It’s that time of the year again …
David Foster Wallace
I don’t know how David Foster Wallace didn’t make it onto my radar until last year. There are so many reasons he should have, not least because extremely dark humour is basically what gets me out of bed every morning. How could I not have known that there once existed an essayist with a really dark sense of humour, with some superb neurotic tendencies, who also wrote a work of fiction, disturbing scenes from which return me almost daily like some weird spectre or a bad acid flashback?
I had no idea who he was until my older sister and her husband gave me two books of his essays for Christmas last year, with knowing smiles (I’ve been reading DFW’s essay on linguistics and I know that this sentence reads like they gave me some books and some knowing smiles for Christmas, but if you’re here reading this, unless you’re one of the many Germans who have Googled ‘zoo sex’ and found my blog, then you’ve probably read at least one post before and you know sentence structure isn’t my strong point). Actually, it’s hard to tell if they were knowing smiles, they have a toddler, so my sister’s smile could have been that sleep deprived, maniacal kind and my brother-in-law is weirdly zen and I’ve seen him smile in some pretty hardcore yoga poses. Who knows why they were smiling, the point is, the essays are fantastic and have actually made my brain feel like it’s being exercised/exorcised.
Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo
Back in the dead of winter, I was fairly drunk on red wine and cider one night, sitting on a bench in Fiona and Marty’s old kitchen in Camperdown, which looked out not on other apartment buildings, but on trees, and the twinkling lights of the houses below, and the dark shadows of planes coming in to land.
We were at the early stages of planning our road trip of the West Coast of the US, which we leave for in 11 sleeps now. We didn’t even know an exact route at this stage, so we each had a laptop and a list of things we had to figure out. Fi had this album playing in the background and probably due to the amount I’d had to drink, I didn’t realise it was an album, not a playlist on shuffle, so every three or four minutes, I would be all, ‘Oh, wooooow. Who is this?!’ and Fi would patiently tell me it was still Kurt Vile and this was still ‘Smoke Ring For My Halo’ and I needed to own it.
She was right, it’s a fantastic album. I listen to it a lot when I’m home alone, looking out my own window. It’s a sad album, but for me it’s the soundtrack to my anticipation of everything I haven’t experienced yet. Did that make you gag? You gagged a little, didn’t you? It’s okay.
My Mum’s Subtlety
My parents have recently returned from the UK and while they were away, Fi, Marty and I went and spent a weekend at the farm. Before they left, Mum rang me and stressed the importance of making sure their cats were outside when we left, because the neighbours feeding them for a month didn’t have keys to the house. When we arrived, I found a note from Mum, stressing the importance of letting the cats out etc. So high was my level of stress about the cats, that I made them stay outside almost the entire time we were there and it was a freezing weekend. Anyway, when I got back to Sydney, I checked my email and found one from Mum:
Did you go to the farm with your friends Jules? This morning I dreamed we got home to find a huge pile of cat vomit in the hall – as the cats had greeted us outside I couldn’t understand why or how until I went into our bedroom to find Steph and Joel in our bed. Dad was busy drinking some poison called Spidercup – oh my imagination!
I put it to you that this wasn’t an oh my imagination moment at all. I put it to you that this was one final check that I had, in fact, put the cats out, pretending to be an oh my imagination moment. Mum? The cats were out.
This is England ’86
I never saw the film This is England, I remember it got very good reviews when it came out for being a realistic and gritty portrayal of the re-emergence of the skinhead culture in England in the ’80s. I like that I used the word ‘gritty’ there, like screenwriters have ever done a warm, fuzzy portrayal of skinheads. Gritty and skinheads in cinema go together like like Drew Barrymore and romantic comedies where she gets to do that weird lopsided mouth thing, which makes both her character’s potential boyfriend, and the audience, and let’s face it with her dating history, the actor who’s playing her character’s potential boyfriend all wonder what it would be like to make out with a luscious lopsided mouth like that.
I digress. I had to review the spin-off TV show This is England ’86 for work and I really liked it. It’s not cheerful viewing, but there’s dark humour in there and the casting is amazing, some of the actors are so odd-looking that they’re really compelling to watch. And some of the male actors are hot, there, I said it. This is my favourite scene, a fight between a moped gang and some skinheads:
I’m going to count down from thirteen.
Group shouts: thirteen?!
[Group mocks Flip for starting at thirteen. Harvey stretches]
[Milky and Woody egg Harvey on]
[Harvey winds up]
[Harvey punches Flip in the face. Hard]
[Flip barely flinches]
[Harvey quietly pees himself]
[Flip headbutts Harvey, chaos ensues]