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A Bridge For The Furies: The Pagoda Of Knowing Women

Previous episodes are here, here, here here, here  here and here

Drea and alcohol had separated due to irreconcilable differences. Training to fight had been tough enough, Ronnie had bounced other fighters for coming to train with the merest whiff of alcohol on them, adhering to an asceticism that appealed to her. It had cost her relationship with ??? after all, but the sensation of victory and even the aches that spread through her after one more set of anaerobic drills, one more round past the three rounds that made up a standard fight cleared away the doubts and insecurities that she carried.

However, to cope with this kaleidoscope apocalypse of a dream, she had managed to sink enough of the mineral-tasting orange drinks to make her liver consult a lawyer and start to look at apartments in the want ads. Gloria was sat there staring into space and stabbing at the air with her fingers, giggling and sighing with a wonder that Drea felt vaguely jealous of. Olivia and Cara had disappeared off somewhere, and there wasn’t anyone to talk to, that would not have made her brain leap from her skull and seek the warm refuge of John’s arms. She knew how he would react, calm and gentle with her when he needed to be, and capable of using his relative strength to playfully dominate her when she really needed it. The alcohol teased that sullen spark of arousal into life but she sighed, knowing that most of the science fiction she had watched and endured seldom dealt with anything so prosaic as female arousal. It was all as she feared here, fruity drinks, talking clouds and no one to talk to that didn’t sound the lyric from Karma Police by Radiohead, buzzing like a fridge and talks in math. The music that floated through the air was felt more than heard. There was one track she experienced as an especially poignant memory, a birthday party when she was ten years old, stood there and watching her father talk up a recent real estate opportunity whilst she stood there, a prop to his ambitions rather than her own person.

It made her want to punch things.

Which was when Cara gazed at her with a curious narrow-eyed expression. Olivia sat down with an expression commonly reserved for first time MDMA users and the newly converted.

‘So, are you ready?’ Cara said.

Drea sat back in the chair. Her thoughts had grown sluggish and obese, the easy warm buzz of alcohol had grown a little too thick to aspire to any degree of social skills so she went for a raise of her eyebrows and a smirk that aimed for ironic but landed in the embassy of brain damaged but happy with it, with full diplomatic privileges.

‘I’ll take that as a yes. Don’t worry, Chiu will have something to sober you up.’

Cara touched the back of her hand, Drea sensed the hum of the rings on her fingers travelling up her forearms, conducted through bones and veins before it exploded in her head like a balloon bursting. It was a lucky punch in it’s impact, but with the pain removed.


She came to, cross legged. The air had a barely perceptible chill to it and she was sat, experiencing a sudden and not unwelcome sobriety. Beneath her thighs, she felt the rough order of warm hardwood and in the first breath, caught the piquant aroma of fresh green tea. She opened her eyes, looked into the delicate, amused features of the middle aged Chinese lady with her black hair falling either side of her face in perfect waves and eyes that exuded a calm that Drea knew only in three places.

The ring just before the opening bell.

The gym when she was training.

In bed with John.

The woman laughed, a polite ring of a laugh that communicated great amusement.

‘You’re thinking of your man, aren’t you?’

Drea snorted and looked around.

‘Where’s Crazy Ring Lady?’

The woman shook her head.

‘Cara does not need to be here. She works with the material, which is not what I am going to give you.’

Drea shifted with unease. Gloria had got something, Olivia had experienced something and what was she getting?

A fucking montage.

Chiu turned to her right and poured them both tea.

‘The tea ceremony is useful for our purposes.’

Drea put her hands up.

‘Woah, the other two got shiny, science fiction shit because we’re supposed to be fighting a fucking god that eats reality and I get what? A tea party?’

Chiu set the cup down.

‘Do you think that such a thing could be destroyed by something so prosaic as a weapon?’

There had been a ring of meaty jocks and effete pseudo-mystics who had laughed at her earnest desire to fight, and Chiu appeared to be singing from the same hymn sheet. Drea started to get to her feet.

‘Answer my question.’ Chiu said.

Her voice had grown sharp, pinning Drea to the mat with it’s quiet power.

‘It is an expression. There are parts to be observed and performed, and it has many functions within society. Much like a kata or a form.’

Drea relaxed. Chiu rewarded her with a slight smile and poured the tea.

‘Do you know the origins of the martial art Wing Chun?’


Yim Wing Chun had sent the warlord’s emissary away with her proposal. Once he had left, she allowed herself the luxury of a single tear. The warlord, much like most of his ilk, had secured his reputation with a propensity and skill for violence, personal and military, and Yim’s offer was meant to delay his advances enough for her to formulate a plan to avoid the worst fate possible.


She had seen the shallow graves of his last three wives enough to know that his displeasure was swift, and oftentimes fatal. She had a month, which he would agree to, simply because the novelty of her proposal would allow him time to boast to his peers and subordinates.

She saddled a horse once she had word that the emissary had left the province. It was an hours walk to the lake, but she knew that time was of the essence in this matter.

Now all she had to do was talk to the nun.

She would not leave the hut except to beg alms each day, otherwise Yim had seen her watching the wildlife with her legs crossed or performing a set of exercises designed to alleviate the injuries incurred by surviving the purge of the Southern Shaolin. Yim had need of someone who had survived, and if the cost were a few scars, then she was willing to pay it.

She got off the horse and tethered it to a tree. The nun was sat at the base of a tree, cross legged and watching a crane darting it’s beak at a snake which sent ripples across the shallow water. She would dip a quill into a small pot of ink and make small logograms on a scroll without taking her eyes from the scene before her.

‘Tread quietly, I would not have my subjects disturbed.’ The nun said.

Her voice was rough, uncultured and Yim was unused to being spoken too in such a manner but her need was greater than her station.

Yim bowed.

‘I have seen you begging alms.’ she said.

The nun chuckled without turning her head.

‘Did you fill my bowl?’

Yim lowered her head and folded her hands in front of her. She had the decency to flush with shame and the nun gestured her over with a wave of her scarred, callused hand.

‘But you would have me do something for you?’ the nun said.

Yim told her and the nun laughed for a full minute. Her eyes were awash with a mischievous light that torture and survival had not diminished, she took hold of Yim’s hands, turned them as though examining a fine piece of art, then pushed and pulled them to check her flexibility before nodding and looking up at her.


The warlord was carried away by two of his men. He had sustained a broken nose, a fractured cheekbone and the damage her blows had done to his ribs meant that in the winter of that year, he would catch a chill that denied him another summer. Yim bowed to the nun and then looked at the young man, an artist from a neighbouring province with high cheekbones and a gentle smile who had watched her fight with a profound awe.

They would be married in the spring. She would teach him what the nun had taught her He would name the art after her, and it would live for a thousand years.


Drea drank two more cups of the tea, mesmerised by the telling.

‘So, you’re going to teach me wing chun? Shit, they teach that at the Y.’

Chiuh sighed and shook her head.

‘You are not your body, Drea. You are here, as what the monks of Shamballah call a tulpa. A thought form. That means you are capable of something more than can be accomplished with decades of training.’

Drea frowned, looked at the cup in her hands.

‘So, this is a dream?’

Chiuh frowned and shook her head.

‘No, you are an idea. And that means your training will be the weapon that you wield against the Zhayu.’

Drea gathered that Chiuh was referring to the Leviathan in her own frame of reference and remained silent. This made Chiuh smile and set her cup down.

‘So, we shall begin?’ she said.

‘What are you going to show me?’ Drea said.



They trained for a thousand years and a single second.

The Sting of Ta-Bijet, the egyptian martial arts move that turned the Sphinx to stone.

The Ghost Limb Palm, invented by the one armed samurai to avenge his shogun’s murder by his brother. An etheric punch that destroyed the soul of the opponent.

The Five Point Exploding Heart Palm Strike.

The Night’s Forest Shadow Kick.

The Mermaid’s Song.

The Fortunate Kiss.

The Blinded Toad Leaping Kick, available only to the Ascended Masters of Manchester.

The Iron Monkey’s Tail

Drea stood in the stone circle. She ached from the roots of her hair to the soles of her feet. If anyone were to stand across from her in the octagon, they would quit before the first bell rang.

The men entered the circle, scarred and vicious descendents of a strain of humanity devoted to power and destruction. They were not the Leviathan but they understood its intentions and practised them in philosophy and action. They reproduced by force and grew wise by torture.

Drea’s final test had begun.

The first of them to enter her range had his neck broken with a elbow strike and his cooling corpse used to bludgeon his approaching companions. Drea understood that her limits here were arbitrary, self imposed and subject to the limits of her own will.

Cara watched from the shadows as Drea punched a man in the left side with enough force to make his ribs turn to powder with no more effort than it took to open a bottle of water. Her face was serene, and Cara marvelled at how beautiful she looked. At peace.

The idea that she had become, was one that existed deep within the roots of the collective consciousness. The small against the large.

David against Goliath.

Bilbo against Smaug.

St George against the dragon.

Cara’s most effective weapon in her arsenal was not the mineral intelligences on her fingers or the Pocket Square of Dimension X. It was not the Hair of Bontide that had been taken from its head at terrible personal cost. It was the ability to project confidence at a level most considered to approach pathological levels. So, in the shadows, as she watched Drea destroy an army of evil, skilled men without breaking a sweat, she allowed herself a moment of luxury.

She allowed herself the luxury of being afraid.







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A Bridge For The Furies:Inventory


Cara rolled her eyes in dismay at Gloria.

Gloria picked up her drink and took a sip and shuddered with the strength of it.

‘So you don’t question intelligent gas clouds, but you question a simple hack?’

It’s false nails and a set of contact lenses. You’re talking about some fucking Galactus level event and I go up against it with haute couture?’

Cara sighed as Olivia shifted in her seat, added to her ever growing mental list of questions about what or who was a Galactus. Drea wanted to punch the air that something was said that she actually understood. She ached for John and consciousness with a pang of deep, palpable longing that normally ended up in John’s hands getting the good kind of mean with her. Here, she took another drink and listened to the reserved bitching that characterised the failure of womankind to dominate society. Especially smart, white women but she kept that to herself in favour of enjoying the free show.

Cara gestured to the box.

‘Pop them in and on.’

Gloria sneered again but picked out the index fingernail, pearlescent and when she pinched it between her fingertips, it hummed pleasantly like the vibrator that laid gathering dust, hollow without batteries, much like her heart. It changed consistency, a warm plasticity as it looped over and adhered to her fingertip. A low charge ran up her forearm. The other nails leapt from their casings, with a graceful glee and the symphony of purpose used her body as the orchestra. The lenses elongated as they left the casing and attached themselves to her eyes, plasticized tears in reverse.

Gloria, in the healthy spirit of youthful experimentation, had experimented with hallucinogenic drugs for recreational purposes and the earnest, slightly grim spiritual ramifications. Peyote, psilocybin and lysergic acid had formed the river of her consciousness raising. The combination of the lenses and nails made it look like baby aspirin or the candied gummy vitamins that had characterised her sickly childhood.

Gloria had been given access to the operating system of the universe, a drop down menu floated in her vision like sunspots and she sat back in her seat, dumbstruck with a quiet awe. Olivia was fascinated by the shifting spectrum of colours that overlaid Gloria’s eyes even as the trembling posture of reverence unnerved her.

Gloria clicked on a free floating icon marked ‘tutorial’. Cara chuckled and sat back, gestured towards her with her glass.

‘She’s going to be a while.’

Olivia grew pale and gestured to Gloria.

‘What did you do?’

Cara furrowed her forehead and rolled her glass between her palms.

‘She can change things.’

Olivia swallowed and glanced between Gloria and Cara, concerned at what she might be gifted. She liked her own mind, even the distasteful streaks of self loathing and guilt were hers, goddamn it. Cara touched her hand, Olivia experienced a moment of raw satori and smiled at her.

‘I get it. You’ve put us together with the right tools for the job.’

Drea recoiled in her seat. She had seen the gesture, reminded of when John would use the quasi-hypnosis, social engineering tricks that took nervous young men and divorcees back into the dating arena with the confidence of bull studs.

‘Don’t do that to me.’ she said.

Cara smiled at her, eyes glittering as she picked up her drink.

‘Again, you mean. After all, you’re still convinced you’re dreaming.’

Drea gritted her teeth and forced a stoic expression onto her face to hide her disquiet.

‘So, what do we get?’ Drea said.

Cara clapped her hands together.

‘You two get to do something really spectacular.’

Olivia and Drea had grins appear on their faces in perfect symmetry.


Gloria, meanwhile, studied the physics of a falling leaf, the beauty of a broken hip and the pressures of being a good girl with a god’s eye for the sheer gift of it all.

Part 1, Part 2 , Part 3 and Part 4



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A Bridge For The Furies 5: Performance and Cocktails.


(This is a photograph of a bar designed by HR Giger. I know, right?)

Previous episodes are here, here, here and here.

Cara ushered them through a set of double doors into a small lounge, where chairs shaped like clam shells were arranged around rectangular tables. Which would not have attracted anyone’s notice aside from the fact that everything floated a good foot above the floor.

Cara caught their mutual expressions of disbelief and laughed.

‘Rare earth magnets and molybdenum. They can take the weight of a Gysterfanica warpod, so we’ll be fine, I promise.’

She gestured towards the bar.

‘Now, I will get us drinks, and you have to trust me here. There are at least eighteen things on the menu that will kill you and about thirty that will turn you blind or insane.’

Drea chuckled and shook her head.

‘Sounds like my kind of bar. Although what the fuck is a Gysterwhatever?’

Gloria saw that Olivia had turned tense and pale, she put a hand on her shoulder and asked if she was okay. Olivia gave a tight nod and took a deep breath.

‘It’s a lot to take in, you know? My biggest concern was keeping the farm running and maybe someone to run it with, ya know?’

Gloria saw the pensive light in her eyes and expressed a true pang of sympathy for her. At least her and Drea had some form of pop culture to inoculate them against all of this, but Olivia was experiencing the cognitive dissonance that would result from giving a Victorian lady a Hitachi Magic Wand.

‘If it’s any consolation, I am ready to run around screaming at any possible minute. So look, let’s keep this in perspective. If you’re mad, then so am I and if we’re not, then we see what she has to say. Deal?’

Olivia managed a terse smile and put a callused hand out to shake. Gloria shook it and grinned, surprised at the strength she manifested in a causal handshake. Farm girls, she thought. The contact was enlivening and grounding, reminding her that she was not the only one going through this.

Cara came back with a black slate tablet and gestured to a nearby table.

‘Drea, a warpod is a species of an intelligent mollusc race that used to cause all kinds of shit, but they’re absolutely hilarious once you get over the whole cultural barrier. Now let’s sit down and I can fill you all in on the next bit.’

Drea frowned and pointed to the tablet in Cara’s hands.

‘Where are our drinks? If I’m going to listen to more space cosmic shit, then I want at least one entertaining anecdote to wake up with.’

Cara rolled her eyes and placed the tablet onto the table, where it sank into the surface with the ease of a pebble dropped into a body of water. Four tumblers emerged from the mass of the table and immediately filled with an orange carbonated liquid.  In the centre rose a small column that began to glow and hum with a sequence of different colours. The air around them vibrated and became tangible against their skins as they sat down.

Drea picked up the tumbler and took a sniff. It carried an oily, citrus scent and when she brought it to her lips, it was thick and warm with the aftertaste of bubbles. She set it down and stared into space for a second then looked at the three of them in turn.

‘When I used to watch Star Trek, they all used to drink these fruity, strange looking drinks and I always wondered how they tasted.’

Cara picked hers up and raised it.

‘Here’s to mayhem.’

The three women looked at one another, with mutual apprehension before Olivia and Gloria took sips of their drinks. When their powers of speech returned to him, Gloria asked if she could have a drop of water added to hers. Cara chuckled and said that she could, but only if she wanted it to explode in her lower intestine. Gloria set the drink down and it melted into the body of the table.

‘That’s a perfectly fine Undara Surprise you’re not drinking.’

Gloria winced and shook her head. She leaned forward, forearms resting on her thighs, afraid to touch the table in case it did something to her. She had always believed that the future would appear bizarre and at too high a velocity for a traveller from the past, but she could not say whether this was the future or not. Cara was the only recognizable human, and Gloria noted that her syntax and intonation had an odd, stilted quality to it.

‘I’ve had enough surprises to last me a lifetime. So, now that we’re all settled, why don’t you tell us what we’re supposed to do.’

Cara downed her drink in one and set it onto the table.

‘I like a woman who gets down to business. So, I’ve chosen the three of you-‘

Olivia coughed as she took another sip, with her eyes glazed over and a beatific smile on her face.

‘This stuff is…yeah…it kind of creeps up on you, don’t it?’

Drea tried to give her a thumbs up, but the brain-body connection that she took for granted had surrendered to whatever was in the drinks. Instead she gave a sloppy grin and tried to arrange her features into some kind of order that denoted mindfulness and concentration. She failed, but she figured it was worth the try.

‘It’s okay, it wears off in a bit if you just have the one, plus I’ve got RB’s if anyone’s a bit too off their tits.’

‘Arby’s?’ Gloria said.

Cara shook her head.

‘Receptor blockers, basically sobers you up  instantly. I swear by them, especially with the diplomatic functions I have to attend.’

Gloria sat back and decided to go with the confusion. Source yourself in nothingness, she told herself and let it all happen. She remembered the retreat at Spirit Rock meditation centre, how it had removed the thorn of grief left in her heart’s paw, but it still stung when she moved.

‘Anyway, so what makes us so special?’ Gloria said.

Cara pointed at her with her index finger and the platinum ring there began to glow with a soothing amber light.

‘You in particular, or in general?’


The four of them turned as a Klee cloud from earlier billowed into the room exuding drunken indignation, which resembled in it’s scent signature, a gas station bathroom at four a.m. Cara rolled her eyes.

Olivia raised her hand.

‘The guy said it was because ah can shoot.’

Gloria fought to keep the consternation from her face, for fear of offending Olivia, who had inspired a protectiveness in her even though they were roughly the same age. There was a lack of sophistication to her that Gloria warmed to, from the very first. Cara gave her the thumbs up.

‘Yes, you, my dear, are a regular Carlos Hathcock. Also you give off a tremendous amount of potential energy when viewed from my particular perspective.’

Drea sat back in her chair, cautious because she realised that she was sitting in something with no apparent means of support.

‘There’s better fighters than me, out there. No shame in that.’ she said.

Cara nodded, in agreement.

‘Again, I’m working from a particular set of criteria here. Sure, you may not be Ronda Rousey but all my data centred around you three as a cluster of possibility.’

Gloria chuckled.

‘You’re using English, but I will be damned if I know what you’re talking about.’

Cara’s humour left her and she fixed Gloria with a look that could freeze the blood in her veins.

‘I could give you reassuring techno babble, none of which you would understand and we could waste time. I chose you because all the horribly sophisticated intelligence arrays and the experiences I have had, most of which will have shortened my life expectancy by centuries said that you three would be the most effective means of subduing -‘

Olivia cocked an eyebrow.

‘Y’all said kill.’

Cara nodded and waved her off, her attention focused on Gloria like a magnifying glass on an anthill.

‘Subdue, kill, either way if we don’t stop the Leviathan, there will be months of diplomatic wrangling, some messy and futile military action and then nothing.’

‘Nothing doesn’t sound that bad.’ Drea said.

Cara blinked slowly and sat up, pulling her shoulders back and lifting her chin.

‘When I say nothing, because my fear is that Leviathan will eat creation itself, or enough of it to make sure that our lives, inconsequential as they may be, are no longer around to be mourned.’

Gloria tried to imagine nothingness, much like the concept of zero, it took a great deal to approximate the idea of it. Endless possibilities, ended and she would never see or experience any of it. She thought about it on a smaller, more manageable set of concepts. No more running in the mornings, no more books to be written or read. No more ‘I love yous’.

‘So come it falls to you?; Gloria said.

Cara winked at her.

‘You know how Bond was the bastard of the British Empire, you know, everyone knew it was him coming if you messed with the empire and he was going to kick seven shades of shit out of you, raid your liquor cabinet and shag your girlfriend?’

Gloria smiled, warmed by the endearing swagger that Cara projected.

‘You’re the alien equivalent.’ she said.

Cara winked at her and made finger pistols.

‘Got it in one, but part of it means that I get a degree of levity that means I can move resources around faster than organisations or governments can. You three are assets that all my intelligence shows to be the most effective, least messy way of sorting this out. I outfit you with the kit, point you in the right direction and we all go home at the end of the day. That’s really about it.’

Gloria chuckled and shook her head.

‘I write books, what possible kit do I think I can get from you?’

Cara reached inside her jacket and retrieved a slim case, the kind that you would find a decent fountain pen within, a gift set that looked classy but showed little to no consideration. She slid it across the table to Gloria.

Gloria looked down at it, then back up at Cara who gave her a challenging, smug expression. She opened it slowly then looked up and sneered.

‘False nails and contact lenses? How the fuck am I meant to save creation with that?”







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Prince: Inside The Music and The Masks by Ronin Ro



In his three decades-long of recording, Prince has had nearly thirty albums hit the Billboard Top 100. He is the only artist since the Beatles to have a number one song, movie, and single at the same time. Prince’s trajectory―from a teenage unknown in Minneapolis to an idol and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer―has won him millions of adoring fans.

Prince is the first book to give full treatment to this 30-year career of epic proportions. Acclaimed music journalist Ronin Ro traces Prince’s rise from anonymity in the late 70s, to his catapult to stardom in the 80s, to his reemergence in the 21st century as both an artistic icon and a starmaker. Ro chronicles the music, showing how Prince and his albums helped define and inspire a generation. Along the way, Prince confronted labels, fostered other young talents, and took ownership of his music, making a profound mark on the entertainment industry and pop culture.

In this authoritative biography, Ro digs deep to reveal the man behind some of the most important music of our time

I love his music. Prince has been one of the constants in my musical appreciation since discovering him in the late eighties, early 90’s. I can wax lyrical about my favourite unreleased tracks (Shockadelica), the way that the songs with a slightly sped up vocal are often his best (Camille’s vocal on If I Was Your Girlfriend) and even which brand of guitar he uses, Telecaster, in particular the one with the leopard print plate beneath the pick up. I thought that the line up between The Revolution and Sign O’The Times was the best one.

Ro does a solid job of providing information but I can get that from anywhere, what rock biographies need to have is the dirt, the weirdness, the damage and the scars. When Prince got married and had a child, which was a strange and tragic situation, Ro does not give us context other than that he’s a private person, which if you’re anything close to a fan of Prince, you’re aware of.

What’s interesting is that Prince kind of calcified, when he isolated himself from collaborators who challenged him. His best work was with Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman, who in a perfect world, could have kept with him and pushed him. His average work is superlative, but the stuff that screamed came from the period when he was working with these women and the ambient tensions within that.

Why isn’t he working with, rather than being admired by Questlove or Trent Reznor? His genius, and I would argue that it really is an expression of that, is as much a gift as a curse because it isolates him. Part of the misstep he made was when he started to chase trends rather than make them.

Those sorts of questions haunt this book, which is disciplined and put together really well, but it gets us no closer to the who of Prince. All these facts carry the same tone, and great biography gives us insight into the person behind the image. When you read The Dirt, and then go listen to Motley Crue, you feel the decadence and the earnest, playful vandalism of their lives. I listen to Prince and feel what I always have. Ro, if he had been able to write that book, might have given me something more to feel about him.

I don’t believe that Prince’s own autobiography will be any more open about why he does what he does. He really does need someone who can curate for him, introduce him to the world so that he can bring the music that is truly within him. Stephen King doesn’t publish his shopping lists so forgive me if I don’t look at everything Prince does with infantile awe because I know that not everything he does is genius, it’s always interesting but he’s produced stuff that felt like it took no more effort than it did to work out a cramp.A lot of his decisions get heralded as moves of inscrutable brilliance when really they’re affectations. Why can’t he have his work on YouTube, so that you can introduce someone to his work and then they’ll buy or download an album? Why doesn’t he have someone run his feed so that we can see him jamming with Third Eye Girl?

Frank Zappa said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture, and yet there are superlative books about music and musicians, that enhance the experience or cast in a new light, the artistic expressions of individuals and groups. This book is close, but it doesn’t finish the lift.

Maybe I’m just sad that I won’t ever play bass for him, I don’t know. I can totally do that two step thing where you dip the neck on the fourth beat. If you want to know Prince, listen from Dirty Mind through to Lovesexy with a candle burning. Ronin Ro works better with something that he has more access to, Have Gun Will Travel is a far better book and example of his talents than this.

My favourite Prince albums, in no particular order:

  • Parade
  • Sign O’The Times
  • Lovesexy
  • 1999


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The Hateful Eight

Tarantino is the only writer/director who would make a three hour single location western murder mystery chockful of violence,  profanity at a Shakespearean level and a cast of character actors. 

Thank god for that.

I love his movies.  He’s an auteur and even his excesses are crimes of enthusiasm rather than any lack of ability.  His missteps are, at least bold ones and that’s what I love about him.
It’s a jaw dropping movie.  Uncomfortable and leavened by bursts of coal black humour as it descends into a final act that is garotte tight in execution and still capable of genuine warmth and humanity.  It’s probably his best film.
Jennifer Jason Leigh is incredible,  playing an ugly, irredeemable woman with a low cunning and a powerful sense of herself.  She has a serpentine sensual brutality and a willingness to go for the moment that makes her riveting to watch.
Walton Goggins is superb, more than holding his own with the likes of Samuel L Jackson and Kurt Russell.
Samuel L Jackson has a monologue about halfway through that is one of the most uncomfortable and disturbing things I’ve seen and yet he still radiates an amused mastery of space and performance that makes him the de facto hero of the piece. 
Go see it. It’s important to support original film in a time of reboots and remakes because we need art that pokes us in the uncomfortable places and this film does that.


Shogun Assassin

I hope they never remake this.

That’s the thing about remakes, they seldom understand what makes the original so transcendent. A lot of it is the film stock, the dialogue, the clothes and the hair styles. The choices that were made, rooted in the time that the film was made in.

Modern remakes have a standard of beauty in the casting that negates the power of the original. All the technology does not necessarily equate to a better film.

In Shogun Assassin, he’s slightly overweight, mourning his wife and trying to keep his son alive. He looks like classic middle management and he has that look that I’ve felt as a man, the sense of ‘ffs’. His hair is unkempt and he looks tired throughout.

The son’s voiceover, normally a device that’s really lazy, is perfect.

The way he says that he counts his father’s kills and then pauses between the words three hundred, then forty five, is lovely, an amusing touch.

The matter of fact way that people just die and they just keep walking. Even

Why mess with that?

Money obviously but that goes to some further thoughts I’ve had on pop culture and audiences.

They’re smarter than the business model would suggest. Why don’t we trust that?

People are drowning in choices for entertainment, from the most base obvious work to the stuff that’s so subtle and exclusive that you’re not even aware of it’s impact until it’s done. There’s room for everything.

Anyway, Shogun Assassin is perfect as it is. Sprays of arterial blood, balletic violence and a grim deliberate poetry to it all, set in a time that shows that history is simply a story of being human in the face of impersonal events.