Castles, The Mayhem of Fight Club, and The Remarkable Qualities of Well Crafted Pastry

So, I did some things today: I walked up to see a castle or two over Chester way. It involved coffee, biscuits, lots of cold wind, a few beautiful sights, and a cheese and onion pasty of Olympian quality.

I learnt that pretending to be Tyler got you a lot of cool free stuff. I learnt while everything on the menu is free, I should avoid the clam chowder if I want clean food. And I learnt that while God believes each of us is a unique and beautiful snow flake, this just isn’t the case.

I do not know if the last point is true, but what I do know with a respectable amount of certainty is this was quite the remarkable day, and soon I will drift off to the well deserved sleep of the exhausted, and dream of the chances of tomorrow being an equally wonderful day.

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A World of Words, and the Places to Put Them

So, wonderful things have happened to me today: I received an interview for an editing position on a novel, and I found myself in the position of three wonderful hardbacks (Stephen Fry’s Mythos, Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, and Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life).

So strange to find Le Morte D’Arthur after my recent rekindling of my Excalibur fascination. For those of you that don’t know, this is a romantic account of the life of King Arthur and his round table, the basis for 1981’s Excalibur. After a few restless nights obsessing over the moral message behind that masterpiece of a film it seemed like fate to find it all golden paged and bound in hardback.

Mythos is Stephen’s retelling of the Greek myths, a welcomed addition to my copy of Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. There’s a soft spot in my heart for the capricious affairs of the ancient Greeks, with Pan playing his pipe to the tune of mischief.

And 12 Rules For Life gives me my first account of the literary capacity of Jordan Peterson, A man I know only from his Youtube videos, which are both enlightening and emboldening. I look forward to holding his work to the similar high standards.

 

 

 

 

The Shape of Water, and the Things we Find Within

So today I had the privileged to watch The Shape of Water, and I got to do so with my family. Now what can I saw about a director and writer that I’ve admired since I was first horrified by a blind pale man next to a pile of childrens shoes? A man who has reshaped the meaning of Grimm, while retaining its poetic core. I can say a many drawn out and inflated things. Proud things. Glorious things. All manner of things.

Or I could tell you to go and check it out for yourself. Make your own mind up. And let us know.

I will say that I was proud to see a new kind of monster movie emerging, one that may be the exception to the rule, but welcomed none the less. So strange to have its two leads silent, yet carry such force.

 

To those that do more than just bend the truth

 

So I did a lot of cool things today. I found my wife in the brothel of an old friend. I learnt that we’re living in the lions den, and I should be weary if we plan to get out of this alive. I saw the enemies of the West bowed or broken, well, almost all of them. I saw the huge loping throne, a testament to the will of a conquer. I learn’t about peculiar things, although not as much as i’d have liked. And if it wasn’t for this time last night i’d have never learnt what the fourth rule of project mayhem was “Trust Tyler”, as my book might have died a death of books as it vanished into the washing machine with my coat.

Then there was a lot of walking. Some people watching. And a bit of dog shouting. But that’s the way of things when you’re a scared dog whose only seen the bad side of the outside world.

Hopefully I can change all that, but until then I have my stories. Brave and bold stories, who risk their very existence at the mercy of washing machines and puddles for all naive and foolish readers.

Where would we be without your guidance? Your ability to not only bend truth, but to duel it. Be it sword, or bow, or pistols at dawn. Or to take truth dancing into a night filled with bawdy tales, and a brawl or two, before ending silently under a star kissed sky, wondering if you’re going to kiss. More than bending the truth, you’ve held its hair as you’re thrown against the wall. You’ve fought truth, and need only check the scars for proof; some so deep it’s a wonder that they were not fatal.

So whatever you are, and whatever you’re capable of, I’m glad you’re here, giving my hand a gentle squeeze as you show me the way.

The world needs more Patrick Stewart, clad in armour, and armed with an axe

My father’s embarrassing. We’re talking sharp-edged and practiced embarrassment that can harm across time, leaving you wounded long after you’ve forgotten. Luckily for me, I still remember all the interesting bits.

So my father was embarrassing, and this wasn’t just the opinion of a child grown, but the adults that have aged alongside him. He didn’t seem to mind, and in fact I think he lived for the opportunities to throw a little chaos into peoples lives, till the world stared at its shoes, cheeks red with shame.

My dad liked knights. I don’t know why exactly. He told me once that he read the school library of its histories, and somewhere in feudal Britain he found a world to escape to. Something about a land with as many kings as there were rivers. A time of strife and the individual.

Then one day I popped into the world, and I found King Arthur.

I don’t know whether it was the 1981 film Excalibur, or the stories of faeries and the lady of the lake stories told by my mother, or the trips to Camelot the knight theme park that first piqued my interest into the world of Knights, but whatever it was it doesn’t seem to have stopped.

The film Excalibur is still one of my favourite films, and last night I had a long think about why that was. Naturally Carl Orff’s O Fortuna instantly makes any film better; I bet you could make a cinematic masterpiece out of a scene of a constipated nun as long as O Fortuna played in the background.  Then there’s the plethora of actors, with the mad Nicol Williamson at the forefront as Merlin.

Whatever it was, I found it as a little boy. The film is multilayered, working as more of a mythological telling than a logical account, with lots of symbology, and lessons to be learned. It’s so rare to find a story that works both for the individual and as a cultural guideline, from the leashed wolf of Uther Pendragon hellbent on dominating as opposed to ruling, to Mordred the apex of the overprotected child grown petulant and disgusted to his father and the rules before him.

It’s a story about being. What you have here is an account that you are entitled to get what you want, no matter how dark or short sighted, but once you do then you’ll pay in all kind of ways.

And there’s Patrick Stewart, kicking arse as only Picard can.

Tales told in the open. And a world without stories

So what did I do today?

Well, I traveled to the capital on the fastest boat, captained by a loose-lipped Pentoshi with a brightly coloured beard. I learnt that sometimes you must either fly or die. I saw the Doom come to Old Valyria. And I saw the last of the dragon families fight for their right to rule the west.

I learnt that it costs $300 to create an indignant corpse, but I don’t know if this is true. I learnt that our culture has made us all the same. No one is truly white or black or rich, anymore. We all want the same, Individually, we are nothing; but I do not know if this is true. I learnt what astringent meant.

I saw a boy taking one life to create another; pickled is fine, but fresher the better.

And then there was me and my dog, Church. We decided to go and play at the bottom of the wood, with the leaves, and the mud, and the streams. He ran to the bottom of the great hills, I did my best to remain graceful as I surfed down a waste high sea of crisp brown leaves.

It was a good day. A day spent with books inside, and some outside, under what little England has in the way of sun at this time of the year. I don’t know where i’d be without stories, but I imagine i’d just create some anyway, perhaps with just a handful of words, maybe just for myself.

Thankfully I don’t have to know.

Don’t be a Hero, if you want to help

 

So, what should you do if you encounter a dragon?

You run.

It might sound selfish and deplorable, as dragons have the power to destroy you and everyone you love, so why should you run? Well, the chances of you going in search of a dragon are few, and the chances that you’re prepared are even less.

What use can you be, all flaws and elbows in the face of such ancient danger? You can run. And more than that, you can shout as loudly as possible so as many people know that there’s a problem.  You might alert someone who knows what to do, or at least you’ll hopefully give everyone who doesn’t a chance to run.

Now you might be thinking “Why shouldn’t I fight? Or at least help people, especially those in the dragons cave?”, and you’d have to think about how much help you could actually be, not just with the fighting, but what makes you think you could help someone who had decided to make their home in the lair of a dragon?

Think for a moment, what would make someone want to live so close to danger? It could be that they have an inability to live in the more structured parts of the world. You could argue that the benefits of the treasure is more so than the dangers of the dragon. And there are those few who know just how dangerous such a place is, and in fact go in as far as they can, in the hopes of being one with the monster itself.

You might have realized that you’re family home is inside a dragons lair, and naturally you’re terrified. So the first thing is you tell your family to get out! But they give you a sideways glance, and continue looking in the dark for coins. So then what do you do? You might do everything you can to get them to leave practically dragging them by their arms. And instead of them thanking you, they fight you.

Suddenly you’re not only frightened of the dragon, but now you have a fight on your hands. Perhaps they know they’re living with a dragon, but it’s a dragon they think they can control. Perhaps they have a vague idea of a dragon, but it’s a toe, a tail, and they have no idea what it’s capable of when it finally wakes up.

So be careful. Don’t be a hero, especially if you have no idea what being a hero mean, or you might end up bringing your whole house down on top of you when you see a dragon.

The gods. The Sights. The Stories

Today I’ve seen some remarkable things. I saw a little girl fight stick to sword to protect her friend from a would-be-tyrant, but thankfully one still in waiting. I learnt the rules of Project Mayhem; the first is “You do not ask about Project Mayhem”. I saw the giants, the Children, and the first men fight at the dawn of time. I also saw the accidentally hilarious antics of Egyptian gods, fighting in all their Transformer glory.

I can’t imagine how lonely it must be living only one life, and thanks to books and the glory (and not so) of Hollywood and all cinematography, I don’t have to.

Stories remind us that we’re not alone. Not in our strife or seriousness. Not even at our silliest. Each time we look we find more of ourselves in the world. The hard part is not giving up when you find something you don’t like.

 

A Word of Advice: Don’t Piss off Mothers

 

 

My dad’s weird. So weird in fact that two options presented themselves before me: start a blog where I get to share my pain with the world, or pay for a therapist; I decided on the fore because it’s cheaper, and more fun.

So like I was saying, my dad’s embarrassing, but at least he halfway normal, unlike my mum. As I struggled to get to sleep last night, tying to ignore the sore throat and the sound of the cat as he snicker snacked across the floor, I realized that maybe it wasn’t normal for a mum to be stabbed in the hand.

Growing up listening to the various horror/adventure stories of my mother’s formative years, which seem to be a cross between an eighties hairspray metal video, and a Sergio Leone film. One such story involved my mum’s hand and a knife.

It’s strange to think that in my mum’s overprotective attempt to shield me from the world, she inadvertently opened me to a morally ambiguous world of bar room brawls, and potential boyfriend stealing.

Like most things it started with a chip on someone’s shoulder. This chip belonged to a woman (I think she was a teenager) who didn’t like the way her boyfriend was looking at my mum. Instead of talking to her boyfriend it seemed more plausible to threaten my mother, who decided it would be appropriate to explain ‘It’s not my fault your boyfriend thinks of me when he’s fucking you’.

What proceeded next is not for the timid or those of a sensitive disposition.

There was a flash, aimed for my mother’s face, but luckily her hand managed to intervene.

Then my mum got mad.

It must have been a bad night to see your boyfriend eyeing up a cross between old school Cher in Baby Spice gogo boots, then having her kick the crap out of you’ve just stuck her with your Ho Slasher blade.

I think it’s safe to assume that the woman had a bad day. I think even the worst of us would blanch as someone came flying Chun-Li style, with your blade hanging out of her hand. Personally I think i’d struggle to figure out what to do next.

 

The stories we Read, and the places we go

 

So, thanks to a few wonderful people I saw some wonderful things today. I saw a boy fall from a window, breaking his back and shattering his legs. I saw a man who wasn’t entitled to his own name beat himself bloody in front of the hotel manager, demanding that he be paid in exchange for his absence from work, and the silence of his unsanitary food prep. I saw a young man crawl through a cairn, which brought him into the hospitality of some very peculiar facts: such as birds ability to travel through time.

I also watched John Spartan frozen into a polite and sheltered future, where he was the only hope between an emotionally stunted civilization and a blonde psychopath by the name of Simon Phoenix, equipped with future guns, and terrible nineties puns.

My day was filled with equal parts tragedy and glory. Intrigue and grotesque. Violence and a salvation of sorts. All of those lives safe and snug between the pages of a book, ready to be put down so you can take a moment to ready yourself for the horrors to come.

This is the way of the world around us. This is why stories, especially fiction, matters so much in this very real world. They tell us truths, of a kind, but they do more than that, they teach us to be brave.

They do this one word after another. One page at a time. We can stop at any time till we’re ready to be brave, and decide to continue.

And as always, the choice is ours.