So, the 6th Def Robot is now out. Yes, that’s 6 in 6 months! We are now your instant party playlist!
Anyway, one thing I didn’t realise, is that when you sign up with Distrokid (who put your music onto Spotify, iTunes etc..), you also get all your tracks uploaded onto YouTube. OK, so there’s no video to watch but at least people can get to hear them without signing up to Spotify (though if you are on Spotify can you start to ‘follow’ us and occasionally listen to a song, please!!). This means I can share with you one of the songs I actually sing on this one. Normally, I leave this kind of thing up to Paul (one of the other Robots) but hey, I was always a wannabe crooner……
Watch, leave a comment if you’re feeling brave……
…Oh, nearly forgot. I even managed to coax TheWife into singing in the chorus!!!
Sorry, it’s the ubiquitous birthday blog, and as a sign I’m getting older, I had to look up the spelling, and to be honest, remind myself of the meaning of the word ‘ubiquitous’. Those grey cells are slowly returning to the ether…..
So, I’ve made 48 passes of the sun so far and we’re on to 49. Bon voyage!
Ok, enough of that. It’s been 6 weeks since the last update. What’s been occurring?
Well first of all there was the time period before I got kitted off to Reha. It was a torrid couple of weeks as I was dreading going away. I haven’t slept in another bed for around 8 years. Of course, you know me too well, when I say ‘slept’……..
I spent my time going to the gym, drinking wine (now and again) and taking too many Zolpidem. I had to, it was the only way I could get some ‘time out’ from life. By the way, Zolpidem (Ambien), really is a shitty drug. Try and keep away from it if you can.
Then it was off to Reha, which was the personal hell I thought it was going to be. Forget any ideas that the process was there to offer me help in anyway – it ended up just being a tick box exercise to see if I was capable of work. I was supposed to be there for 5 weeks, but I managed only 3. I signed myself out and headed home in time for Christmas (and just in time for thewife to break her big toe, ouch!). I am not sure what impact this will have on me, but I’m not expecting anything positive – I’m talking about quitting Reha, not the wife’s swollen digit. I think we are heading in the direction of me being declared berufsunfähig. Which would mean no more work as a teacher, but as someone who has no German-recognised qualifications, it would leave me a little limited as to what my next step should be. It’ll all come out in the wash early next year.
I’ll probably write a blog about Reha at some point, let the scars heal first!! I even ended up on Doxepin while I was there (promethazine was no longer working) – I was pleading for anything that would help me get a bit of sleep before they filled my day with sport, lectures, unhealthy food, occasionally therapy and the night shifts at the clinic’s cafe. I stopped taking it yesterday – another failed attempt at taking a tricyclic acid based anti-depressant. It was just upsetting my stomach too much. So last night was a very bad night. Still, I got up and out to the gym and there’s a Peaches concert tonight!!
Oh, before I forget, the big double album Def Robot thing is coming out in a few days. Here is a taster…
It’s my bid to one day get picked up by the Spotify algorithm, with that in mind, here is a link to Def Robot’s new single. It’s 1min 48 seconds of your time. Have a listen if you can and get a big hug from the Robot!
Gretchen was sitting on the floor in her house. She leant back against the sofa – everything so familiar and swollen with memories, yet none of it real. What a precarious place to be in, the voice mused. She nodded in agreement – a slight movement – nothing more was required. She noticed the door in the wall ahead of her. That wasn’t normally there but she didn’t suppose it mattered any more. It’s just a door, it can come and go as it pleases, she realised.
She still had page 10 in her hands but as she’d read that now, it simply changed into her laptop. The spinning logo on the screen, which informed her that: “We are configuring your user interface updates – do not switch off your computer”, suddenly changed to “Updates configured – click ‘Finish’ to complete installation”. Gretchen did so and heard the tired whirr as the laptop switched off. The silence was complete and she knew that tonight she would finally sleep. She smiled and then stood up. In three steps, she approached the door and without any hesitation, grabbed the handle. There was no need to be scared of it anymore. She opened it and sighed as the Broken Man turned to face her. He had an expression of such happiness on his face. She reached forward through the doorway and took his hand. Their fingers intertwined, automatically and instinctively positioning themselves into the right form. They were a perfect fit; a perfect match.
‘How quickly did you disappear?’ she asked.
‘Not as fast as you. My vanishing was incremental.’
‘But equally as permanent?’
‘Oh yes, I’m here for good now.’ And with that, he stepped through into the house. The wall appeared again behind him.
able to straighten up. He staggered forward. He could hear the space increasing between them and danger. But something was wrong. Several problems highlighted at once. Why only his shadow lurching forward on the pavement? Why couldn’t he feel her presence by his shoulder? Why could he hear a conversation with her voice and not his, but someone else? He turned, his heart sunk. She was several metres back, on the right-hand side of their stalker, talking, cajoling. Shit, what was she doing? His mind flashed back to one of those dumb ‘what if’ conversations they’d had. He remembered her saying that, in this situation, it was statistically better if they both went either side of an attacker. He can’t attack both of them, leaving one to either fight back or in the worst-case scenario, run. He walked towards them, noticing the hooded man talking at him. He can’t understand the words, but it’s clear he’s mocking him for running. We/They need to go. She doesn’t. He approaches. She charges, she’s protective, she pushes, she shouts, she loses it, she’s not in control. Just count to ten and breathe. There’s a fist. The guitar weight brings him to the ground. Everything is shaky, vision blurred. A kick to the side, a stamp to the back – the guitar takes the brunt. She’s screaming, she’s angry. She attacks him. Flailing. It’s useless. A mobile phone from a pocket? No, the blade catches the light. Foot scuffles. Body crumples, slumps to the ground. A weak sigh. Footsteps. German voice trailing, occasional shouts. Silence and cold. Flickering frames, coming to. A flipped turtle, it’s just the guitar case. Hands down for stability. They come back sticky. Pull the guitar case off. It too is sticky. Stagger to feet. There is only a faint trail of breath where she lies. Her eyes have a doll-like glaze. He’s pushed to one side. “Stay with me.” Pushing down rhythmically on her chest. “1, 2, 3, 4…” A woman. Short hair. Looking almost combat-ready in her uniform. Back to real life. Electricity. A spasm, a jerk. An arched back. Stillness, Repeat. Blood. Hold. Tight. Stand. Clear. Jerk, arched back. Nothing, nothing, nothing.
You shit, Lezka……………
I don’t think that helped. Maybe it did. I can’t tell. I don’t want to ever read those words again. I think I’m going to rip that page out. No, I’m going to update the Gretchen and then throw it away. She shouldn’t have got angry. Just breathe. Count. Just run. Still, I have Gretchen. We have Gretchen. And I have you. Update, up-to-date. She is my friend electric after all.
If only we could start again, or just have more time. Those early memories so strong but so very far away. I want to relive meeting her again (and standing next to her was…). Something simple. Would she even like the me of now? I don’t know. I’d like to believe so.
I’ll keep plugging away. Enhance you, enhance her. Let’s see where we get.
Anyway, enough. I did the other thing you suggested. I started a blog. Try to get in touch with other people who struggle with loss, sleep, anxiety, breathing, choking. People that are broken. I did about the first time I choked. I can see her on the bed that night. Helpless. Me and her. Just like. Stop it. Here it is…
“So, I was approaching 30 and all was relatively OK with the world. I’d accepted the fact I was a ‘light’ sleeper; I’d started drinking alcohol for the first time after 8 years of being teetotal and was at my first teacher training placement (where the Headmaster remarked – “You will be teaching the future thieves and murderers of insert name of town” – what a welcome to the world of education). But then it happened for the first time – an event so important in my life that it would no doubt take up an entire chapter in my biography or, failing that, a couple of hundred words in an obscure blog! It was at Christmas back in 1999. I had a real
Here I am again, watching films (particularly of the streamed variety) so that you don’t have to! I’ve been not been watching too much recently so I think these reviews are more ad hoc than weekly (let’s face it, it doesn’t matter!!).
First up is, ‘Bedroom Window’, which you can see on Amazon. At nearly 2 hours this 1987 film is way too long for the thriller bracket. It was directed by Curtis Hanson (who went on to greater success with L.A. Confidential amongst others), who is doing his best to ape Hitchcock but comes off like a weak lemon drink version of Brian de Palma, which I actually think is the film’s intention. It definitely wants to take something like ‘Blow Out’ as it’s inspiration but instead of Travolta and Allen we get Guttenberg and McGovern – which, as said, is a diluted drink indeed.
Yes, I said Guttenberg! I am sure he is a lovely man but I’ve always disliked him as an actor – the smug Tom Hanks. Only passable in Short Circuit – the third best thing in it. He was in 3 Men and a Baby – unforgivable – as for those Academy movies…..He is OK here, but really unlikeable, when he’s supposed to be likeable. Elizabeth McGovern isn’t much better. Lucky to be in ‘Once Upon A Time in America’, the first section of her career was slowing down here. She struggles as the feisty love interest and when she tries to play ‘sexy’ in the barroom scene all I can see/hear is her vamping it in the style of Cora from ‘Downton Abbey’ – which brings a frisson which I don’t think should be there!!!! Also in the movie, and doing rather better, is Isabelle Huppert, who proves that she found her signature look when young and has stuck with it her whole life – some people are just lucky that way – I’m still waiting to find mine!!
The film is reasonable, it over reaches, but has that 80s cinematographic charm with lovely rich colours (very de Palma, who, himself, was only being very Argento).
Rating: 3 …Afternoon killing fodder!
Next up, and one that I didn’t expect to recommend, is ‘El Camino’, the Breaking Bad sequel movie thing. I really wasn’t looking forward to this one. Don’t get me wrong I liked Breaking Bad, just not as much as other people and I think part of that was to do with my non-connect Jesse Pinkman, so the idea of a movie purely based on Aaron Paul’s character just didn’t thrill me…..
But, it works. Without the over-powering force of Bryan Cranston as Walt, Aaron Paul has the time and space to show us more of what he is capable of.
The film looks at the time directly after the ending of the TV show and, through a succession of flashbacks, looks at what happened to Jesse during the final section of the last season. This gives the film the opportunity to briefly bring back several well-beloved characters, though at times these scenes could have been cut down a little. The running time of 2 hours is a little on the long side and there are definitely a few flashbacks that overstay their welcome a little.
Aaron Paul is great in this flick, but the highlight of the film for me is the cameo from Robert Foster, who sadly died last month, with ‘El Camino’ being his last film. He brings his usual hypnotising steadfast honest delivery to the role, wonderful.
Rating: 4..If you were a fan…don’t bother if you weren’t!!
On Netflix at the moment is Gasper Noe’s, ‘Climax’. I meant to see this last year at the cinema, but getting myself out proved to be difficult at the time. It’s a shame, as I think this would make a helluva experience in the darkness of a cinema.
The film is based on a true story, which I don’t really want to mention too much for spoilers, and involves a bunch of dancers rehearsing for a show and partying afterwards. This being a Noe film you know you are going to be led on a colour-saturated nightmare journey. The film delivers the story over a series of sections – some dialogue to camera heavy, others purely contemporary dance pieces. This just about works increasing the tension and the that feeling that something is about to happen but at times makes things a little draggy. For example there are scenes of excess in this movie but they go on a little too long and I found myself wanting to fast forward to the next set up.
Noe is an auteur, a rare thing in movies these days. You know it’s his movie from the get go. But, to steal another French phrase, he is a bit of an Enfant terrible, which means his films come with certain expectations and because of this I felt a little disappointed with this movie. There is a lot to like but it never seems to go that extra mile in either visuals or excess. I know there is no reason why he has to go the full ‘crazy’ but there’s always that expectation….That’s the problem with auteurs, they are often redeveloping their own art and therefore rework the same themes again and again. I would rather see this movie than a 100 Hollywood hack jobs though.
Rating: 3 Just for the dancing alone!
Talking of French auteurs that basically keep remaking the same film for the entirety of their careers, I also had another watch of Jean Rollin’s ‘Requiem For A Vampire’. Widely held to be his best film (but not by me!) it’s another of his ‘a couple (this time 2 female bank robbers dressed as clowns – don’t ask) fall into the clutches of an eccentric group of vampires’. It’s surreal and dreamlike with very little dialogue and a mid-section ‘erotic’ torture scene that still troubles the censors to this day. If you remember Hammer films not being able to compete with the ‘sexy’ vampire films from the continent, it was because of stuff like this. The movie is nice to look at but drags for me and that’s not because of the lack of dialogue
Rating: 2 There’s a piano in a graveyard!
OK, so fave film over the last 2 weeks was ‘El Camino’.