Friday, 24 October 2014

Mad Monkey Dreams

As much as I’d like to just make a demented Halloween mix made entirely of Comus songs, here’s something a little different...

As you may know, Stephen Soderberg recently re-purposed Trent Reznor’s Social Network Soundtrack to score his otherwise silent, black and white Raiders of the Lost Ark. In much the same spirit, here’s a creepy Halloween mix which doubles as a soundtrack for a little seen thriller, Dream of the Mad Monkey (1989). What may at first seem a random collection of dark and scarily-themed tracks is in fact a very carefully orchestrated alternative score, each song chosen to suit a particular scene in this obscure Spanish-French Jeff Goldblum vehicle. The film, which has been alternatively titled Twisted Obsession or simply The Mad Monkey, tells the story of a screenwriter’s descent into a psycho-sexual nightmare of his own making. It now features dreamy doom-laden psychedelia, demonic blues-rock, gypsy dervishes, witchy rockabilly, the dark genius of Ed Harcourt, and scary monkey music.
Sleep well.  

Jethro Tull- Sweet Dream (Opening Credits)
Hoyt Axton- Voodoo Blues (Dan Gillis: American Writer, Living in Paris)
Mark Kozelek- If You Want Blood (Dan Visits His French Ex-Wife Who’s a Very Bad Actress)
The Cave Singers- Dancing on Our Graves (Visit to the Producer/Commissioning of the Script)
Gun- Race with the Devil (Dan Doesn’t Like the Idea, but Divorce Has Got Him Down)
Nick Cave- Red Right Hand (Meeting the Director)
Squirrel Nut Zippers- Ghost of Stephen Foster (Meeting the Director’s Sister)
A.A. Bondy- Oh, The Vampyre (Dan Seeks the Advice of Miranda Richardson Who is Confined to A Wheelchair and Secretly Loves Him)
Tom Waits- Don’t Go Into that Barn (Against His Better Judgment, Dan Decides to Write the Script)
Calico Wall- I’m a Living Sickness (Dan Sells Out, Feels Unwell)
Kip Tyler- She’s My Witch (He follows the Director’s Sister Around)
Jethro Tull- Beggar’s Farm (He Sleeps with the Director’s Sister, who’s Sleeping With Everyone Else Anyway)
Dr John- Danse Kalinda Ba Doom (First Appearance of the Monkey)
 Led Zeppelin- Battle of Evermore (Writing the Script)
Mike Oldfield- The Sentinel (Disappearance of Director’s Sister)
A Raincoat- It Came in the Night (Dan Walks Around Paris, Looking Forlorn)
Ed Harcourt- Monkey Tapping at the Window (Monkey Reappears Looking Mad, Dan Realises He’s Been Conned)
 Tindersticks- El Diablo en el Ojo (Director’s Sister Jumps from the Balcony)
 Comus- Song to Comus (Crazy Shit Happens)
Can- Don’t Turn the Light On, Leave Me Alone (Seriously Crazy Shit Happens)
Ed Harcourt- Blood Tastes Just Like Sugar/Pure Imagination (Dan’s Last Meeting with Miranda Richardson 
Who Could Have Saved Him if He’d Only Just Listened—End Credits)

Saturday, 9 August 2014


My Newish Novel
Transatlantic tells the story of Stephen Langshaw, obsessive shower-taker and self-diagnosed sufferer of 'life-vertigo,' who travels to London in search of his uncle Brian. Stumbling his way out of what he calls his 'American predicament,' Stephen hopes his uncle can guide him through his recent divorce and tell him how, finally, to begin his life as a full-fledged adult. 

'Looking up at the scene-shifting sky, he searched for a jet trail that might soon be his own—a thought that once would have been ripe with ominous connotations, but now thrilling...The rest no doubt would all be up to the sturdy, anchor-strong example of his uncle Brian.' 

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Give me your hand

And back to casting little notes into the abyss.

This is the sound of a man touched by God. (It's not summertime, I know, but I don't think something this good can wait until summer. Anyway, I think what he conjures up here is more a yearning for summer, for sun upon shoulders and face and hands.)


Interior of the hand. Sole that has come to walk
only on feelings. That faces upward
and in its mirror
receives heavenly roads, which travel
along themselves.
That has learned to walk upon water
when it scoops,
that walks upon wells,
transfiguring every path.
That steps into other hands,
changes those that are like it
into a landscape:
wanders and arrives within them,
fills them with arrival.”

PS. There are other things going on over here:

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Waking Dreams

 Cast of The Upstairs Room (e.g. a dream of mine)
A Middle School Lacrosse Team from 1970 (e.g. a dream of Wes Anderson)
As I write less and less on this blog, I'm wondering if it isn't morphing into a tumblr account. Let me make up for this deficit, right now: 

I was about ten when I began fictionalizing my life in earnest. It wasn’t that the world itself was especially disappointing, just my world, my existence, and I needed a means of making up for all the things I felt I was lacking. I found myself regularly thinking of places I’d much rather be, other people and other existences I’d rather be inhabiting. The secrets I made up for myself included my parents not being my true parents; that I fell from the sky, aged four; that I washed up on a beach; that I’d travelled through time, but I temporarily had amnesia. These stories, while they lasted, were precious and I savoured them.
The egocentric nature of this chronic daydreaming shouldn’t be overlooked, either. Like a little Walter Mitty in the making, the tales I weaved were entirely self-serving, for nobody’s benefit but my own. I could nurture some sly untruth about myself and, in some magical way, add a little ornamentation to what was otherwise so needlessly prosaic and unexciting. I could wander through the world with a new and secret frame of reference, a new narrative to live by and through which to reinvigorate the world. And because my acting out was entirely invisible to anyone else, I could play innocent. After all, I wasn’t actually doing anything wrong. Not in a real world, punishable way. And yet I could also enjoy a thrill of immorality, of rule-breaking and of drawing outside the lines.
There were drawbacks. An over-active imagination can just as easily conjure devils as angels from the woodwork. Fears of bombs and of kidnappers spoiled for me a great many excursions in the real world. From the age of ten to about twelve, I practically had to be chaperoned to sleep; I had to know there was an adult awake, somewhere, in the house—just in case.      

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


The cover of my book, care of Methuen Drama (2012).
In other news, my couch surfing days are over here in NY. I made it through the hurricane and I've now found a place on the 2nd floor of a building just up the road from the Brooklyn Museum. This is a picture of my current upstairs room.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Dancing Out the Door

Well, on Wednesday, I'm moving to New York. Hoping to find my feet, while two of my plays (one in Cheltenham, one in London) are being staged, on the opposite side of the Atlantic.

Still from 'Herb and Dorothy'
'So anyway, at the time, back in the late seventies, December 1978, to be precise, David had a girlfriend who happened to be a choreographer. She was quite good. She’d been in the Twyla Tharpe company and had branched off to form her own group. David called me up one day to invite me to an open rehearsal of her new piece—which was still a work in progress. The event took place in a high school gym, somewhere in Lower Manhattan. There were only about twenty or thirty people there. Actually, [Jacques] Dupin was in town, and we went together. And David’s girlfriend, Nina, got up with her dancers; there were about ten dancers in the company, and she stood there on the gym floor, a little off to the side... There was no music, no set, no costumes, nothing, just her, trying to explain what the dance was. She would say something, and then the dancers would dance and I found what they did very beautiful. The movements, the gestures.

 'Frances Ha' care of The New York Times
They just moved around the floor, with no music to support them or tell you what to think. Ten bodies moving in space. I thought it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. And she, standing there, with all her earnestness and sincerity, tried to explain what they were doing. And her words were so inadequate, they missed the mark so completely about what these bodies were doing right in front of her, that I started trembling in a kind of ecstasy, an enormous surge of happiness, realizing how inadequate language was in the face of such a thing, in the face of the world. It was as if the dancers were the world, and she was language. That was what inspired the piece. I went home, and that very night I started writing White Spaces. That was the breakthrough for me. It got me writing again. I hadn’t been able to write for a year and a half.'
--Paul Auster, who was 31 when this happened.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Sky Inside

 'So that becomes how it is. They try to reach each other with words and gestures. They almost tear their arms out of their sockets, because the reach of their gesticulations is much too short. They never stop trying to throw syllables at each other, but they are extraordinarily bad at this game: they cannot catch. And so time passes, while they stoop over and hunt around for the ball...' (Note X in Rilke's Notes on the Melodies of Things, translated by Damion Searls)
 '[But] there are, in fact, moments when a person stands out from his grandeur in clarity and silence before you. These are rare festive pleasures that you never forget. You love this person from then on. In other words, you work to retrace with your own tender hands the outlines of the personality that you came to know in this hour.' (Note VII)

'[Rilke] says that each of us takes our inner world and flings it out past whatever is out there so that it constitutes the background or negative space against which the object in the world is delimited. In this metaphor, what matters is not the angle you see from but the fact that things are undefined unless they stand out against something, and what they stand out against comes from inside you.' (Damion Searls, from The Inner Sky: Poems, Notes, and Dreams of Rainer Maria Rilke.)