The life of man with very unusual health issues

Today I decided to get  back to my beloved John Irving and his book „The Water-Method Man“. I don‘t feel the urge to write (again) about Irving‘s style and features of his literature, because if you‘ve read at least three of his books you will be familiar with it. It‘s very reckognizable. So „The Water-Method Man“. Let me tell you one thing right here – not THE best of Irving‘s book, yet it has its charm and the idea of the book is quite interesting.

The main character Fred Trumper is an unusual man. In this book we see a constant sharing of his past moments, failures (he has a lot of those) with us. It seems like he‘s unable to work his life out. Maybe that‘s how the things just go, but for me it‘s like he‘s too infantile to make it work out, though he expresses that kind of wish.

As I understand correctly, for Fred to work all the things out is quite challenging because of his health problems. In particular his abnormally narrow urinary tract. Now this is a very intimate and unpleasant (not like other health problems are pleasant) diagnosis, which gets even more unpleasant, because it has a very weird treatment like drinking huge amounts of water before and after sex to get rid of all the bacteria that‘s hiding in his urinary tract. Now it‘s not something impossible to do, but it (as any other health problem) affects a person psychologically, it affects his social behaviour and that‘s when it starts to seem that he‘s unable to take care of his own life. I mean, sure it‘s not cancer, but think about being unable to pee normally, and every time you do it you experience pain and major discomfort.

However, health problem can‘t be a 100 per cent excuse for failing your relationship with women. Because if you‘re immature and unwilling to built up relationship per se, neither having a disease nor not having it will affect you THAT much. And Fred is a kind of character who has no will to built up a relationship, instead, relationship built upon him somehow (girlfriend gets pregnant, so logically this leads to marriage, the fact whether Fred was ready for it or wanted it isn‘t taken into account). I don‘t know, for me this type of men is acceptable only in fiction (though I know they exist in real life), but while you can change the fictional story for the better, you can‘t do it with real life story. And this imaturity in real life is just not mannish, and it is difficult to be in a relationship with this kind of man who has no will, no matturity, no respect or ambitions to work the relationship. It also seems to be sad how these kind of men have kids and they‘re not matture to raise their kids, as well. They on some level remain kids themselves, however, they are mature enough to cheat. Or cheating isn‘t a sign of someone being mature? Yeah, probably not. Why did I write the opposite?

Another thing that Fred faces constantly is the lack of money. He‘s not good at working and earning money which leads us again to being unable to support family and be a husband, father that your family can turn to. He himself seeks someone to turn to when problems drops down on him. And this constant lack of money worsens things even more.

Financial problems are very tough. And when people say that when there‘s love in family then they can go through anything they lie. 9 times out of ten when people face financial problems (really big financial problems) they aren‘t able to go through this due to constan anger, nervousness, feeling irritated, being insecure, not knowing how to solve the situation. Sadly it‘s true. But on the other hand, this is the kind of situation when you have a chance to see your partners real face. Fred also did. He was unreliable. Not because he was a bad person, no, he just couldnn’t solve the situation. He didn‘t even really try. He just abandons what he started: Ph.D. thesis (although he finishes it later), family…

I know that from this post it might seem that I hate Fred Trumper. I don‘t hate him, I feel sorry for him and for all the men who act like him in real life. They just don‘t understand how much they miss, refuse and are scared of in this life. Well, too bad for them.

Advertisements

A Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow that wasn‘t pleasant at all

At first, after finishig reading Alexander Radishchev‘s book „Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow“ I wasn‘t even thinking about writing a post about it. I didn‘t like it. It was such a torture to read it, there was nothing pleasant or fun about it. I‘m not saying that this book is bad and awful i general, I just say it was like that to me. But then, after some time, I decided to write a post on it, yet I thought it‘ll be very very short. Now I don‘t know anything and I‘m not sure about anything so I‘ll just write and see what will it be.

The book is obviously about a journey which is divided into pieces related by title of different cities on the way to Moscow. The author touches lots of different aspects of Russian life of those days. Sure, all those things mentioned are interesting and important in general, however, reading about them was not that interesting, because it was difficult to read. For me, it was written in a difficult way.

The main character states about how peasants are treated. And he also feels bad about himself because he also has them. So, he brings up this question of injustice up which is weird having in mind  historical period when the book was published. And bringing these questions up wouldn‘t make the rulers of the country happy. Like, who like to spread information like this: peasants couldn‘t afford themselves bread even though they were the ones who produced it. At this point Radishchev was way ahead his time for being so brave and writing about stuff no one else did.

Throughout his way, a main character meets a lot of different people who represent different proffesions. He learns about lots of different things, lots about serious problems from them which helps him to build this some kind of understanding of what is goint on in the country. Because what YOU think about the situation in the country may be completely different from how OTHERS see it. And it is be so because of the different social statuses, financial statuses, education… You know how it is said that a wealthy won‘t be able to understand a poor guy. It‘s true, unless he becomes one.

So, mainly it‘s not only a travel through cities, but through different life stories of people that he meets on his way, through problems, injustice that is faced not only by peasants (who for example, can be selled one by one, splitting families), but even by people who are representatives of cultural professions, like poets who are worried about the fact that poetry in Russia isn‘t developing because everyone speaks French instead of Russian.

There are also touched questions like censorship, marriage equality, democracy. I mean all these issues are really interesting, especially if you look at them from the perspective of this time and you see what it was back then. But once again, reading it was very difficult and, honestly quite boring.

So there we have, a very short post on a book that basically says nothing. Not proud of it, but it is what it is. Sometimes it‘s really hard to force yourself to do something you just can‘t do. And it was exactly what I couldn‘t do – write an informative and interesting post.

Luxurious story of a simple feeling

That‘s how I decided to title my post on „The Great Gatsby“ movie (I have to tell in advance that I haven‘t read the book). But really this whole movie is permeated with luxury, beauty, wealth – all these grand things and yet it tells us a story about love – simple as it is. Love that wasn‘t meant to be happy. But let‘s talk about one thing at the time.

What makes this film different   that it brings us back to the 1930s, yet the film is made in quite modern way which is not typical for that era films even though they might have been made much later. Plus, hearing rap music… What has rap in common with 1930s? But this combination in a film – why not? Plus, it‘s a very theatrical movie. Usually theatricality in films annoys me, but this time it was in the right place and in the right time. Theatricality was used  very tastefully. As well as some sort of cartoonic moments. They appear in this movie very carefully and in very delicate amounts.

I also loved that Gatsby‘s story is told by some other character – Nick Carraway, the story is told through Nick‘s lense, from his perspective and experience. Yet, Gatsby‘s story becomes his owns – Nick‘s story and this is very similar to John‘r and Owen‘s story from J. Irving‘sA prayer for Owen Meanny(I wrote about this book in my previous post). And he talks about Gatsby with such an admiration, respect as if meeting him was the best that happened to him. John talked about Owen the same way. Gatsby showed the world to Nick. The world he hasn‘t seen. The one he didn‘t know exist and that he could be (even if in a very tiny amount) part of it.

I so enjoyed this idea of not rushing to judge people but putting efforts in seeing the best they have. This thought said in the movie could be a gold thought, something that could be quoted. And it‘s true in the perspective of this particular story because at  first you get completely opposite impresion of Gatsby and Daisy (the two of them shared a history. However, their love wasn‘t meant to last) from those you gain, you learn as the story goes further.

For instance, at first I thought of Daisy as simple golden girl who lives a life without worries, enjoying all the pleassures of life. Yet, later she becomes colourless to me. In all sense. She turned out to be either a coward who‘s affraid to behave her way and use her head or she just pretended to be this way.

Gatsby also at the beginning seemed to be extravagant, arogant, wealthy man who needs so badly to show his fortune (well, actually, he threw them for Daisy) by throwing these parties (which, by the way, are awesome) at which no one knew how he looks. He is a very mysterious character. Now, later in the movie, for me, Gatsby‘s character opens up to be not that much of an extravagant, but lonely. He‘s incredibly lonely, desperately in love. Out this desperation, wish to impress Daisy he acts excentric, clumsy in a way, and a bit childish, but he sincerely did throw heaven right to her feet. However, his love sometimes reminds more like an addiction or obssession to bring back the best he had with Daisy back in the day. But you can‘t bring back the past.

I don‘t know what it was, but it was fascinating how one person – Gatsby (of course) without having any bad intentions was able to affect all these people and change their lives. What was that? Charisma? Charm? But there was something.

I have to mention this interesting way of interaction between characters. It‘s so intriguing: people have lovers, they cheat, and everybody knows (friends, family members) about it and do nothing, pretending everything is OK, yet the tension grows. This piece of element works every time. Especially, when the time comes for the secret of affair to be revealed. How to tell a husband / wife that you‘re inlove with someone else and you want to be with that person, or that you‘ve already been in other relationship for a while behind your spouse‘s back? Is there a right way to do it (all in all, affairs sooner or later become known)? Gatsby thought that the best way is to tell the truth. Yet, this wish didn‘t end for him nicely – Daisy‘s husband eliminated him from the game in the lowest way.

What shocked me, was Daisy saying right after she gave birth to baby girl that she was thankful to God and she hoped that her daughter will grow up and become stupid. I understand why she thought so, but it is still very cruel of mother to wish her child something like that in any way.

Everything that we see in this movie, all the relationships, situations looks kind of psychodelic. It‘s a chaos of everything happening all at once. And all this medling into other peoples relationship (like Nick is asked/ forced to do, like Gatsby does with Daisy‘s family, though it is quite hard and uncomfortable to be in the middle of something like keeping in secret an affair and helping it) ) makes it even more chaotic, and not very right. But hey, our lives can be really psychodelic, and it can happen quite fastly.

Movie also shows this huge division between people who lived in Long Ailend (bright and beautiful, gorgeous place with nice houses) and those who worked and lived in Valley of Ashes, an industrial dumping site (black and dirty, poor place). It‘s an enternal division between rich and poor, moral and immoral. And it proves that sometimes richiest, with good education people are the filthiest ones. However, all this idea about certain status that can be gained ONLY by birth or family is such a bullshit. Of course it is true, but it does not make a person any better and, moreover, it does not give the right to act like a jerk just because you’re richer than the rest of the people.

At the end I‘d like to say that this is a tragic love story where one phone call at end of the film could change things and we would say it ended happily. But it didn‘t. Gatsby‘s love for Daisy killed him. However, he was lucky to experience this beautiful feeling. And all those people who used and enjoyed Gatsby‘s generocity showed what they are worth without showing up to say the last goodbye. At the end everybody forgot him.

 

One of the most beautiful stories….

So far it is really one of the most beautiful stories I‘ve ever read. What is it? It‘s John Irving‘s „The Prayer for Owen Meanny“. It‘s not a secret how I love Irving‘s books and I read them once in a while. Can‘t say that all of them are equally interesting, or that they all touched me deeply, but this one really did.

First of all, because of the story. Second of all, because of the narrater. I mean, John Wheelwright is telling a story about Owen Meanny, his life, how they‘re lives were inseparable and why. It is just so beautiful when a friend can tell something so heart touching about his best friend. I don‘t know if this could ever happen in real life. But in both cases Owen‘s story is John‘s story and vice versa. Plus, this  story is jumping in times, so you have to be concentrated on seeking the story, because otherwise you can get confused.

I really loved that in this book we could seek several plot threads, most interesting of whom were political and religious. Both of them can be used quite provocatively, but in this book they were used more likely as questions, issues to be considered. We see how main characters are feeling and thinking about them, so this gives us this trigger to consider them ourselves in todays context or it gives us a chance to consider past retrospectively. Maybe not in the way as John or Owen did, but in our own way, relating to those circumstances we are facing at the moment.

Another thing that fascinates me about this book is the way the friendship of two boys (growing up) is portrayed. It is fascinating because I don‘t know if there actually is that kind of friendship that last from childhood up to an entire life. I don‘t know this kind of stories. In my experience even the longest frienships eventually end up. I think this kind of friendship, a friend(s) as Owen and John are, I don‘t know, it’s a gift from above. Moreover, it‘s great to have a friend who eventually becomes like a mentor, teacher to you, which, in this case is quite unusual due to the fact that John and Owen are the same age. But this wisdom, maturity compensates this lack of height and ability to be a regular (physically) that Owen faces due to his health condition.

And the fact that Owen was not as everyone else, people did not push him away as it usually happens. No. On the contrary they accepted him, they loved him, took care of him. Somehow with his difference he managed to charm people and make them like him.

In this book we can observe a very interesting relationship between Owen and his parents and his relations between him and John‘s family which seems to be more close than with his own family despite the fact that Owen kills John‘s mom. Or maybe it‘s not that strange. I mean sometimes other people, other families are trully closer to us for whatever reasons than our own ones. I don‘t know why it is so, but it‘s true that in his own family a person can feel himself extremely lonely. But maybe in Owen‘s case the reason is that his family thought he was a result of an immacculate conception (a plotline that I couldn‘t take seriously)? They were kind of afraid of him or distant from him. Also, Owen‘s constant claim the he was a instrument of God doesn‘t seem realistic or serious to me too. I don‘t know why. Maybe there was some sort of hidden meaning that I wasn‘t smart enough to get. But for me it was too surreal. Or maybe I‘m not so much into faith, spiritual issues… No, I‘m actually into this and I believe in God, faith, but I just don‘t believe that when someone says that he is an instrument of God he’s actually and really is an instrument of God. There‘s not enough just to proclaim that and believe in it. I just think that there are higher requirements for it.

Anti-war, anti-Vietnam moods are really openly pointed in this book, as well as, those like joining the army. In this case, it is important not because of joining the a army per se, or guarding your country. I think in this case army represents some sort of achievement for those like Owen. It‘s like proving to others and yourself that you can do things no matter what, who you are, what you are. However, war is still seen as evil, as something, a man shouldn‘t do. And at this point it is interesting, because John is a pacifist and his best friend Owen joins the army. So at this point some sort of collision rises in their friendship which develops interestingly.

There‘s quite a lot of surreal elements, like dream – real world. What the boys see in their dreams turns out to be real. Well, actually, not everything that Owen forsaw happened really accurately. However, the basic part  actually turned out to be truth, and he really became an instrument of God. So maybe all this is more real than we think of it. Maybe this is how we build up our life, our faith, by believing in something so strongly until it finally happens. It‘s like programming ourselves to live certain amount of time and then die on a selected day in a selected way. Something to think about.

Of course, this book, as any other, book written by John Irving consists of several permanent elements: New Hampshire, father/real father/lost father, prostitutes, private schools,writers, film creators and, of course, all kinds of accidents. I‘m not saying it‘s abad thing, it‘s actually what makes his books, his stories, his style recognizable.

These were the days of their lives

There‘s been said about the band Queen and their vocalist Freddie Mercury tons of things. Yet, a lot of things are still being said, because this particular band made a huge influence on lots of people and musicians in the world. They left a mark in a musical history.

Recently, I re-watched the two part BBC documentary about the band called „Queen: Days of Our Lives“. What can I say? Since I‘ve read a lot of stuff about the band and even though lots of things shown in this documentary weren‘t new to me (a lot of things been already told and shown), but still it was a very interesting thing to watch. It was not boring at all. I mean, how could it be? It‘s Queen!

The documentary is full of beautiful Queen‘s music, old interviews, videos from old concerts and performances – various material from different years which is really interesting to see from current perspective. The documentary is so full of everything, but it could be even fuller, because there is so much that could be told about Queen. I loved that the remaining two band members – Roger Taylor and Brian May were actively involved in this documentary and they told lots of things (sure there were used some old interviews of John Deacon and Freddie Mercury, but it is just not the same as if they were talking currently).

I‘ve been thinking how to write the things I want to say. And I came up with the idea of simply pointing every single thought separately.

  • Charisma that obtained F. Mercury. Here, at this point, I think there‘s no need to discuss the magic over the charisma of Mr. Mercury. Without a doubt he obtained one. However, Queen wouldn‘t be Queen without each one of the four members no matter how charismatic Freddie was alone. However, his ability to control massess is phenomenal.
  • Queen is a great example that success doesn‘t come as fast and easy as it might seem it does. The band had to go through various difficulties, work really hard before they became successful. Maybe it was a good thing, taught them to cherish what they had and reach for the star even harder.
  • This particular documentary gives us a chance to take another look (exactly, look) at certain songs, albums, how they were created. You get a completely different understanding of them and respect for them (e.g. now I have completely different respect for „Seven Seas of Rhye“.

  • It was interesting to hear how author rights were split between band members. I didn‘t know about the rule that whoever brings the idea of the song will own the rights for it even though others helped in creating it (wrote music, or lyrics). On the one hand, it was a fair rule, but on the other hand, I think it used to bring a lot of tension into the band. Rule to split the rights equally makes much more sense, because either way everybody works on recording of the song.
  • Fredddie’s persona. Well, for me he was not such a huge diva as he is portrayed. No. He had his opinion at certain things, he had his own visions and he fought for them. Strongly.
  • Queen members were extremely precise and detailed in creating music and writing smart ass texts. They were very precise at what they were doing. And this is one of those things I like them so much and respect them.
  • Problems with contracts. Not getting money for your own music. They‘ve been fooled by their managers, robbed by them. Up until I watched this documentary I did not know about this. However, I can‘t say it was schoking. They were definetely not the first band or artist that were fooled by their managers or record companies. It‘sa quite known situation.
  • Freddie and his sexual orientation. I don‘t know why, but when we talk about Queen this topic always comes up. Sure, I understand that back in a day it was huge, it was shocking, but today? Does it really matter what orientation Freddie rally was? He lived a life the way he wanted, the way he liked. Sure, he did mistakes, we all do. But he also paid the price and he didn‘t put the blame for it on anyone. I don‘t think it‘s relevant to discuss his sexual orientation each and every time we discuss the music created by him and Queen. For God‘s sake, his sex life, it was his business. Who are we to judge? He had the right to live it the way he thought it was right, and if nothing bothered his partners why it should bother someone else?
  • For me, it was surprising to find out that no one believed in the success of „Bohemian Rhapsody at the very beginning. This song (one song!) was recorded in 6 different studios.It’s gorgeous as much as asong can be. And this example shows us how important it is to find people who will believe in you and what you do.

  • As well as, it is very important to have complete freedom to create. Usually musicians are limited, put into frames by their managers, record companies, because these people only think about the profit. And you can‘t blame them. It‘s their job. What about the creator? His primal goal is to create something beautiful, not get profit from it (though if he gets it, then it is great).
  • I didn‘t also know that the press was very harsh, I‘d say even angry with Queen. But, again, there‘s also nothing new, because press is always harsh with those who are successfull.
  • You know, as I was watching this documentary I couldn‘t get rid of this strange feeling. When you see someone talking about those who are no longer with us, it‘s sometimes so hard to realise that they actualy once were alive, especially if you were born after their death. You start to perceive them as some sort of mythical figures.
  • Taking over America back then seemed to be a very difficult mission to acomplish. But when you think about it, nothing really changed. To take over American music industry, audience is still extremelly hard for non-American artists, even though Internet has changed things a bit. And it is also interesting that you can be famous all around the world and yet fail in America.
  • Shows back then. If you were a talented artist you didn‘t need much, just good sound, vocals, well… and maybe lights. Today, I think it‘s the same: you don‘t need these grandiloquent things if you are that good to control an audience with your music and vocals.
  • One of the key moments for me in this documentary was the fact that May‘s dad was against him becoming a rock star, but at the same time it was May‘s dad who helped him become a rock star by helping him  with his guitar. Irony.
  • I did know that Jazz“ album was recorded in France, because it was simply cheaper than to do this in London due to high taxes.
  • John Deacon in this documentary was mentioned as „secret weapon“ of the band. He probably was that way: always quiet, shy, but writing damn good songs. Even though it is thought that Deacon is least noticeable member of the band I don‘t know what it would look like if he wasn‘t in this band in the first place. Sure, he doesn‘t play with Brian and Roger now and I think the band really lacks him, as same as it lacks Freddie. Queen was and always will be a four member band, that‘s what made the essence. You take one member, you take the essence away. Despite the fact that I am happy that Roger and Brian are continuing to work and tour as Queen, they continue going on with the legacy of Queen, I can’t admit that it is exactly the same as Queen that we know of. It‘s not, but it‘s the best we can have now.
  • Interesting to know that because of „Another One Bites the Dust“ Queen was thought to be a black band. And that this song made them very popular among black people and black people (listeners) made the song to hit the charts and become best selling record. Crazy, but at the same time so sad to learn about this huge division between black and white people.

  • Queen is an interesting band because it was loved by people, hated by ctitics and press. The band that was never in fashion, was always in fashion.
  • No matter how apolitical you can be but different political situations in different countries, especially in those where you about to tour touches your music, touches you as an artist and saddly you cannot escape it. For example, had no clue about their performance in Sun city and all the scandal related to that place (the huge problem of apartheid, racial segregation back there).
  • Paul Prenter‘s character was new to me and turns out a nasty one. I did not know about those dark moments in Munich that happened while recording „Hot space“ and his part in it before.
  • What this documentary taught us? That in a band (or any different collective) you always have to search for compromises, even though it might be hard. It‘s a simple truth, but it‘s essential.
  • Live Aid performance. After watching this documentary I watched that performance. It‘s truly one of the most majestic performances. Lucky are those who got a chance to see it live.
  • Learning something about Queen you can‘t escape hearing something about Freddie’s disease (well, just like about his sexual orientation). For me it was quite sad to hear that this tragic event made band members even more closer. Sad not that they became closer, but the reason why they became closer. I mean why can‘t things be opposite? Why can‘t something joyful make people come closer? It was extremelly sad to listen the band members, and other people talking about Freddie’s disease and how it was killing him. Very sad.
  • About yellow press. I understand that it works the way it works. People working there have to feed their families, pay for kid‘s education, etc. I‘m not defending them, I‘m just saying that they do their job. However, some thing in their job should be untouchable: children (especially under 18 years old), family members (if they aren‘t public people) and health (unless person is OK to make it public). But on the other hand, aren‘t we the ones who make yellow press work in the direction they work? I mean, we consume and demand that kind of information. Hell, we pay money for that. Then maybe we should take our part of responsibility for making someone‘s life miserable at the most sensitive moments of their life, like dying from some terrible, uncurreable disease?
  • Such a talent, such a bright person and his life and such a sad, tragic ending of this gorgeous journey filled with wonderful music. But even though it was short it still goes on through that music and songs.
  • Queen, as well as Freddie, are more than a band and a singer. Both the band and Freddie are Phenomenons. Nothing less.

 

At the end of 2017 I saw Queen perform with Adam Lambert. What can I say? I missed John Deacon, not to mention how Freddie is missing. But Adam did a GREAT job. He’s not Freddie, he is Adam who is a gorgeous performer of his own. He doesn’t need to even try be like Freddie. But what he does with Queen is incredible. Brian and Roger still kick ass. I loved how they paid tribute to Freddie reminding us that he will Always be a part of this band no matter what. And the entire show… Well, it was a lifetime experience, gorgeous show, the best show I’ve ever seen. Pure magic.