On the Road: A Literature Review

Many moons ago I had an idea for a ground-breaking piece of literature. It was a memoir of sorts and the narrative would have revolved around a period of time in my life where I lived abroad. A study of the human condition it would have been, and an award winner to boot. However, after getting several (a lot more than several, in fact) thousand words into the project, I abandoned the idea. The more I wrote, the more I realised that the story simply wasn’t interesting, not to myself and not, I would expect, to others. Indeed, there is only so many ways in which you can say, “I went here and I did this, and while I did this the attractive woman didn’t reciprocate my feelings” before you want to slap yourself for being so insufferable. This was a moment of self-awareness, one that changed the direction and manner in which I write.

Unfortunately for me, and for anybody else who has had the misfortune of reading his book, Jack Kerouac did not have that revelation. At no point in his self-admitted drug-induced three week stupor of typing up On the Road did he, or anyone around him, say to him that the utter drivel that he was bringing forth into the world was tripe and that humanity would be better off if he just used that long manuscript roll for toilet paper. Alas, without those kind words from Ginsberg or his dear, sweet mammy or anyone else in the vicinity, the world was subjected to the most overhyped piece of garbage since the invention of the latrine. At least latrines funnel raw sewage away from me, instead of placing it directly into my hand.

When it comes down to it, On the Road is simply a boring experience. And that boredom comes across as the driving force of the plot. There’s no call to action here, no heroic duty—just some guy who wants to get out of doing real work so goes across the country to party. Kerouac—or Sal Paradise as he calls himself—hitchhikes from New York to San Francisco (spending most of that time in the passenger seat swigging whiskey while others do the heavy lifting), drinks and smokes it up once in San Francisco. When he runs out of money he asks his aunt to send him more money (in reality it was his mother, but that takes the sheen off the coolness factor when it’s a grown man begging his mother for pocket money). When that money runs out he finds a temporary job before quitting that because it’s too hard and opts to return home to New York.

Several times he repeats this trip, with each journey slowly eroding his friendship with Dean Moriarty, a man with whom no sane person would ever wish to associate in the first place. Somehow it takes the entire novel (and several years) for Kerouac—Paradise—to realise this blindingly obvious fact. When he’s not fawning over or falling out with Moriarty, he’s detailing conversations with people who are even less interesting than himself. Allen Ginsberg, who is so bland he puts even himself in a catatonic state when reciting his own work, is heavily featured, as is, to a lesser extent Burroughs, who only turns up when Kerouac needs to shift to harder drug use to show off the world he inhabits. Women exist solely to be slept with, or to be there to complain about Moriarty’s partying. When they dare to engage in the same activities as Moriarty or Paradise, well, that is a sign that they are harlots. Seems odd for a group of people who made sexual liberation a core of their philosophy to complain about the sexual liberation of others. Hypocritical, some might argue…

A lot is made of Kerouac’s writing style; his jazz-infused, spontaneous, stream-of-consciousness prose is a large part of why he carries such a big reputation in his niche section of the literary world. Spontaneous it may be, but that doesn’t make it good. It also goes to highlight a lack of creativity in his description: nights are always inky in Kerouac’s world. In fact, I would go so far to say that he is not truly spontaneous but rather a rambler. In spoken word, a lack of filter may be endearing to some; on paper it’s a waste of time and ink and paper. Describing the landscape to build the scene is always welcome—detailing every weed and trying to ascribe some reference to it is not. 

Howl is awful, too. But that’s for another day.

The Tedium of Job Interviews

I want one thing and one thing only in my life: to sit alone in my cottage drinking pots of coffee while occasionally painting animals that are wearing rain jackets. Unfortunately for me, society will not allow me to do this until I have earned enough money to be able to pay for that lifestyle. It really is the biggest failing of capitalism when you think about it. As such, I have to occasionally apply for jobs and then go to interviews where I must lay prostrate in front of a panel of interviewees and flagellate myself while pretending to care about what they’re saying.

My issue here is two-fold. The first is rather more simple to explain: I simply cannot feign interest for the duration of the interview. It seems that every interview I have ever been to lasts for at least one hour. Why this is the case I do not know, but what I do know is, it’s always a tedious affair that ends up with me fidgeting around and trying to resist the urge to pull silly faces or tell them to shut the fuck up. When that happens, I cannot stop myself from going on weird diatribes to make the thing more exciting for myself. I once went for an interview regarding a customer service position. That boring interview soon went from me discussing my experience of working with Excel to my ability to transcribe 13th century Latin. To me, it felt that the Latin was the more interesting thing to discuss so I went down that route. I did not get the job.

The second is more depressing — so depressing in fact that, when I adapt it into a movie script, I will win all the awards, even the ones relating to stunts. 

I just don’t do well in interviews. Whether through panicking, overthinking, or just losing interest, I descend in to that incoherent babble. It’s a need to fill the silence that immediately follows the interviewee asking the question and them staring at me waiting for a response. Those seconds slow down in my mind so it feels to me like if I don’t speak as soon as they stop, too much time has elapsed and I will look like a simpleton. Of course, simply saying what comes to my mind immediately and then trying to edit it and re-craft it doesn’t work as well with the spoken word as it does with the written. I could rewrite that sentence as many times as I wished, if I really wanted to. I can’t take back all those words. Even saying, ‘Let me start again’ doesn’t work because they’ve already written down their thoughts on the words. There’s no off-the-record.

So I’ll just keep painting my pictures of animals in their rain jackets and writing about the world’s greatest author and see if that gets me any closer to my dream cottage and my dream coffee.

Based on my follower count, I will say no.

Zombeavers: A Film Review

The Imitation Game is the worst film ever made. The second worst is Zombeavers. Today I will focus on the latter.

I first saw Zombeavers two weeks ago, when I was in my ever-too-often state of being unable to sleep, yet too sleep deprived to do anything of worth. It was on Horror, aptly named for its tendencies to show horror films, or at least films with a horror slant. When it comes to Zombeavers, the true horror is that first someone wrote it; and then, someone had the insane idea to finance the thing. Bill Burr is briefly in it so I like to think he financed it for a joke which, like all of his other jokes, fell flat because he’s as humorous as a turd in the bath.

The premise is stupid: a barrel full of toxic materials comes loose from a truck, falls into a river, and turns beavers into zombies. Why toxic material would turn beavers into a horde of undead is not truly explained. Perhaps the toxic materials were full of human flesh. As Bill Burr was driving the truck, perhaps that was a sneaky way of creating a Breaking Bad crossover and the barrel was the grim remains of Krazy-8.

Whatever the reason, the for-some-reason-zombified beavers then attack a group of teens. Again, how a beaver, of either the living or undead kind, is able to get the jump on a group of teenagers isn’t really explained. This is made all the worse by the set up. Earlier on in the film, the group of teens go swimming and come across a beaver dam, manned (beavered?) by the aforementioned and titular zombeavers. And yet, they are not attacked by the beavers. They are instead attacked by a bear, an un-undead bear, might I add.

It is only later on, when one of the teens is taking a shower that a beaver promptly appears out of nowhere and attacks the stupid person who is dumb enough to notice a bloody beaver in the shower.

Being stupid teens in a stupid film in which everybody needs to be stupid and do stupid things to progress the stupid thing passing for a plot, they ignore the wounds. They do this despite lampshading by saying they should get medical attention because that beaver could have rabies “or worse” but then shake it off because they have to get back to being stupid teens making stupid decisions in a stupid attempt to progress the stupid plot.

A few more teens get bitten by the zombeavers which mutates them not only into zombies, but also into beavers. I really want to know what the toxic waste was and how it had properties that not only turned animals undead, but also had the ability to metamorphose one species into another. Now that’s a backstory that deserves expanding.

In the end, a zombie bites a bee and that becomes a zombie bee — a ZomBee. Ha, ha, geddit? I got it, movie. I got it. 

Still, if it is a choice between zombie beavers attacking teenagers and watching Benedict Cumberbatch rewrite history and look smug while doing it, sign me up for the beavers. God I fucking hate Benedict Cumberbatch.


The Regret of Shaving

No pictures of me exist online. You may try to find some but you will be unsuccessful. When it comes to social media I am a shade. Searching my name only brings up my Twitter. If the mood takes you, you may search my name on Google (or Bing or Yahoo if you’re a savage) in an attempt to find some image of my head. You will fail, for, as I have written above, no pictures of me exist. To prove this point I typed in Lovatt into Google and hit enter. Pictures that have been posted by me on this website appeared, pictures of other people with the surname Lovatt appeared (I have no relation to any of those so don’t attempt to click on those to find me), and, for some odd reason, a lot of pictures of Prince Charles appeared. Thus proving my point that there are no pictures of me. Thomas Pynchon is a media whore when compared to me.

While I would like to claim that this online anonymity has been planned to make me this ethereal, near-mythical creation, the reality is a lot more painful: it’s because I have no jaw.

Not literally no jaw—I’m not Darth Malak, or someone who ends up a far less nerdy reference. It’s just not very defined. The way I normally solve this issue is by having some form of facial hair adorn my face. By grooming it a little, I can create the illusion of a jawline. It’s not the most ideal of situations but it’s either that or very painful realignment surgery. I’m not doing that. I’m not vain enough and in any case I’m not going to waste money on that when I can keep squandering my wealth on books from charity shops.

Until recently I had what I could possibly refer to as my fullest beard. It was thick and coarse and had no bald patches, which as all men know is a tear-worthy thing to have. I had been maintaining this longer beard due to having agreed with my friend that neither of us would shave until one of us had made some success in the literary world.

As such, I was prepared to spend the rest of my days combing a beard, much like Alan Moore or Rasputin. But two things made me change my mind: the first, it was itching, and itching to such an extent that no oils or creams would soothe it and suicide was fast becoming the only conceivable way in which the itching could be quelled. And the second, it was about to become the first of the month, and I felt like having a shave to usher in the new month would be like some ritual to myself that this month would be a productive and profitable one.

I snipped away at the beard with some scissors to thin it out for the razor, lathered myself up with some shaving foam (I won’t say which one because when I do eventually become famous I will come back and edit this piece to make it a stealthy advertisement for some shaving brand) and went about carving the hair from my face. Incidentally I was never taught how to shave and I still think I do it wrong. What I tend to do is glide the blade up and down a portion of my face, almost as if I’m peeling the skin off a potato. It’s the only way that works for me, that one stroke down and repeat thing is an utter nonsense.

Once I was done I wiped off the excess foam, and prepared myself to look at the face that was going to begin the month with such aplomb. Now most people say they see themselves as a baby when they shave. I didn’t. What I saw was a thumb. A blending of face and chin and jaw and neck all the way down to the clavicle. And not an attractive thumb at that, a gross oversized thumb distorted and disformed by morbid obesity. In other words, my thumb.

Now I’m having to walk around wearing a bandana, lest I walk past any mirror and find myself fighting the urge to vomit as I stare back into the abyss. I don’t even have the luxury of regrowing facial hair at a fast pace. A friend, who truly defines multiculturalism by being of Italian, Saudi and Turkish descent barely has to wait until lunch before he’s sprouting a new beard. It’s going to be at least July before I begin to show any form of facial hair upon my own chin.

Let this be a lesson to you all: never shave. Even you women shouldn’t shave. Let’s all just be hairy as God intended and call it a day.

Zombie Women of Satan: A Film Review

When it comes to reviews of media, be it book or film, I dislike those who seek to fill their pages by covering in excruciating detail the events of the plot. A review should be a summary, nothing more. Simply extrapolate from the synopsis—that is why such a thing happens to exist in the first place.

Actually, just delete the review altogether. Nobody cares what other people think of other things. We are not a collective, we are individuals; and as individuals, the opinions and actions of others should not be a concern. You didn’t like Watergipridget’s short story collection? Well, I did, so who cares what you think? That being said, when people are as talented as I am, then all should come to hear what I have to say on all matters concerning everything that ever was, is, or will. I am not subject to the same rules I demand of—and one day will impose on—others. 

I have been in a malaise these past few days. My sleeping pattern has been off kilter. As a result I have been laying in bed writhing about as I try all manner of things to get to sleep. On a recent night I found myself so uncomfortable from a lack of sleep and an excess of heat in the room that I went downstairs to the living room to see if a change of space would help. It didn’t. I then thought about using the twilight hours to read or try to do something productive or creative. I even thought of making another banana bread but lacked bananas, a vital ingredient. I thought of writing but my brain was foggy from the sleep deprivation. Words from pages were not going in and I could not form enough words in my lethargic mind to make any appear on page. I lack creativity on a full day’s sleep—sleep-deprived delirium isn’t going to help me. So I did what the uncreative and the illiterate do up and down the land: I put on the television and began flicking through the channels to find something to either entertain me or bore me into slumber. When I was younger, if I was unable to sleep, I would try to find some baseball coverage on Channel 5 or some similar channel. That normally did the trick. There was no baseball on this time though.

What there was though, on the Horror Channel, was a film that was about to begin. It was, as you may have guessed if you read the title of this, Zombie Women of Satan. It’s hard to not find a title like that intriguing. Of course, history has not been kind on movies that attempt to gain an audience by the salaciousness of their title. Snakes on a Plane, Lesbian Vampire Killers, Two Hours of Joe Screaming at His Reflection as the Existential Dread of Being Sets In: all have used the title trick to wean their way into the public consciousness but none have come out the other side with praise or acclaim. Would Zombie Women of Satan be the first to crack the mystery code, would it be the one to finally succeed?

No.

First of all, the title has nothing to do with the setting, people, or film. Snakes on a Plane tells the tale of a group of passengers who have to deal with an outbreak of snakes on a plane. Lesbian Vampire Killers is a story of lesbian vampires, who are both killers in their own right and are ultimately defeated at the hand of their killers. It’s got a dual meaning, which makes it intelligent. Dualism is a sign of eruditeness and scholarly thought, so I am told. Zombie Women of Satan does feature women, yes, but they are not servants of Satan. Are they zombies? That would depend on whichever definition of ‘zombie’ you choose to follow. As far as I am concerned zombies are only zombies when a dead body has been reanimated by some means. The ‘zombies’ in this film are not those kind, so I refuse to bestow upon them the title of zombie. Thus, a more fitting title to describe what these women are, is Drugged Women of Some Guy Living in a Compound, which, I admit, doesn’t scan nearly as well. For such an inaccurate title I’d get Trading Standards involved but I don’t have their number. They’re also not the right people to call but I have a bone to pick with them on a number of other issues so they can be the recipients of this complaint too.

As for the events of the movie itself, Drugged Women of Some Guy Living in a Compound follows an obscure circus act who travel to a remote farm for an interview. On arrival they discover that the owners of the farm have been conducting experiments on women, turning them into zombies. The group must survive, stop the experiments, and escape the farm. It’s a thin plot, but it’s a plot all the same.

There’s not much in the way of character development or indeed characterisation to those in the story either. To devote time establishing a character would limit the time with which you could show a naked woman running through a wooded heath. Pervo the Clown is a clown, whose gimmick is that he is a pervert. His perverseness is shown by having an orgy in one scene and masturbating over a picture of his friend in another. He doesn’t do much in the way of clowning, though he does wear a fake clown nose. It’s a good thing he does otherwise his name would be sheer nonsense. Skye is a no-nonsense goth singer searching for her sister, for whom she searches while being no-nonsense and a goth.

After that, the other characters seem to exist more as a way of removing workload from these two characters — and to add more deaths to the script. There’s a silent strongman, whose relevance to the plot is to smash the heads of some zombies before succumbing to their bites. There’s a mouthy Geordie who differs from the other mouthy Geordie in that he is mouthy while wearing a hat. Some woman in a polkadot dress is there for some reason. I don’t recall her doing anything but she’s there. The villains are the standard mad scientist and siblings with incestuous undertones fare that are the standard in just about everything. There’s also a dwarf who has a subplot of desperately needing a poo but is never able to find the time in the middle of a zombie rampage. Lacking in height, the joke is of course that when he finally gets a moment of respite the turd pile is bigger than he is. The setup and punchline are there, what’s missing is the humour.

The acting is near non-existent, the script is garbage, the cinematography is out-of-focus and oddly framed. Yet it’s the low-effort that makes it all the worse. Low budget films can be good if they have the heart. The best actors aren’t needed, the script doesn’t always have to be tight, the camerawork can be forgiven. This just all seems to have been done in one take. Perhaps time was short, or maybe the low budget meant corners had to be cut, or perchance the people involved realised as soon as they got there the idea was stupid and the joke had long run its course so they lost interest in doing it but felt compelled because of the investment they had already made. Who knows? What I do know is the final product is appalling. Nobody is expecting a film that gets shown on the Horror Channel at 3 in the morning to be an award winner: something just above the level of ‘unmitigated disaster’ would be nice though.

I could have just surmised that the film isn’t very good and left out the rest of the stuff about my sleeping habits. But I’m an innovator. It’s why my name will go down in memory and the person who writes the film reviews for the local newspaper is not even worth the time it would take to look up their name. Of course they get paid for it and I don’t which hinders me somewhat. But I’ll just claim the moral high ground. It makes for some nice views as I go down to sign on at the job centre

The Sorry Affair of Watergipridget and Orwell

In the past I have written about the life of the relatively unknown author Hubert J. Watergipridget. Being unknown, not many people know much about him. That is why he is unknown and not known. Those words, though sharing five letters, are polar opposites of one another. In a similar fashion, Hubert J. Watergipridget often considered himself the polar opposite to another writer who was active in the same period. That writer was George Orwell. 

Previously it was not known exactly why the two did not get on, though Watergipridget did once tell a friend of a time in which he was holidaying in Burma, roaming around the streets dressed as an elephant ‘to learn the secrets of growing a trunk’ when all of a sudden some wispy-looking moustachioed policeman started popping shots off at him while a braying bunch of locals cheered and clapped. While Orwell may have had an incident with an elephant in Burma, the description of the man in Watergipridget’s account does not match what we know of Orwell’s appearance. Orwell, being descended from heaven itself, was well known to be a burly man-mountain of an adonis; there was no hint of wispiness about him. Besides, Orwell would not need to use a weapon to take down anything, not even an elephant. Instead, a simple flick of his large calloused hand would cause an unparalleled level of destruction to anything unlucky enough to be caught in its path.

But perhaps the enmity between Watergipridget and Orwell has now been discovered. And the cause of this rivalry is one that has over the centuries seen friendships end and empires fall: that is, the debate over whether coffee or tea is better. Orwell was in no doubt a tea man. Watergipridget, however, was not. After Orwell’s A Nice Cup of Tea was published in the Evening Standard, Watergipridget was famously said to have written a review of the piece in which he surmised: ‘The twelfth—and most glittering of golden—rule that Eric has neglected to mention, is to come to your senses while pouring hot water over some crusty old leaves, throw the damned thing in the sink and put on an espresso.’ While rather pithy by modern standards, this was back in the 1940s an insult of the most severe kind. To question a man’s adoration for tea was akin to marching up to the monarch himself and slapping him in the face. Indeed, Watergipridget was lucky to escape charges under the Speaking Ill of Tea Act (that was passed to justify Britain’s colonial excursions into Africa. With this information, we can now come to understand Orwell’s dislike—nay, hatred—of Watergipridget. But what of Watergipridget’s disdain for the Animal Farm author? From where did that originate? Well, that information too is now comprehensible to us.

For this revelation we can once again thank, and be grateful for, the work carried out by Henry Pretension, the Curator of the Hubert J. Watergipridget archive housed within the University of Cambridge. While dusting a leather-bound copy of Watergipridget’s Tiny Compendium, an A5 sheet of a thin velum-like material was found inside a secret compartment. This parchment appears to have been a draft of an article written by Watergipridget. The title of this work is A Nice Cup of Coffee and covers Watergipridget’s twelve golden rules of brewing the perfect java. Only seven of the rules had been written before being discarded. Of the seven, four are seemingly contradictory and three don’t even relate to coffee. Or the art of drinking for that matter. If this were any other work by the author, then perhaps the unfinished state of the manuscript would be yet another mystery added to the legacy of the man, but for this one, Watergipridget solves the riddle himself. Under the seventh rule, in a green ink Watergipridget was known to use for editing, a sentence is written. It reads: ’12 January 1946. He has bested me. Again. What man will read 12 rules when another man offers the same information in only 11?’

With those words, one of literature’s greatest mysteries has been solved. Historians and biographers who have spent their lives researching both men, trying to craft theories out of the most minute pieces of information must now be feeling like fools. Or rolling in their graves if they have already departed this mortal world. Tales of elephants and fist fights on the shores of Jura were nothing more than flights of fancy imagined by those who made so little progress in their investigation that they simply falsified accounts. Instead, the hatred between these two greats arose because one didn’t like tea, and the other achieved more acclaim for doing less work.

It must be a cutting thing, to know somebody who puts less effort and care into their work is infinitely more successful than you in every aspect of life.