Friday, 19 December 2014

I READ ZINES [#6]



Stacy Russo - 'Poems a Librarian Wrote on Her Lunch Break'

This is a collection of poems all written in September 2013 and, as the title suggests, all written in Stacy's lunch breaks (albeit with a few minor exceptions). This is a really, really great collection. Russo is a fantastic poet and just to my taste; No flowery, pretentious bullshit, just concise, thoughtful observations about day to day life. Pick of the bunch, for me, was a love poem to Henry Rollins. I know how you feel Stacy, I have a soft spot for the man myself. I will definitely be purchasing more of Stacy's poetry zines in the very near future, and I would advise that you do the same.

 
Magnetic Poetry Zine - 'drunk poetry, lingering magic'

This zine is a compilation of poems created using fridge magnets. I really love this concept. A friend of mine once had alphabet fridge magnets and everyone would mess around with them, writing swear words more often than not, but I wish it had all been documented like this. My only issue with the zine itself is that the presentation is a little lacklustre. A little more gusto in the design would have elevated this zine from good to great.




Hand Job #6

I may be a little biased towards this zine for a couple of reasons. Firstly I have a short story called 'Him upstairs' published in it, and secondly, editor Jim Gibson is a mate. However, all bias aside, this zine is seriously fucking great. A celebration of British writing and culture with the old school photocopied, cut and paste aesthetic of 70s/80s fanzines. A new feature in this issue is a review section, with the inaugural review by writer/poet Gwil James Thomas of Joseph Ridgwell's short story 'Cuba (In Search of Hemingway)' which was published by Pug Ear Press.

 Gut Feelings #6 - 'The Organised Crime Issue'

Gut Feelings describes itself as 'a zine about food and everything else' and as the title suggests, the theme of this issue is organised crime - It combines tales of famous gangsters and criminals with recipes and food related trivia. Straight off the bat the print quality is noticeably better than previous issues and is even glued together rather than stapled.  In amongst the usual beautiful hand written type and quirky illustrations, my favourite piece is a touching story about a woman, her deceased partner and their love of The Sopranos.


Alice Ash - 'Home Alone, a Christmas special'

This mini zine from Brighton-based author Alice Ash contains a short story of her alternative, and decidedly more grim, take on Macauley Culkin Christmas classic 'Home Alone'. It's kind of an 'alternative ending' to the movie; a fucked up, non-family friendly alternative. I really enjoy Alice's writing, as well as her dark sense of humour, and I am looking forward to reading more of work.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

REASONS WHY I DON'T HAVE CHILDREN AND NEVER WILL

This is a continuation of previous posts REASONS WHY I DON'T HAVE A SMARTPHONE AND NEVER WILL and REASONS WHY I DON'T DRIVE AND NEVER WILL. I have been meaning to write this one for a while, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, a few months ago my younger brother and his girlfriend had a child. This inevitably led to almost every member of my family saying ridiculous things like "Your turn next then, Martin" to which I would hastily reply "Hahahahahahaha No". My stepmother's reaction to my disdain towards parenthood was the funniest of all because she just can't get her head around it, it's baffling to her that somebody doesn't want children. Just as it is baffling to me that anyone does.

The second reason for this post is because around the same time that my brother's girlfriend was popping one out I found out that my best friend is pregnant. And whilst I'm 99% certain my brother's baby was not planned, hers was. Kind of. She and her boyfriend were not using any form of contraception, in an "if it happens, it happens" kind of way. And it happened. Again, to me, this is fucking baffling. And this is why...

  Image source: Becuo

Okay, let's just get this one out of the way first; I just don't like children. Yes, they have their 'cute' moments, and sometimes they can be 'funny', but let's be honest, most of the time they are selfish, ungrateful, rude, whiny little shits. I really don't understand why some people get so desperate to inflict this amount of grief on themselves. I realise that it's all about how you raise them and discipline and blah blah blah, but if it is that much effort just to control them, I'm definitely out. My girlfriend and I got kittens this summer, two of them, and if they have taught me anything it is that I am highly intolerant to small, annoying creatures - there is absolutely no way I would have the patience to deal with a snot nosed kid. I'd just end up locking the fucker in a cupboard or something (Not that I have ever locked my kittens in a cupboard, but I have been known to lock myself in the bedroom to get away from them).

 Image source: Eco Internet

Looking at the bigger picture - there are already too many people in the world. Our resources are stretched beyond their limits as it is and this planet does not need people adding to the problem unnecessarily. I always thought China's one child policy was a good idea (or rather, would have been a good idea had their society not been so hung up on that one child being a boy. Idiots). Something definitely needs to be done to stop people having children. In the UK it is almost like people are rewarded for having more children, especially if looking after them is beyond their means, the government just hand out money. But here's a better idea: DON'T HAVE CHILDREN IF YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO LOOK AFTER THEM. I also think that it should be illegal for people below a certain IQ to have children. Seriously, stupid people should not be allowed to breed, it causes no end of problems. I know, I am a self-righteous prick.


I think what it really comes down to is that I like my life how it is right now. I earn enough money that I can keep a roof over my head, I can feed myself, and I can treat myself to little luxuries pretty much whenever I want to - I can go to gigs, I can buy booze and smokes, I can buy zines and books and DVDs etc, - I don't want to give any of that up in order to feed and cloth a child. Maybe that is selfish, but I live within my means and I am happy. Luckily, my girlfriend is equally as opposed to having children - but she has her own reasons for that. For me personally I just can't understand WHY anyone WANTS children - I know women have maternal instincts and such, but sometimes I have urges to kill people, it doesn't mean I should do it. The only benefit to having children that I can see is to provide ones self with someone to look after you when you're old and decrepit, and THAT is the most selfish thing you could ever do.

The only way I can ever see myself having a child is if I accidentally knock someone up and they want to keep it, or if I do ever get a better job and have more money - I would consider adoption. There are so many unwanted, unloved children out there already, I would much rather take care of one of them than produce my own. I still don't like children though, so the former is much more likely than the latter.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

LIT FIEND INTERVIEW [#4]


I wouldn't normally roll out two interviews within the space of a week but this is a special occasion. Today's interview is with none other than Joe England - editor, publisher and distributor of PUSH, the literary phenomenon that has been taking the streets of London by storm. Joe kindly gave me a little bit of his time to answer some questions about his magazine and discuss The Best of the First 10 Issues anthology which came out this week on East London Press.

For anyone that has been living under a rock for the past 18 months (or doesn't attend West Ham home games), what is PUSH?

PUSH is a literary fanzine I started last year. It began as a 44 page publication and has grown up to twice in size in the last 4/5 issues. Originally sold for just £1.50, I took 40 copies of Issue One to West Ham/West Brom in March 2013, and with some opportunist luck, help from West Ham legend Julian Dicks (pictured right), plus my own big mouth on the day, I sold the lot. I used to write a regular column for a West Ham fanzine a long time ago, and as a regular most of my life in E13, I know the turf well. I like to think I knew what I was doing right from the start. But that is open for interpretation. But truly only thought back then it would run for 3 issues at best.

What was the catalyst in you creating the mag? How did it come about?

I have always respected Kevin Williamson and what he did in getting new writing and writers into the mainstream and his Rebel Inc Classic series of books changed my life as got me reading important literature. I wasn’t a big reader until I stumbled upon the books he was putting out. Really exciting reissues by the likes of John Fante, Alexander Trocchi and Knut Hamsun. But I never ever saw or read his magazine. But knew all about it. I even had a Rebel Inc Reader book ‘Sampled’ where Kevin explained how Rebel Inc came into being and had samples of some of the books he was now publishing through his Rebel Inc imprint. I loved the honesty in his words. And his battle cry. Fuck The Mainstream. And he did exactly that. Then in January last year when in Amsterdam, of all places, in a late night outdoor book market down an covered alleyway, while looking for old first edition classics – I was becoming a book collector back then – I flicked through the magazine box. There was retro 70s porn in there, UK mags too, Whitehouse and the like, UK porn mags run by a bloke who now runs one half of West Ham, plus various other magazines. Then BANG. Rebel Inc. Issue 4. Think it only cost me 8 Euros. Result. It’s the issue with the Irvine interview with both him and Kevin E’d out of their eyeballs. It also featured a powerful short story ‘Millway Away’ by John King, the first work he ever had published and what went on to become his very successful debut novel, The Football Factory. So I read the mag many times over and loved it but was also frustrated that there seemed to be nothing like Rebel Inc happening today. It was all Kindles and an overwhelming amount of poor online publishing and vanity publishing gone mad. Any idiot could self-publish on a Kindle. You had all these terrible writers thinking they were something, and even bigger idiots providing praise. I read some of them, and truly thought, we are so fucked if this is the way forward. And after a few glasses of red wine one Sunday evening, I mentioned to Joseph Ridgwell, who I had recently got to know, that it was a fucking shame there wasn’t a Rebel Inc still out there and how if there was one, then we would both have had a chance of getting published in it. I had done some writing myself and felt there was never going to ever be a DIY scene again. So I said, ‘Do you know what, I might do one.’ And he replied, ‘Do one then!’ So I did. Three weeks later PUSH Issue One hit the streets.

The mag has been a phenomenal success - were you surprised that the football crowd were so receptive to it?

I went into this eyes blind. Dived in. Best way. Don’t think about the reaction, etc, just do it, get out there and sell the fucking thing. Knew the writing might connect, but you can never be sure how this kind of thing will turn out. Especially doing this at football. These days at football, you have got no end of people shoving marketing leaflets into your face as you head to the ground. It is understandable to be dismissive of a stranger approaching you, when all you want to do is meet your mates for a drink/get in the ground/have the piss you desperately now need since getting off the tube after a session elsewhere. But with that first issue, I had that photo of Julian Dicks holding the mag, that’s another story, but I had Julian and knew I had a chance. And it allowed strangers to trust me. I would talk about my own fanzine writing, that at £1.50 it was a risk worth taking. Many took the risk. In fact many of those early readers that go over West Ham, don’t buy the mag anymore on the day of a game. They order online. Why? Because they are now collecting them and don’t want the cover creased! Straight up. I love that comment. I have also had so many emails from West Ham fans that said, ‘Read cover to cover on way home from game.’ The alternative read on the way home from the game was then born and up and running.

Is there a big gulf in the difference between online sales and on the street sales?

Right this is where I put things into context. I do on average a 120 print run each issue. Anything greater and the momentum of putting the mag out regularly would have been lost. 120 copies is the right size print run. It has to sell out, quickly. All about momentum for me. As a rule I take 40 mags to the closest West Ham home game from when it’s back from the printers. I will sell all them 40, but if there is a gap before next game, often I am taking the last half a dozen along to a game to finish off the job. But yeah, there are a lot of online sales too. I have mailed to the whole bleeding world. Ireland, Scotland (loads to Scotland), Sweden, Germany, USA, Australia and all over England; from Penrith to Penzance via London.

You've put out thirteen issues (so far) and the best of the first ten issues anthology just came out. How do you find the time to do it all? Is it a one man operation or do you have any help?

Yeah, I’m a one man band operation when putting it all together. I edit, publish, sell on the street and do all the distribution. However, for the last few issues, I have had young Jamie Hall on the scene doing some selling with me on Green Street and Barking Road and outside East Ham Working Man’s Club. He is a good lad with a bright future. Anyway, for the past few years I haven’t had one full time job. Worked full time all my life and it crushes all the energy and creativity out of you. Recently I have had various part time jobs. Got just 2 right now. One working with young people excluded from mainstream education (which I wish was a full time job) and the other late night in retail. So there are spaces of opportunity for me to read over the submissions, layout of mag, think about cover design, etc. This might sound like I am being cocky, I’m not, but I do find it easy putting each issue together. But then again I have had the strength and knock-out power of the writing sent to me, combined with the passion and support of all the contributors and readers, this has helped keep my propeller spinning and makes the job a stroll.

How did the deal to release the anthology come about?

Got a good mate of mine who moved to the states a few years back. His nickname is Pills Mills. Anyway he was over last Christmas and we were talking about how in March 2014 it would be the one year anniversary of PUSH and how I wanted that issue to be more than a bit special. Which happened. But he said he’d sort out a website to coincide with release of anniversary issue. Which he did. Top man and a very good mate and at same time I got talking to Mark Buckland, another great fella, who had done some fucking amazing wonders with Cargo Publishing in Scotland. He founded it and grew it into a major force. And I began talking to him about an anthology. But Cargo was going through a major face-change. He actually said if we’d gone back 12 months and this was happening, Cargo would have put out the PUSH anthology. But sadly, the timing was wrong. Also many voices were wanting me to reprint out of print issues. Which was something that didn’t sit happy with me. I was told I should even put each issue on Kindle for 99p per copy. But that was never going to happen. I only ever did one reprint, that was PUSH NINE, and that was only because it had the Grant Fleming interview, and Grant is well known over West Ham by many, and many of my mates know of him, so that was the only reason. Think I did another 60 reprints on top of the original 120, and they soon went. That is the biggest print run to date. 180 issues combined. But I was never doing any other reissues. But I also didn’t want all this writing, poetry and interviews to fade away into the shadows. Always in my mind was how I wanted a bigger stage, to do an anthology. Talked to a few publishers who seemed interested but nothing moved forward. And as this year went into end of summer mode, I honestly didn’t think the book was going to happen this year. So I put it on the back burner for next year and anyway, I had another plan on the go. PUSH 14 was going to be completely different than anything that came before. To the point where I got quite specific about the theme and new cover design. I work late night in retail with a very young university graphic designer called Harriet and we got talking one night and she came out with all these ideas, and how I needed to up the game, which was hard to take at first from a 19 year-old! But we talked about PUSH 14 and the way forward, and all seemed good. And that was what was going to happen. Would have been out about now but then East London Press got in touch and said they would publish the anthology and front all costs for the book on the condition that it would be out no later than 01/12/14. So that’s what happened. And from planning the next issue, we had to change the plan and Harriet ended up doing the book cover design.

Was it hard to pick which pieces would be included and which wouldn't?

Done my head in. Seriously. I said I wasn’t being cocky about how putting the mag together was more fun than hard graft, but editing the book soon became a total headfuck. Think there was something like 28 contributors in those first 10 issues plus 8 interviews. I had a lot to consider. Also there was a deadline. No one had set me a deadline before. I set my deadlines. No deadlines. But with each issue of PUSH, I always knew though when I would have the mag sorted, what the West Ham home game it would come out at would be. This was different. Thought at one point I was out of my depth and about to be found out! But got through all that, the book got sorted and I am very happy with the running order. It definitely packs a good punch.

I know how good it feels to hold a zine in your hand that you've just put together, it must have been a special moment when you finally got your hands on those paperbacks?

Yeah it was. But I didn’t get sentimental or anything. I basically just marvelled at the claret and blue cover. Obviously attracted to the colours. This is a book you can judge by the cover. I wanted it in essence to have a retro 1980s West Ham fanzine look. The combined efforts of Harriet and Jose definitely achieved that.


Will the anthology be sold in shops or will you be out pedalling it on the street, as per?

I will be taking 20 copies to when West Ham play Leicester at home on the Saturday before Christmas and many independent bookshops are being targeted. But this is really the plan for early next year. But two have already agreed to stock the book. And they are really exciting bookshops. Can’t say more than that right now. Watch this space.

My lit zine PAPER AND INK actually launched in the same month (March 2013) as PUSH, Hand Job lit zine launched a couple of months after that, and new lit zines seem to be popping up all over the place. Is this merely a coincidence or is there a hint of literary revolution in the air?

I think the fact that it has just been announced that there has been the biggest record sales of vinyl in 2014, best since 1996, that tells you a lot about place and time and state of mind right now.

A certain intrepid lit fiend, who wishes to remain nameless, got wind of our interview and asked me to put forward his question to you, so here it is: What would you do if the likes of Joseph Ridgwell, Michael Keenaghan and Ian Cusack stopped submitting to PUSH? - as without their input - PUSH would be fucked.

If you are as prolific as the three writers mentioned – the spine of the team – they can be subbing out all over the shop and still have juice in the can. But if the spine of the team broke ranks, don’t agree PUSH would be fucked without them. In fact, if anything, that question shows a deep lack of respect to all the other contributors. Off the top of my head, Carlton Burns, Steve Finbow, Bobby Dean Ward, Ford Dagenham, Andrew Taylor, Simon Dent, Raymond Gorman, Melissa Mann, Anette Roller, know I’m missing many out here, but the list goes on etc, are all very talented writers. And PUSH is always open to new writers being in each issue. In fact in issues to come, new articulate/raw young blood will appear (what I actually want/know will happen) that may have the three of them mentioned in the question having to look over their shoulders, worrying about how this would be the cruellest time to get a long term injury. No, I’ve got no worries at all there. Know for a fact got young new writers knocking on the door. But will always look to keep the spine of the team. But I do want young London writers with no voice or place to put that voice into a place, to make themselves known to me, get in the mag. It is all part of the continued road forwards. The current spine of the team has been the spine of the team for all the right reasons. But Issue 14 will feature the youngest of any voices to date, a couple of teenagers, one of them is only 16, which to me, well, that’ll be a massive advance. So yeah, anything but fucked. Next question.

So, what does the future hold for PUSH? Will we be talking about the best of issues 11-20 anthology in a year's time or are you just playing it by ear?

Said to someone recently, that where we are right now is just the beginning and I stand by that. But after PUSH 6 – the football special, I thought I’d taken the mag as far as I could. Six issues in six months, all sold out, but where to next? I was out of energy. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the ride but thought that PUSH 7 to me would be the same old thing, magic gone, as inspiring as hearing about a new Bay City Rollers album. Then got a message from Ian Cusack. ‘David Peace just said he’d be happy to do an interview for the next issue. What do you reckon?’ Rest is history etc. Yeah got plans for further anthologies and aim now is for PUSH to get to 99 issues and then fold. Maybe not be in my lifetime. But that is the new game-plan. Was gonna fold it after 6 issues, but now it’s like, fuck it, we’re going to do 99. Always been about extremes with me. 

Some may say that you've given the literary establishment the kick up the arse that it needed, what would you say about that?

I don’t do this as any kind of a movement or statement or a glory spite against them lot. But this has all been about a positive. I’ve enjoyed the spirit of PUSH. From the legions of brilliant contributors to feedback from the mags readership. All has been good. It just happened and still continues to happen, as a natural flow, nothing contrived. I have no connection to the literary establishment only in the rejection slips eventually received that all working class writers I know always expect to pop through the letterbox. Good books are rejected daily. Certain voices never given a chance to shine. The same old books published to make money not turn heads. John King says this in the introduction to the anthology: ‘Truth is, many people are not interested in contemporary fiction, because there is nothing that remotely relates to their lives.’ And he’s right.
  
I couldn't have put it any better myself. Long live PUSH and long live literary fanzines! Thank you for answering these questions, Joe.

Keep up to date with all the latest PUSH news on their website and/or Facebook page and grab a copy of The Best of the First 10 Issues Anthology which is is out now!  

Thursday, 27 November 2014

LIT FIEND INTERVIEW [#3]


With PAPER AND INK LITERARY ZINE recently releasing our very first single author poetry zine, 'MAPS + TEXT', this month's interview is with none other than said 'single author' himself. If you haven't had a chance to check out 'MAPS + TEXT' yet, what the hell are you waiting for?!? Seriously, it's a cracker! It is a collection of illustrated maps each accompanied by a single prose poem, they're all interconnected and all by the wonderful hand of this guy... America's original punk poet...

First things first... What's your name, where do you come from and what do you do?

John Burgess. I grew up in upstate New York, went to college in Montana, taught English in Japan and now am settled in Seattle. I've made a living writing and editing, first for small newspapers and then in corporate communications.  

How long have you been writing poetry?
 

Since I was a teenager in the 1970s.  

You describe yourself as a 'punk poet', what does that mean exactly?

For me, it's about bringing punk pathos to poetry by writing short and direct. 'Punk Poems' (a poetry collection released by Ravenna Press in 2005), for example, are each 10 lines. #Aurora_reports are even shorter -- three things I observe directly. Punk poet is also about being an outsider, working with a small independent press, and a lot of do-it-yourself.
 


For people that haven't checked it out yet, tell them a little about the idea behind the 'MAPS + TEXT' project.

This project is about memory and context. I drew the maps from memory about the places I lived and trips I took. I constructed the text from notebook fragments and found texts to evoke a feeling I associated with that time and place. They're my version of illuminated texts.


So far you've had three books and a pamphlet published by Ravenna Press, how did you come to hook up with those guys?

Ravenna publisher and editor Kathryn Rantala found me! She heard me read at a PoetsWest gathering and asked me to send some poems for her lit journal, Snow Monkey. When I had a manuscript ready I asked if she would consider it. She accepted it and has published me since.
 


Who are Band of Poets? Tell me about your collaborations with them.

I hooked up with Jed Myers, poet, songwriter and guitarist, at a open mic series he hosted in 2005. We started collaborating. He would improvise music behind me as I read poetry. We eventually added other poet-musicians, calling ourselves the Band of Poets. Working with musicians opened up my poetry, specifically writing longer pieces and linking shorter ones to read with music, finding connections, rhythm and beats in unexpected places, learning different ways to vocalize. We still perform about twice a year together, including the annual Ginsberg Marathon.


Obviously you take a lot of inspiration from music and punk in particular. Who are your favourite punk bands?
 

The Clash, The Ramones, Patti Smith.

Good choices! Do you listen to many (if any) modern punk bands?

I got into the Seattle scene -- Nirvana, Screaming Trees, Mudhoney. Then Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill, Fugazi came next for me. Today's playlist includes Parquet Courts, Perfect Pussy, Thermals.  

If you could only listen to three albums for the rest of your life what would they be? 

Sandinista - The Clash          Blonde on Blonde - Bob Dylan          Dig Me Out - Sleater-Kinney

   

The DIY aspect of punk and zine culture is something that is very important to me personally. I bet you've folded a fair number of zines yourself over the years?
 

I've photocopied and folded little booklets since the 1980s. One of the first ones was a collection of haiku I wrote in Japan. A more recent one was a bonus poem and collage I gave away with the first 50 copies of Graffito. 

What is your stance on the e-reader?

I buy e-books and use my Kindle app from time to time. Mostly for non-fiction. Given their limitations, I believe there will always be small presses and printed books. A lot of what I read isn't available as e-books anyhow.
 


What is your favourite movie?
 

The 1984 Talking Heads documentary Stop Making Sense.

If you could get drunk (or have dinner if you're not a drinker, or get drunk AND have dinner if you're greedy) with any three famous people, dead or alive, who would they be?

Joe Strummer, Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson. 


Do you have any words or wisdom for any budding young poets out there?
 

Write every day. Read other poets. Create your own scene.

And finally, what does the future hold for John Burgess?

 

New book from Ravenna Press in February -- "by Land..." my riff on the Journals of Lewis & Clark. Music and poetry collaboration with sampler-supreme James Nugent. And in January, Patti Smith concert!  

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions, John, and thank you for letting me turn your 'MAPS + TEXT' project in to a zine. 

You can follow updates from John on Twitter or on his website, you can grab a copy of 'MAPS + TEXT' right here and buy any of his Ravenna Press poetry collections right here

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

ALL MY FAVOURITE MOVIES ARE TEN YEARS OLD

Okay, so not ALL my favourite movies are ten years old, but I recently came to the realisation that a lot of the movies that I love did indeed celebrate the ten year anniversary of their release this year. I don't think this is merely a coincidence, either. I was seventeen in 2004 and that was the year that I really fell in love with movies. I mean, I'd loved movies for the previous sixteen years, but that year, I got really into movies. They do say that the things you fall in love with as a teenager will stay with you forever, don't they...

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
I've said this a million times before to anyone who will listen but Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind genuinely changed my life. A friend and I skipped the afternoon of college to go to the cinema one slow afternoon, we didn't have any idea what was showing and it turned out that our choices were Eternal Sunshine or Van Helsing. You know, that Hugh Jackman vampire/action flick. Anyway, neither of us were really fussed about either of them but we picked Eternal Sunshine because it started fifteen minutes sooner. We didn't know anything about it other than that it starred Jim Carrey- I guess we just assumed it was an asinine comedy.

I remember coming out of the cinema that day feeling completely mesmerised. I wasn't quite sure what I had just experienced but I knew that it was important. I decided that day, right then, that that was what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to write something that would make someone feel exactly the way I felt right then: Overwhelmed, and happy to be so.

I don't know if I will ever succeed in writing something that will give somebody the feeling I had that day and at this point I don't think it really matters. I feel like every day since that day I have been on a sort of spiritual journey, a pursuit of expression, if you will; Discovering little details about myself and attempting to put all the pieces together. Ten years later and I still don't feel like the complete version of me. Not even close. To be honest, I am terrified of the day that I do feel like the complete version of me. What the fuck do I do then?

"Do you feel overwhelmed by life? You can't be a writer unless you feel overwhelmed by life."

An old university lecturer said that to me once. Well, not to me, to the whole class. It was the first thing he said as he walked in to the room. I remember writing it down, but I didn't really need to, it has always stuck with me. I don't know, maybe this is all pretentious nonsense. Maybe if we'd watched Van Helsing that day I'd be a bad motherfucking monster hunter right now. Maybe. Tell me, do you feel overwhelmed by life?

Before Sunset
I didn't see Before Sunset at the cinema, I picked it up on DVD in a boxset with it's 1995 predecessor Before Sunrise - I'd read glowing reviews if of Sunset and the premise was right up my street. In the 1995 film, two strangers meet on a train in Europe and spend a night walking around Vienna together and Sunset picks up with the same two characters nine years later. 

These movies totally blew me away. I can't say that they changed my life, but they certainly improved it. I think. I mean, to seventeen year old Martin these movies were the perfect example of romance. This was exactly what single, virgin, seventeen year old Martin wanted- to meet a beautiful stranger and have an epic romance. Maybe all having these movies in my life actually did was give me false expectations about life. As it happens I did actually end up having a rather epic romantic encounter at the age of nineteen which was akin to the plot of the first film- I have never written about said night on this blog before, but perhaps I will do one day- and even so, I'm not entirely sure that I didn't somewhat engineer that night, or at least manipulate it slightly, in order to emulate the experience of these films.

Last year a second sequel came out, entitled Before Midnight, picking up the story another nine years later. This time I did get to see it at a cinema, in fact I got to see all three movies at a cinema, on the same day. All three films are very close to my heart, but Before Sunset is definitely my favourite of the bunch. It has such a perfect ending.


Garden State
The thing about Garden State is that it's basically just your run of the mill, by the numbers rom com, but it just somehow manages to shine that little bit brighter than most. I think the best way to judge a movie, regardless of how 'technically' sound it is, is on rewatchability (If that isn't already a word, I'm coining it). Because it really doesn't matter how good the script is, or the acting, or the directing, or any of that shit (and that isn't to say that any of those things are weak in Garden State), what I mean is that no matter how many times I see this movie I never tire of it and fuck what anybody else thinks of it. I have always been a sucker for rom coms. Maybe because I used to watch them with my mother when I was a kid or maybe just because I'm a big old softie, I don't know. 

There is a conversation the two lead characters have in Garden State about what the word 'home' means to them and it has always stayed with me. The time I first saw the movie I was a teenager, still living at the 'home' I grew up in and after I moved out I was very aware of the gradual feeling of my parents' house not being my home any more. I remember thinking about that scene in Garden State and I often wonder if I would have been so aware of that feeling had it not been for that movie.

There are plenty more movies that I love from 2004 but I won't bang on forever, I will simply give you a list of the ones I can remember off the top of my head: Sideways, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, I Heart Huckabees, Collateral, 2046, Dawn of the Dead, The Machinist, Napoleon Dynamite, Howl's Moving Castle, Closer, Dead Man's Shoes, Creep (Okay, Google may have aided me a little there)

Does anyone else have one particular year that made them fall in love with movies or is it just me?!?