Dante’s Peak

The movie Dante’s Peak has been on TV a lot lately. For reasons I don’t understand, I simply cannot get enough of it. I find it hard to tear myself away any time it’s on. It’s strange, because I can’t stomach even five minutes of other disaster movies from that era, like Deep Impact or Armageddon. Everything Pierce Brosnan does in Dante’s Peak is him embodying a particular conception of perfect masculinity and maturity. I liked the idea of trying to subvert that fantasy, using a sequence of events from the first half of the movie. I’ve done it in pairs of paragraphs, with the Dante’s Peak version first, then my version:

Brosnan’s instincts are spot on- the volcano is going to blow; everyone else is wrong.

Brosnan hasn’t been known for having good instincts, and the on the job training he’s received has gone to his head in embarrassing and unforeseen ways. His shallow understanding of volcanos and his arrogance are a big problem in this delicate situation. He’s been fixated on a paper he read which documented a similar previous case where the volcano did erupt. He took the best part of a weekend day over reading and understanding the paper and now he can’t hear anything that contradicts it or provides counter-evidence.

…….

He is dismissed from the project by the team leader, who instructs him that he ‘needs a vacation’. The team leader is a more conventional mind, unable to fathom Brosnan’s heightened sensitivity, mistaking it for erratic behaviour.

He is dismissed from the project by the team leader, who instructs him that he ‘needs a vacation’. The team leader is finally taking the action necessary to prevent this puffed-up idiot wasting any more of the team’s time.

…….

The team enter a bustling, cozily lit establishment that evening for a drink. They see Brosnan sitting alone at the bar, contemplative, a bottle of beer in front of him. The old barman turns obediently as Brosnan calls for the ‘same again’. The team leader takes a stool at the bar next to Brosnan and attempts to explain himself, talking about the muddy politics of putting a town on alert, the economic fallout that could result, the feathers that could be ruffled. Brosnan listens patiently, lets him finish, and after a pause looks him square in the eye and says ‘Ok’, before shooting a peanut into his mouth- using his closed fist like a cannon in an interesting and decisive gesture of impatience that concludes the scene.

After being suspended Brosnan buys some booze and heads directly back to his motel room. He cracks open the wine he got and as his laptop boots up he gets half a glass in him, while huffing a cigarette too quickly over by the window. He’s jumping out of his skin at the offense of it all. He’s going to email the team leader and tell him what’s up. The bastard got the best of him in the face to face encounter, he’s no good on the spot. Some time later he’s done. The finished email is good, he’s pleased, even if he did interrupt the writing of it for a wank. He fires it off, tops up his glass and heads over to the window to rake another fag, this one well deserved. His motel is situated in the center of the small town and the sounds of Friday night revelry are filtering in through the window. With the wine nearly gone he makes the sudden decision to head out, emboldened by the booze. At the bar he buys his drink and makes a beeline for a shadowy spot off to the side, by a column. By the time the team walks in several pints later he’s graduated to a chair at the bar and is testing the young bar guy’s patience with his attention-seeking chatter. The team leader somewhat reluctantly invites Brosnan to join the team at their table for a drink. The team are uncomfortable with Brosnan’s brash drunkenness and take the opportunity to leave when he goes to the toilet.

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Good Tunes of Late

Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)- The Rolling Stones

I’m not an expert on The Rolling Stones, or any music for that matter, but this is the most exciting song of theirs I’ve heard. It was on the end credits of a documentary I watched, one of those showstopper moments where the song kicks off as the screen goes black and you think ‘Wow- what’s this!?’ The lyrics are about the cops in New York recklessly shooting someone ‘right through the heart’. So the chorus continues: ‘Heartbreakers! With yo’ .44! I wanna tear your world apart!’ Not sure what Mick Jagger knows about .44’s, with his economics degree. Maybe a lot, what do I know. I suppose they’ve been around.

Everything Goes My Way- Metronomy.

I listened to this track on repeat while I was out for a jog the other night. Every time it drew to a close I would be running with my phone held out in front of me, stabbing at the screen trying to hit the back button. I was pretty much delirious after five straight listens, but I couldn’t face moving on to something potentially less motivating. It’s amazing for jogging. A cascade- the vocals of what sounds like a female android with a voice like honey, dying away and immediately rising again and again, a horn tooting, hand claps, a swaying guitar – all falling forward together- the momentum of the high beats per minute saving it from collapse.

I Don’t Know What I Can Save You From- Kings of Convenience

This band sounds exactly like Belle and Sebastian, but they’re from Norway. This is a very lovely melancholic tune involving the interplay of two acoustic guitars and a caressing male voice. It made my friend go ‘What’s this?’, which was satisfying.

Mercy Mercy Me- Marvin Gaye

The sorrowful rhythmic guitar riff in this song, which never flags from start to finish, is what makes it great. Far-away sounding ‘oooh’s’ rise and fall at certain points, complementing it. It’s physically difficult not to bow/shake you head sadly when they come in. As it happens the lyrics are all about pollution and are very lovey-dovey: Radiation under ground and in the sky/Animals and birds who live nearby are dying… I think this could be where Michael Jackson took his cue from, with his Earth Song etc.

Not Good

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Break the Silence.”

When was the last time you really wanted (or needed) to say something, but kept quiet? Write a post about what you should’ve said.

Near Dublin city center a couple of years ago I passed someone in the street who was obviously in a terrible place mentally. He was a big overweight boulder of a man of about forty, with a buzz cut, in need of a wash, wearing knackered sportswear. He was stood on the pavement, at 10 in the morning, ranting and howling unintelligibly at the ground ahead of him with a ferocious energy that was startling. He was red in the face from the effort- it was a scary spectacle. I had just come out of a newsagents nearby and had stopped to put stuff in my bag when he took up his post on the pavement near me.

Maybe this guy is just a Dublin fixture, old Barmy Gerry or something, and any Dubliner reading this would laugh at how solemn I’m being about it all. In the heat of the moment I did in fact react something like that. I turned to a man standing at the entrance to the newsagent and gave him a nervous little smirk, like ‘What’s with this guy?’ The man at the newsagents just glared at me, which was what that reaction deserved. To answer the prompt, I should have not been a twerp and immediately said or done something helpful instead.

Don’t Think Twice

 

Here’s what I think is a great recent cover of my favourite Bob Dylan song, Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright. It was already the ultimate singalong song for me- the lyrics flow so smoothly, rhymes everywhere, and it’s a great wish-fulfillment character- some world-weary cowboy type guy whose ‘precious time’ has been wasted in this relationship. Life has just done gone and disappointed him once again and he has a whole song’s worth of excellent withering shit to say to this imaginary nogoodnik woman, before he’s ‘a’ travellin’ on’. The Bob Dylan version already flowed beautifully but this take adds an airy nostalgic guitar sound that fits really well and also more of a driving quality to the chorus bit, which is exciting.

Spontaneous Human Combustion

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Bedtime Stories.”

What was your favorite book as a child?

Anything macabre was good with me, I’m remembering. Yes, macabre. I like that word and I’m sticking with it. Macabre covers ‘scary’ but also the likes of Roald Dahl’s collection of otherworldly tales, such as the one about the poker player who goes to India to train with a reclusive yogi to see through cards and ultimately also levitate, which I loved. He fears his wayward use of the clairvoyant power will result in his death, which indeed it may have, you discover at the end. ‘The Book of the Unexplained’ was another- it was a big encyclopedia-sized hardcover thing, hundreds of pages thick, crammed with text and black and white photos. How it got to be in the house was a mystery to me. It was just there, downstairs in the little study room. There was no telling where it had come from as far as I was concerned. That made for a great experience reading it. One image in particular really spooked me- a small, grainy photo of a living room. You had to hold your face close to the book to make out the detail- but there on the carpet, in front of an electric fire, lay a pair of stocking-ed human lower legs- all that remained of an isolated pensioner who had spontaneously combusted.


Not an Adult

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Isn’t Your Face Red.”

When was the last time you were embarrassed? How do you react to embarrassment?

I’m embarrassed by myself a lot. It’s something I’d like to get under control. It’s often when I’m trying to avoid potential embarrassment that I really embarrass myself. For instance refusing to turn and face my friend head-on in the open plan showers after squash, week after week, unmentioned by both of us, for a whole year in 2010. I’d either get undressed quickly and duck round a merciful corner in the shower room before anyone else could get to that one, or shower with my arse to the room then hurry back to my towel. I’m fine, Joe Average, in that department- if what I read on the internet and what I’ve been told is correct. But Goddamn if I’m not a grower at times. I suppose that was pathetic though. I failed that test of my mettle that men, but not women for some reason, have to deal with in terms of how changing rooms are laid out. Failed it big time. Not an adult, for all to see. That friend is back visiting just now and he’s not so ready with the text messages any more, despite us being the closest of friends back in the day. The memory of that changing-room debacle has stopped me in my tracks several times today, where all I can do is just gasp ‘Oh God’.

Viva Forever

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).”

I can’t recall ever having a pleasant dream. My dreams are always fraught these days. I would guess the reason for this is the fact that I’m missing important shit from my life, like fulfilling work, love and sex. Any one of those sorted and I’d probably sleep well again. The hour before my alarm goes off is the worst for demented dreaming. This morning it was a woman and me exchanging videos of her having sex. Only she was visible in the videos, looming over a low angle camera pointing upwards. I’d send her one and say ‘you’, then she’d send me one back saying ‘me’. But overshadowing it all was this terrible feeling that she was in fact a transexual man. (I’ve had transexuality on the brain lately. I think it’s having a moment) Then the alarm on my phone kicked in. It couldn’t tune radio 4 this morning so it went to its second option, some European pop station I had decided on at random, to broaden my horizons. Viva Forever by the Spice Girls was playing. What a tune, with sporty spice echoing back each line of the chorus in her silly Liverpool accent. I lay there listening, in that adrenaline pumping yet physically exhausted state of discomfort that I’m always waking to lately.

Rested and ready for the day

Rested and ready for the day