Denouement of 2017

If you were a Grinch, like me, Christmas always meant being home alone in the evening wishing you had a box of pizza, bitter that you can’t order one, probably in a vest watching some films on TV with a can of Stella, occasionally wondering why your residence lacked an elaborate air ventilation system that could double as alternative transportation.

Well, some habits die hard. Despite being able to order pizza. I did not, but I did watch films & ponder air vents. I even managed to fluke an extra Christmas film in too.

— Ghost of the Past —
xcvi. Jingle All The Way (1996) – Arnie was probably a larger part of my childhood than Bruce Willis & some his lesser films were merging into one in my head. Turns out, I didn’t remember this very well at all. I was expecting moments of Last Action Hero & Kindergarten Cop it seems, which obviously means they’ll also need revisiting soon.

How’s the film? Yea’ pretty dire, but I’d be lying if I were to say I wasn’t at all charmed.

— Ghost of the Present —
xcvii. Die Hard 2 (1990) – While the whole of social media took to debating the merits of whether Die Hard is a Christmas film (which it indubitably is), I’d been there, done that last year, I’ve moved on to the next (which also is, I might add). Let the memes play catch-up, I suppose.

This second installment was a lot better than I remember it being. I guess due to the cult status of the first, I’d been brainwashed into believing the rest all paled in comparison. The following years may lead me to feel that way if I continue beyond the sacred trilogy, but for now, I remain impressed & pleased.

— Ghost of the Future —
xcviii. Eyes Wide Shut (1999) – Though ordinarily, this would have been one of the Back to the Future films (obviously), since I’d made a pact to see all 16 of Stanley Kubrick’s films in 2017 and the deadline was encroaching intently, I wanted to just get this done. Turns out, with some twist of fate, like a pre-cog foreseeing my crimes of putting this off so long, it turned out to be set around Christmas too, There was a tree 🌲 in it & everything, so I was quite chuffed about that — double whammy.

The heavily slated film was one I’d missed at the cinemas upon release. Back then the name Kubrick meant nothing to me, despite murmurs of his genius being talked of amongst fellow cinema staff.

Having seen it now, to my surprise, it was engaging & compelling. I’ll admit, there is no way I would have appreciated it back then, as a teenager. I’d also say having the familiar faces of running man Tom & his taller partner of the time Nicole certainly helped get me invested, but the subject too was thought-provoking, even if it wrapped up in a rush leaving you with questions about that whole surreal middle segment.

On that specific note, I imagine there’s some story around that organisation that could make for an entirely separate film, somewhat like the ‘hotel’ in the more recent imaginations surrounding John Wick, maybe it was even made, maybe it’s a porno. Maybe, maybe not. Who knows? [Please do comment if you do.]

What I can say with certainty is this was how the days around Christmas this year were spent. There was also an abundance of caffeine in my bloodstream. Still is. C’est la vie, as the French day.

I then ended the year with a couple of flicks outside of my usual comforts to reach 100:

ic. 24×36 – A Movie About Movie Posters (2016) 🎥
A reminder to myself why I don’t tend to like documentaries. It started well, engaging me in the first half with the art and history of posters in years prior to my existence. The latter half spoke of the downfall in appreciation of art in that space, then the rise of Mondo Art, which I was still appreciating until it started getting idealistic. Following this it just seemed like a moan-fest, complaining at loss of interest from others & those who just don’t bother respecting the rightful owners of the films. I swiftly lost interest.

c. Psychohydrography (2010) 🌈
An interesting concept, following the water cycle. Alas, for me, I like my films with more flow, this just seemed kinda like a constant running tap, like an extension of an exercise I had done to understand the mechanics of DSLR cameras, what those shutter speeds & aperture options produced. That was an education on photography, many years back, this was extended photography presented as a film, rather than a screensaver.

Another year passed away. A bittersweet ode to ends & new beginnings, for if not given any sense of scale or measurement, how would we quantify progress? Perhaps more on that in coming posts, for now, Happy New Year!


Anonymous Lawyer

— From my old blog (ramchandra.me.uk) where it originally published March 2007 —
I think all that’s changed in 10 years is that we’ve since seen familiarised a little with this life through the TV show Suits, yet I still do look back to this novel fondly.

Anonymous LawyerAnonymous Lawyer by Jeremy Blachman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I was in hunt for a rather specific book, as always there was an offer of 3 for 2 at Waterstones & I wasn’t actually sure that the Skin Gods was the one I was after, the guy at the store thought it would be one of two books, the Skin Gods (which it turned out to be) or Shadow Man (which I shall start reading next). So I had a freebie to grab so to speak, this one just sounded fun by its description (above). Being a recent blogger myself, it had appeal on a geek level as well as personal one.

As it turns out, this book is awesome. I’ve now got to the stage where I’ll be trailing through its original source reading all the archives over the next few weeks. I’d recommend reading the book first though, as it has its own self-contained story arc.

The protagonist is the very essence of all of us. The things we all think yet few of us say. In a twisted yet humorous kind of way, he’s someone to look up to. Okay I should probably point out he is fictional, but hey, so is Hannibal Lecter & Eric Cartman & David Hasselhoff, okay maybe not the latter, but we all know how frickin’ cool they are.

Now, funnily enough, it’s a good thing that this guy is fictional because if he was some high flying lawyer he’d probably be pretty screwed. Of all places I read that Waterstones fired someone for having a blog where he vented. The irony that I happen to pick up this book by random chance at the same store, huh??

Not so surprisingly, I can see a lot of parallels between the lawyer’s world and my own, though I’m not in the industry of law, I’m still a part of the Capitalist society that only allows the fittest to thrive and survive, kinda like Spartans in suits — things aren’t so different. Their expectations of unconditional love for the firm, lack of any other commitments in life to the extent of a low tolerance for it.

It may seem to some of you that all the books that I am reading seem to be having top reviews, so I should clarify, if I get through a book, that in itself is an achievement, unlike films, it is quite normal for me to leave a book a few chapters in if I get bored. With this one, I can’t imagine anyone able to do that.

Jeremy Blachman gives us an anonymous lawyer with frustrated rants intwined with plenty a dose of “laugh out loud” humour. I would recommend this book to anyone that has a job, or a boss, or a life (or not).

Synopsis:
Meet Anonymous Lawyer – corner office, granite desk, and a billable rate of $675 an hour. The summer is about to start, and he’s got a new crop of law school interns who will soon sign away their lives for a six-figure salary at the firm. But he’s also got a few problems that require his attention.

There’s The Jerk, his bitter rival at the firm, who is determined to do whatever it takes to beat him out for the chairman’s job. There’s Anonymous Wife, who is spending his money as fast as he can make it. And there’s that secret blog he’s writing, which is a perverse bit of fun until he gets an e-mail from someone inside the firm who knows he’s its author.

Written in the form of a blog, Anonymous Lawyer is a spectacularly entertaining debut that rips away the bland façade of corporate law and offers a telling glimpse inside a frightening world. Hilarious and fiendishly clever, Jeremy Blachman’s tale of a lawyer who lives a lie and posts the truth is sure to be one of the year’s most talked-about novels.

An excerpt to wet your appetite:
“We start the summer assuming everyone will leave with an offer to return after graduation. It’s yours to lose. It’s hard to lose. But it’s been done before. Don’t make us regret having given you the opportunity to work here. Don’t make us wish you were instead working for the firm down the street, where the lunch allowance is ten dollars lower per person, where the Dodgers tickets are four sections farther from home plate, and where they don’t even have a gym membership subsidy, You’re one of us now. Welcome.”

I then proceeded to the multimedia portion of the presentation.Anytime we can incorporate multimedia into our work it’s always appreciated by those who have to sit through these things. Well, except for the fiasco last year when I showed a clip from Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of Will in order to inspire people to pledge their loyalty to the firm in the wake of a series of defections by several star associates.

This year, five film clips. I showed them Collateral so they could see the dangers that await them if they leave the office and start driving around downtown L.A. It’s not safe, especially in the sports cars they’re all blowing their salaries to lease. I showed them Rent to illustrate that while there are indeed 525,600 minutes in a year, the important thing is that every one of those minutes is potentially billable to a client.

I showed them a clip from Brokeback Mountain, which I think was done a tremendous disservice when they pitched it as a gay cowboy movie. I didn’t see it, but it’s fairly clear from the trailer that the point of the movie is that it’s great to have a job that consumes most of your day. “Don’t worry about how much time you spend at the office,” I told them. “You might fall in love with someone you’re working with.” There are far too few movies out there that illustrate the fallacy of work-life balance quite so well.

I showed a clip from March of the Penguins for an example of mindless work performed without complaint. The penguins march back and forth to and from the ocean, a long and arduous march in the cold on which many perish, yet none ever bitch and moan. They just do it. No whining, no trying to sneak out of the pack to find a shortcut, no escaping, no giving up. The penguins walk simply because that’s what they’re supposed to do.

That’s all we’re asking our associates to do. They don’t have to make it more complicated than that. Just march. March to the library. March to the document room. March to the printer. All together now, mindlessly following the herd. That’s all we need. Bodies, not brains. The penguins don’t expect to be challenged. The penguins don’t expect any individual attention. The penguins don’t expect any praise for their work. They just do what they have to do. they march. Finally, I showed a clip from Independence Day to illustrate that sometimes emergencies happen and you have to work over the holiday weekend.

Monday May 15th – Anonymous