Friday, March 31, 2006
An historic moment
"While I recommend that my party support the amendment, let there be no doubt that my first act when I take over as home secretary after the next election will be to do away with the Bill," declared shadow home secretary David Davis in the Commons last night, after telling Conservative MPs to vote in support of the compromise amendment.
"It is still an unwarranted intrusion on the privacy of the individual," he said. "It is still ineffective, costly and potentially dangerous. It is still a massive reversal of the relationship between the citizen and the state."
As I think that most of the mechanisms for running an ID system will be in place by the next General Election I hope this isn't like the pre-'97 Labour commitment to a Freedom of Information Act, that in the still unlikely event of the Tories getting in at the next election they don't turn around and say 'well, now the program is so advanced it's too expensive to scrap it, we've decided to keep it instead'. Not that I'd consider voting Tory because of this...
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Stating the Bleeding Obvious
Chales Clarke is a Slug. Slug. Slug. Slug. Slug. Slug. Slug.
Surely the obvious solution is to move into a branch of McDonalds so it wouldn't matter if he did? Or, alternatively, not have any eggs or chips in the house, or is this too logical?
Not Long Now...
(I just hope the TARDISodes are genuinely downloadable and there's no messing around with the BBC's pissy RealPlayer interface...)
Love me, love my job
The Lords Return to Form
And on this whole 'cash for peerages' scandal. I'm confused. You have a situation where the Prime Minister of the country gives people the opportunity to sit in a branch of Government which has the power to veto laws he wishes to pass, and people are shocked he uses this to get money to run his party and to stuff the Lords with people who will vote for his legislation? Anyone would think Margaret Thatcher only sent to the Lords people from the public who deserved to be there.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Inside Man/ FCUK
Inside Man is a bank robbery movie, with Clive Owen as the leader of a small band of robbers and Denzel Washington the police officer who has to deal with it. It's certainly clever, I don't think many people will be able to work out how it's done until the end, but the problem is that the thieves are inside the bank and the cops are outside. There's no real sense of a battle of wits between the two sides, the crims seem to have a solution for every contingency and the police don't have many options. Where the film reaches a high point is when Washington and Owen's characters meet. Unfortunately from that peak the only way is down. The film is never stupid, just lacklustre.
And before the film we had the French Connection Fashion Versus Style advert in which two women do Fight Club before going all Thelma and Louise at the end. It's no fun sitting through the ads at cinemas at the moment, in between the product hawking you've got adverts in which kids get hit by cars, people push other people through the windscreen because they weren't wearing seatbelts, people suddenly fly across pubs to signify the danger of drunk driving and gangs of women push someone into the hands of a rapist to warn you about unlicensed minicabs. Then there's this. At least in Fight Club we get an idea of the physical damage a fight will do to you, as this is just borrowing it's tropes in order to sell you shit there's no bruising, no bones breaking or blood staining that fashion or that style. It's like Xena, although that at least had wit. It's directed by David Bowie's son and it's claimed to be a rip-off/copy of a video for a band called Groovecutter. Then, at the end, the two girls kiss, before continuing the fight. I don't quite know why this irritates me, I can tune out most adverts and liked both Buffy and Xena, which always had it's heroines spotless for the next scene. I suppose it's the appropriation of those things for the dirty, dirty business of trying to sell me stuff. It's not like it's suggesting to guys to take their girls to FCUK in the hopes that they'll fight and shag another woman in front of them.
Possibly it's that it's using the things that tend to be used to attract men (Pretty women catfighting! Pretty women kissing!) in something that should be used to attract women to their line of clothes. It's similar to how all the Tampax ads used to be made by men. I'd be interested to know how many women were involved in the brainstorming and creative process for either the video or the advert.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Halfway Through the Remake of A For Andromeda...
Sunday, March 26, 2006
So yes, that was fun. I didn't actually look round the exhibition as it was far too crowded and busy, I'll go back for that some time in the next few weeks.
Friday, March 24, 2006
The Bailiffs Will be Running the UK
Thursday, March 23, 2006
The Ninth Doctor to the Tenth: "I was intense me! You're just Jarvis Cocker in space!"
And, while we're at it, for Princess Siobhan: Sex is not the enemy!
'When we are at home... from when you are to be naked until 12:00 am, or for three hours, whichever is later, will be My Time.'
I have to warn you, this material is Not Safe For Humanity. Especially page three, where we get on to sex toys.
The Cartoon Museum, Little Russell Street
Exterior of the Cartoon Museum, Little Russell Street
Originally uploaded by Loz Flowers.
Visited The Cartoon Museum yesterday (it says it's the Cartoon Museum, the website's title is The Cartoon Arts Trust, the web address is for the Artoon Centre, whoareyagonnatrust?) It's very nice, though so limited by size it can't really go into any depth on anything. The upstairs section is dedicated to comics, but if you're not going to exclude American comics, to waste space on newspaper strips like Jane (a character who always got kidnapped by Nazis or whatever in a state of undress) and not mention any Marvel comics (Jack Kirby gets a shout out for Mister Miracle) is rather strange but maybe they just couldn't get any artwork, it looks like everything is generously donated, 2000AD takes up its own corner. There's a DTWOF strip there too, the episode where Toni has to persuade Raffi that beating up his school bully isn't going to achieve anything. For an operation that seems to be run by amateurs and volunteers it's pretty good.
Upstairs at the Cartoon Museum, Little Russell Street
Originally uploaded by Loz Flowers.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Monday, March 20, 2006
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Originally uploaded by Loz Flowers.
Presumably 'Only on Fox' means 'Only on Fox Will We Still Try to Continue This Fallacy That All is Well Over There, Hell You Don't Even Know Where Iraq is do You Morons? And You Still Think We Found WMD There Wherever it is'.
But now we've got the sun, could we have some heat to go with that? Kthxbye!
Originally uploaded by Loz Flowers.
It's cold but sunny. I really should go out for a walk...
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Friday, March 17, 2006
V For Vendetta
So I went to see V For Vendetta, adapted from the graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. The history of adaptations of Moore's work has not been illustrious and has been complicated by his struggle with DC over control of his work and his insistence on having his name taken off any products he doesn't own and film adaptations of them (which is why the posters say only that this film is based on the book drawn by Lloyd). Though he's done a fair bit of media recently in what seems like a deliberate attempt to spoke the wheels of the Wachowski machine it does seem in this case to no avail.
It's actually a pretty good adaptation. Other comics adaptations in the past have tended to junk any parts of the original work that they didn't like (in Judge Dredd it doesn't really matter that Dredd takes his mask off, but it's a sign that they're going to turn the ultimate fascist into a cuddly freedom fighter), but here the source material is treated with reverence. Lots of key scenes are kept in whereas a more careless writer would have junked them in favour of more V fighting (looking back now I realise how little fighting there actually is in the film, but it's strength is that you'll probably not realise that until after the film's finished). Occasionally the point is missed slightly, in the graphic novel the falling of dominos is counterpointed with the collapse of the state, in this film V sets up a big display of dominos which, when toppled, reveal the V image. As the film takes part over a year, there are presumably some days when V takes time off from overthrowing the state.
V for Vendetta is set a few decades into the 21st century. Britain is ruled by an Authoritarian, almost fascist, Government following a collapse of the old order caused by worldwide unrest due to the actions of George W. Bush and a chemical attack that scared the population into giving power to Adam Sutler (a suitably repellent John Hurt). Now no-one even dreams of a better way of life until a freedom fighter, dressed up as Guy Fawkes, suddenly appears to oppose the state and inspire the populous to rise up. But 'V' seems to have ulterior motives to all this chaos, and a private vendetta as well as a public mission.
Once we get past the 'explaining who Guy Fawkes was for the stupid people' (I suppose that's harsh, if British schoolkids don't know about Auschwitz I suppose it's too much to expect they or American kids will know who Guy Fawkes actually was), recasting him as a freedom fighter rather than any historical actuality, it's fairly good.
For some reason the Government in the film are less explicitly fascist than the people in the books, although we find out that religion, well, Islam, and homosexuality are banned and imprisoning offences, I wonder if this is to allow us to equate them more easily with our Authoritarian regimes. The extermination of non-Aryans that's key in the book in not explicit in the film. A character in the film has a hidden copy of the Koran which he likes to look at because it's beautiful, there's no time in the film for such ideas such as the repressive nature of most Muslim culture towards women. V is also different, in the film he's more of a freedom fighter, striving to bring down the Government. In the book he's an anarchist and that is what he's striving for, he would probably oppose any Government. In the book Moore is wily enough not to hold up V or his ideals as perfect, he's a damaged character that will damage others to achieve his ends, in the film that's somewhat softpedalled, he kills the bad guys and does what he does for the good of everyone else. The clip of him spouting the v-laden speech that was in the promo for the film is probably the lowest point of the movie. A dictionary is a dangerous thing.
I expected violence to be done to either London locations or the English accent and so was pleasantly surprised that Natalie Portman, parachuted in as Evey (much as Elijah Wood was as Frodo in Lord of the Rings), doesn't do too badly, though the mostly English cast around her probably helps. Hugo Weaving as 'V' is good while Stephen Rea as the police detective Finch provides his usual solid performance, he manages to elevate a rather thankless part who doesn't do much except follow V's trail and explain the plot to us. The script retains a number of key scenes from the book, Evey's capture, imprisonment and torture, her discovery of a letter from a former inmate of the cell, Valerie, who is killed by the regime simply for being a lesbian, V's destruction of London property to music, the climax of the film with the destruction of the Houses of Parliament, albeit reframed, which I'll come to in a minute. An addition to the script is a wonderful scene with Stephen Fry as Deitrich, a television producer and Evey's boss. He takes her in and shows her the secret museum in his wine cellar, full of things banned by the Government. He reveals he collects these things because he too is 'banned' by the Government and is unable to live freely. For me this is the real emotional heart of the film, the fight for freedom is the fight for the freedom to love. We also see him satirise the Government on his TV show, expecting a slap on the wrist, and then what for the viewer is the expected and bloody actuality.
There's another change at the climax of the film. In the book Evie takes V's place to announce the death knell of society, in the film V has distributed Guy Fawkes masks to every household in London and they march on Parliament. Some people have pointed out the absurdity of thousands of anarchists dressed identically, which is partly why I don't believe V is an anarchist in this film. It does have power, especially when they take off their masks. And as importantly, V never removes his mask and we are never explicitly told who he is, though it's not too difficult to guess, something which could have caused the immediate explosion of fanboys worldwide is averted.
The fight count is limited, much as in Matrix Reloaded, so there's more time for the battle of ideas, unlike Reloaded, where I constantly wished they'd stop talking and just hit something. The Matrix films also had an uncomfortable whiff of fascism around them, The One who was special, who people would sacrifice themselves for, who were morally obliged to shoot anyone plugged in to the Matrix because they could be an Agent. No wonder 'fans' in the West have found it's bastardised cod-Buddhism selfishness appealing and people have copied it's dress-sense and killed those they considered inferior. I doubt anyone will be able to write a Matrix Warrior for this film.
So, actually quite a good film at the end of the day.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Random Thought on Random Media
I saw the trailer for Romance and Cigarettes at the cinema and when it was finished the woman in the seat behind me said "So that's why it took them so long to get round to do the new series of The Sopranos." I just hope Jimmy hasn't still got that 'tache.
Good Night and Good Luck was good, but based on what I saw on screen I'm interested in what brought Senator McCarthy down, as I don't believe it was this show. Was there a much more sustained effort from the show that we didn't see? Was it actually more the politicians that we didn't see? I think the film has valid points to make about and to the media of today and it was commendably tense but a bit too 'locked in' for me.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Government Minister Accepts the Evidence of his Own Eyes Shocker
Meanwhile another butch omi quits Army in disgust at 'illegal' American tactics in Iraq.
I < heart > ...
'Disobedience' by Naomi Alderman
Beyond Ronit and the other woman, Esti, there are no real characters in this book. Dovid, Esti's husband, suffers from migraines and for no explained reason doesn't seek treatment, while some space is dedicated to explaining the effect these have on his conscious state they tend to sideline him as a character. Other characters have very small parts and are never very believable.
We aren't told enough about the things that are needed to tell the story. I was going to include how the Orthodox community itself functions in that but I wonder whether I'd say the same about a similar story transposed to the setting of a Christian community. But I'd expect a sense of stifling claustrophobia penning the two women in, instead all we get are constant references to everyone knowing what happened.
And what happened? We aren't told. There are constant flashbacks through the first two-thirds of the book to Ronit's growing up, as well as how her early life mixed with that of Dovid and Esti. But we never find out exactly what Ronit and Esti got up to. There aren't even hints to allow us to make an informed guess. There's a fine line between telling an audience too much and telling them too little, this reads as though Naomi knows full well exactly what happened between Ronit and Esti, she just forgot to tell us. Ronit has escaped to New York and lived there for ten years when the book opens, she's having an affair with a married coworker. But that just seems tacked on, there's no indication made of where this has come from, why Ronit is having an affair rather than a relationship with someone who is available, in either gender, in the company.
It's an almost emotionless book. Ronit spends the time frustrated about the small-minded nature of the community which, as she can leave any time, seems pointlessly masochistic *, Dovid spends the time suffering seizures and being unconscious, Esti is miserable. But the text is depressed, that long, flat feeling of hopelessness, beached at an eternal high-tide. The moments when there might be some joy, when Ronit and Esti go to bed, the aftermath of Esti confronting the community's opinions at the 'wake' for Ronit's father, are skipped over, we follow Dovid into the bedroom when the act is over, we get told that nothing really changes after Esti speaks, it's just she's more confident in herself. Realistic possibility, but not satisfying.
*This is possibly why a device is put in that she has to leave the day before the funeral (because of her past notoriousness) but not a week beforehand, in case she tries to sneak back and cause a scene. This doesn't really work, especially as the novel then skips over that last week anyway.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Still, it does make me wonder...
There was a story earlier in the week about how in the young adult sector more time was spent online than watching telly. Considering a lot of the crap that's on the main channels these days that's hardly surprising. Rebus and The Greatest, Bestest Muppets Show Evah! made me watch ITV for the first time in years. But when almost all of the ITV output is based around nostalgia, Corrie, shows where the stars of Corrie sing easy listening classics from the 1950s, shows about the best moments from when Corrie stars sang easy listening classics from the 1950s, well it's an open goalmouth isn't it? Could we really have the possibility of a situation where ITV goes under?
At a training course in January we were reminded that libraries do a good job of catering to the elderly female market, and they're dying off now. So are public libraries the ITV of public services? Could we be little more than internet cafes in a decades time, people that can buy their books, people who can't watch 24 Murdochvision?
According to a friend, my blog is blocked on the public terminals in all Cornwall libraries, presumably for such verboten terms as 'gay' and 'tranny'. Of course, in Cornwall they only open the library if a black cat doesn't walk in front of the manager on his or her way to work.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Friday, March 10, 2006
Zombie Alan Moore
Zombie Alan Moore
Originally uploaded by Loz Flowers.
Perhaps generously described as "Alan Moore for people who have never heard of Alan Moore, comics or really big beards", Alan Moore on The Culture Show, available until next Thursday and about ten minutes long. It will reassure you that, unlike in this picture, Alan Moore has not yet died.
Muslim Takes on Allah
However, on closer examination... The baby cannot breathe unaided and is on life support. The hospital want to take the baby off life-support and the parents are fighting this. So, one might think that by taking the baby off life-support the doctors want God to decide, and by wanting to keep the baby on life-support the father is defying his creator. One might say that, by allowing the baby to be born with this condition God had already made His decisionabout whether it should live or die. Unsurprisingly the father seems unable to recognise the irony in his position.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Old Jokes Home
After a short while, he noticed a police officer walking towards him, between the lines of stopped cars. He rolled down his window and asked, "Officer, what's the hold up?"
The constable replied, "Tony Blair is depressed, so he stopped his car and is threatening to douse himself with petrol and set himself on fire.
He says no one believes his stories; about why we went to war in Iraq, or that there is no pensions crisis, or the worsening economy, or that constant adding of stealth taxes, or that his education reforms are going to do any good, or that the health service is safe in his hands, or that immigration is under control, or that he`s not George Bush`s lapdog , or that his Party's proposed tax cuts won't help anyone except his wealthy friends, or that his chairmanship of the European Community hasn`t just led to more power being surrendered to the French.... So we're taking up a collection for him."
Thoughtfully , the man asks, "How much have you got so far?"
The officer replies, "About forty gallons, but a lot of people are still siphoning........"
Monday, March 06, 2006
The West Wing Series 6
Blair Must Stay!
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Yesterday everyone took my Mum to see We Will Rock You up in London. Not being a huge fan of Queen, musicals or anything touched by the withered claw of Ben Elton I skipped that and met them afterwards. People often ask me why I don't drive and there are several reasons, the main ones being that I can get everywhere I need to go by public transport and how bad they are for the environment. But I suspect my biggest worry is that if I got a car I'd do something really stupid, like load my family into it and drive into the centre of London, on a Saturday, and then drive out again that evening. Let's just say it wasn't pretty.
Friday, March 03, 2006
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Well that's it for her then.
Naomi With Her Book
Naomi With Her Book
Originally uploaded by Barnet Libraries.
Can I just say how really really really really really REALLY nice Naomi Alderman is?