Saturday, 3 December 2016

No Apologies for the Infinite Radness 1.1.18 - "My Sundown" (Jimmy Eat World)

A song about calling time and moving on.

My copy of this album isn't called "Bleed American", because I didn't buy it until 2002. By then it had been renamed - de-named, really - in the wake of September 11th. I got the album as my final term as an undergraduate began. I listened to it multiple times a day in between studying for the last exams I would ever take, staring out into a world that had become unrecognisable. Changes dripped from the walls and covered the skin, and every change felt like an ending.

Leaving university felt profoundly strange. For most of us it was the first community we had any meaningful choice about living in. I loved my school friends with the kind of fierceness only the young and ignorant can manage - these days it's uncommon for me to so much as nod at them on Facebook - but surviving the local comprehensive together felt less like forming a network of the like-minded and more like survivors of a shipwreck banding together to avoid being eaten by bears. Maybe it was just because of how many of us were forced to read Lord of the Flies at the time.

University was different. This was a place we'd chosen. The social structures we formed over the years we were there we built because we wanted to be there, and wanted being there to mean as much as it could. 

And now it was about to end, just as the world had finally revealed its chaos so completely that even a sheltered middle-class white boy couldn't fail to notice it any more.

"My Sundown" lives in the intersection of two realisations: that it's time to move on, but that there's no way of knowing what you're moving on to. The narrator says goodbye at sundown, and that means they're travelling by night. Departure imminent, destination unknown. All that matters is that things can't stay as they are. 

Everything here is shot through with bittersweetness. You don't choose sundown as your metaphor if you're overjoyed about what's coming next, after all. But it's also clear that unsolvable problems have been revealed by he light of day. Nobody seems to care about whatever progress you're making here. You can't really move on unless you're leaving something behind.

There's an ethereal, calming quality to the song, too. The slow strum, the soft, airy vocals, the constant flow of synthesised noise bubbling underneath everything. This is a dream of how a pop-rock album should end. It's a lullaby you sing to yourself. The need to become more than what you are eventually bleeds out into your sleep.

It was the summer of 2002, and every day saw me further into the dusk. I was about to leave almost everything I knew behind, and travel out into a world that I had never found so scary. Sundown was coming any minute.

I dreamed of becoming something more.

No Apologies for the Infinite Radness 1.1: Sad Bastard Music

Here's your b-side. Something nice for us to make our way out to.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Friday Dreadfleet: The Swordfysh

It's been a long time since I've shown you anything from my paint bench, I realise. The reason behind this will probably shock no-one who follows the blog or knows me in the meatsphere - turns out nothing curtails your painting time so much as a cat who loves to drink paint water, throw brushes to the ground, and gnaw on small plastic objects. It's also a pretty drawn out process for me to get through a Dreadfleet ship at the best of times. This is only the third I've completed since I got the game five years ago, and if I remember rightly I first base-coated the Swordfysh back in 2014.

Still, she's done now, and I'm rather fond of her.

Below is the whole of my painting efforts for the game to date, minus the Curse of Zandri that hasn't got past me spraying it black and painting its base.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Infinite Diversity, Finite Combinations 1.1.3

Back to the Original Series, and the very first episode William Shatner shot. Rather better on gender issues than its reputation suggests, but you'll have to click the link to find out why.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Monday, 21 November 2016

Friday, 11 November 2016

Infinite Diversity, Finite Combinations 4.1.2

My latest Star Trek piece is up at Geek Syndicate, and talks about the similarities between Tahna Los and the Kohn-Ma and our very own Nigel Farage and his Purple Fascists.

"I Have Tried, In My Way, To Be Free"

Fourteen years more or less to the day I was doing my diagnostic teaching practice ("diagnostic" basically meaning "determining whether you'll fold more or less immediately upon actually coming in contact with students").  The school I was working at was not an easy one. 26% A*s to C at GCSE, major discipline issues, a catchment area utterly ravaged by Thatcher murdering the mining industry.

I dreaded every day I spent there.

So did the two other trainee teachers I used to hitch a lift with. Every journey into work felt like a vigil. It was the most important time for us to give each other emotional support, and the time at which we felt the most dejected and drained and alone and unable to reach out. We tried, but even working in the same building, there was just too much distance between the specifics of what we were facing.

Then one day Vivienne took her eyes off the road for long enough to grab for a CD.

"Check this out, Ric," she called back to me. "This guy is just so bitter and sarcastic."

The disc went in.

"You'll love him."

And this song started up. And he was, and I did.

Goodbye, Mr Cohen. You helped when we needed helping. Thank you for that.