I might be on streetview

I think there’s a good chance I’ll soon be on Google streetview. I was just down at Asda, trying to make myself useful by getting some groceries. On my way back, I noticed an odd-looking car waiting at the traffic lights. It had an odd blue thing on its roof. As I got closer, I realised it was the streetview car. I drove right past it, so I think there’s a reasonable chance I’ll be appearing about here soon – keep checking.

Charlie stays the night

I’m up rather early for me – I haven’t seen a 7am in quite some time. However, yesterday my old fried Charlotte came to visit: she has an interview down in Kent today, and needed somewhere to tay the night. It was great to see her. Last night, we all went up to the o2 for a meal, and had a superb time. The food was awesome, the conversation great. I was able to catch up with news from Manchester (that makes it sound so remote) and generally reminisce. We didn’t get back too late as C had an early start, although as usually happens when I see her drink started to flow – old habits die hard. I just waved her off, wishing her luck and hoping it isn’t too long before I see my old friend again.

HBD your majesty

I think I’ll just go with the flow today and wish the queen a happy ninetieth birthday. My feelings towards the queen are somewhat contradictory. On the one hand is the question of whether monarchy has any place in the twenty-first century. While I know the queen has no real power – theoretically at least – and the monarchy is just a tourist attraction, it is nonetheless a tourist attraction we spend millions on to maintain. That money could be much better used. Why spend so much tax payers money on keeping a single family, whose wealth and privilege was inherited and not earned, living like…well…royalty? All my leftist instincts say we should do away with the lot.

On the other hand, I must admit I have a soft spot for the queen. She has been a constant throughout most of our lives; she has been there since before I was born, and indeed since before my parents were born. I have to respect someone who is prepared to fill a role she never asked for for over sixty years. However luxurious it may be, just think how many events, openings that is. To be expected to go places, say nice things, and probably have the same conversation over and over again, year after year, must get wearisome. Most of us would have jacked it in years ago. That deserves my respect.

Mind you, I might have thought differently before 2012. Sorry to keep going back to this, but the queens appearance with James Bond at the olympic opening ceremony demonstrated that she didn’t see herself as ‘above’ popular culture. One might have expected her to say ”definitely not”, as if she was too noble or high born.

Instead, she was game. As I wrote here, I feel that that is worthy of my respect. It changed our relationship with the monarch; it made her seem less distant or remote. It showed she knows about the stuff we like. More personally, it also echoes the parachute jump from the Spy Who Loved Me, which I wrote about in my masters thesis – I love that the two are linked.

Thus while I know what I’m supposed to say about hereditary monarchy being an utter anachronism which we need to do away with, I can’t help liking old Liz. She has always been there – a comforting constant throughout our lives. She is like David Attenborough on the TV, ashes cricket, or the towel which you brought from your parents and remember being dried with as a child. Whether my attitude about this will change when the queen finally goes remains to be seen, but for now I’ll just wish her majesty a very happy ninetieth birthday.

Zoo Quest in colour

Huge Attenborough fan that I still am – Richard and David – I think I must flag this quite incredible story up. Although I’ve often heard about Sir David’s famous Zoo

Quest Series, I have never seen a full episode. It was his first work with the bbc, from 1954, and was shot in black and white. According to that report, however, ”when footage [of the original program] was unearthed by the BBC Natural History Unit last year it was found to have been shot in colour.” Sad film and TV geek that I am, I find that thrilling: not only are these programs often said to be milestones in British broadcasting history, but they also mark the beginning of the career of one of the few people one can truly call great. Better still, the unearthed programs will now air on bbc Four on 11 May.

LOTR Vs GOT

I never got into Game of Thrones. I know I should have: it is a huge part of mainstream culture, and, fantasy and sci-fi geek that I purport to be, I should have sat down to watch it from beginning to end, but that would have meant making an effort to go get the DVDs, sitting down to watch them on a regular basis, and, well, you know…Anyway, I sort of lost interest once they killed off Sean Bean’s character at the end of the first season.

Nonetheless, today I just want to flag this interesting Irish Times piece up. Apparently, people are starting to compare Game of Thrones to Lord of the Rings, asking which is better. Fans of Game of Thrones say their text is more nuanced, complex and multi-layered; whereas in Tolkien’s work characters are either entirely good or entirely evil. While I see where they’re coming from, as the article points out, it’s not quite that simple. There’s plenty of nuance in Tolkien’s dramatis personae: look at Gollum, for one. How much more torn and schizophrenic can a character get? Then there’s Boromir, a good man brought down by sheer temptation. Thus, if you look at the text properly, I don’t think the accusations of simplicity and reductivism hold.

Besides, I don’t think such comparisons are useful. They always crop up in fandom, of course, most famously in the Star Trek Vs Star Wars debate. Yet the two are separate texts; they differ in style and form, and tell us different things. Both may be works of fantasy, but they were written in different eras and styles. LOTR was born of the wreckage of the first and second world wars, whereas GOT is more contemporary. Thus for GOT fans to try to start criticising LOTR for being too reductive, and to try to say theirs is somehow superior, strikes me as childish. In fact it reminds me of the Ghostbusters vs Turtles fights I used to have with my school friends when I was about five. We should instead ask what either text reveals of the human condition in it’s own right.

Corbyn: the tories must go – now!

I think I’ll just flag this video from jeremy Corbyn up today (sorry it’s on facebook). It might just be my imagination, but the tone Corbyn uses in it is quite different from usual political vids. There is an urgency to it; a seriousness. It’s as if he no longer wants to play the game or muck about: what the tories are doing to the country, in destroying public services and the NHS; in ruining education and making schools compete, forces us to move beyond normal etiquette. It’s as if he’s suggesting we rise up, although he doesn’t say how. I agree entirely: this has gone beyond waiting for the next election. Day after day, I see reports of people dying due to the tories’ cuts; people are suffering because these stains on humanity want to cut taxes for their rich friends. Something has to be done [b]now[/b] – the tories have to go!

Polanski’s Macbeth at the BFI

Another reason for me not being up at the protest yesterday was that I had plans to go to the BFI. Dom suggested going up there during the week: they are currently having a Shakespeare on Film season, and he thought it might be cool to go check it out. I heartily agreed, so yesterday he and I made our way up to the Southbank (another part of the capital I just love) to watch Roman Polanski’s classic, Macbeth.

I studied Macbeth for GCSE English, and this film had been mentioned then, but until last night I had never seen it in it’s entirety. It struck me as a masterpiece: while I think Polanski changes the scene sequence a little, it is a very faithful adaptation. I found myself reciting many lines as the actors were saying them, and was surprised how much I remembered. Then again, it is a very memorable text with a lot of dark imagery, which Polanski translated well to screen. There is quite a bit of gory violence, and zombified witches shown in the nude. In fact, it struck me that it went well with having seen Lyn’s new video earlier in the day; there were a lot of similarities in terms of aesthetic, and they seemed to complement each other in my mind. Yesterday for me was a very goth sort of day, it seems.

I had not been sure what Dom would make of it. He’s from Poland, and I was worried he would struggle with the Elizabethan english. However, he seemed to cope, and in fact said he recognised many things from Polish literature in the film. That would make sense, given Polanski is Polish. For me, it felt good to both reacquaint myself with a text I got to know as a teenager, and to see a classic piece of cinema. We both came out of the BFI having liked what we’d seen, then, and after a quick drink at the bar, were making our way home, resolving to go there again soon.

Bohemian Grove

Forces of darkness, come hither! Prey go here, to Lyn’s latest music video, Bohemian Grove, a deliciously dark piece and one of her best. Quite where she got this new Satanic streak from I know not, but it’s one of her most expertly and artfully constructed pieces. The fusion of deep, oppressive music with some frankly quite disturbing imagery is perfect.

Another large anti-Tory protest up in central London.

I’m currently seeing reports on Facebook of another large anti-Tory protest up in central London. The impression I’m getting is that it’s even bigger than the one last week, but that’s just going by what I can glean online. Thousands of people are apparently calling for CaMoron’s resignation. My chair is currently having it’s battery replaced, otherwise I would probably be there with them. The strange thing is, there’s not a word about it on the bbc website; you’d think they would be eager to cover such massive popular uprisings, if just to maintain their position as the uk’s primary news source. But then, we all know that the tories will want to keep this quiet, and that, post Hutton, the Beeb knows it has to behave itself. Thus I doubt we’ll be seeing much about these protests from the bbc or any of the mainstream broadcasters (and they say we are a democracy – ha!) but at least we can go to RT to see what is really going on. It’s just dismaying to see this news being subdued in the mainstream.

Neoliberalism is the problem

I think I need to flag this fascinating and well-argued Guardian piece up. It is an outline of neoliberalism, arguing that this small-government, individualist ideology is the root cause of most of our problems today. That’s pretty self-evident, when you think about it: a system which promotes deregulation, a minimised state and encourages greed while blaming the most vulnerable people in society for their own woe is bound to lead to a massively unequal society where natural and human resources are utterly abused. The problem is, until we stop caring only about ourselves and see ourselves as one society, valuing each person’s contribution however small, I don’t see neoliberalism ending.