Thursday, 14 July 2011

In which the author muses upon falling pianos, lacquered sea-sponges and toast.

I went to see Terence Malick's "The Tree of Life". The following is a transcript of my inner monologue.

I could be watching the Apprentice now.

Just enjoy the film. The Apprentice will be on iPlayer.

But I would rather be watching S’ralan-

Lord Sugar

Sorry, ‘Lord Sugar’ with Helen, Tom, Jim, Susie and Natasha.

I’ve always thought that Tom looks a bit like Tony Blair played by Andy Serkis.

Really? I thought it was more ‘Andy Serkis played by Tony Blair’.

Get back to the film!

But it’s just a non-linear show-reel of natural history. Look, there’s a sub-surface shot of a wave, a shiver of hammerhead sharks and a group of Moon Jellies. It’s like a ‘best of’ for the entire globe.

Now that’s what I call nature?

Something like that.

Look, it’s a dinosaur. Surely you can concentrate on that.

I used to love ‘Walking with Dinosaurs’ when I was younger.

This is supposed to be a sophisticated film. Just try paying attention for a minute.

No! The dinosaurs are gone! Now what am I supposed to do?

Watch the film?

Okay, I’ll watch the film while *thinking* about dinosaurs. If I could have any dinosaur for a steed, which would I choose? I don’t think I could go for a diplodocus. People might think I was overcompensating for something.

It’d also be quite hard to find a parking space.

I hadn’t thought of that. Okay, what about an Eoraptor? They’re fast.

True, but at 2 foot long one might find it rather difficult to support your weight.

I could use lots of them. Like the Romans and logs. I’d ride in a sedan chair, and have hundreds continuously fed underneath the base.

Has anyone ever told you that you have a sick sense of humour?

Only the people that know me.

Okay, it’s a scene with people in now. Surely your attention can be captured by this. Look, a baby. Aww


Now this is cinema. Raw emotion, profound artistic statements -

Actors? Shots? There’s no coherent or engaging plotline. Although we’re informed there’s a death I have no desire to find out how it happened. [pause] I wonder how I’d like to die. It would have to be something with comic irony, say, crushed by a falling piano.

It’s a bit cliché.

You know how as the length of the fall increases the threshold for ‘mass of the object needed to inflict fatal wound’ drops? (Also known as “a coin dropped from the Eiffel Tower could kill”) Well, how about being crushed by a miniature piano dropped from an aircraft?

Well, I’ll grundgingly admit that it’s creative.

Or how about being stabbed with a sponge? Obviously it would have to be a sponge that was dried, possibly lacquered, and sharpened to a point...

When would *anyone* prepare such an item?

Perhaps in a prison. Inmates are very creative when it comes to making shivs.

I think that an inmate lacquering a sea-sponge may attract some attention. Besides, where would an inmate get a sea sponge from?

An aquarium.

What, you think that they could just say “I know that incarceration usually means confinement within a correctional institution, but do you think it’d be alright if I went to an aquarium today?” and be allowed to leave. Then, they would return with a sea sponge secreted about their person.

No, you’re right. That’s absurd.

Finally, you’re talking some sense.

If he got permission to go to the aquarium, he’d almost definitely return with a shark.

. In your hypothetical situation, what, may I ask, was the prisoner’s crime?

He was a short assassin. [pause] He shot someone in the knee.

I can see that you’ve really thought this through. Was the victim alright?

He’s doing quite well for himself, actually. He went on ‘Dragons’ Den and managed to get Debora Meaden to invest £50, 000 in the invention he came up with while convalescing in the ICU.

I have a feeling I’m going to regret asking this, but what did he invent?

An edible toaster. It’s quite clever, when you think about it – people only ever go to use a toaster when they’re hungry, and once they get there the Taster™ provides instant satiation.

So what’s it made of?


But in order for a toaster to work you need a filament, wiring, casing! Surely clients complain that it doesn’t work.

In all the test groups we ran no-one actually reached the stage of trying to make toast with it. They all ate it before that situation arose.

But- but- that’s preposterous! People must have complained about it’s single-use?

Not a single one. It would appear that the test groups were all a bit embarrassed, reluctant to admit that they’d eaten an entire toaster.

That’s absurd.

It’s planned obsolescence at its finest.

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