7 Things You Didn’t know About Me: I am Javert apparently…

I have seen a few people do these ‘7 things you don’t know about me’ challenges on Facebook. Of course no one would ask me as I have a pessimistic mind. I would likely just make up fantastical things to joke it off and reveal nothing of myself or things I consider arbitrary like the fact I carried both a brass statue of Ganesha and some lucky coal from my grandmother in my pocket when doing many sixth form exams. The statue however has been lost somewhere. Nonetheless without Facebook’s restrictions here are some matters to state. Are they totally honest or a bit fabricated? I know and it bothers me…

1) I am not a happy soul sometimes. I try to be happy. It’s just the natural ebb and flow of life. People who are ever happy are in someway trying to avoid taclking certain hard matters in their life and potentially setting themselves up for a greater fall in the long run sadly. Prehaps it is because i too easily identify with peoples issues when they voice them to me and in some part ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ in my case means i take on the burden of that person’s issues upon myself if I can help or not. Sometimes people just want someoen to listen and I would like to think I am good at this.

2) I am very weary of people who immediately, upon a first encounter, use terms of familiarity if I do not know them personally. For example terms like mate, butt or buddy. These overly familiar terms are used to make you lower your defenses by suggesting the speaker has an openness and lack of judgemental opinions but to me it is a red flag telling me to be weary as the use of these social skills are intended to achieve something detrimental to myself.

3) ‘Una Furtiva Lagrima’ is my leifmotif. The first time I heard it was on an anime VHS ‘Giant Robo: The Day The Earth Stood Still: Volume 1’ which I bought at a car boot sale many years ago. It was performed by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and an unnamed tenor. However it originally comes from the comic opera L’elisir d’amore (The Elixir of Love) by the Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti.

It plays during a character’s recollection of how the world wronged his father and deemed him a monster. His father, Von Folgen a senior member of a research facility, was deemed a monster for causing the destruction of a large mass of land during an experiment involving a new power source, the Shizuma Drive, claiming it was flawed and unsafe to be used. He set off a reaction killing him and many of the people involved at the location. At the end of the anime, after the villains, Big Fire composed of the Magnificent Ten and their henchmen, have killed many of the heroes, the International Police Organisation, and have themselves fallen in battle, it is revealed that the Shizuma Drive, which had revolutionised the world and was a universally used power source to the point fossil fuels and nuclear power were obsolete, is in fact truly faulty and dangerous of a world scale. Von Folgen had seen that it would cause a chain reaction within the atmosphere eliminating the ozone within seconds and all life on the planet would be wiped out within minutes at a certain point in the new power source’s use. The villains all along had actually been saving the world the entire time and their methods, while damaging to government facilities as no one believed what they were saying, had been for the greater good compared to the heroes defence of these locations. In the end it was a pyrrhic victory. Giant Robo, the title robot, is revealed to be powered by nuclear energy hence why it and it alone could continue to fight Big Fire during the power black outs. Ultimately in order to stop Von Folgen’s ambition they had to ironically rely on the power sources which they had abandoned. By the end of the series the world has survived but is devastated as their over reliance as left them in a true dark ages while all Von Folgen had desired was for people to embrace this ‘beautiful night’ and find alternative means of power without the risk of annihilation due to greed for success.

In the context of the original aria it is a man in love with a girl who buys an elixir of love, in truth just some wine bought from a conman, and while watching the girl laments that if only she could understand him “Una furtiva lagrima” (A furtive tear) is the romanza from act 2, scene 8 of the Italian opera L’elisir d’amore by Gaetano Donizetti. It is sung by Nemorino (tenor) when he finds that the love potion he bought (in fact a bottle of wine from a conman) to win the heart of his dream lady, Adina, works. Nemorino is in love with Adina, but she is not interested in a relationship with an innocent, rustic man. To win her heart, Nemorino buys a love potion with all the money he has in his pocket. That love potion is actually a cheap red wine sold by a traveling quack doctor, but when he sees Adina weeping, he knows that she has fallen in love with him, and he is sure that the “elixir” has worked.

Eventually it turns out the elixir is not required but in reality it would be a tragedy not a comedy. Nemorino seems to suffer from limerence at this point leading to…

4) I excel in formal situations rather than informal ones. I prefer one to one communication or better yet small groups. I work well in formal situations more so than informal ones. So ironically in the modern day work enviroment, where every one refers to each other by first name, I feel a bit uneasy althoguh the truth of the matter is this is a facade and the underlying authority and division still exists. I was for a time in charge of mentoring a group of people on interview skills. Most of them were successful in finding jobs within weeks of my mentoring which far exceeded that of the more senior experienced staff. Of course at the end of the probationary period I was let go as I did not follow the rules which made it more of a babysitting job than actually helping people get jobs. If people got jobs quickly I suppose it would somehow negatively affect the organisations profits so ironically doing the correct thing was wrong and so I found myself ironically joining the people on this course being held back from achieving what I could. In the end I found employment by myself and so this entire process was pointless. It is with shame I admit that they just let me do my own job search because I didn’t need them. I allowed this process to continue. I could tell stories of those who were evil and manipulated this position of power but what is the point.

Society idolises the individual as part of a group if you even have a passing knowledge of a sport you can identify the main figures in a sports team who are noted as excelling past their comrades however the individual who does not belong is demonised. It is only natural. Humans are a social animal and any animal that does not conform is a liability to be cast out to ensure the groups security. Yet modern life has allowed the outsider to survive though not thrive. Boo Radley of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ needed to be cared for by his brother yet the modern age could allow him to survive by himself as communication is less and less done face to face. Such figures are left to imagine interaction or to facilitate it only in passing and so ultimately the mind-set is forged that there is no need to invest in others as all things are fleeting. Of course people understand this in some sense but to such people that moment of loss is all the more immediate and so when it comes to pass it is a matter of fact not of loss as it is just the way things are meant to be. It may be due to people finding me a good listener.

5) I empathise with characters that have high moral standards but are ultimately flawed individuals often leading to their downfall by the end of the story. In a brief way I have always preferred characters with a staunch set of values, be they hero or villain, and willing to die for them though often these figures are presented as isolated people and not people to be viewed in any positive manner. The most well-known example would be Javert from Les Miserables. In the book he is introduced far later than in the musical but in both his view is that the law, as a set marker of morality, is unquestionable and this is reflected in his songs and ultimately his fate as he commits suicide when, depending on your perspective, he either kills himself unable to accept Jean Valjean is a morally good man though in the eyes of the law he is a criminal or, as I prefer to interpret it in line with the novel, he commits suicide because it is the logical end to the matter. In order to capture Valjean would mean prosecuting a man who is noble and doing the right thing but at the same time he is duty bound to uphold the word of the law and the simplest answer is to remove himself from the equation. He is not a villain as the musical audience wish to pigeon hole him. He is one of ‘the retched’ although instead of living in poverty as many of the characters do he is instead retched as he is restrained from doing moral right due to being so steadfastly insistent on maintaining the letter of the law even when presented with situations he knows to be ‘good’ despite not being legal.

He knows Valjean stole bread to feed starving family, he sees the benefits the factory has given to people who Valjean assumes a new identity and he sees the mercy Valjean has during the revolution even being willing to finally allow Javert to take him in so he is not in trouble. For Javert to finally find his creed to be wrong and that upholding the law is morally wrong but letting Valjean go is legally wrong so in order to resolve the matter he removes himself form the equation as stated previously.

This sentiment of upholding a creed no matter what is also present I the film ‘In Bruge’ where Ralph Fiennes as Harry Waters states killing children is something even he, a career criminal, deemed inexcuseable and in fact sparks the events of the film in motion.

At the end of the film he kills a racist midget and believing he is a child keeps to his word and shoots himself in the head stating ‘Got to stick to your principles’.

I notice in a lot of films, especially super hero ones, the hero is excused killing as long as they do not do it directly or are shown to show some partial remorse about doing it. For example in the recent Superman film he snaps General Zodd’s neck. He cries but there were alternatives on how to resolve this matter which the film makers could have taken rather than this route and justify it with ‘…and Supes decided never to kill again’. In Spider-man he leaps out of the way of the Green Goblin’s jet platform allowing the villain (who is clearly mentally ill due to the side effects of an experimental serum), to be impaled on the device while he leaps out of the way. In Batman Begins the hero manipulates the situation so Ra’s Al Ghul is stranded on a train heading into an explosion and doesn’t save him. This is a gritty reboot but nonetheless though Batmasn hasnt dirtied his hands with the actual act he did create the situation in which to kill his adversary. In these cases the hero created the lethal situation, or allowed it to occur, and we are meant to view this as the villain being hoist by their own petard. I find that the media is endorsing some very disturbing hypocrasies in morality in such films which becomes ingrained in the mindset of children. Further examples involve V of ‘V for Vendetta’ who is a vigilante and in the original graphic novel a villainous anti-hero terrorist figure fighting a totalitarian state as the greater evil yet in the film this is dumbed down to him fighting for freedom without any civilian casualties and Evie’s torture/training being presented in a far more sympathetic tone than the original story. It is no surprise that Rorschach from Watchmen is the most liked character though his morality is clearly in the mould of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism which Steve Ditko, one of the founding figures in modern American comic books fully endorsed which led to the creation of Mr A after he and Stan Lee found they had very conflicting views on how the heroes should act.

I think it should be noted that Javert mentions that he was born inside a jail and holds himself to a higher cause having been raised amongst the worst of society (which gives him a jaded perspective). Yet we are to identify with Jean Valjean who has been on the run for years. I suppose Hugo, viewing society at large, and Doestoevsky, viewing the individual’s sense in ‘Crime and Punishment’ conflict here. To Raskalnikov ultimately it is his own sense of righteousness killing the money lender, mistaking it for a morally justifiable action, which results in his personally enforced sense of guilt for the grevious act once he sees how little consequence it has had to the order of wider society. It is no doubt ironic that Raskolnikov compares himself to Napoleon in his belief of justified actions. It was a period of human history where the letter of the law and morality was being challenged and not assumed to be one and the same as it had been for centuries previously.

Porfiry Petrovich, who is the head of the Investigation Department in charge of solving the murders of Lizaveta and Alyona Ivanovna, who, along with Sonya, moves Raskolnikov towards confession operates under very different methods to Javert however. It is interesting to think that Javert, who is authoritarian, is considered a villainous figure or at best an anti-villain so we have figures like 2000AD’s Judge Dredd (based on Javert saying ‘I am the law and the law is not mocked’ and Sylvester Stallone’s role as Dredd infamously repeating the phrase ‘I am the law’) when adapted. However Petrovich, who is more open to using coercion and manipulation to persuade Raskolnikov to confess though he has no actual evidence, is adapted into friendly, almost comical, Columbo who rambles about things for a while before saying ‘…eh, and one more thing…’ before nailing the guilty with a single question about how things do not add up in regards to people’s account of the events.

6) I have not met anyone I was friendly with in school face to face in over ten years. More just by coincidence than anything as many moved to England for their jobs or even as far as Australia or Germany making themselves a life in these other countries. Even then I am not sure what the word ‘friend’ means nowadays to most people when they use the term. Certainly Facebook and social media with their use of ‘friend’ instead of ‘contact’ or ‘acquaintance’ have changed the context of the word. Prehaps i could be said it has even led to misinterpretation by simplifying the language we use day to day causing us to use the word ‘friend’ when we mean an association far less intimate than the dicitionary definition of friendship.

7) A number of people have found it far easier to consider me an enemy than ever think of me in a positive light. I find if you are quiet people reveal their true personality as they will assume things about you thus projecting their own personal prejudices. It is surprising what you discover about people by doing this. The extrovert with many friends, in not being able to gauge you, can because hostile as you are to them an unknowable element which they precieve immeditely as a threat for keeping ‘secrets’ from them when others would merely respect your sense of privacy. Some people may expect to just get their own way and as society has appeared to become more informal with people addressing their superiors by first name, rather than Mr/Mrs/Miss ____, it appears everything is more relaxed when in fact things are perhaps even more formalised in the sense of interaction where people will be forced to do certain things as a favour’ when really it is an instruction. Being in absolute control of the situation is a major hangup for many people it seems. ‘An easy life’ is the mantra I often hear stated. People want an easy life and yet this easy life comes at the expense of worsening the situations or others with ambiguity of where they stand in a group.

There are other points that could be added but why bother. ‘lighten up’ I suppose is what can be said. Don’t stand for anything just go with the flow its far better. Let those who wronged you walk away happy because, you know, they haven’t given a second thought to what they did. Good people. Good people get to use violence. Good people get to demand others adhere to their morality. There is only light and dark. Good and evil. ‘Shut the fuck up and be happy because you are bringing me down’ (and don’t be surprised I still call you a cunt anyway afterwards).

I will keep blog posts from now on far shorter as this is achieving nothing. This is nothing but a wolf howling at the moon…

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A Visit to the Cat’s Adoption Home

I went to the Cat’s Protection rehoming centre recently.

It is a good charity and very well run with a welcoming, unpressured, enviroment for visitors.

It is a single floor brick building which seems to have been purpose built for housing the charity and cattery.

You walk in and on the left behind the door there are a few trinkets, card, toys and snacks for cats sold in aid of the charity. On the right is the reception desk and the offices for doing the paperwork. A few metres on the left is a blue door with two windows of safety glass and a thick yellow vertical bar leading to the cats for rehoming.

There are two corridors through this door. The second runs off to the right at the end of the first one and has a similar door to bar the cats escaping should they somehow find a way to escape their cell.

Each corridor has about 8 ‘cells’ in which cats are kept and a venilation system silently keeping air flowing and the temperature constant. Paper work is hung above each one with a photo and a short first person written account of the cat to entice the reader into selection. Some have paperwork taped to the window detailing the observations by the staff about the cat’s mood, eating habits and any other issues. Some even have ‘good girl/boy’ written on them if they are doing better. A few, the most needy, have rosettes attached to their windows with titles like ‘lonely heart’, ‘little star’, ‘overlooked’, ‘golden oldie’ (for those over 9 years old it seemed) and on one something akin to ‘a pair is best’. The last one admittedly had been placed on the window of a daughter separated from her mother. The first day I was told they could go separately though they had come in together but then the second day this was on the window for the daughter so perhaps it was a rogue agent…

Above each cell are a folded piece of A4 with a photo and a brief ‘personal account’ of the cat written in the first person. Many came in because of new babies in their families, some had been here before but their owners got too old to care for them, the one I selected had been wandering the streets. In an odd way you could tell which staff member had written which account as certain ones were long and ended with ‘with purrs and kisses xxx’ while others were very matter of fact being only three or so lines.

Of course there are larger catteries elsewhere on the site but these display cells are where they put the cats ready to be rehomed.

Each cell has full length double window doors secured with a rotatable stop tab at the top to bar the windows from opening. It seems a bit old fashioned but it works. The cat that constantly battered the window couldn’t open its door even with the tab out of place so perhaps it is only a secondary security lock. The first cell on the left in the second corridor on both occasions had two cats sat inside it. On the first day they looked very sad and no doubt uncomfortable sharing such an intimate space together. On the second day they were very alert. I do not think the two cats came in together but perhaps they had become very lonely isolated by themselves and so this was pairing up worked.

In the cells are the following: a blue plastic bowl filled with dry cat food, a blanket to lay on, one of those climbing things to sit on top of or hide beneath. Each has a litter tray filled either with grey clay litter or wood pellets. I do not know why there is this differentiation.

At the rear of each cell is a cat door leading to a wooden shed like extensionm running the length of the building, for them to rest away from visitors. Most sit in the cell where it is warmer this time of year though.

The corridor is sterile. At the corner is a number of printed off A4 scaled photos of the staff and others in fancy dress costumes from promotional events. On the corner is the room in which they wash the cat’s litter
The staff move around with blue plastic bags on their shoes and latex gloves to handle the cats. Blue polo shirts and cotton jumpers are worn. Usually they wear blue jeans and trainers but that is just a casual thing.

The first visit is during the afternoon on the weekend. The ‘busy’ period. There are a number of people there in their small groups crowded around each of the cells. Some cats act out due to the commotion. Some sleep. The staff passed back and forth some helping visitors and taking cats out to be handled while others just need to get from one side of the building to the other.

You don’t hear the cats cry. Most have become institutionalised. They know it’s not going to work if they cry out. It reminds me of the Children’s charity adverts on television tell the viewer that children don’t cry out because they have learnt no one will come. There it is abuse. Here it is a matter of conserving energy. The ones that have been here before know the score. If they are not sleeping then they tap at the window gently, make full intense eye contact, the works. They are Puss In Boots from Shrek incarnate.

A small girl taps on the glass of one cat and reminds me of Verruca Salt from the Roald Dahl story. ‘Mummy, mummy, mummy I want this one’. ‘Don’t open that door dear’. She doesn’t stop the girl. She just lets her keep going. Every generation says the younger ones are spoilt and ‘don’t know they are born’. No its more a case of certain families do not instil in their children the etiquette of proper decorum in public and private life. These children then go on to be successful as they are not as restrained in their conduct and take the chances others don’t. Or they make sure to make others be aware of how discontented they are with their lives without doing anything about it. In any case spoilt rotten.

We did not select a cat the first time. It seemed inappropriate to just drop in and expect to do so. We returned the next day and having checked the website discovered that some I had viewed previously had been reserved.

The second day it is mid-morning and the staff are busy behind closed doors though occasionally they move through the corridor. One cat that had already been reserved on my second visit began to bang its paws against the glass. Bang bang. Bang bang. Bang bang. On and on it goes and no one turns up to stop it. Bang bang. Bang bang. Bang bang. It’s propped upon its hind legs slamming its paw pads on the glass as hard as it can. Bang bang. Bang bang. Bang bang. One cat across the way looks at it. But what can be done? They’re in for the long stretch and this one’s not seen The Shawshank Redemption.

A pair of old women come in. They look for what seems to be only minutes. A staff member appears out of nowhere and is helping them. We were here for over 45 minutes and besides stepping around us we were not acknowledged while looking. ‘For which one of you is it?’ ‘Me it’ll be coming home with.’ 10 minutes later a member of staff finally comes to us as we are by the door and about to leave. Maybe they left us alone as we were pacing back and forth discussing the matter previously. We couldn’t handle the cat due to health issues. We didn’t reserve it until later once home though we were asked if we wanted to do so there and then.

There had been 3 I liked but in the end I just took the one that on the day made the best impression. That impression been formed by three things:

1) Not remaining asleep during the hour and a half we have walked those two corridors repeatedly.
2) Making a noise so I knew what it sounded like.
3) Being observant but neither overly active nor lethargic.

Also full circular eyes while attractive are not something i am used to in animals or humans. A look of quiet distane, hooded, half open eyes is default for me and often it will appeal to me more than the desperate, wanton attention, fully open eyes demand with their suggestion of bewilderment in the face of stimuli as if to say ‘look see through these windows and find my soul beared to thee’. LOVE ME, LOVE ME, LOVE ME! They demand without first earning affection.

The cats all seem very sedate and for the most part content. The new comers are, of course, very timid and wide eyed. One I saw was sat ‘hiding’ on top of its toy bunker with its golden eyes peeping over the edge of the bedding. Another would peer through the cat flap only once making an appearance. Most on the second day were sound asleep. At one point one cat had to be moved to another cell and as expected hissed and screamed at being handled. This cat however was stated to be feisty so it is the exception not the rule.

The cat home seems to be very well run. The staff are well informed, friendly and sincere. Although the staff were very busy the second time we visited I assume it was just the time of each day when they have to all be attending to behind the scenes work and cannot afford to spare anyone ‘front of house’. Certainly when speaking about the cats they seem truly enthusiastic and at least one is a dedicated cat owner himself.

When we reserved the cat they took our contact details and were back to us asking the relevant questions and arranging pick up, etc., the next day after the cat had been seen by the veterinarian (who goes there every Tuesday). They ask the questions to ensure the home is suitable for the cat and if need be would arrange a home visit. In our case apparently this was not necessary. They do ask for £50 per cat adopted but this is in fact very cheap as the cats, depending on how long they have been there, either have their first injections or the full course so you are in fact saving money in such a case. You are also asked if you would consider a further donation on top of this which I think is fair.

The information provided above each cat is concise and clear with separate colour coded symbols to indicate each of the areas people may wish to know about: Gender; Age (approx.); Breed; Colour; Can live with cats; Can live with dog; Can live with a family; Can live with mature family; Indoor only cat; Access to outside.

They visit the home if there are children, other animals or anything they think may affect the cat. This is good. Cats are solitary but need others to survive. All animals both social and solitary at some point must interact with others.
So now I need to think of a name for this stray who is now homed… that is the next challenge once the paperwork is completed.

I liked the place. It was a very laid back feel but they werre definitely busy and doing their very best to ensure the cats were well cared for and not needlessly stressed by their current circumstnces which could easily happen especially with the younger ones or those whose first, and hopefully only time ever here, before finding their ‘forever home’ which the staff truly wish happens with each adoption.

http://www.bridgend.cats.org.uk/bridgend


Editting… I just cannot do it…. Delayed updates result… Will be more updates in due course a few days from now.

Burton’s Fish ‘n’ Chips, ‘Lashings of Salt & Vinegar’ Flavour, Baked Snack Mini Biscuits

Who would want salt and vinegar flavoured biscuits? Apparently there was a demand for these 1980s snacks to return. I don’t remember them ever existing. More to the point why play of ‘fish and chips’ but make them ‘salt and vinegar’. I have seen fish flavoured crisps before but I don’t think they were ever popular and eventually disappeared… shortly after the 1980s ironically.

They do however taste like the 1980s would do if distilled into a snack food. Dryly humourless despite the presentation. Unsatisfying despite the excessive effort made for the design of the biscuits and packaging. Unhealthy and unfulfilling without any real sense of taste. You buy for the packaging not the contents. you buy for the novelty not because it is something that appeals to you.

The biscuits come in two forms: Fish shapes and sticks meant to be ‘chips’. I don’t know what the ratio of fish to chips is but if you get mostly chips you will feel cheated. It may just be a ‘visual appetite’ thing (you eat with your eyes so visually appealing food will be more satisfying than something like a mulch of various shades of brown) but the fish seem more fulfilling and definitely pick up more of the salt and vinegar flavouring. The chips are just bland.

The texture of the biscuits is hard to compare with others as it is more of a cracker. I suppose Ritz biscuits, with their crisp but brittle shell and ‘puffy’ interior are the best comparison.

There is not a strong taste of salt and vinegar to them for the most part. I would describe it as being on a par with an own brand variety of crisps from a supermarket as it is present but not consistent across the contents in the packs it seems. In fact I got a small rock of compacted solid salt at one point which was surprising.

I didn’t enjoy them but they seem on a par with the sort of bland, inoffensive, finger snacks you get at a cheap buffet. These probably sell more as a novelty, and nostalgia to those who remember them, than as a ‘serious’ snack (if people ever actually think of snacks as ‘serious’ business). These will not satisfy you if you are hunger and probably serve better as an alternative to nachos or other snack foods used in conjunction with flavoured dips like salsa, humus, etc.

Packaging: The front of the packaging is like a newspaper with some ‘biscuit fish’ scattered across blocking the front page sotry abut a man catching mackerel (what this has to do with fish and chips I don’t know but they seem to want to be kitchey and appeal to the the hipster retro market):

Holy Mackerel! What a catch!
A man, Will Katchum, has recorded the biggest ever Mackerel haul in fistory! He hooked his mega fish while on a trip with his son. He said: “It was a quiet fishing day at sea and then suddenly I felt my rod spin out of control. I thought Holy Mackerel! It codpletely ___ght me___ ___ior helped him reel his _____________d block!!
Fish
1. Angling is___
2. Minnows have ___
Better to digest their food
3. Atlantic salmon can leap almost 5m___

What is the point of this amount of detail? It must have cost a lot to design and pushes up their production costs immensely in order to have the text be legible? Also they include the following ‘interesting’ fact:

Over 250 million fish & chips are sold in the UK each year!

Do they mean these packets (unlikely) or real fish and chips? (Which have nothing to do with these snacks). Random facts have been appearing on the packaging of snacks recently. Penguin biscuits always used to have a bad joke on the back of the wrapper but now on other snacks they have these ‘interesting facts’ front and centre as if to try and balance the unhealthy aspect of the snack with ‘mentally enriching’ general knowledge factoids.

Each 25g Pack contains:
Energy: 515kJ / 123kcal (per 100g 2059kJ / 493 kcal
Fat: 6.2g
Saturates: 1.4g
Sugars: 2.3g
Salt: 0.5g

Suitable for Vegetarians

Ingredients:
Fortified wheat flour (Wheat flour, Calcium carbonate, Iron, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Thiamin (Vitamin B1)), Vegetable oils (Sunflower, Palm, Rapeseed, Coconut), Wheat starch, Glucose syrup, Lactose (Milk), Raising agents, (Ammonium bicarbonate, Sodium bicarbonate), Autolysed yeast, Barley malt extract, Whey and whey derivatives (Milk), Sugar, Flavourings, Salt substitute, (Potassium chloride), Salt, Flavour enhancers (E621, E635), Citric acid, Acidity regulator (Sodium acetate), Malt vinegar extract (Barley), Perservative (Sodium metabisulphite).

Salt and salt substitutes in one package… that’s interesting. Just can’t get enough salt but know salt is bad for you? Why not try salt substitutes!? (But they will still put in some salt just for you traditionalists too so they don’t use that share of the market). It’s like smokers choosing to use e-cigarettes instead of real cigarettes. It stops second hand smoke but all the other issues still remain, if not made worse, as you think ‘hey it’s not as bad as the alternative’ and so it’s used with wild abandon and ends up being worse than a measured use of ‘the real thing’. Some of the terms used like ‘autolysed’ and ‘metabisulphate’ make me want to look up and confirm my suspicions about what they actually imply. Quite the variety of vegetable oils used… why with these oils ambassador you are spoiling us.

Allergy Advice: For allergens, including cereals containing gluten, see ingredients in bold. May also contain Nuts, Soya.

Or as I always feel factory made foods need to say ‘hey you have allergies and we don’t want to take responsibility for anything. Just go make your own food at home and never venture to eat anything made by another human’s hand ever for the rest of your life.’

Storage: To keep me fresh for longer, once opened, store in a cool dry place away from strong light.

Why did they write it like the packaging is addressing you like a pet? I hate how designers are doing that with inanimate objects. I never owned a tamagochi. I don’t understand why inanimate objects need to be assigned ‘personality’. It must be considered cute but in the end it’ll just result in hooker-bots killing lonely old men and Marvin the Paranoid Android complaining about how cheerful the sighing doors are. Are Burton’s trying to make you feel guiltiy for eating the thing. Maybe that’s the plan: you just keep buying more and more and never eating it until in the post-apocalyptic world you are using it as bedding and telling tales of Will Katchum’s legendary mackerel haul founding a religion around it until the mackerel becomes a deified beast. Everything H.P. Lovecraft ever said about Cthulhu, Dagon and the Deep Ones will come to fruition… Ia! Cthulhu Fthagn! Ph’nglui mglw’nfah Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn! I don’t know about you but I’m getting ahead of the crowd and joining my local Esoteric Order of Dagon today!

Fish ‘n’ Chips Nutrition:
Typical Values per 100g / per 25g
Energy (kJ): 2059 / 515
Energy (kcal): 493 / 123
Fat (g): 24.7 / 6.2
Of which saturates (g): 5.6 / 1.4
Carbohydrates (g): 59.9 / 15
Of which Sugars (g): 9.2 / 2.3
Fibre (g): 2.7 / 0.7
Protein (g): 7.9 / 2.0
Salt (g): 1.9 / 0.5
Reference intake of an average adult (8400 kJ / 2000kcal). 25g = 1 pack

This means nothing to me except ‘standard amount of fat for snack foods’. I get the impression they want to imply that because they are baked then they are healthier but I think they are a little late to the game as most people have figured out by now those concepts are not exactly true in the grand scale of things.

Non GM ingredients

No hydrogenated fats

Burton’s Biscuit Co. – ‘Making Every Day More Of A Treat’

That is their motto… I don’t feel it made my day a bit more of a treat. I mean there I was just thinking ‘I want a snack’ and WOAH IT’S LIKE THERE’S A PARTY IN MY MOUTH AND EVERYONE’S INVITED! AAAAHHH! WOO WOO THAT’S THE SOUND OF DA POLICE… Then you wake up somewhere you don’t recognise being referred to as Number Six even though you keep telling everyone you are not a number you are a free man! CONSUME! CONFORM! OBEY!

Burton’s Biscuit Co., is a trading name of Burton’s Foods Ltd.
We’d love to hear from you with comments or suggestions:
Consumer Services,
Burton’s Buscuit Co.,
PO Box 145,
Birmingham,
B24 8WR.
0151 676 2352

Email: Consumer.services@burtonbuscuits.com
Website: http://www.burtonbuscuits.com
Twitter: @FishnChipsSnack

Short Movie Reviews: January 2015

Just to keep the blog ticking over here are some short reviews of films I saw on television recently.


Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead (2009)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wrong_Turn_3:_Left_for_Dead
The forest dwelling cannibals return… well one of them does with his son and this time they are hunting criminals and correctional officers (and a girl from the introduction stinger who survived). So this is the film where the final of the three recurring cannibal brothers dies (chronologically as the fourth in the series is a prequel and the fifth… midequal?). The characters are mostly either cardboard dull or outright unlikeable. Ironically when Three Fingers son gets killed is the only moment in the film close to eliciting any reaction although it is still very much a case of evil vs evil. Chavez is so clichéd it is borderline racial stereotyping. You don’t care if anyone lives or dies and thus it is just a process of killings which you don’t care about. The first film in the series I still now remember watching and it was fun so its very sad to see how quickly, even with inventive alternatives to ‘teens go into the woods’, they ended up just making no effort.

Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings (2011)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wrong_Turn_4:_Bloody_Beginnings
A prequel which takes place in modern times. The first film was released in 2003 and this film seems to be set in 2011… Nothing in the design or costumes suggests this is set far enough into the past that the cannibal teens seen during this film become the three recurring villains of the series except they share those character defining physical deformities. It is more aking to what the Japanese call a ‘gaidan’ i.e. side story using the same characters and perhaps setting but not connected to the rest of the series. It was incredibly low quality and poorly done. The fact that within the first 5 minutes after the stinger at the start we see most of the cast having sex together, both heterosexual and lesbian in the same room, and then the lesbian pair reprising their copulation about 15 minutes later should have told me they really had little if any good ideas to present here. The last pair get their heads cut off escaping on a snow mobile. The camera then shows a wide overhead shot showing the posts where the barbed wire would have been hung between… basically the ‘survivors’ died from stupidity. I don’t know if the creators have decided we should be vying for the cannibals to win but they seem to have missed the whole origin of this idea when it arose in the 1980s with Freddy Kruger. He had inventive ways of killing the kids in his films and many snarky remarks. Here we have grunting deformed cannibals. How this film is set about 20 years in the past before the first film escapes me. They made no effort whatsoever and even low budget amateur films have better production values that this did. This film should never have existed…

Biggles: Adventures In Time (1986)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biggles:_Adventures_in_Time
The 80s really had an issue where if Americans made an adventure film not featuring an American hero they would shoehorn on in… in fact they still do if anyone watched ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ where they introduced Tom Sawyer into the British Empire orientated team of literary misfits… although that film had more issues that just that in terms of its adaption of the source material.
So here we have an American chef… yes chef… time travelling, against his will, into World War One and aiding Biggles the British flying ace with destroying a super weapon the Germans have. THEY ARE TIME TWINS. What does that mean? What is the logic of it? They have Peter Cushing play a man who sound be over one hundred years old by the time of ‘modern 1986’ but there are a lot of inconsistencies in this film. The source material had a teenage Biggles but he is in his mid to late 30s here to be more manly and heroic looking and there were no science fiction aspects to his adventures unlike this film. And no the super science secret weapon isnt something realistic such as the weapons of World War Two its a ‘sound weapon’… and no not the brown note bowel evacuating kind. In fact Biggles gets some future helicopter technology but crashes it into the sound weapon to save the day.
The action scenes are good but overall it is one of those films which doesn’t stand on its own terms and plays to wild and loose with its source material it seems like an ‘in name only’ adaption for fans of the source material. Overall it was dull. The American has vibrant blue eyes which freaked me out and the actor playing Biggles reminded me of Ollie from ‘Made in Chelsea’ to the point I had to go check they were not related. If anything this film is mildly offensive as it is Hollywood suggesting that every key event in World War two was because of American involvement. A straight Biggles film would probably not found a wide audience but at least it would have been true to the source material.

Fast Girls (2012)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fast_Girls_%28film%29
A British drama about a young, working class, female athlete Shania Andrews as she competes against Lisa Temple at a local level, and follow the duo as they work their way into the British 4×100 metres relay team and compete in the World Championships. The guy who played Arthur in BBC’s Merlin played a physio in this film and I was sure she was meant to be playing a teenager so it was a bit awkward. Basically this film was made to cash in on the Olympics mania of the time. It’s okay but nothing special. It’s the sort of film you say ‘oh yeh, I saw that when there was nothing on television one day’ rather than actually tell people about.

Shrek the Third (2007)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrek_the_Third
Otherwise known as ‘the one where they lost the magic suddenly’. Long story short kids don’t care for tales about a couple’s issues about having children but the creators forgot this and so the film wants to be a children’s animated film which wants too much to appeal to adults and forgets about its core audience. The baby shower scene is something that wouldn’t exist if they had remembered this. In particular I noted the music action sequences were definitely far weaker. In the second one we have been led through a story where Shrek realises that it isn’t appearance that matters and Fiona loves him not his appearance. Realising this he goes, with the aid of his friends, storming the Fairy Godmother’s party to ‘I Need a Hero’ by Bonnie Tyler. Playing out the cliched hero to the rescue story but it has built to this moment and so everything comes together in an exciting finale. In the third we get Led Zepplin’s ‘Immigrant Song’ where it starts off with Snow White summoning birds and then people messing about throughout the town for throw away jokes. Really it should have been Fiona leading the charge so the film doesn’t even seem that dedicated to its own narrative instead giving us the generic gairytale princesses and letting the self sufficient heroine we have come to know suddenly become very docile… The music selection in the third film doesn’t have the impact of those selected for the second and much of the humour is a re-tread or falls flat. The film, without much reason except to get the plot moving, has Fiona’s father die which just seemed arbitrary… Also Prince Charming is not an effective villain and his role in the film is made worse when you consider many would understand vendetta with Shrek and company for killing his mother. The colour palette of the film also seems dulled in contrast to the previous adventures. Sadly this was the swansong of the series when they just rehashed there previous efforts instead of playing with the setting. Also you will notice Rumpelstiltskin in this film as one of the assembled villains who in the end give up their villainous role… and yet in the fourth film we would get a new version of this character without explanation. I think even Dreamworks wanted to just skip the events of this film.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel [for the Elderly and Beautiful] (2012)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Best_Exotic_Marigold_Hotel
Take respected British actors and do a story about old people moving in to a retirement home in India. If everything else can be outsourced why not residential care for the elderly? That was the concept… except everyone here is more physically active and mentally able than many of the real like care home residents so its more of a feel good film and I shouldn’t be over thinking it… There is a fake out death soon after they arrive and then a real one later once one of the characters has completed his story arc of reuniting with his former lover and reconciled. Then he suddenly has a heart attack so he is no longer the designated love interest to Judy Dench. ‘Shock! I didn’t see that coming! Wow anything could happen in this film! It’s so emotional!’ is how I imagine the pitch going and the desired reaction. It is based on a novel called ‘These Foolish Things’ by Deborah Moggach and the narrative’s progression is oddly similar to that of a novel. Its good and definitely well-made but I have a critical eye which makes me jaded against giving the benefit of the doubt to the ‘magical realism’ of feel good, light hearted, drama films. If I was in one of these I would no doubt be Maggie Smith’s character who initially shows complete resistance before becoming part of the hotel’s staff after being shown kindness and acceptance… except without the racism she displays at the start.


Where’s the Czech film?

O slavnosti a hostech also known in English as The Party and the Guests or A Report on the Party and the Guests

…It’s postponed indefinitely until I am in a better position to give it the attention it deserves. Go watch it though after a little knowledge of the politics of the time and you will understand how it is rated ‘universal’ / ‘for everyone’ but was permanently banned by the political authorise at the time.

The Faux Wisdom And Miscellany Of A Partially Filled 2012 Notebook

In 2012 I decided to start writing a haiku a day in a pocket size, faux leather bound, notebook. I quickly stopped this and did not use the notebook again until the end of the year. By then it was just random turns of phrase or odd thoughts.
Therefore these scribbled notes mean nothing or if they did once upon a time I have clearly abandoned them and so put will put them here so they may be of some use…


In Case of Emergency Please Inform: 999‘ – is what I wrote on the information page. This makes perfect sense. I have no one who could come and help. There are people nearby I know but they would not come. Therefore I must take precautions in everyday life as only those obligated would aid me and even then begrudgingly.

26/11/11:
Friends enjoy each other
Not ‘out of sight out of mind’
Gone by Tomorrow

27/11/11:
Narratives fill day
Staged laughter of paid actors
Hollow joy and mirth

28/11/11:
Screaming Winds and Rains
The year coming to an end now
Depression sinks in

29/11/11:
The assassin dead
Who will lead them from now on?
Templars will find out

30/11/11:
Dead days of the year
From Christmas until New Year’s
A cold sombre fear

31/11/11:
BBC Breakfast
This year’s obituaries
The final send off

07/01/12:
There’s too much to do
The stress is corroding me
I died long ago

15/01/2012:
Narratives half heard
Always interrupted yet
See it tomorrow

16/01/12:
Tooth deviated
No damage so no treatment
Good health yet ugly

18/09/12:
I would if I could, but I can’t so I shan’t

24/01/12:
They would rather lose limbs than lose face

25/01/12:
If rules are not consistent then they are pointless

01/10/12:
The homoeroticism of Sports:

“No, no, fair doos…he kicked a ball about a manicured field and we all worshipped him like a demigod.”

02/10/12:
“Aye good bloke. I ____ed the corpse at the funeral.”
“Aye we all ____ed it before then. Nothing special like.”

[unknown date due to being on a scrap of paper]
Everyone is in purgatory earning release just as acting on stage is a transitional act.

05/11/12:
A galloping gorilla.

06/11/12:
This is not a love story. It is only a tale of romance.
“Do not lock them in that room, it shall become their tomb!”

27/11/12:
Irony is that the superhero Ironman can afford to pay someone else to do his ironing for him so doesn’t bother himself.


Even before knowing who Daniil Kharms was I apparently had some urge to keep notebooks filled with ridiculous comments and miscellany. Admittedly this is nothing compared to his works and is the most bare bones of the note books I filled due to the long period of not using it during that year. The others, not that I have dug them out, are probably far more peculiar and eclectic… It all seems very dull to me though. These are past thoughts I discarded and only now put here as otherwise I would have posted another morose entry about how miserable life is. I am Eeyore and Marvin the Paranoid Android incarnate.

Pociąg / Night Train / Baltic Express (1959 Polish Film): Commentary and Review

Night Train, also known as Baltic Express, is the English title for Pociąg, a 1959 Polish language film directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_Train_%281959_film%29

The jazz leifmotif theme throughout the film is haunting. I want it as my phone’s ringtone!

Directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz
Written by Jerzy Kawalerowicz and Jerzy Lutowski
Starring: Lucyna Winnicka, Leon Niemczyk
Music by: Andrzej Trzaskowski
Cinematography by Jan Laskowski
Edited by Wieslawa Otocka
Distributed by Telepix
Release dates: September 6, 1959 (Venice)
Running time: 93 minutes
Country of Origin: Poland
Language: Polish

Overview of the plot: Two strangers, Jerzy (played by Leon Niemczyk) and Marta (played by Lucyna Winnicka), accidentally end up holding tickets for the same sleeping chamber on an overnight train to the Baltic Sea coast. People on the train representing various parts of society populate the train during the journey including priests, a writer, youths and people on a pilgrimage. Also on board is Marta’s spurned lover, who will not leave her alone. When the police enter the train in search of a murderer on the lam, rumours fly and everything seems to point toward one of the main characters as the culprit.

night train

The cinematography in the cabin scenes sometimes uses the bunk bed to obscure parts of the screen, giving a point-of-view angle focused on the speaker’s mouth forcing the audience to not see Jerzy’s eyes as if he is in confessional as an untrustworthy figure and informing the audience to question what he is saying as after all ‘the eyes are the windows to the soul’. In mirroring this scene later we have Marta hiding the lower half of her face as she watches the men of the train who have given chase and caught the murderer who had hidden aboard the train earlier. The claustrophobic experience for the characters is reinforced, yet at the same time contrasted in tone, with the overly crowded scenes in the other passenger’s cabins and the corridor of the train where we follow the characters, face on, moving through the crowded corridors of the train as it is in motion and when the passengers are off the train at a stop.

Michael Brooke sums up the underlying sentiment of the film in his essay included with the booklet included with the Second Run DVD:

“Truly, all human life is here, and much turns out to be deeply disconsolate, involuntarily single, unhappily married, desperately lonely.”

Jerzy Kawalerowicz, best known for his film “Mother Joan of the Angels” (1961), is one of Polish cinema’s supreme craftsmen and secular moralists. Often he discusses the existence of a Post-World War 2 Poland where religion is no longer capable of guiding people towards individual happiness, and “Night Train” is no different. It presents us with a large set of characters, all traveling to the Polish seaside for a pilgrimage, and all lacking a sense of purpose. The main narrative focus is on Jerzy (Leon Niemczyk), who boards the train without a booked ticket, expecting to be able to buy from the conductor although this means he has to book an entire cabin to himself. By behaving aloofly, while wearing sunglasses to obscure his eyes/identity, it is almost as if the audience is being challenged not to immediately assume that the gossip we overhear from the other passenger’s at the beginning doesn’t in some way refer to him. The other central character is Marta (Lucyna Winnicka), who unintentionally invades Jerzy’s sleeping compartment and goes from being an unwanted presence to an indispensable, and ultimately almost healing, one though in the end this is cruelly subverted when Jerzy reveals his reasons for boarding the train and his destination which cannot include Marta who is searching for a place in the world for herself after jilting her lover.

pociag kawalerowicz1_6328318

Jerzy and Marta’s strange tryst aboard the train, both occasionally bold and yet furtive, is contrasted and compared with those of the other passengers around them. : With Staszek (Zbigniew Cybulski) who has chased Marta aboard the train in turns begging and demanding her affection; the overt flirtations of a wife (Teresa Szmigielówna) dissatisfied with her marriage who has a lover aboard the train while she flirts with Jerzy and another already existing younger lover; the non-verbal obsession of a young sailor and the girl he sits with and also to an almost folksy budding romantic sense the interactions between the pair of ticket controllers past their prime who patrol the train’s corridors (he’s balding and jovial, she’s plump and officious offering light relief to the more intense interactions between the leads).

Kawalerowicz’s way of presenting the emotional intensity is far from explicit but portrayed via moments as such as Marta’s hair being unexpectedly mussed by a breeze from another train passing, to repeatedly framing Jerzy’s mouth when he speaks to Marta in the cabin so we are forced to focus, as Marta no doubt is doing, on his lips when he speaks to her. The director may be interested in morality and its failings, but he’s by no means blind to his actors’ bodies and the power of body language portraying succinctly what dialogue cannot.

In the beginning, as part of the passenger’s gossip we learn of a recent event: a man who has murdered his wife the previous day and has not been apprehended. This slowly builds into being the core driving motive behind this film’s central theme, echoing Hitchcock’s motif of an unjustly accused man who is forced to prove his innocence. Here we have Jerzy fulfilling this protagonist role. In the isolated yet heavily populated community of the commuters he endures the complete violation of his desire for peace and quiet – first by Marta’s unintentional intrusion and then later when he is exposed to everyone’s judgment, ranging from being called a killer, assumed because he wore sunglasses to hide his identity, to being hailed as the hero of the hour during the film’s denouement.

No sooner is the actual murderer identified than a makeshift posse forms and a chase begins, thus opening what I find the movie’s most stunning sequence. Starting in the train itself and guiding us through all its length (with an eye keen on class and social detail of varying compartments), Kawalerowicz suddenly yanks us outside the vehicle, and the shock is comparable to this experienced by the passengers after one of them pulls the emergency break. The murderer runs through an open field – still covered in early-morning fog – in a hopeless attempt to escape justice. It’s impossible not to perceive him as a victim: when the posse finally gets to him, the confrontation is fierce and Kawalerowicz once again uses the microscopic-overhead camera set-up from the beginning of the film. We see the human dots unified in a centripetal race towards the lying man, and as they cover him with a multitude of blows, the message of the film emerges. Administering someone else’s comeuppance has provided these people with a momentary moral focus, so acutely lacking from their everyday life. For a couple of breathless minutes, good was clearly discernible and evil easy to point out and destroy. But as soon as the moment is over the assembly listlessly return to the confines and structured progress of the train journey.

the seemingly mysterious and evasive passengers, each hoping to find privacy for the duration of their trip, cannot escape the claustrophobia of the environment around them, as Marta’s obsessed, rejected lover, Straszek (Zbigniew Cybulski) follows her aboard the train, and Jerzy’s enigmatic behavior draws the flirtatious attention of a lawyer’s neglected wife (Teresa Szmigielówna) along with the scrutiny of other passengers who begin to who begin to speculate on the identity of the elusive murderer profiled in the late edition newspaper.

Throughout the film, Marta finds herself torn between varying loyalties both to herself and others. The most prominent and undesired one is by her abandoned lover the train-hopping Staszek. Her confusion of her feelings towards him goes hand in hand with her readiness, if not subconscious willingness, to hurt him. She also finds herself drawn towards Jerzy and yet it is only a tentative and ultimately ephemeral infatuation wherein she is discarded as she had once discarded leading her to have an epiphany. She is now in the position she had placed Staszek previously. At the end, she nails it by saying: “Everyone wants to be loved, yet no one’s ready to love.” In realising this she has two choices: either she does as Staszek did and pursue something that doesn’t exist or she lets go and continues her search for something which she has been unable to identify previously and indeed may never realise afterwards.

Ultimately things have happened and people have acted on their beliefs but nothing has changed in the reality of the people’s lives after they leave the train. They return to the rails of their own lives, those of routine, of following order and not finding their own personal morality but conforming to that they find endorsed by the society around them whether it be police boarding the train or a mob chasing a lone man across fields.

The closing pan across the now vacated train as Martha walks towards the beach and many of the passengers either begin their pilgrimage or walk away to their destinations shows us that, even if now messy from its occupants, the train remains to be entered again and these people will eventually find themselves taking this same journey again stuck on the rails of a destiny they feel it is part of their part in society as the pilgrimage is to the religious travellers and the priests. A sense of fatalistic futility, even after capturing the murderer, is all pervasive and nothing has changed outside the enclosed intensified moment in their lives.

9

The director uses acute angle shots, high contrast lighting (to the point I recalled the introduction of Morticia in ‘The Addams Family’ due to the lighting across Marta’s eyes to accentuate them in contrast to the dark framing Jerzy’s mouth gets in contrasting scenes), and narrow, claustrophobic framing within the train carriages. Jerzy Kawalerowicz produces an unnaturally heightened sense of environment and perceptional acuity that reflect the passengers’ subconscious duress and sublimated emotions: the visually occluded, odd angle shot as Jerzy enters the compartment; the birds-eye view of the opening sequence is mirrored by that of the passengers encircling a suspect by an open field graveyard. Here rather than the faceless dots being people choosing to ignore each other as individuals in the transitions they take during their daily lives now find themselves all to willing to wordlessly enter into collusion and act as both judge and executioner of the murderer who tired to escape the consequences of his actions. the successive repeating imagery of mirrored reflections cast against the train carriage’s window, first of the lawyer’s flirtatious wife, then of Marta, which reveal their innate loneliness, confusion, and feelings of abandonment; Straszek’s anxious and rash attempts to gain Marta’s attention and sympathy as though confusion compassion for love. By modulating the innocuous and lighthearted tone of the holiday-bound train trip to show a dark portrayal of base human instincts and the undesirable, selfish, dark aspects of humanity which many choose to ignore. Kawalerowicz further illustrates the often disparaging moral myopia of people, their discrimination, and skewed viewpoints all occurring due to adhering to a collective mentality without question. In the film’s haunting and visually metaphorical denouement, a priest replaces a fallen graveyard cross that had been used as a weapon of violence: a solemn reminder of the human need for compassion and atonement in an environment of fear and vengeance.


So now I will recount the events of the film as i have done before because… who knows what i have noticed but wouldnt have included in a more structured review. As I have to watch it with subtitles on the Second Run DVD it is inevitable the audience is at the whim of the translator’s decisions and if they feel it’s obvious what the character’s names are you don’t get told them when first mentioned but only much later in dramatic moments. That is how it feels watching some foreign films sometimes. In fact I have seen films where the translator gives a nickname to characters instead of their actual name which is just weird and I wish I was joking. I assumed the characters don’t say their names until later in keeping with how secretive they are about their personal lives and reasons for being on the train. It is meant to be a major moment in the film when they share their names with strangers… or I fear the translator think you will have looked through the supplemental material and already be familiar with who is who. I hope not as that has annoyed me with other films as it leads the subtitle viewing audience to assume certain things that don’t exist. Hence during this account everyone is addressed as ‘main guy’, ‘young priest’ and so on.

Of course this is just going to read like rambling but whatever… it gives you my first impression of the film before I watched it again to clarify things.

Conclusions about the film at the bottom.


Opening scene: A crowded train station shot from bird’s eye view. The haunting jazz theme song. The first part is repeated during the film. I want it as a ringtone. This or the whistling tune from the film ‘Twisted Nerve’ (as also heard in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill). The imagery is cold and impersonal but with the jazz theme it becomes sad, the passing of so many lives and yet none of them mean anything more than ants in a colony struggling to survive.

Train sequence 1
Intro of characters
Separate cars for men and women but the main girl is allowed to stay due to a jobs-worth conductor. He lets the main girl stay due to main guys very abrupt asking to drop it.
Train one a young priest and an older one who uses the phrase ‘pro salute animae’ – discuss immorality and punishment. A bit heavy handed a way to introduce the themes of the film so early on…

Young man has history with girl and is chasing her.

Train sequence two – mixed company sailor and a young girl.

Main girl cut her wrists in the past the main guy sees due to her scars. This doesn’t become a point ever again…

The flirting woman. Bullet bra. Very 1950s. Poke someone’s eyes out with those…

Main girl has the haunting theme play when she is alone. Seems to be a one woman wail with no lyrics.

Young guy is hanging off the outside of the train! Keeps threating to derail train/bangs her wrist/threatened to throw himself off the train… (Ironic tragically as the actor would one day die going between moving trains I later found out)

Multiple slaps to the main guy’s face. That is such an old staple of movies. Women slapping men and men standing there stoically allow them to because they are the fairer sex.
Light in main girls face… older films do this but not nowadays. I remember them doing it with Morticia Addams in The Addams Family to emphasise ‘this woman is sexy and had an alluring look’…

Flirt reflects face on night time window. Flirt has a guy so main isn’t her only objective!

Main also reflects face on window.

Young guy has no ticket. Young guy gets to stay on and consider getting a ticket.

A male conductor appears. Again gives a character time to ‘think’ when they are clearly not meant to be on the train. The female conductor returns. They flirt and comment on main and flirt girl being the sort who always holiday in the right season while he has to wait until august (when is the film set during the year? The last scene suggests Summer but this is more of a Spring or an Autumnal scene to me…)

Mirroring seems to be a theme in the film. Main girl/flirt girl. Main/young guy chasing main girl.

The young and the old priest. 83 year old on his last pilgrimage in his own opinion. End of the old ways.

Flirt girl has wordy nerdy guy reciting his speech for the legal court. Is he her husband? Seems so.

Meteorologist/clairvoyant she claims. Men are logical while women enjoy frivolous things. Common theme during this period of history. In fact you could see such a clear gender based contrast present in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Men of logic versus the Queen of the Night and her magics.

Train Stop: An inspection by authorities. They go straight to the main characters’ one. Why? What made it so obviously them? He is taken into custody. Conductor comes along saying he is a murderer. Young guy calls on a sleeping guy called Marek… has no one said names yet? Lead main guy away. Is he murderer or was it just malicious gossip (deadly in this period with paranoid state interests). Passengers chat. Flirt girl says he was odd for not making eye contact. Flighty sort of person the society frowns on. Main guy has no papers. Who is the woman?
Solider, also named, corporal Rosolowski, didn’t check her papers as he wasn’t ordered to. Sailor staring, point blank, at the traveling girl who looks away from him. Is this flirtation or is her intimidating her? They never exchange any words as far as I know.

Main girl goes to young man didn’t want cigarette earlier when offered. Asks for one now and is denied. She goes to holding ca and speaks in his defence. Traveling girl looks at sailor and he smiles. But always main girl passes by distracting him. They go to find the man who sold her the ticket. Everyone crowds the corridors oddly as if aware an even is about to occur. In reality they would have been told to stay in their cabins. Then cars off various people, normal, mixed, young music players and old women on a pilgrimage with a sculpture. Young men all seem to be drifting forward.

The man running away covers a woman’s mouth and smothers her as he climbs to the outside of the train. Her name was Hania we are told. Train is stopped. He runs off the train. The young men give chase. All the men give chase. Flirt comes out of the train in negligee. Suddenly dogs are barking in the distance as if they knew he was going to elope at this point. Swings a branch around and hits a cross when cornered. Young guy tackles his to the ground, then overhead shot of all piling on, then finally drawing back from him remembering he has killed before and even with numbers they’re still individuals who happen to be on the same journey but are not united together. Bald guy kicks him but young guy stops him. Then bald man tears up and walks away. The running away man is dead? Main guy breaks ranks and walks to the corpse. He’s fainted not dead. Police cuff him as he comes back around. Sees cross in the distance. Young guy walks over to it. The main girl is there looking over it as the camera focuses on her fear filled eyes. Flirt insists on drawing closer. Looks at him. He is pitifully looking up and we cut to the main girl’s upper face obscured by the cross before she runs away. Mirroring and contrasting of the main guy earlier where we could only see him mouth. Police lead him away. Everyone goes back. Flirt keeps on at main guy then shifts to another. Last to go is the young priest placing the cross upright again.

Men walk back across the hay bale filled field. Conductor woman didn’t see blonde enter train nor leave it. Let’s blonde on but not young guy as compartments are not locked… so why let her? MARTA he calls. So she finally is named on the subtitles. Were the names of the characters not meant to be known up until now? It would make sense considering the themes and such of the film but I wonder… Flirt’s husband complains and she snaps back. Young priest returns her other shoe. Baldy returns with the bruise to his face and female conductor says nearly left him behind. Young guy is almost left behind as sailor and girl leans out window, writer says would have been good story if the main guy innocent caught the murderer. Flirt flirts.

Then a guy comes out of his cabin making weird sounds shouting ‘you won’t get me’ waving his arms then goes back and bald one enters his too. Random moment in the film making no sense…

Back to cabin 15/16: main is a doctor whose 18 year old suicide girl died on operating table. Had 3 operations and that last one was a failure. Washing his face and hands. Main girl draws close and embraces him with a towel in her hands.

Flirt and her boy toy arrange to meet 5pm tomorrow. Writer sits in the corridor reading again. Female conductor is dozing off. Baldy leaves his cabin. Wont show on wedding day. Will remain batchelor. Flirty flirty flirty. Song plays again as the scenery outside the window blows by. Conductor goes to cabin of white haired guy waking him. And then the others. The writer is slumped over sat in the corridor. Writer can’t believe he fell asleep. The scenery outside the window.

Main girl explains why she got the train. They are both adjusting their clothes. Marta is in focus taking up most of the screen in portrait while main guy is out of focus with his back to the screen in the background. Is it implied they had sex? Having a cigarette always seemed to be the code in black and white films for ‘there was sex but we can’t say that’. Young guy is searching for something. So he isn’t anonymous. ‘The disease of our times’. Used her emotions like a mirror. Searching for a reflection of himself, confirmation of his self esteem.

Marta declares to Jerzy:

‘Nobody wants to love. Everybody wants to be loved’.

People don’t want to expose themselves and risk being hurt but all they desire is to be accepted. So many conform while some take a risk for better or worse. She was happy to be chased by her ex but now finds herself as the one who loves and it pains her to admit this not only to Jerzy but moreso to herself.

The young guy is stood off the train with a backpack of his belongings on. Knows the window of her cabin somehow. Is surprised when the main guy answers. No words are exchanged as the train pulls away. She had moved on. The young girls has also disembarked along with the old women and the priests who lead them in a pilgrimage journey.

It doesn’t matter if ‘he’ will be at the station anymore. She no longer feels she needs to contrast or mirror herself with another in order to have a sense of self.

‘I’m quite alone now but really happy. Very happy’

Marta says this but with a sense of melancholy clear on her features.

Her hair though pinned back is down unlike the central part of the film. The open back of her top… visual language that she is hiding something but in past tense is open. The main guy says his wife is waiting for him on the platform as the train draws into the station.

Someone calls the name Barbara we then see Marta holding onto the top bunk from behind. On her left hand is a wedding ring. Is this intentional? So many revelations and yet no definitive answers. All we have a myriad truths and the final decision of what is true of these events to conclude for ourselves.

The conductor woman says goodbye doctor… they young guys disembark and then the older gentlemen including the bald on eand the writer and grey hair discuss if they had seen yesterday’s paper. They shake the conductor man’s hand. The female conductor looks pensive and goes along the carriage.

Marta is still there. Looking like she had been crying but says she lost her bracelet. Conductor helps her pack. Conductor says ‘what a night. Not one you will forget quickly. At this Marta leans in hugs her and kisses her then leaves. Conductor lets her out on the beach side though others got off the other side. ‘Have a good holiday’ she says but Marta doesn’t reply. She left something on the train. Conductor picks the parcel up and sees Marta walking across the shoreline as a fog horn blows. She walks off screen and we never see her again…

Cabin 18/19 – a young couple, the girl answering the door dishevelled as if only now having woken up. Answers. Janusz, her partner, she wakes up.

Then the camera pans across all the empty cabins. And we see a train pass by 16/17 as the song again repeats and the screen goes black.


Conclusion: You like Hitchcock and European cinema? This is for you. You like the French New Waves? Well apparently the Polish got there first. It’s a taut, compelling, and insightful psychological portrait of emotional need, hysteria, and mob mentality. It is a visually stunning film with great cinematography and really forces the audience to be absorbed into the claustrophobic close quarter environment of the train’s interior and the emotionally invasive intensity of the character’s interactions.

Extras: A short documentary about the film saying that the Polish proto-New Wave preceded the more renowned French New Wave and how it influenced Czech cinema. All the more impressive for being during the socialist realism period as the film never really addresses the reality of the time and so in many ways it quite escapist.

An interview with leading man Leon Niemczyktalk about the technical tricks that were used in the filming process e.g. a train car was purchased and the windows each had a back projected 7 inch screens so that there was the illusion of the windows showing passing scenery outside as the characters walked down the corridor.

It is only a few minute long and an excerpt from ‘my seventeen lives’ but very interesting compared to the sort of ‘trailer’ extras you usually get with older films.

The included essay booklet also helps you better understand the context of the film and its place in the history of European cinema.

I enjoyed it and certainly the theme is truly memorable. I would definitely recommend checking it out and could have easily done a more thorough analysis of the film but I think this is enough for now.

I also found this ’40 years later’ documentary but obviously haven’t a clue what they are saying…


Somehow I have both written far too much and yet not really addressed this film’s true philosophy at the same time…. On the weekend I will finally post the movie review of O slavnosti a hostech a.k.a The Party and The Guests. A 1966 Czech film which was permanantly banned in its country of origin for challenging the existing political system at the time. I may post some more light hearted stuff between now and then… but maybe not… we will see.

Comments, etc, are all welcome.

Wenglish Post Challenge

So, like, ayes been challenged to write a blog entirely in ‘Wenglish’ innit? There I am minding my own business when suddenly sum-one’s all like ‘Oh go on – writes us a post in Wenglish innit? It be funny like, not like in “being funny” like someone’s ‘aving a pout but like “funny funny” like your ‘avin’ a laff yeh? I turns round to ‘er and I tells ‘er ‘Oh what you think I is? Some sort of bloody wind-up toy munkee is it? I gotta life too you know!’ An’ then she’s all like ‘alright calm down! Well you dunno if you don’ try innit butt?’ So alright then… let’s ‘ave a go an’ see what ‘appens then is it? All off the top of my head this is so don’t give me no jip cuz of it…

What’s Wenglish? English/Welsh dialect innit?

Welsh English, Anglo-Welsh, or Wenglish refers to the dialects of English spoken in Wales by Welsh people. The dialects are significantly influenced by Welsh grammar and often include words derived from Welsh. In addition to the distinctive words and grammar, there is a variety of accents found across Wales from the Cardiff dialect to that of the South Wales Valleys and to West Wales.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welsh_English

An’ this is a site all bout it too. Blokes made a livin’ out of it n all too: http://talktidy.com/


Day Inna Life Of A Tidy Welsh Bloke As ‘e Sees it In ‘is Own Words An’ All That Like.

Right then, it’s like this it is start of the day. There I was like walking down the road when a bloody great big bugger of a ‘roid ‘ead comes stropping towards me all casual givin’ me a funny look.
‘oh’ I said ‘oo you think you is butt?’ an’ ‘e was all ‘Nun a your fuhkin’ bizniz oo aye am you smelly dick. You startin’ sumfing? You need to man up you header! Don’t you even fuckin’ try it mate! End of!’
‘Oi mun!’ I shout, ‘Pissy pants, come over here you cocky little shit’ I said, ‘cuz you don’t come round ‘ere flapping your chops like that an’ get away with it I can tell you that now!’
He starts walkin’ away like ‘e owns the place! Cheeky fuhk…
‘Oi’ I said ‘you’re not down Llanelli here now butt, we’re not all slappers, piss-‘eads and roiders all on the dole round ‘ere like you. ‘This ‘eres Brid-end like’, I warned ‘im, ‘You got to take responsibility for what you just gone and said to me!’
Well ‘e didn’t like it did ‘e? Didn’t like it at all…
So there was a ruck course and a few cheeky slaps but in the end I gave ‘im a good hidin’. An’, I’m not lying, that bast’add was built like a brick shit house but I could ‘ave ‘im cuz roiders are all trouser no balls. Fuhkin’ roider I tell you…
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a police bloke comes running down the road shoutin’ at us ‘Oh! Oh! The fucks goin’ on ‘ere then boys?!’
We both dun a runner like and that was that.

Next thing I’m over by the Rec an’, no joke, I’m lookin’ at the river when a bloody fuckin’ old slag bollock naked of all things comes out the pissin’water! What the fuhks she doin’ there like I ask myself?
‘Oh luv’, I shout at ‘er, ‘put your bloody tits away for God’s sakes! No one wants ta see tha’!’
Well, she just looked at me with a face like a slapped arse don’t she?
‘Oh luv I don’t care if you duss put your bra on one cup at a time like the rest of us!’ I tells ‘er, ‘I’m not being funny… but you’re a bloody state luv, look at yerself!”
Then you know what the bint bloody went and did? You know she just ups and pisses off like she got a rocket up ‘er arse runnin’ stark bloody naked into tha bushes an’ disappears and I’m left stood there like a bloody lemon an’ ‘aven’t a clue what the fuhk waz goin’ on just now… it waz random like no lie…

Then later I’m out in the night and some fat bint waddles ova ta me pissed out of ‘er brains and is all like ‘oh let’s ‘ave a cwtch is it luvly?’
‘Oh piss off’, I sez, I gotta missus an’ you look like shit to be honest‘.
‘But you knows ahm funkin’ gwjuss an up for it’ ‘n’ like it don’t matter if she dunno cuz it’s only a bit of fun like’
‘Christ almighty’ some bloke passing sez before he goes chuckin’ ‘is guts up after lookin’ at ‘er, ‘she looks ruff as fuhkin’ ‘ell there butt’.
So then she’s tryin’ to lead me round sum dark corner round tha back o tha pub furra shag and aye makes my excuses there an’ then like don’t i? I tells ‘er ‘Oh yeh you goes right ahead, gotta go take a piss a sec be there right now in a minute.
Well I won’t lie it’s not like it’s the first time that day is it I ‘ad to do a runner? I’m not twp. Wouldn’t even have touched ‘er with a barge pole if I ‘ad to double bag it you know what I means like? Dirty she was.

Was a right laff when I told the boys after.

Then I gets home completely blotto and hasta hav’ a kip obvs like. Ruff as fuhk I was the next morning, no lie, so aye ‘as another nap after I gone makin’ myself a chip buttie. Prawpa bluddy luvly it was ‘n’ all. Then the boys cum round half three an’ we’re watchin’ the rugby like cuz like it’s Sunday… an tha’s what you dus on a Sunday innit? Not’ing else to do then is there? So we all piss off down the local pub for a couple. Bloody packed in there it was… like sardines we was. Brilliant bit of atmosphere an’…fuhkin’ ‘ell… I tell you now, the way those boys ‘andled the ball you’d think it was a babe fresh baked out their missus’ downstairs honest! ‘Come on lads’ we’re shoutin’ at the screen, cuz you ‘ave to don’t you? Give ‘em a bit of encouragement! No lie, think one of the boys started wellin’ up, it was such a bute of a game, the soppy bugger, but then you knows the women aint watchin’ for the game like but just so they can imagine wrappin’ themselves round those boys thighs innit? Filthy cows… Getting’ down ‘n’ dirty with them an’ wannabe rugger versions of those bloody footy WAGs that ar’ always in da papers. Dirty slappers gittin’ moist just standin’ there while serious business is goin’ on on the pitch on the tele… Might scrub up tidy but they got another thing comin’ if they think they got a chance with the lads there tho. Even if they did they’d be in for a shock. Thighs like tree trunks, cocks like pencils, is what I ‘ear… not that I ever want to know stuff like that but you know what with banter ‘n’ goss n all tha’ you find out these things don’t you? Happy days like it was.

But that’s enough o’ tha now innit? Can’t chops all day cuz aye got other things to be doing course. Can’t be helped.


So That’s that then. Not me sayin’ it like just some made up character ‘n’ that. Pwper tidy bloke ‘e is ‘n’ all.

“Oh, where’s the reviews of these films then you keep promising? You keep on about them like a nag all the time an’ ‘aven’t shown nuthin’ for it…”

Calm down for God’s sakes mun! It’s bluddy cummin’ just hold your horses and wait a second it’ll be here in a minute…

Oh yeh and befores I forgets here’s wassaface who sed ava go doin’ this Wenlgish post.

https://annawwalii.wordpress.com/ – Which is all in Polish and kept up to date and then you got https://annainwales.wordpress.com/ which is all in English but she don’t keep that last one up to date cuz “effort” she sez ‘n’ all that. Needs to get a grip ‘n’ sort herself out sharpish mun! Got one post from 13 November 2013 where she posted a part one and there’s still no part two to it all this time later now! Got two blogs ‘n’ all she has! The greedy bugger… an’ there’s even more she got like a Polish language ‘travel guide to Welsh places’ http://walijskiewedrowanie.wordpress.com/ and a photography site and… and… well… it’s just takin’ the piss now isn’t it? But there you goes… that should be more than enough of a plug for her stuff now. Cheeky mare…

Only jokin’ like! Got to laff ‘aven’t you? Life wouldn’t be worth livin’ if you didn’ yeh? It’s Welsh humour like, bit of banter (whether you like or not)… not a good un if you don’t take it on the chin and ‘ave a laff at ‘urself… but yeh like I waz sayin’ got go sort out those film blog entries and post them in the next few days. Honest…