Wednesday, 30 July 2008
I won't lie and say I don't know the genre and it's trashy charms - America's Next Top Model and it's world-wide sisters are all-pervading for the discerning telly-slut - and I was expecting BMTM to adopt a similar tone. At best I expect the programme to lightly touch on disabled issues and teach me that everyone is beautiful in their differences and move on, disabled box ticked.
Instead, I've witnessed informative, interesting debates about what the nature of disability is and how it affects us - all played out in an intelligent and accessible format.
I'm, of course, aware that a certain amount of caution should be applied regarding the editorial choices made in the presentation of reality TV of this kind but the most telling moment of the whole series came about three episodes in. A judge berated one of the contestants for her "difficult" behavior (which was clearly a result, in part at least, of the circumstances of her degenerative illness) and, after she had left, Wayne Hemmingway, also a judge on the show, turned on him for his "cruelty". The first judge defended his stance saying "she may be disabled but we're not here to take responsibility for her behaiviour, I'm not going to patronise her because you don't want to look bad on television".
Also interesting was watching the in-fighting between the girls, whose disabilities were many and varied. All of them had little understanding of each other's difficulties - a profoundly deaf girl was told on several occasions that her lot was "easier" and another, with a (physically symptomless) degenerative bone decease and chronic fatigue syndrome was clearly felt to be "weak" by the other contestants. On several occasions the audience was forced to think hard about the nature of disability - is one type of disability worse than another? Do we even have a right to evaluate someone's impediments until we inhabit their skin?
Ultimately, I can say that the programme changed my perceptions of disability and the issues that disabled people live with and I only hope that this is the start of other similarly intelligent programming from BBC3.
Thursday, 24 July 2008
Courtesy of neglectful blogger par-excellance minifig.
Neglecting your blog is not as easy as it may seem. When one looks across the net, a lot of the most popular blogs have clearly not been neglected in a long time. Here are some useful pointers on how to neglect a blog.
- The tools available to you allow you to neglect your blog in a lot more ways than you’ve ever been able to previously. For example, with the ability to post via email, or even just using your phone and the WordPress iPhone app, you are now able to neglect your blog from anywhere where there’s a net connection, or mobile coverage. You can be out and about, see something interesting, and fail to blog it RIGHT THERE AND THEN. This is progress.
- A useful, and mildly ironic way you can neglect your blog, is through the process of finding something to blog about. “But how can this be possible?!” I hear you weep, through clenched teeth. Well, my friends, with the power of Google Reader, this is more possible than ever. Using Google Reader, you can now ensure that every time someone bleats on Digg about the fact they don’t like the new Last.fm design, you hear about it right away. Or, if you’re really using Google Reader properly, you’ll hear about it a week or so later when you’re desperately trying to catch up on all the feeds that you haven’t read and are making you feel guilty. Google Reader also provides you the chance to Star or Share items you have some vague idea that in the future you’d like to blog about. If this blog post ever happens, which it won’t, it will be so long after the fact that they internet has moved on, and you’ll have to start every post with ‘I know I’m late to this, but…’
- Once you’ve been blogging for more than a few months you’ll come to realise something very important about yourself. You may think that you’re never going to learn anything important when you’re blogging, but you’re wrong. You’ll learn very shortly that you only really have about 5-7 opinions. You’ll exhaust these in the first few weeks, and as time goes by, you’ll realise that there’s no point in writing that post. You might, for example be holding your head in your hands while blood drips down your face, because every time you hear someone whinge about how they liked the old last.fm design more than the new one you feel the need to charge headfirst into the nearest stationary object. But you think, that’s essentially the same post I wrote when everyone was whinging about how they liked the old Digg design, or the old BBC News design. Face it, you really don’t have as many opinions as you thought you did. You may lament humanity’s inability to adapt even the tiniest bit yet more than you did a month ago, but you’ve still used all your ‘funniest’ metaphors.
- When you started blogging, you weren’t going to be a stats whore, were you? You were writing your blog for your own benefit, right? And if people enjoyed what you did, then great, but that wasn’t why you started. You didn’t need to be popular. You didn’t need 500 people commenting on all your posts. You never wanted that Boing Boing link anyway. Doctorow’s too busy telling you about how Little Brother has now been translated into Klingon by kittens to notice you. But seven people read that 1000 word essay on how stupid people on last.fm are. Seven. And six of them spent less than 10 seconds on the page, and the seventh was searching for ‘idiot blood website whore’ on Google and probably didn’t find quite what he was looking for. I mean, being underground’s great and everything, but really you wanted the counter-cultural form of being underground, rather than the being dead kind.
- Sometimes you have a great idea for a list-based blog post, but you just can’t make it into a round number. Four Reasons Why Last.Fm Users are Self-Centred, Stone-Age, Change-Fearing Morons is never going to get you on the front page of Digg is it? Digg users only go to web pages where their insane, westernised complaints about nothing can be made into a numbered list which is divisable by 5 (presumably so they can use their chubby, salt-encrusted fingers to help them count along). 4, 8, 17. These are numbers that will not help you find out how bad your web host is at dealing with insane amounts of traffic for a couple of hours.
I do hope that this post makes you realise that neglecting your blog doesn’t have to be the chore you’re becoming to believe that it is. Using these tips, we can all neglect our blogs with gay abandon, and feel at the core of our beings the guilt and loss of self-worth that this brings.
Tuesday, 22 July 2008
New Prostate Cancer Drug Not as Good as The Wire
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
Last year I read The Sirens of Titan about two weeks before Kurt Vonnegut's death (completely co-incidentally, honest) and enjoyed it so much that I'm planning a bit of a Vonnegut-fest for this autumn. Anyway, here's a choice quote from Mother Night to give you a measure of the man:
Drawn crudely in the dust of three window-panes were a swastika, a hammer and sickle, and the Stars and Stripes. I had drawn the three symbols weeks before, at the conclusion of an argument about patriotism with Kraft. I had given a hearty cheer for each symbol, demonstrating to Kraft the meaning of patriotism to, respectively, a Nazi, a Communist, and an American. "Hooray, hooray, hooray," I'd said.
Oh and feel free to visit my Amazon Wish List if you'd like to donate to my worthy cause ;)
Bit of a Blur was a fun read - an unexpectedly well written romp through britpop from the inside. I was surprised about at how little nostalgia it stirred in me - although too young and too provincial to have really been a part of britpop, I watched avidly from the sidelines and was there in my own small way. I do remember being furious at not being allowed to go to Mile End but I made several pilgrimages to The Good Mixer, the Camden pub where Graham Coxon famously held court. Essentially, though, as James (who I never met) reminds me, the spirit of louche cleverness of the people involved and their inimitable sense of cool was never going to be mastered by a 13 year old private school girl from Ipswich, no matter how hard she tried.
Anyway, I love Ian McEwan.
I always feel he's at his best with partnerships - the kinship-resentment of long term friendship played out in Amsterdam makes it easily one of my favourite books and On Chesil Beach bests even that. Maybe it owes a little to my joy at rediscovering the pleasure of unencumbered reading but this soaring, tragic love story lifted and broke me in a way I wasn't expecting. If you haven't already (and, admittedly, I'm a good 18 months late on this one), go read.
Friday, 11 July 2008
Tuesday, 8 July 2008
Now I'm never one to disagree with anyone who calls NME journalists "morons" (in classic house style the offending article's description of Mark Ronson's work as “a bunch of nauseating oily sub-lounge covers” in the offending article isn't that wide of the mark, just 12 obsequious months too late) but maybe Marky really doesn't read the NME - how else would he have missed the fact that popularity in pop, for all but the very few, is fleeting and editorial integrity rare?
Monday, 7 July 2008
Friday, 4 July 2008
Thursday, 3 July 2008
Is great and won a Pulizer prize but (I've just discovered) was made into a film staring...wait for it...Colin Farrell. Yeuch!
Also, and call me a complete pleb, but I can't help comparing it to Tales From the City (even if I do find it better written, with fleshier characters and a more interesting exploration of their journeying sexuality).
The Kite Runner
Like, a billion years later than everyone else.