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I've made a new account. A fresh start was needed.… Grazie!
  • Listening to: The Jam
It's 1:50 in the morning, and I'm listening to Kate Bush. After a couple years of teenage crisis, of constant stress, self doubt, hostility to people who don't deserve it, and constantly telling myself I need to solve problems and calm down, I've decided to just bring things slowly to a halt and be completely and totally honest with me. I'm talking to my friend Noah on Facebook, and I'm writing this. Writing is my lifeline and my favorite thing in the world, and writing to friends to whom I've been a dick and writing a little memoir of my (so far) short life must be the best possible solution to my problems. I'm also listening to Kate Bush, the acclaimed English musician known for Running Up That Hill and Wuthering Heights. Bush is, quite simply, my single favorite person in the world, and by default my favorite artist. She's beautiful, graceful, sweet, eccentric, intelligent, and epic not like anyone else. In her Wuthering Heights video, she changed my life and elevated my views of women even higher, greatly helping to perfect my feminism with her sensual grace and ambiance. I'd like to thank her for being such an incredible human being and being so instrumental in me calming down and writing this.

Basically, I'm a dick. This started about 2 years ago. Obviously, it was because I fell in love for the first time. Her name was Stacy, and she is a lovely girl- very creative, very eccentric, very nice. I didn't particularly notice her for a few months. I probably had my sights set on somebody else for some reason or other. After figuring that pursuing somebody considerably younger than me who no longer lived in my area, I looked elsewhere for a crush. In mere days, I noticed Stacy, who was absolutely unlike anybody else I'd ever known. She certainly wasn't what I expected a person I liked to be like, and that was definitely a huge part in me becoming smitten. Stacy was similarly intrigued by me at the time (although not to the same degree, to her credit), and soon we were discussing dating. Being a 15-year-old and inherently stupid, I mistook this for actual dating and spent 6 days happier than any other idiot ever. Stacy, as always much nicer than she needed to be, said nothing about her actual feelings for that period of time, then finally confessed to not being that interested. I proceeded to completely fuck my life up, setting my world on her, as I let my juvenile emotions have free reign. As I continually pestered her to give it another chance, she became intermittently angry and sympathetic at my patheticness. It wasn't even that she was totally disinterested; she just wasn't that interested. After she turned me down a second time, I crashed and burned. Depression which I've never fully healed from dominated my life. Constant numbness and dark moods tormented my heart and mind with either very brief relief or none at all. My depression developed- every week or two, coming in smaller periods, switching between numbness in my chest (heart) and my head (brain). I was either emotionally distraught or mentally distraught- my now only beginning interest in alchemy and Alan Moore's concept of alchemy had its roots here. Stacy was helpful in this period, giving me plenty of laughs and joyful moments. And yet I persisted with my obsession, and her inconsistency in responses necessarily remained. My best friend, a beautiful and sweet young woman named Mere, somehow also stood by me through this shit.

Being a 15/16-year-old boy, I had an ego with no regard for intelligence or any strong character. My depression continually worsened. It took over my brain. I struggled to think. My analytical abilities were pretty much destroyed. As they were what I lived for, I wanted to die many times. In many instances, knives were only millimeters from piercing my heart or veins. And I didn't seek help. Mere, Stacy, and many of my other friends pleaded for me to get counselling and tell my family. My family was not really part of the picture. I was only beginning to realize what a phenomenally screwed up and failed person my mother was, and barely beginning to realize just how fantastic my father was. Nobody else was around. Of course, this is no excuse for my stubbornness. I guess I was ashamed of having let a girl ruin my life (emphasis on "let". She didn't ruin my life. I fucked it up and didn't realize I could fix it and she couldn't.) But my pride took over. My family was perfectly capable of helping me or getting me help, but... yeah. I fucked up.

My relationship with Stacy worsened during this period. She got frequently angry with me, and after seeing all my whining, she frequently blamed herself. During that period, my stress was worsened by continuing domestic trouble with my mother, and a huge move. I spent a month with my grandparents in Arizona while my mother taught a course in Oxford. It would have been a fun time, but internally, I was constantly in agony. Every single second was complete pain and I begged for relief. Sleep was my only haven, but it had the cheat of promising waking up. Nobody around me knew. There were signs of physical exhaustion- my mother noted my lack of energy and the dark circles under my eyes, and my grandfather noted my unusually high pulse, confirmed by Mere to be unusually high for someone my age. There was no help for me because I chose to avoid it. My mother got back from England. After using the bullshit excuse for so long that anything happening to me would hurt my mother (assuming my mother cared more about my issues than her own obsession with getting what she wants) for months, I gave up and told her. She didn't really believe me, of course. This led to a loud argument. Of course, my grandfather sided with his darling little girl whom he had spoiled into the angry woman she is today. Soon, after I continually insisted on staying in the house due to exhaustion and crappy moods (with excessive hostility, in my family's defense), my grandfather decided he'd had enough and shoved me to the floor (accidentally, maybe) and pinned me down for about a minute. Hard. With a finger on my lower throat. Perhaps calling the police and posting about the incident on Facebook wasn't the wisest thing I'd ever done, but desperation for help was the dominant force in my world. My depression only got worse from there, as I stayed in my grandparents' basement for a couple more days and felt some intense guilt over a cruel Facebook page hacking trick I'd pulled on some of my friends and still not recovered from a serious rough spot in my friendship with Stacy, whom I still hadn't gotten over. Mere constantly told me it would get better. I didn't believe her. Lots of people said it would get better. They were wrong. Everything sucked. I had no faith in anything. It was all shit. I pleaded with my dad to get me a flight to his place on the other side of the country. The following couple weeks with my dad would have been great if they weren't dominated by my misery. I had given up. My mom came back to our side of the country, and we stayed with a nice old cat lady while we looked for a home. During that period, I solved half my problem. It dawned on me that obsession with Stacy wouldn't help. She was absolutely overjoyed to see me realize this. I was slightly elated, and for some reason listening to Queen of all things gave me a lot of joy too. Of course, that wasn't enough. I stayed attached to Stacy. But Stacy was never the problem.

My head started to clear- I have some issues to this day but I can think better than most people. I moved twice but settled into a nice enough area. I was being intensely influenced by new things. My mind had been blown by postmodernist writer/blogger Philip Sandifer, who had taken me from Doctor Who to a whole new belief in counterculture and the left and a whole new set of interests in stories- I learned what writing should be and was introduced to the comics of Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Kieron Gillen, and Grant Morrison. I was building up a lot of confidence. My friendships with Mere and Stacy remained strong. My friend Taylor was also very, very close to me. There were problems, but there always are. Stacy then did the absolute right thing and declared nothing was going to happen between us. I was okay with this. 2 years of waiting around was too much, and I was simply interested in other things at this point. Our ideological differences weren't going to work either (she was a devout Catholic, I was raised Catholic and became an SJW counterculturalist agnostic). We were going to remain friends, and that was important to me. What hit me was how okay I was with it. I lost faith in myself again, probably realizing that I needed to solve my problems, renew faith in myself, and grow up. I've been experiencing self doubts for a while. I want to be as phenomenal as Alan Moore or Phil Sandifer, and I'm barely even adequate at things that matter to me. I'm not even close to my 10,000 hours of writing. I want to be perfect and I've barely achieved adequacy. My relationships with people crashed as well. Taylor, who I'd been so close to for a couple months, got sick of me making stupid jokes belittling him. Many of my friends, despite legitimately pissing me off, have gotten sick of my stream of hostility. And Stacy finally got sick of my shit and fucked off. We both ran into a Facebook post about abortion, which she was for and I was against. Rather than discussing the matter like an adult, I let my anger over someone I had used to love standing in a position I disliked so much on such an important issue to me take over. I made some nasty comments about her religion and she has not talked to me since. My stress over my flaws has continued, but I've largely accepted the situation with Stacy. I'm not romantically interested in her and my eye is currently elsewhere, but I wish we'd remained friends. I'm sorry, Stacy.

This is not about Stacy or my lost love. This is about my failures. I really am incredible. I'm brilliant and someday I'll be one of the best people and writers in the world. I want to get there and I know I will. That's absolutely going to happen and I'll dedicate my life to getting there. Maybe I could reach perfection eventually. 

This happened because I had another day of stressing out about my imperfections and being hostile to people and getting angry at them for their flaws. I needed to calm down. I have never really calmed down in my life. So I promised myself I would be completely honest with myself and my friends and tell them exactly what was happening and going on. So I wrote this as well.

1 hour and 11 minutes later, Noah is no longer online. Canadians have other things to do. But Kate Bush plays on. I can always hop on YouTube or play one of her downloaded music videos or her Red Shoes album (one of the few CD albums I own). Kate influenced me particularly now- her essence of spirit and sharing of herself is what we all need to do. So thank you, Kate Bush. Thank you, Phil Sandifer, for blowing my mind. Thank you, Doctor Who, for opening the door to a magical world. Thank you, Alan Moore, for showing me the greatest stories ever told and proving I could make the world better with stories. Thank you, Neil Gaiman, for proving that stories are real. Thank you, Douglas Adams, for being a magnificent bastard. Thank you, Kieron Gillen, for giving me gods among teenagers. Thank you, Steven Moffat, for showing me writing can be super-autobiographical and immensely structurally complex. Thank you, William S. Burroughs, for introducing me to a new brand of anarchy. Thank you, Stacy, for being my original love and being loads of fun. Thank you, Mere, for being a dear, loving, sweet, supportive friend and sister for years. Thank you, Ashley S, for being like a little sister. Thank you, Taylor, for being like a brother and putting up with my shit and remaining polite. Thank you Sage, Naty, Sam, Brandon, Makkenzy, Jim, Kirsti, Michael, Noah, Jaime, Ashley M, Mickey, Anthony, Harry, Jayce, Kos, Wes, Nicholas, George, you magnificent bastard, Matty, one of my dearest friends in the world and favorite collaborator, Chance, Ben, Kirsty, Joseph, Sara, everybody that exists. Thank you again, Doctor Who, for giving me the moon back. Thank you, Christopher Joseph Kelley, for the gift of stories.
  • Listening to: Kate Bush
  • Reading: American Gods
Well. Rickman.
Fuck, this has been a bad week.
We lost the biggest standalone countercultural glam act ever and the Patrick Troughton of our age in the same week. Rest in peace, Snape. See you in Defense Against the Dark Arts.

    Terry Gilliam’s Brazil is probably the weirdest movie ever made. That’s one of many reasons it’s one of the best. It’s savagely weird. This is the movie Gilliam always wanted to make; it’s his child; it will be on his gravestone.

    Brazil is a viciously angry attack on the systemized, joyless, needlessly complicated bureaucracy of society; it’s largely about the claustrophobia of large spaces. It’s also an excuse for Gilliam to navigate from one weird image to another. For all his complaining about the blockbuster scene of Lucas and Spielberg, Gilliam really revels in showcasing setpiece after setpiece (see his best movie, Time Bandits). He creates a lot of weird, weird images here- all with a lot of satirical bite.


    Jonathan Pryce plays every day weakling establishment servant Sam Lowry. He works in the Department of Records (I don’t know what it is. Nobody knows.) He’s caught up in a sequence of events started when a fly bugs a Department worker enough he swats it on the ceiling and it falls into his typewriter, causing a confusion between the names “Buttle” and “Tuttle”. A family man named Buttle is arrested in his home in front of his family on Christmas Eve for [insert list of Department accusations here], locked up in a strait jacket (strait bag, really), and obviously led away to be killed. His neighbor Jill Leyton (played by… Kim Greist) notices the mistake and goes to the Department of Records to report it, where she’s noticed by Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce), who’s been having dreams about her. To actually meet her and discover more about her, rather than just talking to her, he goes through the insanely systemized bureaucratic process of accepting a promotion he didn’t want engineered by his uber-manipulative and plastic surgery-obsessed mother (Katherine Helmond) to the Department of Information to find information about Jill and finds she’s in trouble because of her daring to question the Departments (“freelance subversion” they call it), and Sam sort of begins to doubt anything works. Got that? Give it a few watches, it’ll sink in.

    It’s a twisted version of our world (not that our version isn’t pretty twisted). The plot is just as insane and complicated as the imagery. And Gilliam decides to tell the story from the point of view of the most confused and lost person in this world (one of us). Sam has lived with the bureaucracy all his life, and it’s slowly driving him over the edge to the point he has really surreal fantasy dreams (even by surreal fantasy dream standards, they’re cinematic). That’s all they are to him- dreams. He’s a tool of bureaucracy doing their dirty work without realizing how dirty it is or that there’s something seriously missing.

    The movie is depressing, but in its depression it’s also really funny. It’s definitely a black comedy with a lot of surreal bleak jokes that simultaneously make us laugh, cringe, and go “yep”. Take bits like your apartment being way too boiling hot for England, calling Central Services, and being told “Thank you for calling Central Services. I’m sorry due to temporary staff shortage Central Services cannot take service calls centrally between 2300 and 0900 hours. Have a nice day. This has not been a recording.” It’s equally funny and nightmarish.

    Then it sometimes breaks the border of genre. There are some really devastating bits. Because of Buttle’s wife having no bank account, Sam decides to give her a check for her dead husband in person (he later gets in trouble for delivering a check through “unapproved methods”). He stands in the wreckage of the Buttles’ home as Mrs. Buttle stares out the window, lost forever, screaming at him “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH HIS BODY?”

    This leads into Sam’s first time as a victim of what the bureaucracy has called “terrorism”. Somebody blows his tiny car up. The movie deliberately leaves it open-ended who’s behind the string of terrorist bombings (Gilliam himself believes it’s the Department trying to get rid of terrorism, but there is none so they have to create some to get rid of). There is one shot with three different suggestions of who the culprit could be. It could be the violent little children laughing in the distance, it could be a mechanic standing around, or it could be that guy in the shadows. The entire world is against Sam.

    And I mean the world- there’s quite a lot of pillaged imagery from culture and movies. It’s a very British film- it lives in a world of British weather, bureaucracy, greyness. Then it turns that on its head by having one of the heroes being Robert De Niro using Cockney phrases. Sam’s enemy in his dreams is a twisted, iron, clunky version of a Samurai from the Akira Kurosawa films Gilliam loves so much. This is Gilliam using iconography we’re familiar with and subverting it to make it hideous. Note the Germanic nature of the bad guys too- they have names like “Helpmann” and “Kurtzmann”. The Nazi uniforms worn by the bad guys are an on-the-nose joke but very funny too.

    It’s by equal terms funny and nightmarish. Co-writer Tom Stoppard includes some clever use of language leading to some frightening implications. Bigwig Mr. Helpmann tells Sam how fond he was of Sam’s father Jeremiah and how often he sees him talk to him- he refers to “the ghost in the machine”, saying Jeremiah spells out “ere I am, JH”, presumably on his typewriter. When Sam gets in Helpmann’s elevator, he finds its over-complex system of navigating levels is a collection of letters- Sam types out “ere I am, JH”. =”Jeremiah”. Even in death, the ghosts are kept in the machines to run it. Forever.

Director: Peter Jackson
Year: 2013
Written by: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro (book by J. R. R. Tolkien)
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom
Running Time: 161 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Personal Rating: 5/5

    The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is usually said to be the best of The Hobbit Trilogy (frequently by people who don’t like any of it). This is probably true. While it doesn’t quite bring me the joy the newness and subversion of An Unexpected Journey did, it’s an absolutely brilliant movie that builds on its predecessor and is considerably faster and more exciting, and continuing to subvert not only expectations of what a Hobbit movie and a prequel to LOTR would be, but what a sequel to The Hobbit would be.

    To be fair, Desolation moves from action sequence to action sequence; there’s far more action than there would be in 2002. Thing is, observe the action. It does keep the plot moving forward and it’s largely fueled by character and story subversion. Take the absolute genius of the dwarves escaping from the elves in barrels and then getting attacked by orcs, where the elves then fight the orcs to save the lives of their prisoners. This isn’t praised nearly enough; it’s an insanely clever subversion of plot and character expectations.

    Desolation works with more LOTR iconography than Journey, and continues its habit of subverting the original story. The movie starts in Bree, where Frodo and the other hobbits waited for Gandalf, who never showed up. This time Thorin, Dwarf-king, (Richard Armitage) shows up and doesn’t wait for Gandalf (you know who), who does show up this time. Spiders show up to attack the company, although they’re much smaller than Shelob (and when the Ring is worn, they’re shown to be stupid monsters focused on nothing more than feeding). The threat of “the Enemy” discussed in An Unexpected Journey has furthered its conquest. The story has scaled itself way up- the all-encompassing Dark Lord Sauron that we spent three movies trying to kill is building up his power, and he’s big enough to destroy Gandalf’s godly staff and put Gandalf in a cage. The Hobbit is, quite literally, being invaded by The Lord of the Rings.

    All this tension rests on a quest by a small group of dwarves to get back home. And this quest lies on one little hobbit. Bilbo (Martin Freeman) has come a long way from the first movie- there we wanted him to accept the epic but more importantly we learned to want him to keep his simple self and his desire for home. Bilbo in Desolation has accepted the quest and the strange surreal Europe (New Zealand I know but shut up, Middle-Earth is Europe) but he does it to help his dwarf friends find their home so he can find his own. And he’s dominated the narrative further, in that it’s become more like him.

    This epic of dwarves, elves, and corrupt men and orcs and dragons and spiders is all grounded in (and subverted by) everyday human (hobbit) emotion. Everyone has normal emotions and pasts that motivate them to make decisions (and not patriotic emotions like LOTR). Part of what was so extraordinary about the first movie was that despite its lack of human characters it was the most humane and personal movie Peter Jackson has ever made. Things are bigger in this movie, partially signified by the human characters. It continues Tolkien’s pessimism about men; they’re weak, their town is poor and rotting, and their mayor is a stuffy old bureaucrat who refuses to think of his people. (“Food! Shelter! All they ever blab about!”) He’s also played by Stephen Fry, one of the brilliant players in the tradition of “British men who’ve totally rejected the bureaucracy and are so good at playing them”. Under the rule of this king-lite is Bard (Luke Evans), a cool archer-man (archers are cool) not dedicated to his country or anything (he has none) - he just takes care of his half-orphaned children. He’s kind enough to help the dwarves though- Balin, the diplomat of the group (and the best dwarf in the story) wins him over.

    The elves are also a welcome addition- a showcase of what they were before this story came along, what The Lord of the Rings will make them, and of just how strange things have gotten in this trilogy. The Rivendell elves in An Unexpected Journey seemed much happier. Elves in Mirkwood on the other hand… these are not gorgeous creatures of beauty like Cate Blanchett or strange amusements like Hugo Weaving. They’re hostile bullies ruled by narcissist Thranduil, an enemy of Thorin, who is now coming face to face with one who didn’t help him reclaim his home. It would have been so easy to give Thranduil a cliché motivation for not helping Thorin like “a dragon killed my wife” or “I saw a dragon when I was a boy and it scared me”. Instead it’s much more characteristic and amusingly anti-climactic- a dragon sort-of ruined his beloved gorgeous face.

    Here’s the startling part, though- Legolas. The Hobbit introduces one of the heroes of The Lord of the Rings. Except he’s not. Legolas here is as hostile as the environment. Even a familiar character of mythic resonance who we used to know as someone to marvel at as he went shield-surfing down stairs while shooting orcs with arrows is a danger, caught up in the bigotry of the world around him. A dwarf will make him better.

    Thank God for Tauriel. Women make everything better. She gives the elves a sympathetic character to work with, and a totally original presence as rebellion. She’s the only elf to make friends with a dwarf- she notices young Kili’s spirit and connects to it- the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

    And somehow this beautiful person comes to be in one of the most hostile environments in these movies. Mirkwood is a conceptual and visual nightmare for this story. Direction, time, and geography are major points that the characters need in their favor. Mirkwood is sort of a reverse psychedelic forest- all sense of time is lost. They walk around in circles (the ultimate “NO” walk in Middle-earth), color doesn’t exist. So naturally Bilbo is the hero here. He climbs up above the forest to find out that there is a place above them, and it’s good. Then he goes back down and discovers the story has dropped some spiders on the dwarves. Magnificent.

    But of course it all leads up to the Lonely Mountain. The movie juxtaposes the fight between Gandalf and Sauron with Bilbo sneaking down a corridor. At the end of the tunnel it surprises him with mountains of gold. And underneath the mountains sleeps the dragon Smaug all around him. The juxtaposition of the small and the epic is obvious and massive here. The result is an incredible combination of writing, performing, direction, design, and effects. Smaug is a massive presence- he literally drips gold and has a golden burn visible in his furnace of a chest. He’s the massive, brutal, inhuman impact of the epic. Benedict Cumberbatch’s beautiful voice that makes everyone regardless of sexual orientation swoon at every syllable is perfectly matched to this narcissistic great god of fire. Unlike the dwarves, Smaug isn’t tempted or changed by the gold. Smaug is the gold. He’s fully accepted his corruption- he longs to see the dwarves who could possibly (somehow) depose him be corrupted by the gold.

    So the story offset him with Bilbo- a simple person who responds to things as small as him. Things always happen to him by chance, so he happens to spot Thorin’s beloved Arkenstone. Unlike the Ring, it’s not so easy to grab. Smaug is all around him; he uses his piles of gold against Bilbo. The scale and dimensions of the Erebor scene are huge, and there are some glorious moments of subversion. One of my favorites is Bilbo and the dwarves sneaking around and something gold falling in front of Bilbo. For a second it seems like the cliché of a character dropping something small and setting off the villain. Instead it’s gold falling off Smaug as he walks above them.

    The ending really is glorious- the dwarves get back home. This is awesome, but only for a time. Smaug has turned their home inside out- it’s a dangerous place. It’s grim and frightening. So as an excuse for Peter Jackson to craft another great action scene, they fight. They know this place; they know the mechanics of their mines and equipment. Then they announce their return to Smaug by creating a gold statue and melting it all over him. And then it’s the dwarves’ fault. Smaug is enraged by this and goes off to burn men in a startlingly bleak ending. So we must end on Bilbo.

I've made a new account. A fresh start was needed.… Grazie!
  • Listening to: The Jam


cjkelley333's Profile Picture
United States
I like things that give me bad ideas. So I write.

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Add a Comment:
jonathanlerner13 Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2016   Digital Artist
hey dude why don't you watch me anymore?
cjkelley333 Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2016
I don't?
jonathanlerner13 Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2016   Digital Artist
No You must have accidentally pressed the Unwatch Button (I'm Trying to improve My grammar)
kingofpriderock Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2016  Hobbyist
Happpy birthday dude !
cjkelley333 Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2016
kingofpriderock Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2016  Hobbyist
No prob :)
LewisDaviesPictures Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2016  Hobbyist Filmographer
Happy Birthday Chris!
cjkelley333 Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2016
LewisDaviesPictures Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2016  Hobbyist Filmographer
You're welcome!
dinodanthetrainman Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Happy Birthday to you, and, I! :)!
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