limbo

I keep worrying about my thesis: last friday I was fretting over whether I had made a valid point in equating cinephilia to Casetti’s notion of ‘filmic experience’ today I was suddenly struck by the thought that the structure might be entirely wrong and that it needs rewriting entirely. The problem is I’m in limbo until my examiners get back to me. The nights are drawing in, too, which doesn’t help my mood. I think that’s why I’ve been so agitated recently – I need something to focus on, without which I keep flitting from website to website, loosing my temper at the smallest thing. I still find many things interesting, yet I cant seem to settle down on just one of them. I have a pile of books to read, but the second I do so I tell myself I should be reading something about film, which sets me off fretting about my thesis again. I think I need some kind of job, or project to work on: hopefully I’ll soon have a film to work on, which will then lead to other things. But before then, and before I get the email from my examiners (an email which I’m also dreading) I’m left in limbo, feeling I should be doing something but wondering what.

Why don’t we have jobs

Question: what is the best way to counter the argument that disabled people should work more and rely on benefits less, and not to do so is a betrayal of our hard-won freedoms? I have come across the notion, in various places and in various forms,, that by choosing to stay on benefits we are shirking the responsibilities we got when we began to earn equal rights in the sixties and seventies. After all, the argument goes, if we are citizens we must participate in society.

That is no doubt true, and many of us would love jobs, but the situation is rather more complicated: various barriers make having a job in it’s usual nine to five job impossible. In the case of someone with severe CP, for instance, many adaptations to the workplace would need to be made; tne employer would also need to employ two people: the person with cp, and a pa to assist them. On top of that there’s also the dilemma that, once we have earned over a certain amount we loose our right to benefit, meaning if the job falls through we are stuck. That, and a range of other barriers mean that this is a case of practicality rather than shirking responsibility. I do think this hurtful harmful misconception needs combatting before it is used as an excuse to cut benefits even further.

”He tasks me!”

I know I’m being childish, and I know it’s all part of life online, but the fact s I’m angry beyond words. Two days ago I came across this tract of baseless hatred and bile directed towards me. I know I have been highly critical of stevens recently, but I have always tried to base my criticisms on evidence, holding back from the puerile name-calling he stoops to here. Tell me: did I bring such vitriol on myself?

I find myself asking, what would my heroes do? What would Mr. Attenborough or mr. palin do? what about Hemingway or tolkien, or other fine men of learning and lore? The answer, of course, is nothing: they wouldn’t waste there time on such nonsense, and nor should I. Stevens’ words speak for their selves, their baselessness sapping their authors credibility letter by letter. The guy is hoisted by his own petard. If anything I should pity him. Trying to debate with the man, as one would anyone else, is extremely frustrating: you put evidence to him, attempting to explain why the disability community object to his views, and he accuses you of abusing him and ‘hating disabled people”. I am not alone in this position: as one commenter on the DPAC facebook group put it, ”’But having tried getting him to answer my questions, he just accuses me of hate speech. It’s like playing chess with a pigeon; it knocks over the pieces, craps on the board, and flies off thinking it’s won.” The guy quite obviously has mental health or learning difficulties.

I feel so angry though, and so lost. I do not know what to do – an hour ago I was considering getting legal advice. In my mind the words of Ahab ”He tasks me, he tasks me, and I will have him!” compete with those of Gandhi: ”An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Part of me refuses to let this lie, and to not rest until his reputation and career are utterly destroyed, but I can also hear Dad telling me to stop being stupid and to go do something useful.

At the end of the day, stevens isn’t worth it: I have written on here before about his lack of credibility, and there is a lengthy list of articles by others objecting to his tosh here; he has also now shown the would just how childish he is. The guy is a joke and everyone knows it. I refuse to be drawn into his tit-for-tat slagging match.

If…

I though I would make this short video today, mainly as a result of certain events I’d rather not detail now, but partly as an experiment. I have always liked Kipling, although I daresay my computer’s electronic voice doesn’t quite do it justice.

other worlds

Following on from what I was rabbiting on about yesterday, today I was pondering what it is about certain films and franchises that inspires so much creatively in fans. I must admit I didn’t reach the firm conclusions I wanted, having become distracted by side-issues, but I think certain narratives possess an epic quality: that is, they are so big, so detailed, so sprawling that some people feel the urge to enter into them. Star Trek is, of course, a prime example: here we have a series of stories, built up over almost half a century, with so much detail that it is almost tangible. People want to feel this world, to enter into it. They can’t do it physically, as the world of star trek does not exist in reality,so they create their own art work and narratives instead. Tolkiens Middle-earth is another good example: a created world so saturated with detail that people feel the urge to escape into it. It was this idea of world-ness that I began to ponder today: what is it? why do people get so enthusiastic about the tiniest of details concerning such fictions? Is it just harmless fun, or might it betray something darker – an urge to escape the real world and live in other, safer, ‘realities’? How tangible can such worlds get?

back to thinking about film

For several months I haven’t thought very deeply about film – not as deeply as I used to, anyway. Yet today, all of a sudden, something clicked back into place. I was casually browsing the internet when I thought I’d check for news about Star trek: I came across reference to Star trek Renegades, an online production directed by Tim Russ, staring some of the original cast. It occurred to me that there now exist three types of Trek the tv series, the filmic extensions, and now the semi-official online incarnations. Questions arose on my mind: what delineates all three? what precisely are their aesthetic differences? are they merging? Just as francesco cassetti points out that ‘filmic experience’ is expanding or changing to embrace new forms of film consumption, is film itself changing to embrace new media? Just as the viewer is becoming active and participatory, are we, in effect seeing narratives go beyond their traditional boarders? Look at the recent ‘marvel’ comic phenomena, where the production company is releasing multiple interwoven narratives on all three platforms. Might this be a response to the rise of the fan-filmmaker, taking existing narrative as the basis for their own work? Indeed, inasmuch as Renegades is not canonically accurate, it could be seen as a type of textual play, as Henry Jenkins describes. As I wrote here a few months ago, it seems like the line between fandom and the mainstream is blurring; this effect is deepened by the growth of semi-official, made for internet films, as well as websites like netflix which make their own programmes. The question is how might we account for this? Today I set about trying to establish the aesthetic difference between the three media: how, precisely, do they differ in terms if the image? There is the size, of course, and the quality; but what about the mise-en-scene and the type of shot used? Is there a difference in terms of shooting style? of course there is a big difference between cinematic and televisual aesthetics, but is there a third, concrete, online aesthetic emerging, mirroring – or perhaps even as a result of – the emergence of what I call the hybrid of the discourses fandom and cinephilia?

That is the question I set myself today. What I need to do now is get two similar shots, one from a star trek tv series and one from a star trek film, in order to compare the two. That way I can illustrate how they differ stylistically, before going on to examine how they both differ from the online incarnation. At first glance there is a vast difference: the online version was made on a far, far tighter budget, but could such aesthetic differences be a result of directorial choice as well as economics? Frankly I find it fascinating to examine how this new hybrid might manifest itself.

Is russel brand the saviour?

Tonight I just want to flag up this really quite astounding interview between jeremy Paxman and Russell Brand. Between the rambling and facetiousness, brand has a coherent, well-thought-out leftwing message. Beneath the comedian there is an obviously very intelligent man; a man who I find myself supporting. After watching this, I can’t help thinking, quite seriously, that Brand is the way forward.

Songs and melodies change and change…

One of my favourite Cat Empire songs is The wine song. As usual it is a song about having a good time, yet on sunday night I couldn’t help but reflect on the poignancy of some of it’s lyrics.

[quote=”The wine song”]In summer the bushfires rage and rage and rage on such beautiful days and we fight them with water that runs through the cracks water we’re desperately trying to save

[/quote]

I thought then, as I’m sure anyone else would, of the terrible reports of the fires currently burning in the Australian outback, of my trip to that amazing country almost seven years ago, and my friends there. I hope everyone is okay.

The greatest weekend ever

Two or three weeks ago lyn fell out of her chair after our PA had gone home. I tried to get her back upright but I couldn’t. Panicking, I pt out a cry for help on facebook, before giving in and pressing the emergency. The alarm women came, and to cut a long, stupid story short, got Lyn up. A short while later, though, we had another knock at the door: my Australian friend James, whom I know from the cricket club, had seen my message on Facebook and had come to see if we needed help. I felt embarrassed, humbled and grateful, so a few days later I invited him over for a beer to say thanks.

When he came round, of course we chatted about this and that, and the conversation eventually moved on to music. James mentioned he was from Melbourne, so I automatically chipped in that my favourite band was from there too, and asked him to guess who they were. James mentioned two or three groups i’d never heard of, before correctly naming the Cat Empire. I yelped with joy, and again after Jame adde that they were one of his favourites too. The cherry on the cake, however, came when James added that they would soon be playing in brixton, and offered to try to get tickets.

That is how, at about five last night, James came to be pushing me through the tube. The only problem was, I was feling tired: the truth is, the night before Lyn and I had gone to see Orb, an electric music group. Vodka got involved, and we had only come home at seven that morning. It had been an incredible night, but on route to the second gig of the weekend, I wasn’t feeling quite myself.

Fortunately, and to my astonishment, a beer and a burger put an end to that. We stopped in a whetherspoons on route to the show in order to wait for James’ girlfriend, and as soon as that beef, cheese, bacon and bun hit my stomach, I suddenly felt much better. And then it hit me: I was going to see the cat empire, the band Charlie introduced me to, the band of my university days, the band of a thousand amazing nights. This was going to fucking rule!

On the was in to the venue, I found myself wishing charlie could be there. Lyn had chosen to stay home – the cat empire not being quite her thing – but I wished both women were there. It felt slightly wrong to be there without C, popping my Cat Empire gig cherry without her, but then, there would be other gigs. There will be a next time, when lyn will be forced to come and Charlotte will be kidnapped from Liverpool, and we’ll all go together.

My melancholia was broken by the music. First there was the warm up act, who were ok but nothing special. Then, after a bit of a wait, the most awesome thing happened. As soon as they started to play, I felt overwhelmed with excitement and joy and emotions I cannot name. There was I, watching my favourite band on earth, with a guy who had taken me there out of pure kindness, who had fed me, pushed me, and paid for the whole lot. I never thought I would find a soul as kind as charlotte jones again, Lyn notwithstanding, but here was one: humanity, for all it’s barbarity, is redeemed.

What else can I say? It was one of the greatest nights of my life: they played some new songs which I didn’t recognise, but they also played their old stuff, the songs I first heard in Charlotte’s room as we got ready for the wednesday night disco. As soon as they started, I was on my feet dancing like a maniac! Highlights included ‘Hello’, ‘How to Explain’, and a version of ‘Sly’ which referenced Paradise city. I was in heaven when I heard that. I got home at about twelve (a relatively sensible time) tired, but thrilled, and feeling lucky to have so many good friends and such a great life. Without a doubt, it had been the greatest weekend ever.

Folly however you look at it

I just caught the end of Salmond’s speech to the SNP conference. I’m no economic expert of course, but i seems to me that he is promising to build a land of milk and honey, telling scots what they want to hear, while knowing that he will not be able to deliver. I am concerned that he will woo the scottish people, riding the wave of dissatisfaction with the tories, leading to the fracturing of the country. I do not want that to happen: as I have written on here before, humanity needs to be uniting rather than dividing. For all his pretence of positivity, Salmond’s message is a negative one, a message of us and them, and a hatred of ‘other’. Indeed, salmond is no less short-sighted as that worm farage – they both talk the same fascist language. I do not want my country divided; humanity should be working closer together, not splitting up. Besides, could scotland really stand on its own in the current economic climate? hell even the united states almost went bankrupt this week, so perhaps this is not the best time for this debate. Frankly it is folly, however you look at it.