Thursday, December 22, 2005
One disappointing thing was that there was no question and answer session after my paper, due to almost everyone else overrunning by 10 minutes. On the one hand, this was a relief, but it also made it hard to gauge how my paper had gone down. Two people did, however, come up to me afterwards and tell me they’d enjoyed it, which was good. Even better was the mooted possibility of publishing the session, or at least making it available on the internet.
And I do love TAG: papers about Crowleyite occultism in a disused airbase in Surrey, the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan, and archaeology on the moon. Plus meeting up with lots of people I hadn’t seen in a year.
Have a good Christmas! Hopefully it won’t be too long before I see you all.
Friday, December 16, 2005
Also problematic is the Q&A session which follows each paper. What do I do if someone asks me a question I don't understand? Which is to say: "Any question involving a word ending in -ism, or referencing a French philosopher."
Thursday, December 08, 2005
It made me think that there should be a film about the prejudices faced by a giant spider in the world today. The protagonist would be a giant spider who wants to live a normal life, but because people have been told by storis that Giant Spiders Are Up To No Good, he can't. When he goes to the shops, people run screaming into the road. He can't visit a pub without people trying to trap him under an enormous glass, and so on.
The spider would, of course, have the voice of Eddie Izzard.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Clear? No? Well, neither is anyone else.
The actual upgrade consists of a mini-viva, being questioned on my research by a panel of three experts. So yeah, Intimidating. I appear to have done all right, though, becuase they upgraded me with no real problems. Which is nice.
I also met up with Nick Gladden of the North West Film Archive, who was there to evaluate the film I found inthe BFU's basement room. Turns out it was some of the missing stuiff he was looking for.
All in all, a busy day.
Monday, November 14, 2005
Tody I finally got round to doing it. In the Basement which gicves the BFU its name, I came across three reels. Two appear to be sound, and one colour film. I have no way of knowing what they are.
Also in the Basement is a locked door. It appears to lead into what used to be the projection room. I looked through the projection window by the light of my mobile-phone-torch, but couldn't see much. Then I had to stop doing that, because it was so creepy.
Damn horror films. Still, I left the basement without a zombie eating my face.
Monday, October 31, 2005
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Friday, October 07, 2005
Physiology at a glance
by Jeremy Ward, Roger Linden, Rob Clarke.
Oxford: Blackwell Pub., 2005.
The physiology coloring book
by Wynn Kapitt.
Cambridge: Harper-Collins., 1987.
Monday, October 03, 2005
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Monday, September 26, 2005
Also present at Fresher's Fair were the RPG society, complete with one member in a long black trenchcoat and mirrored sunglasses. I'm not sure what's funnier: that he he thought he looked cool dressed like that, or that his sense of cool is stuck in 1985.
Friday, September 23, 2005
- An investegative mystery
- An Italian art film
- Very, very pretentious
I enjoyed it greatly. It's tough to talk about the plot without spoiling it for those who haven't seen it, but I'll give the basics. David Hemmings is a photographer in 1960s London. Do his photographs show what he thinks they do? This fairly thin plot is padded out with often-hilarious "swinging London" interludes, and sequences of Hemmings driving around. The latter are particularly interesting, as the London that we know was at that time just being built.
Blow Up also gets extra points for confirming one of my long-held suspicions: women are prepared to get naked and wrestle for you, if only you'll provide them with an enormous roll of purple paper.
The film comes recommended to anyone who's read this far.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Fresher's Week insanity does help liven things up though. Just now I was cornered in the library by an Indian Professor, who got me to help him out by pronouncing the English alphabet, and then insisted on exchanging addresses with me. What he wants to correspond with me about is anyone's guess.
Saturday, September 03, 2005
On Friday I phoned up the Student Support Services to conform that I hadn't got it. They told me that I had, and that by "early in the week" they'd meant "The letters will be posted Thursday".
I was so relieved that I wasn't really happy. I am happy, though. At £10 an hour I can start making a real contribution to the funding of my degree. I'm a parasite that my parents love, but a parasite nonetheless.
We Can Build You
On Friday, my parents were in Liverpool, because my dad was giving a talk on Gabriel D'Annuzio to the Western Front Association. Beforehand, though, we paid a visit to Port Sunlight.
Port Sunlight is a model community constructed in the 1890s by Lord Leverhulme. There are wide, leafy streets, broad greens, red telephone boxes, and small boys playing with model boats on the pond.
It's as creepy as fuck.
Port Sunlight was built by Lord Leverhulme to house the workers for his soap factory. The corporation employed you and owned your house. Your leisure time was spent in the pub which Lord Leverhulme had had constructed, or in the art gallery which housed Lord Leverhulme's art collection. You worshipped at the church where Lord and Lady Leverhulme still take pride of place in thair massive neo-medieval stone tombs. When you got sent off to die in the First World War, your name was added to the Leverhulme corporation's war memorial.
It's also creepy becuase it's built as a model of an England which didn't exist then, doesn't exist now, and probably never existed at all. This is that England you see in Richard Curtis films, where everyone is middle class and no-one has the poor taste to be black or in favour of higher taxes.
If it ever catches fire, I think they should let it burn down.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Unhelig & The Nazi Playwrite
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
So at the moment it seems I'll be living on my own, yet again. Is the universe trying to tell me something? And if so, why can't it e-mail me like everyone else?
Better news is provided by the fact that my TAG paper has been accepted. Commence rejoicing.
Friday, August 19, 2005
Red Right Hand: The Benefits of Inhumanity
Inhumanity is, for obvious reasons, seen in negative terms. However, this should not blind us to the fact that inhuman behaviour can be to the advantage of those willing to utilise it. Any attempt to understand inhumanity must take this into account. Following the old police maxim “who profits from the crime?”, this paper seeks to provide a comparative analysis of the use of one particular kind of inhumanity – armed violence – and the purposes which it serves. With reference to the elites of the early Mycenaean period, and to more recent groups such as those participating in organised crime, the use of armed violence as a tool for the accumulation of wealth, power and status will be demonstrated.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
I put this down to the fact that on the application form, where it asked "Why do you wish to apply for this post?" I said "Because I want to help my fellow man", and not "Because it pays £10 an hour".
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
'Cause we love peace and motherhood.
Then Russia got the bomb, but that's okay,
'Cause the balance of power's maintained that way.
France got the bomb, but don't you grieve,
'Cause they're on our side (I believe).
China got the bomb, but have no fears,
They can't wipe us out for at least five years.
Then Indonesia claimed that they
Were gonna get one any day.
South Africa wants two, that's right:
One for the black and one for the white.
Egypt's gonna get one too,
Just to use on you know who.
So Israel's getting tense.
Wants one in self defense.
"The Lord's our shepherd," says the psalm,
But just in case, we better get a bomb.
Luxembourg is next to go,
And (who knows?) maybe Monaco.
We'll try to stay serene and calm
When Alabama gets the bomb.
Friday, July 29, 2005
Monday, July 25, 2005
Well, if Jen isn't going to be cheap or glib, then someone has to be.
In other news, Daily Telegraph music journalist Neil McCormick has written a "protest song" about the July 7th bombings, titled (hilariously) "People I Don't Know Are Trying To Kill Me". Sadly, it is not a spoof.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Monday, July 11, 2005
Friday, July 08, 2005
And now I know. And my opinions are no different. I’m not going to call for us to start dropping fuel-air bombs on, say, Algeria, because I still don’t think that would be a positive move. I still think that holding people indefinitely without trial, or detaining people because of what we think they might do is not a good idea.
There was also a feeling of togetherness I don’t think I’ve felt for a while. I was so relieved when all the London posters to RPG.net posted in to say that they were safe, when I got texts and e-mails from my friends to say they were OK, if scared. The advice to “have a cup of tea” was being freely bandied about. I did it myself. A half-joking reference to a dead idea of Britishness, brought up only in times of stress.
Sitting on the sofa, or in a computer-chair, letting the information wash over me. That statement on the Fundamentalist website was wrong: there wasn’t panic, either in London or elsewhere. We’re too used to things like that happening for panic. One RPG.net poster cycled 15 miles to work today, just so that things would continue as normal. Don’t mistake all this for a “stiff upper lip” or other clichés. This is a grim determination to go on living as normal.
And that’s victory. Nothing else.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Thursday, June 23, 2005
I just hope Tom remembers me whan he enters the cocaine-and-hookers stage of rock-stardom.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Actually, the first half of the film is "Batman is a Ninja", which is tedious. Just because The Matrix had cod-Eastern philosophy and The Last Samurai had endless scenes of people being hit with sticks doesn't mean we needed them here.
After the Ninja wet-dream we get the technophile wet-dream. Look: no-one needs to know precisely what the origins of Batman's car are. All that we need to know is that Bruce Wayne is really rich, and can afford really cool gadgets. Even cooler than that pen with a clock in it that you want.
One the film manages to wade past all this, though, and Batman starts doing Batman-type things in Gotham (mostly standing of the edges of buildings looking all brooding and cool), then it becomes much more exciting and fun. Best of all though, is the mood and the (for once) deliberately muddled morality. Like a lot of 1930s pulp-heroes, Batman has a worryingly fascistic approach to the world. This slightly noirish Gotham is the only thing that can make you root for Batman: he's not good, he's just the least-bad force in the city.
The over-long running time is a consequence of a great cast, including Michael Caine (who seemed to be having tremendous fun), Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, and Rutger Hauer. All it needed was Elliot Gould and Michael Madsen, and I'd have been ecstatic. Christian Bale is a perfectly serviceable Bruce Wayne/Batman, although I'm not sure he was as good as Michael Keaton. At least he realised that Batman should probably have a different voice to Bruce Wayne, if he was going to be a secret identity.
So I'm saying go and see it, if superheroes are your thing. You might want to doze through the first half though.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Unhelig & The Nazi Playwrite
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Friday, June 10, 2005
Thursday, June 09, 2005
Given those facts, I should love it, and be telling you to see it. Instead, I’m calling it an interesting failure. Why? A whole host of reasons.
Part of Sin City’s problem is that it’s too attached to its graphic novel roots. While the resulting stylisation can often be excellent, it can also be jarring and spoils the audience’s suspension of disbelief. The script lacks real finesse, too, with a lot of very stagy dialogue.
Maybe the biggest, problem, though, is the queasy mixture of cartoonishness and extremely graphic violence. They don’t sit well together, and one detracts from the other quite frequently. There’s also the question of the female characters: at what point does referencing the misogyny of classic film noir turn into just being really misogynistic? Don’t even get me started on the “Oriental Ninja/Whore” archetype.
But for all that, there is a lot still to like about Sin City. There are places where the script is suitably Chandleresque, and there isn’t a bad performance in the film: Clive Owen, Bruce Willis and Mickey Rourke are superb, especially Rourke. The visuals are good, and the film’s cynical attitude is very refreshing after endless clean-cut action films.
So I can’t unequivocally recommend this one. Don’t go and see it if you aren’t OK with film violence, but do see it if you’re a fan of hard-boiled crime drama, or just want to see an interesting experiment in bringing graphic novels to the screen.
Friday, May 27, 2005
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Last night, I was jubilant that Liverpool won the European Cup. Mostly because I was afraid that, if they lost, enraged scallies would burn the city to the ground. Mind you, there were still a tremendous number of Police/Ambulance sirens in the early hours of this morning.
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Well, I now get to be smug and say that I was right. Having seen the film courtesy of the BBFC on Thursday evening, I can say that Revenge Of The Sith is as good as any of the original Star Wars trilogy. It’s got the action, excitement, operatic sweep, and a sense of humour that doesn’t rely on wacky space Rastafarians.
Of course, not everything in the garden is rosy. Lucas still can’t write romantic dialogue to save his life, and makes some odd decisions (R2-D2 is suddenly a close-combat badass? Of course he is.) I’m also not sure why he feels the need to shoe-horn in characters from the original trilogy (Here’s Chewbacca! For no reason!).
Those flaws are minor. Where Lucas really lets himself down is in the two moments which are intended to be the dramatic high-points of the film, but are both sabotaged. One is wrecked by the casting of a kid who appears to have been drafted in from a school play. The other is destroyed by a piece of script-writing so cheesily hackneyed that it couldn’t be much worse if the line was “And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for those pesky Jedi!”. Honestly, I wanted to eat my own face in embarrassment.
But even with all that in mind, this film is great, and the Star Wars magic is finally back. Still not convinced? Think about this: Obi-Wan Kenobi chasing a cyborg on a giant lizard. There’s nothing not to like about that.
So go and see it.
Sunday, May 15, 2005
"Because maths is a universal language, of course, so the Middle East is just a really, really big equation which we have to solve. And maybe we will, a century from now, when we're all post-human cyborg killing machines from the future."
Friday, May 13, 2005
Sunday, May 08, 2005
Friday, May 06, 2005
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Sunday, April 24, 2005
I spent Thursday evening (yes, all of it) in the FACT cinema, watching Downfall, the German film about the last days of Hitler's life. It is very interesting: while Bruno Gantz's performance as Hitler involved a lot more ranting than I'd been led to believe, he does a very good job of portraying Hitler as a rather sad middle-aged man. While there has (predictably) been controversy about this "human" Hitler, I find it a lot more disturbing to think that a man who couldn't watch his dog being poisoned was directly responsible for the deaths of over 50 million people.
Downfall is, inevitably, heavy going, as it consists of 2 hours and 45 minutes of footage of people committing suicide, so it won't be everyone's glass of schapps, but provided that you're sufficiently interested in the subject, I'd recommend seeing it.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
It's all change at the flat on Smithdown Road, as I now have a new housemate, Shaomya (I've guessed how to spell that, so it may contain none of the right letters). Anyone who owns a Spiderman mug is OK by me.
As far as the PhD goes, I'll find out how that rough first-draft chapter is, as Chris Mee has been reading it over Easter...
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
I head out in the rain to meet
All the things she never gave
To me when I was down
All the things I had to find
With strangers in strange towns
- The Raveonettes, "Little Animal"
Thursday saw me at the Guild of Students again, this time to see Denmark’s premier exponents of neo-50s pulp-noir rock ‘n’ roll, The Raveonettes. It’s become my tradition to mock the support acts, so here we go. First up were The Boxer Rebellion, who blotted their copybook with me by not taking to the stage dressed as Kansu Tigermen. This failing was compounded by the fact that they were rubbish. Marginally better were The Dogs, who filled their slot by copying The Jam. If I wanted to hear that, I would’ve stayed at home and listened to The Jam. Decent version of "A-Bomb On Wardour Street", mind.
The Raveonettes provide an interesting counterpoint to The Dogs. It’s the difference between copying someone and remixing your influences: Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo somehow manage to channel the spirits of Buddy Holly, Marlon Brando, Phil Spector, and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, turning them into something unique.
The Raveonettes have successfully identified what was always great about 1950s rock, and have revived it. It’s filled with the joy of being young and rich, 50s teenagers being the first generatrion to enjoy that. At the same time, it recognises the hollowness underneath it all. You can cruise down California’s sun-baked highways all you like, but we all know that eventually you’ll reach the sea, and then there’s nowhere else to go.
What I’m trying to say is this: you should like The Raveonettes, and if you don’t there’s something wrong with you.
It’s as simple as that.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
- Some women like to gather in groups, eat crisps, and make pseudo-risque comments about the crisps as they do so. They appear to be unaware that this makes them ther most boring people on Earth.
- Men should not have facial expressions, and I can now buy a cosmetic product with "anti-expression" ingredients. Blank Generation indeed.
- Women are allowed to use tampons as currency. The exact value of a tampon is not stated, but they seem to be quite valuable.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Sunday, March 13, 2005
|You made it. Barely.|
Congratulations! You scored 53!
|Whether it was the fact that you could run faster, or were just plain lucky, you made it out alive. Even you aren't sure why. But you're sure as hell not going back, or risking your ass for anyone else from now on.|
|My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:|
|Link: The Zombie Scenario Survivor Test written by ci8db4uok on Ok Cupid|
Friday, March 11, 2005
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Monday, March 07, 2005
Given that I'm about to spend 3 weeks living on my own in a big flat, it may have been a mistake to watch The Evil Dead last night. It was, however, interesting. I'm a confirmed fan of Evil Dead II, which is really a remake of the first film, so seeing the differences between them was fascinating. The main difference is humour: The Evil Dead is a horror film. Evil Dead II is a comedy with some horror in it. I'm sure that there are people who don't find a man shouting "Who's laughing now?" while cutting off his own demonically-posessed hand with a chainsaw to be funny, but they're wrong.
On the other hand, I could certainly have lived without The Evil Dead's infamous "raped by a tree" scene, and it is interesting that that wasn't featured in Evil Dead II. There's another difference between the two films, here. The Evil Dead is pretty misogynistic. That's not unusual for a horror film, but the overt way in which it's featured is: it's as if it's a conscious theme. This was something else that seems to have been toned down for the second film.
So like I say, all very interesting.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Last night I broke that rule, when I saw End Of The Century: The Story of The Ramones. I knew that I would like this film just because of its subject matter: a band that I’m rather fond of. End Of The Century is the tragic-comic story of what happens when a geek, a junkie, a right-winger, and someone with technical skill form one of a century’s most influential bands. They make some music, it fails to get the success it deserves, and they then spend 25 years testing each other to the point of breaking.
All the Spinal Tap hallmarks are here: the endless merry-go-round of drummers, the footage from the tour-bus, the interview interrupted by someone’s wife, and the absurdly rock ‘n’ roll moments (Johnny Ramone pulling The Clash and The Sex Pistols through a window in 1976). What lifts End Of The Century above the level of standard fare is the genuine sense of tragedy that surrounds the band’s two deceased members, Joey and Dee Dee Ramone.
In a sense, a documentary like this isn’t that hard to make: there’s a story which naturally tells itself. It’s also hard to turn a Rockumentary into a meditation on the nature of truth like Capturing The Friedmans. End Of The Century succeeds by giving what feels like genuine insight into the lives of people who are heroes of yours because of what they did, not who they were. As such, it comes recommended.
Monday, February 21, 2005
The Edge...There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.
So, now Hunter S. Thompson joins the list of those sleeping the big one, along with John Peel, Douglas Adams, and various Ramones. It's like someone just said to me: we're seeing the 20th Century die off.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Featuring footage snached from the top of Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral, quotes by Poet/Dramatist/Occultist/Nationalist/Twat W.B. Yeats, and a soundtrack of the most obscure Pulp track ever recorded, the film will see its premiere tomorrow morning.
I'm working on finding a way for all of you to see it.
Monday, February 14, 2005
The day began with an icebreaker. Based around a PhD-themed game of Snakes & Ladders. Next time I want to break some ice I'll use a sock full of snooker balls.
However, I did manage to turn the situation to my advantage. I volunteered to produce a 4-minute film for the presentation on Friday. So I'll be spending the next week getting some official training in what is essentailly my hobby.
Soon I'll be part of the hip 21st Centuryu techno-elite. Or the same loser I was before. Either way's good.
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Looking at his ebay profile, I see that he has purchased (and completed the purchase) of another copy of Windows 98. One that cost a bit less.
Now it is possible that he did not realise that clicking on the "buy it now!" button constituted a
I'd feel a whole lot worse about this if it weren't for the fact that I will get £30 of credit to spend on ebay and a free relist for it. So his Jackass Monkeyfuckery has actually made me more money.
Over at N.A.O.W.F.I.T., I've written a little piece, just for fun. It's very...me.
Saturday, February 05, 2005
Part one is here.
Part two is here.
I so need to get myself a gentleman's walking stick!
Monday, January 31, 2005
Someone on Ebay has just bought my copy of Windows 98 SE for £30! Joy! I've already gone out and bought a ticket to see The Raveonettes in March.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
Over at RPG.net, one poster has just applied to do some voluntary work with kids. He was provided with a list of indicators that an adult may be a perpetrator of child abuse. Here we go:
- Low self-esteem.
- May be involved in youth activities such as group leaders or coaches.
- May be married or single.
- May or may not be homosexual.
- Tend not to have substance abuse problems.
- Less of a team player.
- Sensitive to children's needs and have a way of putting children at ease.
Let me run two of those by you again:
- May be married or single.
- May or may not be homosexual.
So the criteria for being a perpetrator include being a man who is alive. Nice work, guys.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
The World's Largest Collection of Dice
Contrary to what you might think, I haven't really posted this to mock. Dice are very easy to get quite fetishistic about, if you aren't careful...
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Today's exam was better, thankfully. The main problem with invigilation is finding something to keep you occupied for three hours. I'm passing the time by reading Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke's The Occult Roots Of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology, The Ariosophists of Austria and Germany 1890-1935. And very interesting it is, too.
Christmas and New Year was no end of fun, especially watching my parents play Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas on the PS2 that my sister borrowed from the BBFC. At the risk of making my previous post somewhat hypocritical, if you don't feel some kind of thrill while orchestrating a drive-by shooting to the strains of "Welcome To The Jungle", you probably aren't alive.
New Year was similarly good fun. I can now recommend eating large amounts of Stilton while drinking as a method of avoiding a hangover the next day. Try it.
So, now it's back to Uni, and some hard work to make sure that I get upgraded to PhD this year.