Saturday 7 July 2012

Insomnia Pie

It's 2.52am. And I have a thought about insomnia. Don't you think it'd be so much better if the point of insomnia was to be awake for the delivery of some kind of pie?

For those who make it to 3.02am: apple strudel gets delivered. Maybe even a chocolate cake. It would revolutionise the insomniacs. They'd suddenly feel good about the long, pointless, existential nights.

A big truck. It miraculously knows where you are and that you're awake. It swings by before the sun comes up and delivers you a lemon meringue pie.

Everyone else wakes up a few hours later. Grumpy, bored and desperate for caffeine. But the insomniacs are alive! They're ecstatic! They've just eaten a delicious spongecake with a generous helping of vanilla ice cream.

Everyone would want to be us. They'd stay up all night, just for that moment. The magnificently glorious time of morning.

It's just gone 3am. A truck pulls up outside. Your pie is here.

Care to share?


A great book comes along, not often enough. But when it does, it changes you. Takes you a little bit closer to where you're going.

Most of the time we're cynical. We don't think much of the writers, because they know the same stuff we know.

And then you read a perfect book, and the sentences make your insides jump around like electricity. They capture the spark of life that you've been so desperate to find. You look everywhere for it. In friends, in strangers, in flowers, in parties. You find it in the book. The one sentence that tells you who you are.

The best writers cut through everything and not only reach us, but change us. I'm not talking about Shakespeare. It could be some barely known paperback, but it's crafted perfectly. Prepared and primed for YOU to fall in love with. There's nothing like it.

Care to share?

Movie Kind of Way

I was desperate to meet a woman in the movie kind of way. By the movie kind of way, I mean any way that doesn't involve Facebook. Having said that, they did make a movie about the making of Facebook, so I considered making Facebook as a way of meeting women, but found out it's already been done. And the guy didn't meet any women.

I thought about reading a book on a train. It worked for that guy in 'Before Sunrise'. It made a lot of sense --  I would sit there with a fascinating book, and the lovely girl opposite wouldn't be able to resist saying to me, "Oh wow, you like Enid Blyton too?" Not that I like Enid Blyton. I mean, how can I? She's dead. I would have to be reading something that captures who and what I am. Or better yet, I should just read whatever it is I am currently reading. And what that is, is 'Hitler's Reich'. This probably is not something that will attract women. But then, what does? As it turns out, nothing. I spent two weeks on the train with a variety of books, but none of them noticed me (the women, not the books). I didn't take it personally, as they noticed NONE of the men. They were too busy reading 'Fifty Shades of Grey'.

I looked to my favourite films for inspiration. As much as I love 'Groundhog Day', I don't think becoming a weathercaster and repeating the same day over and again is advisable, so I've decided to do something more realistic. I've decided to work undercover for the FBI, like Leo DiCaprio did in 'The Departed'. That's how he got to talk to the lovely and seductive therapist.

Things got off to a great start. I joined the FBI and they sent me undercover with a Boston gang; and I had the greatest time. But still, unfortunately, my love life was suffering. I needed to meet someone in the movie kind of way. And that was when it happened: I got to see the therapist.

The therapist was incredible, everything I have ever dreamed of. And by that, I mean; everything I have ever dreamed of in a therapist. Not in a woman. Unless the woman you want is Robin Williams in 'Good Will Hunting', but it wasn't what I was after.

I realised that if I was to ever meet a woman in the movie kind of way, I would need to leave the FBI and live inside a rom-com.

It took three weeks of listening to the radio for me to finally come across a call-in show where people pour their hearts out. It wasn't the three weeks that bothered me so much, it was that there is absolutely nothing for a grown man to do in Seattle. That's when it hit me -- I wasn't meant to be in Seattle. Tom Hanks was in Seattle, but Meg Ryan was in a whole different town, like Alabama or somewhere. I needed to be in another State, to be the listener person who hears the call, and THEN I should head back to Seattle to find the man of my dreams, except that the man will be a woman because I'm doing it the other way around.

I remembered that Meg Ryan was in New York, and not Alabama, because of that whole scene at the end in the Empire State Building. I got to New York and immediately began listening to the radio.

Another three weeks went by.

Then I realised there was absolutely no logic to me being the Meg Ryan character. It would have been much easier for me to call up the radio show and pour MY heart out, and then a hot woman (who cries a little too much) would find me! Yes. This would be EASY! All I needed to do was head back to Seattle.

I decided to take a road trip on the way back to Seattle. After two days of solid driving, I stopped in a hotel. I couldn't stop thinking about the movie 'One Night Stand'. Wesley Snipes and that Natasha woman have a one night stand, in a hotel. And that was exactly where I was, a hotel! It was like destiny! I wanted love, not a one night stand; but a one night stand would do, at least to begin with. And anyway, their one night stand was quite romantic. And it only happened because they got mugged. It made them feel closer. I needed to meet a woman and find a way for us to both get mugged. 

This is how woeful my life is -- I can get mugged and beaten with ease, but try getting me to say hello to a pretty woman. I didn't know what my next move should be. The character I most relate to, who gets the girl, is Paulie Bleeker in 'Juno'. But he'd already met the girl at the beginning of the movie, which is unfair! If my life is a movie, it began the moment I was born, and frankly I was in no state to be chatting up women.

I got depressed. I am so old school and romantic. I just want LOVE! That's why I was so desperate to find a wonderful woman and take her directly to a violent mugging. Or to hear a woman crying on a radio show, so that I could cross the country just to find her and tell her she's the love of my life. Why don't women share these values?

Care to share?

50 Things I Like - The 1000th Post on KITFR

The smell of popcorn.
A fully charged phone.
Fruit smoothies.
How supportive my parents are.
Empty cinemas.
Full cinemas.
Comments from you guys.
BBQ sauce.
Being unbeatable at football games on the Xbox 360.
Tea with Stephanie and her daughter.
Watching documentaries with my brother.
Walks with Charlotte.
Talks with Charlotte.
New York City.
Thinking about New York City.
Skype calls with people far away.
The Prince Charles Cinema in London.

Going to press screenings of bad films with Tom, during which we sneakily text each other insulting messages.
Writing at 2am.
Stepping off a plane in someplace new.
Ice cream with Carl and Pete.
Meeting my mates every week for FOOD.
When an actor nails my line.
Pizza on set.
Pizza anywhere.
BBQ sauce on pizza.
Pretty girls with great personalities.
When my room smells like old books.
Old books.
Meeting people who like Chaplin.
Meeting people who don’t like Chaplin who then end up liking Chaplin.
A freshly printed screenplay.
My favourite film score, which I shouldn’t have because it was never released, but the composer secretly sorted it out for me.
When someone wonderful pops up on Facebook chat with ‘hello’.
Leaving the phone at home.
Being alone.
Being around people.
Walking days with no set destination or time limit.

Care to share?

Friday 6 July 2012

Barry, Luther, Otis & Marvin

I love that they existed.

If you were black and singing in the 60's and 70's, you're probably a hero of mine.

The thing with Luther Vandross, was that he was so vulnerable and open. And you'd think, because he was so loved and successful, that he had it all figured out. But then you hear a song like ''If I Didn't Know Better', and he breaks your heart. It's a song about his best friend, who's driving him crazy -- leading him on and convincing him they're together, and then claiming they're only friends. I mean, who'd have thought LUTHER FUCKING VANDROSS would have to put up with this shit?

If I didn't know better, 

I'd think that you were mine,
You're with me all the time. 
If I didn't know better,
I'd swear we're more than friends, 
You're touching me again.

It turns out than the vulnerability and loneliness that permeated through his records -- it wasn't fiction, it was his life. I found this out a few days ago, quite by accident. I was listening to 'Dance With My Father', a song that, quite honestly, I can only listen to about twice a year because it's just too much, too open; too honest about the sadness of life. It's a beautiful love-letter to his father. And as I listened, I wondered if it's a song his kids can bear to listen to.

And then I found out that he didn't have kids. And that he was a closeted homosexual. I never knew that. I read this old article that was written about him in
The Guardian, it broke my heart more than a little.

"He was a major iconic figure for black gay men and, although he never disclosed his sexuality, it was generally assumed that he was gay. 

He lived alone in a 25-room mansion in exclusive Greenwich, Connecticut (his nearest neighbour being the somewhat reclusive former tennis star, Ivan Lendl), and he battled occasional bouts of depression, and a serious weight problem that saw him frequently soar from 190 to 340lb. However, Luther always suggested that music was his only real partner, and he poured the truth of his own story into his art always spoke directly to fear, isolation, and the anguish and ache of unrequited or hidden love."

We have all these visions of success, and what it means. And you'd like to think of Luther Vandross as living a charmed life. But did he? Was '
Never Too Much' a part of his life, a person, or just a figment of his imagination and creativity? 

Well, who needs to go to work to hustle for another dollar?

I'd rather be with you 'cause you make my heart scream and holler
Love is a gamble, 
And I'm so glad that I am winning,
We've come a long way,
And yet this is only the beginning. 

Barry White
's 'You're The first, The Last, My Everything' is one of my all time favourite songs. I just think it's magical, it makes everything better. Even those who don't dance at the party, they tap their feet to this song. How can you not? The joy, the love, it's inescapable. How can anyone not love this song?

My kind of wonderful, that's what you are.

I'm listening to it right now, it's so alive and free! It's so rare to find in music -- everyone wants to come across as deep and troubled. Nobody will just sing a song that says "I love you I love you I love you yipppeeeeeeee!" 

I've seen 

So many ways that I
Can love you till
The day I die.

I hope Barry White died with that love in his heart. It's sad to think about Vandross; we can only hope he knew just how much people loved him. 

Otis Redding recorded the vocals for '
(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay' three days before his death. THREE DAYS! we were so close to never having this song at all. Can you imagine going through life without this song? Almost unthinkable. He recorded this song and three days later died in a plane crash.

The beginning is beautiful.

Sitting in the morning sun,
I'll be sitting when the evening comes
Watching the ships roll in
Then I'll watch them roll away again, yeah. 
I'm sitting on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away.

It's one of the greatest songs of all time and it's about a guy sitting in the morning sun. Amazing. Listening to Otis (and in fact, any of these guys) you can't help but be aware of the fact that the reality shows get it all wrong. A good singing voice is not enough. It's not about the notes, it's what's underneath. It's the experience, the pain, the hope, the person. The story.

Sitting here resting my bones, and this loneliness won't leave me alone.

Marvin Gaye is another tragic case. He gave his father an unlicensed gun for him to protect himself with. Months later, his Dad shot Marvin and killed him. All because Marvin stepped in during a family feud. 

There's far too many of you dying. 
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some loving here today,
Father Father,
We don't need to escalate.

And 'Let's Get It On' is perfect.

It's sexy. It's honest. It says all the things we never actually say.

Don't you know how sweet and wonderful life can be? 
I'm asking you baby, to get it on with me, 
I ain't gonna worry, 
I ain't gonna push, 
I won't push ya baby
Come on on come on come on baby,
Stop beating round the bush, 
Let's get it on.

You know what I'm talking about? Just a perfect song. Sometimes I listen to it on repeat about fifteen times, because you pick up on so many different things. I imagine the day they recorded it, Marvin was on top form, the sound engineers were at their peak, the weather was great and they'd all had a nourishing breakfast. You just sense it in the music; the world conspired to make one of the greatest songs of all time. 

Not that 'Sexual Healing' or 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine' are any worse. In my head, I imagine that absolutely everybody is a fan. How can you not be? 'How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By you)', 'What's Going On', 'Mercy Mercy Me', 'Abraham, Martin & John'; the list is endless. 

Like a fool I went and stayed too long..

Stevie Wonder lives. The poignancy of his death will, unfortunately, one day come. But for now; he's doing what many artists do - a parade on the victory lap. And he deserves it. The live performances these days aren't as riveting as the records, but who cares? It's great to have him with us. A legend of a time long gone; when nearly everyone else disappeared for one reason or another.

He was signed to Tamla Motown at 11 years of age. His career has spanned nearly five decades. And the weird thing for me, is that I can't quite articulate how I feel about his music. I can't put into words what it means to me.  Is that because he's still alive? What an awful thing to say. But somehow, you can't look back at Otis and Marvin and Luther without knowing feeling the weight of their full story.

I'm not religious. But these guys were definitely a gift from somewhere. And think of all the people I left out! Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, The Funk Brothers, The Four Tops, Al Green. The list is endless. Some are still here, ageing gracefully - but most are disappearing as the sands of time do their thing.

Has anybody here seen my old friend Abraham?
Can you tell me where he's gone? 
Oh, he freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good die young, yeah,
I just looked around and he was gone. 

Care to share?