Kings is better off dead

May 15th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

My recent excitement at Kings, a modern, alternate-reality dramatization of chunks of the Old Testament, became disappointment when confronted with the reality of watching it. My main problem with it is how they’ve destroyed the character of David. He’s wet, naive, passive, and utterly devoid of ambition — pretty much the exact opposite of the biblical David. One of the most ruthless, scheming and driven OT personalities becomes a corn-fed Midwestern ingenue. All the sharp edges — all that is attractive or morally dubious — is stripped off him, and he — like all the other characters — is reduced to a standard American archetype. Hard to keep paying attention beyond that point.

In retrospect, I can’t quite understand my anticipatory excitement. Bible dramatizations are hardly new and, like anything else, have no guarantee of turning out well. That’s even without the problem of other people’s interpretations of stories with which you already have some emotional relationship.

Snippets of music

May 15th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

I don’t understand music well enough to write more than a few lines about most songs. Seems a shame, though, to let them pass without any note. Start with tracks recommended by Troy, as ‘intensely passonate about unlikely topics’:

Numerology – These New Puritans (who really, really want to know what your favourite number is.)

That’s…surprisingly aggressive. I can kind of imagine being cornered in a dark alley by a gang of numerologists (triads?) and given this grilling. Somewhere between Tarantino and Monty Python. On a related topic, I give you a number romance. [do have a poke around on that site; I suspect at least some of it would appeal]

Fifty On Our Foreheads – White Lies (who are on a spaceship to the sun, and all going to die.)

ah, there’s nothing quite like an inexplicable science fiction dystopia. Questionable Content at one point had a motivational poster saying “Work harder, or we will fly you into the sun”. Now I know what they meant :)

Leechwife – Rasputina (cheating, as I already gave this to someone else, but on the other hand it really is intensely passionate about leeches)

I want to slip this into a school/university careers service, see if anybody takes up the suggestion.

Johnny On The Monorail – The Buggles (who are surprisingly intense for a song from that long ago. you know, about a monorail.)

oh, this is _fantastic_. I’ve spent most of my underground journeys this year in a state of inexplicable temporary bliss; now I have a soundtrack for it. Certainly my favourite of the five.

My Boy Builds Coffins – Florence & the Machine
Nice. I’d somehow avoided hearing any Florence & the Machine; I like. Had thought “hell, getting passionate about coffins, that’s hardly unusual”. Turns out it s.

Linkdump

May 14th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Back in Berlin, since Monday. Sorry about everybody in the UK I didn’t get to see — this is what comes of taking a holiday without properly clearing your workload first. Now, a bits-n-bobs post…

I’m less distraught than most by the new government. Yes, I hate the tories as much as the rest of you, but don’t think joining a coalition automatically means selling your soul. As always, I’m in favour of making the world marginally less shit, rather than keeping yourself pure and shouting ineffectively from the sidelines. So this is better than a Conservative minority government. Less good than a Lib-Lab coalition, but arguably not much worse than a lib-lab-nat coalition which can only just scrape a majority, and can’t do anything for fear of falling apart.

On which note, I feel I should relay back to Britain (or possibly just England) the Europe-wide bafflement at Westminster panic over a coalition, and grumbles about it taking all of five days to resolve. Much as I try to explain the effects of FPTP and history, there’s a universal reaction of “so what?”.

Meanwhile friend_of_tofu picks apart Cameron/Clegg slash. (also here
):

So, from a feminist perspective, I find it more than a little bothersome that negotiated agreements are (still) being presented, even slightly, as less puissant, less masculine than adversarial snarling – phallologocentrism* FTL. But can we blame anyone? My inner adolescent is loving every minute! The cognitive dissonance is driving me batty.


Despite having Waco permanently lodged somewhere in my imported-from-America cultural consciousness, before today I’d never heard of the 1985 MOVE bombing — just before my time, I guess. Democracy Now explains:

[Yesterday] marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of a massive police operation in Philadelphia that culminated in the helicopter bombing of the headquarters of a radical group known as MOVE. The fire from the attack killed six adults and five children and destroyed sixty-five homes. Despite two grand jury investigations and a commission finding that top officials were grossly negligent, no one from city government was criminally charged.

Pattern Passion, a romance about numbers. Was just recommending this to somebody, & realised I hadn’t plugged Remittance Girl on here for ages. Her Beautiful Losers is reliable a piece of comfort reading for me. [both mildly nsfw, I guess]

He was a three, I realized with a little shiver. A metal-legged spider scampered up the ladder of my spine and curled itself into a cold, tingling ball just beneath the back of my skull. A perfect, perfect three.


Mike, on journalists/aid workers/researchers trying to get distance from human suffering:

There’s no trite lesson at the end of this post. Except to glumly remark that our liberal Ummah doesn’t stretch anywhere near as far as we would like to think. That our (or my) habit of picking and choosing the acquaintances we maintain at a distance – between the friendly, well-educated, useful ones we want to keep up with on Facebook, and the ones who aren’t on Facebook at all – is repellent. And that there must be a way of doing better?

LibCon

May 12th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

I’m not wild about having a Tory government, but less distraught about it than most of my friends seem to be. It’s sure as hell better than a Conservative minority government. Yes, the Tories will destroy anything not nailed down in the coalition agreement, and probably a few things that are. Yes, both parties will band together to shit on the poor, and we’ll eventually start wishing we had Blair or Brown.

As for Labour: this is the only time I can remember being on the side of the Labour leadership, against belligerent backbenchers. Particularly irritating were the attacks on the SNP — a party who, even if not in a coalition, would be relied on by lib-lab in any vote of confidence. Tribalism is a double-edged sword, I guess: good when aimed at the Tories, hopeless when when directed at the SNP. Difference: the Conservatives deserve.

Labour hasn’t quite finished shooting itself in the foot

May 8th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

BBC:

The Scottish National Party has called on the Liberal Democrats to join a “progressive alliance” involving Labour, the SNP and Plaid Cymru.

Labour dismissed the SNP’s progressive alliance suggestion as a desperate attempt by Mr Salmond to make himself look relevant.

WTF Labour?! That’s 6 votes we desperately need to keep the Tories out. What are you doing not just turning them down, but dissing the SNP while you’re at it? Seriously, can anybody explain this? It seems an utterly bizarre reaction in the circumstances.

Good work to all those at the electoral reform demo, btw. Sorry not to be there; have too many long-overdue things to get done.

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George Scialabba

May 1st, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

The Mr. Bean film sees the eponymous hero, a hapless museum attendent, foisted on a foreign museum under the pretence that he is a visiting expert. Grilled about his critical methods, he answers that “I sit and look at the paintings”. The museum officials, impressed by this back-to-basics approach, immediately hire him.

Beyond the world of farce, there’s always a bubbling undercurrent of non-professional intellectuals, independent scholars by choice or implication, sometimes producing work of staggering quality but entirely lacking in professional ambition. Over the years, they build up devoted, if rarely large, audiences — people cutting their essays out of whatever small magazine they can get published in, stashing away otherwise-forgotten gems, like the cluster of music geeks hovering around that promising local band which never quite gets a CD out. The internet makes it much easier, of course.

George Scialabba seems to be one of them, according to this review by Scott McLemee.

It also, incidentally, provides a more positive view of Opus Dei, as a form of social innovation more suited to the young and devote than traditional orders:

“For several hundred years,” he told me, “a small minority of Italian/French/Spanish adolescent peasant or working-class boys — usually the sternly repressed or (like me) libido-deficient ones — have been devout, well-behaved, studious… the bright ones become Jesuits; the more modestly gifted or mystically inclined become Franciscans…”

Instead, he was drawn into Opus Dei — a group trying, as he puts it, “to make a new kind of religious vocation possible, combining the traditional virtues and spiritual exercises with a professional or business career.”

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