The Talking Gardens Of The USA

Americans and their garden signage are a curious thing..

You walk past these talking houses and you see placards telling you “Black lives matter” , ” Gay rights ” , ” Trans rights”
“Equality for women” …” I’m with jesus ”
and , for the goths ” I worship the devil ” ( this one is helpful as you know off the (flying) bat ..That lot are gonna be possibly over weight and certainly somewhat braindead )…. You get Xmas decor , Halloween decor , “Welcome to spring ” and ” I love Autumn ” bows.

You get the persons voting preference and pop culture choices as garage stickers …Their gate fittings,at times, tell you about their pets and they leave books to browse, borrow or keep ..They even leave take away philosophy quotes and homemade poems

In short the American garden is a social media post before social media was invented

 

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Lockdown Review

As we are all locked in, a hostage to our streaming services.  I thought I would pop up the odd review. I will stick to films on Netflix ,Amazon Prime, Hulu etc …..They are kind of “also ran” types …NOT the Obvious classics in Movie or TV – thus, no Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Mike Leigh films etc, no  Breaking Bad, Six Feet Under , Curb Your Enthusiasm and so on.

Film-

The Foreigner

It says its new on Netflix here, USA, however the film is from 2017.

The film places Jackie Chan in a role that, in the past, would have been taken up by Harrison Ford and these days , for reasons I can’t divine, is usually filled by Limping Neeson.

That is to say Chan finds himself in the kind of role that has an everyman, who nips out to buy a packet of Hobnobs only to find, he has, unknowingly, picked up the wrong Tesco bag and thus is now forced into combat against corrupt, army trained, killers.

In The Foreigner, Chan takes his daughter into town, only for her to get blown up by a Real IRA bomb. Unfortunate.

Chan, unhappy that the police seem to be getting nowhere slowly, decides to take matters into his own hands.

It helps that Chan, although in his 60s , was once in the Chinese Special Forces (before moving to the UK and opening a Chinese Restaurant) and can,seemingly, make explosives out of discarded items from Debenhams lost and found department.

I quite liked the film.

 

 

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TV show-

Blacklist

If anyone has ever sat at home on a cloudy Wednesday afternoon and thought ” Well, I wonder what happened to that actor who played obnoxious rich teens / 20 somethings in the 80s”

Then simply by turning on Netflix and watching The Black List, you can see that James Spader (like all of us) has aged – his hairline has decreased, as his waist line has increased

He has swapped iZod tennis tops (with the collars turned up) and pastel colours , for dark coloured designer suits and a fedora.

The show , in many ways, is typical of NBC/CBS shows- in the same kind of way that BBC and ITV dramas tend to have a certain look / feel.

Spader, plays one of Americas most wanted fugitives who teams up with the FBI to hunt people on America’s “Black list” – mobsters, terrorists and other assorted types one may not want to spend a bank holiday weekend with .

The agreement being, he will work for the FBI only if he can work with a certain female agent …It’s all a bit Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling….

Spader, also followed Hopkins Lecter lead in regards to acting style… We find he too graduated, with honors, at the University of the louche and the hammy .

Spaders character, it would seem, is more cultured than Brian Sewell and deadlier than Charles Bronson in Death Wish – Handy if you want help with an art history essay and also if your best friend has been kidnapped by gangster Muslim clerics

Enjoy

 

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The Bridge to Magnolia

Yesterday, I had to brave the elements to go to the post office.
It was due to an ebay item I was meant to post. I had been putting this off, thinking I don’t want to risk my life for a mere $30 ..However, although the buyer was very nice about the situation, I did think 4 weeks is long enough and I didn’t want to smear my 100% ebay rating…

So, I set off to the Post Office in wealthy , healthy Magnolia.
As its a Peninsula, to get there I had to walk over a Bridge..
As I was doing this, I kept thinking a hateful village sherif was going to pull over with cruel sirens and angry tires to hassle me and ask me to turn back from the cozy village back to the wilderness of Upper Queen Anne. Just like what happened to John Rambo in First Blood- dear reader, I should stop to point out, before my wife tells me off, Upper Queen Anne, is actually rather upper middle class, thankyouverymuch.

Anyway, there was no sherif about to drive me out of town and put me in jail if I tried to return- this was lucky as I wasn’t a vietnam vet, so I probably wouldn’t have been able to escape like John Rambo did … That said I had watched Tenko a few times, so who knows

Once I got to Magnolia, I discovered the Post Office queuing system meant you had to wait until someone comes out of the Post Office, until you could go in…. The trouble is one gets bored so you read a book or go on your phone.. This means you can miss when sone one walks out.. Which I did yesterday..
The women behind me shouted “GO ON, YOUR TURN”
So, I said “Bloody Nora, keep your wig on”… Which in England can be amusing, in a retro saying kind of way.. However, it didn’t translate in America and I thought she may call the police.
The end

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Regarding Woody

Most people , probably, wouldn’t want to order this first quarter of 2020 , if it was a menu option
In fact , I wouldn’t be surprised if the masses demand we re do this whole year .
The entire world will get together and pretend this was just a collective nightmare, that vanished as soon as we awoke into our new “do over” year,- like the famous season long, Bobby Ewing, dream sequence in Dallas.
This would also be handy if you are 21 and want to stay 21 for a year longer, it would be helpful if you were on death row and due to go to the electric chair this year. Although, granted this would be a nuisance if you had to reschedule your Dignitas appointment.

For me, apart from January, I always hate January, this year has been nice. Yes, Covid-19 is frightening and heartbreaking,.. However, it has meant I can work remotely and not have to share an elevator with people who’s total number of tattoos is greater than their IQ score- life is a game of give and take.

One of the delights of this year, so far, as far as I’m concerned, is that Woody Allen’s autobiography was, finally, released and what can I tell you, it’s brilliant, utterly hilarious .

I remember, the fantastic, Victoria Wood once said that Woody Allen had become ashamed he was ever funny, he now just wanted to be a “serious” dramatist. Apart from being not true , it implies Woody had stopped being funny
You only had to watch a number of his films, around the time Victoria said this and beyond, to see it wasn’t true.
This book is further proof that the Woody Allen of old, is pretty much the Woody Allen of the present.
In a way, it’s, almost, impossible for Woody not to be amusing, as his humour is based around his philosophy on life and the many abusdaties that imbue it and flow from it.

It’s the reason he has such a loyal core fan base, which since I first discovered him in my teens I have been a part of, if you “get” Woody, if you are a fan, its largely, due to having a shared view of the world.

“There was no trauma in my life, no awful thing that occurred and turned me from a smiling, freckle-faced lad with a fishing pole and pantaloons into a chronically dissatisfied lout. My own speculation centers around the fact that at five or so, I became aware of mortality and figured, uh-oh, this is not what I signed on for. I had never agreed to be finite. If you don’t mind, I’d like my money back.”

Woody Allen

I say all this, as if you buy, borrow or steal, the book you won’t be let down. The book over spills with “it’s funny because it’s true” observations and Samurai sword sharp quips .

He is, also, open hearted, at least for Woody, discussing his parents, his loves, his likes and his loathes. As well as taking us through his relationships- of course, he gives his side of the story regarding Mia, her children and his wife, Soon Yi as well.

“I helped her get work in TV when she moved to the city. We had no secrets, we were closer than family. This extreme and pleasurable closeness continued decade after decade until I sued her.”

Woody Allen

“But the arguments we had over free will and monads, while heated, were never as combatative as the ones we had over our marriage. I knew I was in trouble when, in one philosophical discussion, Harlene proved I didn’t exist.”

Woody

Anyway, if it doesn’t sell out, the book should be available, at most, closed for Covid-19 book stores, as well as with the usual online sellers
.

For what it’s worth, going by the evidence he gives and from what I’ve read in the past, I can’t help but think Woody is innocent and I can’t help but feel Mia’s greatest acting achievement (even greater than her brilliant performance in Rosemarys Baby ) is her ability to fool people into thinking she should be anywhere which isn’t a Psychiatric Hospital .

I will leave the last word to Woody himself

“As much as we whine and moan and insist, often quite persuasively, that life is a pointless nightmare of suffering and tears, if a man suddenly entered the room with a knife to kill us, we instantly react. We grab him and fight with every ounce of our energy to disarm him and survive. (Personally, I run.)”

Woody Allen

“All that I ask is my ashes be scattered close to a pharmacy.”

Woody Allen

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It’s alright for some

I have to say, although, they are well meaning, I’m kinda getting a bit sick of these “Stay home” videos on social media sites,  by the ultra wealthy celebs .
I agree with what they are saying BUT  it’s a trad patronising, no?

Let’s be honest it’s no great shakes staying in and not earning for them..They wouldn’t have to work or leave their homes for the rest of their lives if they didn’t want to ….Also some of them have mansions with grounds the size of a small national park.

For most of the USA/UK life, simply, isn’t that simple ..
I mean, lots have lost their jobs… They have rent to pay , bills to cope with. … They have to wait 6 weeks (in the UK ) for a benefit cheque .
How are they meant to get by?
These shelf stackers and delivery men, aren’t “Brave” they are desperate . ..They can’t get by UNLESS they go to work, travel on trains etc …Nobody would chose to stack shelves or work in a warehouse during a pandemic if they had a choice

I know some people are having their rents “put off” for 3 months… But personally I can’t see that being of any help .. They aren’t being ‘Let off” rent, its merely being deferred.

Your average rent is, at least, about 1000 quid a month ..
So after all this , they maybe jobless and have to pay back about 4000k, where are they meant to get that from?

Celebs shut your mouths

(All that said, stay in folks )

 

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Names of the days seem meaningless, now .

It’s getting to the time, where you start to forget just how long you’ve been in “Lockdown” …
The initial novelty value of being able to work from home in your pajamas and talk to your cat  has worn so thin it no longer exists.

No matter how much you love your partner, after so many days stuck together,  you can’t help but feel like the Paul Sheldon character in the film Misery .  If you live alone, there is no escape, you are both Paul Sheldon and Annie Wilkes.
Lots of us who were working from home, now find ourselves put on “furlough” ( another way of saying laid off, without pay, until, something like, normal  business resumes) . Just how do you pay your way, with no way to generate income?

As each day passes another, strand of “life” vanishes .  Seeing people fight over toilet roll, a reminder of how “flimsy” “Society” actually is .

Still, what is one person’s hell, is another person’s paradise.. If you are an adrenaline addict, you no longer have to go and climb a mountain freestyle, race a fast car or jump from an aeroplan… All you have to do, to get your weekly dose of danger, is walk to the local convenience store….If you see someone cough, it’s akin to seeing a Muslim suicide bomber approaching ….
If someone steps too close, you jump back as if a London midnight mugger is trying to stab you
In some ways a dash to the local shop resembles the scenes from The Walking Dead , when characters brave the zombie apocalypse, in order to get a case of  Oxo cubes, or whatever other items remain , in a pre looted, abandoned supermarket.

In a way, I would rather dodge the walking dead than avoid the Coronavirus,  at least you can see a Zombie..
If one comes towards you, you merely turn into Usain Bolt and  run away or do a nifty two step and hit it over the head with a spade, before taking a bow and carrying on your way.

If you are unlucky enough to get bitten, you know you are infected and you take yourself off to the general location of your least favorite family member, wait until you “turn” and eat them .

With Covid-19, things aren’t so defined. You can’t see it coming. It’s everywhere, it’s nowhere..You just don’t know.

You can return from the shop .. Start coughing, convinced you have the virus you draw up a will ..Say all your goodbyes to family and friends ..Only to feel better a few days later and have to ask for all the possessions, you gifted,, back….
Alternatively, you can return from the shop,  rose cheeked from fresh air , feeling fit and hearty, only to drop dead a week later .

If life was fair, God would let us return this year 2020 and swap it for another.
Ah well….

Cats life..

People dying, people not able to pay rent due to being laid off.. Canceled, this and closed down that..

However, I have to say, I feel sorry for the world’s cats.. Who are used to having the sunny spot on the bed to themselves, all day.. Able to glide around each room undisturbed.. The whole home their playground..

Now they have to endure being picked up and kissed every two minutes by a human, who won’t stop talking and whom is, seemingly, surgically attached to their smelly, biscuit crumb coated pyjamas. Who never leaves the house.
“what the hell has happened to my life” they must think.

Poor Kitty cats of the world.

Billy Ray

It’s been an odd few weeks in Seattle, it seems I moved into the American epicenter of the Coronavirus pandemic – some guys have all the luck.

Today, Seattle is now in utter lock down, I can’t help but feel its all a bit over the top- I have a feeling lots of people are pretending to be more anxious than they actually are, in order to get their employers to furnish them with a laptop and let them do the nine to five, at home, in their favorite pajamas

Nevertheless, the highways are hideaways , the center of town now merely caters for bags that swirl in the wind and the shop shelves hang wistful like a mausoleum afternoon

It’s even been banded about on social media, news print media, as well as on World Wide television media… That, due to the, Billy Ray, virus, we should no longer partake in the age old custom of “shaking hands”.. Even though the custom has been around since medieval times.. Surviving civil unrest, wars, the great plague and the career of Bonnie Langford.
I think it would be a shame if the custom died out, if only through fear of it being replaced by the French habit “Faire la bise” or social hugs – I’m all for hugging a loved one, but have always failed to divine why ANYONE would want to hug a stranger.

I remember around 1981,
The council estate I grew up on had a number of people in rattle vans that they would plod around and push their product from .. There was a mobile library , a sweet van, a fish van (P U K E), a chip van and also a couple of soda pop pushers, who would sell their one liter delights, come pink skinned summer.
Whats curious to me in 2020 is the name of the pop being pushed was Corna.
Could it be, it was these sunny afternoon frizz pop slingers that were the real genesis of the modern day killer?

It’s worth maybe nothing, but I will note that one of the Corna delivery boys had three nipples.
The tough and tumble kids would play football on the grass, then stop their game and say “look its three nipples”
If I was nearby, I’d run home to the safety of my bedroom. I didn’t know if his spare nipple was a symbol of something more sinister.
More than that the thought of having three nipple made me anxious .. I didn’t know what to do with the two I had.

In spite of COVID-19 I have managed to scout around Seattle and have found another area I like….Magnolia.
It’s only a mile away from where I live – basically I walk out the front door and over a bridge (see picture)


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It’s, rather, expensive there but is one of those Whistle Stop Cafe type villages-Lewes, in the UK, kind of, has that kinda feel, also.
That is, if Whistle Stop Cafe was in the Northwest and populated by lots of Catholics and Jews-I’ve come to notice, nearly, all my fave parts of the world are Catholic and/or Jewish

In Magnolia, the views are fantastic and the houses range from bungalow to Parasite style modernism.
It manages to keep alive that sense of white picket fence 50s Americana- toy town style Fire stations, garden furniture and so on.

Magnolia, Is where my wife used to own a home , which is probably worth a million now…
I try to be supportive with a “well, money isn’t everything ..You like romance and adventure ”
However, I think if I was her I’d take out legal action against certain British pop stars and authors, for bending her mind enough to give all that up.

Speaking of The Wife, she said last night (after I explained why getting up early doesn’t agree with me)
“You people from working class stock are meant to be hardy but really you are wimps, you cant cope with anything”

I advised most are hardy.. Unfortunately, her Quality Street selection was one of the softer centers.

She didn’t laugh, I also got the distinct impression she would never buy Quality Streets again.

The end

Seasoning

Its a lovely sunny day here in the land of Frasier Crane.
It seems Seattle actually does have four distinct seasons- like Cornwall BUT unlike the rest of England which has one week of spring and two weeks of Autumn and 49 weeks of a frantic wrestling match between Summer and Winter, where Winter always wins..

Im gonna start walking into work, one can’t expect to keep their waist and cheekbones by eating cake and Ubering everywhere. Also I’m scared of
getting the Coronavirus virus if I venture onto public transport. Virus fear, is kinda making me racist.. Inasmuch as when I see someone from Easten Asia (or even anyone who works in The Shanghai Wall Chinese Restaurant in Bell Town )
I psychology put on a protective biological suit, before physically running down the street, muttering the Catholic Prayer Of Protection as I go

The end.

The Visitor- Raccoon About Town

The other evening, I was about to walk up the stairs to the garden.. When I saw movement..
The silhouette wasn’t human or cat, dog or any of the usual beings that sit or flit about the place.

Thus, I prepared myself to make a fast escape in case the being was either a bloodthirsty beast or a ghost from 1915 who had returned to complain about our choice of soft furnishings.

However, when the creature turned and the light lite up its face.. I saw that it was the famous masked fur ball, Rocky Racoon or at least one of his Zorro masked relatives.

I had never seen a raccoon in real life before.. This one wasn’t scared of me, at all.. We just stood looking at each other in a amused manner.

Two nights later, Mr Racoon decided to break into our trash and throw it around the garden.. I take it from this course of action either I offended Mr Racoon and this was his unruly form of protest.. Or he had found someones “stash” in the bushes, got high and partied.

The end