Monday, 19 April 2010


I often find that I have a sudden urge to do something a little bit odd when I am around a lot of people, particularly on a bus or train. Luckily I never follow through on these little moments of eccentricity (or is that a bad thing? Not sure) but I thought I should write down what I sometimes think about. These are my public transport odd moments.

Lately I have been having the impulse whenever someone nears me breaks into a run to shout something dramatic after them e.g. "Go to her! She's waiting for you!" "You'll never catch them, you know!" "You can't run away from the truth!"

I always spy on people's iPods. Every so often I want to tap them on the shoulder and make a comment like: "Did you just skip a Smiths track to listen to George Michael? Seriously?" or "I'm so glad that I am not the only one who likes that band".

Sometimes when I see someone sleeping peacefully on the Tube I want to give them a little slap and say "Wake Up!" Not particularly interesting but I'd like to think that without my intervention they would miss their stop and I could save them a whole lot of inconvenience.

Just once I want to say "excuse me, are you pregnant or just fat? I don't want to give up my seat unnecessarily".

I want to smile at someone, have them smile at me back and leave it at that. I haven't even attempted the first part of that.

I would love to tell all those guys that they should just give up trying to look like a twenty-something and just enjoy their middle age.

Now a little story.

One day I was sitting on the Tube, when a girl sat directly opposite me. She sat down and spent most of the journey looking at the tube map above my head. Nothing particularly extraordinary about that. Except the whole time she looked distraught. She looked like she was going to burst into floods of tears any second. It made me uncomfortable and I started to think about talking to her. I said to myself I should just lean forwards and ask her if anything was alright. But then I thought "what if I make it worse? What if that gesture causes her to start crying? Or maybe she would think I was some kind of freak trying to make a pass at her. Perhaps she has some kind of disability that means she always looks like that. But what happens if my little gesture reassured her of the kindness of strangers and brightened her day, just a little bit?" In the end I had turned it over in my head for so long it was her stop and she got off the train. And what do you know? It was my stop too.

I've felt pretty bad since then for not saying something, my indecisiveness and worry meant I couldn't even show concern for someone else's well being. I'd like to tell myself that next time I can act differently. I hope so. I tried to make myself feel better immediately afterwards by giving money to a homeless person but it didn't ease my guilt.

And another story, to level things out.

I was coming out of the train station and a person to my left asked if I could possibly spare some change. They had lost their Oyster card, didn't have any money with them and needed to get home. I gave them a pound, which they gratefully accepted. As I walked away I heard them talking to a person next to them, presumably a friend. After a bit of muffled conversation that I missed, I heard them say "I've made 11 quid so far!" The tone of voice let me know I had been scammed, and not particularly cunningly either. Someone had decided to opportunistically made themselves some money by preying on the kindness of strangers to a person with a poor sob story. This was no con artist, this was just someone trying to get some quick cash. And sadly I had seen it before, a person at school managed to raise a not unsubstantial sum for themselves just by pretending that someone had taken their lunch money.

So what are you supposed to do? Never be the good Samaritan? Never be charitable? Ridiculous. Be less trusting? Why should I live in a permanent bubble of suspicion just because of a few bad eggs? In any case they are only acting as the capitalist system encourages but that's another discussion for another day.

Are you suspicious when strangers are kind to you? I can't answer that, as it doesn't happen to me often enough to answer.

Another meandering path through the often muddled and sometimes confuddled mind of Dan.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

The Beginning of Something... Well Just Something

Hello Internet! This is the first post of my new blog thing. I'm not sure why I made this - does the world really need to know what I think of things? Probably not. However I will tell everyone anyway.

Albums I Have Put into My iTunes Library Recently and My Opinion of Them

In order, first to last, since 01/02/2010.

Lykke Li - Youth Novels
Long overdue, this is a brilliant album, it isn't just synthy-dancey stuff, there is some real heart there and it comes through in songs like "Everybody But Me" and "Little Bit". The only problem was that it took me this long to get it.

The XX - XX
What can be said that hasn't already been gone over a thousand times? One of the best albums in ages, deviously sparse but quite brilliant songs with real atmosphere. They sound quite different from anyone else, you just wonder why everyone isn't making music like this.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Can guitars be both fuzzy and jangly? There is something quite old school about this album, rock but with influences of The Smiths plain to see, it can get a little samey but the brilliance is in the details, you have to really listen carefully to catch how good this is.

Errors - It's Not Something But It Is Like Whatever
I have to admit: when I first heard this album I didn't think that much of it. It all seemed too similar for my liking. But subsequent listens have proved me wrong, glitchy, synthy, angular guitars, fantastic hooks. Those crazy Errors have made a superb album. And their follow-up is out now, and is supposed to be pretty good as well.

Passion Pit - Manners
I don't think there is much in the way of what I call "depth" in this band. But they will get you dancing around like an embarrassing uncle at a wedding disco. You can't deny the power of the likes of "Little Secrets" and "Sleepyhead" to get you moving.

Doves - The Last Broadcast
I've said it before - why aren't Doves the biggest band in the UK? This is a fantastic album, full of atmosphere and depth - and let's not forget great tunes. I'm going to see these guys live in May - and I cannot wait.

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
This was my first ever Animal Collective purchase so I was a little nervous. But who am I to ignore widespread critical acclaim? This album is absolutely cracking, it is so different to anything else I have on my iPod - if acapella electro is a genre these guys are the best band in it.

Doves - Kingdom of Rust
Another Doves album? Yes. And it is even better. "Winter Hill" might be my new favourite song right now, and to go from that straight to "10:03" is a one-two punch of great music. This is a stunning album, now I just need to buy their entire back-catalogue.

Fever Ray - Fever Ray
Another album unlike any other I have heard. This is very atmospheric indeed, there is a thorough richness that almost transcends the electro genre it probably will be put into. Weird but wonderful.

The Walkmen - Bows + Arrows
I had "You & Me" and thought it was a very good album. Most people said it was their best, and this was their second best. I disagree. This is the better album out of the two I have. I'll admit that these guys aren't getting the widespread attention they deserve, but for now they are ours, so let's just appreciate them while they belong to us.

That concludes that section. Now onto another section.

Films I Have Watched Recently and My Opinion of Them

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
I know that you are thinking. But this is actually a funny, very odd film. There is a sort of 70s vibe to it and an authentic quirkiness that is is very hard not to like.

Annie Hall
There is a lot of talk about this film, being a "classic" and so on. I thought it was funny and it was certainly a good film. I'm just not sure about it being a classic. I know this makes me an oaf in the eyes of movie buffs but I am sorry. Good but not brilliant.

The Hurt Locker
I was surprised it won an Oscar so I thought I might as well watch it. The story is a little bit clich├ęd - maverick bomb disposal expert who doesn't play by anybody's rules, but his own. But you will soon forget that as it is a very good film. It might not become a classic but it is still a good film.

Fantastic Mr Fox
Yes the animation style is very good. You have to say that. But it wasn't that funny, and otherwise it didn't have that much more going for it. It isn't a bad film by any means, I guess you could say it was "okay".

I've been saving this one up. I think it might be the best film I have ever seen. Funny, irresistibly charming it is just a fantastic film. It spoke to me about certain things too, that sense of being afraid to strive for what you love. It leaves you with a warm feeling like anything is possible, and if you don't finish the film with an enormous smile on your face then there must be something seriously wrong with you.

Crazy Heart
The Bridgemeister could do with a role to make you forget he was The Dude. (Not that I hated that film, it's just he deserves something more substantial to go at the top of his CV) I think this was a very good film with some very good performances. It won't be a classic but it is well worth a watch.

The Men Who Stare at Goats
Yeah it was okay. Some respected actors get to ham it up a bit, otherwise it wasn't the funniest film I have ever seen, if you make an out-and-out comedy you don't leave much else for the audience to attach themselves to, this one was just okay, nothing special.

From the people behind Amelie, so there was some expectation there. It was funny and quirky - like I expected. However it can't reach the heights of Amelie. On the other hand it deals with some unsavoury topics in an approachable and funny way. I would say this is a good film and worth seeing.

Cemetery Junction
I knew before I went to this that it wouldn't be a riotous, all-out comedy. But I wasn't prepared for how good it was. It was charming and funny, I think it also struck a chord with me in the same way Amelie did. Trying to get away, finding yourself disillusioned with the cynical character of the culture around you. Simply put: watch it.

The Godfather
Another long-overdue watch I don't think I can add to the years of praise for this film. Just utterly fantastic. It has now been crossed off my list of films I need to see, and in case you were wondering yes this is a real list.

A very good film indeed, again I don't think I can really add to the debate.

Another very good film. Is it me or is Joe Pesci always playing a violent bastard? Anyway a great film.

And finally my list of films I need to watch is along the side.

That's all for now, I'll think of other stuff later.