Sunday 20 December 2015
As Barbara Ehrenreich points out, this attitude must ultimately be founded on the preposterous idea that your state of mind can change the world and overcome the contingencies of life. (Brian Appleyard on positivity in the New Statesman)
My years in college had given me the completely false impression that there were no constraints, that it was safe for an artist to comment on volatile cultural and political issues in public. (Garry Trudeau)
Thirty – the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning brief-case of enthusiasm, thinning hair. (The Great Gatsby)
If only those who went on about the dignity of work actually respected the dignity of workers! (northierthanthou.com @Brimshack)
I don’t suffer from autism, I suffer from people’s attitudes towards autism. (Tina Brooks @pepperfire)
‘Just be yourself’ was probably first said by a tall, rich, smug, handsome jerk. (Karl Sharro @KarlreMarks)
Through Spock, Leonard showed us that things like compassion, mercy, dignity, wit and friendship were actually logical. (Ronald D. Moore @RonDMoore)
Bede thought the golden age of Anglo-Saxon Christianity had been in the 7th C; Alcuin in the 8th. Nostalgia has a long history in England. (Tom Holland @holland_tom)
Attempting to graft Enlightenment onto existing religions. (Peter Dashevici)
The power of hierarchies is hard to break. (Nick Cohen Guardian March 15)
Love this: ‘People are more vocal against fur than leather because it’s much easier to pick on rich women than motorcycle gangs.’ (Karl Sharro @KarlreMarks)
‘The inevitability of world revolution’ had been postponed. (LRB quoting Eric Hobsbawm on the last communist rally before the Nazis destroyed the movement in Germany)
Thinking you’re going to be famous is “a common desire and belief among the young”. (RS)
I love being unremarkable. (Chinese immigrant, Guardian 2015)
My mother didn’t know how to do some of the most basic things that most people in this country seem to think are intuitive. (Another Chinese immigrant, Guardian 2015)
However, it involved working from home a fair bit and that is where it became incredibly isolating. I lived in a part of north-west London where one needed a family and a puppy to fit in and I had neither. Coming from Toronto, where I had a vast network of friends, I felt like a fish out of water with virtually no social life. (Recent immigrant to the UK, Guardian 2015. So much for the idea that happiness depends on your personality or attitude.)
Swearing with your friends, however, is vital. Done deftly, it can be the first sign of friendship. (Hugo Rifkind in the Tatler)
The savvy spa-goer could build patronage networks, discuss business and politics, peruse marriage prospects, attend parties, and hear all the latest gossip. (hypotheses.org)
Naturally bright, she had sailed through every exam at school, but met her match at Oxford. After years of achieving top grades with very little effort, the punishing schedule of essays and reading lists came as a shock. She graduated, but seemed scarred by the experience. (Lord Steerforth)
You have to love the fact that a lot of people today believe that everything is socially constructed, except religion. (Karl Sharro @KarlreMarks)
More here, and links to the rest.
Wednesday 16 December 2015
How to write a horror film:
1. Bad things
2. OR ARE THERE
3. Yes bad things
4. Defeat the bad things
5. OR HAVE THEY
Just once, I’d like a passing bus or train to obstruct someone’s view of the villain, but for them NOT to vanish once it’s gone. #Luther (@danowen79)
Love the bit in Escape to The Country/Bargain Hunt/ Flog It/ Countryfile/Antiques Road Trip where the presenters learn to shear a sheep. (Sathnam Sanghera @Sathnam)
Are there any modern crimes novels with a detective who DOESN'T have an alcohol/drug habit or a problem with authority? (@Lord_Steerforth)
1. Someone lets themselves into their car and you know, just know, that a sinister figure is going to rise up behind them and strangle them. Plausible perhaps at night, but in broad daylight would someone really not notice that there was a person crouching in the back seat of their car?
2. This is from my great friend Sue (suehepworth.com). In the US Law and Order the police show up to interview a witness at their place of work. Do they give the police their full attention? No: directors don’t like talking heads, so the witness goes on loading their van, polishing glasses or whatever. If they are at home, they will be folding the laundry.
3. Someone – probably a woman – is running through woods. There is wobbly, hand-held camera-work and a soundtrack of crashing through undergrowth and gasping for breath. Cut! The next scene will be the police being called out to a body.
4. Someone’s alone in the house and the door bell rings. They answer the door. Their face lights up: ‘oh, it’s you!’ Cut! The next time we see them they are dead. (Christine Poulson)
That accent is an affront to bad accents everywhere. (imdb message board on Tom Bosley’s “Kentucky?” accent in Murder She Wrote)
Darkness seemed like a two-part story padded out with lots of shots of silently anguished lead characters to fill four hours. (Martin Edwards)
QUESTION: In crappy American disaster movies with a male protagonist, why does the hero ALWAYS send his wife "to [her] mother's in Vermont"? (AlexPaknadel)
Series sound engineer Kate Hopkins said: 'If it's a polar bear on snow, custard powder is usually very popular, with some salt crystals added for a bit of crunch.' The ingredients, she explained, are then mixed together inside a stocking, scrunched up and pressed against a hard surface. Other tricks include imitating the crunch of bones as an animal eats by snapping sticks of celery. Slowly peeling an orange creates the sound of a predator ripping flesh from a carcass. (She explains that most wildlife footage is shot through a telephoto lens, and the technology can’t pick up sound at that distance.) (@MailOnline)
Times review of Britain Beneath Your Feet: “The only downside is the grandiose orchestral gloop of the sort that is usually slathered over the duller species of natural history programme.”
I've just struggled through Horizon: The Trouble with Space Junk. Struggled not because of the incidental music... but because of the stupid cliched movie sound effects. Computer screens that go zeep because that's what they do in real life, obviously. A deep rumbling accompanying the view from space - I guess there's a crack in the window making wind noise. Dodgy video connections with pictures that break up and make a crackling noise, because they do that all the time, of course.
It also suffered from the insistence of so many similar shows before it – not least the BBC’s Restoration series of a decade ago – on conjuring tension where none existed or was required. Arbitrary deadlines were announced without context or explanation – Six weeks! Seven days! – and the Trust’s experts proved more than happy to play along. (Daily Telegraph on Restoring Britain’s Landmarks Oct 2015 Nick Paget on Twitter: “So much repetition means each quarter almost repeats itself.”)
Whose idea was this 'dramatic 90 second intro of absolutely no benefit to anyone' that begins every single beeb documentary now? (Douglas Murphy @entschwindet)
More in love with production values than the story (quite a common BBC flaw at the moment). (Past Offences)
Talking at the camera while driving, unable to say anything at all without walking, presenter talking to himself from a thousand yards away in a crowd, presenter ending every scene by walking briskly out of the picture... (RI)
Wait wait. There *is* a black guy in Steve Jobs...He plays a security guard. (@redsteeze)
I bet he's a Wise Old Security Guard, who says a Few Well-Chosen Words that give the protagonist a Fresh Insight Into His Life. (Damian Counsell @DamCou)
Though the characters age only 25 years or so in the course of the story, by the film's end they are seen doddering around like nonagenarians. (zeusdvds.com on the film of O’Neill’s Strange Interlude)
Reed Richards is soon snapped up by a sinister governmental agency (yep, them again) and set to work with a kindly paternalistic physicist who speaks only in gnomic pronouncements (“We are stronger together than we are apart”)... [There’s a long sequence where the cast pretend to build a teleportation device] and no, the mid-montage scene of the gang chillaxing with Chinese food, and laughing uproariously between mouthfuls (I’d swear they’re just saying: “Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb”) doesn’t help, conveying only the sense that this film is treading water until the cogs click together with such uninspired inevitability that a deranged gibbon who’d been force-fed a couple of Thor movies could probably have done a better job. The gibbon, unfortunately, was unavailable, so we’re stuck with Reed and the Von Doomettes travelling to a rocky volcanic other world (laziest art design ever — like the planet Mustafar from Revenge of the Sith, only duller) and getting infected with super-energy that, for reasons known only to a select bunch of comic-book hierophants, makes Reed bendy, Sue invisible, Johnny fiery and Victor kind of nutty... (Kevin Maher on Fantastic Four, Times 2015-08-09)
From Renault Clio adverts to Hollyoaks episodes, running into a wedding, tears streaming, clutching a telegram or skidding down the aisle on your knees is one of those great cultural tropes that almost never actually happens in real life. Thank God. (thedebrief.co.uk)
Is there any chance we could never again make Russian movies with British actors who speak in silly fake Russian accents? (Lexi Alexander @Lexialex)
From 100 things you can learn from classic Who, imdb message boards:
7. Don't touch any green glowing stuff when you're down a mine.
11. Massage therapists’ uniforms is the chosen fashion wear for humans going into suspended animation in 'The Ark in Space'
16. The Master with the entire Earth to choose from always launches his crazy power schemes in Britain directly under the nose of the Brigadier and UNIT.
29. If you're a small-minded greedy person who wants to exploit aliens in some way for money, you'll be first in line to die.
31. A lot of alien dictatorships can be overthrown within a day or so.
37. A nuclear power complex with an output enough to power all of Southern Britain can be blown up or bombed without any Chernobyl style fallout.
42. At some point in the future humanity will revert to using magnetic tape computer storage and cathode ray tubes.
51. Pretty much everyone you meet in your travels through space and time initially wants to kill you.
I'm trying to avoid the "classic" counselling photos: trees, waves, stacked up stones, bees, lips, ears, handshakes... (Tina Weston)
Holding his head like a silent movie actor registering anguish. (7 1/2 Cents, Richard Bissell)
I could have lived without the flimsy costume drama interludes. Elizabeth... seemed to spend most of the episode in Richmond Castle, drinking wine and chilling with her pet monkey. Philip II of Spain was portrayed as a bureaucratic weirdo who ran his empire from a tiny cell and who did “I-am-definitely-a-creepy-megalomaniac” things like covetously fondle a globe by flickering candlelight. Also, I’m pretty sure he had a stick-on beard. (Times stand-in TV critic, June 2015)
You're like wossname in GoT who lets his prisoner think he's escaped, only to recapture him. (Lisa Carey @msleedy)
More here, and links to the rest.
Friday 11 December 2015
Someone will do something blatantly sexist, and everyone will go "Hey, guys! It's 2016!"
Journalists will ask:
Why does nobody ever think about the men who pay for sex?
Why does society denigrate women who decide not to have children? (While telling single people they are better off on their own, they shouldn’t look for a partner, and there’s no pressure on women to get married now they can have jobs – as the writers don't say.)
Journalists will state:
Craft is back!
The fuller figure is back!
At last! Sexy bras for large sizes.
Class is much more “nuanced” now, and based on socio-economic groups.
Zeppelins are back! (or perhaps the Hyperloop)
Email is dead.
Social media is dead.
Social media makes no money.
One in five prisoners have reading difficulties.
Tinder has changed relationships.
Bullying isn’t just in the playground.
Menopausal women no longer need to suffer in silence.
Living together doesn't give you legal rights - gosh!
Me and my partner aren't getting married because we're just too special.
We eat less meat now because [insert peg here].
We're driving less because [insert peg here]. (Some of "us" never learned.)
Masculinity is in crisis. ("Many modern men complain of feeling redundant in an increasingly feminised world where advances in reproductive science might render them unnecessary even for sperm production." Times. I think they mean "women are filtering into higher-paid jobs".)
The Met Office and the BBC will predict bad weather. People will be scathing about the “panic”. Bad weather will arrive.
Twitter users will denigrate Facebook (inspirational uplift, baby pictures, right-wing politics). Intelligent people with degrees will be quite astounded to learn that you can turn all these off.
Twitter users will ask "Why isn't there a Men's Day?" (it's 19 November) and "When's White History Month?". (When they're not telling atheists that evolution is a religion.)
Proponents of “whole language” reading methods (look and say) will continue fighting a bitter rearguard action for control of schools and the lucrative reading materials and training market in the teeth of overwhelming evidence that their method doesn’t work and teaching phonics does.
A dictionary will add a few items of modern slang. We will be very surprised, even though it happens every year. (“Why are we putting them in the dictionary, all these words?” BBC Breakfast on “manspreading”.)
People will complain about the news media (all opinion, left-wing bias, not what I call news).
They will also whinge that children aren't being taught grammar, and we're importing too many Americanisms.
Two women a week will be killed by their partners or ex-partners. Meninists will disbelieve the statistics.
The French will stop parents calling a child Nutella.
Parents in NZ will name their child Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
Tenements will be recommended to solve the housing crisis. Apprenticeships ditto, to solve the unemployment crisis.
Hollywood remakes of classics, and Christie/Austen stories by other hands, will be dire.
Something rather trivial will be identified either as “a symptom of what our society has become” or proof of “the end of civilisation as we know it”. (For example, children are arriving at school unable to use a knife and fork. Of course they can't use a knife and fork. They're four.) Next year it will be something different.
A smug middle-class family will “do without” something for a year (throwing out ANY rubbish, processed food, electronic devices...).
The mystery of Agatha Christie’s disappearance will be “solved at last”.
Every few years or so a spate of newspaper stories proclaim, as the Los Angeles Times did last year, that “rabbit appears to be going through a renaissance of sorts”. (straightdope.com They mean "on the menu".)
Why does the "pop stars today aren't political" whingepiece still get commissioned and written, over and over again, WHY? (@alex_macphers)
The Masterchef pauses will get... even longer.
Someone will propose a giant skyscraper with forests every few floors.
Architects will whinge about “noddy boxes”, and praise a development of “quirky” houses that are too close together, and have too few, tiny windows but sport some interesting detail like steeply pitched roofs. The energy saved by the arrow-slit windows will be used up by aircon and lighting.
TV programmes will start with trailers for themselves, using all their best moments and giving away the plot. They will do this before and after the ad break, and will keep repeating the “highlights”. Participants will be forced to read bland, scripted pieces to camera. These will be chopped up and sprinkled throughout. There won’t actually be a programme at all.
It’s the 80s/90s/00s/10s/teens – why don’t you ask HIM out?
Predictions for 2015
Wednesday 2 December 2015
Pupils were told the world outside the sect was evil and dangerous.
They were told that all those outside the sect would burn in Hell for all eternity.
They were taught only a religious point of view about everything. Other viewpoints were never mentioned. Information was restricted.
They were trapped, and had little contact with outsiders.
In term-time, they hardly saw their parents. They wrote home once a week.
The institution was hierarchical and questioning was frowned on. It was run like a fascist state.
Teaching was patchy – there was no oversight or independent testing.
It was a single-sex environment.
There was no sex education. Pupils weren't supposed to even think about sex. What was the punishment? If they didn't repent, they burned in Hell for all eternity.
But they were told they must get married young and have lots of children.
The punishment for doubt? You guessed it.
Pupils were prepared for life in medieval Europe, not 20th century Britain.
Stamford Hill 2015, or the Convent of the Sacred Heart, 1965?
It would all be illegal now.
(Picture by cathcandy3)
More ghastly schools here.