Halloween

Would you be distraught if you caught your child coming home clutching a bucket full of a random, enigmatic variety of sweets? I think I would. However, on one particular day of the year everyone forgets their preaching of “Don’t talk to strangers, kids!” and proves to be hypocritical once again by knocking on the doors of predominantly elderly people’s houses in the neighbourhood, mooching (the American meaning of the word, as it is a rather Americanised celebration) them for sweeties. Why do they do this? Why don’t you ask a young who celebrates Halloween. Revel in the blank look on their face as they try to improvise with “It’s Halloween, that’s what you do. Trick or treat!” Is it, though? Halloween must have always been about stealing other people’s sweets and dressing up as a zombie, Frankenstein’s monster, ghost, SS officer or -insert edgy I’m-trying-too-hard to be offensive costume here- and, if you’re a girl, “sexy” Zombie, “sexy” Frankenstein’s monster, et cetera. [Costume sexualisation…]

Many people fail to realise what Halloween is really about and despite thinking it’s funny that hardcore atheists of today STILL celebrate Christmas and don’t really celebrate what it’s about either, it’s especially hilarious that hardcore modern atheists celebrate Halloween, which is debated to not even be Christian, but Pagan! After some hardcore 5 minute Internet research, one can find out that Halloween, that “straddles the line between Autumn and Winter” is believed to originate from a celebration the Celts engaged in called “Samhain”, where they would wear absolutely terrifying (and not mass produced masks from the then, unknown to the Celts, land of China) masks to ward off wandering spirits. Within the 8th Century, Pope Gregory III declared that the 1st of November as a day in which to honour all saints and martyrs. The holiday of “All Saints’ Day”, incorporated some of the original practices and traditions of Samhain. The evening before was first known as All Hallows’ Eve, which later evolved to what we now know as Halloween.

As always, teenagers as well as reliable and sensible adults see a perfect opportunity at Halloween to get absolutely smashed on what appears to be a rather lightweight amount of cheap, disgusting alcohol (probably Czech vodka from an unlicensed corner shop, enjoy your blindness) proving furthermore that English people on the whole suck at drinking. Perhaps they shouldn’t let people drink until they’ve drank half a .75l bottle of adequate vodka to themselves and proved to be competent still, however that’s a completely different story for another time. Alcohol hijinks stories coming soon.

For retailers, it’s a perfect opportunity for them to, with the unknown black magic of marketing, make you lower your shopping inhibitions and buy what seems to be radioactively coloured and carcinogenic plastic crap that you would scoff at any other time of year due to its shoddy quality but “it’s Halloween!” so you must make an attempt, or else you’ll fall off the face of the social relevance radar and you’ll evidently become a nobody, which is too much of an impact on your pride! Oh no…

The fact that retailers use such hyperbole when marketing things for traditions, to maximise profits is all too capitalist for my young idealistic mind and it’s utterly soul destroying.

I don’t know what you’d call the Halloween equivalent of Christmas’ Scrooge… Instead of the ‘Ghost at the Feast’ it’d probably be more like “the Alive one in the Graveyard” but that isn’t what I’m being here. I think Halloween parties can be absolutely fantastic, given that you’re a prepubescent child with a love of (and who doesn’t at this age, apart from that one kid at every party who is allergic to E440 or some shit) sweets and choco.

I suppose what I’m trying to say here, is that like many traditions that are celebrated in modern day society, Halloween has become bastardised – an entirely new celebration that has little or next to nothing to do with what it was originally about. In this, I find a little bit of sadness, but I know that’s the way things go. As I spoke about earlier, it’s the same with Christmas, and the merging of Paganism’s “Yule Tide” with the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. I’m not angry about traditions being changed – I know that happens all the time, jee, I eat Indian food on Christmas day and have for years now. I’m a true Englishman -smirks-. You’ll hear more about that, when the time’s right.

Go On Without Me

Yesterday evening, I was overcome with a bit of sadness due to a recent flow of events and worries eating away at my happiness. Worrying over the worries of others, especially loved ones, is the mark of a cycle of worrying that just deepens and deepens. I thought that I wouldn’t go to bed and that instead, I’d stay up even though I was tired and force myself to do something creative. I ended up installing a piece of software for Mageia 5, the operating system I’m currently using on my newer laptop (I have two because my old one broke but I’ve since fixed it) called OpenShot. I’ve made some videos, nothing too special though. I’m still in the process of uploading Origa’s first album which is self titled, that was released in 1994. I really like her music, even though I don’t understand it at first because it’s in Russian. The sound of her music is very beautiful and sweet, sentimental and emotional, what I look for in music – so it reminds me of someone special. After researching the lyrics in English, it seems as if my intuition made me like the music – the lyrics are also as beautiful as the sound. I often wish that English music could be more like this but a lot of it seems ‘mass produced’.

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Olga Yakovleva, “Origa” – Rest in Peace †

Her music was first made known to me when I was watching the anime “Ghost in the Shell” – which is the second anime I’ve really paid attention to. Forever I’ve been a Japanophile as I think they’re known, someone who loves Japan. The culture, the food, the place, the history. Though, I wouldn’t say I particularly love anime. Although I have a great interest in manga and anime as a concept, I would not say that my life revolves around it. Compared to peers, I’ve barely scratched the surface of anime. I am collecting a specific manga series called “The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan” which is a spinoff of the anime “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” and its film follow-up “The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya” There is something about the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise that isn’t quite like anything else – which is why I love it so much!

Spoiler: Haruhi is God.

Anyway, after starting to upload some of the songs I realised how much the titles of the songs in that specific album remind me of Alicja, my girlfriend. With titles like “I will give you music” as well as “Blue eyes” and “It is difficult for me, without you” it really hit home. I miss her and I know she misses me as well which, on top of everything else, drives both of our hearts sore. I don’t want anything for Christmas, really, and I know it’s random to say that right now, but I wish I could make her worries and her pain go. That’d be a gift I’d never be tired of. That would be a true gift. I’m not really bothered about receiving anything material, in fact I’m disillusioned with the whole thing. It’s for children.

I got a track stuck in my head, which is the Route 113 theme from Pokemon Sapphire/Ruby/Emerald/-insert semi precious stone here-, the third generation, which I always liked best. You can listen to Route 113 by clicking here. On my laptop, I could run Fruity Loops 11 (which I pirated) on a 64-bit Windows XP Professional (the copy of which is also pirated) virtualbox to open a MIDI file for the track that I downloaded (so I pirated the notes as well). I felt like playing around with it to be honest, I wouldn’t take a MIDI file and then edit it slightly, passing it off as my own. Adding different effects, changing slight things about the melodies and the tempo, I finished it very early this morning and rendered it to a 320kbps MP3 file, that I uploaded to SoundCloud earlier today. I named it “Go On Without Me” but that’s not a romantic cliché, or something like that. The track made me think of a man and his son, with an admirable bond – speculating about how, one day, they would travel the seas in a sailboat. However, by the time they got the boat, the man had become old and decrepit and couldn’t possibly sail so the son, now grown up, goes alone in his name, to fulfill his and his fathers dream. Alicja told me to write short story about it, I was thinking of it before. Thing is, I start too many things and never finish them, I need to break out of that habit and be more productive! Go On Without Me – SoundCloud

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Gran Turismo 3, quattrodici anni dopo.

Today is a grey day… It’s as if someone has bruised the sky above us, at least in the east midlands of England, where I live, eat, sleep, breathe and think. However, this time of year that is barely a surprise. For better or for worse, all of my family are at home. Dad’s got the week away from work and Mum has been rained off, so to speak, from the two gardening jobs she was going to do today. My two sisters – Alicia and Phoebe – are boisterous as always, however they’re happy today which is a good thing. At least they’re not screaming like chimera or being demanding. I suggested that Alicia, who adores art, read a manga book I bought recently for inspiration in her drawing. She drew a cat straight out of it and it looked fantastic, she has real flare for art and she’s 11. I joked around saying that one day we’d make books between us. Phoebe is also very artistic, but she’s very good at design in general and building things with Lego, which is something that everyone loves.

For the last three days I was with my girlfriend who started university recently, I’m overjoyed that we got to spend that time together. To be honest I got used to it and it tore my heart having to leave. We do see each-other as often as possible, but the wait takes its toll on us both. Despite that, we come out strong because nothing breaks us; it only tests us and makes us stronger. Worries are just obstacles we both might struggle to overcome alone but together we always make it through. We were cooking like absolute crazy, as she got a new cookery book which is very economical – perfect for student life. The myth that students must eat Pot Noodles and Iceland Microwave Curry is nothing BUT just a myth!

I’ve been on a nostalgia trip today, listening to the soundtrack from Gran Turismo 3 and 4, two games that I used to play within an inch of their life when I was younger. My Gran Turismo 3 disc is so scratched from its excessive usage over the past 14 years and no longer works properly – it freezes after you play it for a while, or fails to load. I was overjoyed when I found it in a charity shop for about a pound or two, when Alicja and I went to one, coming home from somewhere. It really is the game of my childhood: There were many games I loved to play, on the console and off – on boards, on the playground, on the computer but nothing is quite like Gran Turismo. Sure I love Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Daxter, Crash Bandicoot, Metal Gear, Grand Theft Auto… but nothing is like Gran Turismo. That’s probably because it was the first game I ever played on my PlayStation 2 that I got for Christmas when I was three years old. To this day is still works, all my friends’ ones seemed to get laser problems or die of general old age, well, old age in terms of electronics – which isn’t very long at all *planned obsolescence* (iPhone users know about this)

The soundtrack has been ingrained into my head for years because of how often I used to play it. When I revisit it now, having listened to a much wider variety of music, I hear now how absolutely funky the Japanese Jazz of the GT3 soundtrack actually is. Here’s one of my favourite tunes from the soundtrack, it’s called Light Velocity. It’s not the version used in the game but it’s from the official soundtrack disc, performed with instruments and not the  synthesised versions that appear in-game.

Gran Turismo 3 – Light Velocity

I feel like playing it today… I could play it on my PS3, but it only seems right to boot up the PS2 to play it, like I did back all those years ago… I love to revisit the past but I feel as if doing it too often is an unhealthy habit. You have to let bygones be bygones and move on to the future, else the past will ironically stand in the way of the future. The same goes for worries too, you just have to let it go, especially if what happened has no influence on today. You have to put the devil in the dirt.

I’ll be listening to the soundtrack before actually going to play it. Sometimes you spend so much time worrying and thinking deeply that you just have to snap out of it and be shallow for once. Think too deeply all the time, and it’ll just be like diving too deep. You’ll go too far and you’ll drown before you come back up for air.

It’s funny how technology has gotten exponentially better, but the classics are still what we love more. Gran Turismo 6, in terms of graphics and physics IS better, but I think GT3 is still reigning superior.

Unheard Voices

In 2013, as part of my GCSE English course I had to do a creative writing piece on homelessness, as AQA, the exam board chose this. Many people in my year complained about this because they felt like they had a lack of freedom due to the topic being chosen for this but I was happy that we were given this topic. It gave me the chance to write something that reflects how strongly I feel about the topic in general.

Have you ever heard of the Scandal of Europe’s 11 Million Empty Homes? Essentially, Europe has over 11 million homes that are completely empty. This is more houses empty than there are homeless people throughout the entire continent! I know that it’s not as simple as giving a house to each person, however it does make you think… The distribution of wealth in most countries is diabolical and we see good, upstanding, intelligent people on the streets out of sheer bad luck and a string of often untimely and unfortunate events. Something that really annoys me is the fact that people are quick to judge a homeless person: They are dirty, scummy, badmouthed, there for a reason, they drink, they take drugs: That’s why you shouldn’t give them money.

In my time I’ve had quite a few encounters with homeless people. It goes without saying that everyone is individual and that everyone has their own story. Therefore, how can you generalise someone’s traits simply because they are on the streets? I used to ignore homeless people in the street, however now I try to do the best I can. If I have no money, I will give in commodities whether that is food or… cigarettes, failing that, just giving the time to say hello or have a small conversation with someone. It does stand to reason that there are people in this world that are deceptive and will lie… perhaps if someone says they will use the money for food they will put it towards cigarettes… Which is why I prefer to give commodities. Either way it is a gesture, but that is not the point.

This piece I will present to you now, is called “Unheard Voices”. Looking back at it now, I can see how much my writing style has changed in the last two years. I feel as if I have become more effective in writing precisely what I would like to express and that my older style of writing was far too heavy, at times, in terms of imagery. So much so, it makes it seem a little overcooked.

Unheard Voices
Daniel B.

October 2013

The intense moonlight illuminated the sleepy town below. Downpour thundered down upon the houses as hard as rocks being dashed by hoodlums. An eerie resonance accumulated the atmosphere as there was no sound but the constant, monotonous patter of raindrops.
However, not everyone was indoors, tucked up and in a distant world of dreams and slumber. Mad men roamed the streets at late hours such as this. They’d have you battered for mere pennies, put it this way, you wouldn’t want to set out for an exciting excursion after dusk droops over like a screen of smoke.
A shady figure who seemed to have a limp in their step sluggishly made their way across the street. A street lamp flickered and glitched and its light was seemingly indecisive about staying on or off. It almost appeared to be communicating in Morse code, maybe warning those who passed by of what was to come. As the shady figure proceeded, for split seconds they were visible under the light. It was a young woman, in her twenties at least. Her hair cascaded down onto her shoulders and it gave off an intense blue colour with a tinge of green because of distortion from the absurdly intense yellowness of the grotesque looking street lamps that towered over the footpaths. Even under the light, you could tell her skin was as pale as the petals of a lily and this contrasted with her dull, grey and black apparel.
Her posture was slumped and her shoulders were almost caving in forwards as If she had lost all motivation to carry on with her, what seemed miserable and cursed with a spell of melancholy, life. She fell into a trance, trapped in her own mind. No one could judge her there, it was a haven. Her own personal space where anything was possible. Reminiscing on the past, she remembered that these very streets were once fertile land where she would play with family and friends. The laughter and voices of children filled her head to the extent where she just could not take it any more. All of her worries and stresses accumulated in her throat, making a horrid lump that made it impossible to swallow the bitterness of reality.“It’s all broken,” she croaked, struggling to put out any audible sounds. “…all of it, it’s all broken.”
These words spiralled into her mind and the gushing waterfall of worry that flooded her mind ceased to flow. She was mentally and physically exhausted so she settled down wherever she could, in this case a disused bus shelter with graffiti tags scrawled all over. At least she was dry, she thought as she drifted off into a dormant state.
Her dreams played like a feature-length film, however they came to an abrupt halt as she was rudely awakened.
“Get up!” a hoarse voice ordered, like the words of her mother trying to get her of bed in the mornings, only more sinister.
“Wha… huh?” her soft voice cried, confused.
“Get up now else I’ll stab yer and that aint a threat neither, that’s a promise!”
She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Not knowing what to do, she screamed. The next thing she knew was, she had the arms of a stocky and brutish man grappling her neck.
“Stop! P…please, I b…beg y…” she screeched like a siren, but gasping for air.
The lack of oxygen meant her body was shutting down and her consciousness slipped away. She stopped wriggling and kicking to ward off the evil, grubby man and laid lifelessly on the floor, as dead as the stone cold slabs. The sole of the man’s boot left an imprint of grime and dirt as he kicked her soft and pale face.
“Now… let’s see what treasure you hold…”
These words reverberated in Lotta’s mind and as she awoke, she shot up gasping for air, taking in deep breaths. Numbness and hunger were the only feelings she had. As she touched her face, she knew it was just a horrific dream. Having lost the will to carry on, she steadied herself on the crumbled wall of crockery behind the bust stop shelter where she lay the night before with great effort.
Clueless as to what hour it was, with the drowning sense of confusion, she tried to make the best guess she possibly could. The dusk absorbed all life, like a great magnet drawing it all away, the sound of a churning motor engine aroused her attention. As her vision was somewhat blurred from the tears, along with her inadequate ability to read, she struggled to read what the logo said on what turned out to be a van eluding down the road. As it sped past, Lotta felt like she was being sucked in. She noticed the back door of the van was jammed and not correctly closed, something fell out, flapping in the wind like a rabid, feral bird trying to ward off danger.
Trying not to lose grip and topple over because of the thin ice that collected on the abundance of road overnight, she sprinted towards what she identified as a fresh, however slightly crumpled, newspaper.
“SCOURGE OF SOCIETY AS HOMELESSNESS LEVELS ROCKET TO THOUSANDS.” read the headline.
Lotta was struck by the ominous force of prejudice. Falling to her knees, onto the frozen asphalt, she buried her head into her arms.
“Hey! You! Quick! Car!” a passer-by yelled from the adjacent side of the road, in broken just-woken-up intonation. Lotta was clueless yet again but terrified by the urgency that beamed through the stranger’s voice, almost like a crack of lightning.
When she realised, it was but too late for her. Lost in the deepest recesses of her mind, she was not aware of the car that was thundering down the road at ludicrous velocity. The passer-by was in turmoil at this point: “Do I risk my own life for this hobo?” he pondered, the question racing in his mind like the car coming ever closer.
The driver slammed his brakes, putting all of their weight down like a ship’s anchor stopping a vessel immediately. Although, it was to no avail. The ice made the car lose all of its traction and it swerved, with a painful din of a sound. Not almost as painful as the screams of Lotta, who had been knocked from her knees and suspended in the air. Her body graciously fell but then crudely smacked the ground, lifelessly.
The driver washed his hands of the situation and sped off. Who to turn to now? Was the passer-by to help or enquire for police? No, it would be a waste of time. One less “hobo” did the world a favour. This sick and ominous occurrence was a common one. This was the state of the times.

~The End~
or maybe not, as the case may be…