Small Object of Desire #87 – Purple Googly-Eyed Stubby Squid

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Just look at it! Adorable, right? How can you resist? Is it one of those plastic toys you squeeze rhythmically for stress relief?  Or maybe it’s a cute animated character? The latest emoji?

In fact, it’s a real creature of the deep with Latin name Rossia pacifica and not a true squid even though it looks like a cross between that and an octopus. In fact, it’s more along the lines of a cuttlefish. Stubby squid? A purple, googly-eyed stubby squid?

Stubby squid. That everyday name doesn’t sound like it belongs to a grown-up kind of animal. Or like an animal that wants its dignity to be taken seriously.

I’m so glad God has a sense of humour. Find out more at Time Magazine.

 

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Small Object of Desire #86 – What Each Person on a Blockbuster Movie Gets Paid

A breakdown of what everyone working on a $200 million movie makes, that is.

This falls firmly in the box containing: things you might have wondered about at some point but haven’t been curious enough to investigate. Or things you didn’t think you wanted to know until someone very thoughtfully did all the legwork and presented it in a neat little video that just plopped into your inbox.

It goes on a bit but I suppose a budget that blockbuster huge takes a correspondinly substantial army of people to bust those blocks.

 

Small Object of Desire #85 – Greek Muse

I like to promenade (and promenading is what I do in this location and for a very specific type of relaxation. Bite me!) along the south bank of the river sometimes. That’s the river Thames in London. One of my favourite walks is to get off the tube at Waterloo and stroll along the waterfront from that part of town to London Bridge. Sometimes, I’ll cross the bridge at Tate Modern and walk across to St Paul’s, checking out the anciently curious names on the buildings and street signs like Bloody Mary Yard or  the Worshipful Company of Basket Makers. One time, I went round the back of the building that houses Oxo Tower only to find a huge art exhibition space and the names of several Greek muses high up on the walls. The discovery had something of kismet about it. After all, the Muses are supposed to provide inspiration for creativity. Shame only five of them were there though.

The wonderful Radio 4 programme In Our Time does a comprehensive breakdown of how they originated, how they were regarded and in what shaped they have survived to modern day.

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Small Object of Desire #83 – The Museum of Important Shit

 

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Here’s something that really puts the ‘small’ in Small Objects of Desire. The name of it might sound playfully hyperbolic but this museum aggrandises the small, inconsequential things that gain the heft of importance for some people. It’s curious stuff. Witness the “Small Desert Crumb” entry. Nina Simone’s chewing gum. A swallow necklace. Angelina Jolie’s ancient Nokia phone from the film A Mighty Heart from someone who collects celebrity mobile phones (Who knew?). A wind up toy dinosaur. One man’s shrine to the musician Nick Cave whose documentary 20,000 On Earth is linked to this and who had an hand in curating the museum.

It’s mostly a bunch of crap, the flotsam and jetsam that gathers into people’s lives but a curiosity nonetheless. All of human life is here. I’m going to use it as a repository for making fictional characters. It’s ready made tool for that kind of application.

Small Object of Desire #82 – Narcose

Sometimes, when I feel the need to pray, I watch a film like this. It’s absorbing, riveting, meditative. All that fascination doesn’t preclude me from asking why anyone would try to push through physical, mental and yes, emotional boundaries to do this sort of thing. And how do you first discover that this kind of thing gives you a buzz? What does it achieve? I am curious about what makes people do the things they do.

I hyperventilate even before my head goes underwater when I have a mask and snorkel on. It’s something to do with the constriction, I think. I can’t even use swimming goggles. And my ears feel fit to burst a mere 3 feet underwater. The very idea of with the possibility of the bends gives me the heebie jeebies. So there’s a certain amount of envy on my part when I see something like Narcose, the film. Spending a lot of time deep under the sea is something I’ll never get to do. But mostly I feel awe, admiration and astonishment.

Deep water freediving exposes its practitioners to a form of narcosis, which induces several symptoms, among which a feeling of euphoria and levity that earned this phenomenon its nickname of “raptures of the deep”. The short film relates the interior journey of Guillaume Néry, the apnea world champion, during one of his deep water dives. It draws its inspiration from his physical experience and the narrative of his hallucinations.

NARCOSE from Les films engloutis on Vimeo.

Small Objects of Desire #81- Preacher (The TV Series)

It’s was with some trepidation that I sidled up to the new TV series, Preacher. I’ve been waiting years for the story, inspired by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s iconic graphic novels, to make it to the screen. In fact, I wrote in praise of the comics as Small Object of Desire #4  on this very blog five years ago. From the moment I discovered the books in about 2004, I was hooked. It was funny, profane, violent, twisted, epic, supernatural, poignant, capable of deep insights into faith, the human condition and social issues and was utterly compelling. So any depiction on screen was going to be a big deal for me.

Preacher tells the story of Jesse Custer, a preacher in the small Texas town of Annville. He becomes possessed by Genesis, the progeny of the unholy coupling of an angel and a demon, making him potentially the most powerful creature in the world. God abandoned Heaven the moment Genesis was born so Jesse sets off across the USA, accompanied by his badass, gun-toting ex-girlfriend, Tulip and hard-drinking Irish vampire Cassidy, to literally find God.

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First, there was talk of Sam Mendes helming a film version of it. Sam Mendes? That didn’t seem like a good fit to me. Then there were rumours that Darren Aronofsky was on board. The guy who directed the phantasmagoric Black Swan? I could live with that. All this was in a time before people had really wised up to how suitable a medium TV is for long form storytelling. Yes, the series Lost and Heroes led the avant grade in this respect but this was a time well before Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones or Marvel’s Daredevil and Jessica Jones. These days, movies don’t stack up against the kind of storytelling that TV can harness and to do Preacher, the graphic novels justice, it had to be a series. In short, I’m glad that the makers didn’t try and compress this rangy story into a paltry two hours.

It’s reassuring to discover that the showrunner is Sam Caitlin, writer on Breaking Bad. Top notch pedigree. And on the evidence of the pilot episode which is ballsy, confident and on the right side of the absurdity that drenches the comics, it seems we are in safe hands here. Some of plotting and exposition from the comics has been shifted around to suit this new medium but it remains faithful to the characters and the tonal spirit of the source material. Not a bad job. Not a bad job at all.

Now, I can’t wait for the Saint of Killers to make an appearance. The character in the comics used to scare the bejesus out of me!