Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The bible retold

Great link from John at Counago&Spaves: hours of delight to be had from this site. But John is right: this one is a gem!

Oscars ahoy (incomplete post)

I never got chance to finish my response to the BAFTA nominations, and I'm a bit cross with myself for that because I don't like to just concentrate on the acting/directing categories. The behind-the-scenes stuff is also important, as is the writing. So here I have tried to address some of these but its still incomplete and I've a student due (after having a hideous time doing a workshop, not getting lunch till 3pm, and thankully a cancellation in my 3pm slot).

So here it is in all its incomplete ingloriousness: I hope to come back to it but you know what I'm like....

The nominations:

Philip Seymour Hoffman - CAPOTE
Terrence Howard - HUSTLE & FLOW
Joaquin Phoenix - WALK THE LINE
David Strathairn - GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.

I still rate Strathairn, but the swing may now be behind PSH for Capote, a film I am truly looking forward to seeing. Whilst for the BAFTAs you have to take account of the home vote for Fiennes, as well as the mixed desire to pre-empt the Oscars and reward those who may not get the Oscar look-in, in the US I think this may have now become more clear-cut.

George Clooney - SYRIANA
Matt Dillon - CRASH
Paul Giamatti - CINDERELLA MAN

Not sure why Hurt is nominated for HoV: an old favourite back in favour with the academy? Paul Giamatti may swing this for losing out last year. Nice to see Crash getting nominations in abundance though, despite being last year's film rather than a more recent release for Oscar season.

Felicity Huffman - TRANSAMERICA
Keira Knightley - PRIDE & PREJUDICE
Charlize Theron - NORTH COUNTRY
Reese Witherspoon - WALK THE LINE

It seems as if Reese may be the hot favourite for this, closely followed by Felicity Huffman. It all depends on if they want to reward a musical in the acting nominations for the second year running (it's also why I don't think JP is front-runner for the actor award). If the two Brit nominations get whiff of this award I will scream "are you insane?" Prior winner Charlize Theron may lose out because of her winner status.

Amy Adams - JUNEBUG
Catherine Keener - CAPOTE
Frances McDormand - NORTH COUNTRY
Michelle Williams - BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

I love Catherine Keener, but the swing may be behind Rachel Weisz for this one.


Tough, tough, tough but my heart goes with W&G of course...

GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK Jim Bissell (Art Direction); Jan Pascale (Set Decoration)
HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE Stuart Craig (Art Direction); Stephenie McMillan (Set Decoration)
KING KONG Grant Major (Art Direction); Dan Hennah and Simon Bright (Set Decoration)
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA John Myhre (Art Direction); Gretchen Rau (Set Decoration)
PRIDE & PREJUDICE Sarah Greenwood (Art Direction); Katie Spencer (Set Decoration)

THE NEW WORLD Emmanuel Lubezki

The look of a film can be so important, and all the director's vision in the world will not help if those making it look good (set, photography) are not equally matched to the director. In an age where we have grown used to colour, working in black and white always seems to look spectacularly wonderful on-screen, but getting it to look that way isn't easy: after all, we're not seeing the world in bloack and white through our eyes, and we're less used to critically comparing different black and white cinematography. Would it be a cop-out to reward the work then in GN&GL? I don't think so. Malik always seems to inspire good visuals though, so nice to see that getting a nod. I do admit though that Batman Begins did look amazing...


CAPOTE Bennett Miller
CRASH Paul Haggis
MUNICH Steven Spielberg

Horrid to predict this one, except to say that I doubt Spielberg will scoop direction for Munich: but this is a very strong list with merit (or expectations of merit for those I've not yet seen) across the board in the category.



CINDERELLA MAN Mike Hill and Dan Hanley
CRASH Hughes Winborne
MUNICH Michael Kahn
WALK THE LINE Michael McCusker




"In the Deep" - CRASH
"It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" - HUSTLE & FLOW
"Travelin' Thru" - TRANSAMERICA


There was much speculation that Munich would not make much indentation on the Oscars this year - still at least they seemed to get the DVDs out to the voters. I suspect the weight is still behind Brokeback Mountain, though again this is a strong list.





THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE Dean Wright, Bill Westenhofer, Jim Berney and Scott Farrar
KING KONG Joe Letteri, Brian Van't Hul, Christian Rivers and Richard Taylor
WAR OF THE WORLDS Dennis Muren, Pablo Helman, Randy Dutra and Daniel Sudick

Effects date so badly, but the big monkey may win this...

Oh, by the way, how long into Friday's RadioFive broadcast from Mark Kermode before he complains about Andy Serkis not being nominated for best actor? Or has he already spouted off on this?

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN Screenplay by Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana
CAPOTE Screenplay by Dan Futterman
THE CONSTANT GARDENER Screenplay by Jeffrey Caine
A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE Screenplay by Josh Olson
MUNICH Screenplay by Tony Kushner and Eric Roth

For all the things I liked about Munich, to reward its screenplay would be the hardest to justify. I'd personally like to see History of Violence get this, but suspect it will be tight between Brokeback Mountain and Capote. TCG may have more chance in the BAFTAs...

CRASH Screenplay by Paul Haggis & Bobby Moresco; Story by Paul Haggis
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK. Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov
SYRIANA Stephen Gaghan

Nominating Woody Allen?! I don't get it... not for this. Otherwise, given I have only seen Crash it would be hard to comment (never stopped me before you say!). I'd happily see either Clooney venture rewarded, but for me Crash was good enough to win through.

Cairngorm pictures! [thanks to George]

Cairngorm Summit

Descending from Cairngorm

Thes magnificent pictures were taken by George this past weekend on his LONG hike. They were just too beautiful to not share with you, being so darn atmospheric you almost feel as if you are floating on top of the world looking at them: with his permission they are here for your delight.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Cinema day: Munich and Hidden

Went to town yesterday and saw Munich at the Cornerhouse followed by Hidden at the Broadway (the latter will hopefully not be forced to close due to it stupidity at being repeatedly stung for selling alcohol to under-age drinkers: trust me, it will NOT survive losing its licence).

Anyway, the movies. Despite the complaints, we actually found Munich far more satisfying than we expected and at least worth seeing, even if the weeks documentaries told the narrative more effectively and 'truthfully'. What no-one can surely dispute is that Munich is Eric Bana's film through and through. Bana, whom I have otherwise only seen in the magnificently dark and bleakly hysterical Chopper, dominates the film. As Ben Marshall remarks in this week's Guardian Guide article:

You leave the cinema convinced that without this actor as his lead, Spielberg might just have ended up with the world's most expensive remake of Death Wish.
Bana is brooding and tormented in a truly strong and moderately silent style: a definite cinematic throwback. Does the film work? I think so: whatever its faults as a documentary history, there is a compelling narrative here, albeit one effectively strung on one character. Some of the dialogue is clunky, but at least in one scene, knowingly so:

Daphna: We should stay at home.
Avner: You are the only home I ever had.
Daphna: ...
Daphna: This is so corny.
Avner: What? That took a lot for me to say!
Daphna: Why did I have to marry a sentimentalist? You're ruining my life.
Avner: [to their newborn baby] Your mother's teasing me.
Overall, I would say that - as in so many cases of dramas 'inspired by real events' - that if you're looking for an accurate portrayal of events, go to a documentary [the Coen's played with this well in Fargo of course!]; if you want a human narrative that may draw you into the real life events, this fiction may be a start. It is problematic, but that is as much to do with the difficult subject matter and the nature of fictionalisation than with Spielberg. Blaming him is not the solution.

One great thing about seeing a film like Munich is you can pretty much predict the trailers: unlike works less identifiably 'art-house lite', where you can sometimes sit in wonderment at the bizarrely inappropriate selection of trailers on show, here it was obvious what we would get. The cinema had clearly pegged us as liberal/left social thinkers: Syriana and Good Night and Good Luck it is then, with Flight 93 thrown in for good measure. I think at least the Clooney ventures will be getting our bums on seats, and I have no objections to repeated screenings of those trailers.

So to Hidden, which has garnered plaudits from many corners. It certainly is worthwhile, with the central performances being especially wonderful. I'm rather fond of Daniel Auteuil, being a huge fan of La fille sur la pont. This is another great performance from this woundedly laconic actor, but that is not to underestimate his co-stars. the cinematography of Christian Berger is stunning, and the movement from 'video' to film is seamless in an appropriately creepy way. As you would expect from writer / director Michael Haneke, there are at least two truly uncomfortable scenes of unexpected violence which are central to the film. Shocking and disturbing, they highlight the various ideas and incarnations of what is 'hidden.'

Most beautifully, in an age which demands 'closure', the film ends on a bleakly unresolved note which, even for a pretty substantial art-house cinema audience drew a collective mental gasp of "huh?!" when the credits started to roll: it was as if the entire audience was unwittingly dragged into admitting they had expected resolution and instead found themselves resisting the urge to yell "that's it? that's how you're ending it?!" A good thing.

On a more superficial level can I say I loved the apartment that Auteil and Binoche shared: books on show and lots of them! That's what I ultimately want for my sitting room!

Friday, January 27, 2006

So many good posts out there: these just from one site

Try here for something on the weirdness of books (thanks for tipping me to visit C&P again: must be all of just over a day since I was on the site...)

Circulating on blogger I was also directed to Struggling Author's wonderful 7 meme, with added David Tennant-ness

And try here if you want to find out the most hilarious dream read in ages.

Genius. Toot toot folks, off home!

Jane Garvey and travelling home

Rob's post - belatedly caught by me - is perfect. Not only does he continue the well-deserved praise of the fantastic Jane Garvey (driving home just isn't the same without her on the radio), but he also has brilliant comments to make on drivers and accidents. I'd heard the horrors of the particular accident he mentions, but his report perfectly captures what happens
"following a coach-motorcycle interface. It opened shortly before I set off for home, and it wasn't too bad, considering, except I then got stuck in a 10-mile-Southbound tailback caused by people slowing down to look at the umpty-mile tailback on the other side. I love it when people do that. I lurve it. I want to kiss the people who do that. With my fist of wrath.

The northbound problem was caused - drumroll - by a truck and something that was now spread over most of the 3 lanes. So the motorway was closed for several hours between J23 and J23a. Cars sitting behind the incident were in the for the long haul, their lights and engines switched off (apart from one - optimistic? stupid? - Audi driver, who was clearly so Important and Busy that he was confident of being let through)."
Yes, because what we all need to do when there has been an accident is slow down to look: what is it with that response?! And why, despite all signs to the contrary is there always someone who is "so Important and Busy that he was confident of being let through"? I'm only amazed he wasn't driving a BMW...

Incapacity benefit: not fully chewed but...

As I have worked - and continue to work - with disabled adults, the issue of incapacity benefit has long been a source of fury to me. Frankly, the standard of living [existence] on benefits for the vast majority of people continues to be a disgrace despite all the efforts of the Labour government to improve/clarify benefit provision. I'm being charitable there because the benefit system is an incredibly complex beast which government has the unenviable task of making the populace swallow paying taxes for in a climate where increasingly we are inadvertently [deliberately?] labelling people as deserving and undeserving poor. The current difficulties come out of long-term problems and circumstances and at this point I see no logic in 'blaming' the current Labour government for the situation any more than I would seek to shift the blame to the previous lengthier Conservative administration [7 years ain't a blip, but it's scarcely halfway to the 15 years* of the past administration in terms of social impact]: political and social systems more broadly contribute to the problem. [* UPDATE: thanks Neil for pointing out that should read 18 years; a fact I well know but must have somehow been repressing...]

Anyway, taking as the jumping off point the recent Bloggers4Labour debate, I accept that it would be a wonderful thing that "The more severely disabled people will receive a higher rate of benefit and have no obligation to look for work." Fabulous idea and far better than the ludicrous situation where people have to keep justifying themselves, experiencing loss of income and then the erratic reimbursement of benefit arrears: people who are no position to keep on doing this performance, and indeed are adversely affected by having to do so.

However, there is at least a problem there in defining "severely disabled." Do we mean those disabled people requiring 24 hour care? What kind of care? Some may nevertheless want to work in some form, but may require exceptionally specialist support from both the state in terms of getting them into suitable jobs and also employers meeting disability legislation requirements... or are we going to tell those who might fall into that category that because the new incapacity benefit deems them suitably "severely disabled" they not only are not required to look for work/to work but will not be provided with advice and assistance in working?

I'm not especially ideologically stunted enough to refuse to ignore the practicalities of government rethinking how and why the benefits system should work. However, currently the benefit system in part effectively subsidises employers paying inadequate wages to meet a certain basic standard of living and proposed plans for amending Incapacity Benefit hardly seem to address how employers will be encouraged/forced to deal with inadequate wages.

One could also look at the issue of how compulsion will operate for those deemed to be able to look for work: I was discussing this with Cloud the other night when he suggested that accepting that some claiming incapacity benefit have no desire to work [no where near as many, nor costing as much, as those defrauding the state via endless accountancy tax scams], such people will generally find ways to march through the required hoops to enable them to continue claiming. I argued that it was likely to turn out to be much more complex than that, given that the intention is reduce the bill for benefits [I hold no truck with the concept that this change to Incapacity Benefit is intended to solely reduce the costs of that one benefit: otherwise the government might as well say it is happy for the overall benefit budget to continue at the same level, just shifting it away from coming under the Incapacity budget]. I would say 'what is the compulsion and will it operate as a sliding scale or a continuous activity? That is, are we looking at: you've applied for X jobs in the last 6 months... "and was shortlisted/interviewed Y times so you can carry on claiming; "you did not get any interviews so you can only carry on claiming providing..."; "you did not get any interviews because they weren't 'appropriate' so you must now apply for A..."? Anyone who is a graduate is likely to testify to the general inability of the job centres etc to appropriately support and understand their search for work. I dread to imagine how some of the vulnerable students I have worked with in recent years, who potentially fall under Incapacity Benefit, will fare under the combined weight of the new regime and the long-term relative inability of job centres to advise the graduate sector. As Paul Leake outlined in his comment to the B4L debate "The problem for me isn't the principle ... but the practice".

B4L also said:

Nobody's saying it will be easy for many of these people to find work - especially with lingering symptoms and side-effects of their sickness - but at least a job search can begin, people have something to aim at, to train for, and can try to change their lives.
I think this again somewhat misses the point, not just because of finding the right sort of work, but also the number of hours that the person could work and the level of income that could provide [see the post below for further comments on the concept of 'minimum income', an issue which B4L seems utterly prepared to ignore when he goes on to remark "If you can work, you should, even if it is for less than the JA, not least because of all the other non-wage benefits of employment as against unemployment" - I'll come back to this one shortly in this lengthy post].

In the B4L comments, Tom raised the idea that cutting the benefits of the weakest went against socialist principles [it's that word!], spurring B4L to respond that what such an attitude
demonstrate[s] is a sentimental attachment to "the weakest" without any obvious concern to offer them new opportunities, or a route out of poverty, because they are - as I suggested above - a political pawn to be used in an ideological New/Old Labour-style battle, which is far more important to its participants than the people who actually need money and jobs to live.
OUCH! Needless to say, things got worse from there with B4L digging himself in deeper with this further response:
I do think sentimentalism is the right word to use when well-intentioned measures to help those who can work, and to reduce dependency, are condemned just because some - who can work and refuse to be helped, but are sheltered by their victim status - may lose out.
And this, one could say, takes us to one specific aspect of the problem raised earlier in my mentioning 'deserving and undeserving poor': what the purpose of benefits actually is. There is a widespread perception that certain factions of the left effectively defend and perpetuate "victim status" upon the weakest members of society, but surely it is even worse to ignore how complex and demeaning the benefit system can be? There may be handfuls who have become immune, perhaps perversely have even come to thrive on having to navigate the benefits system 'successfully', but this says more about our attitudes towards class and (participation in) society than about the amounts of money available [we'll leave for another time debates about the impact of celebrity culture encouraging ridiculously large proportions of young people to want to "BE" famous as a career/life status/identity]. Wanting to work is not the same as being able to work, let alone the same as being able to work and earn sufficient for doing more than existing (a situation that does much more damage to self-confidence and mental health than may be believed). It is not impossible to imagine a person saying to themselves: "I'm working and I'm STILL not off benefit and all that entails because what I can earn and the working standards I have to experience are so poor that I'm still at the bottom of the social pile."

Much trumpeting was made in the news on how changes to the incapacity benefit in a trial project had supported a woman who had experienced mental health difficulties to come off incapacity benefit. But she was now running her own business - hardly an option that is going to be suitable for every person, let alone a substantial majority of those on incapacity benefit. And let's not kid ourselves as to how hideous the spiral of mental illness can be, nor the appalling attitudes that pervade in the workplace once it comes to actually working with or employing people with mental health problems [I've seen this in practice: one thing for employers to say they're supportive, quite another to BE supportive].

Deluded as I may be, I think government does have an obligation to ensure (1) that poverty, relative or otherwise is minimised if not eradicated, not least in this country and that people are given dignity and respect to live their lives. Ensuring opportunities to work, and assistance to participate in the workplace are but one part of that. But this leads me to (2): that government also has an obligation to ensure that employers are encouraged to pay wages appropriate to minimising/eradicating poverty, rather than their profits being subsidised by government benefits and the procedural nonsense that goes with so many of them.

Minimum income for all? Absolutely.

I now await your punches.

Holocaust Memorial Day

Today. Pause, reflect, learn from this.

Anyone else watch the programme on Channel 4 by wonderful Hardeep Singh Kohli debating why we need a Holocaust Memorial Day? What I found so profoundly moving was how he made his case exploring the perils and pitfalls of Britain's adoption of Holocaust Memorial Day only to find himself somewhat undone by confronting the historically preserved realities of the Jewish Holocaust. A very good programme presenting the evolution of a debate.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Incapacity benefit: I'm chewing over and mentally writing a response to this topic

In the meantime, some 'debates' and rants at Bloggers4labour.

McManus lends a whole new angle to the 'seven' meme

Read it and weep!

What's wrong with jazz?

Rob Buckley doesn't like jazz. I think that his problem may be akin to one I had in my earlier years: 1) I thought jazz was just one thing and 2) I wasn't ready for jazz, of any kind.

It's hard to imagine a world without jazz, not least because of how it bleeds into so many other genres of music: blues and funk to name just two. Over the years I have known many people who proclaimed a 'hatred' for jazz, and eventually all have been teased out of their way of defining jazz into admitting they liked certain pieces of music, performances, performers or styles, not realising their place in the world of jazz. I think as well what doesn't help is record stores categorising music: jazz, world, easy listening, metal, urban (whaaaat?!!!) etc etc. Why not just alphabetical by artiste, mixing all styles together? Ttake away the predictability of only liking particular types of music and dismissing all variations within others.

What does it mean to BE gay?

Was Simon Hughes being hypocritical when he recently denied to the Independent that he was gay, only to 'come out' to The Sun (of all papers!) and state: "I am perfectly willing to say that I have had both homosexual and heterosexual relationships in the past"? Is he just 'bisexual' as this Guardian blog comment reports?

On balance, I suspect that his politician's soul got the better of him here and that there is a degree of hypocrisy to what he has said previously and now. HOWEVER, as is typical for the British attitude to sex and sexual activities, I do think that there is not necessarily a contradiction per se in Hughes stating he is "not gay" and admitting to having had homosexual relationships. Is the tag of bisexuality is sufficiently adequate?

In the excellent book Gay New York, writer George Chauncey argues that identification as 'being gay' would have made no sense to those in pre-WWII America, and many men would have engaged in sexual acts with other men without this precluding them from 'being heterosexual' or even restricting them to 'being bisexual'. I don't think that the passing of time should dictate that these problems with 'being' something have been resolved.

Additionally, there is the issue of how, or whether, the status of heterosexuality is implicitly privileged: given that seemingly one gay relationship or act can undermine your full identification as heterosexual, does this suggest that actually homosexuality is the privileged action since it has such an impact on identification? I would argue that the peception of such binaries as heterosexual/homosexual (black/white; male/female) is not so clear-cut: the pairing is not perceived to be of equal status. The homosexual act has the impact that it does on clear identification of heterosexuality not because homosexuality is privileged but precisely because it is perceived as so OTHER, because it taints the security of identifying the privileged group as "pure" / "normal" *. Moreover, the identification of biexuality does not entirely resolve such dichotomies, as is explored in Marjorie Garber's book Vice Versa: bisexuality is "not just another sexual orientation but rather a sexuality that undoes sexual orientation as a category."

* Please note that I do NOT believe that heterosexuality is a state of being that is "pure" / "normal", any more than I would see women as secondary to men, or those of non-white races as secondary to whites.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Changing faces

I'm with Shakespeare's Sis on the response to this story.

Personally I think that plastic surgery is largely a con on a willing but often deluded public; those who work in the cosmetic end of the business are mostly exploiting a tragic sense of vanity.

Great questions of our time from Marie

This and this.

Chris Penn

Wow. Chris Penn really wasn't that old. Heard this on the radio as I came in to work today.

Though the BBC can't work out how old he was (this story currently says 40; the radio reported it as 43).

We rewatched True Romance recently, and Mulholland Falls is another favourite film of ours: beyond his most well-known performance in Resevoir Dogs, he was still a fine actor in these genre pictures (not a field to be underestimated).

EineKleine Rob on Opera

Seems there has been a bit of a furore on opera with EineKleine Rob and Anna of litte.red.boat. Rob makes an excellent case on opera, but the debate itself will probably strike some chords with people anyway.

For me, the point is that opera is so varied. Some I love; some I dislike (or haven't yet grown to appreciate). A good friend still hasn't quite forgiven me for not yet graduating to Wagner, being still a lover of Puccini - yes, I know, very adolescent, but Tosca remains an absolute favourite of mine, along with La Boheme. Sadly, I had to endure The Marriage of Figaro when I studied "The Enlightenment" module for the Open University. It didn't bring me out in the hives that repeated listening to Handel's Messiah did (if Handel hadn't have been long dead I would have surely located and assassinated him), but I certainly wasn't best chuffed with the guy. Thankfully, after many years I have gotten over my antipathy to Figaro, but it took some doing. It wasn't the music/opera per se, more the having to write an essay about it when I was so unable to match the musical terminology to what I was hearing (I have a similar problem with much terminology from poetry analysis: I think in that respect I am 'tone deaf').

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Leap Year poems

This is utterly random, but in searching material on building memory skills I came across this bonkers little site on the month/Leap Year poem.

Seems there are at least 44 versions of this:
30 days hath September
April, June and November
All the rest have 31
Excepting February alone
Which has 28 days clear
And 29 in each Leap Year
Weird, huh?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Gary Younge on Brokeback Mountain

Younge can sometimes be very astute and others way off base. At first read, I am inclined to the former reading for this piece on Brokeback Mountain. It takes as its frame "the down-low":
The down-low refers to black men who are in committed heterosexual relationships and then slip off to have sex with other men on the sly. Like "political correctness", it is one of those media constructs that gained currency but never acquired real meaning.
Younge traces some of the media buzz alongside some of the harsh realities of sexual contact in the modern age. It ends thus:
Which brings us back to Brokeback Mountain - a film that sensitively illustrated how even our most intimate human relationships are framed and shaped in no small part by the power, prejudices and conventions of the world around us. It is the only movie I have ever heard of where women cry, in sympathy rather than anger, at the sight of two men routinely betraying their wives, set in a place that embraces rather than stigmatises human frailty - where people cheat because the rules are stacked against them.
Thought-provoking at the least...

Rob Buckley's revelation about Franz Ferdinand

Dammit! He's right!

PS helps if I can type...

West Wing to be axed (with postscript)

Hardly a shock, though the shift to another night NEVER bodes well ("we moved it and fewer people watched" - well, duh: shows on the slide are never HELPED by a shift in the schedules... name me one show that was already down from its peak that was actually raised by a schedule shift? None? Well, none I can think of).

The problems were always going to be thus: the series started already into the term of Bartlet so already into a finite 7 seasons (because those sort of major transitions are never easy to handle: it would have been like trying to keep Buffy going without Buffy as the slayer. As much as some wanted that as the continuation, I was never for it). Additionally, for all that I believe season 6 was something of a return to form, the post-Sorkin era was never going to hit those high spots. Season 1 was awesome, season 2 a brilliant follow-up, season 3 was moderate - 9/11 had a big impact but the problems were there before that, season 4 had some excellent moments, and season 5 didn't capitalise enough on the legacy Sorkin left, though again there were some classy moments. Season 6, by all accounts - I still haven't borrowed it from my friend yet - was something, but not everything, like a return to the better times. Season 7, I have no idea about (please don't spoiler me too much!), but - and this is my final point - once John Spencer died it was always going to be a struggle to justify its continuation. Two key characters lost by the end of season 7? How could there be an 8th?

Moving the night was never going to help, but sadly, the dream was truely over.

It was a great ride and I can't say it wasn't worth taking. Shame to see it go, but it was pretty inevitable.

Postscript: Rob Buckley has an excellent post on this topic that is far more eloquent than mine.

Restless Natives / The School of Rock: reviews

Hee hee hee. I needed a laugh. My voice is (just about) returned so its back in the office for me (BOO!!). Therefore I needed to cheer me up. These did the trick nicely.

Firstly Restless Natives. Awh, this was just one of those films that makes you grin. Yeah, it was light and frothy, but sometimes you just need to be light. Even I could spot that the accents were off-base (hmm... Rullsenberg can spot that a Glasgow accent probably doesn't belong in Edinburgh), but despite this minor quibble it was just so much fun. It seems that it has long been off track until the recent DVD release, but it is worth seeking out now. Highway robbery of tourist buses by two lads dressed as a clown and a wolfman: great scenary, sweet premise, apt music (Big Country sounded great) - what more could you want? It satisfied my afternoon anyway.

And then it was The School of Rock. Many had raved about this to me, and Jack Black can be rather entertaining (he can also be an annoying jerk but thats another matter). Anyway, fresh from watching him in D.P.O. we took up the challenge of The School of Rock. What a wonderfully enjoyable film. The kids were suitably annoying and charming in turns, and what it lacked in originality it more than made up for with charismatic charm. The music was just great and who couldn't raise a giggling cheer to see the final stage dive. Still singing after the film has finished? You betcha.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

In other music news: Mark Kozelek is back

On the fabled 4AD sampler - no, I haven't lost it again in the midst of my bag - there was a track by Red House Painters. I love it greatly but somehow haven't gotten around to purchasing more of their stuff. I may well be rectifying that soon. Especially after I recognised Mark Kozelek's style on the CD being played whilst I purchased a great one line and a gamble CD. "That sounds like Red House Painters" I said to the guy in Selectadisc secondhand, aka Was. "Yes, it's the new Sun Kil Moon CD covering Modest Mouse songs." Wow: I like Modest Mouse, so that hit the bells with me. Still, I tried not to look blank at the name Sun Kil Moon. Imagine my joy when reading Word magazine today to see an ad for the same CD with the tagline "the voice of Red House Painters". Yeah for me! [Being able to look the staff in Selectadisc in the eye on their specialist topic of non-mainstream music is never easy, as the lovely troubled diva noted: search for "selectadisc" and read away!].

And now Selectadisc sell online... hide that debit card.

The Gamble

The only track of Maximo Park's that I like was a track I only knew by its brilliant opening/closing line: "I sleep with my hands across my chest /and I dream of you with someone else". Great. can't really get their other 'tunes' but for that line I love that song. Anyway, spotting it in selectadisc secondhand for £1 - and seeing they have a 20% off sale at the mo there - I popped to get it. Fab. I now have no further need of this band. Job done.

However I then took a gamble on a totally unknown CD purely cos the pseudo-Saul Bass graphics were great, and the band name and titles were great. The music is mostly thrashy guitar drum clatter, but it had enough to make it worth the purchase. There is an article here that suggests the band may(is?) no more, but this was 29 mins worth obtaining. The Band was: The Murder of Rosa Luxemburg; the album was 'Everyone's In Love And Flowers Pick Themselves'; and for me it was hard to choose between the thashy noise and the post-rock tracks. Worth a gamble, especially with another 20% of the second-hand sale price.

Regina Specktor

Oh my GOD! This is one damn fine album and Regina Spektor is one damn fine performer!

I had heard a couple of tracks on the radio (which pretty much divided listeners into love and hate). Being attracted to it I took a gamble. Worth it in bucketloads. For some of you it may be a turn off if I say I find her to be the female equivalent of Rufus Wainwright - maybe its the piano - but this is the kind of quirk that I can easily love (as opposed to a certain Mercury Music winner that still brings me out in hives).

Anyway, I say that she's worth a listen. There appear to have been a fair few comments on her in recent times, equally not sure how to take her. Check out here and here and here for an overview/interview.

Friday, January 20, 2006

BAFTA nominations (part 1)

Predictions, expectations and declarations

Best film
Brokeback Mountain
The Constant Gardener
Good Night, and Good Luck

Hard to see how Brokeback Mountain won't win with the head of steam it has generated. Capote looks promising, but perhaps more as another great PSH performance. As I have already declared that I missed The Constant Gardener (dvd to watch I guess or catch on the re-release re-run) so there won't be much to comment on that over the following categories. Crash was excellent, one of my favourite films of last year. I have good expectations for GN&GL, partly because I remember reading a stonking biography of Murrow when I was younger and being really struck by his approach to journalism. And of course the film stars David Strathairn.

Best British film
A Cock and Bull Story
The Constant Gardener
Pride and Prejudice
Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit

AKA the category to reward those not likely to be nominated/win elsewhere. Winterbottom is nominated for being 'clever': not necessarily a bad thing (24 Hour Party People was an unexpected hit in our house) but TS is such a weird thing to even try and adapt that I am at least intrigued to see this (we have the graphic novel version that Martin Rowson did a few years back) . Festival - from reports I have heard from friends - is uncomfortably funny but it missed my radar. I've been a fan of Matthew Macfayden since the Polikoff drama "Perfect Strangers" but somehow missed being dragged by swooning girlfriends to see this. From what I have seen though I think he probably captured more of the broody wounds of Mr Darcy than did Colin Firth. Am sure to be persecuted to an easrly grave for that heinous response. Wallace and Gromit was fabulous fun of course, but perhaps stretched the format to its time limits: the Wrong Trousers remains the perfect W&G show. That leaves The Constant Gardener to sweep this one as I doubt the BAFTAs would dare to give their top award to the local show and keep out the front runner of Brokeback Mountain.

Best actor in a leading role
David Strathairn - Good Night, and Good Luck
Heath Ledger - Brokeback Mountain
Joaquin Phoenix - Walk the Line
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Capote
Ralph Fiennes - The Constant Gardener

A very open category this one, albeit predictable for the nominations. I've not seen any of these performances but they are all fine actors at the top of their game.

Best actress in a leading role
Charlize Theron - North Country
Judi Dench - Mrs Henderson Presents
Rachel Weisz - The Constant Gardener
Reese Witherspoon - Walk The Line
Ziyi Zhang - Memoirs of a Geisha

I fully expect that Rachel Weisz will take this. Judie Dench is a fine actress but really; nominating her for this is like nominating her for a comedy show cameo. Though Ziyi Zhang has a mesmeric talent for conveying strength and fraility simultaneously, I have issues with the Geisha novel and won't be going to see the film. It also smacks of 'token non-Western actress nomination needed.' Reese Witherspoon should, of course, have won bucket loads of awards for her performance in Election. By all accounts she does a good job in the Cash bio-pic though I still think a lot of its plaudits come from the appealing legacy and mythology of Cash himself (whose voice still moves me spectacularly). Although CT transformed herself magnificently in Monster, I'm still not convinced by her acting talents. I would actually like to see North Country, although there has been criticism of the ending. Not the most inspiring list. Chief amongst them I note nothing for Maria Bello, so excellent in A History of Violence (for which there are too few nominations)?!

Best actor in a supporting role
Don Cheadle - Crash
George Clooney - Good Night, and Good Luck
George Clooney - Syriana
Jake Gyllenhaal - Brokeback Mountain
Matt Dillon - Crash

Its often interesting to watch which category studios decide they will put their actors into: leading or support? Is it to give them a better chance of winning, to omit competition from the same film's other actors or from other films against which they think they cannot compete? Here we have two nominations from the same ensemble film (I think the Screen Actors Guild have it right to have that category, just as they do for the Emmys: sometimes no one should or does stand out but is instead lifted by the ensemble as a group). Jake Gyllenhall stands aside for Heath Ledger to go for the Lead Actor win, although it would hard to say that one is substantially THAT much greater a role in terms of screen time or significance to the plot. And poor George gets his vote split across two films: that's hard but probably says something key about how he has come a long way from just tilting his head in a sexy manner on ER [note: hmm... not unlike the gesture pilfered by Vincent D'Onofrio in Law and Order: Criminal Intent].

I'll come back to this with other categories and probably to complete this post with some links.

And before someone says it: yes, I know awards matter not a jot, but they are a good provocation for thought on the nominations and winners.

PS did I say much I enjoyed House last night

Damn fine programme.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

I'm clearly not fully better

I read this post at Norm. Having missed his original post I hit the link.

And again.

And again.

And I think I had gone through about 25 links before I gave up thinking "this is mad?! Where's the damn joke?!"

Then I came across it again at She-Who-Reads and tracked it again ... spotting a clue in a comment.

For the record I am naturally mousey brown and usually dye my hair red. I am not sure what this says about me, but I am claiming that I am still below par health-wise.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Say it ain't so

Green Fairy gone???

Say it ain't so! (this email may work...?)


Marie is doing a jigsaw puzzle. Or she is writing about the profundity of human existence. Or she's trying to work out how she gets the hero of her novel into action (hmm... wonder whose agent she'll be hoping to send THAT work to?)

Una Corda

They're from Birmingham. They're kinda post-rock, kinda prog-rock, kinda metal-ish, kinda more melodic than any of those categories may suggest. Anyway, their EP Proper Position for Floating [1881] is available and getting some good responses. Found this one today from MetalReview by Matt Mooring:
Not only is Una Corda responsible for sending through our doors the latest in what has been an usually steady stream of instrumental albums, but more relevantly, the band joins a substantial list of like minded colleagues whom have left a MetalReview writer duly impressed. In fact, off the top of my head I’d guess that this year’s crop of instrumental albums has earned a better win/dud record than their voiced counterparts, which is no mean feat for a style of music usually regarded with at least some modicum of suspicion. Bands like Pelican and Red Sparowes are starting to change that way of thinking, and Una Corda have wisely struck while the iron is hot, weighing in with a debut effort that features an atmospheric post-rock that should be a hit with fans of The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw and At the Soundless Dawn. Una Corda will also appeal to fans of indie acts like Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, who are similar in spirit, if not always in execution.

Una Corda hail from Birmingham, UK, and the self released Proper Position for Floating (1881) is the band’s first effort. The five piece curiously features two bassists, who typically play in different octaves (remember Ned’s Atomic Dustbin? Oh, well, anyway, they had two bassists). The four songs on the twenty-three minute EP are essentially untitled, only referred to as “One” through “Four”. The band’s addictive airy, melancholy post-rock meditations indicate that Una Corda may soon receive some visits from labels. Other than Fall of the Idols’ Agonies Be Thy Children, this is the best self released album I’ve heard this year. Not that it sounds like a homemade job, the production is outstanding for an unsigned effort.
I think the Mogwai comparisons are probably a good guide as I have a fondness for their melodic noisescapes. There are further reviews here and here [ignore the gripe about titling the songs with numbers]. Pete Ashton of course gives them mucho praise, but do not let the fact that he knows the band deceive you: Pete would not give praise if it wasn't worth it. Una Corda ARE worth it.

Trusting someone else with a camera

Hee. This gem from Anna at little.red.boat is very amusing.

Being still in the non-digital age of photographs - that may change due to this forthcoming trip - i have over the years accumulated many many photographs of random buildings taken solely to finish a film (I have a spectacular set of the tram lines in Nottingham being installed taken on the grounds I had met Douglas Henshall and was desperate to complete the film to get the picture back. Picture now safely installed in frame and also acts as background to my work computer. Sigh.)

Always good to see more people joining the anti-McKeith brigade (aka Bad Science fans)

Ever read Bad Science in the Guardian? Fabulous. One of my favourite features (yes, I know sometimes not perfect - what is? - but glorious debunking none the less).

Anyway, I was reminded of that when I stumbled over this at Martyn's page via JustJane's blogroll. Great stuff, not least for providing a wonderful link at the bottom of the post which truly debunks the idiotscreechMcKeith.

Olivier nominations

Out today.

Of course all the attention is on the musical nominations for Billy Elliot, but spare a thought for the drama nominations. There are some rich examples presented in the actor and actress categories especially. Anna: your comments?

More promo on Crockett&Powell

Skuds seems pretty pleased by C&P (and I think I've been talking a lot about them!)

Oh to be nearer to London...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Brit and non-Brit Globe winners

Golden Globes announced.

Much yelling about Rachel winning for Le Carre (not bothered, haven't seen it yet); a little about Gregory House winning (but hurrah for that one I say: well done - looking forward to Thursday and S2); and some mention of old Hoppers as a winner (honorary award? Pah - barely even honorary Brit any longer).

But how come no mention of Jonathan Rhys Myers for winning best actor in a mini-series or TV movie? He won against substantial acting opposition if not in great work (Kenneth Branagh, "Warm Springs, "Ed Harris, "Empire Falls", "Bill Nighy, "The Girl in the Cafe", Donald Sutherland, "Human Trafficking"). I know it was in something called "Elvis" - how American! - but even so, the lad deserves some credit.

Ooops. Of course: he is IRISH. The British Press only counts that as a Brit win when it fancies.

Again though with the "how does Anthony Hopkins still qualify"?

Rob's cat (kinda)


Ballboy: the beautiful lyrics of "They'll Hang Flags From Cranes Upon My Wedding Day..."

everyone has trained their eyes upon me
to see if i'm improving
to see if i'll be good
and in the cold, harsh darkness of the night
well i wonder if i'm good

one more drink and then i'm going home
to sleep and wake up on my own
and in the cold, bright darkness of the night
well i'm sure someday i'll be good
and they'll hang flags from cranes upon my wedding day
they'll hang flags from cranes upon my wedding day

and i know if it was the same
then i would do it all again
and i know if i had the chance to change
then i would probably do it all the same
and everyone has trained their eyes upon me
to see if i'm improving
to see if i'll be good

and in the cold, harsh darkness of the night
i wonder if i'm good
and they'll hang flags from cranes upon my wedding day
they'll hang flags from cranes upon my wedding day
they'll hang flags from cranes upon my wedding day

I am re-enacting a Buffy episode

This one: complete with mis-interpreted gestures and attempts to encourage lip-reading. I need one of these boards.

Yes folks, I am off work by instruction as doc advises I have to not talk. AT ALL. Which as I teach / advise students is a big problem to get over in the office.

This instruction to not talk is either to save me and my voice from disappearing completely or is a grotesque joke at my expense made by those desperate to get some respite from my nigh endless yammering.

As yet I am unsure which.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Best post ever (and forever) on why we do not ever need any more Pete Doherty 'news'

The first comment to this post, from the CultureVulture blog at the Guardian, is just perfect.

Fake Sheik

As the storm clattered at the weekend over the latest NoW scoop, I wasn't alone in thinking that the bigger story was "not another blooming fake sheik scoop by the NoW? Hasn't everyone in the public realm yet twigged this?"

I know I wasn't alone because I now open the Guardian and find that Oliver Burkeman has read my comments and written them up (sadly probably more wittily than I would have). I especially liked these bits:
1 First, ask yourself honestly: do you deal with sheikhs on a daily basis? Does the following describe an ordinary day for you: get up, get dressed, have breakfast, hang out with a sheikh? If not, consider the possibility that the sheikh who has suddenly walked into your life - asking about your cocaine habit, say, or for gossip on your famous friends - might be inauthentic.
5 That bag in the corner - the big briefcase with the little hole in the side, and the whirring sound coming from within? It's not yours, is it? No. Didn't think so.
I also rather thought that no.3 (bring along an Arabic speaker because that there fake sheiky boy knows virtually nix) should by now be essential behaviour. Hilarious and stupid in equal measure.

On books

CPMarie, gets some serious ranting in on the topic of "why books" (as in countering the notion that books are a dying format soon to be replaced by e-something or other). Another post comments on the piece by Susan Hill from the Guardian on Saturday, which had this to say on bookshops that are under-stocked or who chose to 'de-stock'.
The window is still alright, but inside I doubt if there are a quarter of the books there used to be, and you can't really browse because they are almost all turned face forwards. A quick glance around and you've seen the lot. It's exactly like a remainder bookstore. According to the proprietors, "People don't buy books that are shelved spine-out, only if they can see the covers, face-on." Not any book-buying people I know.
On Saturday I dragged my ass out of the house for the first time in 4 days. I felt like hell, but I needed some air. We went to Buythebook in West Bridgford [NB their site appears to have been hi-jacked or vamooshed but either way it has now vanished]. We bought two books. I didn't feel inspired to buy any more. Usually I have to tear myself from buying more than two: two is like a minimum purchase for me. In an earlier lifetime (and if the car hadn't been parked at the tram and ride half the city away) I may also have forked the marvellously bargainous £10 for two hefty volumes on Women Artists at £5 each. But then I thought (a) they're not that great - good but no more essential than others on my shelves already (b) they're in my uni library and several others I have been to (c) they are gonna be darn heavy to even transport back to the car let alone lug around in the rain. So I left them.

When I got home I read the Susan Hill piece and TOTALLY recognised what it said. BTB felt like a remainder store - and not an especially thrilling one. Lots and lots of the shelf space was given to face-out books. It felt very open, as if it needed all the space to squeeze everything in but had probably less stock than the nearby Oxfam books store which has around 1/4 of the space. Too much was mainstream stuff (two display cases on cookery, mostly face out); and the dreaded combined section for religion, newage, occult blah-di-blah. It had the potential to be inspiring - quirky bits like a complete history of the English civil war in 7 paperback volumes, and the children's section looked like it had some appeal - but overall I left feeling a bit flat. That is NOT how a bookshop should, or usually does, make me feel. I want to feel like I could keep spending forever, spoilt to choose. Damn it; if even remainder stores can sometimes make me feel that way, surely a decent indie store should be able to do that!? And before someone says something: the jazz. It sounded great. I may go back just to listen to that.


Very good post on Normblog. An excellent selected quote about Rosa Luxemburg.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Holy Hoses on Golden Wonder crisps

Well, clearly someone at the Guardian is using my links. The Holy Hoses of Rob and Simon were picked up for the Guardian's paper-only column reviewing the week's Guardian stories (in this case on crisps) via blogs a la my pick-up some while ago on 89 albums.


Who is Simon Hoggart's dad

That is less of a question than you may think.

If you were thinking it was this guy, who played a role in the Lady Chatterley trial, then you would be right.

But if you said it was this... guy... (sigh) then, even though he kept the sideburns, you would also be right.

Weird, huh?

Friday, January 13, 2006

Films we know and love that few others have heard of

Closely related to the post Norm tagged us for, it got me thinking about other films we rave about that seem to have by-passed most other people's critical radar.

* Funny Bones: Lee Evans. Oliver Platt. Blackpool. Most bareable performance by Jerry Lewis since The King of Comedy.
* I Married a Strange Person: The weirdest mess-with-your-head animation musical feature you could imagine and then some. Seriously insane.
* Lawn Dogs: you SHOULD know this film. It's beautiful, magical, horrifying and delicate. It also has the exquisite sight of Sam Rockwell's naked body. Worth admission. Also, Mischa Barton before she went all OC on us.

That was just off the top of my head. Pretty certain I could come up with others. if you know any of these films; if you liked any of these films; if you LOVE any of these films... well, let me know. If you have seen them and hated them... hmm... we may well have to reconsider things...

Only kidding. If we were all alike, MAN that would be boring (besides, too many of you to fight with already for the love of certain men...)

Shelving, books and other C&P matters

By C&P of course I mean the delightful Crockett & Powell blog/shop.

This caught my eye in their blog:
The question of shelving is exemplary in classification since they are physical objects and can only be put in one place. Incidentally I am always fascinated by the ways people to shelve their own books, and for what reasons. Some are wholly aesthetic — by size or colour — others seem to follow wholly idiosyncratic taxonomies. I files books first by a poetry/fiction/non-fiction choice, then by country of origin for fiction and a largely extemporary division for non-fiction, roughly by subject so the philosophy books tend to congregate and sex ends up next to chocolate.

I'd recommend 'The Libraries of Thought and Imagination'[2] for more interesting specualtion on related matters.

2. Alec Finlay, Ed. The Libraries of Thought and Imagination. Polygon, 2002. ISBN: 0748663002
Now THAT'S what I call an interesting comment!

Cute man with a tea-towel on his head

Awh, bless. He did look young back then.

The wedding of the day (tomorrow)

Ardeelee and Chris.

May the poetry of their marriage be as beautiful as their writing.

A dog post

This pic is worth seeing.

Cross or happy, this is just CUUUUTTTTEEE!

You may have spotted my absence from blogland

Minor point I know, but I have been ill. After scarcely sleeping on Monday night, I came home on Tuesday feeling like BLEURGH and have spent last few days at home not venturing out, drinking honey and lemon, smoothies, eating tins of tomatoes and nice bread (tomatoes may I stress, not the tins themselves), and indulging in copious amounts of video and DVD watching. I've dipped into several seasons of X-files, watched the whole of Firefly (which never fails to blow me away: what were the network thinking of cancelling that?!), and Terminator 2 (I felt inspired after I watched most of the first one last night).

I still feel pretty pants but until today could hardly summon the focus to read let alone use a computer. So feeling a tad better but still coughing and spluttering. Subject to not keeling over again I'm back to work Monday. Being ill sucks (apart from watching stuff). And having Cloud look after me. Awh...

The Norm tag on films

Norm tagged me (and Cloud) on this via Eric: 'two films I think are good and most people don't'. Eric came up with Flash Gordon (1980 - yes THAT one) and Pushing Tin (the John Cusak film: which, since I am rather fond of the lovely boy Cusak I could possibly persuade myself to watch if it wasn't for the fact I just feel bored WITLESS by the very premise of the film).

Anyway, Norm couldn't quite bear/think of any way to identify two films he liked that no one else did, so he opted to list films he hates that most other people love: Pulp Fiction, The Wicker Man, Body Heat, Crimes and Misdemeanors, The Usual Suspects, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Sideways. Yikes. I think that list pretty much sums up some of my favourite films! Forgive me Norm!

Anyway: first the Eric version.

It's hard to know what to go for with this, so I can understand Norm's plight. Heaven's Gate, as I have written before, is a real favourite of mine despite all its 'faults', but there is something of a critical groundswell that now gives it some kudos for its efforts. For a variety of reasons, I love the original voice-over version of Blade Runner far more than the Director's Cut. I think chiefly this is because I like the ambiguity of the original version regarding Deckard's status as a replicant (I studied the film in a Post-Modernism module at Uni - yes, it was ridiculous thing to study but man it was fun!). Those two cover the under-rated and the issue of version preferences - you could also include there liking cheesy US remakes over foreign film originals [sorry, but I actually am not wild about The Seven Samurai - recognising its genius and all that but I'd still rather watch The Magnificent Seven! Same goes for preferring Vanilla Sky over the original Open Your Eyes (Abres Los Ojos): a very rare instance of actually choosing a Tom Cruise film... ]

You can also go down the route of the 'not very well known': Cloud and I adore The Girl on the Bridge (La fille sur la pont starring Vanessa Paradis and Daniel Auteuil) for being wonderfully erotic, funny and sad, but I can scarce think of anyone else I know who has even heard of it let alone likes it. There is also the zone of films by directors that when they came out were seen as flops: The Hudsucker Proxy probably falls into that category but I will not say a word against it. At the time, Coen bro fans were largely baffled by this Capra-esque homage, but I think it is just lovely. Besides, I rather have a long-term fondness for Jennifer Jason Leigh, not least for her much-despised portrayal of Dorothy Parker. And of course there is always the matter of films starring people you love: If Only (aka The Man with Rain in his Shoes) never set much alight in the cinema world but will always succeed in making me swoon with delight!

So what would I choose as my two films? Do I go for cheese or obscurity? Ill-thought of or plain old disliked? Here are my two choices:

ONE) Last Action Hero. Yes, I know THAT film. The one everyone seems to hate with a vicious avengeance. Sorry, but I actually really like it. It's stupid. It knows where the walls are, and - though this is nothing to do with the film as such - for the wonderful moment when Alan Rickman (sorry, Charles Dance) opens the door as the villian... well, that just adds the topping. I can't think of anyone who likes it - apart from Cloud - but I think its hugely enjoyable.

TWO) another genre-busting film in the mould that made so many hate LAH: is it a kid's film (too violent), is it an action film (too much silly comedy), is it meant to have a moral to it (huh?) why does it star that annoying person? So I proudly present my second "oh my god everyone hates this movie" selection. It's Toys. Yes, again, a "THAT film" reaction. Robin Williams. Stupid violence. Daft storyline. But I'm sorry, I like it. I love kooky old Joan Cusak. I love Michael Gambon hamming it up as the villian. I love LL Cool J being just... well, stealthy! It has almost zero WORTH as a film, but I do like it. When I want to watch worthy, intellectually stimulating stuff - even stuff that is fun in a better way than this - well, I can do that. But this film is just enjoyable. Sorry.

So to the Norm proposal: films that you just do not get why people rave about them. This, as Norm proved is easier to go through. You really do not want to waste time on them. In some instances they are films I have not been able to bring myself to sit through - though they are well known enough to have seen SOOO many clips that it feels as if I have been Alexed into watching them repeatedly.

* There's Something About Mary: in fact the whole Meet The Parents / Farrelly Bros style of pratfall humour: sorry, slapstick hurts my soul. I'm excluding the Marx Brothers from this category because they were GOOD. And I'm sorry but the closest I get to liking Robert De Niro doing comedy is the awesome The King of Comedy... which is a totally different type of funny.

* American Graffitti: FACT: only the songs are good

* The Remains of the Day: Merchant Ivory stuff is 'oh-mi-god-so-worthy-I-am-going-to-have-to-rip-my-eyes-out-for-entertainment-this-is-so-DULL!!!!' I know many of you will hate me for not seeing the great intelligence and elegant beauty of this type of film but it just pains me.

* Prospero's Books: beautiful but it's a series of stills for a coffee-table book and NOT A FILM!!!! I will probably be slaughtered for this but I actually thought The Baby of Macon was a much better film and that pretty much puts me in a category of one 'cos I'm not even sure that Peter Greenaway himself would agree with that (though I would say that I still think Greenaway's best works were Drowning by Numbers and his TV film on lightening strikes, Act of God. I suspect Cloud would go for the majesterial The Belly of an Architect with the incredible Brian Dennehy who, of course, we were lucky to see performing on stage last year).

* The Shawshank Redemption: maybe it's that 'word of mouth' thing and we just missed the boat on this, but I have NO desire to see this. I can't even bring myself to watch it now, though we have had enough opportunities, partly because everyone raves about it SO incessantly. I think I'm going to have to be very old before I give in to seeing this.

* Mystic River: Over-rated... sorry, but all the great acting in the world can't make this anything more than the really quite disappointing story that it is.

* 2001: A Space Odyssey: VERY VERY DULL... sorry. I like sci-fi but this is just... I'm with HAL. Ditch the humans [Honourable mention in the dull-as-ditchwater-sci-fi category: Silent Running]

So there you have it. A selective list of films I love that you hate and vice versa. Oh yeah, and can I state for the record: I LIKE The X-Files Movie.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Cloud's camping trips

Hmm... not sure he ever mentioned these before (they are mentioned in passing here in an attack on those loony-tunes who persist in saying that PoliticalCorrectnessHasGoneMad: has it ever been not-mad in their eyes?).

Perhaps sending Cloud camping might resolve his attempts to deal with those current little waistline issues...?

That Crockett and Powell website in full

Okay, so it's small, but like the blog (and no-doubt the bookshop brings this to life spectacularly well), the new front webpage - with details of their location, phone number and opening times - presents a thing of beauty.

Trust me: my next visit to London I will be dropping in with my debit card and spending.

Rosby see's The Christmas Invasion at last!

Phew: what a relief. I was genuinely getting nervy for the poor gal!

Marie: the COLD and the DARK

Marie may be in pain from the experience of the COLD and the DARK, but she is apparently being productive writing-wise and these posts are just killer laugh providers.

Not sure about the beard


Nevertheless, it is good to hear that Scritti Politti frontman Green Gartside is back on the music scene; I think Cloud and I were pretty much alone in enjoying the album Anomie and Bonhomie. The guy does have the most divine voice though.

Golden Delicious = yes: Golden Wonder = no

Seems that those crisps I didn't like as a child are no more.

On Skiing

As I have the co-ordination of a drunken tortoise (or whatever you may select as your unco-ordinated creature of choice), I laughed like a drain at Tim Dowling's trivial column today on skiing. Yes, it's pretty inconsequential journalism, but it made me giggle:
Stick to your skill level. If you are an extremely good skier, then you and I should be nowhere near each other. Any run on which I am to be found is, by definition, too easy for you, so take your fancy skis swishing elsewhere. You don't see me lying face down in the middle of the black run on the north face, do you?
No, I don't know how fast 30kph is either, but if I am doing anything approaching that speed you should assume that I can't stop. Technically you may have the right of way, but if I were you I wouldn't stand my ground on principle
Hee. I think I am a wise person for not strapping thin sheets of plyboard [or whatever it is that is used] to my feet and attempting to hurtle down a mountain with nothing but the equivalent of a couple of jousting sticks to help me stop. I don't care if my neice and nephew are within travelling distance of Mount Cook, NZ and would shame me with their skills.

"Are you Tamworth in disguise?"

Reported on FiveLive as the chant of the Burton Albion fans at the FA match yesterday.


Friday, January 06, 2006

On drinking

I should perhaps have not littered Kerron's comments box, so I'll link to his post and therefore my remarks there on the issue of "alcoholism" and "drink problems".

The Heist: Derren Brown

Yikes, that was pretty freaky. Sorry to be late commenting but I was indulging last night and have only just had chance to read either the Guardian review or Anna's comment piece (the one contains the other - you can work out which way round that will be....[of course give her time and our Anna will no doubt be the culture writer for the Guardian, but let her finish her degree first!] And, ***KEY POINT THIS*** you may need to scroll the post to read it: blogger was fibbling again).

Anyway, The Heist was seriously freaky TV. I am not sure what was worse about watching the re-enactment of The Milgram Experiment: (1) that the participants were so ill-read and culturally unaware they did not know about the original and well-known experiment, or (2) that one WAS aware and went ahead with most of it anyway!!!

People are able to be manipulated. I think I would just as rather prefer that we knew that rather than see it demonstrated...

So excited!

There's a blogmeet in Manchester and I will be going!!!!

Yippee!! Right: get ticket booked, decide on variation of stripes, MUST get hair reddened (dye at home: idelness thus far ruled), camera and films (not yet that ready for the digital age)...


thanks for EineKleineRob's tip off.


Not Granger... Rob's hedgehog!

How to avoid rape

Thanks to EineKleineRob for directing me to this amazing post. It came to him via Rachel of North London, but appears to be doing the rounds. No matter. This stuff deserves repeating, loudly and often:
A lot has been said about how to prevent rape.Women should learn self-defense. Women should lock themselves in their houses after dark. Women shouldn't have long hair and women shouldn't wear short skirts. Women shouldn't leave drinks unattended. Fuck, they shouldn't dare to get drunk at all.

Instead of that bullshit, how about:

If a woman is drunk, don't rape her.If a woman is walking alone at night, don't rape her.
If a women is drugged and unconscious, don't rape her.
If a woman is wearing a short skirt, don't rape her.
If a woman is jogging in a park at 5 am, don't rape her.
If a woman looks like your ex-girlfriend you're still hung up on, don't rape her.
If a woman is asleep in her bed, don't rape her.
If a woman is asleep in your bed, don't rape her.
If a woman is doing her laundry, don't rape her.
If a woman is in a coma, don't rape her.
If a woman changes her mind in the middle of or about a particular activity, don't rape her.
If a woman has repeatedly refused a certain activity, don't rape her.
If a woman is not yet a woman, but a child, don't rape her.
If your girlfriend or wife is not in the mood, don't rape her.If your step-daughter is watching tv, don't rape her.
If you break into a house and find a woman there, don't rape her.
If your friend thinks it's okay to rape someone, tell him it's not, and that he's not your friend.
If your "friend" tells you he raped someone, report him to the police.
If your frat-brother or another guy at the party tells you there's an unconscious woman upstairs and It's your turn, don't rape her, call the police and tell the guy he's a rapist.
Tell your sons, god-sons, nephews, grandsons, sons of friends it's not okay to rape someone.
Don't tell your women friends how to be safe and avoid rape.
Don't imply that she could have avoided it if she'd only done/not done x.
Don't imply that it's in any way her fault.
Don't let silence imply agreement when someone tells you he "got some" with the drunk girl.
Don't perpetuate a culture that tells you that you have no control over or responsibility for your actions.
You can, too, help yourself.
If you agree, repost it. It's that important.

Struggling Author in Dorset

She's gone to work on the novel.

We wish her productivity and possibly even successful locking of a person in the kitchen.

Though obviously we hope that the cat situation is resolved.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Darren's New Year Resolutions

Pah. I should beat myself over the head for not checking on this earlier. Darren's New Year Resolutions are just brilliant.

And he should be thanked for alerting people to Luke Haines.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Kerron's watched it: thanks to his review, we never have to

The detail!

The descriptions!

The drama!

The "what the heck are you doing Kerron!?" of it all.

Well, thanks anyway: this in-depth review means I now need never feel out of the conversation should I need to call on reference to the latest in daytime TV.

Blogtionary's new year

Two new words at the Blogtionary



Phew: wonder if the OED would accept them though? By what I saw from Monday's Balderdash and Piffle, it seems that it is a lot harder than you may imagine: as Nancy Bank-Smith put it
The problem here was that the OED sets its face like stone against anything but written evidence. Give me, it says repressively, the ocular proof.
Bugger... Still, I guess the web counts as a public and printed realm... doesn't it?

Culture Vulture Blog of the Week at the Guardian: Crockatt and Powell

Now that's what I call hitting the ground running!

Hat tip to Marie.

Tenure track and the temporary tutor

Having done more than my fair share of temp teaching over the years, it was with interest I read this post from Norm. The original article from The Boston Globe raises some worthy points about how 'adjuncts' (as the US system describes them) are treated, but as Norm points out there is little to address whether or why tenure provides the "optimal circumstances either for academic freedom and independence or for promoting serious and sustained scholarship."

Perhaps the problem is not just with tenure, but the mechanics of the systems that measure (and I choose that word deliberately) academic activity, especially written work. I mean, is anyone able to defend something like the RAE for encouraging "serious and sustained scholarship"?

Thought not?

So that's what jury service is all about...

...Skuds could be in for a rude awakening if anything requires his services.

Anna on the Sitcoms

As ever, she cuts to the crunch of commentary on Channel 4 lists so that we don't have to (well, unless we want to join in the comments).

Turn your back for two minutes

New Doctor Who mag is out tomorrow, there is this to look forward to in the Spring, and there's a blast from the past (my, oh my, how can I ever forgive myself for allowing that to get taped over? Oh the days before I kept rigorous watch over my video tapes...)

Saved? Or hysteria?

It's hard not to feel desperate sorrow for those who have lost people they loved in the West Virginia Coal Mine disaster, but listening to the near-hysterical celebrations of survival it was even harder to believe that their church-bell reaction was not one of faith triumphing over reason. Somehow, the logic that perhaps one may survive seemed plausible; that one should die and the other twelve survive seemed a reversal of what should have been the information the families received.

Listening to the news last night, all the expectation - the unspoken reality - was that it was highly unlikely any would be found alive. First thing this morning, it seemed from the commentary of families that a miracle had happened; but the more I listened to how the news had spread, the more concerned I was. Clearly someone in the International Coal Group that owned the Sago Mine felt able - wrongly, OH SO WRONGLY - to inform the families of the improbable survival and cue the prayers, beliefs and thanks. Still, how can we be really surprised at such an immense screw up from those involved with this mine? According to CNN:

"The Sago Mine has a long list of safety violations -- and an injury rate in 2004 three times that of other, similar-sized underground mines, according to data from the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The Sago Mine was cited about 200 times over alleged safety violations in 2005, up from 68 citations the year before, according to the administration."
Quality move guys...

BAAS = British Association of American Studies

Cloud mentioned last night that many may still be confused...

Well, personally I think that would go way beyond me explaining what BAAS stands for as an acronym! Especially given some of the titles. Glad that mine at least made sense to some readers.

And the disco?

Shudder: I repeat - BAD DANCING...*

* some of it by me...

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Green Wing forthcoming on DVD! About Blooming TIME!

Yike, I have been waiting for an AGE for this. Now its announced a new series WILL happen, AND that series 1 is due on DVD. Okay, its not due till spring but...


For those confused by the entry on BAAS

It's more of a public information service to certain readers of mine (the non-commenting kind).

BAAS is a strange experience, and I doubt this year (post-New Zealand trip) will be much better...

BTW I haven't fainted...

Contrary to the mythology of my fainting, I have in fact just been resting from Blog world momentarily due to mega over-work (emails coming at me from all sides) and a house bursting at the seams with STUFF.

I am trying to get things done but I have a brain and house and office that overflows.

BAAS 2006 forthcoming

Lord a mucksy. Did my proposal really get accepted???

Guess I should write it then....?!

Given that I will have just got back from NZ and have done a days work at the office to "catch up" (pah!), BAAS's hallucinatory qualities will no doubt be as bizarre as ever!

51st BAAS Annual Conference 2005: The University of Kent, Canterbury, UK 20-23 April 2006


Thursday, 20 April
2.00-5.00 Registration Keynes (hereinafter ‘K’) foyer
3.00 Tour of Canterbury Meet K Foyer
5.00 Keynote Speaker: Prof. Michael Zuckerman (University of Pennsylvania) KLT1 Brabourne
6.30 Reception & Welcome from the Vice Chancellor, sponsored by the University of Leicester (BAAS 2007 conference host) K Foyer
7.30 Dinner Eliot Hall
9.00 A Musical Performance by Will Kaufman Keynes Bar

Friday, 21 April
7.30-9.00 Breakfast Eliot Hall

9.00-11.00 Session A
1. Franklin’s Via Negativa: Emerson, James & Adams Negotiate Franklin
David Greenham (Nottingham Trent) Unrepresentative Man: Emerson’s Neglect of Benjamin Franklin
Peter Kuryla (Vanderbilt) The Dynamo & the Leyden Jar: Benjamin Franklin, Henry Adams, & the American Impoverishment of Sexual Electricity
Peter Rawlings (UWE) ‘This is the Age of Experiments’: Benjamin Franklin, Henry James, & the Empirical Tradition

2. Nineteenth Century Poetics: Nature, the Body and Death
Claire Elliott (Glasgow) Restoring the Winged Life: Religious Fervour and the Veneration of the Natural in Blake, Emerson and Whitman
Paraic Finnerty (Portsmouth) To Make Me Fairest on Earth: Emily Dickinson and the Beautiful Body in America
Linda Sher (King’s London) ‘Even unto Death’: Gethsemane & the Place of Poetic Making in Emily Dickinson’s Poetry

3. Topics on Civil Rights
Chair: Adam Fairclough (Leiden)
Walter David Greason (Ursinus) Race Organizing at the Shore: The NAACP, UNIA, and the Urban League in Central New Jersey, 1920-1950
Rebecca Karol (Rowan) Mary’s Café, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Forgotten Beginnings of a Civil Rights Leader
Jonathan Watson (Sussex) The Los Angeles NAACP 1940-1945: Fighting for Justice in the Struggle for Double Victory

4. The Language of Business: A Roundtable Discussion
Chair and Moderator: Graham Thompson (Nottingham)
Eric Guthey (Copenhagen Business School) The Construction of Image
Mara Keire (Queen Mary, London) Reputation or Lack Thereof
Christopher McKenna (Said Business School, Oxford) The Influence of Institutions
Marina Moskowitz (Glasgow) The Culture of the Market

5. Theoretical Questions in Contemporary American Literary Studies
Graeme Finnie (Dundee) Land (Ab)use in New Mexico: An Ecocritical Look at the Fiction of Castillo, Silko and Nichols
James Mackay (Glasgow) and David Rees (Bergen) Science, Non-science & Nonsense in Vine Deloria, Jr’s Evolution, Creationism and Other Myths
Steven Van Hagen (Kent) Protect Everything, Detect Everything, Contain Everything - Obsessional Society: Narratives of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Twentieth-Century American Fiction

6. Frontiers Then and Now
Karen Jones (Kent) The Strange Tale of the Goose and the Beaver: Revisiting Lewis and Clark in the 2lst Century
William Van Vugt (Calvin) The Agrarian Myth Meets Reality on the American Frontier: the English Courtauld Settlement of the 1820s
John Wills (Kent) Playing Cowboys and Indians: Videogames and the American West

7. New Work on Native America
Chair: Mick Gidley (Leeds)
Deborah Madsen (Geneva)
David Murray (Nottingham)
Joy Porter (Swansea)

8. American Fiction and 9/11
Martyn Colebrook (Hull) The Problems of Representation
Ann Hurford (Nottingham) From 12/7 to 9/11: History Destabilises the Expected in Anne Tyler’s The Amateur Marriage
Aliki Varvogli (Dundee) The Uses of Africa: Identity, Idealism & Post-National Crisis in Russell Bank’s The Darling

11.00-11.30 Coffee K foyer

11.30-1.00 Session B
1. Benjamin Franklin and Public History
Marcia Balisciano (Benjamin Franklin House, London) Restoring Benjamin Franklin House
Matthew Shaw (The British Library) Franklin and his Modern Public: Presenting the Printer and Scientist

2. Women’s Roles in Public Life
Jennifer Black, (Cambridge) Race, Rest Rooms and Reluctant Legislators: Jury Service for Women in 1950s South Carolina
Pierre-Marie Loiszeau (Angers) A Women’s Place is in the House. Or is It?

3. The Chicago Race Riot of 1919
Cheryl Hudson (Vanderbilt/Oxford) Citizenship by Race Division: The Chicago Commission on Race Relations, 1919-1921
Kevin Yuill (Sunderland) Reformulating Race: Robert Ezra Park’s Pivotal Role in U.S. Race Theory

4. Early Twentieth-Century Art
John Fagg (Birmingham) Genre Painting as a ‘Residual’ Presence in Early-Twentieth Century Illustration
Douglas Tallack (Nottingham) Awkward Commissions: Illustrating New York, 1880s-1910s

5. Women & Race in Literature
Rachel McLennan (Glasgow) Stories to Pass On: Signifying Adolescence in Danzy Senna’s Caucasia and Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex
Pi-hua Ni (National U. of Kiaohsiung, Taiwan) On the Fluid Gender Construction in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple

6. Analysis of Mid-Century Democrats
Robert Mason (Edinburgh) ‘As Goes Maine, So Goes Vermont’ Republican analysis of New Deal realignment, 1933-1940
Jonathan Pearson (Durham) The Harry S Truman Presidential Library and the Development of Public Identification with the Presidency

7. Representing the Chinese Experience in the U.S.
Christine Cynn (Abidjan/Fulbright) ‘The ludicrous transition of gender & sentiment’: Representations of Chinese labour in Ambrose Bierce’s The Haunted Valley and Bret Harte’s Plain Language of Truthful James
Fiona Wong (Warwick) Effective ‘translation’: Talk-stories in Selected Works of Maxine Hong Kingston and Amy Tan

8. The Virgina Company: A Roundtable on the Company, Jamestown and its Consequences, held in conjunction with Kent County Council
Chair: Stephen Mills, Keele
Discussants: John Finch (William & Mary) and others be be announced

1.00-2.00 Lunch Eliot Hall

2.00-3.30 Session C

1. Benjamin Franklin and Public Matters
Louis J. Kern (Hofstra) The ‘Man of Science’ and the ‘Pursuit of Happiness’: Benjamin Franklin and the Reasonable Science of Virtue
Stephen Shapiro (Warwick) The ‘Public Sphere’ of a Circumatlantic World-System: Franklin and the African Slave Traders

2. Post-War Women Authors
David Evans (Dalhousie) The Apotemnophilac Text: Flannery O’Connor’s Fraudulent Bodies
Richard Larschan (Massachusetts-Dartmouth) Art & Artifice in Sylvia Plath’s Self-Portrayals

3. Henry James
Maeve Pearson (Goldsmith’s) Henry James and the ‘Colossal Machine’ of American Education
Theresa Saxon (Manchester Met) Experiments in the Line of Comedy Pure and Simple: The ‘Comicality’ of Henry James’ Theatricals

4. Abstract Expressionism
Christopher Gair (Birmingham) Not AbEx, not New York: Wally Hedrick & American Art in the 1950s
Lisa Rull (Independent Scholar) ‘Them Wide Open Spaces’: Jackson Pollock & the American Landscape

5. Liberalism, Backlash and Cultural Representation
Sarah MacLachlan (Manchester Met) Backlash on the Border: Violence & Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men
Eithne Quinn (Manchester) Liberalism, Backlash & the Blaxploitation Film Cycle

6. Presidents and their Behaviour
Tim Blessing (Alverna) Comparing the First & Last Nine Presidents: The Breakdown of the Selection Process
Timothy Lynch (ISA, London) Woodrow Wilson’s 9/11: Assessing America’s Response to the Luisitania

7. Two Intellectuals on Race
Mark Ellis (Strathclyde) Interracial Co-operation and Social Science: The Contribution of Thomas Jackson Woofter, Jr.
Fred Arthur Bailey (Abilene Christian) All Men are Created Equal: M. E. Bradford, Race and the Reagan Revolution

8. Problems in Telling American History
John-Paul Colgan (Trinity College Dublin) ‘Everything Now is “Was”’: Memory and Nostalgia in John Updike’s Recent Fiction
Laura MacDonald (Toronto) Musical Theatre and Politics in the ‘60s: Two Case Studies, Hair and 1776

3.30-4.00 Tea K foyer

4.00-5.30 Session D

1. Benjamin Franklin and his Image
Matthew Pethers (Independent Scholar) ‘That Grub Street Sect’: Partisan Politics and the Franklinian Image, 1790-1808
Finn Pollard (Glasgow) Benjamin Franklin and the Problem of American National Character Revisited

2. The Photography of the Rural United States
John Hensley (Saint Louis U. & Westminster) The Ozarks Mountains Body: Images of Hillbillies & Mountaineers at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904
Mark Rawlinson (Nottingham) ‘A Photograph has edges, the world does not’: The Uncanny in Stephen Shore’s American Landscape Photography

3. Congressional Debates
Elisabeth Boulot (Marne-le-Vallee) Privatization or Disentitlement? The Reform of the American Welfare State.
Laurence Horton (Essex) Political Connecting: House Members & the 1981 Budget

4. Race and Schools
Catherine Maddison (Cambridge) ‘This Intolerable School System’: The Politics of Education in the District of Columbia, 1960-1975
Keith Olson (Maryland) Brown v. Board of Education: A Fifty Year Critique

5. Women’s Autobiographies
Joanne Hall (Nottingham) Deviance, Difference and the Exception to the Rule: The Construction of the Female Hobo through Autobiography
Elizabeth Nolan (Manchester Met) Authorising the Female War Text: Women’s Autobiographical Narratives of Conflict

6. Explanations: Race & Class
Andrew Fearnley (Sidney Sussex, Cambridge) How Much Further do we have to go in Explaining Racial Change in the United States?
Andrew Lawson (Leeds Met) Why Class (Still) Counts

7. American Writers and ‘Abroad’
Tatsushi Narita (Nagoya City) T.S. Eliot’ s Virtual Transoceanic Crossing Over & Unitarianism
Mary Lou O’Neill (Kadir Has, Turkey) ‘More than Just Passing Through’: American Expatriate Travel Writing

5.30-6.30 Eccles Centre Lecture, Prof. Margaret Walsh: At Home at the Wheel? The Woman and Her Car in the 1950s (University of Nottingham) KLT1 Brabourne

6.30-7.30 Canterbury City Reception K foyer

7.30 Banquet and Awards Eliot Hall
Saturday, 22 April

7.30-9.00 Breakfast Eliot Hall
9.00-11.00 Session E

1. Inter-War Literature
James Fountain (Glasgow) Fighting ‘the enemy of the arts’: British & American Literary Reactions to the Spanish Civil War
Paul-Vincent McInnes (Glasgow) Campus Culture: Percy Marks’s Campus Novels and Youth Culture in the 1920s
J. E. Smyth (Warwick) From Here to Eternity, Robert E. Lee Prewitt and James Jones’ One-Volume History of Interwar America

2. Violence against Mexican Americans
Chair: Arturo Rosales (Arizona St.)
William Carrigan (Rowan) The Law & Anti-Mexican-American Mob Violence in Texas 1848-1926
Nancy Gonzalez (Texas-El Paso) Violence and Unequal Justice against Mexicans in El Paso, Texas, 1880-1920
Clive Webb (Sussex) African-American Reaction to Mob Violence against Mexican –Americans

3. American Decades
Martin Halliwell (Leicester) The 1950s Beyond the Cold War
Duco van Oostrum (Sheffield) Sports & the Nation in the 1970s
Graham Thompson (Nottingham) The 1980s: Ronald Reagan’s America?

4. The Post-Post Modern
Chin-jau Chyan (Essex) Gender and Genre: Marcia Muller & Hardboiled Detective Fiction
Danielle Fuller (Birmingham) One Book, One Chicago: ReadingMatters
Jaroslav Kusnir (Presov) American Fiction after the Post-Modern: Richard Powers and David Foster Wallace

5. Recent and Contemporary American Poetics
Catherine Martin (Sussex) In the Analytic Hour that is Midnight: Susan Howe’s The Midnight
Nick Selby (Glasgow) ‘...and the professors’ wives licked popsicles’: Non-conformity, gender & the poetics of the body at Black Mountain
John Wrighton (Aberystwyth) Face-work: Bruce Andrews’ Poethical Praxis

6. American Indians : Memory and Healing (I)
Chair: Rebecca Tillett (East Anglia)
Native Studies Research Network, UK

7. Conservatives and Neo-conservatives
Lee Ruddin (University of Sheffield) There's no 'neo-con' revolution, stupid! The myth of United States foreign policy, the
Bush Administration and the international security corollary
George Tzogopoulos (Loughborough) Understanding neo-conservativism in the press of Britain, France, Germany and Italy

8. Civil Rights : Case Studies
Zoe Colley (Dundee) ‘We’ve Baptised Brother Wilkins’: The NAACP & Civil Rights Prisoners in the South, 1960-1965
Mark Newman (Edinburgh) The Tennessee Catholic Church & Desegregation, 1954-1971
Kevern Verney (Edge Hill) Long is the Way and Hard: The NAACP in Alabama, 1913-1915

11.00-11.30 Coffee K foyer

11.30-1.00 Session F
1. 19th c. Philadelphia looks Outside: Business and Morals
John Killick (Leeds) The Decline of Philadelphia ’s Foreign Trade
George Conyne (Kent) Philadelphia Quakers & the Civil War

2. Europeans on Americans
Ioana Luca (Bucharest & Linacre, Oxford) Romanian Lands on American Reality: Andrei Codrescu’s Imaginary (M)Otherlands
Kathryn Nicol (Edinburgh) Cultural Appropriations and Cultural Hegemony: Contemporary Scottish Writing and Representations of American Culture

3. Colonial Governance and Ethnicity
Emily Blanck (Rowan) The Battle over Thomas Jeremiah: South Carolina Revolutionaries vs. the Royal Government
David Watson (Dundee) Proclamation? What Proclamation? The British Army, Colonial Governors and Native Americans after the Seven Years’ War

4. Blackness Across the Waters
Jennifer Lewis (Bath Spa) ‘Something out of Nothing’: The Inscription of Female Pleasure in Zora Neale Hurston’s Tell My Horse
Heidi Slettedahl MacPherson (Central Lancashire) Transatlantic Blackness: (Self)Constructions of the Other in Neila Larson’s Quicksand

5. Realism and Imperialism
Lane Crothers (Illinois St.) Salsa, American Popular Culture and the Limits of Cultural Imperialism
Richard Lock-Pullan (Birmingham) Religion and Realism in US Security: The Legacy of Neibuhr?

6. American Indians: Memory and Healing (II)
Chair: Rebecca Tillett (East Anglia)
Native Studies Research Network, UK

7. Anglo-American Literature and Film
Vernon Williams (Abilene Christian) The Documentary Film & the Anglo-American Home Front in East Anglia, 1942-1945
Paul Woolf (Birmingham) The American Dream of English Aristocracy, from Sentimental Fiction to Reality Television: Susan Warner’s Queechy (1852) and the Women’s Entertainment Network’s American Princess (2005)

8. Looking at the Nixon Years
David Sarias (Sheffield) All the President’s Conservatives (1968-1974)
Will Kaufman (Central Lancashire) What Was So Funny in Nixon's America? Vonnegut's Jailbird and the limits of

1.00-2.00 Lunch Eliot Hall

2.00-3.30 British Association for American Studies Annual General Meeting KLT 1 Brabourne

3.30-4.00 Tea

4.00-5.30 Session G

1. Hate and Fear
Peter Knight (Manchester) Enemy Without, Enemy Within: Conspiracy Theories since 9/11
Christopher McKinlay (Glasgow) & John McKinlay (Abertay Dundee) The Duality of Hate & Patriotism: Hate Terrorism & the Politics of Identity in the American Radical Right

2. Constitutional Matters
Emma Long (Kent) ‘And What’s the Evil You See?’: School prayer before Engel and Schempp
Bill Merkel (Washburn) The New Contextual History of Marbury vs. Madison

3. Matters Post-Modern
Benjamin Bird (Leeds) The Capitalist Schizophrenic: The Postmodern Consciousness in Don DeLillo’s Libra
Polina Mackay (Independent Scholar) William Burroughs’ Women
Tessa Roynon (Warwick) The Story of Margaret Garnier: Toni Morrison’s Opera as Resistance or Submission

4. Race and Memory
John Moe (Ohio St.) Civil Liberties and Ordinary Racism: The Klan, Images of Prejudice and the Continuity of American Race Problems
Alan Rice (Central Lancashire) Making Visible the Formerly Invisible: Memorials in Britain & their Black Atlantic Resonances
John Smylie (Independent Scholar) Fire on the Bluff: Reporting and Memorials in Music of the Natchez fire of 1940

5. Mothers, Family and Work
Eveline Thevenard (Paris IV) The Family Policy Debate in the US: Toward Paid Leave?
Kirsten Swinth (Fordham) The ‘Problem’ of the Working Mother

6. Elastic Identities : Embodying Race, Place and Americanness
Kandice Chuh (Maryland) Bodies in Motion: The Circum-Pacific logic of Karen Tei Yamashita’s Fiction
Nicole King (California-San Diego) Malleable Plastic Surfaces: Corporeality and ‘Race’ in Caribbean/American Literature
Karen Shimakawa (NYU) On Walking & Stumbling: Inhabiting the ‘Chinese-American Body’

7. The U.S.-Mexican Border
Neil Campbell (Derby) Ruben Martinez and the ‘non-border’
Elizabeth Jacobs (Rothermere, Oxford) Mexican & Mexican-American Women on the Border
Martin Padget (Aberystwyth) Recent Representations of the Border

8. Topics in Urban Film Culture
Hamilton Carroll (University College Dublin) Detroit Confidential: 8 Mile & the Vicissitudes of Race & Class or the Epistemologies of Eninem’s Closet
Dennis Klein (Kean) Jews and Jersey: the Origins of the Motion Picture Industry
Brian Neve (Bath) Both Ends of the Telescope: Art Film, Psychology & Semi-documentary in Elia Kazan’s Independent Work on the American South

6.30-7.30 Journal of American Studies Lecture: Michael Berube (Penn State University) KLT 1 Brabourne

8.00 Dinner Eliot Hall

9.30 Disco Mungo’s, Eliot College

Sunday, 23 April
7.30-9.00 Breakfast Eliot Hall