Well, that’s 2017. At times I feel that I spent a lot of this year preparing for the next, yet I look back and there’s still so much there. Barbecues on St Cath’s Hill nearly burning all the food, the nights where alcohol cancels out that dancing’s a bad idea, rolling about with laughter whilst rehearsing shows that had all the odds against them, laughing just the same with your family in an obscure part of Crete reliving the warmth you feared to lose, getting lost in Edinburgh Old-town with a good mate to watch seven shows in a single day, waving goodbye to familiar faces, the incredible surprises brought by new faces, standing at the top of a small unspoilt Devonshire village descending down a hill towards the sea.. But, most importantly, those nights stuck indoors with your favourite twats either watching mediocre 00’s films with Sainsbury’s SFC chicken bucket or staying up until 3am trying to finish the extended Return of the King with the greatest bastard of them all! Yeah, I’d say that’s a year well-lived. It hasn’t been perfect, but it’s healthy to both celebrate and feel a sensitivity towards the good times you’ve had. In many contexts, I think it’s important to remember that there’s no such thing as ‘just being sensitive’. Happy New Year!
Modern Christmas cynicism isn’t something I’ve ever bought into. Particularly in the UK, whilst our increasingly secularised society has opened the door to a long overdue freedom of thinking, there also seems to be an undercurrent of Christmas-shaming; those who feel superior for disliking the celebration Christmas over those who do.
Whilst I can appreciate the atheist and counter-spiritualistic positions of disliking many aspects of the Christian faith, as well as the anti-capitalistic stance on how corporations abuse the season for that sweet dollar, I cannot help the emotional value Christmas has for me.
As I grow further into the depths of adulthood, with every exciting and terrifying development that it brings, I have always had this safe-place in the year that I get to come back to and be with the family I see increasingly less and less of. Life should be about change, and it should be something that challenges you. However, ‘safe’ is not an ugly feeling and Christmas really is that annual fireplace; a familiar warmth that will always be waiting for me at the end of yet another 365-day journey. I know this will not be Christmas for everyone, but I do not feel bad that this is what it is for me.
In recent years, there has been a growth in intellectual hierarchy of perceiving those who enjoy Christmas as inferior. Because we are the societal slaves to ritual who just go through with the festivities because we have to: we’ve been institutionalised by an ugly marriage of religious doctrine and western capitalistic practice and values. Well, if that’s what makes you celebrate Christmas, then you should definitely stop. But I celebrate Christmas because I genuinely enjoy it.
My argument has always been that, despite whether our prior purpose in life was to simply survive like every other species or not, the human race has now reached a point where it has evolved an improved perception of what the meaning of life is. That purpose? To enjoy it; to experience happiness.
We have evolved the concept of enjoyment, so let’s use it! These cynics spend their lives thinking ‘what’s the logical gain in just living for happiness?’. Well, what’s the point in being a slave to logic when happiness is far more gratifying a life experience? Who’s the real slave here?
As an agnostic, my whole approach to life is to not worry too much about the bigger existential picture; to simply try to be nice to one another and have fun, no matter how successfully that often goes. What’s the point in choosing to dislike one another to simply relish in conflict, hatred and superiority when that gets us nowhere? As some are aware, I struggle with an anxiety that frequently subjects me to a whole host of negative emotions – I don’t have the time to experience negativity when I don’t need to. For me, Christmas is my time to get away from these petty and ugly attitudes that I have to see others express every other waking day and simply enjoy the warmth of what life should be.
Sat in the living room with your family, view from the front window blocked out by the tree, watching tales of optimism with familiar snacks and treats, playing games that bring chuckles of arguments, waiting in anticipation for each other’s facial expressions as they open that present you were so gratified to find, then watching your stupid little dog trying to open said present, before everyone huddles round the table to enjoy a warm dinner that tastes better than any other meal you’ll have that year. In life, your family changes and evolves, but my experience and reliance on Christmas is something I never wish to see the end of. More so this year than ever before, I’ve learnt how much that really means to me.
Thanks to the – as of today – sadly departed Peter Sallis, what could have been portrayed as an obnoxious character – someone who gets his dog to do everything for him, before sussing that he did it all himself – was instead played with a charming and welcoming sense of naivety. Through his career-defining vocal performance, all that Wallace did never felt mean or unfriendly; just innocent and oblivious. It was the whimsical and gentle politeness of his voice that made many see the character to represent the best kind of British.
Sitcom may possibly be my favourite medium, but I’m not going to pretend I’ve ever watched Last of the Summer Wine. For me, Peter Sallis was Wallace – a character that has been part of my life since the first few years of it. I may not have watched when I was a baby, but I could hear and, by the time I was a toddler, Wallace’s voice already brought a warming sense of familiarity. Even in the pair’s feature outing – The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) – performances from Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham-Carter were overshadowed by the then already 85-year-old Sallis.
In the early 80s, when student animator Nick Park first cast and paid Sallis £50 for A Grand Day Out (not finished until 1989), he unwittingly paired a cultural icon.
Hilarious to adults and friendly to children, I would like to thank the man whose voice brought a smile to all.
“Goodbye, Chuck.” Peter Sallis: 1921-2017.
“If Anyone Kills A Person It Would Be As If He Killed All Mankind.”
When you exclaim “this is for Allah” and proceed to commit blasphemy against the very words of his supposed faith. A story can sound very different between individual storytellers, especially when said storyteller doesn’t read it very well. Last night, these ideological illiterates exposed their idiocy and took seven lives in the process.
Writing this short story went south and I’ve scrapped it for now, but I was pretty happy with this passage all the same, so here ya go…
At its most piercing, alienation spawns from attention. One force causing the complete opposite. I know that sounds rather odd, considering the whole idea is to feel isolated from everyone else. Those moments stuck beside a group in an exclusive world, whilst you’re no more than a mute moon orbiting it. They happen and they hurt. Yet, what worsens these woes is when these walled-off worlds decide to look up. And catch us floating.
Though these lyrics weren’t written by him, they perfectly match the story of the music’s composer, summarising Charlie Chaplin’s lifelong commitment to his art and the consequence of his suffering personal life. Obviously, Chaplin was not best known for being a composer. Yet, as his films progressed, Chaplin gradually took on the roles of composer, actor, writer, director and, most surprisingly of all, sole budget fund: The Great Dictator’s budget came totally out of his pocket. However, like all clowns, whilst work and his love life subjected him to great stress and pain, this does not mean The Tramp was a lie and Chaplin was forever an unhappy man. His famous quote reads “I like walking in the rain because nobody can see my tears,” yet here’s the truth: clowns can be happy sometimes.
When you take the position of ‘the clown’, it is often perceived that you are ‘putting on’ this persona to barricade your internal suffering: sadness is a weakness for a person who wants to make the world laugh. The ‘sad clown’ is now a cliche of contrast: the laughing man who cries at night. However, whilst this is largely true, it does not mean that the ‘clown’ is a false persona: it is a chance to express yourself in the joy of performing.
For me, it is genuine and is as much an escape for me as anyone else. In the ‘clown’ position, I genuinely enjoy it and it is not me hiding from my own emotions. In fact, to those around me in the rehearsal or performance space, it is almost as if nothing is wrong, the atmosphere is so alive and enjoyable. At this point, I should say that this also doesn’t mean I don’t care about my problems, I’m just having fun. Admittedly, this can go a very different emotional route if I realise that I have become annoying for others. This is why I am very thankful to those who make me feel comfortable enough to express myself this way, even if it can get out of hand every now and again.
Charlie Chaplin, largely on his own part, led a very difficult life and most likely more unhappy than happy, but do you really think he didn’t enjoy fooling around? Old home footage from his archives shows a man who knows how to have fun, away from the meticulous perfectionist he brought into the workplace.
There will always be ‘the tears of a clown’ but, when they are just playing around or performing in the company of others, that is their time to enjoy themselves; they’re not pretending.
It is something that means an awful lot to me.
There’s no denying that Valentines Day is now yet another tale of Christian-festival-turned-corporate-prostitute. When St Valentine was martyred by the Romans for being caught dealing out Christian weddings like crystal meth, I’m sure he never imagined that, in multi-millennia to come, his name would be commemorated with heart-shaped cushions and the Durex bumper box. Love and money are two very powerful things and companies certainly know how exploit the former to bring out the latter.
On top of this, speaking from previous experience, if you are single around Valentines Day, it is about as fun as it must be to be a Muslim during… the vast majority of any Western celebration. It is a time of year to feel sorry for yourself.
It is also very true that love should be an aspect of everyday life, not just concentrated onto a single day so you can detach yourself from romanticism for the rest of the year. Although, if that’s truly how you do it, then I’m truly impressed how dull your life must have become.
However, after all those reasons why Valentine’s Day is the Devil’s spawn, I feel that, very much like Christmas, it is what you make of the occasion. Whilst your love for your partner should be an aspect of everyday, it is not everyday that you have an opportunity to commemorate it. True, cards and gifts should not be needed in this celebration. However, myself and my girlfriend would find it hard to deny that giving each other presents is something we thoroughly enjoy and so we will relish any and every opportunity to do so.
None of these ‘Christian’ festivals are prioritised for the Biblical implications behind them anymore. First and foremost, Christmas is no longer a celebration of the birth of Jesus. Instead, it has evolved into a celebration of family: time to give your loved ones presents but also your presence. For children, it is undeniably about Father Christmas. Yes, Santa is the poster-boy for all shops and stores, but his myth is something that I thank for strengthening my imagination and sense of wander and that is a right for every child have: their are worse lies that parents can tell their children, come on. For Valentines, this is even less so about the story of St Valentine – it is commemorating your love for another person.
This is not the case for everyone and that is perfectly fine. It is simply that, in our case, excuses to give each other stuff is very much part of our lives and, consequently, we shall continue to embrace consumerism like a sponge and spoil each other with Valentines gifts, Easter Eggs and everything else Mother Corporate wishes us to buy. Yeah, we’re giving rich people more money, but we live in a world where we do that everyday anyway.
A self-proclaimed capitalist slave.
I thought that I was going to read that Terry Jones had passed away. The actual news was close-to-worse. What a horrible condition to suffer from for the remainder of your life.
Personally, I still consider him the finest comedy drag actor EVER. No one can match his immortal high-pitch screeching, nor his ‘confused buffoon’ persona. It’s sad to hear of his unique voice being silenced this way. He’s not the Messiah, but he was one fine comic actor. And writer and director, I may add.
LINK: Monty Python’s Terry Jones diagnosed with dementia – BBC NEWS
bad sequels, blue sky studios, diego, dumb, fart jokes, franchise, ice age, ice age 2 the meltdown, ice age 3, ice age 4, ice age 5, ice age collision course, lazy comedy, manny, movie, opinion, review, scrat, sequels, sid the sloth
The Ice Age franchise has been withering away upon the aching shoulders of its brand appeal f0r ten years now… which was when they released the second one. Now, the fifth one has finally led the franchise to tank at the box office, being the first one to open to under $40 million with almost half that at just $22 million (don’t worry, I find it depressing that in the movie industry, these numbers are a disappointment too). It is a clear sign that you have thoroughly ruined something once-good when it is popular to claim that the original successful product was never much good in the first place. I beg to differ.
I am at an age that the first film qualifies as childhood ground. In fact, so does the second. But I really loved the first and so did my nan. I loved all the distinctly different colourful characters. Manny the sarcastic grump of a Mammoth (hence why Ray Ramano fit the part so well). Sid the deliberately and, originally, endearingly annoying Sloth. Diego the Judas of the pack, who has a deep internal conflict of whether he achieve the goals of his sabre-tooth pack or embrace the friends he’s unintentionally made on the film’s journey. This stuff is half-decent writing for an animated film. That reminds me too, you are made to feel the journey with these characters. It is a bloody road movie on-foot! On top of that, you have the tragedy of the baby being separated from his father and then loses his mother, yet is too young to be aware of any of it and the only parental figures he now has are these three oddballs who don’t know what to do for him but don’t want to leave him. On top of that, you had the hilariously executed silent comedy of Scrat and his nut, which held the whole film together…
What the fuck happened?
Biblical flood caused by Scrat? Dinosaurs underground, unearthed by Scrat? Tectonic plates separated by Scrat? Now, bloody planet alignment and meteor shower caused by Scrat? Yes, the premise sounds absolutely hilarious. But, the increasingly ridiculous stakes have completely butchered Ice Age’s grounded-setting success. We’re not being taken to the confined world that was the Ice Age anymore. We are now taken to distractingly unrealistic bizarro age, where a squirrel and his nut accidentally performs the acts of God upon the entire universe. It’s not as funny as it sounds, okay. In the movies, the stakes are just not there anymore. Yeah, the characters are in a bit of peril from these events. But you can’t take it seriously when you go back to the fact that it was all caused by the squirrel, I’m sorry. Admittedly, Ray Romano’s decreasingly sincere delivery doesn’t help either. It’s double-decker sarcasm: Romano’s sarcastic towards having to deliver his lines that are meant to sarcastic in-context to the film.
The humour’s not there, either. The past two have reached Alvin and the Chipmunks-level immaturity. Admittedly, Scrat is still funny. No stopping that. However, the rest of the content seems to be a lazy excuse to give Scrat the opportunity to all these things. There is one shot from the latest one’s trailer that makes my stomach cry. It is literally Manny, Sid and Diego standing in a line and being struck by lightning and turned into a puffball, one-by-one. It is so forced and so sad to these three characters being put through such crappy gags. It really is!
The worst bit is that, other than these sequels, Blue Sky doesn’t appear to be a lazy studio. The stylistic efforts put into the imagery of both Horton Hears a Who and The Peanuts Movie show true artistic attention to detail. Horton looked like a Dr Seuss illustration brought to life and Peanuts looked like a living Peanuts strip. It’s not just adaptations, either. Whilst some of Robots didn’t work, the flare of invention was there. Why don’t they do more stuff? You ruined your once-great Ice Age. You don’t make enough money from it, anymore. Release the boxset and call it a day. In fact, release a special edition of the first one and have the sequels as mere insignificant bonus features, tucked away. Thank you.