Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Zombie blockbuster disaster movie dream

I’ve wanted one of these dreams all my life – a combination of low budget, edgy zombie film and Hollywood blockbuster disaster movie. I got one the other night, then wished I hadn’t. I’ve mentioned before how when my life is busy and exciting, my dreams are mundane in the extreme. And when my life is dull, my dreams can be pretty exciting. Well, this one was a roller coaster and a half.

Mankind was living with the post-zombie apocalypse, zombies were everywhere and that was fine, they were a nuisance but pretty harmless and under control. Apart form the biting, they blended pretty well into society. Ken, an old colleague I haven’t seen for years, was around. Pacey and Dawson from Dawson’s Creek were around (looking like they were still in the 1990s); I think they were soldiers living in the barracks.

Without warning there was a blinding light, an explosion and a flood of Biblical proportions. Mass confusion and hysteria ensued. I was standing in the street with my daughter's mother at the time; I don’t know where our daughter was – safe, I sensed. Water was rising fast. We started running up a hill; the water was already up to our waists. I eventually reached the top of the hill, just safe from the water below. I looked around, thinking my ex was right behind me. She wasn’t. I looked down below, and there she was, on a raft, just about to go into an abyss. We looked at each other for a split second – in that second, in her eyes, I knew she’d made peace, and everything would be okay, I would look after my daughter. Then she was gone.

I was upset. Back at the barracks, I hugged Ken. Then I had to tell my parents, my ex's parents and my auntie and uncle (aren’t dreams amazing? In real life, my uncle had recently died, but here he was alive as day). My daughter already knew. My dad mumbled that he’d had a ‘very disturbing’ voice message on his phone from my ex, just before she went over the edge.

I woke up sweating, almost in tears. It was a classic! Production values were high; special effects pretty realistic, acting very good. It packed an emotional punch. Script top notch, if slightly confusing in places.

Previously on Barnflakes:
Dreams

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

It's a Shame About Ray – the book

Yes, this is now an actual thing. What started off as a drunken laugh in the pub is now, a week later, an actual book – well, once I get it printed of course. It's a Shame About Ray – named after the classic Lemonheads album – is a tribute to production manager Ray, his B2B magazine flatplans, and the cornucopia of puns that go with the man and the name.

And what an array of Rays: from Blu-Ray, Stingray and Ray Gun to the Milky Ray, 50 Shades of Ray and Ray of Hope, all the clich├ęs – and more – are featured in one handy 28-page, A5 booklet. A fitting panegyric to the man and his work, it is also the perfect companion to my previous Rashisms: The Book of Rash, as Ray and Rash both worked together.

Previously on Barnflakes:
The Rayfaring Stranger
Rashims: The Book of Rash

Thursday, May 17, 2018

London through its charity shops #36: some odds and ends

Victoria, SW1P
The train station and surrounding area have been under construction for years and it still feels like a building site. The shiny new buildings are all ghastly, with one – the Nova Victoria – being dubbed ugliest of the year last year and winning the Carbuncle Cup.

The only redeeming features in the area are the stunning Westminster Cathedral, with its Stations of the Cross by Eric Gill, and Strutton Ground, the only nice road in the vicinity with its cobbled stones and weekday food market. There's a jolly nice Oxfam bookshop there, also selling music and DVDs.

Bermondsey Street, SE1
My favourite street around London Bridge now has a charity shop. Cause for celebration? Nope, because it's a Marys Living and Giving Shop for Save the Children with no books or records and men's shirts costing £25. 

Tulse Hill, SW2 to West Norwood, SE27
It's taken me years to know the difference between Tulse and Herne Hill (confusingly, for my mind anyway, it's because they're so close to each other). Tulse Hill is horrible, where people get shot and dragged under cars; Herne Hill is pretty nice.

Across the road from Tulse Hill train station is a ramshackle Geranium Shops For The Blind charity shop. These are getting to be such a rare breed; most charity shops been tarted up into boutiques with prices to match. This one's cheap and a bit dirty but can get in good stuff.

Continuing south along Norwood Road, we enter West Norwood before we reach another charity shop, and it's another Geranium. This is similarly ramshackle but bigger. Next is a relatively sterile RSPCA, with not much of anything of interest, ever. Past the train station on Knight's Hill are two Emmaus Lambeth, one selling white goods and electricals, the other, clothes.

Herne Hill, SE24
Herne Hill is nicely situated by Brockwell Park and has a funky market on Sundays. Not greatly served by charity shops, it has two pleasant Oxfam shops opposite each other on the delightfully named Half Moon Lane, a general shop and a bookshop.

Brixton, SW2 & SW9
Brixton has also never been good for charity shops. There's been a TRAID for years, which I've never been in, and there's now a huge Barnardo's on the corner of Brixton and Stockwell Roads, almost opposite the Brixton Academy. Lots of clothes, records, bric-a-brac and books; they had a good selection of art books when I last went in – I picked up one on Marcel Dzama for a couple of quid.

Previously on Barnflakes:
London through its charity shops

Monday, May 14, 2018

London libraries #7: Swiss Cottage

A brutalist exterior houses a delicate, flowing and symmetrical modernist interior. What's not to like? Originally designed in 1964 by Sir Basil Spence (Coventry Cathedral, New Zealand's Beehive), it was sensitively remodelled in 2003 by John McAslan & Partners. The library has a light, calm, peaceful atmosphere. It also contains a gallery, cafe and other cultural and leisure activities. As the twin staircases are symmetrical, expect publications like Time Out and The Guardian to have rife comparisons to the films of Wes Anderson.

Previously on Barnflakes:
London libraries
London Through Its Charity Shops #35: Swiss Cottage
Random Animated Animal Film Reviews

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The weekend in barngains

Pictured:
The Cramps, Smell of Female LP (£2, Putney charity shop)
Yes I have it on CD, but great band, best album title ever, cool cover.

Fairport Convention, Liege & Lief LP  
(£2, Putney charity shop)
Didn't have this one at all. I only have Unhalfbricking by Fairport, which I've mentioned previously.

Rodreiguez, Cold Fact CD (£1, Putney charity shop)
Another recent coincidence this – I was chatting to a friend about Searching for Sugar Man over dinner the other evening, then this turns up. I've mentioned Light in the Attic, who have re-released the 1970 album, before. There's another 'alluring narrative' that goes with Rodreiguez: he was (re)discovered a decade ago working as a labourer in Detroit, not knowing his debut album had become a cult classic, and he had become a national hero and beacon of hope in South Africa.

Paul Nash in Pictures: Landscape and Dream 
(£3.50, Putney charity shop) 
Beautiful book.

Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon  
(£3, Hammersmith charity shop)
Even though this will turn out to be another Gravity's Rainbow, I've been desperate for this ever since going to Kosovo. H said it would turn up eventually, and it did. There was no way I was ever going to pay £21 for a paperback.

Krazy Kat: The Comic Art of George Herriman 
(£2, Crystal Palace charity shop)
The best comic strip ever.

Not pictured:
Two-for-one tickets for Kew Gardens
To see the newly restored Temperate House, even if it did rain.

Free screen print from Mai 68: Posters from the Revolution exhibition, Lazinc gallery, London
To the same friend I was chatting to about Rodreiguez, I muttered something about The Clash line "turning rebellion into money" with regards to the exhibition, but fascinating nonetheless.

Previously on Barnflakes:
Barngains
London Through its Charity Shops

Elsewhere on Barnflakes:
BARNGAINS is a select list of rated barngains from 2007 to the present day.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Notes on The Human Library

Overheard:
"I've just been to see the satanist"
"Oh the neo-Nazi just popped up, I want to grab him before
anyone else does"

Originating in Denmark, natch, The Human Library is an organisation dedicated to challenging prejudices through conversation. The concept is simple: people ('books'), mainly those who society as a whole has prejudices against, are on loan to 'readers' for twenty minutes, who get to ask questions and listen to the book's experiences. On a board is a series of labels – satanist, bi-polar, Muslim, homeless, autism, HIV, alcoholic, etc – and a reader picks whichever human book interests them, and they both go and sit on a sofa to talk about the subject.

I was a tad apprehensive beforehand, but the whole experience was relaxing and enlightening. As I look after an autistic young man, I went for the autistic book, and he was informative and chatty. H went for a reformed fascist and a neo-Nazi. The satanist was constantly in demand and booked out.

I love the idea. Whether the people who it's perhaps aimed at – those with prejudices – would be open-minded enough to attend such an event is questionable, but it's enlightening for both sides: the books get to express their experiences, and the readers get to hopefully understand a marginalised section of society.

We ran with the concept – why stop at prejudiced members of society? There could be a series of books, where experts expound on their chosen field. I know what you're thinking – isn't this what the internet is all about? Yes, true, but actually talking to someone face to face about a subject is far more enlightening and interactive than watching a YouTube video about it.

Interestingly, that week H had been on a course about restorative justice, a process where the victims of crime embark on a series of dialogue with their perpetrator. Having the victim and perpetrator talking face to face can give the victim closure and hopefully enlightens and changes the perpetrator, making them understand the damage they have done. It's a known fact that prison tends not to reform criminals; restorative justice can repair harm, build communities and promote understanding.

humanlibrary.org
restorative justice council

That evening we listened to:
Everyday I Write the Book by Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Previously on Barnflakes:
The Museum of Everyone 
A Life of Art

Friday, May 04, 2018

Cinema in Crystal Palace finally to reopen

After eight years of campaigning by local residents, there is finally to be a cinema in Crystal Palace, the first time for over fifty years. The Rialto on Church Road first opened in the 1920s, closing in the 1960s to become a bingo hall. More recently it's been a Christian centre. The Everyman chain of cinemas put in a bid earlier in the year, which was accepted. It will open as a four-screen cinema towards the end of the year.

Time Out has some pictures of what it's going to look like.

My image above contains all the iconic Crystal Palace landmarks: Transmitter tower, Sphinxes, dinosaur, subway and statue from the Great Exhibition.

Now all Crystal Palace needs is some chain stores. I've had with the cafes and vintage shops; there's nowhere for me to buy me a pair of pants or socks. Give me an M&S!

Nearby, the West Norwood Picturehouse is also due to open this year.

Previously on Barnflakes:
The lost art of the double bill
In the Crystal Palace subway
The dinosaurs of Crystal Palace
Random film review: The Pleasure Garden 
London through its charity shops: Crystal Palace, SE19
Double bill me

Elsewhere on Barnflakes:
Crystal Palace Flickr album