Month: January 2017

Nothing is Original

jim

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”

 

                                              Jim Jarmusch

 

(I will finish this later.)

Just another Jean-Luc Godard appreciation post

My romantic relationship with French New Wave in cinematography is public and stable, so firm that I’ve stopped referring to it as a simple love affair a long time ago. When in doubt, there’s always an inspiration hiding in some of my favourite titles and actors. And there’s still so much left for me to discover!

The last piece is a bit more  technical, not just a general praise to the cinematic genius.  I don’t think it’s necessary to copy the whole text, so here’s the link to my latest film related fangirling:  5 Important Lessons Modern Filmmakers Learned from Jean-Luc Godard.

Btw, WordPress keeps suggesting that I spelled the director’s name wrong, what’s up with that?

And also, other people’s thoughts and comments on that post’s subject are more than welcome.

Short Story Writing Tips

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Whatever you think of or want to express, there’s someone who has done it better already, right? Probably, but that doesn’t stop us from creating. Today is a ‘I need a kick in the butt to get started’ kind of day, so this is  a start, Kurt Vonnegut‘s  essential tips on how to write a (good) short story:

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character she or he can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things–reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them–in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

 

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And finally, I would just like to add a little something to keep in mind: Make sure to break as much  rules as possible, including the advice from the list above. Good luck!

Meryl Streep and Obama ‘Tribute’

Let’s talk about being overrated. What qualifies someone as overrated, can we all see the obvious signs and agree on proclaiming someone or something as overly acknowledged in comparison to its true value. How does one become overrated? It was perfectly logical to me that you have to actually accomplish something profound on certain level to even earn the chance of reaching the overrated status in the future.

I was wrong. After some additional thinking, many  public personalities came to my mind along with people from my  every day surroundings who seem to get credit for doing or representing something admirable while it’s really hard to pin down where does the appreciation come from. Take some university professors for example, we all catch ourselves looking at one of them holding a presumably important lesson, and thinking: how does this person even manage to tie their shoes or not leave the stove on and burn the whole building before leaving the house for work? Surprisingly, not only do they manage to master those basic functions (just to be clear, I am not mocking the basic functions here, I am admittedly very bad at those), but through (too much) ambition along with good connections they make up for the lack of intelligence and thrive in their academic careers and turn into respected, honored society  figures. It seems that they’ve skipped the ‘achievement’ phase and skipped right to the slimy bag of glorified valueless pieces and once you’re in there, it’s hard to get out. The lack of talent, skills or no of ability of critical thinking is easily recognisable, so why can’t we simply agree on forming the simple yes/no answer to a question: Is he/she/it overrated?

Once you spot one, there’s nothing left to do but to yell ‘You’re so overrated’ at them, right? As soon as you start yelling, in a split second they will shrink and go back to their cave of mediocrity, the one they shouldn’t come out of in the first place. Everything is in order, balance is reintroduced, the air seems fresher and cleaner.

Let’s move on, I am warning  you I’m about to get political in the following lines. The last few days have confirmed with a complete certainty that both Meryl Streep and the Obama family are overrated as hell (I can’t believe I actually agree with Trump on something, I hope it doesn’t become a habit). Watching the Hollywood crème de la crème putting on their best ‘this is so touching and I’m about to cry, life is so hard boo hoo’ faces during Streep’s Golden Globe speech made me laugh, feel second-hand embarrassment and worry at the same time. The thing I am concerned about is the fact that most of the people I know – smart, educated, progressive individuals recognized a heroic, revolutionary figure in a privileged, self obsessed Hollywood product.

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‘Cry Me a River’ performed by Meryl Streep

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate good movies no matter where they come from, Hollywood and its actors (Meryl Streep included) can’t and shouldn’t be ignored, there are so many I love and like to write/talk about… the thing I can’t stand is a public lecture from any of them taking a role of a moral vertical while giving just one of many ‘thank you for the award’ speeches. The part when she self righteously labeled a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Serge Kovaleski as poor, powerless man who can’t defend himself from Trump’s insults was the lowest point, just made me think: – How dare you? She probably meant well while making the statement, but the overall impression gives out the textbook example of the high horse attitude she adopted, it’s not even entirely her fault anymore.

Just when I thought the western media are done with endless ass kissing and eulogies for the actress mentioning her name in terms of a higher, heavenly being who is here to save us, the culmination of the Obama show hit me in the face. So, just to make it clear, here we are whining over a man who we watched for 8 years holding great speeches, never-failing at a role of a perfect family man, being incredibly eloquent and charming but at the same time continuously bombing the hell out of half of the planet, even more than publicly despised Bush Jr. did. This is not a conspiracy theory, these are cold hard facts and it’s no surprise that the weapon making industry has flourished under the Obama administration, although too many people are not aware of it.

Since 2009, the United States has approved arms deals worth some $200 billion—more than under any other presidency. The deals include sending Apache helicopters to Qatar, “bunker buster” bombs and cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia, and Hellfire missiles all over the place. Predicting an increase in weapons sales fueled by the war against ISIS, an unnamed American weapons manufacturing executive told Reuterslast year: “Everyone in the region is talking about building up supplies for 5 to 10 years. This is going to be a long fight. It’s a huge growth area for us.”

The love of war seems to be a constant between all American presidents but as long as you have the most influential media working in your favour, you go on talk shows singing, dancing and joking around, just pretending to be a regular dude, everything is forgiven.  I get it, a worldwide mourning is exemplified because of an orange simpleton who is about to replace him, but c’mon –  putting two trash cans next to each other doesn’t make the one on the left any less of a trash can just because the one on the right smells much worse.

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New Year’s Resolutions For Dummies

Stop smoking. Less coffee, more water. Doing some exercise from time to time would be good. No sugar. Yes fibers. Be positive. Have a career. Make an impression.

Sounds a bit like the beginning of Trainspotting where, for a moment, we rebelliously agree with ‘don’t choose your parents’ life‘ rant but continue to do the opposite. New Year’s resolutions have proven to have 99 % chance of failure because of unrealistic expectations we impose to ourselves, especially at this continuously hungover part of the year when our minds and bodies are even weaker than usual.

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New Year, new me (image: Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting)

It’s just too much pressure and besides, who says those good, healthy choices are actually good for everyone in equal measure and should be treated as a higher value? How about stop focusing on generally proclaimed virtues and vices we’ve been hearing  through fairy tales since early age in which the world is presented as a canvas that has been divided in the middle with a firm, visible line? There’s blackness and evil with all of its mean, fucked up creatures on the left versus light, happiness, unicorns and princesses on the right. Fortunately, life is not that simple and boring, there’s a mixture of both sides in all of us so trying to get things perfect is useless and brings us nothing but a great deal of anxiety and long-lasting discomfort.

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There are lines that respective members of society shouldn’t cross, but they are not so firm and difficult to manage, they can easily be pushed, walked on, even coloured in order to pretend they’re not there. And also, the least but the most important – it’s not all about us, our moral codes and chosen lifestyles that are publicly revealed only to make others jealous, learning to step out of my head for a while to admire the world as a whole, complete place instead of dwelling on the same thoughts throughout the day is the only real goal for this and every other year.

The rest is much more simple, so I started to make a list (which is still in progress and will continue to be for the rest of 2017) of proposals I’m putting down ‘on paper’ in no particular order for my forgetful, confused future self:

  • Learn new recipes because you’re getting boring with the ones you have mastered by now, don’t play safe. Risk a little, ruin some food ingredients, that’s what cooking is all about! Totally.
  • Try writing in the morning and not late at night because your brain doesn’t work so good at the time as you like to think
  • Is it time maybe to start learning another language? No pressure, this is just a hint of a suggestion, just let that sink in first. Once again, no pressure.
  • Finish the books you are reading, what is the point in starting to read three books at once and then stopping in the middle of it although you liked them all? Seriously?
  • Get some brighter nail polish colours, there’s a whole bunch of crazy palettes to try to have fun with and you stick to black/red. I won’t say anything about the clothes this time.
  • Postponing it won’t make it go away. Or would it?
  • Live accordingly to this Polish saying: Not my circus, not my monkeys.
  • Play more with your dog.
  • Compliment people. That doesn’t include lying to them, just be kind.
  • Build a tolerance towards those who have completely different opinion (ideology, religion, opinions), just maaaybe you might even learn something from them. – Ok, like what? Just try.
  • Practice storytelling and character development
  • Think in advance – do the hard work of putting the new music on your phone sometimes, you don’t want to get stuck with the same three albums on repeat for the whole year while wanting to kill yourself. It’s hard, but someone has to do it.
  • Stop saying: Nope, I’ll rather fucking kill myself and then doing the thing anyway.
  • Watch Shawshank Redemption, why do you keep avoiding it?
  • Don’t judge people for posting annoying NY resolutions
  • Don’t get angry at people for being angry on themselves
  • Avoid Instagram stories
  • Stop saying things like: Oh, yeah I really want to hang out with you, see you some day next week. Maybe, if I don’t get terminally ill or my fourth grandma doesn’t die by then, see ya !
  • I would like to write down something like: less internet, no phone in bed but let’s not get too crazy just yet.

I don’t call them New Year’s Resolutions. I prefer the term “Casual promises to myself that I’m under no legal obligation to fulfill.”