My daughter turned one recently. Her birthday was held in a local park. There were balloons, toys, games, and lots of food. My wife made most of the food, spending many hours rolling sausage rolls, baking cakes and cutting sandwiches. Our friends came and shared the day with us. It was hot. I got mildly sunburnt.

Afterwards, I displayed extremely ill tact by asking my wife what was the point of having a birthday for a child who would have no memory of it. We could have left my daughter in her bedroom, thrown her an opened packet of Tim Tams and closed the door. She would have had a ball.

Never ask someone why they have done something that has taken them a lot of time and effort to do. Definitely do not imply that their efforts were wasted, or that their time would have been better spent doing something – anything – else.

After my wife finished yelling at me, she explained that it didn’t matter if my daughter didn’t remember the day. When she was older she could look at the photos and know that her parents loved her enough to throw her a big birthday party when she was a baby. This would make her feel happy. This is why we did it.

For a photo.

So I got to thinking wouldn’t it be great if some enterprising photoshop wiz could simply have manufactured a bunch of fake photographs of my daughter’s birthday. Three or four computer-generated images that showed my daughter in a park, surrounded by presents, family, friends and food. If my daughter grew to have no memory of the day, and only had the photographs to draw from then what did it matter if they were fake? Her emotional response would be the same. My wife wouldn’t have had to spend the day cooking. Our friends could have avoided the hassle of driving, parking, wrapping presents, managing sugar-crazed toddlers. I wouldn’t have gotten sunburnt. Everybody wins.

I suggested this to my wife and was met with a withering stare. I backed out of the room.

The world isn’t ready for my genius.



What I’ve been watching

Blade Runner 2049
It’s not supposed to be this way. 150 million dollar sci-fi movies are not supposed to be this thoughtful, this quiet, this artfully made. Especially, when they’re sequels. Especially, when they’re sequels to a 35-year-old classic. Blade Runner 2049 is something of a marvel. It not only manages the difficult trick of arguing for its own existence (much like its featured replicants) but performs a much more impressive feat – it retroactively improves the original. By shifting the perspective entirely to the replicant’s point of view, Blade Runner 2049, expands upon the themes Ridley Scott touched upon in the original (what is it to be human?) in the process adding new emotional resonance to Deckard’s hunt of poor Roy Batty and friends. It is thrilling filmmaking and the director, Denis Villeneuve, is quite simply the most exciting director working in the big-budget sci-fi realm today. Stuff your Star Wars flicks in a sack – this is the blockbuster event of the year. Or should have been. Sadly, at this time of writing it doesn’t look like Blade Runner 2049 is going to be financially successful. People didn’t see it. Much like the original though, I suspect time will be kind to the film and maybe in another 35 years will see a capper to the trilogy.

Curb Your Enthusiasm
Nine series on and the show is just as funny as ever. Larry David is my spirit animal.

The Leftovers
I’m halfway through season two and every episode strengthens my conviction that this might be one of the finest written, directed, and acted shows of all time. It’s strong stuff and not something to dip into lightly. Still, its deeply melancholy tone is worth navigating if only for the brief glimpses of genuine transcendence it affords. The showrunner, Damon Lindelof, became something of a pariah after LOST and Prometheus, ridiculed online for his perceived writing contrivances. The Leftovers is as powerful a rebuke as I can imagine.

SMILF
Ignore the snigger-inducing title, this is one of the rawest, smartest, funniest, and poignant takes on motherhood I’ve ever seen. Belongs to the same gritty TV-as-independent-personal-filmmaking movement as GIRLS, Master of None, Love, High Maintenance, and Easy.

 


 

What I’ve been reading

The House of Leaves
Mark Z. Danielewski post-modern horror novel is the genre’s Infinite Jest. Definitely not an easy read with its thousand footnotes, font, text orientation and temporal shifts, it nonetheless is a remarkable achievement and contains some of the most shiver-inducing passages I’ve read in my adult life. This book is scary.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
I’m halfway through this book and it’s living up to its reputation as one of the seminal literary works of the past couple of decades. Very funny, and very sad.

 



What I’ve been playing

Destiny 2
I didn’t play Destiny 1 and I won’t play Destiny 3. This is a sprawling space epic, with flawlessly executed game mechanics and staggeringly beautiful graphics. I was never engaged for a moment. For the amount of time a game like this demands, I need to get something back – something that goes beyond a fun shooter. I need a story and the story in Destiny 2 is as thin as they come.



What I’ve been listening to

The Movie Crypt
Adam Green and Joe Lynch are horror filmmakers – Green made the Hatchet trilogy, and Lynch directed Wrong Turn 2 and Everly among others. Both star in the sitcom deconstruction, Holliston. When they’re not interviewing celebrated horror writers, actors and directors, their podcast offers insights into their experiences on the fringes of Hollywood. Highly addictive stuff for film buffs.


Since submitting my latest draft of Lüne I’ve found it difficult to get back into a consistent writing rhythm. I’m tired. Tapped out creatively. It doesn’t help that I’ve had some challenging day job projects on recently. Filmmaking stuff that is as stressful as it is exciting.

With the days getting warmer it’s easier to get up earlier in the morning and get some words down. Hopefully, this post will the beginning of a new run of writing. I’ve got Winter Book 3 on my to do list as well as a low budget horror film script.  The words are waiting to be written. I just need the time to get them down.

That’s it for this week. As always, try to read, watch, play, and listen to good things.

M.J.

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