JAM-PACKED FRIDAY (3) – Jetski Mesmerism, Red Carpet Roaring…

‘Ey up, another week is wrapping up so here’s another Jam-Packed Friday blogpost wrap-up. What have I got to say this week? Erm…

Snow came and went. It melted away but the land is still cold. Chill in the air.  Skies grey and morose. Some buds and shoots show themselves but they’re all tentative and shy. It’s not quite spring. The mood is: meditate. Hang back. Be still for it is bleak and still overbearingly winterish but the time will be right soon. Until then, quiet. Inertia. Brooding. Melancholia. Hibernating some more.

… Which I think means: I don’t have much to say this week. [Hallelujah chorus] This week in review in one minute of free-association writing then…


It feels like the hope of patriarchy being smashed is real and this energy better go beyond International Women’s Day and the Hollywood red carpet. Elsewhere, outlandish spy poison plots in Salisbury. President Chump and Dear Supreme Leader might be meeting for a dinner date soon which is a surprise and it could be, erm, fun. Meanwhile in my beloved Italy it’s all electoral confusion and I fear the rise of fascists there and everywhere.

Standard: this World feels unbearably sad and dominated by the inhuman and cruel. The best we can often do is be as human and compassionate as possible, and that’s a good foundation to build on/a good platform to launch off.

Really, I’m a bit wrapped up in ‘call this a quiet week’ but regardless, here’s…



  • This week I decided to check out two Manchester landmarks that somehow I’ve never visited. The Portico Library and Manchester Cathedral are both charming for different reasons and well worth a look-in if you’re passing through the best city in England. (And please do pass through! I’ll show you around! Come visit me!)
  • I’ve been reading the novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline in anticipation of the upcoming film adaptation from Spielberg. I finished it this week and finishing it was a relief because it frustrated the hell out of me and left me exhausted with all the debates I ended up having with myself (mostly centred around ‘geek sensibilities’ and ‘the way we relate to pop-culture’). If you’re unfamiliar with Ready Player One‘s premise, the plot is this: in a shitty future the reclusive tech-wizard creator of a virtual reality fantasy multiverse dies and whoever can pass all his tests and find the hidden Easter egg in what is, in effect, a hyper-realistic video game will inherit it all. Pop-culture nerds are thus pitted against the evil faceless corporation that wants to monetise and dominate this virtual reality engine and the kids with the best video game skillz and most knowledge of ’80s pop culture are the heroes in this treasure hunt. On the plus side, it’s a real page-turner that kept me asking “… And what next?” and – as a self-identified geek and enthusiast for sci-fi and fantasy and, to a certain degree, retro videogames – it appealed to me. But simply making nods to great ‘geek culture’ and revelling in the references (or, indeed, namedrops) is not enough. As I read through I struggled to work out if this was a loving, nostalgic tribute to the author’s passions (many of which I share) or an exercise in “Look how much I know!” This is the problem with fandom – if it’s about love for something and the sharing of that love then it’s great. If it’s all about point-scoring, the exclusion of others who aren’t alike (or as clued-up/obsessed as you are) or if it’s myopic to the extent that care about the wider world or other human beings is impossible, then it’s sad and pathetic. I wanted to punch the main character (a Mary Sue-ish author surrogate) for his lack of empathy and for simply being a self-indulgent fanboy cyber-snark. Even though I got a kick out of the fact that I could solve some of the clues in the story (my reward for being familiar with Blade Runner and for listening to Rush?), I came away wanting to go outside, to connect with people and read something that had more in the way of ideas, heart and humanity – something that didn’t read like a sugar-induced teenage boy’s videogame fantasy. (I’m putting it politely.) Still, Spielberg’s doing the movie so I expect he’ll get more of the required heart out of this thing.
  • I also watched the Academy Awards ceremony this week and it seemingly took me forever. Seriously, I haven’t much to show for this week because the Oscars sort of opened up a sinkhole in spacetime. They consumed all this energy, warped what calls itself reality and by the time I’d got through it I felt like several lifetimes had passed and several paradigms had shifted. (If you’ve seen the freshly-Oscar-winning film Get Out, going through that ceremony was a bit like being stuck in ‘The Sunken Place’.) Regardless, having gone through it, I have some thoughts…


These thoughts are numbered 1-10 because the internet likes numbered lists and because I have exactly ten thoughts about the Oscars. I probably have more thoughts but the Oscars has already taken up enough of my mental energy. Ladies and Gentleman and those who don’t identify with either of those two labels, the 90th Academy Awards…

  1. Watching it all, it felt like a moment of radical change for so much better had arrived. It remains to be seen whether there’s reality beyond the Oscars ceremony and whether the film industry (and society beyond) really takes up the causes and reforms to ensure equality and the end of the numerous wrongs experienced by women and minority groups (or simply, ‘people who are not well-off white men’). Still, I see Frances McDormand on a warpath and I believe…
  2. Lots of love for Mexico. The next Academy Awards should be presented in Oaxaca.
  3. I love Guillermo Del Toro and him getting the Best Director gong alongside other awards for The Shape of Water is a beautiful thing. It’s a reward for an idiosyncratic artist overflowing with creativity who wears his heart on his sleeve. All his movies are love letters made with care and wonder and The Shape of Water is a fairytale for all those who’ve ever felt lonely or like an outsider. I want to give that man a big hug.
  4. The ‘Keep your speech short and win a jetski!‘ gimmick turned out quite lame because everyone ends up talking about the jetski. Jetskis aren’t even very cinematic. (Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a film that featured a jetski. I have vague visions of 007 on one but I may be completely wrong.) We wasted a lot of time on jetskis when winners could have been thanking their suffering loved ones or forgotten collaborators.
  5. Then again – conspiracy theory time – maybe the jetski was a device to undermine the political power of the ceremony. What do people remember about the ceremony? Lots of speeches about female empowerment, minority representation or a film about a woman falling in love with a sea monster? Or do they remember Helen Mirren on a jetski? There you go – necessary sociocultural reform didn’t come to pass because America was hypnotised by a jetski.
  6. Why doesn’t anyone just wear jeans to these red carpet dos? None of ’em look comfortable at all.
  7. Several winners started to thank their families and friends and then suddenly, abruptly, would state “But this isn’t for you!” before singling out another individual as the special person that the award was for. Why not just say “… but lastly, I’d like to dedicate this award to…” instead? That way it doesn’t sound like you’re rubbishing your relatives or suggesting that they’re not as important as someone else.
  8. The ‘In Memoriam’ (‘look-who’s-dead-now’) segment is always a glum note but this year it really upset me because I had no idea that Seijun Suzuki had died. Suzuki is the type of person who would never win an Oscar. He was a Japanese filmmaker whose speciality was hyper-visual, nihilistic yakuza B-movies. The films don’t make sense and are more concerned with looking cool and being gloriously offbeat than following logic or doing anything easily-appealing or commercial. He was a weird and wonderful artist and knowing that people like him were out there somewhere in the World creating whatever they wanted makes me feel happy. I’ve loved the few films I’ve seen of his and wish to see more. I didn’t know he was gone. [sighs] There goes another one-of-a-kind creative genius. It’s more reason to treasure the visionary likes of, say, Guillermo Del Toro and continue to rejoice in the weirdness that remains while – I suppose if we feel up to it – feeling inspired to conjure up weirdness of our own…
  9. Lady Bird got a lot of love but no prizes so it should get an honorary award just for being a very special piece of work. (Everyone was cheering for Greta Gerwig, so can’t she just get a special achievement prize?) Still, at least Get Out (justly) got the Best Original Screenplay award. Those were the films I was cheering on though I come back to the same place – “Why do we need winners and losers? Why can’t we just celebrate stuff and not make it into a competition?
  10. It was all too loooooooooooong and now this blog post is too looooooooooooooong. The Oscars should be shorter. We need studio hacks to come in and edit down all the irrelevant bits. (Like the bit with the jetski, or yet another skit where Jimmy Kimmel jokes about Christopher Plummer being old, or the bit, or the part where Gary Oldman sucked up to America and seemed to disown the UK, the hussy.)

Altogether, it comes down to this: cinema is wonderful and the Oscars are silly. No more now until next time (if there is a next time. I’m not entirely convinced that California will still be there by next March).

That is all I have to say (write) this week and if you enjoy this blog thing, press the button to follow or subscribe. Or let me know how you feel about this or anything. Say hey and we’ll have a conversation, because having conversations is the best thing in life. Thanks for reading, take care, good energies and much love… ❤



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