5 movie references NOT to use during sexy time

Movies are an integral part of the fabric of society and the lines delivered by the stars often become part of our everyday dialogue.

I have heard many a person say “I’ll be back” in their best (which is probably also their worst) Arnie impression and how many of us have stood arms outstretched claiming to be “king of the world”?

But there are some situations where specific movie references are best avoided. Here’s 5+ examples you (men) don’t want to use in the bedroom:

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1. Say “hello” to my little friend.

 

Imagine this, you’ve wined and dined and now you’re hoping to get your leg over so you invite your prospective sexual partner in for some “coffee”. The lights are dimmed, the music is on and you drop your pants citing this classic Scarface line…

While it seems witty, it’s doubtful any man wants their partner thinking that their penis is “little”. Plus, the line brings out connotations of a coked-up gangster shooting all over the place… hardly romantic.

 

2. Here’s Johnny!

 

Again, the scene is set – there’s candles and flowers, dinner was home cooked and served with a glass (or three) of wine. You take her in to the bedroom, unzip your fly and quote this line from The Shining as you stick your penis through the gap like a head through a door that’s been hacked to pieces by a homicidal maniac.

Classy!

Sure, you might’ve been making a more harmless reference to the 1995 hit song of the same name, or Johnny Bravo or The Tonight Show but what’ll come to mind for most people is that all work and no play leads to stabbing not sex.

 

3. Free Willy

 

Ok, so this isn’t a quote per se but if you’re inclined to call out the title of this film while removing your underwear you’re an immature man-child with delusions of grandeur. No self-respecting adult calls their penis a willy and if you’re comparing your manhood to a whale you’re going to bitterly disappoint someone.

Plus, all I can think about is the clip from The Simpsons where the whale doesn’t make it over the rocks and ends up killing the child protagonist. More connotations you don’t need.

 

 

4. Grab your stick! Heat ’em up! Make ’em hard!

 

If you’re in a homosexual relationship, this Ghostbusters line might actually work. It probably won’t, but it makes more sense than in any heterosexual dalliance. For the most part, it just sounds like you’re wanking – and possibly doing so too often if you’re getting friction burns. Any mention of “heat” when talking about your “stick” is probably worth a trip to the doctor.

 

 

5. Open the pod bay doors

 

So you’ve read the first few points on this list and recognised that their all in reference to your Mills and Boon style “throbbing member” and you’ve thought to yourself that maybe film quotes only work when you’re talking about a vagina. Wrong! They don’t work there either.

This 2001 line is a prime example. Likewise, upon penetration, don’t think it’s a great idea to get all Ace Ventura and say it fits “like a glove”.

Sure, maybe lines from porn movies might work. The ones with a scripted plot. They still make them, right? But your Hollywood blockbuster isn’t going to give you the goods.

No woman is going to be turned on by being informed she “can’t handle the truth” and no man should call his cock “the truth” anyway.

 

If there’s other film quotes you think shouldn’t be used in sexy time scenarios, let me know in the comments.

 

And, if this blog post proves popular, tune in for the follow-up where I refer to TV shows to tell you it’s not a good idea to walk up to women in nightclubs with your penis out asking “have you met Ted?” and so on…

The Think Behind the Ink: Part 3

The last time I wrote a “The Think Behind the Ink” piece I said it was probably going to be my last tattoo. It’s lucky I used the word ‘probably’ because I’ve gone and got another one.

 

This is almost definitely the last. Although, in saying that, I can’t help think of the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon.

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I would have to come up with something highly significant in order to get inked again though so this is probably it.

 

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This is me; I’m a monkey.

 

Before I was born my mum always wanted a pet monkey and when I came into the world all (cherubic and) hairy, everyone joked that she got her wish. Add to that the fact that I was born in the year of the monkey and that I have always been an avid climber of random crap everywhere and you can see why I associate myself with that animal. ‘Monkey’ is also one of the nicknames we use for my son so we’re keeping the simian thing in the family.

 

Springing from this is a phoenix. The mythological fire-bird is a common symbol of renewal and rebirth. What I’ve done (more accurately, what I asked Emily to do) in the design of this one is make it look like the bird/fire is made out of ink. What I’m getting at is that, through my writing, I create and recreate myself on a regular basis. I’ve reinvented myself in real life too (but I think I’ve told that story already).

 

Until next time…

I’m sorry – an open letter to people who are good at what they do

Being good at your job sucks. It shouldn’t. Being good at what you do should lead to increased job satisfaction; it should make your days easier but it doesn’t.

 

And here comes the first apology. Bits of this blog are going to sound like showboating. I will, at times, talk about myself in a manner that could be perceived to be arrogant. I will lump myself under the category of ‘people who do their job well’ and for that I’m sorry. I hate talking myself up for two reasons – 1. when I’m honest with myself about my work ethic and when I compare myself to other teachers, I don’t rate myself highly. I truly don’t think I’ve been the best educator I could be.   2. teaching isn’t about me. Whatever success my students have is success they have earned. I might be there facilitating and encouraging but they’re the ones doing the work.

Okay… insert awkward pause here.

 

So, the absolute worst part about being good at your job is that you continually get asked to do more and more because of it. I mean, it makes sense. If Ed Sheeran was hanging out at my place I would be asking my four year old to bang out a tune on his mandolin. It makes sense but it’s not fair.

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A number of times throughout my twelve years of teaching I’ve been asked to take another teacher’s challenging class (generally in a trade that sees me lose my best and brightest students) or be on some committee. My colleague has it even worse. He’s always being asked to oversee or lead any tech based initiative at the school. It’s ok for us, we’ve been around the block a few times, but it’s happening more and more to our younger, greener workmates. The pressures of this are ninja-like because you never see them coming. One day your responsibilities don’t stretch beyond the walls of your classroom and the next day you’re swamped. It’s tricky because, in isolation, many of these initiatives and programs have minimal impact on your workload. The problem is that you don’t notice how much you’re being asked to do until all the little increments come to a head.

 

I don’t feel like I’m explaining this well. Let me try to elaborate…

I’m one of two Associate Deans of English at my school (that’s just a fancy way of saying second in charge of the department). We’re a large school too so there’s 20 people teaching English. I’m not responsible for them as line manager or anything like that (although I do lead two of them through the Performance and Development process) but I’m expected to support them and lead them through curriculum changes. With this role I teach one less class than other teachers but two of my four classes are high performing, high profile classes with heavy marking loads. Beyond that, I’m involved in a new program at the school designed to increase student engagement through better content delivery. I’m supporting a year 11 student who has started a poetry group, mentoring ATAR students, tutoring students after school hours and writing exams for an external provider. BUT, I also want a life of my own so I’m playing football and I’m a member of four writing groups. Or at least I was. I’ve dropped one of my writing groups recently because I felt like I was spread too thin and wasn’t able to do the group justice. Likewise, in the past few years, I’ve abandoned some of the projects I was involved in at work and have stopped engaging in opportunities to write for or present to professional bodies.

* it feels like a lot when you put it down on paper (or online) – somewhere in there I hope my wife and kids feel like I give them the attention they deserve.

 

Please, if you haven’t fallen into this trap yet, learn to say no. Know your limits, choose when to engage and when to walk away.

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This leads into the next point. Remember that ninja comment from before? Stress is often invisible until it has almost broken you. You need to speak up.

 

Another downfall of being good at what you do (or even just appearing that way) is that people assume you’re free of problems. That massive department I said I work in has seven people in their second year of teaching and a handful of others whose experience doesn’t stretch far beyond that. Without describing them in any more detail you would assume our office is a madhouse. It’s not. I am blessed to work with a group of educators whose confidence and abilities are more akin to people who have been in the role for many years. Anyone on the outside looking in would struggle to identify our beginning teachers. It is a credit to them and to the people and institutions that helped shape them.

 

But, because they are so good, no one asks them how they’re going. No one checks in to see if they’re okay. I’m complaining about it here but I’m not exempt from this. I don’t ask about their classes or their work load or their job satisfaction. I look at them and all I see are ducks. What I mean is, when I look at them all I see is what’s above the surface – they are calm, cool and collected. Who knows what’s going on under the water where the eyes can’t see? I don’t and I can’t use the fact that we’re a busy school (big too, with roughly 1800 students) as an excuse.

 

So, here it is. I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for all those people out there who find that their expertise has become a burden. I’m sorry for all those people who keep on keeping on without assistance. More importantly, I apologise to the people in my office who (hopefully) get the support they need but aren’t getting the support they deserve. I apologise for not being proactive in asking about your mental health. And, for what it’s worth, I’m sorry that the system doesn’t reward you for being awesome, that it won’t always allow you to be your best.

 

 

 

 

 

NB – while on the topic of apologies… I suck at compliments. I’m sorry to everyone who deserved positive feedback from me and got diddly-squat. My bad.

Invisible Illness

I’ve been holding off on writing this. I pride myself on my way with words. I teach English, I write poetry. Words are my life and yet, sometimes, words aren’t enough. I’ve been holding off on writing this because I’ve been afraid of getting it wrong, of not doing justice to the people it has impacted. In the novella “The Body”, which became the film Stand By Me, Stephen King wrote:

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The reason our language keeps expanding is because there will never be enough words to articulate our feelings nor to explain the world around us. Whether you’re consciously aware of it or not, most of what we know is defined by what we know it’s not. Don’t believe me? Try explaining what hot is without giving reference to cold, or give a meaning for darkness that doesn’t use the word light; it is part of the reason similes and metaphors exist – because they allow us to explain things we otherwise couldn’t.

 

As I said, I’ve been holding off on writing this. With good reason too, I’m already concerned about how far off topic I’ve gotten and I haven’t really started. This is meant to be about mental health.

 

There’s a stigma attached to mental health that exists only because it’s a largely invisible illness. Many people discredit the resilience of the current generation and, at times, I agree with them. But there is clearly something affecting our youth and, just as clearly, not enough being done to support them.

 

Near where I work there have been 5 suicides in as many weeks.

 

What does it say about us when suicide is the leading killer of Australians aged 15 to 44? We preach ideals of this being ‘The Lucky Country’, of a fair go for all. I don’t think we can still claim that “she’ll be right” when this many people choose death.

 

I’m no stranger to suicide. At a time when I was struggling to find my place in the world and my sense of self-worth was practically non-existent, my uncle and aunty took their own lives. While my mum was crying over their loss my dominant feeling was jealousy – I wished I had their strength. I know now that strength is the wrong word and I have seen the effect their deaths have had on their children but at the time I cursed them for completing actions that I had dreamed of and occasionally prepared for but never attempted.

 

I was in my teens and there was a darkness inside me. There still is. My life is better than I could have ever hoped for and yet I still imagine my own death. I don’t feel the emptiness anymore, however. For much of my life I had struggled to articulate how this felt but a student of mine recently described it as like an apple without its core – it’s still an apple but it lacks that part that gives it life.

 

With that simile I’ll hark back to what I was getting at towards the start of this blog post, that many people lack the words or understanding to comprehend what people with mental illnesses are going through. Another student confided that his relationships with his friends fell apart because he turned to drugs to combat his depression. His friends labelled him as stupid for putting his physical health at risk but they didn’t necessarily understand the ‘need’ behind the drug taking, in that they made this student feel normal – something that had become unfamiliar to him. In our conversation, this student identified that people don’t understand depression because they “can only empathise with the saddest they’ve ever felt”. If you’ve never felt the lows of depression, how can you possibly understand what people are going through?

 

I’m not saying I was ever clinically depressed. I had a low point that was pretty damn low but, for all I know, it could have been just a portion of what others go through. I don’t pretend to understand mental illness. I’m not a doctor. What I am is an empathetic human being with two functional eyes. Any idiot can see that too many people are taking their own lives.

 

I don’t have solutions.

 

But if you have anxiety or depression or any other invisible illness, what I can offer you is advice. The saying ‘time heals all wounds’ is false but time does provide many things. Mental illness is still relatively new, it has only recently been accepted as reality and, as such, the medical industry and the general populous are still coming to grips with what it means and how it may be treated. Time will provide greater understanding and, with that, greater support. Time will also give you a chance to grow. What incapacitates you now may only aggravate or annoy you in future; you will develop strategies to cope and greater resistance to the things that currently trigger a response.

 

Time won’t heal you but it will help if you let it. In the words of Dylan Thomas –

“Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

 

 

We shouldn’t respect women…

Its International Women’s Day so I thought I’d throw my 2 cents in when it comes to the sexes.

 
I’m glad I was born a man. Sure, we get the ugly end of the stick when it comes to our bodies – what, with that awful appendage that looks like a bratwurst attached to a sack of skin that looks like we’ve had excessive weight loss in one very specific part of our body. But at least our bodies don’t hate us. At least they don’t rebel against us with monthly volcano-like eruptions from our genitalia.

 
Speaking of bodies, women’s bodies are so curvaceous. If comics and cartoons have taught me anything it’s that curvy is good and pointy is bad. Don’t believe me? Watch the opening sequence of Kung Fu Panda. People ogle women’s curves all the time, especially their boobs. Women could walk around all day with their breasts out and people would love it unless, of course, you chuck a baby on one of them and then all of a sudden people get offended. I thought baby making was part of a woman’s genetic code, why then do we crack the sads when people breast feed in public? It’s so confusing.

 
Then there’s the process of baby making itself. Women can’t escape labels when it comes to sex. If they get raped they asked for it, if they have lots of sex they’re a slut, if they don’t have sex they’re a prude. Bloke’s don’t have to deal with that stuff; if we’re having sex were a legend, if we’re not having sex we lie about it.

 
That’s just the superficial stuff too. There’s no reference above to the pay gap or the aspects of our society that have naturalised the marginalisation and othering of women.

 
I’m not saying I’ve got this equality thing down pat; I’m still prone to the odd sexist joke. All I’m saying is I’ve grown up a little. I’m a white, heterosexual male in a society where people of my genetic disposition have long been in power and have spent much of that time ensuring they keep it. I was born into privilege. It’s an invisible system but I’m not blind to it.

 
We shouldn’t respect women because they were born with a vagina, we should respect them because they’re people.

 
It’s the same reason we should respect people of other races and cultures. “Love thy neighbour,” and so on. Or, as been said elsewhere:

The Perfect Playground: 5 things every parent wants

A trip to the playground should be every family’s favourite outing. The time spent in front of a screen is ever increasing, for both adults and children, and obesity is a real threat to too many lives – the playground should be the perfect antidote but too many of them are poorly planned.

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The following is a list of everything I want in a playground.

 

1. Shade

I don’t care what else you’ve got, if you don’t have shade it’s not worth going. I took the kids to a playground this morning and half of the equipment couldn’t be used, it was just too hot. These hard plastic or metal slides become like hot plates in the Australian sun – Peter Combe used to sing a silly song about frying an egg on a slippery dip, I reckon you could actually do it at some of the parks I’ve been to lately. It’s all well and good to have fancy climbing frames and spinning things but you need to be able to use them. I shouldn’t have to plan these sorts of outings for before 9 am or after 6 pm – they should be accessible at all times of day.

 

2. Variety

A set of swings and a climbing frame that leads to a slide is not a playground; some people have that sort of set up in their back yards. I work with teenagers and a number of them have siblings that are toddlers or young children – if a playground is meant to be a place you take your family then it needs to cater for this differentiation. The best playgrounds I’ve been to recently had small slides and large slides, more than one set of swings and a diverse range of equipment. Where possible, you also don’t want this to be spread over a large area as parents will then struggle to supervise their children. Ideally, you’d have a space for onlookers in the middle of the play area.

 

3. Appeal to the adults

Aside from getting out of the house and giving the kids a place to play (where we don’t spend more time packing up their toys than they spent playing with them) there is no real incentive for an adult to go to a playground. What do I want? Something to occupy my time and the facilities to set up camp for a reasonable time. Give me some exercise equipment and/or a basketball ring and I’m pretty content but at some point someone is going to get hungry or need to go to the toilet. Most parks have tables and benches nowadays and many of these have bbq facilities but very few have toilets. This is like serving food without cutlery – you make people want something but don’t give them the tools to use it effectively. I get that city planners were initially reluctant to put these facilities in because they were worried about people using them to sell or take drugs (or at least, that’s what I’ve been led to believe) but modern toilets have uv lights and timed doors and whatnot.

 

4. A theme

This isn’t essential to a good playground but it certainly makes them memorable. Today’s park was musical with small drum sets and a big cymbal (inside a weird frog like thing); the one we went to the other day was like a farm with ride on animals, wooden fences in a maze-like formation and two climbing frame/slide combinations in the shape of a pig for smaller children and a windmill for the bigger kids.

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5.Extras

One thing I have noticed is that themed playgrounds tend to have more activities between the big-ticket items. This helps to keep queues down as the kids become occupied on their way from the flying fox to the swings. More parks should take this on board, use your space creatively – this can be done with balancing beams and stepping stones but it could also be just as easily done colours and shapes on the ground. The highlight of today’s playground were mini trampolines built in to the flooring.

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There you have it, a simple list of things I would like to see in our community play areas. A total of five items – not too much to ask for, I didn’t even mention my desire for a coffee van.

Now, if only the local council saw this before they signed off on their next playground proposal…

A Christmas message

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas – the spirit of giving, spending time with family and friends. I just hate the commercialism attached to it. As a teen I would wrap presents in newspaper. As a parent, I feel for those who don’t celebrate Santa as it’s seemingly inescapable.

Even then, my celebration of Christmas has evolved in the last few years. As a family we’ve started doing secret Santa. I love it. It means less presents for me but that’s ok. Presents are just an excuse to get together. Adulthood is busy and I don’t see my friends as often as I’d like but we ensure we get together every Christmas to give presents to each other’s kids. Anyway, what I like about secret Santa is that everyone gets a gift but the focus is on enjoying the company and not unwrapping the bits and bobs.

I’ve also taken to writing Christmas cards recently. I never used to. I hate the things. Generally people write ‘To’ and ‘From’ with little extra – what’s the point? If that’s all you’re doing you might as well just send a text (and in saying that I’ve possibly offended some people unintentionally). My favourite cards came from a colleague when I first started teaching. Lisa had the same amount of experience as me but she had a sensibility about her that I lacked. Each Christmas in those first few years she would write a detailed observation about my year. I’m trying to recreate that. I’m notoriously bad at complementing people but we’ve had a number of new staff come through our office in the last few years, people that don’t realise just how good they are. So what I do now is use Christmas as an opportunity to let them know just how much they are appreciated.

I think that’s what the holidays boil down to, showing people you appreciate them. I don’t care what religion you follow, all faiths preach tolerance and love.

I teach students with enormous potential, brilliant minds and compassionate hearts but I don’t tell them this as often as I could. I have a family that I love deeply but I don’t tell them as often as I should. I have friends that have shaped who I am more than anything else on this earth but I can’t tell them because we’re all blokes and expressing our feelings to each other is socially awkward.

But it’s Christmas so who cares?

To my students, colleagues, family and friends – you make me. We define ourselves through our interactions with others; you are the people I interact with the most.

Wishing you all the merriest of Christmases and happiest of holidays. May the next few days shine brighter than most.

Peace,
x

The Think Behind The Ink: Part 2

This tattoo is probably my last; I want every piece to mean something and I have nothing more to signify or, at least, nothing I can think of right now. I joked with Emily, my tattooist, that if I win lotto I might celebrate with a full back piece in the shape of a dollar sign. I don’t really see this happening, however, as I only buy 2-3 lotto tickets per year.

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Back to my latest tat…

This ambigram of father can be read right way up or upside down. This means that I can read it when I look at it and people can read it when they look at me and we can do this simultaneously.

Symbolically, this tat reflects the fact that I am a father twice over and also acknowledges that I have two fathers of my own (my birth dad and my step-dad). I also added a halo to one of the letters to represent that my birth-dad has passed away.

The halo also doubles as a wedding ring. For me, when I define myself as a father I use the term as a synecdoche (where one thing represents the whole). As such, the word father connotes family and not just the male figurehead.

That ends this post but I might explore my wife’s body art in a future update.

Peace,

🙂

Meddling With Medleys

I’ve blogged before that I’m a fan of covers and medleys are like the ultimate cover song. I do appreciate when artists produce their own medleys but more often than not it is the domain of the fan.

 

When Lakyn Heperi appeared on the Australian version of The Voice in 2012 I was already aware of him because of his YouTube presence. I liked many of his covers but it was his mash ups of “Crazy” and “I Need a Dollar” and “California Gurls” and “Isn’t She Lovely” that I would find myself singing to my kids at night. The latter made me consider the meaning of medleys (always the English teacher) as the arrangement twists the connotations of the originals.

 

Dan Henig, who I blogged about in that earlier post, does a wicked mash up of songs from 2013 – I love that guy’s voice. Another cool medley is from Megan Davies who pairs up with Jaclyn Davies (who I assume is her sister) with an acoustic rendition of a number of Macklemore songs.

 

If quirky combinations are your thing, then Adam Hoek is your man. Here he combines “Free Falling” with Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud”.

 

As a poet, I often think about the power of words and music. As such, two years ago I took a Maroon 5 classic and blended it with some of my own verse to twist the meaning and create something new. For some reason it is stored off of my normal YouTube channel but it’s something I’m really happy with. I hope you like it too.

 

 

T.S. Eliot dares disturb the universe

I love T.S. Eliot!

I’m not saying I understand his work. I’m not saying I recognise even half of the allusions and intertextual links he drops in his poems.

But, I love his stuff.

For me, the poetry of T.S. Eliot is like listening to music from a foreign country. You don’t necessarily know the lyrics but you might recognise some of the words. More importantly, you hear the emotion in the tone of the singer’s voice and in the chords played, and the rhythm controls your reaction. Eliot’s verse is the same – the meter and the imagery is enough to elicit an emotional response whether you fully understand the words or not.

A play should give you something to think about. When I see a play and understand it the first time, then I know it can’t be much good. – T.S. Eliot

One of the maxims of Literature is that meaning is not written but read. I get meaning from Eliot. It might not be aligned to his intentions when writing but I garner meaning from his poetry.

Take “The Waste Land”. It opens with descriptive verse that creates an atmosphere of desolation and decay. While some people will try and pin this down as being representative of the deterioration of English society/cultural values/Eliot’s marriage using WWI or Eliot’s nervous breakdown as evidence, these influences are superfluous to a dominant reading that speaks solely of concern for a ‘broken’ world.

Eliot asserts that “April is the cruellest month” and employs a motif of lifeless imagery through phrases such as “dried tubers”, “dull roots” and “dead land”. Automatically, readers are invited to adopt a critical viewpoint as each line is couched in negativity. The use of enjambment in this section also forces the reader to continue through the text without rest, suggesting that there is no relief for the people affected by this environment.

In his notes, Eliot attributes his opening lines to Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales but I’ve never read it so I don’t recognise the allusion. I still resonate with the imagery on an emotional level but, aside from using what Google tells me, I lack the intertextual knowledge to juxtapose these lines with Chaucer’s ‘sweet’ rains. So what? The allusion simply adds to the meaning made, it doesn’t construct the meaning on its own.

The same can be said of the references to the Bible, Wagner, Baudelaire, Huxley, Webster, Milton, Middleton, Alighieri, Shakespeare, Ovid, Spenser, Marvell, Weston… the list goes on. Beyond these literary allusions there are also nods to historical events, places and pop culture. If you get caught up in all of this you’d probably walk away feeling pretty dumb. So don’t. Reader response theory exists for a reason.

For the uninitiated, here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it:

“Reader-response criticism is a school of literary theory that focuses on the reader (or “audience”) and their experience of a literary work, in contrast to other schools and theories that focus attention primarily on the author or the content and form of the work.”

That’s the beauty of Lit theory. If you can’t interpret a text one way, you can always adopt another lens and use that to decipher it.

As for why I love Eliot… he knows his stuff. Sure, he probably knows too much stuff but there’s no denying his ability. His work is the poetic equivalent of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” or Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android”. These songs, like Eliot’s verse, are a pastiche of genres and influences, and it is this demonstrated mastery across styles and forms that makes them enjoyable.