Saturday 12 December 2009

A Trip To The Shopping Centre - A Short Story About English Malls.

A Short Account Of Shopping By Lenny S. Hipton.

I didn't have any interest in paint-balling until the man came up to me and asked if I had any interest in paint-balling. I still didn't but he gave me a piece of paper and said that me and eight friends could go paint-balling for only £200. I told him I only had a twenty and that was to be used to buy Caroline a very small bottle of perfume. He reminded me that paint-balling is only £200 and that the booking line is open 24 hours a day, except for weekends and when trying to get a refund. I refused to budge, which is probably why he kept talking to me, so I swiftly moved on and crashed into a girl who was selling pictures of people I didn't know in wooden frames for only £24.99.

As I began walking I saw an interesting clothing store wedged between two Starbucks', which were themselves lodged between another two Starbucks. I began pondering why there were so many Starbucks but soon grew tired and needed a coffee. I asked the man inside if I could use the coffee beans I bought at the store, a whole giant bag for £3.95. He said no so I bought a cup of coffee from Starbucks for £3.95.

After I left I again noticed the interesting looking clothing store which promised that all items were 50% off. I didn't know what this 50% was off of but I knew it'd be 50% cheaper than when it was more expensive.

I was greeted by a beautiful girl who was missing at least 70% of her clothing. She told me that there was 50% off all items that used to be 150% but all other items remained at 100%, unless there were no labels in which case you'd be charged 200% but only find out after you've left the store.

I decided to buy the black polo shirt which is a lot like the one my Grandmother wears except it had a little bird label on it so the beautiful girl said it cost 300%. I asked if there were cheaper ones without a small yellow label and she said "Do you want to look like your Grandmother?" - the girl then turned to a group of teenage men who were trying to get with the girls who were in the make-up store. The woman said they should cover themselves up in polo shirts with yellow labels or the ones with green labels as green labels will be 'in' from January.

The boys all bought polo shirts with green labels, and went to look for the girls they were trying to get with. The girls were also trying to get with the boys so they asked the lady in the make-up shop what they should spend their money on. The lady in the shop said they should cover themselves in make-up and tanning lotion that will make them look a slight shade of orange. The girls decided to become orange as they trusted the girl working there who was the first white woman ever to be also completely classified as 'an orange person' on her drivers license, passport, and Facebook. The girls admired this and immediately reapplied for passports.

After this the teenage girls and boys went back to the food court where they originally agreed to meet up. Despite all waiting by the pizza place and intermingling, they failed to recognize each other and instantly hit the Gap store for some retail therapy.

I walked up and down for many hours, stopping to pick up various bits of clothing, and things that make me smell different, and ornaments to put by the lamp in the bathroom. I began buying ornaments to go near the lamp in the bathroom after I realised everyone else was doing it. Everyone seems to be buying them because their wives say "Honey, don't you think that would look good by the lamp in the bathroom?" I don't have a lamp in my bathroom so every time I buy an ornament I have to find someone who has a lamp in their bathroom.

After buying the polo shirts with labels and pleasant ornaments I realised I needed to buy some stuff to make Caroline smell a bit different, because that's what she wanted, for her birthday. She said that if I couldn't find her the one she wanted I should just get her a voucher so she can come to the mall to buy clothing with labels and ornaments and coffees from Starbucks or Starbucks. This makes her happy.

Eventually Caroline and I got married and had a kid. We had a kid so we could come to the mall with a kid because when you bring a kid you can shop in the stores that sell toys and barriers to stop them getting to their toys, and barriers that stop them getting to the barriers that stop them getting to their toys.

I love my life.

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Friday 11 December 2009

Mugabe and the White African - An Oscar Worthy Documentary - and something everyone should watch.

'Mugabe and the White African' is a documentary that everyone should watch. You might, like me, not have put much thought into Zimbabwe. You may, like me, have found yourself skimming over articles about Mugabe in the papers as you flick to the pages where some blonde girl is getting her breasts out or some golfer is fucking cocktail waitresses. But sometimes something comes along that really hits you in the gut, in the head, in the heart and in the mind. If any film is going to do that, it's going to be this one. I can't remember the last time I felt so aware of my privileges. Namely, the privilege of being in England, of being white, of having the rule of law, of having freedom. And yes, I know, you all know of a million reasons why we don't have actual freedom, but when you look closely at a place like Zimbabwe, you realize we're doing pretty well.

This is a very personal story. It's the story of Mike Campbell, a white South African, and his family. They purchased a farm in Zimbabwe after independence, when Mugabe and the government had little use for it, and then in the proceeding years the government wanted it back - and went to disturbing means to do so.

I absolutely stink at summarizing films, that's not what I do, so here's a word from Variety.

"Mugabe and the White African" compellingly documents the struggles of Mike Campbell and his brood to hang on to their Zimbabwe farm in the face of President Mugabe's "land reform," which apparently consists of kicking out whites and redistributing their property to his ministers, cronies and relatives. Braving intimidation and beatings, Campbell and his son-in-law, Ben Freeth, take their case to the international African court, charging racism and violation of human rights. Potent mix of suspense, pathos and indignation"

From the minute this film starts; you realize how at risk everyone is. Mainly, of course, the family who the doc focuses on are majorly at risk-- they're wanted out of their country. White farmers had been fleeing or forced out of their farms all around the region - the intimidation and threats being far too much for them to handle. How Mike Campbell and Ben Freeth managed to stay for so long, and remain so level-headed about what they were doing, and the reasons why, is truly remarkable. It's even more tense when you realize the black farmers they employ, are even more at risk - which is why you see so little of them in the documentary. To be giving information to the outside world would get them beaten or murdered -- in fact, one of the black farmers featured in the documentary has since been killed.

It's also incredible how brave the directors are (Andrew Jackson and Lucy Bailey). When you meet Lucy Bailey, she's a small, energetic and delightful woman who you wouldn't imagine being someone who would film without permission or safety in a country where all international media is banned. If that seems like an assumption or sexism on my part -- I guess it is -- but my point being, she's got more balls than I will ever have. It's inspiring and incredible what her team has achieved.

A criticism that this film will get is that it is not level handed. It does very little to provide general audiences with a wide understanding of the historical background to this conflict. And the film has a tendency to make you feel that Whites in the region are being oppressed by black people for completely wrong reasons. This is true, but-- at the same time, there is a lot of history and a lot of feelings, and at the very-base of what's going on, there are very legitimate regions why poor black people in the region feel oppressed and angry, and more could have been explored as to why people were acting the way they were to Campbell and his family.

But this film isn't a historical document, nor should it be- it's a startling, thought-provoking and important documentary about what is happening right now. And if the Academy recognizes what a huge achievement this film is - it could propel it internationally in a way that NEEDS to be done.

It's time to take down the curtains covering Zimbabwe. The film has the potential to have a huge impact on the country, and it is something that the World would no longer be able to ignore if this reaches the audiences it deserves, and NEEDS. Zimbabwe is a place without democracy, and more importantly - without the rule of law. As someone in the film mentions (I think Ben Freeth) - Zimbabwe is like a football or rugby match without a referee. It's a free for all, and innocent South Africans, of all colours, are in a game with no rules, except- it's not a game at all. There is violence, corruption and death in a way that myself and most of the people reading this could never imagine. We all have a duty, I feel, to be more aware of what is happening. We have the privilege of sitting here with a nice cup of tea and a sandwich, whereas the people portrayed in 'Mugabe and the White African' don't have that privilege - and I feel, at the very least, we should all watch this stirring, emotional and heartbreaking documentary - I have never been this moved by a documentary, nor more sickened.

Let's hope it gets the Academy Award Nomination it deserves. And let's hope it has the impact on the World that it is aiming for.

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Screenplay Comp - Delayed.

I've been very busy and have been unable to get round to reading all of the screenwriting festival entries. So please bare with me - I'll post the winners some time in the next week.

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Wednesday 9 December 2009

RIP - Jim Rohn

Nothing to do with film at all, really - but his wisdom is something that has had a big effect on me. Rohn was an author, entrepeuneur and motivational speaker. What I liked about his wisdom is that it was usually quite simple -- but 100% true. He passed away on December 5th. I just wanted to give him a shout out here in the hope that some of you may go and watch his stuff on YouTube, or buy some of his books.

"My mentor taught me that success is a numbers game and very early he started asking me my numbers. He asked, "How many books have you read in the last ninety days?" I said, "Zero"; he said, "Not a good number." He said, "How many classes have you attended in the last six months to improve your skills?" And I said, "Zero." He said, "Not a good number." Then he said, "In the last six years that you've been working, how much money have you saved and invested?" I said, "Zero" and he said, "Not a good number." Then here's what he said, "Mr. Rohn, if these numbers don't change your life won't change. But" he said, "If you'll start improving these numbers then perhaps you'll start to see everything change for you." "
-Jim Rohn

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Tuesday 8 December 2009

Fuck Your Christmas.

My favourite Christmas song is by Counting Crows. It doesn't officially have a name, as far as I know, and it's never been recorded. You're only likely to know the song if you are one of about nine people who collect Counting Crows bootlegs, or if you've ever been lucky enough to hear this at a show.

The Crows have a song called 'Goodnight Elizabeth' - a beautifully poetic and painful song -- when they play it at live shows; it morphs into these eleven minute versions where anything can happen in the middle. The song used to be played in a pretty standard way from 1993 through to 2000, and then it began growing into the thing it is today; a versatile song that can offer up a million different things, it just depends what mood you catch Adam Duritz in when he hits the stage. There are many incredible versions of the song; with him singing all sorts of things in the middle. Versions that come to mind have him singing Van Morrison's 'Sweet Thing' in the middle, or 'California Dreamin'' by the Mamas and Papa's (you can hear this on Youtube, if you look up 'Goodnight Elizabeth Pinkpop').

But it's not those versions that I'm talking about. It's the Christmas version which often comes up in concerts as the year is heading to a close and, I guess, the lead singer is beginning to reminisce of love gone by and the Holiday season approaching.

The beautiful piano work of Charlie Gillingham breaks down the middle of the song as the guitars take a back seat... and up steps Adam to begin telling his tale of woe about Christmas. Sometimes the song is angry, sometimes it's mournful, sometimes it's plain poetic. Sometimes you just can't tell. The good thing is, whenever he does dive into 'Fuck Your Christmas' - he really means it. I don't think he could fake it if he tried.

He talks a lot before and during the song at live shows about how the song (Goodnight Elizabeth) is about a girl he knew back when the band were first getting big-- they dated, it was a big deal - and as he began touring, they began hitting problems, and she was gone by Thanksgiving.

And the song (Fuck Your Christmas, in the middle part of 'Goodnight Elizabeth'), as you'll hear quite plainly from the lyrics, is about him struggling to come to terms with things at Christmas. And the painful truth of the song is that he knows he's not going to be with the girl he loves, but at the same time, he doesn't want to be alone, he's not going to be alone, he can't be alone. It's pretty painful. Luckily, this isn't the most painful version - in fact, he doesn't even say fuck in this clip.

I guess it's Christmas coming down,
I don't wanna go back home,
If I'm not gonna be with you,
I don't wanna be alone.

I guess it's Christmas coming down,
I don't wanna go back home,
If I'm not gonna be with you,
Then I don't wanna be alone.

Screw your Christmas coming down,
I ain't gonna go back home,
I don't wanna be with you,
And I'm not gonna sleep alone.

I don't wanna-- I don't wanna sleep alone.
I don't wanna go home.
I don't wanna go home.

What's amazing is how he takes this already perfect song, 'Goodnight Elizabeth' and adds a whole new level of meaning to it. So, yeah. This is my favourite Christmas song. Other than this, it's 'River' - but I'm feeling less like 'River' this year, which is a good thing, surely.

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