Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood (2019)

Chances are, you know of Quentin Tarantino. Bit of an oddball, painful to listen to, but he’s made some of the most iconic films…probably ever. Notable for his unique direction style, haphazard narratives and gratuitous violence, his films have made waves in the industry every time. His most recent film is no different. With a stellar cast, nearly three hours of screen time and a nostalgic look at Los Angeles in 1969, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood pays homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood, and one of the most profitable industries in the world.

Leonardo DiCaprio is Rick Dalton, the former lead actor of a popular TV western, now resigned to taking supporting roles in TV pilots. He is the embodiment of a fading star, clinging desperately to some semblance of his former fame and trying to carve out a career in film before it’s “too late”. At his side through it all is Brad Pitt as Dalton’s stunt double and friend, Cliff Booth. Casually, contentedly in the background of the film industry – with a somewhat unsavoury reputation – Cliff is cool as a cucumber from start to finish, and the antidote to Rick’s somewhat tumultuous, and often alcohol fuelled moods. The chemistry between the two is palpable, and there is a true sense of brotherhood that flows through the film as we follow the lives of these two showbusiness veterans, tetering on the edge of irrelevance.

Margot Robbie plays Sharon Tate, young and idealistic, and just breaking into the film industry as Rick Dalton (who, in this version of events, happens to be her next door neighbour) seems to be on his inevitable way out of it. This raised a few eyebrows in the lead up to the film’s release, as people were quick to jump to conclusions about how Tarantino may have handled that particularly sensitive issue. Anyone familiar with the Manson Family will understand the controversy, but the truth is that Robbie’s Sharon Tate is almost like a background character, more or less there for the purpose of juxtaposition between the old and the new.

Tarantino tackles a lot of really excellent themes in this film, particularly the bonds of friendship, and the effects of change. But with a run time of 161 minutes, the film itself is a bit meandering. Whilst the main story is that of Dalton and Booth, the film gets caught up in the Manson Family subplot which, for the most part, feels a little…lacklustre and at times, even pointless. The scenes involving the infamous cult have a tendency to drag, and not even the increasing undercurrent of tension, as the film builds to it’s inevitable conclusion, is quite enough to propel the scenes forward. Certainly, the movie would have benefited from losing at least a half hour of screen time. It feels like we’re being taken on a slow amble through the film, until the third act kind of explodes onto the screen with a pace and energy that the rest of the movie doesn’t quite manage to achieve.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed being taken on the nostalgic, and occasionally self indulgent ride back to the late 60’s. The era has been recreated with minute detail, and the movie is both stylistically and visually pleasing. With some familiar cameos (heyyyy Zoe Bell) and a supporting cast including Al Pacino, Timothy Olyphant and Emile Hirsch, it is the characters more so than the actual plot, who truly drive this film. Despite a few flaws with the film’s pace, it is worth watching for the explosive final act alone (if nothing else). In typical Tarantino style, is has some great dialogue, some funny moments interjected with the sincere, and truly unforgettable characters. The quirky director can be a little hit and miss for me, but in this case he scored a hit.

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Overworked

So, I just worked 14 days straight, and before my last day off – which wasn’t a day off because I still had to go to work anyway – I worked 13 days straight, and I had to go into work today on my “day off” and at this rate it seems as though I’m not getting a proper actual day away from work in the foreseeable future. I am back working for the company I spent 3.5 years with before things like this (see above re working every single day ever) sent me into an exhaustion fuelled, very nearly suicidal depression, and I quit. So why did I return, you ask? Well, desperation mainly. Unfortunately I have yet to win the lottery and so I have to work for a living, and since I never had any luck finding work with anyone else after my job at the ambulance call centre fell through, returning to my old/current job was the last resort.

I have been forced to neglect the things I love, because I am either too tired, too exhausted, or I simply don’t have the time. I have only sewn three garments this year. Three. For the entire year. One of them was a costume for a play so I don’t know that it really counts. And I’ve had a partially completed dress hanging on my mannequin, untouched for over a month. I haven’t written so much as a creative sentence in weeks, blogging notwithstanding. My paintbrushes have been left to collect dust and I have about 15 shows I need to catch up on, and a stack of books I haven’t even looked at for months. Today, all I wanted to do was make a blueberry pie and I couldn’t even find time in my day to manage that. I am in equal measures frustrated and exhausted, and I really just want to sleep for a week.

I can see myself heading for a crash. Like the Titanic barreling headlong into that iceberg, my path towards destruction seems imminent at this point. I feel like I’m drowning in mud and the more I struggle, the more bogged down I get. If I seem grumpy, don’t be offended. I am just physically and mentally worn down and, regrettably, cannot stop the verbal manifestation of that exhaustion from spilling out of my mouth.

Cross your fingers for that winning lottery ticket, y’all. Because if something doesn’t change soon, I’m afraid I’m going to literally get worked to death. I am creative dude, and when we creative dudes can’t vent out the problems of the world artistically, things can get pretty tense. Like a ticking time bomb, I might explode at any minute.

Yes, I’m a Cynic. No, I Don’t Believe in Love.

If I had a dollar for every time I went to begin a blog post with “I’m not a positive person” or some such variation, I’d have a heckin’ lot of dollars. But that gets boring after a while, and incredibly depressing, when you think about it. It is, nevertheless, kind of true. I mean, I don’t sit around all day every day, staring at the wall with a glum expression, and thinking about all the bad things in the world. I do however, have a tendency to be incredibly cynical (or realistic, depending on your view, but I for my part, am very realistic about my cynicism), and often that comes across as the same thing.

I’ve been single for a very long time, and have never had what you would call a long romantic relationship. The reactions I get from people when they learn this, is generally one of shock and/or incredulity, expressed in some kind of over the top reaction that would be better suited to stage than real life. Yes, there are single people in the world and yes, when you get all dramatic about our lack of love life, we do kind of want to punch you a little bit. We don’t need to be pitied, and we’re not (necessarily) miserable. To be honest, I think single people are simply not the norm. Particularly single people in their mid 20’s; the time when many other twenty-somethings are married/having babies. There’s almost this unspoken expectation that if you’re not in a relationship (for a long period of time) then there must be something inherently wrong with you. We single people are not a different species, I promise you.

I may be single because I haven’t yet met the person I want to spend any significant amount of time with. And also because, well…I like being on my own, and people actually suck. But here’s where it gets into the heart of the matter; I simply do not believe in the adulated concept of love. I understand, of course, that love exists. There are probably millions of songs and poems and plays and movies dedicated to it, after all. So perhaps it is not that I don’t believe in love, but more that I don’t believe it’s sustainable in the long term. By this, I am of course only refering to love of the romantical* kind, not love of the platonical** kind; that’s a whole different beast. You often hear it said that “the honeymoon period is over”, but it seems that once this supposedly magical, yet apparently measurable period of time ends, so too does the effort it takes to maintain a relationship. I have lost track of the amount of people I know (or follow on social media) who have made grand announcements about engagements and marriages, only then to be separated months after their nuptials. Or people who have actually said “now I’m married so I don’t have to try anymore”. It’s like they care more about appearances and having the party than actually continuing to love their partner after the last guest has left.

I’m not bitter because I’m single, and these words don’t come from a place of malice or jealousy. I actually think not being in a relationship allows me to look at them with a clear head, and without the tint of rose coloured glasses clouding my judgement. Anyone who knows me, will have heard me say that I think marriage is a pointless institution, and archaic to boot. Look, maybe I’m wired wrong, but I don’t see the point in spending a billion dollars on a single day, when there’s a significant possibility that the marriage will end. Will I celebrate my friends getting married, and be happy for them? Absolutely. I don’t begrudge them a thing, truly. But I also won’t be surprised if they come to me in 12 months time and tell me they’re getting a divorce. Love can be a beautiful illusion, but I am fully aware of how quickly that illusion can be shattered.

You’ve all heard the saying “all good things must come to an end” and I can’t help but believe that this is particularly true about love. I realise that, in much the same way you don’t buy a car to crash it, you don’t get into a relationship with someone expecting to break up. But you can’t deny the possibility that you will. Think of all the partners you’ve had in your life, and how many relationships you had before you met “the one”. How do you know that this one won’t be like the rest of them? How do you know that when you say you want to spend your life with someone, that they will feel the same way? It’s true that, like anything, there are exceptions. I’ve seen plenty of cute hand holding little old couples that kinda make my heart warm. But in this day and age, they’re the minority.

The truth is, I never go into anything without considering every possibility, positive or negative. And the fact that I expect the worst outcome means that I am indeed a cynic. But the plus side is, when things do turn out well, at least it’s a pleasant surprise. At least that’s something!

*rarely used, but it is actually a word.

**not actually a word, but it I’m all about that continuity, don’t you know.

Don’t. F*cking. Touch Me.

I was scrolling through Instagram this morning when I came across a post by one of the artists I follow. She was posting about how when she was out in town today, a man approached her directly and aggressively, so he could grab her arms and “look” at the tattoos there. As I read through the comments, almost every person that commented was a woman, talking about her own similar experiences. And naturally, I couldn’t help but think about mine.

The artist in question mentioned how she was disappointed in herself for “standing there like a lost lamb” instead of reacting, and I got angry. Not because she was disappointed with herself, but because some guy, some creepy random dude, had made her feel that way. The scary truth is that this shit happens every day. People get assaulted, accosted, inappropriately touched without their consent. And it happens each and every time, because someone has taken it upon themselves to intentionally invade another person’s space and push their boundaries.

I have had many experiences in my life where I have been touched by someone, stranger or friend, when I didn’t give my permission. One of the most notable of these had quite an impact on me. As a teenage girl, waiting at the local shopping centre for a friend of mine one day after school, I noticed an older man with long hair and a beard. I didn’t pay him too much attention, right until he came up to me from behind, stood close, buried his face in my hair and took a long, audible sniff. I nearly screamed, and ran. I was young, I was uncomfortable, I had been touched by a stranger in a weird and inappropriate way. To this day, I can’t stand to have people touch my hair.

I remember another night, a few years later, sitting at a bar with my best friend. I was wearing a dress that had a low back because it was cute, and it made me feel pretty, and it really went with my shoes. I was having a drink and a laugh; listening to the band and having a good time. Suddenly I felt a stranger’s fingers run from the top of my spine down to the back of my dress. I turned, realizing I had raised my hand. The man who had touched me tried to explain away his actions by saying “I just wanted to look at your tattoo”. Shaking, goosebumps covering my entire body, I told him to get away from me. When he again tried to tell me that he just liked my tattoo, I told him that his poor excuse didn’t give him any right to touch me. I saw him return to his friends and say something to them, after which they all turned to stare at me. I spent the rest of the night on edge. I didn’t wear that dress again.

But, don’t get me wrong here, it’s not just men I have experienced this behaviour with. A couple of years ago I was in line at JB Hi-Fi, waiting for some paperwork for the purchase of a tablet. Out of nowhere, I felt two hands grab my shoulders and physically spin me around. It was so unexpected, I nearly fell over, having to grab hold of a nearby display to keep myself upright. Seemingly oblivious to my near fall, was the woman who was grabbing handfuls of my dress and actually running her hands over my waist, my hips and my thighs. I yanked the fabric out of her hands and stepped away with what I imagine was a look of combined rage and shock. She then had the gall to get angry at me and said “I only wanted to look at your dress because it’s so nice. I was giving you a compliment.” I snapped. Long gone was the teenager who would run away from strangers. I told the woman to get away from me, and that if she touched me again I would hit her. I told her she had no right to touch me without my permission. I said it calmly, but I meant every word. She left, muttering obscenities under her breath, and I went back to me paperwork, acutely aware of the stares I was getting from the people around me.

The thing is, in all of these situations, the people who touched me didn’t seem to understand, or want to admit, that they were in the wrong. They each tried to justify their actions. Y’all, if you “only want to look” you don’t look at people with your hands. That’s now how looking works! I mean, I grew up being told “you can look, but don’t touch”. It was a mantra drummed into us as children, and where I once knew I wasn’t allowed to touch that Ballgown Barbie on the shelf, I know now that I’m not allowed to touch another person without their consent. So why is it such a foreign concept to some people? No one, and I do mean no one has the right to accost you. Not because of the way you are dressed. Not because of the tattoos that you have. Not because they like your hair, or your jewelry, or your fingernail polish, or your shoes. I’ll say it again for the people in the back; NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO TOUCH YOU. WITHOUT. YOUR. CONSENT.

No ifs, no buts, no excuses.

“Does This Sound Stupid?” and Other Things Men Say About Engraving

My job is multifaceted, and there is quite a lot involved in what I do. One of the things that I do at my job is engraving by hand. I do everything from pet tags to birthday gifts, memorial plates to awards; basically if you give me anything metal or glass, I can engrave on it.

When it comes to engraving, women are – nine times out of ten – a hell of a lot more forthcoming with what they want to engrave. They buy a gift with the idea to engrave it already set in their minds, and more often than not, women are content to write down their sentiment without any shame or embarrassment. Alas, it is not always so with men. Today was a prime example of this very thing. A young man came to my counter with a heart shaped pendant, and wanted to get something engraved on the back. When I asked what he wanted to have engraved, he was suddenly struck dumb.

Ten minutes or so passed, whilst he deliberated, asked me what he should write (I dunno, man. She’s not my girlfriend), deliberated some more and finally settled on the phrase “I love you more than you love me.” Upon writing it down, he looked intently at the paper for a moment and then slid it across the counter and said, without meeting my eye, “Does this sound stupid?”

It’s something I encounter a lot, this strange kind of embarrassment from men when it comes to showing affection. It’s as though they’re ashamed to admit that they’re capable of any kind of sentimentality, or endearment. Oftentimes, they feel as though they need to justify their kind words for their significant others, and they do this in many ways. One of the most common things I hear is “you know how chicks love that kind of mushy crap” or some other variant. Another is “Yeah, I know it’s gay but there you go.”

I don’t know if it’s just because of some kind of societal expectation that men have to be gruff and uncaring that makes them get so awkward, or if perhaps they just genuinely are uncomfortable with showing affection. If it’s the latter, I can certainly relate; I’m probably the most emotionally awkward person I know! I almost feel like putting a sign up that says “Engrave what you want, we don’t judge” but I feel like that would just be drawing more attention to the discomfort, and these guys are clearly already weird about the whole thing enough as it is.

At any rate, I’ve engraved some sappy things, and some funny things, and some genuinely awful things. I really, truly don’t judge what people want to say to their friend/spouse/relative/significant other because at the end of the day, people show their affection in many different ways.

When Did I Get So Old?

Image result for pixabay grumpy old lady

I’m not old, in the scheme of things. At 26, many would argue that I’m actually still quite young. But a lot of the time lately, I’ve really felt as if my age is vastly older, not because of myself but because of my encounters with the people younger than me.

There’s something I have noticed about the “young people” of today. And when I say young people, in this case I am talking about anyone 22 or younger. Because the encounters I’ve had with people who fall into that age bracket have left me wondering how they can be so far removed from me, when there’s only a couple of years separating us in age.

Several times in the last few weeks I have had conversations with young people, and have been told outright that they don’t want to work. There’s nothing all that uncommon about not wanting to work for a living – hell, that’s pretty much the entire reason I buy a lottery ticket every week! The difference between me and many of the people I’ve spoken to in recent weeks, is that I go to work to do my job and these guys do the absolute bare minimum required to keep a ten hour a week job because anything more is “too hard”. One guy I was talking to a couple of weeks ago told me he quit his last job because making coffees was “too much effort” and I was astounded, not only that he openly admitted it, but that he expected me to agree with him and sympathise.

At what point did young people get so entitled as to expect a 6 figure salary without having to work for it? Too many people I know refuse to accept lower level jobs because they think they deserve to just walk into cushy, high paying jobs with little to no effort. They think working 9-5 is beneath them. Yes, I completely agree that working for eight dollars an hour is ridiculous in this day and age, and I wouldn’t accept a job that paid less than minimum wage either. But to expect to get paid a King’s sum for doing a jesters job is ignorant, and entitled.

But it’s not just their unwillingness to work. I look at younger people who come into the shopping centre where I work, and the arrogance and attitude that they bring with them makes me want to throw some punches. On more than one occasion in the last couple of months, I have been subjected to smart mouths and condescending attitudes from kids still in school uniforms. Nothing raises my ire quite like sarcastic teens who assume they’re smarter than me. Trying to prove that you’re an adult, whilst acting like a petulant 12 year old is not going to win you the respect y’all so desperately crave (all whilst trying to pretend like you’ve too bitter and jaded to care about anything!). Yes, I like hearing kids speak their minds and engage in intelligent debates, if they have something to bring to the table. But if all they can contribute is smartass comments, then I am quick to lose interest.

I realise that I sound exactly like a cranky, prematurely old person complaining about the “insufferable youth of today”. Pretty soon I’ll be holed up with fifteen cats, and screaming for people to get off my lawn. Watch out, folks. The Wrinkle Rage is imminent.

In Which Roller Skates Are the Only Thing Getting Me Through

I’m feeling overwhelmed. This is my first official week back as a shop manager (of sorts) with no one above me to take the fall should things go wrong. This week alone I’ve already told a would be customer to blow me, because he was so rude. With a massive stock delivery, and work coming in faster than I can do it, this week has been hectic. We’re starting a new trainee in a couple of weeks, but I plan on winning the lottery before then anyway. My job has never made me particularly happy, but this week it’s making me ruddy miserable.

This high strung tension may have something to do with my impending period too. My boobs ache like they’ve just been beaten with a mallet, and I’m all heavy and feeling somewhat lacklustre. Add to this the fact that I will be working 6 days a week every week until the end of time (or a new job) and it’s pretty much a recipe for a breakdown.

On an emotional, not work related topic, I’ve been feeling lately like I seem to be putting a lot of time and effort into things, only to yield very mediocre results – if any at all. This is true for creative endeavours, relationships, and adult stuff alike. I’m floundering a little at the moment, and I’m searching for some kind of answer to any of life’s big questions that plague me from time to time. I’m struggling to find the positive side in many situations which, whilst not altogether uncommon, is particularly frustrating right now because I’m actually trying for a change. I’m trying to believe that something good is coming soon, or that I’m on this particular path for a reason, but truly I’m mostly just exhausted, and more than a little fed up.

There is one shining light amidst all this bleakness, however. I ordered some roller skates last week and, despite a couple of speed humps (see what I did there?) in finalising the order, they should hopefully soon be on their way to me! I am incredibly excited for a myriad of reasons, not least because I cannot wait to skate around town like some kind of glorious 70’s goddess. I just need to find a gold, glittery helmet and I’ll be ready to go! It might not seem like much, but at the moment it’s the best thing I’ve got to cling to, and so cling to it I shall.