Moon River: A Short Story

 
"What was supposed to be a film, I had not the heart or technique to make."

"What was supposed to be a film, I had not the heart or technique to make."

 

At 5pm sharp, (川) River, the janitor, would report to work. He punched his card, packed his own sandwich, and he got on with his cleaning. He would always look at her from behind and afar. He would notice her little movements; how she combed her hair with her fingers, how she applied her lipstick every now and then, and how she always bit her coffee cup from the vending machine. River always emptied her trash but her cup, he couldn’t bear. He did not know her name, except for the letter (月) Moon on her punch card.

River was seemingly upset at one of Moon’s co-workers who hit on her regularly. When the office was dark, River would commit despicable acts to the man he despised; such as shredding an occasional important document of his, or cleaning toilet seats with his office toothbrush, sometimes, on rainy days, he did both.

At home, River lived in a rather compact, squarish apartment. He did not have ornaments but he had a wall of stacked cups, all with Moon’s bite marks and faded lipstick. That was his way of ‘collecting’ her. On his table were yellowed books, and torn pages from notebooks, where he scribbled, and drew. A wall featured many of River’s messily arranged polaroids. They looked intimate, and rather impressive. Each picture revealed just slightly more of River as a person.

One day, River punched in to work and he did his routine, however, he immersed in a rare anomaly. Into the night, Moon lingered, and she typed voraciously. He enjoyed her company from afar as he dined with his usual peanut butter sandwich. Upon his exit from the washroom, to River’s astonishment, they met face to face, for the first time. She waved, and said goodnight. He waved back, without a word. Someone had noticed him, and it was her.

That night, River’s heart raced so fast that his hands shivered. Infatuation and happiness inspired a surge of impulsive inspiration. River gathered his polaroid camera and captured his elusive disposed cup collection of Moon’s daily doses. In the midst of midnight, River checked into the office, and laid down a series of polaroids on Moon’s table, with a specific flower he picked, an orchid.

The next morning, the monotonous alarm sounded catchy. River felt different. He broke his routine, and plunged into some basic hip exercises. He had a great appetite. Double portion. He ironed his uniform with a hum, and used expired gel on his hair. He wanted to look suave.

At 5pm sharp, River punched in, chest up, innocently confident, but not for long. Hisses sounded at him. He saw the man he despised, with a smirk, alongside a few female colleagues who sniggered. From afar, he saw that Moon gave him a half glance with a reluctant tilted posture. She then shied away. Beads of perspiration emerged from River’s forehead. Then, two firm taps thudded on his shoulder; manager signalled him into the office.

Without the slightest courtesy, the manager stripped the name tag off of River’s uniform and signed River a cheque. River discovered his work of art, his confessions for Moon, were crumpled in the bin. River left. 

He walked aimlessly into the night, as they do.

After hours of rumination, some time had passed and he ended up at a store that caught his eye; a tattoo shop. He brandished an old crumpled polaroid of a cup with a defined bite mark. The tattoo artist pointed to the seat, and thereafter was permanence.

Under River’s apartment he stood still, with a container, and fire. Disintegrated in ashes were Moon’s styrofoam cups and his ocean blue workwear. Temperamental light from the flames shimmered upon his swollen skin from the new ink he garnered. Where his heart thumped, was a plain tattoo of what looks like a bite mark, and the initials (月川) “Moon River,” throbbing along with his heart. The hurt will be permanent. His art, like ink on a skin, remained forever, the scar of a traumatic expression.




End


Moon River, a short story by K.Lee 
©2018 all rights reserved

Romelu Lukaku, the £75 million dilemma

 
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Ever since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure, fans and critics alike have been lamenting about the loss of the Manchester United spirit. This spirit, morphed over the span of two decades, embodies the strength of belief, fighting spirit, and relentless barrages of fluid attacks into opposition boxes. 

Legendary finishers that led the line for the Red Devils did not always possess the technical prowess that were as elegant as Cantona or Berbatov. Notable poachers who didn’t bother too much with the fancy footwork include the likes of Van Nistelrooy, Chicharito, Shringham, and Hughes.

Despite embodying different playing styles, all successful strikers at Manchester United shared a similar trait and that was their ruthlessness in attack. Whether they scored goals or not, they always produced.

While Lukaku has been smashing goals week in week out for Everton in the 16/17 season, he just doesn’t feel like a Manchester United signing from the get go. With Lukaku’s sheer strength and eye for goal alone, he could probably guarantee any premier league team at least 15 league goals. Yet, while there aren't doubts about the quality of the Belgium talent, he might never reach the heights that were set so high by former United’s greats. Here’s why.

To put it bluntly, Romelu Lukaku doesn't quite have an identity. This claim bear no regards to his name or his goal scoring accolades, but rather the role of the Belgium big man on the pitch. Let’s put Lukaku in perspective with two of United’s successful target man; Is Lukaku a penetrative dribbler that can create opportunities for himself and others like Van Persie? Or is he a no nonsense smasher like Van Nistelrooy? 

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Ruud Van Nistelrooy

219 appearances, 150 Goals

Football for Van Nistelrooy is all about service and link up play. Expect him to come up with neat one-twos or find teammates in space so that they could put a quality ball in for him. Van Nistelrooy knew his own strengths and would usually bully his way down the middle as he was never effective on the wings. Suppliers like Beckham, Giggs, and Scholes understood the space he operated in and the kind of balls he preferred. Put the ball in Van Nisterlrooy's path and chances are it'll hit the back of the net. Van Nistelrooy knew he had one job to do and he did it exceptionally well.

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Robin Van Persie

105 appearances, 58 goals

Van Persie was always more versatile. He had a special left foot that is blessed with power and technique. He could whip in crosses from the left or cut in from the right with a cross or a shot with his trademark curlers. When Van Persie played on the wings, wide midfielders had the option to support and drift towards the box for his services or move aside and pull away defenders so that he could take a shot. At dire times when he’s closed down on his left, he was always  comfortable with his right foot and that attracted multiple defenders who had to close him down, creating more spaces for his teammates to attack the goal. 

Identity Crisis

As for Lukaku, what kind of a striker is he? For a start, he’s physical, huge, and imposing, yet he never uses his physicality like Zlatan or Diego Costa. While he could pump in a few step overs, he doesn’t have the agility and pace to beat defenders on the wings like Henry or Ronaldo (Brazilian), not to mention, he is not adept with his weak foot and he isn’t a remotely good crosser of the football with either legs.

While Lukaku poaches inside the box, he rarely creates his own space and shot, or smash in from distance like Drogba. So the question beckons on how to supply Lukaku and what can his teammates expect of him? If Mata were to give Lukaku the ball on the left wing, what should Mata do next to support the attack? 

The issue with Lukaku is that he has to define his game and command for balls in areas that makes him a threat against the opposition. He’s not expected to control a game, defend, or whip in dangerous balls so he has to know how he can hurt opponents. Unlike players like Rashford or Martial, there are no displays of raw pace or acrobatic flair in Lukaku’s game. He’s always going make more of an impact as a starter than a substitute, bruising and wearing down centre halves so that his pacier counterparts can exploit the defences when fatigue kicks in later in a close game.

Classic target men in the physical Premiere League has always done well to hold up a long ball and bring teammates into play. Think Kevin Davies, Andy Carroll, and Giroud. It becomes a call for concern when Fellaini brings a high ball down better and is preferably a stronger header of the ball in late game situations. Drogba, Berbatov, and Giroud never had problems holding onto long balls. It's supposed to be a natural part of a target man's game. Lukaku has got to improve on the apparent qualities that he already possess rather than the step overs and penetrative play that United already have an abundance of. If Lukaku recognizes his strengths, he can impose himself onto defenders and turn into a physically unstoppable force for his front line.

The silver lining for Lukaku is that he’s too good and too expensive to just be a regular goal poacher. United paid £75 million for a leading striker and with Stretford End on his shoulders, Lukaku needs to bring back the Manchester United attacking spirit by doing the simple things right and aim at just being the best target man in the Premier league by a mile. It's not always about the goals (Giroud never scored once in the 2018 World Cup and the French won) but if you could shove off the bullish plays by Kompany and Lovren like swatting a fly, one can only imagine what that does to the confidence of your teammates and your opponents. In Vidic's prime, fans across the world saw that he was untouchable in most games but Torres and Drogba always had a way of torturing him. Lukaku needs to be in that class of strikers and he can start by identifying the strengths of his own play. 

It’s still early days for Lukaku at Manchester United and there's still much shopping United can do in the transfer market to get the best out of him. If he does get the knack of physically destroying centre halves, how about a decent crosser of the ball to reward him?

 

Strawberry Fields Forever: A Lyrical Paradox

 
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a lyrical paradox

 

Released in 1967 as a double side single with Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields Forever remains timeless. Its imagination and abstract arrangement transcends lyrical understanding and transports the listener towards a bittersweet destination that is dreamily unfathomable. 

What is the meaning behind Strawberry Fields Forever? It’s well documented to be an orphanage that Lennon frequented during his childhood but it isn’t the surroundings of the orphanage that makes the place a sweet escape. The chorus of the song invites us on a journey but do we all know the destination?

 

Let me take you down

‘Cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields

Nothing is real

And nothing to get hung about

Strawberry Fields Forever

 

The chorus acts as a preaching trance, intersecting between verses that justify the invite towards a magical land, oblivious to the troubles of reality. It cordially denounces corporeality as an undesirable environment to be in as compared to the innocent and mindless escape Strawberry Fields offers. 

The paradox, however, lies in that if nothing in Strawberry Fields is real, it probably doesn’t exist. For all we know, Strawberry Fields is probably a state of nullity that could be interpreted as a dream, a fantasy, a coma, or death itself. While there are plausible termini in the interpretation of Strawberry Fields, the chorus undoubtedly represents a state of mind. 

What further propels this explication is that, unlike the more literal Penny Lane, the lyrics of Strawberry Fields doesn’t describe anything scenic. It doesn’t operate on any primary senses; smell (e.g. fresh strawberries), sight (e.g. vibrant red strawberries), Hearing (e.g. birds, wind), taste (e.g. sweet), or touch (e.g. supple), are all excluded from its expression. In fact, utilizing those descriptions to paint the allurement of Strawberry Fields would be describing the appeal of reality itself. 

What’s interesting however, are the verses in which the chorus intersects with. They artfully  describe a progressive decline in a mindset that pronounces the lonely conundrums of an outcast. The verses are candidly honest, even gibberish towards the end, elucidating the lethargic voice of an individual who belongs nowhere. 

 

Living is easy with eyes closed

Misunderstanding all you see

It’s getting hard to be someone

But it all works out

It doesn’t matter much to me

 

In the first verse, the usage of the sentencing, “Living is easy with eyes closed. Misunderstanding all you see,” lends itself to an impression of an ignorant society that succumbs to the ideas of the masses rather than their own. The criticism is a direct statement that condemns conformity. The following lines, “It’s getting hard to be someone. But it all works out. It doesn’t matter much to me,” addresses the facade of masquerading oneself and the opinion towards the pretence.

 

No one I think is in my tree

I mean it must be high or low

That is you know, you can’t tune in

But it’s all right

That is, I think, it’s not too bad

 

The second verse speaks of the plights of being ‘different.’ “No one I think is in my tree,” describes a state of loneliness and the choice of using a tree as an expression signifies the parable to knowledge or intellect. The verse dwells into a mental state of misplacement when it mentions “I mean it must be high or low.” Lurking under those words are a tremulous sense of fear and uncertainty in identity or social standing.

 

Always, no sometimes think it’s me

But you know I know when it’s a dream

I think a “no” will mean a “yes” but it’s all wrong

That is I think I disagree

 

The final verse disintegrates into gibberish formations, echoing defensive notions of being misunderstood and misplaced. The lyrics plunges into a sense of helplessness and defence that ridicules the discord and quandary of conflicts.

Chorus aside, the verses of the song delivers the sorrows of a social pariah who reaffirms the need to go to Strawberry Fields Forever, a place that will never be in the realms of reality.