘Seed will grow’ appears mid-album, with contributions from Kymani Marley, throwing a modern reggae sound into what has been widely recognized as a vast collection of musical styles and influences (hence an ‘album of the year’ mercury award). Only on later track ‘Krazy Krush’ to things begin to sound the tiniest bit pop and bubble-gum like, though on an album so rich with bold dialogue and gigantic garage beats, one can forgive a moments commercial concession should it ensure the continuation of Ms. Dynamites career. And here’s the truly remarkable thing – after two pages of writing, I’m still itching to go away and listen to the album again. That’s never happened before in the last hundred opinions. Please, don’t let anything that otherwise would d
issuade you from listening to this album. I’ve walked the earth with a smile on my face the past few days, because a weight has been taken off my mind – music is in good hands, just not the hands I was looking for. The sun shines and the birds sing because, Ms. Dynamite, I love you. I love you.
The Office is a situation-comedy, in the refreshing guise of fly-on-the-wall parody. But before I strain my vocabulary for words that mean ‘funny’ (I’ll need at least sixteen others to make it through this opinion), allow me to throw out some adjectives you weren’t expect to hear from this genre: Believable. Enlightening. Relevant. Moving. That is, of course, unless you’ve seen The Office before, in which case you’ll know exactly what I mean. If I were David Brent, the main protagonist in the series, I’d likely describe the show with an allegory alluding to the rise of the Roman Empire, The Last Supper or the Russian emancipation. On a more modest day, perhaps, England’s World Cup glory in 1966. Whatever it might be, what would be so painfully funny (or annoying, as it’s written on a screen) would be how over-blown and preposterous, how self-deluded and, well, naively pretentious I’d sound. Yet, Ladies and Gentlemen, this is greatest joke of all. The Office, unlike it’s leading character, can and will live up to any compliments bestowed upon it. Which is why you must rush to HMV this instant, and purchase a copy of the first series on DVD. The premise, as mentioned, is a mock voyeuristic documentary set in a typical working office. This variation makes only for certain stylistic changes, which, once noticed and gotten used to, enrich and elevate the show beyond the it’s more convention competitors – formulaic American shows such as Friends or even Frasier, for example, soon seem flat when compared to Gervais and Merchant’s direction. Canned laughter, for example, is automatically absent. No life-less guitar lick threads each third of an episode. The camera work splits between the infamous talking-head sequences, free-hand moving shots and secure shots around the office – combined with the dazzling realism of the script and the acting (all from f
ully-trained non-comic actors), the atmosphere created is one of genuine and believable spontaneity. Gervais plays Brent, a incompetent manager who becomes immediately and obviously affected by the presence of television cameras in his office. In endlessly creative ways he seeks to perpetuate an image of popularity, sensitivity and intelligence that are thoroughly and awfully contradicted by his actions and the reactions of those around him. Herein lies the comedy. Like Chaucer’s aging Merchant, we laugh at Brent because he thinks he’s something that we know he is not. In the words of one friend as he watched The Office, “it feels good to cringe”. And yes, his ‘dance’ in series two will make you wet yourself. No, however, it can and does get funnier still. Martin Freeman and Lucy Davis play Tim and Dawn, through whom the show’s ‘ace card’ is played. Suddenly, at times, you are no longer aching with laughter but with deep desperation and peculiar sadness at the story of two people in love, yet helplessly apart (I’m biting my thumb in avoidance of a flippant allusion to Shakespeare). The subtle beauty of The Office is shown in Tim’s glance at Dawn as she works, and her at him. In all honesty, the only scenes with any true good in them are of these two, though it is never long before the lurking figure of Gervais descends like the world’s funniest rain-cloud to dampen the love. Then there is Gareth, played by Mackenzie Crook, who constitutes the show’s most typically comic offering. Hilarious both as a physical presence (the costume design works deliberately so that he seems absurdly disproportionate), and as a harmless wally side-kick for Brent. For every obscenely crude and tactless pass he makes at female members of the cast, there is a talking-head in which Gareth muses child-like about, to pick something direct from the script, the likelihood of a b
oy being born who can swim faster then a shark. Along side these main four, there are a cast of twenty or so others. Although their primary function is to form an audience for Brent’s moments of idiocy and indiscretion, occasional character’s such as David’s bully of a best-friend ‘Finchey’ are works of genius in their own right. Oh just buy it. The Office grows funnier and funnier still, and unlike other comedies I have indulged in repeated viewing, there is never the fear that the bubble with burst and you’ll grow bored. There is simply too much depth, too much quality, for this ever to happen. As well as the first (and marginally best) six episodes, the DVD includes a length and interesting (if somewhat randomly structured) documentary and collection of decent deleted scenes. It’s nice when the hype is real, it’s nice when you can rant and rave about something without secretly knowing you’re exaggerating. The Office is everything television should be, innovative, intelligent and a tremendous pleasure to watch. Oh, and if you ever saw the last three series of Red Dwarf, the newest Simpsons or Alan Partridge 3, then you’ll be pleased to hear Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant have decided not to write another series of the show. Like Faulty Towers, The Office is destined to transform from a drop of gold in a pot of brass, to an enduring and cherished jewel from our life-time. Bravo.
Guess who's back...? Back again...? Peakly's back... Tell a friend... (Oooooooooooooh I've waiting for a long time to return. Truth is, I'm still not prepared. So, it's gonna be a shortie, ok?) "it occurred to me - I am Eminem, not me as in me, but me as in you me - me to you - Peakly, on Dooyoo - the moody teenager with the loudest voice, the baddest choice and the worst raps (imagine music as you read this crap) - dooyoo NEEDS the voice of the misguided, the hopes of the long-sighted, the dreams from the steam of the burning pit of youth - the truth, the mutherfluckin' ruth-less resident proof - it occurred to me - this is my favourite scene - it occurred to me - I've missed Peakly YO! YO! YO! THAT'S GODAM RIGHT MUTHERFLUCKER, PEAKLY'S BACK IN THE HOUSE Y'ALL!!!!" Ah, up ya arse. This opinion is actually about the new Eminem album - 'The Eminem Show' - but Dooyoo haven't added it yet. I wasn't about to sacrifice my central juxtaposition just because no one can be arsed anymore. They can move it when the album is added. Ok so here we go. Eminem's new album cost me a penny less then ten pounds, which is better then the penny less of six pounds I was originally going to pay for the new single - 'Without Me'. That particular song, by the way, is rather good. Unfortunately, that's exactly why the rest of the album isn't. Lemme explain. The single, Without Me, is Eminem at his most bearable - catchy hip-hop with agenda-free lyrics, that poke fun at Marshal Mathers and his audience alike. It's similar to 'My Name Is' and 'The Real Slim Shady', only slightly edgy and with more impressive vocals. It's got a good video too, though that's not my department. The rest of the album is different. It's... Mature? De
ep? Sinister? Unbalanced. Whoever produced this album (Dr. Dre) is a g-whiz-genius. He's mixed guitar loops with big bass - like the NWA, only slower and more radio-friendly. Not that this is a bad thing. Tracks like 'Cleaning Out My Closet' and 'Sing For The Moment' sound divine beneath the rapping... a blend of vaguely Clapton-esq riffs and sharp electronic drum with the warm fuzzy sound of an expensive production studio. Even opener 'White America' (in which Eminem is politically conscience for thirty seconds) survives the soft-rock make-over. The problem is, the quality of the music exceeds the quality of, well, Eminem, and by a significant degree. Rap is about vocals, just like Heavy Metal is about distorted guitars. Even Plant would sound shit, if Page couldn't hold note and dropped his plectrum half way through every song. Eminem's lyrics rhyme well. Unfortunately, they are also self-indulgent to the point of tedium - not to mention about issues sufficiently milked in his first two albums. Also, his voice often fails him. In 'Soldier', he's singing to music only a voice like DMX or Ice Cube's could tame (perhaps Dre should have had a go) - trying to emulate the power and aggression of his forefathers. It's not good enough. In 'Till I Collapse' he struggles. The same for much of 'Business'. Oh, and his 'skits' - interludes between songs - just waste time. That's all. Even when the NWA shoved sound clips in-between songs of themselves loading guns and swearing it was bad. Eminem probably thinks his 20 song-titles make him look like a creditable artist. 15. The rest are Eminem being a bad 'muther or a personal joke no one else gets, which ruins the pace of the album. Blergh. Um..... Oh..... Buy it if you like Eminem. If you think he's funny and you like the things he raps about. It's polished, length
y (to be fair) and about as Eminem as Eminem gets. Oh, and he sings on a record to his daughter. Sounds sweet, until you realise it's full of swearing and slagging her Mother off. Shocking, huh? Personally, I think it's a mediocre rap record, from a very mediocre rapper. Eminem is wonderfully ironic and self-aware about everything, except the fact he's not very good. I guess that's where him and you-me differ ;) It's good to be back.
If I could accompany this opinion with a soundclip, it’d be the haunting thirty-second masterpiece of every knuckle in my hands, awakening from much-extended and unhealthy slumber - an epic thunder of reawakening joints, piercing pops and bangs. And if I could accompany this opinion with a scent (I’m sure Mircosoft are working on it), rest assured it would be the stale, thick-set aroma of a neglected key(board), clinging desperately to what little light has managed to penetrate a month of dust and grim. If ever there were a reason to forgive the quality of my opinion, be it this one. Cowardice, thy name is man. Or at least under certain circumstances. The story I am about to tell is true, though somewhat humiliating for me (and a friend). My hope is that you will overlook your contempt by acknowledging the dedication I have shown to consumerism. By that I mean my willingness to tell the story in its true, un-edited form. If you feel I’ve built things up quite a bit, however, do leave now. Last Summer, I was unemployed for… about three months, I think. Though I should like to pretend I filled those months with efficient, persistent attempts to find work, I love you all too dearly to lie. My efforts to become an honest man were delayed, frequently, by my desire to not become an honest man. In practical terms, this meant that on more then one occasion I would simply rest, in good company, and attempt to regain the joyous apathy of my youth. To aid me in this quest, myself and the good company would employ the services of soft drugs and quality home entertainment, to compliment numerous life-altering conversations and semi-insane bouts of laughter. Amen. And it was during one of these very occasions, that my pledge to ‘Raid’ was made. This particular occasion gracest us with the hottest day of the summer… queue an open window, queue seats firmly within reach of the rays
it emitted. Queue the bliss of a head thick with smoke and the sun-light and the gentle breeze making love upon your face. Queue the hours passing like minutes. Queue the sudden fall of night. Now I’d never volunteer to pet a snake, but I wouldn’t be frightened if one slithered its way past me. The same goes for most traditionally terrifying animals (with the exception of lions, spiders, vultures and frogs). I can stand small places (and resist the plethora of bad-taste jokes that inspires), heights and clowns. But the one thing that truly does strike fear in my heart… moths. Did he say ‘moths’?! Yeah, moths. Moths?! Yes, sodding moths. Wow… …I know. But come on, people… picture it – eyes, black as Satan’s anus… a transfixed expression, as crude as my similes… and the FUR. Great, big cluffs of fur, spread over its wings like a botched, shit-stained carpet. There is something wholey unnerving about a moth, and what is worse… the unholy flap-flap-flapping of its movement, and the perfect, practised insanity of its path. I think we both know where this story is going, but try to bear all this in mind. With night, came the subdued period of individual melancholy and reflection. Conversation during this time is limited to grunts and points by the wise, and extended to half-arsed ‘sharing’ by the foolish. That night, we were both wise, and both about as deep in own slhit as our mediocre intellects would allow. A second later, just as Mark Kozelek was asking us to be his mistress, all hell broke loose. The creature glided through the far right of our vision, and in that moment, she was nothing less then a bat. With an agility thought impossible by cannabis scientists world-wide, myself and GC grasped and wielded the first items that came to hand, desperate to shield ourselves from the onslaught. The moth, who probably let slip a laugh as
she spied us shaking a cushion and a cork-screw at her, merely continued to swoop and glide, left to right, up and down, until we no longer felt safe from any angle. Neither of us could contain our hysteria, at least not enough to stop shouting profanity and flinching violently at the very thought of contact, and then, she came in for the kill. Across the back of my hand was the indistinguishable touch of insect hair. Actually, at the time, I was even convinced it had sunk its tiny fangs into my flesh, for just a second. This was enough to have me spring cartoon-like to the door and close it, and GC, firmly behind me. Though I had escaped immediate danger, I knew even then that permanent scars had taken seed. However, curiosity eventually got the better of me, and I looked in. There, raised on the couch like a Greek God, GC was swinging a trainer-boot to and fro, missing the bird-like intruder at each turn. Still, I had to admire his bravery – and did so, with encouraging cheers and yells. Then, somehow, he landed a blow. Like a stone she seemed to fall to the ground, sliding somewhere beneath the room’s only desk. And since GC had performed the murder, it was naturally my job to carry out the autopsy. Naturally. Slowly, I lowed my head to the floor and opened my eyes. The desk ran deep and dark. GC stood above me, breathing deeply, as I leaned a little closer in. She was either dead, or injured. She had to be. Wrong. In a mad fury, the moth flew from the darkest corner of the floor, and soared to the ceiling in a violent zigzag. I stumbled backwards, dazed, afraid, looking again to GC for help. His face was blank with terror. We hadn’t even wounded her pride. At this point, we both left via the door. It was time to step back a second and talk this through. What took place during the proceeding two hours, was a bloody, tiring war of attrition, in which we tested great numbers of make-shift weapons to virtua
lly no avail at all. Every time we struck a blow, she’d play dead and then surprise us, knocking us off guard. By the fifth shameful defeat, we declared capturing and destroying the animal the soul purpose of our being. United in fear, there developed an unspoken vow to slay the moth, even if it were to be at ,or beyond, the cost of our own mortal life’s. It was at roughly this point, GC stumbled upon his can of ‘Raid’. Holding it straight-armed into the air, the blue can became Excalibur – our glorious savoir in this hour of need. There’s was subtle, epic vibe to its entire being… the way it gliding effortlessly through the air… the snug way it fit the palm… the ease and style of the button. I gave it a short, experimental blast. A smooth, confident wave of gas sliced through the air and distributed it’s self evenly upon the carpet. Ergonomically sound, and almost entirely full. Like a battalion of soldiers after sharing a whore, we marched into the room with a new-found confidence and morale. As I clutched a tennis racket, GC readied the ‘Raid’. All we needed to do now, was find Her. And we did. Tucked peacefully beneath in the corner of floor, nestling in a random sock. I looked at GC. He looked at me. With less then feline agility, we attempted to creep up and take the girl by surprise. But she was on to us, as she always had been. In a second she was once again in the air, darting to and fro in that absurd montage of speed and direction… unpredictable, unforgiving, and, given half a chance, unmerciful. In a panic, I gave a random swing of the racket, missing completely and stumbling half way to the ground. The was her opportunity. Quickly circling GC, she flew low and glided through my legs, sending the two of us round in circles. She was tying us in knots. It was time gain some control. In a fit of rage, I began to swing my weapon madly. Red flashed
before my eyes – no longer prepared to be a victim of this creature. Lamps crashed to the ground… empty cans were accidentally cast across the room like golf balls… but despite the chaos I continued until the last drops of my energy stood to fade. Finally, by chance, I had her backed into a corner. In no time at all, GC pounced, can in hand, and sprayed an inch from the moth’s face. For a moment, she floated as if suspended from the ceiling. I could almost hear her tiny lungs cough, and see the growing veins in her eyes. GC was still spraying strongly, grinning and nodding like a maniac. I put my hand softly upon his shoulder, and he stopped, shaking his head as if emerging from a strange trance or dream. Side by side, we watched quietly, as the She fought bravely to say in the air. But it was no use. After a few seconds of struggle, she fell flat onto the ground. We peered over. Aside from the final flinch of her tiny legs, our enemy had finally been defeated. And that was that. No surprise come-back, as we half-expected, just an honourable death. Looking at the moth, lying still on her back, I couldn’t help but feel the hate and anger drain away, like losing her how somehow sprung leak within me, and all that was left in my heart was sadness. There was an absurd, yet clear and absolute dignity in the air, and though I did not feel guilt, I did feel sorrow and the tiniest prick of regret. Gently, I scoped her onto a piece of paper, and committed her mortal remains to the Northumbria sewage system. As she span in the toilet water, moving closer to the point of no return, I understand instantly the message of the night’s bizarre events, and a feeling of euphoria engulfed me. Never leave a window open on a hot summers night, and if you do, have a can of ‘Raid’ ready. You never know when some bird-like demon might swoop in, and disturb your slumber for ever. PS -
I am deeply unhappy with the length and content of this opinion... I've also not bothered to re-read so it could be littered with mistakes. Sorry it was so long and sorry the intro didn't pull off at all. Take care, I love you. P. PPS - Please observe the irony in a product called 'Raid' aiding what was basically a minor drug session, or I've wasted my time. Thank you. P.
I’ve shied away from reading the other 152 opinions on Amsterdam, although not because I don’t have the time. About a month ago, I took a ferry there with a friend and spent a weekend exploring what has been ‘The Promised Land’ since my first adolescent puff on a pipe many a hazy moon ago. Amsterdam has long been the Holy Grail for those of us that chose to indulgence the lighter side of sin, filling the voids in our existence with soft-drugs, soft-porn and soft-water-based transportation. Though what I found far from matched my expectations (which, predictably, now seem horribly naïve), it remains with great fondness that I recollect three days of wonderful, shameless inactivity. In fact, considering it all in black and white, I can only conclude that Amsterdam was the closest I’ve ever came to Heaven – though when compared to all my previous experiences, that is not quite the fantastic compliment it seems. Perhaps it is merely the glossy finish of one’s memory, or else the sweet veneer of time – the same natural distortion that makes our childhoods only ever the absolute worst or best time of our life’s. Because I can recall with certainly, a vaster range of emotions then happiness in that trip – including, at times, fear, disgust and a confusing heaviness of the heart. Though I may appear to have brought only tacky postcards and dubious memorabilia back with me from Amsterdam, the truth is I took a lot more. And now, if you’d care to listen, I’m going to try and explain what, and why. When my friends asked me, why I was going to Amsterdam, my retort was always cheap and cheerful – easy, worry-free cannabis and a guilty curiosity about the seedy streets of the Red Light District. That was my justification for the location, not the holiday. Of course, when family asked, I explained my thirst for ‘the experience’, and the chance to visit the various muse
ums and Ann Frank House’s Amsterdam can boast. The truth is, I was both lying and not. My intentions were to do all of these things. Upon arrival, however, it became quickly apparent that squeezing every possible tourist activity into a three-day slot would be rather missing the point. Neither of us wished to bastardise the experience… it is often easy to forget to have fun in your pre-occupation with actually having fun, no? At least that’s what we told ourselves, and everyone who asked when we got home. The first thing we did, is look for a coffee-bar. That’s what everyone does, right? It was the familiar scent of burning grass that lead us, cartoon-like, to the first and favourite coffee-shop of the entire trip. Situated on the corner of a long row of shops, right in the heart of Amsterdam’s most tourist-orientated area, was a small bar painted in spectacular reggae-themed pictures and colours. After a minutes procrastination, in we stepped, with casual steps and lazy eyes. There was no way we wanted to look like tourists. If it been a bar, then the three semi-conscience men that lined the counter might have glanced at us as we walked by. Instead they remained transfixed on nothing, confirming beyond doubt – we had arrived. Everything, I remember, was going fine. No one seemed disturbed by our arrival. With a sloth-like brushing back of my hair, perhaps an absent yawn, I approached the counter and caught the attention of the bar-man. “Hey”, I said And after that, everything went terribly wrong. “I’ll have a couple of weed joints, and two cokes please” Spot the error? As I learnt later, you’re expected to examine the menus and specify what cannabis you actually want. Asking for simply ‘a joint of weed’ was suicide. Now, I’m faced with an embarrassing confession. Perhaps it was the unusual environment, my slig
ht lack of confidence or the un-identified strength of the joint, but for the first time in over half a decade of smoking – I felt ill. Very ill, very fast. After a couple of inhalations, nothing hit me beyond the same reassuring buzz as always. Everything beyond that, is a nightmare of panic, disorientation and paranoia like no other. My friend (Brett), thankfully, still felt fine. Despite that, for about an hour I staggered the streets of Amsterdam, seeing most of it for the first ever time, to the sound of his laughter. Being stoned in that panicky, confused way is incredibly difficult to explain – the best way I can describe is as some absurd adventure, that, somehow, is enjoyable at the same time as being horrific. The point is, you know it won’t last. With a surreal detachment you can live out your drama, hopefully with enough experience to know and tell yourself it’s not half as bad as it seems. It is, I guess, a small-time equivalent of a bad acid-trip (I’m talking comparative strength of drug, not making some fool-hardy uneducated claim that you junkies out there can shout at me for). It’s left me now with this wonderfully bizarre memory, of sitting on a park bench surrounded by pretty flowers, with the cars and people around me appearing in a strange pop-up picture-book distortion. After that, I carried my mildly wounded pride around the shops for the afternoon, feeling pretty good. The sheer wealth of gift-shops in the heart of Amsterdam puts even Blackpool to shame – though, thankfully, there is nothing quite so tacky as a stick of rock or porcelain figures of big-breasted women (there are a lot of postcards though). These shops have the heart and over-all presentation of familiar holiday resort outlets, but for the most part their stock is good quality and, actually, fairly high-priced. Most sell cannabis equipment – a hundred different pipes and bongs, also joint holders… boo
ks of roaches (make-shift filters)… a thousand variations of tobacco papers (including a jumbo-sized Jim Morrison tribute pack, which was the first purchase I ever made) – pretty much everything you could think of. Some even sold cannabis seeds and magic mushrooms growing kits. Not only this, however, but on the same streets are top clothing stores (if that’s your thing), countless eateries (sandwiches and home-made pizza mainly) and some fair-price CD shops. All of that stuff we could find in Newcastle though, so for the most part we stuck to the novelty shops, wow-ing and settling into the relaxed attitude. The shop owners themselves varied, usually, from being either extremely kind or extremely ignorant and short-tempered. I have no idea why. You either walk into a shop and feel instantly compelled to leave, or else be greeted by some grinning stoner, who would happily chat for an hour without you making a purchase. In one store, a girl sat quite happily, tapping away peacefully to the in-store music. I bought ten incense sticks, and asked her what the music was. For twenty minutes we discussed bands, Amsterdam and the effects of mushrooms, concluding with her writing down the name of an album I later bought and a well-meant shaking of hands. Undoubtedly, and hopefully, she’s still sitting behind her counter, watching us tourists come and go with that rich apathy only a well-paced bong can provide. Later that night, we returned to that first coffee-bar, this time with a better idea of how things worked. After carefully looking at the menu, I ordered a cut of cannabis resin (can’t recall the name for the life of me) and we rolled our own. This time, no panic. Only the closest we ever came to our ideals, resting in the downstairs room that had planets and stairs painted in aluminous paint across the walls. To the sound of Bob Marley, we spent an evening inside a poetic cloud of smoke, feeling, finally, like we were in Am
sterdam. Much later, we rode the small ferry that runs every seven minutes across the canal, back to our bed and breakfast. From the water, in the distant, we could make out the glow of the red light district, dancing across gentle tides half a mile away. It was then the feeling dawned on us both, though we never spoke of it, that we had from conquered Amsterdam, and that our biggest test still stood over us, titan like and strong. Day two, we escaped the main-streets of Amsterdam. The main reason, was simply so that we could witness the more genuine parts of the city – the explorers desire to see more then what was intended for him, perhaps. Another reason, I hate to say, was to escape the beggars and drug-pushers that had gone a little to spoiling the day before. Allow me to explain. In Amsterdam, men wait on the streets so they can whisper ‘cocaine, ecstasy, speed…’ in the ears of young tourists looking for a good time. I except they do a good trade. The problem is, as we knew, even if you were looking for class A drugs – these men are likely to give you crap, if not mug you altogether. Or so we were told by infinite numbers of people before we arrived. I make no qualms about it – I’m not a particularly experienced traveller (as you might have guessed). This took me by surprise. What was worse, was the number of street beggars would approach you at every possible moment – from walking the streets to enjoying a quiet meal in McDonalds. Don’t get me wrong, all my sympathise are in tact – indeed, to begin with, we both gave all we could, but by the tenth or twelfth time of being approached I channelling anyone not to grow weary. One man, I remember, stopped us as we were walking home much later on. “Have you got any change?”, he asked. For the first time, I genuinely hadn’t – nothing expect for some notes anyway, and I wasn’t about to hand over ten po
unds plus. Sorry, but neither would you. Instead of trying for a bit longer then leaving, this man began to tell us how we ‘people’ had everything, and he has nothing, and if we didn’t give him money, he’d take it from us. There was not one ounce of conviction in his voice. He stood no physical chance of mugging us, and the sadness in his eyes screamed it to everyone. With heavy-hearts we walked away, feeling miserable, leaving the man alone. After that, for a good while, there was no wind in our sails, a uncomfortable cocktail of guilt and anger filling our heads. We didn’t want a repeat of the incident on day two. And so instead, we got voluntarily lost. Amsterdam, away from the hustle and bustle, becomes quite simply a beautiful city. We followed the canals deep into streets of purple-stoned houses, proudly hung baskets of flowers and children on bicycles. For a while, I felt like I was on the set of some pretentious art-house movie. We found a series of little, far less commercial coffee-bars. One’s without pool tables. One’s that we didn’t have to share with a hundred other people. One of the finest moments in the whole trip was on that afternoon, in a tiny coffee-shop by the canal, chain-smoking joints and chatting idly with the two Rastafarians that ran the place. Talking now, it almost sounds like I’m making it up. That hour or so later took a dream-like quality, as we walked under the seedy red-tint and through the thin alleys of the red light district, feeling the sickness rise in our stomachs. And I guess that’s what I should mention next. Suddenly, in ten footsteps, you’re out of the quaint rows of houses and into a labyrinth of wide-windows and jeering on-lookers, under countless neon lights prompting your entrance to pornographic cinemas and peep-shows. Within ten minutes, I felt like the love-child of Travis from Taxi Driver and Peter Stringfellow,
if you can imagine such a thing. A row of sweating Japanese business-men stood resting on each other shoulders, as opposite them a large-busted prostitute danced and pouted wearing a brave smile, from behind a glass window. Eventually, someone entered through the door by her left, and the curtains were drawn. I can’t remember the rates exactly, but you bought either ten minutes or an hour with these girls, all under the supervision of tough looking bouncers. Take a camera and you’re a dead man. At first, it was all just very amusing. I considered reaching for my wallet and laughed out loud. It’s all a bit bizarre, and arriving there for the first time, you could be forgiven for feeling a little uncomfortable. Actually, I didn’t. But after a while of turning corners and bumping into people, never finding the boundaries of the district nor obtaining a second to breathe or think, I felt unhappy. There’s something infinity saddening about the women behind there windows, and something even worse about the wide-eyed men (and women) that stand around watching. Free will or no free will, I confess I felt sorry for everyone. I don’t know what that makes me, self-righteous I’d imagine, but I have to be honest. Witnessing the Red Light District is witnessing man in his most depraved and sordid moment – but then again, I think the same when I see people watching Big Brother, so I’m nothing to go by. Things turn from novel and amusing to tragic in half a second – particularly in contrast with the relaxed grace of the cities other spots. Despite this, cheesily, I value the experience. After finally finding our way out, myself and Brett returned as with the night before to our downstairs corner and smoked until the early hours. Tomorrow was to be our last day. And tomorrow came, under a torrent of morning rain. The last day of a holiday is always a day of melancholy and reflection, and what bett
er place to do so then in Amsterdam? As it was a Sunday, the streets were quiet and the majority of shops closed. We walked the streets for one final time, discussing what we should have done and what we were glad we had done, deciding, firmly, that we intended to come back. An hour before we had to drive to the ferry back to Newcastle, we shared a last joint, on a bench not far from where we were staying that over-looked Amsterdam’s main river. The air was cold, though the wind was forgiving and we managed the last moments undisturbed. For all that time we considered the biggest question – this bag of White Widow, the finest-of-all-fine grass we have… should we take it home? In the end, we decided no. Instead, we selected from the crowds someone whom we deemed worthy of a free bag of skunk. Along from us, on another bench, sat a man who wore an amusing hat. It seemed a good enough reason as any. “Excuse me?” “Yes” (in a German accent) “You speak English?” “Little” “You smoke grass?” “Yes!” (companied by a grin) “Well, would you like this?” (wide-eyed yet sorrowful, he shook his head) “I have no money” “No, you can have it. We have to go home now. Here, enjoy.” Queue the most genuine, if slightly confused thank you I’ve ever had. I shook the mans hand, then walked away. “It’s good sh*t!” I told him, from over my shoulder. “I can see!” came his reply. I can’t quite remember his face, but I know it was something like the guy from Dumb & Dumber – the other one, not Jim Carey. Though I still grit my teeth to think about it, we did make that mans day. Looking back once more, we saw him ride off on his bike, almost falling into the river. It was perfect. A few hours later, we were half-way across the ocean watching
a group of Geordies sing on the ferry karaoke, spending the last of our currency on whiskey, smoking cigarettes on the deck. Watching Amsterdam disappear, over the horizon. Of course, many other little things and incidents took place, but they’re less interesting and I’m five pages in already. I guess I should round up with an opinion-y bit… Amsterdam, in general, is enjoyable place to be. Try and experience both the commercial and more genuine sides to the city, as both have their rewards. If smoking dope is your thing, you’ll be like a child in a sweet shop – just remember to check the menu, and examine the stuff before you buy it. The biggest tip I have, is to buy a copy of something called ‘The Smokers Guide To Amsterdam’ as soon as you get there. It’s a small booklet sold in pretty much all of the novelty stores – it’ll tell you where to go, how to make sure you’re not be ripped off, and loads about safety in the Red Light District and what is okay and not okay to take home. Even if you’re not a big smoker, it’s worth having for the map alone. By day, Amsterdam is like any city – almost frustratingly busy, tiring but exciting. At night, everything is pretty much the same, only the canals look ten times as beautiful and the numerous bars and their drunken inhabitants almost make you feel like you’re back home in England. That’s about it. I guess the biggest recommendation, or rather compliment I can give to the place is that next year, we’re going again. If only to find that German bloke, and get my White Widow back. * This is a friggin’ long opinion, and I’m tired. Apologies for numerous typing errors this is bound to contain, but I can’t be arsed to fix them all.
Patriotism, like Roy Chubby Brown, Alkaliguru and the secret track on Hed PE’s album ‘Broke’, is hilarious. It’s funny funny fun fun. Not that my intentions are to trivialise the subject because I have nothing intelligent to say, but it is. Hilarious. I think patriotism, I think people waving British flags, dreaming of shaking royal palms and using expressions like ‘best of British’ or ‘good old Blightly’. Hehe. Royalists, xenophobes… y’know what I’m saying. Fundamentally, it’s the notion of being proud of one’s country, which, even through the most innocent and forgiving eyes, implies a inherit superiority based on race. Big sweaty testicles to that my friends. St. George killed a dragon. Great. Take a creature of rare beauty, plunge a sword deep into its scales and become a hero. Think of all David Attenborough could have mused over. Think of the tourist trade such a spectacle would have attracted. Local business’s would have benefited, and England would have had a gigantic fiery beast as it’s representative, rather then a unhappy family twiddling their thumbs in a palace. It’s a joke. I’ll warm my hands on the flames of the flag, and dump all over your traditions and values until they don’t smell pretty anymore. Woohoo. I was born in Germany. I lived there till I was four, then moved to Kent. I guess this excludes me from being a true Brit. Pity. I guess I don’t have that ‘sophisticated’ sense of humour, or that refined taste, or that mentality that puts appearance ahead of reality. Call me a hippie, call me naïve. Call me young and foolish. Call me a flower-smelling idealist. Call me honest. I don’t give a flying French connection about my place of birth, nor about this country. At least no more then anywhere else. What makes me proud, if anything at all, is what I’ve acco
mplished as an individual. The strength of my identity does not rely upon something I could never have determined and have not chosen. I don’t represent Britain, I represent Peakly. I won’t take credit for our nation’s success, nor will I apologise for it failures. My interest is in the people I love, and in humanity and the world. Awww. Being patriotic, even in small doses, defies all logic to which I adhere. It’s a stale, fruit-less way to think, docile and useless. In sport, I support the man I warm to, not the man wearing a union jack. In war I support the cause I believe in, not the cause of my government. A fallen Brit is no more a tragedy then a fallen Arab, or a fallen Swede, or a fallen Frenchman. If we don’t all think this way, we’ll never hold hands and skip merrily across the oceans, and holding hands skipping across oceans should be our ultimate collective aim. Patriotism is nicely dressed racism – celebrating yourself for belonging to a country is no less shameful then condemning someone else for belonging to theirs. It’s clothed in tradition, and notions of innocent competition, but in reality it’s something else that separates man from fellow man. Quite simply, it’s a means by which to segregate. You’ll look to nationality when deciding who to ‘support’. You’ll look favourably on the actions of your country, because somehow it’s part of you, and then you’ll never see the world through the unbiased eyes it so dearly needs to be seen through. Every generation is told they’ll rule the world some day. Every child is told they can make a difference. Drop the attitude. It’s my single greatest wish for the world. Don’t be proud of your country, be proud of yourself. Don’t consider the interests of those within shared borders, consider the collective interests of mankind. Every country in the world ha
s it’s skeletons, every country in the world has acted in a shameful, unjust way to another. That’s because they’re made up of individuals. Doh. You might not agree. You might feel it’s harmless. If you’re smart, you might argue it’s a part of human nature that must not be defied. Poor you. I still have enough burning in there to consider the way I think and try to change it. British people pass faceas/facaes/fiaceases/shit through their anuses just like everyone else – the sooner we all realise that, the better. And when they’ve realised that, I’ll recommend a Union Jack as a cleaning utensil. We’re all citizens of Planet Earth. That’s what I believe. Hold my hand… won’t you?
Allow me to make it known from the very start – I hate this topic. The only possible conclusion I or you could or should reach is the very obvious ‘racism isn’t right’, and if that isn’t obvious already I don’t think I like the idea of you reading my opinions anyway, thank you very much. But then perhaps I’m over simplifying things. Racism isn’t a simple thing, it’s a physiological defect that all of us, and I think I can confidently say all, harbour in some small, probably perfectly innocent way. It’s something that needs to be phased out and destroyed by the only way possible – a filtering through generations, by making sure our children grow to understand how mistaken the racist attitudes they’ll encounter are. Racism could perhaps be referred to as a disease, though thankfully, I think we’re on the correct path to curing it, and ourselves, if we stop to compare society now to a few hundred years ago. That’s the basic jist, as I see it, everything I’ve just written there. I don’t think you’re asking for me to state the obvious though, are you? As a veteran of small-town life, racism has been something that’s always existed in my life without question or debate. It’s just there, as in-grained and un-questioned as the roads you’d walk or the walls that line the street. People associated racial conflict almost exclusively with city-life, and while that may be true, there’s no question that if small Northumbrian towns like mine actually had a sizeable ethnic representation that they’d be conflict here too. Instead, there’s only passing comments and thoughtless jokes, coupled with a stale sense of prejudice filling the air like some damp blanket. Of course, there are a handful of black, Pakistani and orient families, though they are so greatly in the minority that I know them all well. One lad is a par
ticularly close friend. There have been countless occasions, simply walking the street or having a quiet drink, that someone somewhere has made a racist comment. These vary from the extremely crude and unintelligent, to jokes that, scarily, show some real thought and consideration. I ll not replica the comments in the opinion, I see no need, though I’m sure you can imagine perfectly well. This leads me to a point that must be made. Not everyone that is openly racist are evil, with deliberate intend to harm. Some of course are, but not all. Most people in my town capable of making this kind of racist comment are, through little fault of their own, ignorant. Pure and simple. When you’ve brought up in a town with old-fashioned ‘values’, and virtually no ethnic community, it can be hard, without the correct parental influences, to escape adopting a racist attitude. This is not an excuse, of course, merely an explanation as to how and why people feel no remorse in being racist. Many people I would consider friends, or people I would class as kind and good, also let slip the odd racist joke – not through an intent to harm or upset, simply because to them, somehow, it’s perfectly acceptable and fine. I’d be lying if I said this didn’t bother me, but then I’d also be lying if I said I did all I possibly could to stop it. You can’t teach somehow that something they believe and have never given a thought to is wrong, and tell them to stop thinking in that way. It’s futile. You can only watch and feel helpless. And it’s this kind of racism, the kind the lies beneath the surface, that is perhaps the biggest problem of all. How many generations must filter through Alnwick, before this small town can escape this in-breed attitude? The news covers race motivated attacks and discrimination, and rightly so, but while that can, in theory, be punishable, small-town mentalities a
nd home-grown attitudes can not. That’s where the battle against racism starts and finishes – those that would never really dream of attacking or assaulting a black man without reason, but nevertheless feel instantly different towards them, or so uncomfortable they have to make jokes. It would be unfair to condemn these people without also considering myself. I said earlier that everyone is racist in some way, no matter how small, and I believe that is true. Not just whites, but people from all creed and colour. I’d class myself racist in this way – whenever I see a black person, I become instantly cautious of other people and the aware of the possibly that they may do or say something small-minded. If I see an ethnic person on television, or more likely in a film, straight away I’m weary of how they’re being represented. How many of us also feel this way sometimes? I guess it proves that, deep-down in the labyrinth of my mind, somehow somewhere I judge things with a little inequality. Perhaps my disgust at racism somehow manifests into a paranoia whereby I almost expect discrimination of some kind. If I were completely and utterly free of some racist attitude, surely these thoughts wouldn’t even occur to me. How many of us actually go out of our way to appear friendly to people from ethnic minorities? Is it because, in some twisted way, you’re so very cautious of appearing racist? Be it that you’re treating people better or worse because of their race, what remains a fact is that you’re treating them differently because of it, and that’s racist. The final thing I’d like to discuss, which applies what I’ve said about myself but on a more general and worldwide scale, is the issue of political correctness. It is true that, in a society becoming more and more self-concise about racism, it’s became increasingly hard to speak or write about race issues with
any degree of confidence. Writing this opinion, I’ve been carrying a slight paranoia that some of the terms or expressions I’ve used are no longer acceptable or are offensive. The rules seem to change all the time. According to an article I read no so long ago, the term ‘brain-storm’ can no longer be applied in schools (it used to refer to a revision technique), this is because it offended people with metal disability. Now the correct term is ‘mind-map’. Another, perhaps more relevant example that cropped up in same article was the term ‘black-board’, which, for racial issues, should now be referred to as a ‘chalk-board’. I’m neither condemning nor approving of these ever changing values, merely pointing out how difficult it is to ensure everything you say is one-percent PC and acceptable. Obviously, some terms are a lot more obviously wrong then others, but I think people need to judge with consideration, and not label people necessarily racist if something they say doesn’t quite adhere to the rules. People should observe context, as well as the specifics of the language. To repeat what I said in the beginning, I don’t particularly like this topic (the former use of the term ‘hate’ was merely to catch your attention ;). Hopefully some of what I have said has been mildly interesting or thought-provoking, though anyone with a degree of awareness will have fully considered all I’ve said and more already. If I must offer some kind of conclusion, let it be this: racism is one of the largest, most in-comprehensible evils on this earth. So long as the bad people so greatly outnumber the good in this life, no one should limit their chances of finding another human being they can love or befriend by discriminating against them because of their race. All that is left now is for all of us, as individuals, to do all we can to phase out any racist attitudes we h
arbour ourselves, do what we can to combat the attitudes we see in others, and, most importantly, teach our children to do the same.
“Duds, duds, glorious duds” - Anonymous. Ah, loose the tongue fiend. You’re starting to dribble at the corners (potential football pun there, I suppose). There’ll be no outrageous NU-able bout of sensationalism on this Community Guide’s (HOF, COF, MBE) profile page. Hopefully not at least. I’ll force-feed you herring until your face goes red – and you’d better thank me for the lesson, too. Who knows though. Fags, Smokes, Tabs, Duds, Binds, Ciggs, Sticks Of Death. Abbreviate or be as affectionate as you want – it all adds up to the same thing. A cancerous, tar-black lung and the embarrassment of heart-failure after two flights of stairs. Oh, and the comfort of bumper-sticker favourite ‘Exercise, Eat Healthy, Die Anyway’ carved crudely in the flip side of the coin just to be fair. There are lots of things I could tell you about cigarettes. Um, ‘it’s the biggest killer in the world’ or something. ‘You could pay off your mortgage quicker, if only you stop smoking’. Great. Problem is, it can’t make any different to you. If you don’t smoke, it’s none of your concern, and if you, I expect you’ve heard it all a thousand times before and, surprisingly, it still had made ‘breaking the habit’ any easier. Am I right? I’m not wrong. I know a bit about smoking that isn’t just fact or figure though. I watched my Grandfather die because of it, I still watch my Father approach death because of it, and I do quite enjoy the odd smoke myself. Ah, but lemme finish. Give me your children, if only for today. I don’t regret smoking a cigarette, any more then I do the hideous (but delicious) 99.99999% sugar McDonalds Milkshake I ate earlier today. Sacrificing health for pleasure is hardly a new or exciting concept. I don’t like smoking in public, because I don
217;t like passive smoking, but that’s about as far as my objections stretch. I don’t recommend it, or condemn it, and if you are a child reading this (get off the internet and get a girlfriend btw) – I expect you’ll try it anyway, so you might as well have my blessing, coupled with a knowing shrug of the shoulders that makes me cool and your parents the bane of your short-lived but infinity experienced and wise existence. Fluck you I won’t do what you tell me. Actually, I mean that. Looking back on my tender teenage years, one of the many things I can smile about is cigarettes. Short, over-priced tubes of tobacco. I remember the summer month, sweating boredom beneath the old oak tree, drinking cheap wine and pondering our fears of the grim decent into adulthood. We were a team. A band actually, but also a team, and more strength, commitment and honesty then any I’ve joined since. And I remember the summer, and the woodlands we called our home, and the foul taste of morning alcohol, and I remember the tabs and the way they become our friends. There’s no more a potent cocktail then the tedium of small town life, long, empty weeks and the musky semen-soaked teen-spirit capable of uniting human beings to their peers. A shared desperation. The comfort of not being in that rocky, often uncomfortable boat alone. Jumping through the rye hand in hand, as it were. And with that union, and with that beating heart that lead us all, Me, Vince and Buttons would combine what scraps of change we could fine, from all corners of our homes and persons. We’d work together, and find a way, some way, every day, to buy a simple ten-deck so we could return to our woods like Kings, and smoke. Smoke, because there was nothing else to do. Smoke because we could, and we would, for as long as we could, because it was something, anything, and it was there. Smoke because we enjoyed every tiny detail, both of the
act its self and the conversations, idiosyncrasies and routines it provides. If there was only one, we’d share it between the three. If there was plenty, they’d be shared evenly just the same, and it didn’t matter whose pocket they came out of, or who bought them in the first place. It was something, it was anything, and why not? Why not fill out lungs with tar? Why not spend our money on this simple, short-lived pleasure, rather then save to buy something more expensive that we’d enjoy but never love? Why not smoke, and cry, and love, and loose, and do it for the first time and do it for the last time and do it all together? Why not be sure of something, and have something we relied on as much as it relied on us, and why not feel that way and be that way because we could, and we would, if only for today. Without cigarettes, without useless, stupid, harmful, regrettable cigarettes, we’d have been ten times as useless, stupid, harmed and regretful as we were, and no research or government warnings can change that. Music was there, my God, it was there, and cannabis was there, and alcohol was always there, and then so was tobacco. Comparing the quality of each others rolls, when ‘baccy and skins’ became the only option. Saving each other the final, sacred draws of filthy smoke because somehow, and for the briefest seconds, it was so important. Children, kids, teenagers, boys and girls – you smoke your evil, costly tabs, and don’t worry about how they made attribute to the unhappiness of old-age. You’re health will follow your heart regardless of how much you run, and how little you indulge. It’s downhill all the way – why bother applying the brakes? But of course, cheesy nostalgia and wistful memories of summers-past isn’t really very responsible. Actually, sod responsible, it just isn’t very true. Children, kids, teenagers, boys and girls – ple
ase, don’t leave just yet. I won’t lie to you, I promise because I know that hurts you, but I will show you the whole picture, because that’s what you ask for and that’s what you deserve. You deserve to hear your Father, during the time you’re pretending to sleep, drag his heavy-heels up the stairs and enter the bathroom with a clumsy bang. You deserve to hear his lungs cry, and his knees wobble, and you deserve to wince with every blood-curdling hurl and burning wrench, as he slowly empties his guts of a life-time of scum and unthinkable dirt and grim. Twenty a day, every day, since he was eleven. Before your dreamy summer. Before your blissful inhalation within the cooling afternoon shade. Before you. And if you want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but, then you need to hear it all. You need to hear muted sobs from beyond the wall, and the gentle calling of your name. You need to stare into the face of your weeping Mother, and see her being so brave, but knowing from her eyes she is ten times as scared, lost and hurt then you could ever be. You have to cradle her, as best you can, and you have to lie in your bed and wonder why your mind feels blank, and why you can’t cry a drop even though you try. The damp afternoon, following the quiet whispers of mourning. The stale smells, and the ash-trays, piled high on top. That’s the truth. All of it. And it’s the truth that I still raise a glass to my Grandfather, and it’s the truth that I hold a tab in my hand at the same time. And it’s the truth that my summers make me smile, and it’s the truth that I shudder when I remember how he fed me sweets, as I hid behind my Mother’s leg. And her tears were real, and my tears were real, and all of it, of all of yours, should mean more then any facts or figures at our disposal. And if I can make smoking sound more to you then something to tut at, or something to wish you
lived without, if I can make it real for once, instead of an excuse for more figures, then it was worth the money spent, and it’ll be worth the choking, burning coughs I feel getting worse each day. And it’s been the price I’ve paid for those summers. It’s been the price I’ve paid for a friend. And it’s the price I’ll pay until the day it kills me, because if it doesn’t kill me, something else will, and I’d rather go down my way, beneath clouds of falling ash.
Maybe if I wanted to be really original, I’d open my opinions by getting straight to the point and being immediately relevant. Y’know, rather then making the usual, side-ways, long-winded attempt to be different, as is so common among myself and other members of the dooyoo semi-elite who are all trying to be as good as Alk (with varying degrees of success). But I’m not. I’m a fragile, in-secure little writer. I have to zigzag. I have to serve you my thoughts in a unstable dish of tongue-in-cheek arrogance and subtle quirkiness, complimented by a (confident) conversational tone, and finished with a generous sprinkle of muted naivety that you secretly notice but dare not high-light. I’m not writing much on Dooyoo at the moment, in fact, this is my first opinion in almost a month. I played it safe with the last one, so I thought this time I’d jump in at the deep end with a mildly controversial, self-gratifying rant at a genre (which is a concept stupid in it’s self, but dooyoo set the rules, not me). And, sadly, I’m as confident about writing a well-argued and well-tempered piece as I am about you, one/some/all or you, slapping a bright orange ‘ignorant’ sticker on my fore-head. I’m not ignorant. Honest. Not musically at least. And I want people (that’s you, btwlolroflimhobrb) to realise that. I’m just honest. And I’m sure you’ll tell me I don’t understand, because I’d do that too if you told me my beloved punk/prog rock/metal/ezio isn’t what I believe it is. It’s important that people (that’s you, repeatchatin-joke) accept that I appreciate their love, because I share it, just not in a way that allows us to agree, and I’m allowed to say that – just as you’re allowed to rise slightly in your chair and type ‘you’re wrong, so, so wrong’ in a frantic key-board assault (that’ll contain spe
lling errors you can leave a second comment apologising for). I don’t like trance music. I don’t like dance in general. “Who gives a (comical rearrangement of ‘fuck’) if you don’t – it’s a matter of taste, fool” Yup, it is. But so is my opinion on a film, or book, or condom. As for helping you make better decisions – even hypocrisy of the Speakers Corner aside, Dooyoo must realise (as should you), that NO ONE writes to ‘help’ others for any other reason then to help themselves. If you write through a genuine desire to help someone on the other end of web page spend their money wisely, rather then because you like money/compliments/time-killers, I suggest you aim your good intentions at a more worthy cause (like, um, the RSPCA or something). I don’t like trance music, because I think it is a little shallow, and I think it serves an extremely limited purpose, and because I can’t help comparing it to rock. Is that cool with you guys? I consider it a pleasant sound. I think it can be just as in-powering, inspiring and enjoyable as anything else, just never nearly as heart-feel or personal. Maybe it’s different for you, and I’ll accept that, I just can’t begin to understand how. Oh, and I’d be easy to bang on about how ‘simple’ it is to DJ. It’s so tempting to go in the opposite direction I had planned, by grabbing you and your glow-stick by the scruff of the neck and screaming “How can picking computer-generated beats and samples then merging them together be anywhere near as skilful as playing a live guitar solo?”. But arguing the toss over how ‘hard’ it is to create trance music on a computer as opposed to learning an instrument isn’t particularly helpful (though I do happen to think the arrival of ‘music’ computer games have kinda made a mock
ery of the art as a whole). I know it’s a skill. I’m not daft. I no it’s not just ‘clicking a few things on a computer screen’ or any other statement of that ilk. It’s having the ability to listen. It’s knowing what sounds compliment the other. It’s knowing what gets everyone jumping about. It’s a skill, and fair play to them – I couldn’t do it, and probably neither could you. But trance music can never be there to help me cry out the final, salty tears, cured up like a child on my bed. Trance music can’t reassure that everything will be ok. Trance music can’t hold my hand, either through the good times or the bad, and it can’t travel through my ear-hole and beyond my mind to the thirsty mouth of my heart, and that’s why it can’t be my friend. You can tell me about how technical accomplished the song is, but you can’t tell me it has any heart. That’s why I don’t like it, and that’s why I class it entirely as ‘music’. I’m sorry. I’m not invalidating your love, I’m just making clear that I can’t understand it, and not through lack of trying. I’ve worked in night-clubs across the country, and I see the love. I see the euphoria. I see the way people draw from the music, and breathe through it, and feel it flowing through their veins. And that’s as real as music can be, and as fair and good as fair and good can be. But how can it be there for you outside that environment? How can you listen to a trance song, and relate to it. How can it be beautiful, or special. How can the lyrics fill you, and make you nod. How can it speak to you. I know how jazz speaks to jazz fans, and I know how rap speaks to rap fans, and I know how most types of music I don’t particularly enjoy speaks to most people, but trance/dance/club/hard-house/everything else… where is t
here heart? Where is it? By it’s very nature, by it’s very arrangement – how can trance music share with you a part of it’s creator? The beats you hear have been created. They’ve been created and repeated by a computer. Where’s the room for error? Where’s the drummer, throwing everything he has in to every hit of his instrument? Or the guitarist, patiently allowing a life-time of practise create a sound from his own hands? Where’s the song-writer and singer, pouring every drop of emotion into his words, HIS words, and inviting you to share something so special and real you KNOW what he means without ever having saw his face or shared his life? Where’s the shared passion and unspoken connection between the band/orchestra members? I don’t see it. I’ve looked, and I don’t. I see music that consists of skilfully-placed samples, that can move you to dance and smile and be happy and feel alive. But rock music can do that. Rock music can make you throw your head about so hard you can’t move your head for a month. But rock music can also follow you anywhere – into depression, into nostalgia, into joy or fear. Trance music, through it’s very being, can not. Or least not as far as I can see. Hopefully by now you’ve realised I’m not here to rant on stupidly. I don’t want to dislike trance music, I’d rather I liked it and I’d rather it did all the things for me music does because then I’d have more choice in what to listen to. But I guess the problem is, the thing I just don’t get it, is how trance music, or any computer-generated music, can or could ever translate the thoughts and emotions of it’s creator. Because to me – trance music is made for it’s audience, while rock music, and most rock music, is made for it’s creator, by it’s creator. That’s why pop music is shallow.
That’s when bands ‘sell-out’. That’s when it stops being music, and it starts being a limited and slightly blunt tool. I like music I can share, and try to understand, and feel tears rolling down my cheek because of. I don’t like something I know is trying to make me dance. Anyway, I’d best quit now. I hope I haven’t enraged any trance fans – it’ll be a much, much greater achievement if I haven’t. That’s something many sensationalist Dooyoo-ers should realise. If trance music makes you who you are, and if you drink from it and feed from it, then the last thing in the world I’d want to do is deny you it. And, as a good friend once told me, one of the most important lesson’s you’ll learn is that sometimes the people you most love and respect simply don’t agree, and it doesn’t mean a thing. Just read, feel what you have to feel, and understand that I love you, and I wouldn’t want you any other way. Oh, and ignore all this 'star rating' and 'recommend to a friend' jazz won't you?
In 1991, The Silence Of The Lambs (based on a Thomas Harris novel by the same name) premiered in cinemas and quickly became highly acclaimed by audiences and critics alike. The winner of several Oscars (including the biggies), The Silence Of The Lambs is undoubtedly set to become a ‘classic’ after enough time has passed, and the general consensus that it’s a work of genius would take a lot to reverse – particularly since the character of Hannibal ‘The Cannibal’ Lector has became as fondly remembered as Hitchcock’s ‘Norman Bates’ or Lucas’s ‘Darth Vader’ in our collective memory. The film is widely acknowledged as the finest example in the other-wise bland genre of ‘psychological-thriller’, and, surprisingly for any big-budget release, is generally branded as ‘though-provoking’. Perhaps it’s little more then a feeble effort to appear knowledgeable and strong-minded by opposing popular opinion, perhaps it’s negativity on my behalf sub conscious seeking flaws in a film with such high-expectations, but my first viewing of The Silence Of The Lambs did leave me wondering what exactly the fuss was about. More on that later. The plot, for those of you who are unfamiliar, centres around trainee FBI agent Clarice Starling’s (Jodie Foster) attempts to track down a serial-killer nick-named ‘Buffalo Bill’(Ted Levine) – an investigation that requires her to question the other leading character (infamous ‘Hannibal Lector’) in his high security jail cell. It is believed that Lector, a man as brilliantly intelligent as he is truly insane, holds vital information concerning the identity of Buffalo Bill, who has really wound everybody up by kidnapping the daughter of high-powered American politician. The FBI, in their movie wisdom, decide recruiting a young, female rookie is more sensible then putting their top, m
ost experienced agents on the case. This apparently stupid move is justified in two ways as I see it – the excuse to have a beautiful woman in the role, and as beneficial to the plot, which sees Lector ‘playing’ with his interviewers mind. The film follows Starling’s often rocky path to tracking down Buffalo Bill, and, for a smaller amount of time, Hannibal Lector’s untimely escape from jail, climaxing predictably with a one-on-one between the Agent and the murderer she seeks. The search for Buffalo Bill takes Starling to a variety of locations and through several, often gruesome scenes – most famously, of course, a glass-sheet away from the most unthinkable and dangerous criminal alive. Now, may I begin to tell you what I really think? Tame at first then. Although I have my criticism of the film, and certainly do not agree with many of the compliments aimed at plot and character alike, it is undeniable that The Silence Of Lambs is a well-accomplished and executed movie. The pacing of the story is the result of fine editing, writing and reasonable penetrating direction on the behalf of Jonathan Demme, whose other achievements include the powerful ‘Philadelphia’. The movie does an excellent job of varying the scenes designed to excite, and those designed the familiarise and develop its characters – this ensures the film can not be labelled simply an ‘action movie’ and easier then it can be labelled a ‘thriller’ or ‘drama’. The best films stand alone, and can not be encapsulated in a single term such as ‘action flick’ liked (shudder) Jurassic Park 3, et al. As well as being expertly paced, the film is also wonderfully imaginative and varied, both in plot and character – though I suspect this is more a credit to the book then the anything else. Starling’s journey to track down Buffalo Bill is refreshingly eventf
ul, and the timing of each plot revelation/advancement is perfectly in-tune with her character. The audience is slowly shown the extremes of both Buffalo Bill’s and Hannibal Lector’s capabilities as psychopaths, and a cool, calm approach is taken to revealing the films most shocking scenes - residing through-out the writing is a feeling of supreme confidence and willingness to be patient when playing its ‘trump cards’. As I say, the film also brims generously with imagination – particularly visual. Thanks to some truly atmospheric and well though-out lighting and an powerful set design, both Lector’s cell (and the walk to reach it) and Bill’s ‘dungeon’ looks and feels wonderful. The level of attention to detail in each set is wonderful, and yet another thing that separates the good movies from the great. Camera angles, unfortunately, do not vary as much as if often beneficial to movies of this ilk. Though competent, the typical array of establishing long-shots and ‘intimate’ close-ups aren’t quite as spectacular as a movie of this grandeur deserves, though there is an interesting POV perspective used during the films finale. Another area where the move is triumphant is it’s musical score and general sound effects, which, though arguably of minor importance, do go a long way to giving the movie the impact it strives so hard to achieve. The soundtrack, as far as my knowledge allows, is void of recognisable names for me to offer, however, I can assure you that The Silence Of The Lamb’s music is as perfectly fitting as in any other movie I’ve seen (with the possible exception of Thomas Newman’s contributions to ‘American Beauty’). Other, more minor things, such as Starlings hollow, intrusive foot-steps upon the jail flow, or the metallic rasp of Lectors voice (more on that later) all result in creating a powerful audio experience. On
then, finally, to the acting. Much of SOTL’s success if accredited to performances of both Anthony Hopkins as Lector and Jodie Foster as Starling. It is on this point I disagree with the majority of people. Though Jodie Foster was fully deserved of her Oscar, I do feel that Anthony Hopkins is often over-rated by fans in love with his Hannibal character. To be honest, I found him detrimental to film’s overall mood. His deliverance is often described as haunting and memorable, though I found it to be the exact opposite – his efforts to act ‘insane’ were, I thought, as clichéd and embarrassing as a cartoon villain, and his glaring eyes and cutting pronunciation were, as I saw it, worryingly adherent to the mad-man stereotype. Put it this way – if I, or indeed you, were asked to play the part of a psychopath for the purpose of a party game (or similar), I suspect we’d do exactly what Hopkins did, which is to wear an intense stare and talk in muted-anger tones. He wasn’t terrible, by any means, though considering how widely loved he is for this role, I did expect to be better convinced. Worthy of an Oscar? I honestly can’t say I think so. Any actor should be able to portray a character as over-the-top and comic-book as Hannibal Lector – particularly given the array of quotable lines in his script, and I honestly didn’t find his performance chilling or freighting at all. To be honest, I thought Ted Levine’s depiction of ‘Buffalo Bill’, an insane cross-dresser, was much more intense – perhaps had the plot allowed the character the screen-time he deserved, it would be Levine who we slap on posters. Frankly, though the Lector is a more interesting character on paper, Ted Levine made a lot more his character then Hopkins did, and I think he’s been over-looked in this movie. The scenes in which Levine ‘wore’ his victims skin and applied make-up to h
is face was, I think, more haunting then Lector’s ‘interrogation’ of Starling. The fact is, in a role as perversely likeable as that of Hannibal Lector, Hopkins could never fail to become a hero. Returning to Jodie Foster then. You’ll be pleased to know, she was magnificent in her role. I found her entirely convincing, and unlike all other characters, she never seemed to weaken or struggle with her dialogue. Although a bit life-less towards the start, be the end (particularly during her challenging final scenes), Foster had done more then enough to convince her audience – proving, again, what a fine actress she can be. During the exchanges with Lector, she portrayed perfectly her characters struggle between being professional, and succumbing to the probing and manipulation of her psyche. Her desperation to solve the case and track down Buffalo Bill was highly believable, and I honesty believe the film owes a lot to her performance. Of the sub-characters, the general standard is high – again, another small factor that makes a superb movie. Most noticeable was the man who played Foster’s ‘boss’. Though I have reservations about his character and importance within the plot (more on that later), I can’t argue the mans fulfilment of his modest role. Even the Lectors nemesis and chief warden, an actor whose name I sadly can not recall (tell me in a comment if you know, and I’ll edit), was acceptable as the films ‘annoying’ character. Sadly, despite generally excellent acting, there still remains a few things about the film I could not forgive. The character I mentioned before, the FBI official who instructs Starling, seemed confusing and miss-leading to the point of distraction. For some reason I was lead to feel highly suspicious of the man – almost to the point were I suspected he was behind it all, in some bizarre way. His every scen
e stank of corruption… something not being quite right… in the end, nothing was made of it. He really was a good guy. I’m not sure if this was bad casting (I don’t think so, as I considered the actor talented) or bad writing, but his presence seemed to threaten being important, but never really went anywhere. A minor criticism, I expect, but worth a mention. Another problem I have, and this is perhaps the most damaging in my estimation of the film, is that audiences and the film it’s self both seem to be under the impression that Silence Of The Lambs is some kind of a brain-teaser, or of real psychological impact. Returning again to the character of Hannibal Lector – much is made, again by audiences and the film, of the fact he is highly intelligent and of ‘penetrating mind’. To be honest, I think this is grossly over-stated. Hannibal Lector was supposedly trying to ‘get in to the mind’ of Clarice Starling, though all this seemed to consist of is him asking her about her childhood – the ultimate result of which, was a story about her waking to cry of slaughtered lambs in the middle of night (hence the title). Then Lector’s ‘incredible mind’ deducts that Starling’s determination to save to captured girl (held by Buffalo Bill) is a manifestation of her desire to combat her memories of the slaughter lambs. This stinks of cheap psychoanalysis, and really should not pass as ‘the psychology of a brilliant mind’. The fact is, we never seem to find out why exactly Lector gives a cr*p about Starling’s past – other then to try and make the film seem more intelligent and deep then it actually is. As far as I can tell, the entirety of the Lector/Starling relationship is designed to set the film above typical crime-thrillers… it just doesn’t quite make it. All it did was the set the film up for an anti-climax – Lector e
scapes, and we expect something to happen between he and Starling… perhaps something to do with the analysis he made of her… then nothing happens between the two except a phone call at the end making room for a sequel. Anti-climax, and pointless. Anyone who thinks this film is anymore intelligent then any other typical crime-thriller is, I suspect, either swept up in the hype or genuinely seeing something I am not. All in all though, I can’t fault Silence Of The Lambs for anything other the not being quite as brilliant as most people seem to think. It’s good, of course, just not the master-piece I expected – and certainly not as thought-provoking or intelligent as is claimed. The acting, despite my problems with Anthony Hopkins, was a general five star standard – particularly Jodie Foster, who’s performance almost makes the film worth watching on its own. The story is imaginative, and the action is well-paced. Scenes worth particular mention include the final show-down between Starling and Buffalo Bill, and Lectors murder of the two prison wardens prior to his escape. Recommended. The film’s an 18, and runs for almost two hours – that means it’s best to send your kids upstairs, and make sure your comfortable. Enjoy, though don’t think you’re going to see Hannibal The Cannibal enjoy his favourite lunch – the movie isn’t quite that gruesome. Sadly.
Of course, if you were to visit Yahoo and type a search on ‘J D Salinger’, you’d be guaranteed to find everything you need or want to know – a lot more then this opinion has to offer, at least. And I wouldn’t blame you, because I’m no expert, see? I’m just a fan, and fans are no good for anything except blowing your papers all over the room and cutting your fingers off if you get to close. I’m just the ten-trillionth product of a Salinger-tatted adolescence, still to this day equally delighted and chilled by his skilful encapsulation of every ache and frustration endured by myself and countless others, during a frightful, ever perilous journey into adulthood. My only qualification: the fragile memories of reading, feeling, and crying into sleep. Achieving brief, perfect silence within my thoughts with gutsy sighs of relief, caused by twilight revelations and cutting observations from a man whom I could trust for now and beyond tomorrow. Salinger, who could stimulate like no other writer ever did, or ever could. Salinger, who said more in a single book or story, then the world had revealed to me in a decade of observation. Oh, and this friendship was made long before I knew he was a recluse. It was before learning he was still alive. It was made and affirmed, in a the mind of a boy I miss, and of which I am so fondly reminded, in more songs and poems then recollection alone can allow. And please, forgive me my bitterness, at contempories that befriend Fred Durst and the Beckhams instead. His full name is Jerome David Salinger, and he was born on the first day of the year 1919, in New York City, America. Other things for you to read with partial interest include the following: As a child, Salinger lived on Manhattan's Upper West Side and attended Valley Forge Military Academy in Pennsylvania. I don’t know much about his family, not without some research, though I do know a bi
t about his writing history, which I am presuming to be more interesting. He published around 35 short stories during the years 1940-1965. For the early part, they appeared the Saturday Evening Post (and other short story magazines), for the latter, the New Yorker. Thirteen of these stories together constitute his three, non-Catcher In The Rye books – Franny & Zooey, Raise High The Roof Beam Carpenters/Seymour: An Introduction and For Esme ~ with Love and Squalor. Jumping forward to present day, Salinger is reported to be alive and well, living in his house in Cornish, New Hampshire, which he bought back in 1953. All sorts of myth surround his character – mainly that he lives firmly as a recluse, and refuses to speak to anyone from the press of media (however, there remains a story that he once agreed to an interview with a young girl for a local newspaper). Another story is that Salinger, having testified in court during 1986, continues to write, though in a ‘bunker’ located somewhere on his property, and with at least two completed manuscripts. Please forgive the gaps in my knowledge – as confessed earlier, any of this and more can be found quite easily on the internet. Salinger worship is thick and simple to tap into – even on Dooyoo alone. I don’t really want to go any further down the biographic route, because personally I find all that stuff a bit boring. What’s fun is saying all the nice things about his writing. It’s classing him as the best, and I mean the best. Because let’s face it – who’s better? Tell me. Tell me a writer that can create anything like the atmosphere and mood found in every of Salinger’s narrations. Show me a story like A Perfect Day For A Bananafish, that can engage readers and take them so many places in such a ridiculously short amount of words. Present me with someone capable of taking a bland, uneventful story, and making i
t something with more magic and more truth then a novel of fifteen parts. I don’t think you can. ‘Cos that’s my favourite part, at least. The finest work from Salinger, in my opinion, could only be For Esme ~ with Love and Squalor (and other short stories). Take any of those stories, pick which ever you like. The same thing will stand out. How much is said in such little space. Salinger isn’t a beautiful writer in the traditional sense of the word. He doesn’t decorate his story in tiresome description, or unnecessary examples of his skill, he writes with piercing direction and confidence. He makes us players, not observers. Underlining everything, is honesty, and a worrying truth. What I love so dearly about Salinger's work, is how confident and assured it is. He doesn’t rely on titillation, or imagination, only a calm, masterful approach to real people and real life’s. It’s the occasional sentence, that comes out of no-where and somehow contains so much truth and accuracy within it that you’re filled with adoration and gratitude for the pages within your hand. That moment of clarity, that connection with your story-teller, that is so sadly lacking from a lions-share of literature. And the delicate message that shines brightly through every story, that in your mind you understand perfectly but could never explain out loud. The ambiguity, the symbolism, the cutting finale that makes so full a story of pages fewer then twenty. It’s something rare and special. Again, with the connection, again, with the warm, even tears that flow from finding something so beautiful and so unique. Again, with the heart so full and mind so keen, and the words, like spring-water flowing over and down your head, cleansing in their utter truth. Characters so precious and tender you hold their hand, even when they suffer some devastating dissection at the hands of their creator, or some effo
rtless, shattering observation of their nature. And should we talk about innocence? Because in it’s most simplistic, easily digestible terms, innocence, childhood, growing-pains and teen-angst is what Salinger communicates and comments upon most frequently, particularly in most-famous novel Catcher In The Rye. The most perfect, convincing child of fiction is surely the small girl in A Perfect Day For A Banana fish, who’s tiniest of appearances struck me as more realistic and believable then an entire book of Enid Bliton (sp), Jacqueline Wilson (sp) or any other writer supposedly famed for their ability to write about (or, arguably, for) children. Lose of innocence, adults being wistful about their youth, the surprisingly intelligence and unbiased outlook of a child – all variations of this popular artistic theme are presented in their finest examples by Salinger. Though to say his ability to encapsulate the innocence of youth is the limit of his ability would be untrue. Coupled with his love for children, is a devastating condemnation of adult man, and the ugly traits of human-nature. In CITR – the key word ‘phoney’, living behind lies, faking our interest in others, small-talk, a greater concern with appearing happy then actually being happy. In Franny – a woman’s boredom and disregard of the future expected of her, a hatred of convention, and a contempt for those so keen to follow the most predictable of paths. All assaults on a society and generation convinced by appearance and apparent success. Alarmingly relevant in the 50s, surely worse still at present day? Yet for all the relevance, accuracy or wit of these ideas, what matters most is how successfully they are communicated. And again, we’re presented with near perfection. Salinger’s writing style is unique, and fresh. Easily detectable for the right, fullest reasons. Be it through illuminating, expertly-paced
dialogue, or wide-probing, simple accounts for action and thought, Salinger’s strength is always in the character he creates then the adventures upon which they embark. And I guess I could say more. I could be more personal, or more factual, or strive for more of the in-between, but I honesty don’t feel there’s much more to say. How best to communicate a passion? How better to inform you of a love, an admiration, and a respect? Maybe if I were a better writer, I’d know. As it stands, I can only present you with what I have, and this parting thought. For every time you’ve looked back on your life, and yearned so deeply for the person you once were, there’s Salinger. For every tear you’ve wiped, or heavy-heart you’ve carried, there’s Salinger. For every foot you’ve stomped, or wall you’ve punched, and for every single time you’ve been brought to tears a instant later by beauty, he’s there. He’s there to guide you, and engage you, and be as much as a friend to you as he has been to me. And if the passion I’ve described, can bring you only to amusement, then it is you Sir I pity, and you who shall miss out. J D Salinger, is surely one of the few things that make life worth living. Grab it, all of it, firmly with both hands.
**** In a DVD fashion, my 100th opinion will feature extra cut-paragraphs and a collection of hilarious deleted titles. Keep scrolling at the bottom for each ***** - Why fish? - Why not? - Well, it’s stupid. You’re just picking some obscure subject so you can waffle on for 2000 words and bore everybody. It’s not going to help anyone make any decisions and you know it. - Sure it will. It’ll help then decide if I like fish or not. - Oh that’s just great. Real great. Now you’re just being childish. - Am not. - Am too! - Am not. - Am t… You see!? See what you’re doing here? It’s not even original for Christ’s sake – dialogue opinions are so last year. Face it – you’ve got nothing to say about fish that’s useful at all. Extra DVD features and fictitious conversations with yourself are just feeble attempts to bulk it out a bit so that people over-look how unuseful you’ve been. Admit it. So there’s me, no more then twelve or thirteen years old. You remember the age. The opposing forces of immaturity and angst, pulling violently at your coat-tails. Still secretly fond of your transformer toys, yet utterly convinced of your future as a world leader/philosopher/hero . The early formation of believes you would later label agonistic. The realization that girls are pretty, and the eagerness to do something with your penis, though you’re not sure what exactly. You remember. Twelve or thirteen. Y’know, the best years. It was at that golden age, that I had my first experience with fish, or at least the first I feel prepared to share with you all. Standard class trip to an aquarium centre. Rained in the morning, brightened up by lunch. Three hours on the bus. 300 sing-a-longs of Johnny had a pigeon (complete with swearing), 200 shouts t
o ‘sit down’ from the bus-driver, 13 incidents of GBH, 4 sweet-packets thrown, 2 pants wetted and 1, single tear, rolling down the cheek of our teacher Mrs. Wilson, which we all noted yet never mentioned ever again. I was at the back of the group with Jackie Ping-Pong and Buttons Scholfield, talking cynically about the size of the centres ‘sharks’, in-between exaggerated brags about my pog collection. That’s when we reached the feeding room. A man with a red shirt and devastating acne-scars informed of the house rules – no shouting, no throwing anything in except the food-provided, and, most importantly, no leaning over the edge or, more stupidly, jumping in the pool. Anyone who did any of those things stood to be either severely scolded by our teachers, or subjected to the dangers of the tank. And so to my experience. I wish I could say that I did something straight out of Denis The Menace, like disorientate the supervisors with a homemade smoke-bomb before scuba-diving into the tank just to cause mischief, but I didn’t. I fell in. Don’t ask me how, because I don’t know. All I know is that one minute I was trying to hit Jimmy Murray with my expandable ruler, and the next I was feeling the icy invasion of pool water in all my body cavities, coupled with the vague (probably imagined) nipping of fish at my toes. The pool was deep, and dark, and frightening. For at least 10 seconds, I was at the complete mercy of my own fear. Jerking and revolting in an unholy spasm, swallowing water, struggling hard to keep away from the fish. There could have been eels in there, or piranhas. I could be eaten, or attacked. In seconds I felt the drain of my energy, and, in the closest thing to a clear thought possible at the time, I felt sure I would die. Then, after opening my eyes for the briefest of moments, the panic stopped. I found peace. A few inches from my face, was a medium-siz
ed fish. Her fins were golden brown, and the light from outside cast rainbows across her face. And the eyes. As huge as base-balls, in an honest shade of charcoal black. She just floated there, right in front of me. Not afraid, not intimidating, barely even curious. Just calm. It’s hard to be sure of course, with fish, but to me it seemed that she wore a smile. Just a small one, rising slightly at the sides. It was as I peered at this fish, the crowds of people above me, shouting and screaming in equal part worry and excitement, that I realised I had nothing to fear. Nothing. Not from fish, or from the world, or from anything else until the day I died. She spoke to me, that fish. Not literally of course, that would be horrific, but in another way. She spoke to my soul, in just a whisper. “Sam”, she said, “It doesn’t mean a thing”. Beneath that water, with hair and clothes beyond repair, and people above ready to shout at me perhaps forever, I looked that little fish in straight in the eyes, and I gave a nod. With that she turned, with effortless grace, and swam out of sight, waving me good-bye with her tail. The people at the centre pulled me out of course, and the teachers began asking me why I jumped in the pool. I had nothing to say though. The next day I returned to the centre, this time alone, desperate to meet once more with my old pal. I never jumped into the pool, it was impossible - too many of the centres employees remembered me from the day before and kept a close eye on my every move. I didn’t want to be banned from the tank altogether. However, I did find a spot by the floor of the tank, with a solid glass window allowing visitors to peer into the depths of the water. It was here that I would sit, waiting to see her again. I sat there every day, of every week, for the remaining year. I never saw my brown fish again, until many weeks later. I arrived late one day, an
d some of the attendants were scooping fish out of the tank with a giant net, dropping them into bags. They let me take a look, since I was a regular by now and knew my name. Inside their net, with her eyes closed and her body scabbed and unclean, lay my fish. They told me she had began to deteriorate with old age. They said the other fish probably began picking at her body, before she died. - Right, well, that’s still not particularly useful is it? Vaguely moving perhaps, to some people, but not useful to anyone. Not at all. - Oh. Well. What would be useful then? - Well that’s obvious! I mean, y’know. Something about where to buy them. - Pet-shop. - Ok, ok – how to look after them then. - Provide spacious tank, clean regularly, don’t over-crowd and feed with fish-food according to packet details. - Right fine! Just do another one of your sucky stories then, see if I care… When I was eighteen, I moved into my own place for the first time. Sharing a three-bedroom flat with my old friend Luke and an artist from out-of-town, who insisted we called him Indigo and requested egg-white when we asked if he wanted a coffee. One kitchen, small, and one toilet, broken. Ah, but I was in heaven. Complete freedom. No more hiding bongs and hash-pipes in my closet – let’s have them sitting proudly beside my bed. No more restrictions on music volume, meal-times, no more washing rules… freedom to be as much as an incompetent and lazy human-being as I so wished. On the rare occasion when I managed to convince a girl to sleep over, there was no sneaking out before nine, and no embarrassing excuses in the morning - only a victorious lie-in and ten minutes exchanging notes with the others. I painted my room as black as the thoughts in my head, filled it with lava lamps and candles, then found I was lacking something. So
mething with style. Something with class. Something trippy. Man. Something fishy. A fish-tank. Tropical fish. And so it was arranged. Standing half-way up my wall, between my television and my CD player, twelve fish of varying colours and sizes swam in a tacky world of fake palm trees and ceramic castles. It was the dope. Although I didn’t name them all, I feed them and cleaned their tank with all the dedication and obligation of a parent, making sure my fish never wanted for a thing. My favourite fish, since having a favourite is fairly unavoidable, was a small fellow I named Eric. Eric, my favourite fish. Even though everyone else who looked considered him bland, in comparison, and quite ugly, all considered, it wasn’t like that to me. Eric had a pebble-dash coat of subtle dark-blues and greys. He wasn’t particularly big, or particularly small, but still he stood out from the others. He had peculiar swimming patterns. He zigzagged. He zigzagged left to right every time he swam, and he kept low, right at the bottom. Eric was interesting, if you took half a second to watch, Eric was special, and he was my favourite. All the others seemed garish, and would swim up close to grab the food and show to you their dazzling colours and shades. Eric didn’t care for any of that at all. The fish remained in my room for as long as I did, just as happy and content. They were entertainment, though in only the most honourable fashion possible. We simply watched them, my friends and I. Sometimes to laugh, and collectively observe their various adventures and peculiar actions with the bowl, then sometimes quietly, privately, without a word spoken to each other all night. Either way, they were hypnotising. Watching the fish was like watching a mini-world. We sat outside the rat-race, instead of in it. From something so simple, came pleasures so deep. Though it didn’t last. Indigo left our flat one ni
ght in a frightful rage, arguing loudly with his girlfriend – an incident which we over-heard in silence, within my bedroom, too afraid to walk outside or speak-up. We heard them exclaim their mutual disgust and desire to terminate the relationship, then we heard Her leave loudly and Him stomp upstairs, apparently to pack his things. We heard swearing, we heard phone-calls, and we heard the calling of our names. It seemed Indigo was leaving. He told us he was to return to France, to move back with his parents. He told us we were animals, and he hated the pit in which we lived anyway, and that he regretted the day he landed upon our ugly shores. Then he left, tripping on the stairs as he did, landing on his back beneath bags of roughly packed painting equipment. Our laughter soon faded though – myself and Luke could not pay the rent alone. Within the month, having failed to replace Indigo, we were forced to admit defeat. Luke would return to his parents, and I would do the same. And it was on that day, as we packed our stuff with heavy hearts and left for home, that Eric died. It was the journey that did it. Twelve miles, packed tightly in the back of my Mini. We checked at the second-from-last service station, just to see if everything was ok, and at first glance it was – the bright fish still swam keenly at the top of the tank, penetrating the water with the same fluent strokes as they did back in the flat. When I looked closer though, towards the bottom, there lay Eric, perfectly still, with his mouth open and his tail still flinching softly. Oh, but if only he hadn’t zigzagged. If only he’d done the same as the other fish, and fought his way to the food. Right there, in the middle of the gas-station, I fell to my knees and cried. After a while, someone from inside came out to ask if I was ok. I just cried some more. - It’s been over 2000 words now Sam, and it’s 3:20 in
the morning. Chances are people haven’t read this far anyway. - I know. - Time to give it a rest then? I mean I know you wanted to do something special what with it being your 100th opinion and all, but I really think you’ve bleed the subject dry. - Think it’ll get locked? - Excuse me? - The opinion. Think it’ll be locked? - Who the fluck cares. Besides, if it is, then it’ll teach you a valuable lesson. - Which is? - No one wants to hear your fish stories. Now finish up already. As has been mentioned, this opinion is my 100th, and today does indeed mark an entire year for me at Dooyoo. To you, precious reader, I know this means little. To me, a little more. Dooyoo lets me be try to be the person I think I would like me to be if I were you. Dooyoo lets me say the things to the world that, if I tried to speak out-loud, would crumble beneath my verbal inadequacies and short-comings. I would stumble, I would stutter, I would lisp. My voice, however feeble, is stronger on this tiny website then it will ever be in the reality that is my humble life. For that, for a year, for the hundredth time, I am truly grateful. Thank you, and take care. Oh, and keep scrolling for the DVD extras, if you’re interested. DELETED INTROS: #1 (this was dropped because it alienated of other areas of audience) So I’m thinking – what do tree-houses, playstation memory cards, foam machines and Cheju Island all have in common? Quite simply – none of them are as good as fish. I would like to take this moment to thank Keith and Jilly for their suggestions, all of which were good, just as I say - not as good as fish. Sorry guys. The thing about fish is…. #2 (this was dropped through not being very good) Call it fate,
but chance is a funny thing, am I right? Chance can win you a million pound. Chance can bring you love, and spiritual well-being. Chance can impale you on an electric fence and have birds pull at your eye-lids. My experience of chance is somewhat less exciting, to you anyway, and certainly would not make it as a feature in a woman’s magazine (unless I made up a sub-plot of bad husbandry), though I am rather fond of it. My 100th Dooyoo opinion was due around the same time as my one year anniversary since joining that site. Nope, I didn’t plan it – not because I’m not sad enough (I am – though save that sympathy vote for when I need it later), but because I’m not alert enough. I didn’t notice till last week, and that’s the truth. Anyway, the thing about fish is…. HIALLRIOUS DELETED TITLES: There’s Something Fishy Going On A Fish Called Peakly Window To My Sole: Part 100 Op & Chips My Opinion On Fish 100 Fishmations Fillet Op Fish The Old Man & The Opinion The Old Man & The Fish The Old Man & The Fish Opinion Fishing For Very Usefuls A Time & Plaice That’s it, hope you enjoyed what ever bits you read. - P