Freezing

So today a bunch of my “mad” colleagues decided to jump (and in some cases actually swim) in the North Sea. This madness was in aid of a very worthwhile charity – Cancer Research. I use the words “mad” and “madness” only because of the temperature. Both the air and the North Sea were bitterly cold. The air was about 38/39 degrees Fahrenheit and the North Sea had to have been much colder. They also wore so little in the way of clothing that, for some of them anyway, they might as well have been skinny dipping!

I’m mentioning the North Sea dip for several reasons.  One is because I am full of admiration for folks who do these mad things for a good and worthwhile cause. I also admire anyone who doesn’t worry about the cold instantly stopping your heart! But seriously I respect folks who give their time so selflessly for such good causes. And  who enjoy themselves immensely while doing so. I wish I was so noble.

I tried the charity thing last year. Okay admittedly last year for me was my version of the Queen’s  Annus Horribilis. But I will now state publicly that I’m not made of the stern stuff that my colleagues are. I can honestly say I enjoyed very little of my experience. I’m sure that the friends who partook of this momentous event all enjoyed the hell out of it, but not me. When one mate started the sentence, “When we do this next year…” I interjected quickly, “What in the hell makes you think I’m ever doing this s**t again??” “This is like a death march!” What we did was climb Mt Snowdon, in the summer. Summer in Wales equals cold, rain, low lying clouds, practically no visibility and basically freezing your backside off. So I waded up knee deep trenches of running water to almost the top of Snowdon. The less experienced of the climbers (myself and one other) had to turn back when it became too dangerous. I learned a lot about that experience. Mainly that I did not want to repeat it.

I think maybe it’s because I don’t originate from England. I’ll explain. England is a countryfull of charitable people. I don’t mean just the “dig-deep-into-your-pockets-and-donate” kind of folks either. The entire country is full of folks who do outlandish, uncomfortable things to raise money for worthwhile causes. These things can range from the slightly grotesque – taking a bath in cold baked beans, to the admirable – near naked dips in the freezing North Sea. And they all enjoy doing it.

I think we can all look up to the selfless folks who donate their time, surfeit their comfort and raise money for worthwhile causes. Yes charities need money, I try to give whenever I can. But what charities need more is effort, time and individuals who aren’t afraid to give either.

I take my hat off to all the good folks who can continually do these things in aid of a good cause. I’d like to be just like you when I grow up.

Note: If you’d like to see what these heroes for good causes look like check out http://sticklepix.blogspot.com  the blog of the photographer extraodinaire who took pictures of the event.

Rushing

RUSHING IS DANGEROUS ANY TIME - ANY PLACE^ - N...

I’ve been in a hurry my whole life. When I was a youngster (that’s teenager, really) I was convinced that if I didn’t hurry up and “grow-up” I’d somehow miss the boat. I also wanted to do as many different things as possible. I had the usual suspects in my itinerary, travel, fame (or a monetary equivalent), freedom, and of course the all important career.

I changed my career goals as often as most folks change their underwear. My career choices ranged from: Lawyer – school took too long, Doctor – see Lawyer, Police – poor pay, Military – very poor pay (of course I did wind up in the Air Force, but that wasn’t a planned career move), Archaeology – pay non-existent. The list was endless.  Then one day I had an epiphany – on the career front anyway –  I could be an actor! Rather than try to pursue all those careers, I could act like all those folks.

So, I enrolled in the High School Drama Department. I became a card carrying Thespian and I was proud to be one. Then that “being in a hurry” thing got in the way again. I started working for who ever wanted me. I made the lady who gave me my first chance vie for my time. We had, quite understandably, a huge falling out. I quit the Drama Department in a fit of rage. This had a house of cards effect. I lost the chance at my almost guaranteed scholarship to university, and my impetus. In my hurry to get where I wanted, by rushing ahead impervious to those around me, I screwed up.

I did try (several times) to get back on the “acting train” – moving to LA in the late 70’s, and then nothing for almost 12 years. I did a little stage work when I moved to England, some extra work here and in Holland. I did the odd commercial, a lot of adverts for the Armed Forces Radio & Television Network in Holland. More extra work in the 90’s along with some voice-over work, and then…nothing.

I was still in a hurry with everything else though. While my “career” stalled out, I was rushing to do other things. Getting married – twice, divorced – twice, fatherhood – twice, changing jobs – again more often, than most folks change their underwear, moving – like a grasshopper. My life didn’t slow down until about ten years into my second marriage. Then it ground to a shuddering halt.

Now I’m single again, I’ve found that old habit of being in a hurry has resurfaced, albeit for a different reason now, I’m rushing to try get some old business taken care of. It is not often we get second chances in life. I’ve had more than my fair share of  ”second chances,” and this time I’m planning on getting it right.

I think I’ve cracked it finally. I think I’ve figured out how I can fulfil my natural proclivity for rushing while still taking my time. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do and I’ve started already – still in a hurry – but this time, I’m paying attention. I’m going to look at the sign posts as I speed up the last roads of my life. I’ll try to avoid the detours when I can, and enjoy the scenery when I can’t.

I guess that’s the only advantage of rushing, if you get sidetracked, you can still get back on your path. A little older, hopefully wiser and still able to enjoy the trip.

The Remake Train: Oldboy

Cover of "Oldboy"
Cover of Oldboy

I have just read that Spike Lee is re-making Oldboy. To say I’m angy and dismayed is the understatement of the century. I am not too surprised as there is apparently some sort of loophole in the Korean film system where the owners/creators of a Korean film have no rights. Anyone can take their film lock, stock and barrel and remake it.  This is the second time (that I’m aware of) where Hollywood has decided to take advantage of this copyright loophole.

 

 

 

English: Spike Lee at the Vanity Fair kickoff ...

 

 

The first time was with the brilliant Tale Of Two Sisters, Jee-woon Kim’s masterpiece. This film was a skilful blend of supernatural horror and psychological thriller. It was butchered beyond all recognition by Hollywood in the re-make titled The Uninvited. It beggars belief that Hollywood can see the merit of the original film and then re-make it so badly that it is nigh-on unrecognisable upon completion.

 

DVD cover of the Vengeance Trilogy
DVD cover of the Vengeance Trilogy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now Hollywood has it’s sights firmly set on Oldboy.  Oldboy was part of Chan-wook Park’s ”vengeance” trilogy. The first of which was Sympathy for Mr Vengeance. The last of the trilogy was Lady Vengeance. Oldboy was sandwiched firmly in the middle. That Park is a master craftsman is undeniable. When you watch these films you feel overwhelmed by the imagery and the intricacy of the plots. Of course Min-sik Choi features in two of the films.  He is the star of Oldboy, the villain in Lady Vengeance and is suitably different in each role.

 

English: Korean actor Choi Min-sik presents th...
English: Korean actor Choi Min-sik presents the film Himalaya, Where the Wind Dwells at 44th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I dearly love all three films, although Sympathy for Mr Vengeance always depresses me no end when I watch it. The point is all three films have so much in common. I’m not talking about plot here. I’m talking about the amount of care that Park takes in the crafting of each film.  In Oldboy for example, look at the clothes the three main protagonists wear. Each of the characters wear certain colours and patterns that tell you, who they are and how they fit into the film. The set designs have been developed the same way. I could go on for hours about the amount of effort that Asian film makers put into their films, but I think it would start to sound a bit like ranting.

 

I think that Asian cinema has some of the most talented directors in the world  at the moment. Asian directors usually write the screen plays of the films they direct and in some cases produce them as well. If ever the phrase of  ”director as auteur” applied to anyone, it applies to Asian directors. For Hollywood to re-make the work of these masters without asking permission, or (most disturbingly) without conferring with them on the process of the re-make itself is criminal. At the very least it is a little nuts. The very fact that the original films were so successful almost mandates an invitation for original creators to be involved.

 

There is no denying that Hollywood is on the “Remake Train.”  They aren’t just remaking World Cinema’s great films, they’re remaking much loved Hollywood films as well. True Grit was released earlier this year. And a list of further re-makes that are upcoming is long and upsetting.  One of the latest is The Wild Bunch which is under going talks to be directed by Tony Scott. It is disturbing to think that the well of talent is so dry in Hollywood that they’ve had to resort to remaking other peoples classic/iconic films to turn a profit.

 

The Wild Bunch
The Wild Bunch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I think it’s safe to say that Hollywood is no longer the “Dream Factory,” they are now the“Remake Factory.”

 

 

 

 

Waiting

Today was a day off for me. I had a whole load of things I was going to do on this free-from-work day. But as they say, “The best laid plans…” Why did my plans go awry? Well let’s work that out shall we?

First I was up ridiculously late last night – that actually translates to the wee hours of the morning – then as a consequence, I overslept. Oversleeping then made me late for my appointment with my previous landlady and her final inspection. *sidenote – it went really well* Of course, I then had to wait for my landlady to make the aforementioned final inspection appointment because she was running late.

These two events had the cumulative affect of making everything else I had planned for the day get further and further behind schedule. As the day began to draw to a close, I started to get just a little stressed. All because everything – apart from the oversleeping part  – revolved around WAITING!!!


This all came to a head when, returning from my second trip to the nearest post office, I got caught in a traffic jam. I mean really? A traffic jam?? The vitriol was building up like a lava burst from a dormant volcano.

 

My inner dialogue went something like this: “WHAT?? I repeat, what ARE we doing here?” “First I drive ALL the way to the post office, JUST to find I have to go home and come back! Then, when I get home I have to make lunch! Then I have to come back to the post officeRIGHT DURING RUSH HOUR!!!!!!”

To top it all off, they were working on the road.

Then just as I was about to explode like a mini-Krakatoa, I started to chuckle. Not hysterically – although it was close –  ”Well that’s what you get for oversleeping!” Explosion averted, I started pondering about the amount of times we wind up waiting for things. Don’t worry, I had plenty of time, this was a good sized traffic jam.

We wait, it seems, for just about everything. We wait in queues (lines for folks of American extraction) in supermarkets, we wait in the doctors office, in the dentist office, in the bank, at the petrol station, at the post office, at traffic lights and round-a-bouts (traffic circles, again for the American folks), we wait to be served in restaurants and wait to get our food in the same restaurants. We wait for holidays, days off, for the boiler to be mended. Well I could go on, but I think we’d both get bored and a little frustrated thinking about all that waiting.

I guess the thing I was pondering about in that traffic jam ( I’ll bet you thought I’d gone off that subject) was this. How much of that time spent waiting is actually our own fault?

My critical mass point today was the second return trip from the post office. I could have avoided the traffic jam and even have avoided the second trip, if, I had done at least one of two things. If I had not decided in my infinite wisdom to stay up “till the cows come home” and if I had actually paid attention to the website that told me what to bring to the post office to begin with. Whoo, that was a long sentence, wasn’t it?

I know that I’m not alone in getting angry at having to wait. I think that as a human animal we all have this tendency to begrudge our time being “wasted” by having to wait for something. But I’ll bet we could all live with these wasted moments, if we just thought about how we got there to begin with.

I know my waiting today was largely a result of my own actions. Remembering this helped me to calm down and even have a chuckle at my own expense. This was much preferable to having a nuclear meltdown. The next time you’re caught waiting try looking at why. You might find out that you were the cause after all. This may not help, but, at least you’ll know who to pin the blame onto.

Dreams And Time

We all have dreams. I don’t mean of the “I dreamt last night I that I could fly” type dream. I mean dreams of what we want in this life. Our aspirations, our hopes and our preferred destinies. Some people dream of fame, stardom, or success. Others dream of keeping warm in the winter, having a full belly, being free from fear.
Often our dreams change.  They have to.  Life has a way of changing us and the way we see things. Situations  often cause this. Getting married, having children, just plain old paying the bills can change the focus of our dreams. Where once we dreamed of success or fame, we find that dream has shifted to our children.
 Another situation that can cause our dreams to change is time, or the sudden awareness of it. We get older. It’s a fact. As we get older, life throws up more obstacles to thwart and challenge our dreams. Work, marriage, divorce, children, and health are just some of the things that can cause us to change or even lose sight of our dreams.
Sometimes we even turn our backs on the dream that we’ve had for years. This is not done lightly. It usually involves a lot of soul searching and re-evaluation. It is never an easy decision and it is usually pretty painful. The end result is sadness and a realisation that perhaps the dream was never attainable or unrealistic. This happens to most people and it’s a damn shame, but it is part of life.
Time is the biggest obstacle to dreams we want to pursue. Time is fleeting, elusive and an illusion. I know what you’re thinking. How, you ask, is time an illusion? It’s simple if you think about it. When you were a child, time seemed to be an infinite thing. Remember school holidays? Summer break from school lasted practically forever. Now, if you are a parent, you’ll have noticed school summer “hols” are over almost before they begin. And although time is a constant, our perception of it changes with age. Time appears to go faster.  See? Time is an illusion.

Deutsch: Jack Nicholson bei der deutschen Film...

My daughter and I watched the brilliant film, The Bucket List the other day. For those of you who are not aware of this wonderful film, I’ll give you the Readers Digest version of the plot. Two very different men – Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson– are given a prognosis of impending death. Morgan Freeman’s character is making a “bucket list,” in other words, things to do before you “kick-the-bucket.”  The two men  then start trying to full-fill the list.  I thought of the film again today after talking about a colleague, that I have known and liked for years, who shuffled off his mortal coil suddenly and unexpectedly. He was not much older than I am.  I wondered if he had a “bucket list” and if he felt he had accomplished everything he wanted. If he had achieved any of his dreams…Did he even have any dreams.

Deutsch: Morgan Freeman bei der deutschen Film...

My dreams over the years have been folded, stapled, and mutilated. They have been usurped by marriage – twice, divorce – twice, children – twice, various job changes, and various life experiences. These are all things that, if given a choice…I WOULDN’T CHANGE FOR THE WORLD.
I  believe that even though time can be a real stinker, I can still have my dreams and pursue them. I may have to change them a bit, but, they’ll continue to live in me despite time and various other influences in my world that have tried to destroy them.
Time may cheat us from realising our dreams, but time can never kill our dreams. Only we can do that.