Friday, March 18, 2005

The Monkeysphere

This has probably been around since the dawn of the net, but if you have the time, it's a thought-provoking read (in good ways and some less good ways). Thanks to Rita for passing on this on via her usual mails.

Am somehow reminded of the Ferris Wheel sequence of The Third Man... one of the little dots.

McSweeneys on renting movies

Sorry. This is silly but it made me laugh. I need a holiday to improve my sense of humour. Cloud is reading The Joys of Yiddish at the moment - that should help.

Music of our years

Following the ongoing discussion on Inveresk Street Ingrate and Hak Mao on the topic of Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, I tracked this rather nice site. Nice to see others obsessively going through their musical life history...

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Norm and the Oirish

Couldn't resist a brief blog link to the Norm and his post on Irish for Beginners. Tipped from elsewhere, and I am sure today is replicated in many variations... funny none the less.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Obscure Song No. 3: "Tarmac"

Female trio Hazeldine aren't that well known. I'll be honest, I've had zero luck tracking down any of their stuff in the UK. But back in Sept. 1998 Uncut magazine gave away the first of their Sounds of the New West compilations, and the first track on that CD was the blasting and memorable "Tarmac," by Hazeldine.

The track discussed here also appears on their CD How Bees Fly, released on Glitterhouse.* As so often with the songs I love, this has a cracking lyric, but is considerably more upbeat in tempo than my previous two recommendations.
This town forgets to draw its blinds
I've seen its last ditch carnal crimes
The band is made up of Anne Tkach (bass); Shawn Barton (lead vocal); and Tonya Lamm (supporting vocal). Between them, they create a wonderful soundscape of country-esque thoughts driven by a powerful guitar-lick. But best of all, and this is what everyone will pick up on if you trace the song, there is the line about "Batman"...

I'm saying nothing more, 'cos it would spoil the surprise. Surfice to say that when we first played it, both Cloud and I looked at each other and said "did she really just sing what I thought she sang?"

And she did...

* Glitterhouse. Also home to David Thomas and the Two Pale Boys... Need we say more about this record label?

Demented Marxist Sect: aka the Tory party

Sorry, I know it's terribly incestuous to constantly blog to and fro with Cloud, but this was too good to resist. The idea that anyone would confuse the Tory party with a "demented Marxist sect" (scroll down) is just too....

... I'd like to say ridiculous, but the word seems too inadequate.

Page 45: reading the Lucifer books

I know, I know John (for when you get back off your much deserved holiday)... I said I was not going to be blogging and yet here I am...

Well, whilst I have energy and time I'm blogging. It's just I needed a get-out clause for if I felt unable to... and anyway, tonight I really HAVE to do my marking... sniff... whimper...

ANYWAY!

Page 45, for those who don't know it, is the best comic and graphic novel store in the UK. They even have an award to prove it. This weekend, as well as reading the Armstrong books, I also got through vols 5 (Inferno) and 6 (Mansions of Silence) of the Lucifer series. These take the Lucifer Morningstar character from the Sandman novels and have developed an entire other storyline. Mike Carey et al have continue to do a great job of bring the characters to life. Good stuff.

Kelley Armstrong: Weekend Reading

Over the weekend I felt rather disinclined to be marking. So instead, I had a reading fest and sped my way through some enjoyably frothy novels. Yes, I'm back on the novels of Kelley Armstrong. Having read Bitten, this weekend I finished reading the second Elena Michaels novel, Stolen, and then did a mad continuous read-through on the Paige Winterbourne books, Dime Store Magic and Industrial Magic. Those interested can follow up on these books by checking out Kelley's website, with extract chapters giving a good indication of the style of the narratives.

I'm rarely a fantasy fiction gal, but these are relly good page turners (not little though).

The next one, Haunted, is due out in May so the idea is that Celeste and I will read it together... if we have that much patience I will be amazed!

12 eggs in a box; or, how come I am mathematically challenged?

Friday night, Cloud and I contemplated the weekend's breakfasts. Last weekend, we had purchased a box of 12 eggs to save faffing about getting one on Saturday and one on Sunday to provide 4 eggs between us for each day. Somehow though, I was convinced this left us with 6 eggs and that if we got another box of 6 this would leave us with way too many eggs than we would need...

It took some great persuasion and thinking on my part to recalculate the problem. I am deeply ashamed. We had watched Blackadder the previous night with the "2 beans plus 2 beans = some beans" sketch. The whole experience left me feeling like I had just managed to say that "12 egss minus 4 eggs, minus another 4 eggs leaves 6 eggs!" Thus making me the very dim kid sister of a boy Cloud and I once passed in town:
Mum! Three and another three and another three is NINE!
He was about 6 years old...

Normblog and the composers

Norm has just posted his results from the classical composers blogpoll (unfortunately abbreviated in his post title archive to "The Great Compo," which suggests an entirely different type of poll... best "Last of the Summer Wine" character anyone?)

Beethoven, Mozart and Bach are the top three by a long chalk (or should that be baton?), with Schubert a clear "4th" - though Norm makes some interesting deductions about Schubert's status given the closeness between the top three and then subsequently numbers 5 to 11. Just 10 points separated Chopin, Wagner, Mahler, Brahms, Haydn, Handel and Shostakovich.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Blogging at the weekend: comment on the Tory Billboard

Felt compelled to blog and write a letter to the Guardian today. Following my previous comments on Beeston's Tory billboard ("It's not racist to impose limits on immigration"), imagine the fury I felt to see the Guardian today using a photograph of that same billboard as part of an article on middle-England's racism and turn against Labour (Sorry: the online version doesn't have the pictures but you know what I'm on about).

How I wish I had been able to take a photograph of the board when the "Bullshit" comment was on it - and what a shame the Guardian didn't get its image during that period. I'm not saying that the area of Broxtowe doesn't have some residents with offensive views, but the article tarnishes us all with the same ideology. And THAT is truly offensive.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Blogger comments for Counago & Spaves

Every now and then the Blogger system has a bit of a wibble. For example, I just tried to add a comment on John's blogpost at Counago&Spaves about pink kitchens but the system failed completely. I too despair of the pink female brigade: purple, I get, but not pink! The living room Cloud and I have has a red chimney breast with walls that are orange for the top half and blue on the lower half... trust us, it is a lot more appealing than it sounds (if I was blogger-picture enabled I would post a pic!)

Sociology lecturer or not, it can be tough going to avoid slipping into cliched stereotyping. But John is right - a pink kitchen is an unforgiveable culmination to a well-marshalled building project.

A lack of concentration

Due to my gammy leg from my fall on Monday (which makes me crankier than usual); heavy workload (covering for colleagues and general pre-Easter essay stresses from students); the demands of trying to get some reasonable essay completed on time for the ChickFlicks project; and my major disappointment that we will not be getting up to Aberdeen over Easter to see George (sniff!)... I am hearby informing my readers that for the next three weeks posts could be somewhat erratic.

Sorry, but that's the way it is. This is not say that there won't be any number of random posts appear over the next few weeks, but that I can't guarantee my blog presence.

If you're really unlucky I'll be reduced to delivering my seen/unseen remarks on the remaining films from the Ultimate Film List I have been ploughing through since the dawn of time.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Book recommendation

Courtesy of our friends at Counago&Spaves, who just had their blog's first birthday, this looks like a good investment. As part of our book collection, Cloud and I have a number of texts on the Wobblies et al, so this would certainly make a good addition. But if you're feeling generous, get it for John at C&S: he deserves it.

True life signage

Tree surgeon company Grant Brothers (as seen in Nottingham). Sign on back of truck:
Branches everywhere
I kid you not...

Joke: courtesy of Rita

A rabbi was opening his mail one morning. Taking a single sheet of paper from an envelope he found written on it only one word:
"shmuck."
At the next Friday night service, the Rabbi announced, "I have known many people who have written letters and forgot to sign their names, but this week I received a letter from someone who signed his name...and forgot to write a letter."

Sorry that made me laugh

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Radio Times

For those who share my interest in boys from Paisley such as this one, here's another for your delight: check out current issue just published of Radio Times [apologies that link will only last till next Monday].

Band review: Misty's Big Adventure, Persil and Melys

Three bands from the reign of John Peel's sessions (and not the pseudo shows that now rule his slots: the whole point of Peel was the unpredictability of the music from records to record. That's rather busted by having three different DJs with style genres). Anyway, I felt this was destined to be good.

First up, Misty's Big Adventure. Now this was THE unexpected delight of the evening. Melys, we knew they were good. But this!? This was an entirely awesome spectacle of weirdness and delight. I haven't grinned so much watching a band for ages. It was just so darn enjoyable! You have to admire a band led by a chain-smoking dude called Gareth who looks like the offspring of Paul Giamatti and the dry comedian Steven Wright, that features children's toys, saxophone, a trumpet and - along with assorted more usual band instruments and players - a man painted blue in a big red suit covered with blown up blue rubber gloves.... dancing pointlessly (or, depending on your view, entirely with point). Called - if I am reading the website corectly - Erotic Volvo. [You can check out some photographs of them here, but they hardly do justice!] With performances such as "Elevators, Escalators, Stairs", "Love is a Story with a beginning, a middle and an end", "Home taping is killing Music" (featuring the sentiment that all the money saved by people exchanging compilation tapes led to friends buying more cigarettes... and thus home taping was not only killing music but also your friends...!) and "I am Cool with a Capital C"... oh darn it... they were just really really enjoyable. Their album, "The Solar Hi-Fi System", is out now on SL records. SL are the people who brought you Ballboy, and though radically different in style you can't say fairer than that!

Second act up - and believe me, MBA were tough to follow - were Persil. A mild mannered duo of male and female from Amsterdam, they needed to be mild-mannered as the shinnanagens of MBA had pretty much buggered the sound system. Persil's electro musings and beeps and whistles - not unlike St Etienne crossed with Stereolab - were great when they worked. But they struggled with a series of disconnected leads and instruments, keyboard jams and lost vocals. If MBA hadn't been so good, they would have come over as talented but screwed by the inadequate sound system of Nottingham's Social. A pity... I think their records probably do them better justice.

Finally, FINALLY, we got to Melys and the stage presence of the delectable Andrea Parker. With a mix of old and new - including the glorious "Eyeliner" - this was a model of professionalism. They had no monitor feedback to assess how they were playing, and the first song had a couple of rough moments, but this was a delight to see. Andrea strutted like the star that she is (I want to look just like her) and as their first gig in Nottingham it was a real pleasure. The BBC description of 'bittersweet pop' is spot on. They also did "Chinese Whispers" and "Baby Burn", "Skating" and Casino el Camino" from the new album, and several other tracks that george will kill me for not recalling the titles of (I'm out of practice at scribbling in gigs the set list as it is played and wasn't close enough to grab a copy from the stage afterwards!)

Anyway, all in all a VERY worthwhile £5 gig. Next up - unless something occurs in the meantime - is Patrick Wolf. Look out for the next review!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

International Women's Day

Hak Mao, as so often, hits the spot with this comment on International Women's Day. We still need it, whatever the Sweepies might say about "come the revolution, sisters, all will be solved..."

Commentary: the Miner's Strike 20 years on

Sorry I missed posting on this yesterday but I had a collision with a desk down some steps and had taken on a colleague's workload in their absence (in other words - a bit bizzybaksun).

John over at Counago&Spaves writes eloquently about his response then, and now, to the Miners Strike... a very potent topic for me as a Nottingham girl who was in her 6th form years during the strike. A I have often said to my friends, my political position is that of a leftist Labour supporter of a Labour party that has unfortunately never really existed.
But the problem for us was never the old left project, it was the failure of the old left politicians to think outside the box, stop acting like dinosaurs, and think strategically instead of proprietorially or dictatorially. There was a level of machismo and slow wittedness (and a pride in both) that might be difficult to believe today, as though they thought brute force (in the form of 'solidarity,' but demanded, imposed, and controlled from on high) would guarantee victory.
I felt this summed up the emotions I felt quite well, and I would certainly urge similar-minded readers to read the C&S blog.

Fight Club as Calvin and Hobbes

Sure this must have done the rounds before, but a message on the H-Film net discussion pages brought this to my attention. As one of my favourite films, I had to include a blog to it.

Cola Troll - a fine (enough) movie

Over the weekend, on failing to get out of Stapleford - some kind of Truman Show thang where all this traffic suddenly appeared and we couldn't get out of our estate - Cloud and myself instead decided to borrow Collateral from the local DVD store. Beautifully shot, some fine performances, and - even if the last 30 mins were predictably thriller-by-numbers - a very entertaining and thrilling thriller it was too. Given that Cruise can't play on his youthful athleticism forever (not as he does much for me anyway), it was nice to see his work diversifying somewhat. If you haven't seen it, we would definitely recommend it.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Talking of David Strathairn

Ah, bless him. David Strathairn has been in some cracking movies. He's been in movies by John Sayles (seven times no less, including the glorious Eight Men Out) and, of course, he played Pierce Morehouse Patchett in LA Confidential. In that role he is forever ingrained into the minds of Helen Lisette and myself, not least because when we were in New York for the 2001 Oscars, me and HLW had a bit of a brainblock and couldn't recall the poor actor's name --- just that he had played PMP. There we were, slightly jetlagged still, stumbling over TV channels one late night and finding a made-for-TV production about gangsters in which he was a minor player. "That's erm... Pierce Patchett! Erm... what's his face! ARGH!" At which point we put on coats on top of our nightclothes, ran down stairs, paid a well useful dollar note into the internet-connected computer in the Herald Square Hotel lobby and gleefully used IMDB to retrieve the name of David Strathairn. Needless to say, we have never since forgotten his name!

Sneakers: a fun movie, a great line

Over the weekend, Sneakers was screened. Now we have a lot of time for this movie in the Cloud and Rullsenberg household, not least for this classic exchange:

[Bernard Abbott, played by 'voice-of-Darth Vader' James Earl Jones, plays the role of an NSA chief desperate to get back a decryption chip. The group of sneakers - headed by Martin Bishop (Robert Redford) - make their demands, a series of requests already voiced as ideals when all they thought they would get would be $170,000 between them. Whistler, played by David Strathairn, makes the following request]
Whistler: I want peace on earth and good will toward man.
Bernard Abbott: Oh this is ridiculous.
Martin Bishop: He's serious.
Whistler: I want peace on earth and goodwill toward men.
Bernard Abbott: We're the United States Government! We don't deal with that sort of thing.
Hoot! Of course, any time Cloud and I hear the phrase "peace on earth" we HAVE to add "goodwill to all men" because Mulder knows the consequences of forgetting that!

Weeping for Five

Okay, I'm busted, I'm a softie. Last week it was Cloud who was pushing to watch Short Circuit, and this week it was mee sobbing over Short Circuit 2. I'm sorry, but since I can do a mean impression of Johnny Five ("Input, need more input Stephanie... Benjamin! Not disassemble!") I do get rather distressed at the attack on the poor thing. It's just plain mean.

So there.

Amends: a great Buffy episode?

Subject: Amends
Point for discussion: is it great?
Opinion: darn tooting

Ha ha ha. George sent me a text late last night proffering the above comment (apologies for any slight adjustment, am working on memory!)

But it set me thinking. Amends is one of those Buffy episodes that distinctly divides opinions. Following Whedon's proclaimed aetheism, the Christian symbolism of forgiveness sat uneasily with many despite Whedon's later explanations. Additionally, many already felt that the return of Angel itself (after Buffy had had to send him to Hell at the end of Season 2) was itself a "jumping the shark" moment and that the First Evil tormenting him was, well, just lame. [point of order - how come young Buffy can get rid of the First Evil here with a mere dig at "yes, I get it, you're evil" whereas later Buffy gets all wimped out? Oh lord, that takes us into a whole "is Season 7 any good?" debate - I really didn't want to get into that here as I have a lot more sympathy with Season 7 than many viewers did].

Anyway, back to Amends. One of the key reasons why I love it is less for the Buffy/Angel plot than for the Oz/Willow plot. Especially the Barry White scene:
OZ: Willow? I got videos. (Willows' got Barry White playing, dim lights, the works)
WILLOW: Hi. Why don't you come s-sit down?
OZ: You ever have that dream where you're in a play, and it's the middle of the play and you really don't know your lines, and you kinda don't know the plot?
WILLOW: Well, we're alone, and we're together. I-I just wanted it to be special.
OZ: How special are we talking?
WILLOW: Well, you know, we're alone, and we're both mature younger people, and, and so... w-we could... I-I'm ready to... w- with you. (whispers) We could do that thing. (Oz stands) Where are you going?
OZ: No, I'm not going. Just a dramatic gesture. That's, that's pretty special.
WILLOW: (stands also) Oz, I-I wanna be with you. First.
OZ: I think we should sit down again.
WILLOW: Oz?
WILLOW: I-I'm ready.
OZ: Okay. Well, don't take this the wrong way... but I'm not.
WILLOW: (confused) Are you scared? 'Cause I thought you had...
OZ: (shyly) No, I have, but this is different. I mean, you look great. You know, and, and you got the Barry working for you, and, and it's all... good. But when it happens... I want it to be because we both need it to for the same reason. You don't have to prove anything to me.
WILLOW: I just wanted you to know.
OZ: I know. (smiles) I get the message.
Awh, come on... what's not to love about that?! And if you want more, check out this.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Debating Time Travel

Last night, whilst I was finishing marking, Cloud started to watch the film Frequency starring Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel [aka Jesus]. Now as those of you know me will know - or even just readers of my Normblog profile - I have a paranoid attitude towards time travel. I don't like it, I don't agree with it, and I take a "la-la-la-la, I'm not listening approach" to anyone who approaches me asking "what year is this?" My reasons for this are simple: I am a firm believer in the idea of 'the butterfly effect'... even if that was a terrible movie. Nothing is without consequences.

I reluctantly watched about 30 mins of the film, constantly muttering "this will not go well, there will be consequences to these actions." This took Cloud through about 1 hour of the film, but including advert breaks probably only 50 mins. By this point, events had been changed by the time travel/communication and frankly even Cloud thought the rest of the movie wasn't probably worth staying up for.

However, being the types who like a good discussion, our conversation moved on to consider why, if I had such an antipathy to time travel, have some of my favourite movies been structured around this topic. The two(ish) examples Cloud offered were Terminators 1 and 2, and - of course, Twelve Monkeys.

For me, the answer could be articulated thus: although both/all three are structured around travel back in time, the travel occurs because the events the time travel sets in motion have already happened. Now this may seem mind-boggling - indeed, don't think about it too much or your head will explode - but this can be reasonably defined as events within a cycle. The Terminator travels back in time to destroy Sarah Connor because her son will lead the rebel army that will rise up (successfully?) against the machines. In turn, John Connor will send back his friend to try and protect his mother from this Terminator. In actual fact, the soldier he sends back - Kyle Riese - will become his own (John Connor's) father. And, though the Terminator appears destroyed by the end of the first film, the remains of it will be rescued by a corporation who will ultimately produce the technology that leads to the 'rise of the machines' and the Terminators themselves that John Connor will be fighting against (see Terminator 2).

There is thus an inevitability about the events in the 'now', even as they seem to be designed to undo the events of the future.

In a similar vein, Twelve Monkeys explicitly reminds us on several occasions through the film that the future has already happened and what happened cannot be undone. James Cole comes back from 2035 to gather information on a virus outbreak in 1996-7, but is mistakenly (?) sent to 1990 instead. When he arrives, psychiatrist Kathryn Railly already feels she 'knows him'. Only after his escape/time travel back from 1990 to 2035 does she begin her work on prophecies of doom and 'time travel' claims that will inevitably provide her with proof of Cole's own time travelling. Yet throughout his life, Cole has been plagued by nightmares/memories of a shooting in an airport with him as a child: and that one of the key characters in this is Kathryn Railly. There are so many points of overlap within this 'Mobius strip' narrative - phonecalls not yet made received in the future before the travel back enabled them to occur - that it would be impossible to identify them all. Yet, as with the Terminator films, what is ultimately revealed is that future events are both set/reset by the travel from the future to the past. I have noted elsewhere the effect that the final scene has on me, where Railly - now aware of the relationship between the past/future - searches out the young face she has always known and makes eye contact with the Cole-to-be watching his own death. The circular movement moves forward and, with the final encounter on the plane between plague-bearer and the scientist ("I'm in insurance" - insuring what, the plague, the future of humanity, that the events as they unfolded will lead to their occurance again?) we meet a point where potentially - but only potentially - the entire narrative is unwoven. Only at this point - to echo what Sarah Connor voices in Terminator 2 - might we face the future not knowing what the future holds.

Of course, the narrative of Twelve Monkeys also identifies the impossibility of being in two places at the same time: this is where the inspiration it takes from Chris Marker's La Jetee comes in, the film/story that academic Constance Penley once erroneously stated could never be remade (this was before Twelve Monkeys did precisely that). And this is what I become unnerved about with other lesser narratives. Frequency's entire story hinges on the unravelling effect that time travel has - the butterfly effect - that leaves me aware of the disruption it causes. In the two Terminator films/Twelve Monkeys the time travel is designed to challenge what has happened, not (unintentionally) see what things are like in the future/in the past with the disastrous consequences that can create.

Bizarrely for Cloud, I am a free-will determinist. To cite the misquoted remark of Kyle to Sarah Connor, "There is no fate but what we make for ourselves" (T2 makes it appear as if that was what Kyle said but it was actually "The future is not set" - only in the extended director's version of T2 where we see Sarah's visionary encounter with Kyle does he even make the statement about fate... I'm sad, I know this). I believe that often we cannot avoid what will happen. Moreover, that we can do things differently and they may end up the same or we can do them the same and they will end up different: ultimately it is that moment, that version of that moment at that time that determines what will be. Time travel in that respect just screws things up.

Before I forget, there is a nice little article on the time travel narrative of the Terminator films (sadly it deals with the third film as well which was frankly nonsense). Thanks for reading. more rants next week folks!

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Melys gig forthcoming

Never mind telling Norm, thanks for the tip John (over at Counago&Spaves) on forthcoming gigs. This got me to chase up whether Melys were on a general tour and Cloud and I are now looking forward to a gig at the Social in Nottingham on Tuesday! Thanks!

Look out for the gig review folks.

Buffyology: updates keep on coming

John Horner's excellently desirable Buffyology website continues to develop apace: along with a nice sense of wit about his project, he's also putting together a gloriously straightforward database of materials. Searchable on just about every level. This I like...

Better than Freud's jokes

Cloud has recently (here and here) been raiding a book on jokes (not Freud's own 'laugh a minute' volume but rather Ted Cohen's Jokes: Philosophical thoughts on joking matters). Go read; go laugh; the Lenin one still makes me chortle...

Thoughts on the Oscars

Casyn over at the Slayer Library bemoans the recent Oscar ceremony and finds herself agreeing with Harry over at "Ain't It Cool?" - something of a rarity perhaps? Now, I have many problems with Harry and his site, but on this issue I agree with her that most of his comments make sense. Where I differ from Casyn is that I don't think I can lay claim to any great commitment to the Oscars. In the UK coverage has always been erratic and the time difference makes it a nightmare to watch live, even if it is being shown. Moreover, I can't think of many years where I have had much emotional interest invested in more than a couple of films/persons. Okay, there was the room 319 incident with its joyous shrieks of 'yes!' back in March 2001 (and yep, I think I just deliberately got that room number wrong Helen Lisette...!) when fate decreed that we were in New York on Oscars weekend to see Russell Crowe pick up the Best Actor gong. Sure, LA Confidential and The Insider were both much more deserving performances, but that's the populist Academy for you. And out of the duty of friendship, I carefully sat up the following year when HLW was away in Sussex to tape the full awards ceremony - with some judicious editing - when Rusty was up for Best Actor in A Beautiful Mind, when he lost out on the "awh-disability" vote to the "about-time-we-pretended-we're-not-racist" vote. But, if I am honest, I'm rarely that impressed with the nominations or the winners. As I said previously, the only categories that I ever seem remotely regularly impressed with regarding awards/nominations for in the writing categories.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

West Wing Season 5: nearly two months to wait

I do my best not to be too spoilered by TV series, but I had been busted about the end of Season 4 by reading the collection of scripts offered by Aaron Sorkin from seasons 3 and 4. Didn't stop me climbing the sofa watching the penultimate episode on Friday... nor when we 'cheated' and borrowed Helen Lisette's DVD copy to watch the final one (Cloud had gawped and pleaded "Can we call Helen!? I can't wait till Friday!). If anything, knowing what was happening made it even more exciting. Still, I have done my best to keep the details from myself about Season 5. PLEASE NO SPOILERS... I even manage to read synopses on TWP without alerting myself to ongoing plotlines. [It's a trick I perfected when watching the final seasons of Buffy - blur your sightline whilst locating the correct boxes to get to pages where you are not going to read anything too spoiler-ish. A fine art and very useful!]

I also caught up on the one episode from this season we missed: it screened here just before Xmas and was about CJ and her father's diagnosis with Alzheimers. Good episode; as ever Alison Janney was a goddess and beauty and acting ability... but man, it was hard for me, and I'm glad I didn't watch it any earlier. Too much hitting close to home in terms of dealing with my own dad.

Anyway, at least the DVD's are coming out a little swifter over here... April 25th for Season 5. Because Lord-a-mucksy knows when the darn thing will get on terrestrial TV.

Community action on Conservative advertising campaign

Ha ha ha. Our local Sainsbury's supermarket (Beeston in Nottingham, if you are interested) has above its carpark a poster site currently hosting the Conservative Party's campaign of 'handwritten' notes. This one reads: "It's not racist to impose limits on immigration"...

to which some graffiti adds

"Bullshit"

My sentiments exactly.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Oscars: some wrong and few right

Well, I think my correct guesses for the BAFTAs were just that: guesses!

Correct

Animation: The Incredibles beat the opposition hands down
Art Direction: The Aviator. I think that whilst the film looked good, in their hearts I think the academy thinks they have blown a decent chance to reward Scorcese. It's the honorary Oscar for him I think...
Cinematography: The Aviator - same reasons.
Costume: The Aviator - and again.
Best actor: As Don Cheadle said, if he had been announced as the winner the first thing through his head would have been Foxx's fist. No great surprises there.
Best supporting actress: Cate, of course
Make-Up: Lemony Snicket was too good not to award this category to it.
Music (Score): Finding Neverland. Got that.
Music (Song): The Motorcycle Diaries. Another hit.
Sound Editing: The Incredibles... another hit.
Sound Mixing: Ray... of course
Screenplay (original): Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind ... Okay so this was a personal choice, rather than my 'bet' but I would like to note that the Oscars awards in this category are the only ones I most regularly agree with.

Incorrect

Best actress: on reflection it was Hilary by a mile. the acceptable face of difficult issues...
Best supporting actor: I forgot to take account of the sentimental vote... of COURSE Morgan Freeman was going to win this!
Best Director: It is hard not to feel some woe for Scorcese, especially when another long-time servant of the industry gets the award. Did Eastwood deserve it? On balance, I think yes because to award it to Scorcese would have been more about his past misses (not as it stops them on other occasions).
Documentary feature: Born into Brothels... I didn't see that coming.
Documentary short: Mighty Times - The Children's March... missed that as well.
Film Editing: The Aviator... another technical award. Personally I think they missed one with not giving something to the Cola Troll.
Foreign film: The Sea Inside... how could this not win? Disability always wins out for sentiment in the Oscars, even if the portrayals are deservingly well-thought through.
Best film: Million Dollar Baby hit the big mark. Poor Marty. The East Coast boy ain't ever gonna get it...
Short film (Animated):Ryan... BAFTA no help in predicting that.
Short film (Live Action):Wasp.. Again, BAFTA no help.
Visual Effects: Spiderman 2... I was not that impressed with this, but I did think the effects were better than in the first one. Also, Kirsten looked hot...
Screenplay (adapted): with the noting of it being a popular minor hit, Sideways was atually an inevitable winner. Especially as MDB got so many of the other awards that Sideways was never - and in some respects should never - have got a look-in at.

Death Penalty for under-18s in the USA: Supreme Court Abolished

Fantastic news just noticed on the BBC website. The US Supreme Court has voted 5-4 to abolish the death penalty for those under 18 years of age. This affects not only those convicted in the future but also around 70 prisoners currently on death row.

Sweepings

Had a wry smile at Norm's passed-on email regarding the SWP. My own standpoint is that the Sweepies/Swappies cannot see past their own noses on most issues: their false belief that the process will automatically lead to the outcome often results in assumptions that irritate the hell out of others. Never try to be feminist talking to a Sweepie because all you will get is that the revolution will come and sisters will then be alright... yeah, 'cos there are no misogynists in the party are there?

["Typeface for irony" needed: idea courtesy of Tom Stoppard and The Coast of Utopia trilogy... and no doubt other places too.]

It's all about pretentiousness

I have to say I didn't hold out great hopes, but in the wake of last week I was willing to take any sweet input from wherever I could. So, on that basis, I persuaded Cloud that we should at least give It's All About Love a bit of a look.

The clues were all there:
  1. Dogme director doing non-Dogme film [though my original typing of 'Dogma' was not all wrong in sentiment...]
  2. Film festival praise and brickbats and pretty much NO release in the cinemas
  3. Mix of American and UK/European cast - many of whom were working on their first international production (as opposed to a UK-based film)
  4. Great cinematography - should be part of a good film not the only good thing about it (I should have guessed from the glossy flash website it had)
  5. Pause-driven script and enigmatic characterisations - this was spotted in about 5 mins

We gave up. About 25 mins in. And it could have been after 10 mins.

I'm sorry. I wanted it to be better. After all, it had Douglas Henshall in it! But it wasn't enough. Like Prospero's Books before it, this was glossy, beautiful and utterly UTTERLY self-indulgently pointless and without any momentum. I will watch it, but I doubt I will re-watch it much. Personally, I even preferred the beard to the moustache...

Kelley Armstrong: current reading

Being in need of more frothy material than academic writings on music - albeit pop music - I skipped some of my hours this weekend to read Bitten by Kelley Armstrong. The ever lovely Celeste recommended it to me on the basis that she has had to read Kelley's works through supervising a student's research, and - seeing as I am such a Buffy fan - thought I would enjoy reading some werewolf narrative.

I have to say I was mightly impressed. Bitten was a ripping yarn with some well-constructed characters and I am happily looking forward to reading something further of her work. Her website (link above) is very well constructed and offers both unpublished, work-in-progress writings AND opportunities to offer input or view Kelley's own comments on her writing. I'm definitely going to be reading more of this.

Observer Blog and a fiendish music quiz

Thanks be to the Norm who as ever keeps me updated where normal thought processes fail. He provided a link to the new Observer blog which presented a wonderful quiz on bands. I'm still dipping my toes into this and am horrified by what I am able to identify.

PS I got 193 without asking for any help from anyone... and I know there are at least another 20 I should be able to identify. How sad am I?!

Thanks folks

Ta for the comments, calls and emails to me regarding last week's little hiccup. I've had a couple of days away from the office; am glad it only 4 days this week; and didn't get nearly enough work done at home. Still, I feel less like I am on the brink of collapse or arrest so that has to be a good thing, and I didn't even have to give up watching Vincent D'Onofrio (Helen Lisette, I am ignoring any connection between my paranoia and my passion for crime dramas, let alone any specific persons therein...!)