Correcting the captain

I was just mucking around with my masters playdraft again today. A few days go, it occurred to me that I could have mentioned that Picard actually misquotes

Melville when he recites moby-dick. The original two sentences are in chapter 41, and are slightly longer and more archaic. For example, picard says cannon when Melville uses ‘mortar’ etc. Hardly worth mentioning, and I don’t think my thesis suffers too much for it’s absence. However, when googling for the text, I found this fascinating website devoted to the book. It has all kinds of fascinating background info on the book, Melville and so on, as well as the full text itself. Definitely worth a look for literature buffs.

The uncanny part of Woolwich

I just got in from my daily stroll, and think I should note something odd. Today, having a question to ask at the council offices – I still haven’t received my voting papers, but was assured they are on their way – I took myself over to Woolwich. It’s a bright, sunny day, so after I went for a roll. I usually just look around the market and high street when I’m in that area, but today I decided to explore a bit. Crossing the road, I suddenly found myself in a quieter, stiller area. Although there were a few cars, the murmur of traffic, constant in London, suddenly seemed gone. Something about that place, with it’s long buildings and wide, deserted streets made it feel very different to the rest of Woolwich and London. This place seemed old, and indeed it was: I had entered the old arsenal, the site of the old munitions factories for which Woolwich is famous. They had restored most of it, and the area was shiny, clean and modern; yet there was a feeling of ancientness to it, an uncanny, unhiemlich feeling, as if the place was once, many years ago, teeming with life but now was dead. The faces of victorian and edwardian factory workers peer out from photographs dotted about the place. This place once supplied the empire with it’s guns, but the empire is faded. What remains, despite the restorations, are ghosts.

Nobody cares that ‘we’ can’t vote

I just heard on the bbc lunchtime news bulletin that scope has reported people with disabilities still have major problems when they try to access polling stations. Many stations still do not have ramp entry, and wheelchair users have been turned away. This utter disgrace is why I opt for a postal vote – that way, I can put the cross in the box sitting at our dining table with plenty of room. Yet the story reveals a major problem, though: this has been an issue for years. To deny a group of people the vote, for whatever reason, is an affront to democracy; but that is precisely what is happening. Whas makes me even more angry is that media, including the beeb, say nothing about it; and when they do they have it in the ”and finally…” slot at the end of the bulletin when it should be the headline story. That implies it does not matter to them. There is also not a word about it on their website. I find that disgusting, frankly.

‘The Cultural Politics of 007’ – book review

Just a quick note today to say I just reading yet another book on James Bond, 007. My masters may be finished, but I’m still intrigued with film. Reading books like ‘The Cultural Politics of 007’, a collection of essays looking into the books and films which I noted I was reading a few entries ago, only deepens that interest. I won’t even attempt to summarise the essays here, but what astounds me is the sheer breadth of perspectives they employ, from history to politics,from freud to marx. For instance, the final chapter, the one I just read, looks at Bond’s relevance in the era of the war on terror, pointing out some very interesting parallels between Blofeld and bin laden, both actual and symbolic. it would be fascinating to see if the upcoming film, Spectre, picks up on something similar. One or two left me with a bad taste in my mouth: after all, as they point out, Bon is essentially a fascist figure, a relic of the cold war and of Empire. I should hate him, and be repulsed by his appearance at the olympics. Yet, as I noted here, precisely the opposite is the case. 007 fascinates me still, and the more I read, the deeper I go, the ore intense that fascination becomes.

Star wars – open or closed narrative?

I’m sure most of you will be aware that a new star Wars trailer came out last week. I was pondering star wars last night. It struck me that one could broadly say that there are two types of film franchise in terms of structure: there’s what you might call an ‘open’ franchise, where self-contained episodes are played out in an overarching fictional world. Examples include Star Trek, where individual films stand alone, and James Bond, which I’d say is very episodic with individual films have almost no bearing on one another save for the odd reference. Of course, there are a few narratives running throughout Trek, such as the federation’s relationship with the Romulans, but they aren’t fundamental to it. You could come into trek at any point and still understand it. The same goes with Bond: I don’t have to have seen Goldfinger to enjoy Casino Royale. The narratives of each episode combine to gradually build up a fictional space which can be further built upon, a world in which a variety of stories can take place provided they stay within the rules of that world.

The second type of structure can be called ‘closed’. This is where all the films in a franchise join up to form one overarching story. A good example is The Lord of the Rings, composed of three films which tell one story. I’d say, here, that it would be more difficult – although not impossible – to watch the two towers without knowing what happened in Fellowship of the Ring. It’s more like a Soap opera, with one installation leading directly into another. I’d say Harry Potter is in this camp too. When the overarching story is told, when the one ring is destroyed and Voldimort vanquished, the narrative ends: there is no more; the characters have served their purpose and are allowed to rest.

The question I wonder about is, which camp does star Wars belong to? Here I’m only referring to the mainstream cinema-released films. I know there is tons of peripheral stuff, but most people are not familiar with that. Taken on it’s own, I’d say that Star Wars belongs in the latter, closed camp. It tells one overarching story basically the birth, rise and fall of Anikin Skywalker. He died in Return of the Jedi, quite an emphatic poignant death, so under my framework, star wars should be over. That’s why I still have my doubts about the seventh film; it just seems a money-making exercise with no artistic merit. If JK Rowling wrote another harry Potter novel, no doubt people would cry ”Isn’t she rich enough already?” That narrative is complete, as is star wars.

Yet part of me is asking why. You could say that, in terms of my categorisation, star Wars has room to manoeuvre, an ambiguity to it. The original 1977 film, a new hope, was originally conceived as a stand-alone film, and then the franchise was expanded into three, then six, films. Why shouldn’t it go further? I’m sure many star wars fans would argue that if you take into account all the non-cinematic stuff, the ‘extended universe’ and so on, my categorisation is wrong and that the narrative is far from closed. My task, in that case, is clear: time to go find out about all this other Star Wars material I’m only vaguely aware of. Perhaps there’s more to this than I thought. Perhaps star wars could be swapping positions.

Until then, though, I’m afraid my initial assessment stands: I cannot shake the idea that star wars 7 is nothing but a money-making exercise. Given that episodes one two and three were so abysmal, and that these new films are being made by Disney, I cannot help thinking that this seventh film will be cliched, childish pap, but that the fans will enthusiastically and uncritically lap up whatever bull they churn out. Vader is dead, so the story is complete: resurrecting him, as I fear they somehow will, would just be an insult to viewers’ intelligence and film as an art form.

Should Nigel Farage be sectioned?

I am just watching the news. I now think that Nigel Farage needs to be sectioned. Reading that, I’m sure many would tell me not to be silly: just because I disagree with him does not mean he is insane. However, the BBC just covered the tragic story of migrants from Libya, and for some reason they invited the ukip leader to comment. Using very debatable logic, Farage claimed that the situation was caused when the allies bombed Libya. According to him, we destabilised the country, and everyone lived happily with gadaffi in power. Farage thought we should stay out of the issue.

Such a proposition is of course absurd. How can we cut ourselves off from the world, turning a blind eye to tyranny? More to the point, it is dangerous to have the bbc use this fellow as a go-to guy, a trusted source of information or opinion. His opinions are destructive; he blames everything on our European neighbours, and would leave refugees to drown. As such, he is a destructive, harmful influence who would destabilise society. He would turn us against our European neighbours. Given that insanity can be termed as a delusion which poses a threat to ones self or others, Farage can be termed insane. His delusion is an irrational hatred of Europe, as evidenced by his attempt to blame it for everything, which is very reminiscent of a person with schizophrenia trying to link all their misfortunes to the focus of their delusions. Further, he is clearly a danger if the BBC continues to allow him to spread his views as they just did. In all seriousness, then, I call for Nigel Farage to be committed, before he can cause any real damage. As absurd as my call may seem, he is a destructive dangerous influence intent on distorting reality and causing great harm to others.

The uncanny thing about meeting Sir Patrick Stewart

I discovered something rather spooky yesterday; it’s just a small detail, but one I’d like to note. Inspired by Thursday’s epic gig, Lyn and I decided I should go and try to get tickets for a Paul McCartney gig shortly to be held at the O2. I set off back up there, only to be told they were sold out. While I was up there, though, I thought I’d just pop over the river to the Excel exhibition centre to see if there was going to be another Star Trek show there this year – with any luck, I could meet Sir Patrick Stewart again. It turns out, however, that that event was a one-off, and that they aren’t going to have a star trek gig there again (this yea it’s Dr. Who). That fact strikes me as really uncanny. What are the chances? The year I finally pass m MA after so long is the year I met the very person I had been writing about, and indeed it turns out it was the only year I could do so. That, I must say, strikes me as really uncanny. Not that I believe in the afterlife, but it is as if my school mates I mention in my thesis were looking down and decided to give me the biggest treat ever. The way in which events came together like that is really, really odd.

Paul Simon and Sting

I missed the debate last night, so I can’t comment on it. We were, however, dong something much, much better: last night saw us at our second great gig of the year. Lyn and I went to see Paul Simon and Sting at the O2, and I can honestly say it was a wonderful, wonderful evening. My head this morning is filled with tunes we heard last night, from ‘Ceceilia’ to ‘Roxanne’ to the mighty ‘Bridge over Troubled Water’, which they left for their encore. They did a mixture of both mens’ tunes, varying them, alternating them, playing with them and mixing them up. I had no idea that they would go so well together, yet they did. The result was quite wonderful. They Played The Boxer too, reminding me of the time my friend Steve had to learn it for a performance at uni – a great, great song thus summoned a great, great memory.

I have been a bit of a fan of both men for quite a while, since I was first able to control what I listened to on my computer, although not as passionate a one as Lyn; Thus, seeing both these musical legends on stage was awesome. It made me feel very close to Lyn, sat next to me, a great big smile on her face; most of the time I wanted to lean over and hug her – after all, I wanted this to be her evening. To see her so wrapped on the music, concentrating so hard, yet so happy, was great. The finale, though, melted my heart: to have seen Paul Simon play Bridge Over Troubled Water live is a great, great privilege, and something I can now look back on with fondness.

In all, then, it was an incredible evening. I must say I’m becoming very fond of the O2 arena: I was once quite dismissive of it, but having come to know it, it seems to me a fabulous place where all kinds of wonderful things happen. Last night added to that perception. The combination of both mens’ repertoires, both mens’ voices, was magnificent. As usual, it left me thirsting for more gigs; but after last night I doubt anyone would blame me.

Hawking, python and asteroids

I really did not think things could get more awesome than watching Stephen hawking sing the Galaxy song at Monty Python Live last year, but the pythons have taken it a step further. According to this, Hawking has lent his voice to Monty Python’s famous Galaxy Song as part of Record Store Day 2015. They have also released a video to go with it, and, best of all, a version of the game asteroids, which involves Hawking spinning around shooting asteroids with the faces of the monty python team on them. To me, that is simply awesome. Go play, sing along, and smile!

Kill the puppies!

I just have to draw your attention to this, given that it appeals to my sense of humour on so many levels. Lawrence Clarke, one of my favourite crip-comedians (perhaps that should be cripedians?), sits in the street with a collection bucket shouting ‘kill the puppies’. As he’s sat in a wheelchair and has CP, people put money in his bucket regardless of the violent cause he is collecting for, and even when Clarke objects, saying ‘you want to kill puppies, you bastard!” after someone puts a coin in his bucket. The point he is making, of course, is that pity for disability trumps anything else; people will feel sorry for ‘us’ no matter what. It’s odd to think how deep that pity goes: people see our chairs before they see anything else. Thus Clarke makes a very good point. I also love when one old dude comes up to him and asks ”are you a cripple of some sort?”

Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m off to collect money for my next pub trip; where’s my bucket?