Comfort Food

It’s fitting that upon struggling to think of anything to write about today, I have turned to something that typically devolves out of not knowing how to fill one’s time. That is gorging on simpler media when attempting to stave off boredom.

Fifa 12 is my videogame equivalent of comfort food. I barely even think whilst playing it anymore. I simply put on some music, a podcast, or a movie I’ve seen numerous times, and just zone out. Manager mode is really the best for this as it’s not as tough as facing a living, breathing opponent, and just knowing that makes it feel even more frivolous than most videogames already are. I don’t overly care what happens. Nevertheless it’s a good way to spend an hour without exerting much of anything, really.

Familiarity breeds contempt is a widely accepted mantra, though I think in this case it just breeds apathy. I don’t hate Fifa, it’s certainly a good game. I just wouldn’t make the deliberate choice to play it over something else. It’s like drinking water; I’d rather a Coke, but sometimes you just have to drink water, because it’s your only option, or what feels like your only option.

One issue, however, is that I may too often rely on these types of entertainments to, well, entertain me. All of those hours, too many really, spent playing Fifa could’ve been spent making progress in one of the other countless games I have yet to play. Watching one of those innumerable movies I want to watch, or the myriad of other things I want to do. In a perfect world no one would waste any time, ever. We’d all be endlessly productive, and efficient. Alas, we’re (I’m not, at least) not made like that, but if we were I would never have been able to watch every episode of Storage Wars in a few days; it might not even have been made. I am thankful to be able to live a life that allows me to be overly lazy, as many can’t. Being lazy isn’t exactly something I feel good about, rather I’m too lazy to change it.

 

 

 

 

 

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Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheels…: Harrowing and gorgeous.

My album of this summer has certainly been Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheel… It’s one of the few albums that upon every listening I want to hear it all. It’s an album that works wonderfully as an album, rather than a collection of singles. A sense of cohesion is created, for the most part, due to the constant theme of anguish that the majority of songs ooze. This is not a typical happy and light summer album. Instead it’s rather solemn, slow paced and regretful.

There’s an earnestness to this anguish that stops it from feeling overly self-aggrandising as many songs that deal in one’s woes fall into. The strain that Apple’s voice exhibits trying to hit her peak notes particularly helps to sell the sincerity of her distress. Lyrics such as “stared at you and cut myself” would seem immature without the gravity that Apple brings simply with the emotion she packs into every note.

Left Alone is my personal highlight of The Idler Wheels with the feelings of anguish coming to complete fruition with every struck piano key and high note that Apple painstakingly hits.  It’s also the moment that the lyrics truly seem special and developed, for example “When you were show an orotund mutt, and I was still a dew on petals, rather than a moribund slut” “Slut” is spat out with such venom that one can’t help, but feel pity that Apple feels, or felt, such a way about herself. The throbbing refrain featuring Apple’s singing of the single word ‘alone’ is truly harrowing.  Ultimately, Left Alone is Apple at her most self-disdainful, and most endearing.

Regrettably, the latter stages of the album, the last two songs really, are not as impactful, or smart as the rest of the album. Hot Knife is tonally one of the more positive songs, which puts it at odds with the rest of the album. The metaphor of butter and a hot knife feels juvenile, and that is really all this song explores. It appears shallow when compared to Daredevil or Every Single Night, which delve deep into Apple’s damaged opinion of herself.

In the hands of a lesser artist The Idler Wheel… would come off as narcissistic, and self-aggrandising, but the deftness and sincerity that Apple exposes makes this one of the more emotionally charged albums of the year. There are some low points and disappointments, but the high points are so high that it doesn’t damage the overall quality of the album substantially. A truly touching piece of art.

 

Breaking Bad: What drives Walter White?

Walter White’s ego is as much the central focus of Breaking Bad as Walt himself is. He is a product of an archaic, in a sense, way of thinking. One that advocates individualism and self-help, whilst rejecting the mere thought of any outside support. Walt is the antithesis of the current crop of people willing to live purely on government aid, with little to no intention of living beyond this.

The American dream may also inspire his motivations, to a degree; he wants to equal or succeed the success that Elliot has experienced since Walt sold his share in the now billion (with a ‘b’) dollar company for a pittance. It destroys him that he did not believe in himself enough to carry on at Gray Matter. In a sense he is trying to trying to “construct a life that made sense from things he has found in gift shops”, as the late Kurt Vonnegut wrote. The money is not Walt’s intention from his meth cooking; rather he wants a memento to display his achievements.  He has already created a notorious legacy through the very public persona of Heisenberg. Even the choice of pseudonym is intrinsically linked to Walt through his love of science. This suggests that Walt needs his ego stroked. He needs to feel superior because in so many aspects of life he is inferior. It’s possible this could explain why he became a teacher (teachers are naturally a student’s superior, as the pupil heavily relies on the teacher to gain anything), and why he has a tender spot for Jesse, who acts as a sort of protégé, and demonstrates that even though Jesse failed under his teachings in school, Walt is talented enough to turn someone with little knowledge of chemistry into one of the most talented “cooks” around.

In order to get a simple ego boost, Walt has shown himself to be inventive, dangerous, duplicitous, genius, and deadly. He is willing to endanger a child, and even killed a partner other a perceived slight. The murder of Mike in particular highlighted the extents to which Walt would go to protect his ego from those who would dare to tarnish it. It also was one of the few examples of Walt acting rashly, but ultimately it is unlikely to damage him in anyway, other than his own knowledge that he messed up. Yet, it is still a crack in his façade, and, strangely, serves to create a sense that Walt is still human, he still makes errors. Up until then Walt, as Heisenberg, has been utterly infallible.

Episode 8 of season 5, ends with Hank opening a book of poetry by Walt Whitman that links Walt White to Gale, and so to the meth industry of Gus Fring.   It immediately appears that Walter’s hubris, as with many criminals, got the better of him. The previously mentioned, unnecessary murder of Mike has given us the impression that Walt can make big mistakes, even still. However, there is something odd about the book being hidden so poorly in plain sight. His vanity may explain why he kept the book, as he would never throw something away that lavishes praise upon him. Nevertheless, Walt knows that Hank found Walt Whitman poetry when Gale was murdered so why would he keep it where Hank was likely to find it? And if it was there all along, why wouldn’t have Hank already found it? It’s possible then that Walt left it there to be found. He may actually be “out” as he said to Skyler, but that doesn’t mean the power game is over. Walt needs Hank to know that he outfoxed him. He needs everyone to know.

We know that Walt won’t be caught, or at least not imprisoned, because we’ve seen bearded, full-head-of-hair Walt on his 52nd birthday, alone in some diner. He gets away. And he gets away in a good condition, financially, if the $100 tip is anything to go by. I can’t even begin to predict what that M60 is meant for. If this half season is anything to go by it will be brutal and devastating in equal measure.

I’m somewhat relieved that the next half of this season isn’t airing until next year as it staves off the inevitable end of Breaking Bad. That’s something I don’t want to think about.