Things that will kill the Internet – no I’m not making a joke, it __is__ sad…

Thursday 25th of June, Michael Jackson reported dead in Los Angeles, California.

This news has rendered blogging sites and communities buggy at best and left Twitter failing to respond to every other API call.

That alone is enough evidence to suggest that anyone who wants to be has every right to be sad to hear this news – whatever else may have happened to him, around him or even near him, this giant of the Pop scene for over 35 years gave us Thriller, Billy Jean, Smooth Criminal, ABC and so many, many more.

I salute you with my single-gloved right hand – Rest in Peace, Moonwalk for real and play the Great Gig in the Sky


Warning: This post may offend (Apologies to LJ subscribers who got it twice)

I’ve come to a startling and yet satisfying conclusion. While a large proportion of my social circle will (I expect) take untold glee in bashing seven shades of shit out of the new Transformers film (“Transformers – Revenge of the Fallen”), I have come to a liberating realisation; it’s not art, so I can just enjoy it.

I’m not afraid to admit that I like to read so-called “great” poetry, I enjoy (yes genuinely enjoy) watching Shakespeare, at least when his work is well staged I do, and I am well and widely read in what many would refer to as ‘the classics’. I love attending the Opera, art exhibitions and quality live music across many genres. Bluntly I am cultured, and when I want the intellectual satisfaction of indulging in culture I am fitted for the task. There are times, nonetheless, when entertainment can be honestly and openly garnered from less subtle sources, and I feel duty bound to remind my peers that this may well be one of those times.

I have no desire to protect Michael Bay from his detractors – you are right he is the King of cliché visually and in terms of the way he directs actors – nor do I wish to make the case that his most recent film should in any way be discussed as though it were art. No, my desire is to encourage my friends and acquaintances that there is nothing so utterly self-defeating as holding a film like the new Transformers movie up to the harsh light of our shared intellectual scrutiny. You have two options; either watch it and revel in its banality and inconsistency, its sensationalism and it’s accomplished superficiality, or don’t watch it. There is no third option…

You may think that there is a third option. You may mistakenly think that there is a place in this world for you to watch this film and then turn your undeniable analytical skills to the task of dissecting it, attempting to put meat back onto the bones of this paper butterfly so that you can complain that it is poorly done. You may, as has so often been the case before, feel that there is something clever in pointing out what some of us had already taken as read; that this is mindless, unconvincing almost entirely plot-free drivel with little or no characterisation and the worst dialogue one might be able to imagine. You see there are those of us who knew that going in, who decided quite rationally that there is a place in our lives for the entertainment equivalent of candyfloss (cotton candy to our American friends), and we are OK WITH THAT!

Time after time after time I have been forced to put up with facetious, knowing critiques of entertainment, be it film, tv, books, comics or whatever, that I already knew were intellectually sub-standard, and been made to feel as though I am anything from an “easy to please doormat of taste” through to an outright imbecile for enjoying them and yet I am quite aware of the fact that I am neither of these things. When I don’t like something I say so, and as for the imbecile thing… Oh what’s the point, I __do__ know I’m not an imbecile.

If you want to look clever, give me a well rounded and stimulating discussion on the film π by Darren Aronofsky, or let’s have a chat about why Citizen Kane may be a great film, but it has long since lost the title of ‘the Greatest Film Ever Made”. Let’s hear why you think “American Psycho” is an over-rated pile of horse-shit, but you’d better know your onions about the American novel of the late 20th Century before we get going down that route, because I do…

Here’s the bottom line; an end to all hackery, right here, right now. Until you’ve made your own multi-million dollar film you don’t get the spotlight while you tell the rest of us the bleedingly obvious as to why a film about giant robots from outer space that can talk and turn into mundane forms of human transport turned out to be an intellectual and artistic failure. We know it’s not Art, you don’t look clever telling us why it’s shit because it fails to be Art.

Quickly, before I finish, I think I ought to own up to the fact that until I was well into my late twenties I was just as much a part of this smug culture of armchair intellectual dilettantism for the middle classes as anyone else I know, and I want to say two things about that. One “I’m sorry; for every time I trespassed in this manner, and to everyone who won’t get back the time they had to spend listening to me using big words to tell them shit they already knew and had already decided did not matter to them”. Two; I’m pretty certain that what changed for me was genuinely trying to create something and realising that it’s nowhere near as easy as it looks… Oh experience how thy fruits are naught but humility and peace…

P.S. In case you were wondering (or worse still thinking of embedding the Kermode review in a comment) I’ve got a lot of respect for Mark Kermode, and I will admit that I found his “video review” for TROTF on the Kermode Blog genuinely funny, but then I know him to be a clever and insightful man and he did all of that to play to his audience. That being said, if he really wanted to impress me, he’d say something like my thoughts above to his ‘devoted followers’ if only to remind them that sometimes a movie is __JUST__ a movie…
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There are more to come…

…but I wanted to share with you, my lovely reader, the first two photos that I have processed from this weekend’s shoots.

I want to thank everyone that volunteered, and especially thank Kat and Bex for not only volunteering AND showing up, but also for both being fun and rewarding people to work with, and for allowing me to get a little bit closer to the “end” of the particular project that they feature in, which I am prepared to to say will be closing (at least the first round of it) as soon as I have another 5 subjects photographed for it, as long as those five subjects include AT LEAST three male ones… To which end, gents, please feel free to volunteer… 😉

So without further ado, here are the first pictures from last weekend…

Kat:
Kat - Low Key Light Painting

Bex:
Bex - Low Key Light Painting

Your thoughts and input would be much appreciated, as ever…

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Why I love the Internet…

Something happened today that reinforced my love of the Internet, and seeing as it is indeed the perfect example of my “favourite thing” about the Internet, I thought that I would share it with you, dear reader.

I read a web-comic called XKCD, which is in my opinion one of the funniest things on the planet, but it is also something that has broadened my knowledge from time to time… Take today’s strip:

XKCD comic - 19th June 2009

I had no idea who Paul Erdös was when I read this strip, nor did I get the joke, but a little Googling later and I had found the following two links:

Paul Erdös’s Page at Wikipedia

&

An Explanation of the idea / meme “Erdös Number”

So, you are thinking, I love the Internet because it leads me to the almost accidental acquisition of knowledge..? Well I do love that about the internet, but there is an even more quintessential reason to love the internet, and here it is… If you read the Wikipedia page about the “Erdös Number” above very carefully, you will note that the page has been edited to include that the XKCD comic for June 19th 2009 makes a joke about the Apocalypse and a bunch of mathematicians trying to lower their Erdös Number.

Here is the link with a page-anchor to the specific section

That’s why I love the Internet; the entire store of human knowledge expanding and evolving at a speed just slower than the speed of thought – how can anyone not love that?

Have a great weekend 🙂


Time rolls ever on and on…

365 Portraits - #170 ~ Dorothy 'Nan' Godby

So this last weekend was an unexpected trip home, and while it was really marvelous to see Chorley and be in the North West, and it was lovely to see my Mum and Dad, the mere fact that they are in the country might make some of you realise that stuff is not as it should be. The truth is that my last remaining grandparent, my Dad’s Mum, has been taken very ill, and to borrow a metaphor from racing, this will be the last furlong for her.

As such I wanted to go and see her before things got much worse, while she could actually enjoy seeing me, and I could see her again as close to the strong and vital old lady that comes to mind of when I think of her. So it was, with only six days notice that I tried to book rail tickets heading up to Manchester on a Friday and back South on a Sunday to be confronted by a potential bill of nearly two hundred quid, so I flew. Now I know that taking a domestic flight is environmentally naughty (possibly unforgivable for a 35 minute flight), but please note that my first impulse was to travel by train, and I only even considered flying once I’d discovered that it was nearly as cheap as fifty percent of the price, at just a little over a hundred quid. Even despite all of that I am really glad that I flew, because the saved time was like gold in terms of being able to spend as much time as possible with Nan, and also with Mum and Dad and even getting a chance to see my brother and his fiancée before catching my flight home, and at times like these it’s good to have as much time as possible.

My Nan looms large in my life, in particular, as I spent a good deal of my pre-school years in her care during the day. My parents are both doctors, and once her maternity leave was up, my mother had to return to General Practice, as my father was actually in the process of leaving the Royal Navy and reading Medicine and Surgery at Manchester Medical School, and so I spent my days with my Nan, as her husband was also still working. We had many rituals, like walking down the cobbled lane behind their house (known as the bumpy road), singing “Here comes the Galloping Major”, and visiting Bolton’s covered market on the bus. I can remember watching “Chorlton and the Wheelies” and “Jamie and the Magic Torch” in her front room, and later, just before school, starting to play card games with her, a trend that would continue for many years with her and my Grandpa, particularly learning Cribbage. There were the endless plays and replays of Austrian / Bavarian ‘Oompa’ music on the record player, and no end of other activities that we would while away the days doing together, either at her home on Hunger Hill between Bolton and Westhoughton, or at my family home either in Sandyacre Close in Over Hulton, or Brentwood Road in Adlington.

It is hard to explain that I am very sad that she is so ill, that she is dying, and yet I am not disconsolate with grief (as yet). I was expecting her to seem much more ill before I saw her, and though she was clearly in a lot of discomfort, and I suppose quite frightened, once she was distracted enough by our company she was cracking jokes and laying down the law in the way she always has. It seemed as though there was nothing to mourn, at least not quite yet. Clearly there is a sadness that she’s been handed a tough deal, and that she has pain and fear to deal with, and that is horrid for her, but at least good medical care and some compassion will make that as bearable a process as is possible.

There is no clear picture as yet, as to how long this final journey is going to take for her? For my part I would selfishly like her to be around for as long as possible, naturally. Still, in my quieter moments, I hope that it only lasts as long as she can bear; anything more seems as though it would be cruel. I hope that she is healthy enough to see Ed and AnneSo marry in August, it feels as though that would be a good “last hurrah” for her, but I also wonder if that is too much to ask. More than anything at the moment I hope that she is still with us when I next head North, if remaining “on plan”, in July; it would be good to see her again.

There is something rather game-changing about the last of one’s grandparents approaching the end, particularly for people like me who have been lucky enough to have them stick around well into adulthood, and I do find myself considering the order of things a little more at the moment, not in a morbid way, but certainly in a more honest way than I have for a while.

Enough. With any luck the future for my Nan will be filled with family and love and as little pain and trepidation as possible, and hopefully I will get to see her again before the race is run.