Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Interstella 5555: A film

So, I just finished watching the Daft Punk anime film "Interstella 5555" which is a film version of their concept album "Discovery". The film is very enjoyable in the sense of it being a sci-fi, family style anime with no dialogue content, the story being told through music and images only.

Despite it having no words of dialogue, the story is fairly effectively told, despite it being a very strange sci-fi story of apparent world domination through an ancient, undying evil...through the use of several music stars from other universes. It is a very strange story, but the characters are likable, and it's fun and interesting to see every song on the album fit to the animation built for it.

The film can also very easily be analysed through any number of lenses - the man who kidnaps the band forces them onto earth and makes them look human, and then to make the people of earth imiatate them in every way. This can be interpreted easily as a metaphor for both colonialism, and for capitalism. The film also focuses on the band's loneliness, perhaps being a comment on the disillusionment with being a celebrity.

All in all, it's a fun watch if you have a spare hour in your day, and enjoy the heavy electronic beats of Daft Punk.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Samuel's Diner: A Short Film



CHARLES, 34, in a worn suit, awakes suddenly as if from a violent dream and sits upright. He looks around and realizes he is sitting in the middle of the road in a desert expanse. He stands up uneasily and looks up. The sun shines down on him and he shields his eyes. He looks in front of him and sees an endless stretch of road. He looks behind him and it is much the same. As he turns back he is startled to the point of falling by SAMUEL, 50, who stands before him in a neat suit.


I...hello. I-I’m confused...

Charles turns his head as he speaks.

CHARLES (CONT’D) you know where I...

He turns his head back and Samuel is gone.

CHARLES (CONT’D) the hell?

All of a sudden Charles screams, clutching his head. He is in incredible pain. He then starts grasping at his stomach. He falls to his knees on the road and screams again. All of a sudden, he stops as if the pain has stopped.

What the hell was that!?

Charles begins to walk up the road, heading towards a shack he can see in the distance. He passes a road sign advertising “Samuel’s Diner: The Best Chile for the next 50 miles!” and continues walking. The sign goes past again and he realizes that he has come no closer to the shack. He begins to run and passes the sign to more times. Every time he runs forward he comes back to the star.

Oh, what...?

Charles walks backwards and goes to take a run towards the shack and as he does, hits and invisible wall. He falls backwards. All of a sudden, the pain returns to his head and stomach and he screams. He falls to his knees once more, closing his eyes. When he opens them, he sees a pair of polished shoes. He looks up to see Samuel again.

Are you getting tired yet?

Samuel extends his hand helps Charles up.

Just what exactly is going on? The last thing I remember is...I...I don’t remember...

Yes, that does happen...but don’t worry, you’ll remember when you can figure it all out.

Figure what out? What the hell are you talking about?! This doesn’t make any sense!

It will.

Samuel steps forward and pushes Charles in the chest and Charles falls backwards, hard. When he gathers himself, Samuel is gone.

Oh, fuck!

The pain suddenly appears again and Charles is brought to his knees. He coughs harshly. Into his hands, he coughs up oats and two silver coins. He looks at them curiously and just puts them in his pocket. Samuel taps Charles on the shoulder and Charles turns around and is surprised. Without saying anything, he produces the coins and holds them out to Samuel. Samuel takes on and looks it over, putting it in his pocket.

The other isn’t for me.

Well, who’s it for?

You’ll see.

Well then, who is this for?

Charles produces the oats from his pockets and holds them out, dropping some to the ground at Samuel’s feet. Samuel’s face twists in anger and there is a bright flash. When Charles recovers from it, Samuel is gone. Charles is hit once more by the pain, only this time it appears more intense. He coughs up blood and spits it onto the road. He is shaking as he stands.

What do you want?! What is this?! Why am I here? Where am I?

Charles begins to cry. He begins to tear at his jacket and reveals from inside the jacket pocket a small silver key and a deck of cards. From the other pocket, he finds a small container of water. He begins to drink from it and then pours some of it over his head. Some of the water is seen spilling on the road. The container is empty and he throws it to the side of the road. He looks back in the direction of it and it is gone. He reaches tentatively into his pocket and produces the container again, it is full. He then hears loud whispers as if there were people all around him, whispering incoherent things. While this is continuing, the pain returns and Charles is brought into the fetal position. He is screaming and blood streams from his mouth. Then, as sudden as it came, the whispers and the pain cease. From behind him comes Samuel, who once more helps him up.

It’s almost over. I promise.

Please, help me. Where does
this take me?

He produces the key and hands it to Samuel, pressing it into his palm. The key appears to burn Samuel and he screams. He drops the key and as Charles picks it up, Samuel disappears. Charles stands up, weary, and puts the key back in his pocket. He begins to walk once more, this time with purpose towards the shack. The pain appears to strike him once more, and Charles is brought to his knees. But this time he stands up and continues to walk forward, his nose bleeding. He continues, passing the sign for Samuel’s Diner and is met with the invisible wall. He pushes against it almost like he is pushing up against glass. He then is able to move through it somewhat, like transparent treacle, and moves slowly and with great difficulty. Suddenly, he bursts through it and the pain stops.


Charles bursts into the room as if through a door. He turns around and sees there is no door, nor is there one in the room. There are many windows with broken shades which show the outside desert, the sun shining it. In the centre of the room is a table. Sitting at the table, is Samuel.

Well, well, you made it.

Made it where?!

Here. Please, sit.

Samuel gestures to the empty chair across from him. Charles warily approaches and sits down.

The cards.

Samuel gestures towards Charles and Charles, surprised, removes the cards from his jacket pocket. He lays them on the table. Samuel takes them and begins to shuffle, dealing them out onto the table like a blackjack hustler. Suddenly, the pain and whispers return and this time are more powerful than before. Charles screams but he cannot stand from the chair. Blood drips from his nose.

Shall we play?

I...I can barely...think...

Well, that’s the idea. I’m on the home turf, now you have to beat me.

Who...who are you?

I’m Samuel. Charmed, I’m sure. Pick up your cards.

Charles picks up his cards. He sees he has a ten and an eight. He taps the table. Samuel throws his cards down. He has two tens. The pain in Charles’ head intensifies. Samuel deals again. Charles has two fives. He gets another card. It is a king. He stands. Samuel draws. He has two kings and an ace. Samuel screams as if struck and begins to weep. Charles watches as Samuel deals, and sees he is dealing from the bottom of the deck.

Mind if this round?

(Warily) Be my guest...

Charles picks up the cards and reshuffles. He deals the cards. Samuel looks at his and he appears tense. Charles looks. He has a Jack and an Ace. He taps. Samuel asks for another card. He is given one. He throws them down in anger. The pain eases in Charles. This process repeats twice more with the same results – Charles getting Jack and Ace both times. The pain is then completely removed and Samuel screams and he disappears.


Charles awakens on the desert road once more. He stands up and this time he is just outside the door to a diner. The sign above the door reads Samuel’s Diner. Charles looks around and enters. The lights are dim – the place is mostly lit by the sunlight. He sees a few people eating at booths. He appears dazed. A waitress approaches him.

You new around here?

Charles nods.

Alright. You best sit down.

Does this place belong to Samuel?

Oh, no, honey. It’s just called that to confuse the old bastard.

Charles appears confused

Oh, you still haven’t figured it out, huh? Oy...alright, just go over there, your locker is number 739.

Charles confusedly nods and goes towards the lockers. He finds number 739 and attempts to open it. He can’t. He then looks around before he pulls the small, silver key from his pocket. He uses it to open the locker door. Inside it is a whole bunch of dirt. He digs through it and discovers a prayer shroud with his name on it. He takes this. He digs around some more and finds a note. It reads “the silver coin is for the waitress”. Charles folds up the notes and puts it in his pocket. He approaches the waitress and taps her on the shoulder. She turns around to see Charles holding the coin up to her face. She smiles and takes it.

There you go, now you got it.

Suddenly, Charles smiles and goes to sit down at a booth. He is brought a coffee by the waitress.

I feel so much better now.

Good, good.

Charles sips at his coffee. He takes the newspaper on his table and sees the front page. It is his obituary with a large photograph of him. He smiles widely and turns it over. He then reaches over onto the seat next to him and picks up a book, “No Exit” by J.P. Sartre, and begins to read it.


ANDREW, 60, suddenly awakens on the same stretch of road as Charles. Samuel is there before him.



Saturday, November 14, 2009

Akos Pakos

Hello literate masses! Good to see you again. Recently, I've been reading a very interesting book that I hope will interest you all. Have you ever wondered where the term "Hocus Pocus" and "Abra Kadabra" came from? Have you ever been curious as to why salt, water and blood are so important in culture, and in magic? Have the spirits and amulets ever interested you? What about the origin of the names of angels and the gods? Then this is the book for you!

Joshua Trachtenberg's "Jewish Magic and Superstition" (1935) is a great overall introduction to all the facets of Jewish magic in the medieval era until now. It covers amulets to incantations, spirits to divination, names to exorcisms. Albeit, the chapter on names is a little dry, and some of the chapters can be too wordy, but generally this is a very accessible, academic book on the topic of early Jewish, Western European and some Christian magics and superstitions and the real reasons behind them, and the reasons why they are or aren't in practice now.

It's sixteen chapters are an everything you want to know guide to these topics. That being said, it is true that, as a result of it being written so early in the 20th Century it is, perhaps, of the academic language persuasion, but it is still a very accessible book. Though, fair warning, there are some paragraphs and quotes entirely in other languages (German, Italian, Latin, etc.) which remain untranslated by the author, as the expectation was that the readership knew these languages, though I believe that contemporary publishings of this book do give translations of these passages in the notes.

Hope you enjoy it. Mahalo.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wuthering Huh?

I learned about this a few weeks ago and have been following it, but I feel something needs to be said. Now, when I say what I'm about to say, some of you will surely say, "But Jordan, you're over-exaggerating, it can't possibly be the Biblical End of Times, the Apocalypse, the End of all Humanity and Civilization!" And you would be wrong. It is. The end is very nigh. What I am about to tell you is completely true, so please, I advise you brace yourselves.

Sigh. Okay. Here goes.
I have recently learned that the classic piece of literature by Emily Bronte, "Wuthering Heights", is to be repackaged with a new cover. This is not a problem, this happens every few years, right? Wrong. Not like this. There was a recent press release/statement made by the author of the "Twilight" novels that stated that Edward (Cullen) and Bella (Whatsherface)'s favourite book, was "Wuthering Heights" - for what I can only assume was literary comparison between the main character from it's moodiness and Edward's. Here inlies the problem - the geniuses at the publishing companies - who clearly hate literature - are REPACKAGING "Wuthering Heights", and English Literature CLASSIC, with a new cover designed by the same man who did the "Twilight" covers, in the same style, with a flower on a staircase surrounded by black and "Emily Bronte" written in that faux-semi-Gothic font. The kicker? There is a little yellow star bubble on the cover below the image which says, "Edward and Bella's favourite book!" . The second kicker? They're flying off the shelves.

On the article which contained this information (here, here, here, here and here - yeah, I'm thorough) there were comments - one which was, "Is this book in old timey English or normal, readable English? Because I can't help but feel this is a repackaging of the original." -- THIS BOOK WAS WRITTEN IN THE MID 1800s! It's as readable as it gets! The other comment read, "Advisory: this isn't even a good romance novel! There's like, 5 pages of romance! The rest is all anger and bitterness!" - No kidding. Do these people even KNOW the story behind "Wuthering Heights"?!

I can't help but feel now, that this will lead to a new market where all classic books are repackaged with a new cover, claiming that "BLANK FICTIONAL CHARACTER's favourite book!" and then plastered with a poorly thought out cover to sell copy. This are classics which already sell well, they don't need to be revamped. I can't help but feel "The Illiad" will soon be republished with, "MAIN CHARACTER from 'Never Back Down's favourite book!" .

This is it, the world is over. Mahalo.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lost: A Review

Recently, I ingested the entire five seasons J.J. Abrams' hit TV show "Lost" from beginning to end in barely a month. At first, I was a "Lost" hater - I hated it, and I enjoyed hating it and I wasn't in the mood to be budged on the matter. What was the worst about this was, I had never even watched it. I hated it purely based on the concept and false assumptions. But, I had to go and tell this to a rather pushy "Lost" fan, "Go on, watch the pilot episode if," he said, "if after that you don't want to watch any more of it, I won't push it." So I said fine. At the end of the movie-length premier, I was hooked and needed more "Lost". The complaints I had heard that it "all of a sudden" became a sci-fi show were, now, unfounded as "Lost" is in its essence, a sci-fi show. What's more, it's a good sci-fi show - which are rare to find. What's better is it was in the vein of the first season of "Heroes" and set in a very relatable real-world setting, but a lot less cheesy.

All the misconceptions I had had about the series turned out to be unfounded upon a proper viewing of the show. The show did not, as I thought, take place over a year each season but was actually a month, the first season being the first 44 days on the island - this created an interesting time paradox involving the actors and the events on the island - and it was not the only time paradox, as time is a predominant theme in the show.

What I found most intriguing about "Lost" is the surprising depth of it. To paraphrase a review given to the novel "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War", "Lost" is smarter than any sci-fi show has a right to be. Every character is based in some way around an historical figure or philosopher, the most obvious of which is the character of John Locke named after...well...John Locke. The 'main' character - a term I use loosely as a result of the inordinate number of main characters, the season six containing all previously seen twenty-six characters - Jack Sheppard seems to me to be based upon the famed Irish convict of the same name who is famous for escaping from prison something to the effect of fourteen times.

I have heard almost every possible interpretation of what "Lost" means, and what the Island is - that it's purgatory, that it's a prison, it's hell, it's not real, etc. etc. etc. ad infinatum. No one interpretation is right or wrong, and they are all well documented and correlated at LostPedia, an encyclopedia of everything that is "Lost".

For those of you who haven't seen "Lost" I won't be providing spoilers, so don't worry. The basic idea is that a plane crashes on a mysterious island, and somehow forty-seven or so people survive the crash - most of which are what we call "red shirts", named so after the character in "Star Trek" who would go down to the planet with the main characters and would...well...die, as they weren't leads, and they always wore red shirts. Of these, there are approximately 11-15 main characters at a time - it fluctuates as the seasons go on and characters die or are introduced. After some time on the island, they realize something is awry with the Island as they hear what they will frustratingly refer to as The Monster for five seasons, and soon realize they are not alone on the island. Major conspiracies, sci-fi concepts, philosophy and intriguing characters all make this show a worthwhile watch!


Hello, those of you aware of my other blog Jordan's Travels are aware that I recorded the details of my trip through Europe there. Here, I have decided to focus myself on perhaps some more serious writing. I would like to thank The Nail Gun for all the influence and help he has offered. Here, I will update you with reviews of books (novels, short stories, poetry, etc.) I am keeping up with, as well as movies, TV shows and comics (web and print). Also, I will begin posting some of my own work, as well as dream logs and other things such as thoughts which will hopefully produce discussion. So, without further adieu, I give you, The Screw.