Let music be your time machine

We are incredibly lucky to have at our disposal decades of music to explore. There are rocky cliff faces, gentle streams, hot desert sands and even frozen lakes of music. We can travel back in time hundreds of years before we were born, or go through history tuning into the music of many different generations. To say that older music isn’t important is just as stupid as saying that Classical literature isn’t important. Older music inspired new music, yes, it even inspired you lady gaga! I know you think you’re one of a kind but you were inspired too.

Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with liking new music, after all artists like Ed Sheeran and Calvin Harris for example have contributed a lot and many people love their music. But I would say it is healthy to put those on ice for a little bit and look back at some great lyricists from the past. When I was 16 my parents moved me out to the country and I was basically alone until I started college. I didn’t realise what I was doing at the time but I was self medicating through music. I started listening to artists I liked and then looking at who inspired them, and then who inspired them and kept going back. By doing this I have branched out and my CD collection is very large.

Music has a great way of tapping into your moods. You could listen to something upbeat such as “Build me up buttercup” by The Foundations when you’re upbeat, or listen to “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails when you’re feeling down. You could listen to “Hallowed Point” by Slayer when you’re feeling angry or listen to “Don’t be shy” by Cat Stevens when you’re feeling delicate. Whether you are willing to adapt to different genres is up to you. Music shouldn’t be written to impress you personally. The moment music has no artistic merit it stops being art and judt becomes a product to simply be bought. Don’t be tempted to make a snap judgements about a particular genre just based on one song either! You could listen to The Sex Pistols and say based on that band alone you don’t like punk. I totally get that I hate the Sex Pistols they seemed to be too much about angst and we’re incredibly lucky to be in the right place at the right time. Instead listen to later punk (90s Punk) such as The Offspring, Bad Religion, NOFX, Descendents, Blink 182. You might find an artist in the same genre you like but is much different.

You can enjoy music on many levels but for me I always feel as if I am hunting for that special lyric which resonates with me. A popular song to quote but in Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” one of the lyrics is the greatest thing about having nothing, is that you have nothing to lose. I always find this uplifting. Paul Simon wonderfully wrote the lyric my life seems unreal, my crime an illusion, a scene badly written in which I must play. Music of this kind blurs the lines between pop songs and poetry.
Not all music has to be focused on lyrics in fact most classical music has no lyrics. You are at the mercy of a musical ensemble. Much like the varying genes of popular contemporary music, classical has variety. I suggest if you are interested in Classical music you should read my other blog on the subject.

Every genre has something to offer you! Hip hop, Country, Acid, Folk, Rock, R&B. Why aren’t you exploring these? There might be a single track that helps answer  worry you’ve been struggling with for some time!

Some people make the mistake of only sticking to the past for music and make statements like “Music was so much better in the 60’s” well that’s not true! There was a lot of shit music in the 60’s too but we just don’t hear about it now because it wasn’t popular. Don’t stick to a certain era of music just because you have fallen in love with it. You owe it to yourself to branch out and try new things, you can always come back to the 60’s!

I have written up the below taster menu for you to try, but please comment your favourite songs and tell me what they mean to you!

  • Late in the evening – Paul Simon
  • Waiting on a friend – The Rolling Stones
  • Inside of me – Little Steven And The Disciples of soul
  • Calling it quits – Aimee Mann
  • Human Behaviour – Bjork
  • Totally nude – Talking Heads
  • Living on a thin line – The Kinks
  • Air Giant – Transglobal Underground
  • Miles from nowhere – Cat Stevens
  • 8 ball (Remix) – N.W.A
  • Juicy – Notorious BIG
  • Pity the dead – Bad Religion
  • Love letter – Nick Cave & The Bad seeds
  • High hopes – Pink Floyd

My search for “The lasting effect”

I have lots of personal goals in my life, but a lot of them follow the average textbook path of achievement… get a job I like, buy a house, settle down etc. Most of my goals however are important to me but will not have a lasting effect on the world. Let me explain what I mean by this:
As I grow older I realise that our lives are precious, and we will never be certain of how much time we have left to live. Impressing other people (no matter who they are) is not important, unless it truly matters to you.

When I was at primary school I was required for drama to go up on stage and to perform a play. This play was with my class in front of the whole school during assembley. I can remember being quite excited about it and I was so young I didn’t understand why I should have been nervous by something like this. I knew exactly what I had to do when I was on stage and couldn’t factor in the risks of what could happen. Part of my scene was that I was a king and I had to walk in to my Kingdom, say a few lines, all of the other servants would bow to me and then I would sit at my throne. I managed to hit all of the lines perfectly but when I went to sit at my throne which was a simple chair it had not been set up correctly and one of the chair legs was positioned off the back of the stage. The moment I sat down the chair swung back flying me off the stage and I hit the ground. The whole school burst into laughter. One of my best friends at the time ran down to me to make sure I was alright. I was so embarrassed, I remember being bright red having to go back and sit on the stage for the rest of the scene which felt like an eternity. A girl I had previously fancied in primary school came up to me after the play whilst I was still shaken up by the whole thing and laughingly said “Well done you idiot you ruined our play”. I was more than hurt my this event I was ruined. The love of my life had just stabbed me firmly in the heart at my most weakest.

This event in my life was upsetting but I have noticed how now it doesn’t effect me. How many years did it take for me to get over it? The beauty is that nobody at school remembered it and after a short time it became old news and society forgave me. Even something like that which effected me personally doesn’t have a lasting effect on the world.

This might be slightly nihilistic, but used appropriately this is a great coping mechanism. Every time someone hurts you personally you have to say to yourself in 100 years time we will all be dead and nobody will remember this moment, so is it worth worrying about? You also have to say, am I responsible for what happened? Is it my fault I fell off the stage, or was it the prop hands fault for not securing the chair on the set? The lesson at the time in my childish brain was that I’m useless and unloveable. The true lesson is that getting upset over something trivial is only useful if you can learn from that moment to improve yourself.

As a young man trying to understand the world I apply this logic to everything that I come across but it begs the question, what is worth doing? If I was to do something positive like give to charity, this act will also be forgotten in 100 years and I will just fall into a general population of charitable individuals. If I worked for a company and did a fantastic job, after 100 years that company might be out of business or even if they werent, they still wouldn’t have to hold my file on their records.

The only way to be truly immortal is to create a legacy and leave something behind. When people realise this they follow the easist way to leave a legacy which is to have a baby. I have nothing against having children, but I dont see this as achieving my personal dreams, and I dont want to have a child and use it as an excuse as to why I didn’t enjoy my life. If a father told people “well I couldn’t achieve my dreams because I chose to be a father and that is the most noble thing to do, I gave up my life so someone else could have a life”. This parent would privately resent their child if that was true. The desire for that child to succeed is then heightened and the weight of needing to do something with their life is put on the childs shoulders instead of their own. Of course there are many parents who responsibly achieve their dreams before having children and love their children very much, but psychologists will tell you that the latter does still exist.

Who then does have a lasting effect? Galileo is remembered hundreds of years after his death but we can’t all just go to the supermarket for a marvellous discovery. Elvis Presley is remembered for years after his death but he was fortunate to have been involved with some talented writers and for being painted up as the heart throb that he was! Dont confuse the lasting effect with being famous, as that doesn’t make you necessarily worth remembering. Charles Manson is a famous murderer but we dont see him as a contributor to the goodness of the world.

I believe we all need to pursue our dreams and search for a way to leave something memorable behind. Dont be afraid of failure because those who fail are actually better than those who never try. If you are doing the best you possibly can internally then all of the external stuff you can’t control doesnt matter. You have to say to yourself, am I doing the best I can? As long as you are, stop worrying. One of my dreams is to write and publish a book, becase this is leaving something behind. Shakespere is always going to be on a book shelf and by contributing positive thoughts through the medium of literature, I personally see this as one of the most exciting forms of lasting effect there is. Art in any form is eternal, the problem people have is that not anyone can do art.

Modern Art: and why people hate it

Modern Art has always been a point of contention for many people. In the past Art was often dedicated to try and represent reality and painters would produced very detailed art that didn’t necessary hold any particular subtext. For example in 1400 during the Renaissance period in Italy the people requesting art were incredibly wealthy and normally of a Christian persuasion, which is why we have such a wealth of pieces depicting religious accounts such as the crucifixion or the Virgin birth. It wasn’t until 1814 when Joseph Niepce invented the first working camera that changed the landscape of Art forever. As soon as cameras became commonplace a photograph could capture real life easily and this would be a lot cheaper than hiring an artist. As history went on artists could no longer just create literal interpretations of nature or history, instead they had to try and create art which expressed feelings that couldn’t always be expressed through a simple picture.

The period of modern art is supposed to have begun during the middle of the 19th century when artists approached art in a different way. It is not to say that they stopped depicting real life, but they experimented in holding a message behind their work, something which lends itself to the viewer as a message that also came with that moment in history. No longer were artists restricted by the conventional ways of working and instead they were able to experiment. If you take work such as Vincent Van Gogh, this isn’t necessarily set out to perplex the viewer but instead presents reality in a different way using different brush stroke techniques and styles. In my view this period of Art history is one of the most exciting and shows a rebellion to the fusty old ways of producing art.

Kandinsky 1910 (above)

By the end of the 19th century Abstract art came along and artists were using this medium to express art which wouldn’t always hold any particular meaning. Art no longer needed a strict meaning but could be open to interpretation by different people. As history went on even further the subjects became intensely complex and often no explanation would be given to the work at all. Sometimes when it was explained the viewer would be left with the complications of working out how an artist can associate such a simple image with such a large moment in history.

Why Modern Art upsets people

I have heard many people say that they dislike modern art but often think of the word ‘Modern’ to mean this very moment or within the last ten years. Modern art of course is actually quite old now and so I imagine they probably dislike certain types of modern art such as Cubism, Abstract, Surrealism etc. Certain types of people like their life to be simple in ever single way. Complex Modern art doesn’t lend tself to that type of person.

I was at a party and I overheard a group of individuals saying they were shocked that Tracy Emin’s work titled “My bed” was sold in auction for 2.5 million. The work of art is such a commonly given example of something that upsets people. Emin herself has always tested the boundaries through taboo in her work. The party continued by saying “How is a ‘bed’ art?, anyone could have done that” the person then pointed at a table and chairs at the party and said “I might as well call that art” I then said in return “Okay then, explain to me what that represents?” The person was flummoxed, unable to think of what to say. That moment proved a point that art isn’t just about what we see but is instead about what we feel. If something is created to provide a reaction then that is art.

Another conversation I had was with someone getting furious about a musical composition titled “4’33 – John Cage 1952” where the whole length of the work is heard in complete silence. There is an orhestra that all sit down together as if to perform but all the sheet music shows is a rest for the entire performance. Part of me wonders if this was inspired by Samuel Barbers 1936 piece adagio for strings which contains a haunting silence in parts of the sheet music. The issue again is not with the piece itself but with how we Interpret the piece. My friend was not wrong in disliking this piece, but how you react to art describes the lense at which you view your own experiences.

Unfortunately for my friend, artists know that this bothers people and some work is intended at making people furious. A great example is Artists Shit – Piero Manzoni 1961 where an artist supposedly canned 90 containers said to be containing 30g of the artists own feces. Each container was sold by the artist. The tins each were labelled saying that the feces belonged to the artist and that the intention of the work was for his feces to eventually be worth more than the price of gold. Historically this feat was achieved. In 2016 a single tin sold for €275,000. This of course outraged some people, but we will never know whether the artist actually did as he told us. To engage in this thought process is to capture the nature of questioning that comes with modern art.
I don’t enjoy all modern art, but then I do find some of the work challenging, and this is not a bad thing. To get furious that you do not understand the intentions of the artist is hilarious to me. We mustn’t fall into the trap of saying that if art is complex and we do not understand it, then it must be rubbish. I believe that not wanting to have to invest in something to understand it is reflective of a persons philosophy of the world. Often life doesn’t make sense and we have to try and make sense of it to ourselves.

Excellent new Zombie movie! – Train to Busan 

I love zombie films, and I have seen so many of them! I have seen classics like Night, Day and Dawn of the Dead by George A Romeo, the godfather of zombie flicks. I have also seen his more modern versions like Land, diary and survival of the dead which weren’t great. I have seen more modern takes on the genre like 28 Days later, Resident Evil and World War Z. The problem with Zombie films is that sometimes they lose traction and they can become a bit stale.

I have been waiting for something new to come along and out of nowhere this film The Train to Busan appeared. I found out it was released on Monday so I went and picked up a copy. The film is Korean with English subtitles but please don’t let this stop you if you’re not used to subtitles. The film was fresh and so much fun, it kept me gripped right to the end.

The film is about a married couple who’s marriage is on the rocks and they intend to get a divorce. They have a young daughter who wants to see her mother on her birthday and insists that her father takes her on the train to visit despite their feud. The father agrees and it is whilst they are on the train that a zombie outbreak happens. The tension of this film is superb whether it is trapped on the train with nowhere to run or desperately trying to get through changes at each station whilst being pursued by Zombies.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed World War Z, but where it went wrong for me was that Brad Pitt was like Rambo. In Train to Busan most of the people are relatively helpless and have to build up lots of emotional strength.

You know how in Diehard part of the charm is that he is trapped in Nakatomi Plaza and it gives a very intimate setting which adds to the tension. Train to Busan is the same way! the setting leaves it’s victims with nowhere to run.

The Zombies in Train to Busan are quite crazy and run like hell. When I saw their almost maniacal faces I couldn’t help but think of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead. My girlfriend and I have an appetite for gore in films and even though Train to Busan is a 15 rating we were not disappointed. Another beauty of Train to Busan is that the story is so good it doesn’t need tonnes of shock value and gore like perhaps a Saw film would.
My final point is that, normally in a traditional zombie film there is always some asshole that is in it for himself whether that is ‘Cooper’ from Night of the Living Dead 90’s remake or ‘Rhodes’ from Day of the Dead. Train to Busan has that too where some of the people would rather sacrifice others to save their own skin and it is great fun watching some of the rivalry and backstabbing.

I had lost faith in Zombie films, certainly considering that Walking Dead has just gone completely stale, endless talking and talking. People say wihdrawl walking dead “when you think about it though, that is what would happen in a Zombie Apocalypse, bandits would be the main threat over the dead”. That is true but it is not entertaining!
I dont give ratings to films because everyone can decide for themselves if they like something or not. Please give Train to Busan a try! Let me know what you thoughts are in the comments.

Top 10 Hed Phuq movies

Sometimes you’re in that weird mood. You’ve tried six times to engage with those weak films on Netflix, until it dawns on you that all of the best ones on Netflix you own in your home movie collection anyway! If you are looking at this list you are in a position to test yourself or open your mind up to more surreal ideas. Some of the films in this list are grotesque and take you to a horrible place but others are just unusual leaving you thinking. I have watched all of these films, some I enjoyed others I endured in a sort of pain-pleasure kind of way. But all of these films had aspects worth exploring and I would recommend them to anyone. If you are brave enough to try one, drop me a comment to tell me what you think or recommend one for me to try. Unlike mainstream films that lay everything out on the table giving you a tidy beginning, middle and end, some of these films are more artistically driven and almost don’t care about what you expect and are more interested in surprising you. All of these films have meaning, though some of it is buried as a subtext to art.

1. The Lobster – this film is about an alternative future where people who are in relationships live a normal life, but if you are single for too long then you will be turned into an animal by the government so that you don’t irritate people in relationships. If you remain single you get sent by the government to this support group that try to help you find someone before your time is up. This film is very funny and has a dry humour. Some of the ideas in this are very thought provoking. This film is a bit arty in places but not so much so that the narrative is clouded by it.

2. Pi – This is a low budget film by Darren Aronofsky but has quite a high concept about a solitary mathematician trying to find a pattern in pi. He believes if he can find a pattern in pi he can control the pattern of the stock market but what he ends up finding instead is mind blowing. My girlfriend didn’t like this film because she wanted more maths involved and approached it like she wanted to watch an educational film. Instead this film is more about the limitations of stretching yourself mentally and how this can effect who you are as a person. The film paints a bleak image but is inspiring.

3. Videodrome – David Cronenberg is not to everyone’s taste but I do like this film. The story is about a TV executive who accidently tunes into this channel which has torture porn on it. He becomes strangely obsessed with the channel and finds out a strange conspiracy surrounding it. Very dark, dingy and perverse. This film is a bit dated but still has quite a cool idea behind it.

4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – this film is bitter sweet but very surreal. Joel (played by Jim Carey) is a quiet reserved guy who manages by chance to meet Clementine (played by Kate Winslet) who is a loud larger than life character. Their relationship takes an odd turn when Joel finds out that Clementine had him wiped from her memory by a company called Lacuna that specialise in memory removal. Joel in his upset goes through the same procedure and the film follows his memories as they get wiped from his mind. Watching actors basically have a role reversal is quite fun, as Carey is normally cast as the whacky one.

5. Serbian Film – a friend of mine told me this was the most screwed up film he had seen in his life. He told me it was one of the most intense things he had ever watched, this naturally made me want to watch it and he is not wrong. This film tests your boundaries and plays with your perceptions of what is happening. The film is about a porn actor who is told he will be set up for life and never have to work again if he does this one film, but he is not allowed to know what it is. What ensues is a nightmarish ordeal.

6. Dogtooth – a film from the same director as The Lobster. This film is about an obscure family where only the father is allowed to leave the premises of the house. The mother stays home and sets challenges for their children and they all compete to see who wins their attention. Challenges include blindfolded swimming and hunting animals. This film is very messed up and is quite shocking in places. There is quite a dark humour hidden under it all if you’re in the mood to find it.

7. Requiem for a Dream – If you ever want to teach your children not to take drugs then show them this film. Actually don’t, you’ll scar them for life. This film depressed me for a week after I first watched it because the message is so hard hitting. Ellen Burnstyn is absolutely amazing as the lonely old woman and I truly believe her sorrow. This is heart wrenching.

8. Jacob’s Ladder – a psychological horror that inspired the video game Silent Hill. This film is based on a real event where men fighting in the Vietnam war had drugs put into their food supplies in an attempt to make them fight harder against their enemies. Instead it backfired and they all turned on one another. This film is set after the war where Jacob has residual flashbacks and has horrible nightmarish hallucinations. This film is largely unknown in the UK but is a must watch.

9. Twelve Monkeys – Terry Gilliam wasn’t just a great addition to the comedy of Monty Python, he was also a great director of incredibly odd films. I have nothing against ‘Brazil’ but Twelve Monkeys is excellent. This film blurs the lines between reality and fantasy. It supposed to be set in the future after a virus wiped out almost the whole world in 1997. The main character is a prisoner being sent back in time on a special mission to try and save humanity. The problem he has is that when he gets back he starts to question whether he is really time travelling or just losing his mind. This film has a great humour to it and does leave you thinking.

10. Inception – a slightly obvious addition to the list but it is such a great film. Christopher Nolan decorates this film with style but it doesn’t distract us from the story. The story is about some specialists who have a military piece of hardware that allows you to plant dreams into someone’s psyche and then enter their mind. The whole concept breathed fresh life into cinema at that time. When the film ended myself and others sat in the cinema completely blown away by the ambiguous ending. Definitely give this a try. Unlike some of the others there is no nastiness in this one.
Did I miss any greats from my list? Do you have any comments on the film or recommendations please let me know below!

It’s a Hit man!

Please don’t hate me for the title but it so happens to be true. Now I know a lot of Hitman die-hard fans didn’t have the patience to wait until the game had been fully released but I didn’t mind it being episodic.

I have always loved Hitman since the original because I always prefer games that require strategy and give you a bit of a challenge every now and then. Hitman can be hard and frustrating at times. Unlike most games like Call of Duty where everyone runs around like Rambo, Hitman requires stealth and planning. Although saying that, there are machine guns and shotguns as available weapons but I don’t know who loads a game with them?
There are lots of challenges built in to the game, various modes and lots of unlockables. The story is a bit flat and doesn’t really drive the game along very much, but it tries to give some context to the levels. You get to decide how you kill people either through shooting, poisoning, drowning, strangling, blowing up. There are hundreds of ways to kill people and some levels even have exclusive kills, including one where you kill someone with a fired cannonball!

The graphics of Hitman are beautiful. Things can look a bit cartoony in places but I just see that as a charm of the hitman franchise. There is a mixed bag, where some levels like Spain and Bangkok look sublime, but Colorado and Marakesh almost like PS2 levels. Overall though the game stands the the test of this generations console.
I think Hitman is a game you play between your main games. The beauty of Hitman being released episodically meant that the developers could constantly add content and change things that players didn’t like.

There is supposed to be a season 2 coming up. The game is now 50% off and available on disc. I would recommend you give it a try!

Did you like hitman? Leave me a message in the comments.

Horizon: Zero Dawn

Remember when a game was just a game, there was no Bullshit but just a team of developers putting a game together with fresh new ideas. Like in the days of Legend of Zelda or Spyro the dragon where games were just fun to play and never got boring!

After playing many games that don’t seem to keep me excited I have finally played Horizon:Zero Dawn and I must say I’m very impressed.

I’m not going to talk about the story because I’m sure you’ll want to try for yourself but the idea of robot style creatures is great fun. I have recently tried to play Far Cry Primal and got bored very quickly, because you begin to realise that those times didn’t have much story about them. Fuck, eat, kill repeat. And in Primal the tribe bulding got boring quickly. Horizon new dawn isn’t set in prehistoric times but in an almost alternative history or universe. It does have a cool natural feel but doesn’t deny us of the technological aspect.
As to how these two world’s have combined or where the tribes came from is a complete mystery and I hope as the game goes on it will explain this more.

Aloy the main character is lovable too and you can decide how some dialogue choices are made, though I’m not sure how much that changes the game. The game is open world but still makes you feel in control. There are main quests, side quests and you can go hunting which is great fun. The weapons are quite different too with various techy hunting gadgets which look great.

One thing I noticed is when you look at the game menu there are loads of tabs for crafting, side quests, unlockables and extras. It’s exciting to think there is a lot of content to explore and it feels a bit like Nathan Drake games with loads of cool items and stuff.
I love this game and think it is definitely worth spending the money on. The main story acting isn’t in the heights of last of us calibre but is still enjoyable and doesn’t offend me!