What’s So Good About Friday?…

Today is Good Friday, although I’m not really sure why it’s called that. Are Christians actually marking the day that Jesus was murdered? This is the guy who their entire marketing and advertising campaign revolves around. He’s the one who brings people in. Without him, there is no Christianity. They should be a little more respectful and mourning his passing as a god in their field.

Oh, wait…

But not only do they mark the day every year; it’s treated as a celebration. It’s Good Friday. It’s right there in the name. It’s not called Memorial Friday or Remembrance Friday, which would make sense, because if the day is being noted to remember Jesus, and to denounce his premature death (which it surely is), shouldn’t it be a sombre affair?

I know religion can be confusing, but I am missing the logic. Is it supposed to be ironic – as in, we know it’s actually a really shit Friday, but that doesn’t look good on a calendar? I doubt it: the church is not known for its self-deprecating sense of humour.

If you follow the script, Jesus was going about his business when he was captured by the Romans and summarily executed. Sounds like a pretty rubbish day to me. And whilst nailing me to a cross and watching me bleed out may be some people’s idea of a good time, I would like to think that most of those who care about me (yes, there are a few) would be saddened by the grisly nature of my denouement.

The same should be the case for Jesus, whose only real crime was his David Blaine style trick of turning water into wine without considering the social implications of any minors in the crowd drinking the alcohol that he had provided. Next thing Jesus knows, he’s been nabbed by one of Pilate’s guys and there’s a halo of thorns on his head. Now, if he had spent time mastering a good escape trick, rather than messing around with the loaves and the fishes, perhaps he would have been all right.

The kids are off school on Good Friday, and it’s a weekend of chocolate eggs and cute little bunnies for them, so they probably think it’s quite a good day, but I doubt that the Christian Church was thinking of that when the day was given holiday status.

Likewise, I’m sure supermarket managers and corner store owners love it too, because as they have correctly pointed out; Jesus not only died for our sins, but also so that we could spend far too much money on sweet treats.

All right, rant over. Now get back to that terrible Easter weekend television.

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What I’ve Done This Week #14…

I finally managed to finish a story! Granted, it’s not a new one, but it is the first thing I have completed in 2019.

Jigsaw is an old piece of fantasy fiction. I wrote the first version of it in 2000, left it for almost the entire decade, then redrafted it in 2009. That iteration was much shorter, but a lot cleaner and tighter as a result.

I didn’t really think I would ever go back to it, but I had an unfinished attempt sitting on my laptop that I decided to throw myself into… and so, almost twenty years after the story was written the first time, I have fine-tuned it again.

Although it still comes in shorter than the original text, I have added a sizeable chunk of words, bringing it in longer than the last time I looked at it.

It’s a good story: maybe this version will make the editors smile.

People Are All Kinds of Dumb #14…

Of course, they say that any publicity is good publicity, so perhaps this English hair salon has struck upon an odd (albeit potentially devastating) effort at self-promotion.

According to the new rules implemented at said hairdresser, anyone over 176 centimetres (or five foot eight inches in old money), or whose hair extends beyond ‘bra-strap length’ will incur an extra cost if they wish to get their hair cut.

I am certainly no hairdresser, and I won’t pretend to know the difference between a duck tail and a pompadour, but surely the price of your cut should have nothing to do with the length of your hair when you walk into the shop. You take a pair of scissors and snip – how that process differs for someone whose hair is cut close to their ears and for another whose locks are long enough to tickle their asshole is beyond me.

And even more oddly – why is five foot eight inches the cut off point? That’s not even an extraordinary height. Five foot eight is just a fairly standard height for a human. Now, if you were telling me that you didn’t want to cut the hair of someone who was eight foot tall… that’s at least a reason I can theoretically get behind. But truth be told, I don’t actually understand why the height of the subject is of any consequence, because surely the hair you’re cutting is attached to a head that is sitting in a seat anyway.

I’m over six foot, so I guess I won’t be going there anytime soon.

Potted Film Review: Shazam! (2019)

Starring: Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Mark Strong

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What’s it all about?
At first blush Shazam! seems to be about a boy who meets an old homeless dude in a subway tunnel, says his name aloud, and then is able to use that name as a conduit to become a bumbling superhero… but underneath all that it’s really a story about family and friendships.

It starts off quite slowly with a very deliberate first half hour, to the point where I was concerned it was dragging on too long. However, once the origin/backstory is set aside, it develops into a fun romp with its tongue squarely in its cheek.

As it proceeds I started to feel a bit of a Big vibe, in the way that the central relationship plays out, right down to a funny blink-and-you’ll-miss-it homage that I’m sure was a nod to those who had recognised the similarities.

I’m a fan of Zachary Levi from his television work on Chuck, and – as this role is not a million miles away from that one – he slips easily into the superhero spandex here, giving a confident performance that is an easy paycheck for him. The rest of the cast I can take or leave, to be honest. Mark Strong feels like nothing more or less than your standard comic book villain, and the supporting children are fairly forgettable on the whole. They aren’t all that good, but then again, they’re not too bad either. This is Levi’s movie, and – combined with the sharp script – he is the primary reason that this works.

Watching it with the kids…
This is a family friendly movie through and through, with only the very young and sensitive who may be a little frightened by the monsters and demons on display here, but there’s no gore and no blood. There’s some mild language to be aware of, but it’s extremely tame, and nothing more than what you will hear in any playground.

Verdict…
I’m not an avid fan of superhero movies, so it takes something a little different within that genre to make me sit up and take notice. Shazam! manages to do that, and it is because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. How can it? It’s a movie with an exclamation mark right there in the title. It’s not dark, gritty, or edgy, like a lot of these comic adaptations try to be, and that’s absolutely fine.

Recommended

(Im)mature Students…

I went to the cinema last night with The Girlfriend© to see Shazam! (review inbound), but for a hot minute it looked like we were more likely to be spending the next couple of hours explaining ourselves to the cops than watching the latest hero in the DC Universe.

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Ticket prices here in Aberdeen are very expensive – to the point where we sometimes get a little creative with the purchasing of said tickets. I’m not proud of it, but we have been known to buy cinema tickets online and do so as students, because we save about £3 each that way. It’s not much, I know, but it is a system that is so easy to exploit (and nobody ever checks the tickets) that it almost seems like the purchasing option has been set up specifically for people to do just that. And although I’m sure we are not the only ones who have done it, I do appreciate that is no excuse either.

So we have got away with it maybe half a dozen times in the past, except last night the young female ticket collector – who admittedly, was only doing her job – did check our credentials.

She asked The Girlfriend© for her identification, and when she wasn’t able to produce any, she asked what course she was studying at university. The Girlfriend© – to her credit, was quick on her feet, and blurted out her son’s chosen vocation of midwifery – but was (of course) not able to show the ticket collector any emails or correspondence to prove her case.

I was asked the same questions, and I chose to go with the actual course I studied at university of Law & Management. Afterwards I figured if I was going to be lying anyway, perhaps I should have been a little more ambitious with my response, but in the moment it’s not always simple to be clever or cute. I guess I could also have thrown The Girlfriend© under the bus and explained that I was perfectly happy to pay the extra, and that I had nothing to do with the fraudulent purchase… but that would not have made for a pleasant remainder of the evening.

I am absolutely convinced that the ticket girl did not believe a word of what we told her, but she let us in anyway – probably just to avoid any escalation of the situation.

Suffice to say, the movie was good, but I spent a good portion of it expecting the manager to flip up the lights, and bring in a couple of heavy-set security guards to toss us out.

What I’ve Done This Week #13…

I have written seven Jack & Patrick short stories since their first adventure in the summer of 2012. I have one more in progress, which has not gone very far, and this week – for no reason other than I was looking for something to do – I manufactured another few ideas for their continued friendship. These particular stories are like comfortable slippers to me, and writing them always raises a smile, so I look forward to starting those.

Not that I had any intention of doing so, but this week I also picked up an unfinished third draft of one of my personal favourite short stories, Jigsaw. It’s coming along well and should be finished by the end of play tomorrow if I get the time to do it. It really doesn’t need much work but I have been adding some stuff and tidying the language up as I go along.

Jigsaw was accepted for publication in early 2015, but the magazine folded before it ever saw the light of day, which was a real shame because it would have been a quality feather in my cap. Perhaps once this redraft is completed, I will be able to give it the home it deserves.

People Are All Kinds of Dumb #13…

I don’t know who is worse – this woman who ‘married’ a 37 year old zombie doll called Kelly, complete with ceremony and subsequent consummation; or the people who think that her bride is actually a dead child.

Admittedly, it’s quite a good (albeit gruesome) depiction of a dead child, but you would have to be both blind and high to think it was anything other than fabric and some decent face paint. That’s not to say that I think marrying a dead kid is any more or less weird than taking your vows with a puppet. Because it’s not.

Twenty year old Felicity was given the doll seven years earlier and they have been close ever since. This says it all:

“Despite having been in a relationship with Kelly for four years, getting married to her has made me feel so much closer to her, both emotionally and intimately... I married Kelly but only because I accept her for who she is, I look past her bloody face and I don’t mind her not having a jaw.

Are you fucking kidding me? Looks aren’t everything – trust me, I get that – but at the very least I do like a girl to have the bottom half of her face intact.

Good luck, Felicity, but I reckon your zombie pal was munching on your brain long before the wedding took place.