LLAP

A couple of days ago I came across the idea that, instead of greeting people by shaking  hands, these days we should bump fists. That struck me as a cool idea, especially if Coronavirus is spread through touch, but how about going a step further and just doing a Vulcan salute to one another? Leaving  aside the fact that I personally struggle to get my fingers into that position, it seems to me that that  would be a very civilised way to greet each other, especially since it is synonymous with wishing one another ”Live Long and Prosper..” There is no touching involved at all. Mind you, Leonard Nimoy apparently borrowed the gesture from an orthodox jewish ceremony, so it  might have hidden religious connotations.

Either way, the least we can do  to protect one another is sung about here (nsfw)

Yesterday’s stupidity

I know I probably ought to note what I got up to yesterday on here, mostly as a warning to myself not to let it happen again.  Truth be told, I got carried away: after sorting an upcoming event out at school, I decided to take myself to a pub in Woolwich. After having a couple of beers there, I caught the bus home. I was fine at that point, if a bit hungry. Stupidly though, a couple of hours later I decided to take myself up into Eltham for a couple more, and I guess I overdid it: I remember leaving the pub, but I must have come out of my chair on the way back because the next thing I know I was lying in a hospital bed.

Utterly stupid I know. I spent the evening in hospital, before being taken home. I was bloody  lucky nothing was stolen or damaged. More to the point, I shouldn’t have wasted much needed NHS  resources like that. I suppose I just wanted to let off a little  steam after the  last few months, but I really, really shouldn’t be so stupid.

Pub quandries

Like many people, I now find myself in a bit of a quandry when it comes to pubs:  there are quite a few in my local area, but the one I preferred to go to, probably due to it’s friendly barman and cheaper pints, is a Whetherspoons. I’d currently prefer not to go to Whetherspoons due to the chain being owned by  a total Outist scumbag, putting me in a bit of a position. I don’t drink that often these days, but mostly go for the social aspect; there’s nothing like an authentic South London pub. I suppose the question boils down to which is more important to me: politics or beer.

Trump is the lowest of the low

Earlier I read an  article about Mary Trump’s new book about her uncle Donald, and I am beside myself with fury. I haven’t read it yet, but the book apparently alleges that Donald  Trump cut off medical  support for his nephew William, who has Cerebral Palsy, in  retribution for losing a family dispute over inheritance. If that is true, then I no  longer see how the thing currently calling  itself president of America can claim to be human, for how could any human being do such a horrible, vindictive thing? People with CP need a lot of support, often round  the clock care: to deny anyone, especially a relative, such care simply  because you did not get what you want is beyond abominable. From his pictures, William Trump reminds me of a   few of my friends with CP – not to mention Lyn – who, despite the  severity of there condition, had as much to contribute to society as anyone. The thought that they would be denied their potential by someone acting so selfishly and childishly fills  my heart  with rage.

How the hell can such a disgrace to humanity currently occupy one of it’s most prestigious political positions, rather than  grovelling around in a gutter begging for scraps dodging streams of piss where it belongs?

Bolsonaro gets Coronavirus

I know one shouldn’t laugh at anyone else’s misfortune, but there’s something hilariously ironic about this news that Jair Bolsonaro has now tested positive for coronovirus. If anyone could be said to be more arrogant or brazen than Trump, it’s Bolsonaro. The guy who repeatedly wafted away the virus as though it was nothing, leading to millions of deaths in his country; surely anyone would agree that this serves the twat right.

The Franchisation of Tolkien

I vaguely remember, back in 1997 or so, when it was first announced that The Lord of the Rings was going to have a screen adaptation, I saw an article about Tolkien getting ‘the Star Wars treatment’. What that obviously meant at the time was that there were plans to adapt LOTR into three films rather than one, echoing the Star Wars trilogy (leaving aside the fact that the Star wars franchise started life as one film). At the time that struck most pundits as an incredibly bold move: if the first film flopped, a hell of a lot of money was going to be lost.

As it turned out that gamble paid off and the trilogy turned out to be an astonishing success. The Return of the King earned eleven oscars and Peter Jackson a knighthood. It was obviously so successful that it left New Line baying for more, which eventually lead to The Hobbit trilogy. That, for my money, wasn’t such a great move: it’s only one volume, and trying to stretch it’s contents over three films always meant liberties would need to be taken. New Line was obviously eager to repeat the success of Lord of the Rings though, and three films would make them more money than just one. Having said that, the people who made The Hobbit obviously had a deep respect for the source material, and as a work of filmic art it could have turned out much, much worse.

Yet I am now worried how prophetic that twenty-three year old headline may turn out to be. Star Wars, if you ask me, is a mess: since they started adding to the original trilogy, and especially since Disney took it over, it has collapsed into garbled nonsense which no longer has my attention or respect. The guys who make it – Lucas, Abrams or whoever – just seem interested in churning out film after film to make money. They use characters we know from the originals, but use them in stories which become so stretched and convoluted that the franchise has lost all narrative and artistic integrity. The audience has cliché after cliché hurled at them; each new film is a string of saccharine, nauseating moments designed to evoke nostalgia for the originals. It’s mass market, big budget film making of the worst kind.

What worries me is that something similar will happen to Tolkien’s work. I recently got wind that Amazon have a series in production, based on his less well known works in The Silmarillian, Unfinished Tales and The Book of Lost Tales. It’s obvious that Amazon want to use Tolkien as the basis for their own Game of Thrones, but what concerns me is how convoluted it risks becoming. While Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are fairly coherent narratives, much of the rest of Tolkien’s work is composed of shorter pieces which, taken together, form a very rich, detailed history of his created world. I fear these will be much more difficult to translate to the screen, small or big, meaning any director or producer will inevitably need to take liberties with the source material. The danger is too many liberties will be taken: Amazon will be dying to capitalize on and emulate the success of the New Line films, so they will stretch Tolkien’s work as far as possible, and possibly too far. I worry that it will eventually reach the point Star Wars now has, with films being produced using characters and settings we all know, but losing any artistic coherence or relationship with any of Tolkien’s work.

Of course I hope I’m wrong. I hope whoever is making Amazon’s new series has enough reverence for Tolkien’s writing to stop before they reach that stage. Yet I also know enough about the entertainment industry to know that they will want to bleed every last penny out of this set of stories. Once they know they have a formula which works, with characters the audience likes in a setting they are used to it, a studio will want to return to it again and again. That’s the only reason why Lucasfilm made those appalling prequels. Now Hollywood has it’s greedy hands on Tolkien, the franchisation (if I can call it that) is inevitable: I just hope it stops before it goes too far and we see Hobbits racing on Oliphaunts.

HBD NHS

As someone who values knowing that, should they or any of his friends or family fall ill or need medical help, and as someone aware of how damaging and draconian a private, American-style healthcare system can be, I would like to wholeheartedly wish the NHS a happy seventy-second birthday. Surely now more than ever, we can all agree how precious the National Health Service is.

A Glimpse of Normality

I went to the pub this afternoon, for the first time in about six months. I was in two minds about it, not wanting to tempt fate; but having waited so long, and being rather curious, I popped a fresh straw in my bumbag (not having needed one for so long) and set off to The Tudor Barn.

When I got there it was already quite busy, with everyone outside, sat at tables on the grass. There was quite a jolly atmosphere despite the overcast skies, with staff bringing  drinks and  food out to everyone. I was given a table quite quickly. Of course the staff remembered me, and  that I liked to drink real ale. Not wanting to go overboard, I just had one, but it was  good to be back there: it has been a long few months for everyone, and  it was good to  see a  glimpse of normality.

007, cinemas and burgers

I just got wind that the new Bond film, No Time To Die, isn’t going to be released until November, obviously in order that it can get it’s usual, full cinematic release. As disappointed in the delay as I am, I think it raises one or two interesting questions: the guys at EON productions clearly think their new film should be primarily viewed in the cinema, so how integral is a cinematic viewing to the consumption of film (if I can put it like that) these days? We can now watch films almost wherever we want, streamed on computers, tablets and mobile phones; but that isn’t the same experience as watching a film in a cinema, with it’s large screen, darkened room and powerful sound system. In my Master’s, I describe how writers like Andre Bazin wrote about the cinematic aura – an experience specific to the cinema, brought about by the darkened lights and silence of the audience. It is a very immersive experience, where all our attention is focussed on the film. Outside the cinema there is no aura, which is why cinematic screenings are an integral part of cinephilia.

Watching a film at home, we might dim the lights and close the curtains, but the experience is never quite the same. And as for watching a film on a tablet or mobile phone, say, when you’re commuting to work on the bus or tube, you might as well compare eating the most succulent steak to the cheapest, shittiest McDonald’s burger: same beef, very different taste.

I think it was this quite specific, almost sacred experience that the producers of Bond are trying to preserve. Yet they have to weigh that against the thirst many people will have to see this already much delayed film: those who see film simply as a story rather than as an experience or art form presumably won’t care how or where they see it. EON risks loosing people’s interest – and therefore money – if it delays too long, so it will be under considerable pressure to cut it’s losses and release No Time To Die online. In doing so, though, it will lose something which has always been synonymous with film, and especially the 007 franchise: the glamour and prestige of premiers in central London; the excitement and anticipation of travelling to see the latest instalment of a franchise which has been a staple of popular culture for almost sixty years. Released online, 007 would become something far more casual and throw-away; just another distraction among many, watched on a mobile phone sat in McDonald’s, in between mouthfuls of burger.

Rather than see it become that, I would far rather wait. One day, perhaps in a few months, this damn virus will be gone and cinemas will be open. Perhaps charlotte will visit, and we will go, at last, to see this film together, in the cinema. There, every detail and nuance will consume our vision, rather than being lost on far smaller screens, amid a hundred other day-to-day distractions. We can allow ourselves to be absorbed into the cinematic experience, appreciating every detail and reference, like meeting an old friend again after a long separation. That surely is how films should be enjoyed, but now, with everything moving online, I fear for it’s future.

Are you threatening me?

I think this is a glimmer of the news we all need right now: Beavis and Butt-Head is to get a reboot. I remember laughing my head off when I first saw it, aged ten or so. I probably barely understood it, but it was the  first cartoon I had ever seen in which the characters swore. And when Cornholio was introduced, I was in stitches.  Mike Judge, the show’s creator, says it will be updated to reflect the contemporary world but retain the elements of  the original we loved. If you ask me, his timing couldn’t be  better: with so much misery and anger in the world, a bit of inane  stupidity is just what we need.