05 December 2007

Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time... (Mayan Long Count)

Another Gregorian calendar year is fading fast...it's almost time for the winter solstice. I haven't been doing much the past few weeks--mainly just digging through the Soulseek treasure trove and capturing the binary coded music onto shiny plastic & foil discs, while also reading The Dalkey Archive by Flann O'Brien. Oh yeah, we've also been heading into town and facing the throngs to do a bit of dreaded X-Mas shopping.

While in town last weekend, we caught a showing of the new Wes Anderson flick, The Darjeeling Limited. I suspect that mosbunall of the reviews have the tone of this one from MSNBC, though I haven't read any--not even The Oxford Times review. I also suspect the Anderson-haters have had their knives sharpened ever since The Life Aquatic was released a couple of years ago. I'll agree that Wes seems to have lost a bit of his magical charm that made Rushmore and Bottle Rocket such treats--but I'll take his weakest efforts over most of the Hollywood action/romance crap any day.

I dunno--I kinda liked it..and yeah, the cinematography does seem to out-shine the characters and plot--but it's nice to see Anderson and Jason Schwartzmann working together again. Owen Wilson does his usual schtick, which is O.K. by me. Adrien Brody appears as the odd one out, but he holds down his end alright. Angelica Huston, another Anderson regular, shows up and even Bill Murray has a bit part. The story concerns three brothers on a train journey across India. Wilson's character, who's recovering from a horrific motorcycle accident (which may have been planned), has invited his two brothers along on a 'spiritual journey'. They are all naturally suspicious of each other and haven't seen each other since their father's funeral the previous year. Each has his own obsession or character trait to wrangle with as well. They bicker endlessly and gulp down cheap Indian medication. Schwartzmann's character takes up with one of the waitresses on the train (Amara Karan)--on the rebound from his ex-girlfriend (played by Natalie Portman--"Part 1", a short film shown before the main feature, was about their awkward reunion in a Paris hotel). They visit temples and bazaars, but the spiritual journey isn't doing them much good.

The film suddenly pivots when the brothers attempt to rescue three Indian boys who get swept into a powerful river current. One of the boys is killed and the Americans accompany the surviving boys to their village and subsequently to the funeral, which brings up memories of the day of their father's ceremony. After that, Wilson's character reveals the true reason for summoning them to India--to reunite with their estranged mother (Huston) who's living in a Christian monestary near to the Himalayas. She reluctantly meets them, but instead of the family bonding that Wilson's character had expected--she flees from them in the night. They make their way back to the airport, changed by the experience. As they are about to board the plane--they run back to the train, dropping their custom matching luggage on the way (I know, a bit heavy-handed with the symbolism there). Anderson also chucks in his usual impeccable soundtrack, though I will admit to getting a bit tired of Peter Sarstedt's Where Do You Go, My Lovely?, the third time it appeared. The Satyajit Ray soundtrack music (possibly played by Ravi Shankar) was a brilliant choice and definitely lends some authenticity to the film. If you're convinced Anderson is far too precious and fey to waste your money on, you'll find evidence to support your argument in "The Darjeeling Limited"--but for anyone else--it's probably at least worth a rental.

It's been a banner couple of weeks for tolerance in the patriarchal religions. First, news broke in the UK that the Catholic League in the U.S. are protesting the release of Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass film, saying it "promotes atheism"--or rather, it's a 'stealth campaign' for Pullman's books, which they claim promote atheism. I could be wrong--but it occurs to me that the early X-tians led a 'stealth campaign' in Rome to promote their religion. I guess it's different when the Catholic Church is the big boy on the block. Not to mention that the C.L. seem to be targeting children's books and films now--it's not enough to make a scapegoat of Marilyn Manson or Monty Python or Martin Scorsese. Pullman has defended himself quite ably, calling the C.L.'s leaders 'nitwits' and saying that he was dismayed that they are 'loose in the world'. I hear you, Phil, but unfortunately, we're still on the Planet Of The Apes.

If that weren't enough evidence for you--a British teacher working in Sudan was ordered to serve 15 days in prison for naming a teddy bear 'Muhammed'. I understand that those calling for a punishment were possibly a minority of Sudan's Muslim community--but they seemed to be a very vocal minority to me. Eventually, she was pardoned by Sudan's president and was allowed to return to the UK. Still, it goes to show me that I'd rather be living in an X-tian democracy than in an Islamic theocracy. Gillian Gibbons has stated that she enjoyed working in Sudan and that mostly everyone she met was friendly and supportive..it's too bad that some religious fanatics have to overshadow that goodwill.

I finally succumbed and bought an iPod. Not one of the new slim-line jobs that cost £90-£100, mind. A bloke at work won a new Nano in a raffle. They way the results were posted, it appeared that he had won two--but it turned out that one of the "iPods" was an mp3-player, not the Apple brand. Before I knew that the second one wasn't an iPod, I had put in an offer to buy one of them, if he was going to sell it fairly cheap. He told me about the mix-up, but then offered to sell me his old Mini for £40. It sounded like a fair offer to me, so I handed over the cash. He threw in a brand new pair of headphones and a charger/USB cable as well. I've downloaded the iTunes link-up and I'm ready to rock--only I haven't actually loaded anything onto it yet. Pixie will have a "tunes-to-run-to" folder and an indie-rock one. I'll have a progressive folder (natch!) and a groovy psychedelic tunes folder. An ambient setlist for going to sleep by would be a good thing as well, as currently I've been using Pixie's portable disc player which makes quite a bit of noise in a silent room. I'm sure I'll think of more selections as I go along.

Ah well, off to figure that contraption out. I'll try and post at least once before the holly-days--possibly one of those 'year-end wrap-up' doodles. See you then.


Anonymous said...

Can't make any comment about 'Darjeeling' as I haven't seen it and I don't think I be able to at the moment.

Re: 'The Golden Compass' (i.e. 'Northern Lights' ....why not?). I haven't seen the film yet but have anticipated it keenly for ages. However, all the reviews seem to suggest it is a bit of a mess and utterly avoids the deeper philosophical/theological questions raised by the books. I don't agree with Pullman's 'atheist' views (if that is what they really are) but feel he does raise lots of important questions that anyone interested in theology should be willing to attend to. Here, I should state an interest: having been brought up as a Christian (in the very down-to-earth Congregational Church) I have explored 'religion' to some degree most of my life. Having given Buddhism a good go, I found it, though fascinating and with much to commend it, ultimately failed to speak to my heart. Its avoidance of addressing the issue of a 'creator God' left me feeling empty. Some might say that is because of my conditioning but in my defence I have also read reasonably widely (for a thicko) in cosmology and quantum physics etc. For me, it all points to an ultimate creator. Now, as far as 'religion' is concerned I feel that most theological thinking is way off the mark and the Church has been guilty of so much crap over the years it's unbelievable. Equally, I don't believe that the the bloke who was originally Siddharta set out to start a religion at all. As for Jesus Christ, my position is this: I believe he came from God, I am a follower and thus, ultimately,I believe Him to be the only saviour of the world. I expect this all sounds very odd to you. Faith is a strange thing and cannot be explained in a 'comments' box!;)

Right...I am not a fundamentalist and also have problems with all the Churches (especially Catholic and Anglican). Madness is to be found in all extremes of belief (i.e. the Sudan incident). I don't believe Christ came to set up a Church or a 'religion', he came to change mankind. I attend a local Methodist church when I can get there, which is very old-school but the people are very nice (and mainly old). I think it's good for people to come together but it ain't church going that's important but the way you live your life. I cannot judge one person over another, whatever their beliefs. Obviously, I may happen to think they are wrong but I cannot say that says anything about their character.

There, I've said it. Does it surprise you? I encounter conflicts between my religious beliefs and my pleasures (e.g. much comedy, my love of Rastafarian music and many of the attitudes to be found in rocknroll) but what can you do? There was a very fine Dread musician and producer called Yabby You who was also a Christian and didn't believe Haile Selassi (check spelling!) was God incarnate. He was still regarded as a cool rasta man and known as The Jesus Dread. Without claiming any of his artistic brilliance I comfort myself with being a pale skin version!!

So...I'm open for some discussion :) Don't give me too hard a time!

Anonymous said...

To be voiced in the style of Lee Perry:

Perry 'im say people funny fe true
Well it nuh change til this day t'rough
Dem t'ink Jesus Christ he so not hip
Dey g'waf in another rocket ship

Givin' praise to gods of nothin' at all
Like Adam when he start to fall
Smokin' collie weed & dem feed
on LSD,
De angel dust, dey take de E

Dem t'ink it fine to fool with Sufi mon and Buddha too
But de bredren dat tell what Jesus do
Dem no like, dem stare in a-space
Lookin' for love but dem need grace
Lookin' for love but dem need grace

And there's somet'ing else I still wanna know while me hands are grubby
Me still wanna know who kill King Tubbys!
Me still wanna know who kill King Tubbys!

(apologies to Scratch and everyone else)

Anonymous said...

Riddim by Niney The Observer.

The Purple Gooroo said...

Thanks for the comments, Bear--and very brave of you to discuss your faith.

I've got no problem with others having faith...I used to as well, but I suppose I became sort of the opposite. I found it didn't really help me at all, even after being encouraged to pray quite a bit (I was brought up as a Roman Catholic--I did the whole bit..church almost every Sunday...Catholic middle school, even one year of Catholic high school). It seemed to me that it was all sort of a gamble--you pray..and then there's *maybe* a 50% chance of "God" helping you along. I finally had had enough in my mid-20s and gave up on religion, at least mainstream religion.

I suspect there may be a "creator"--but not in the way that X-tianity and all the other patriarchal religions do. I have no idea what it looks like..but I don't think it operates universe like a Western corporation, pyramid-stylee. Me, I dunno what's out there..I prefer it that way.

I just have very little time for dogma-junkies, thinking that they somehow are entitled to tell others what to think, watch, listen to, etc. They think they have this right because, supposedly, a 2,000-year old book tells them so. That just makes me laugh.

"Christianity will shrink and vanish...I don't know what will go first, rock-and-roll or Christianity. Jesus was alright, it's his disciples who were thick and ordinary"--John Lennon

Anonymous said...

I respect your opinions, sir. I disagree with Mr. Lennon, though. Rock and Roll is already fading fast but the spirit of Rock and Roll will live forever!! Jesus will be back, even if 'Christianity' does 'shrink' and maybe even 'vanish'.
I know what you mean about putting your faith in an ancient book but I truly believe it is inspired by God...it's just not helpful to be a nut-job fundamentalist.
Like you, have no idea what the 'creator' truly is. I think the human mind is too small to even begin to get a grip with that. I do believe life has a purpose and that the creator is benevolent. Of course, that doesn't explain all the pain and suffering in life as we know it (Jim) but I go for the 'free will' explanation. Without free will, life would be pointless. I expect that's a pretty inadequate way of looking things but it's all I've got at the moment.

Anyway, I STILL 'wanna know who killed King Tubbys!'. Maybe the key to it all is there. Apologies to Lee for my piss poor impersonation of him above.

The Purple Gooroo said...

Heh heh...well, I'm not sure Jesus will be back. I'm not sure he was here in the first place--but that's just m.h.o.

I like that quote from Lennon--I suspect that in some sense, he was spot on. I think a new paradigm will come along--even if it's not in my lifetime--and everything will change..and I don't mean "Jesus returning"--I mean something completely different (apologies to Monty Python). I suspect Lennon (and a lot of others) thought that rock-and-roll was the new paradigm and maybe it was, for about ten years from the mid-60s to the mid-70s. Then things went back to the way they were...

Re: "Free will"...I'm not so sure humans have 'free will', as X-tianity defines it. Most of us seem to be following robotic patterns of behaviour--including myself. It seems you have to work and WORK HARD to break yourself out of your conditioned habits and sppech, etc. It's very very tough, which seems to be why most people don't even attempt it. It's much easier to just stay with the same beliefs, habits, etc. Gurdjieff often spoke about "a planet full of sleeping people" and I think that's what he meant--same with Joyce speaking about "waking from the nightmare of history".

But what do I know? I'm still learning all the time. I don't even know who killed King Tubbys...I reckon whomever did was a bastard, though ;-)

Anonymous said...

Gurdjieff was spot on. I had a good friend who was well into him and also Gnosticism. Both have a lot of interesting things to say. We are all asleep.

Fat Chan said...

Is this the fabled Sean from HMV those few years ago In good old Oxonford???? Sorry to be completely off-topic!!!!!

Anonymous said...

You better ask him! :)

The Purple Gooroo said...

Fat Chan: You are correct, sir. No probs on being off-topic. Welcome to the blog!