Monday, 22 August 2016

Signifying Nothing

For some reason I cannot stop going to HMV, even though it always makes me sad.

I used to love it. It was my holy place. A cathedral of undiscovered movies and albums. Racks and racks of LPs, and then CDs, that could offer up unexpected and magical things. Albums you'd never heard of, by bands you loved. Films you'd only read about, and desperately wanted to see, and suddenly here they were, stickered, 2 for £20.

I don't want any of their things anymore. But I still want to be in their shop, drifting around like those zombies in Dawn of the Dead. The 1978 version. Not the 2004 one by Zack Snyder. I like the Snyder one, but those zombies don't really 'drift'. They're more 'scampery'. If they were in HMV, they'd just knock everything over and run off without clearing it up.

"Hello. Do you have Jungle Book? No, the new one."

Like the undead inhabitants of the shopping mall in Romero's film, I shuffle about the shop, staring at things that used to mean something, clutching at a life I used to live. I think that's who we all are, in that shop, these days. People who used to live a different life.

We like to look at the DVDs and BluRays, even though we don't need them because we've got Netflix and Amazon and Tivos and torrents. We look wistfully at the games and the CDs in their shiny cases, but we don't pick them up because we download everything now. And we look at the increasing amount of figurines and T-shirts and mugs. And while we might idly toy with them, we know that, ultimately, they are useless tat.

What is it with these big headed plastic toy things?
Why does everyone love them?

The tat is there, of course, because you can't download it. Yet. Like the resurgence of vinyl, it signifies a desperation on the part of brick and mortar retailers to provide something unique. Something you can touch. A lifeline to a time when things were things, and not just the idea of things.

And it's fine, of course, living here in the future, with all the digital stuff. It's great to be able to download media - to have such incredible access to films and television and music and games. Wonderful. But there's something sad, and slightly desperate, in the way that the analogue world is trying to integrate itself with this shift in consumer habits. And something more than sad. Something worse.

There's a rack of CDs, for example, in HMV, that groups music under the banner "Trending Now!" I stood there, this morning, and looked at this rack for a little while, confused. Trending? What on earth are you talking about? Trending? Trending where?

Who's in charge of this stuff? My great aunt? "Trending is what the kids like. Things that are trending. On the Twitter. Things trend on the Twitter. So let's say our stuff is trending. Then people will be interested. Like on the Twitter."

Except it's not trending, is it, imaginary Great Aunt Marketing Manager? Trending is the opposite of what this is. Trending is a spontaneous, emergent response to things. It's a chaotic, crowd led surge of genuine interest. It can be manipulated, of course. But not controlled. It's an expression of the human psyche, like the mad, magnificent patterns formed when a flock of birds swirls beautifully into the sky.

Some birds, flocking. Or possibly photoshopped. I don't know.

As I write, things that are trending on Twitter include Kezia Dugdale, Malta and Meat Free Monday. I'm pretty sure HMV don't sell any of those things. Well, I suppose the stock is, technically, meat free. But that's just a coincidence.

Telling us that the music you want to sell is "trending" is meaningless. It's a weird, unintuitive attempt to reverse engineer the concept of what matters. A tone deaf attempt to appropriate new ideas, even though those ideas are the very antithesis of what you're all about. The culture which leads to things 'trending' is the very reason HMV, and places like it, are dying out.

As I left the store, empty handed, I saw another example of this sad, weird desperation. A poster on a wall, in a near empty food-court. It said 'Selfie Corner!" There was a little cartoon image of a smiling face, camera in hand, delighted that finally, against all odds, it had found somewhere to take a selfie.

As I looked I both understood and completely failed to understand. You want people to come into your food court. And no-one does, because they're all at home streaming Stranger Things and downloading No Man's Sky. So you grasp at language and you try to commodify it. Here. Here is where you can take your selfie. Here in this corner. Please. Here. You like taking selfies. You fill the world with them. So do it here. Here. Here. Please, God, Here.

It's like that zombie, from 1978, shuffling around, folorn and lost. Hungry, without knowing why. Biting at the living, consuming the new, hoping that, maybe, young flesh contains the cure to this rotting, fading existence. Maybe if it eats enough living tissue it will somehow catch that spark of life again.

But it won't. What was alive will just die in its mouth. It will make things worse, and it will never be satisfied. Words and phrases will lose their context. Nothing will mean anything any more. Every word anyone ever says will be caught up in the wind and snatched away, untethered from it's purpose. Lost.

Of course, I may just be over-reacting. Like I say, I did really used to like going to HMV.

This got darker than I expected.



Look, here's a Pop Vinyl adipose. Enjoy that.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016


My mind is full of fascinating thoughts. Because I am full of love, I share the following ones with you. Warning - none of it is in the slightest bit useful or relevant to actually achieving anything.

My thoughts...


If I spent as much time watching things on my Netflix List as I do browsing Netflix for things to put on my Netflix List I would have fewer things on my Netflix List and thus it wouldn't be so intimidating that I can't face watching anything on it and so spend all my time browsing instead.

Too. Many. Things.


There should be a sequel to the film 'Once' and it should be called 'Twice'.

Then there should be another sequel to that, but probably starring different actors, called 'Thrice'.

Then they should make a fourth one, set on a plane,  and call it... um... 'Frice'?

Then there should be a reboot of the whole thing called 'The Once'.

This is a good film and you should watch it. 


The most annoyed I ever get is when I am browsing the internet and, as I go to click on a link, the page reorganises itself so I have clicked on something else. I mean, it waits until the exact microsecond I click, and then changes where everything is. The thing I was going to click on is now way down the page, and in its place is a link to something else. Something I don't give a toss about. It makes me howl with rage. I'm convinced it does it deliberately.

The Internet, seen here annoying someone.


There should be a sequel to the film It Follows called They Follow.

Then there should be a sequel to that called We Follow.

And then He/She Follows.

And then I Follow.

It Follows is great, and quite spookington.
That's a word. It means spooky, only better.


It pleases me greatly that Bates Motel - a programme about the young Norman Bates from Psycho - is an anagram of O Let Me Stab.



There should be a sequel to Suicide Squad, called 'We're Very Sorry'. In it, the producers of 'Suicide Squad' should apologise, for ages, to camera, for the terrible script they inflicted upon us. It wouldn't be very entertaining, but it would be better than the nonsense they made in the first place.

Lovely imagery. Awful waste of time film.

That's all. About your business now.