Week 703 began with WWE Fastlane, an event I don’t think I can bring myself to write about other than say it wasn’t any better or worse than the average edition of Monday Night Raw. I’d much rather talk about the WWE Network when I have a chance to whittle my thoughts into shape.
Later in the week my review of Focus went up on Thumped. That was a tough one, to write about a fairly average film that did not excite nor disgust me to any extreme. I’ve got two screenings scheduled for next week, one of them being Neill Blomkamp’s Chappie, which might prove more fruitful.
Which reminds me, I must find the time to watch Elysium this weekend, around the extra editing work I’ve got going on, and a record review that needs completing. Boy, am I tired. I’m eyeing up the end of March for a few days off; the week between WrestleMania and Easter looks like a good one for a bit of a break.
"If you want to work to change the usage of a word that's discriminatory then fine, I'm behind you. But that's a conversation that needs to be had in the culture. You can't just decide that commonly used parts of a language are evil and that the people who didn't get the memo must be bad people. Awkwardly, the areas of culture which would be most useful in updating how people perceive language are the very ones that are most censored." Indeed. I'd even go as far as to say the absence of this kind of subtlety is killing culture. #link
I was one of the people who loved this show because I don't go out on Friday nights. But I never really thought of it as prescient so much as sending up the hipsterdom that was already staining the fabric of East London life. That hasn't so much got worse as it has been magnified by the mainstream and its endless fascination with what goes on on the fringes (though hipsters are about as fringe as Starbucks, really). #link
I didn’t watch the Academy Awards (because we don’t have Sky Movies, and I can make do with the highlights) but I did watch And the Oscar Goes To…:
This history-of-the-Oscars doc is clearly a puff piece (it’s only very lightly skewering, like trying to roast someone who can’t take a joke) but I’m a sucker for these kinds of things. Still, there’s room for a real warts-and-all, behind-the-scenes take on what it takes to put on the show, from the screeners to the stage techs to the politics and all points between.
Chris Stuckmann nails it with this scathing criticism not just of a cynical industry that churns out dud after dud, but lazy audiences who'll clearly lap up any aul' shite. See also: The Problem with Action Movies Today (which I don't agree with as much, but it makes some good points all the same). #link
I spent a few afternoons last week putting together this year’s website awards feature for Afloat magazine; not sure when that’s getting published as yet. Took a bit longer than expected to write as I developed a head cold around the same time, and had to fight through the fog of that to get anything done. Obviously I was useless for much of the rest of the time. I watched a lot of TV and WWE Network, and finished a couple of books while my head was clear enough to handle it.
"So we have all kinds of consensus understandings of what the future looks like, how we'll get there, and what the first steps are. When consensus is strong, it's an almighty power for coordination. For pulling in the same direction." #link
Directions between any two points in Dublin via public transport. It's a little off here and there (there are some better transit connections if you walk between stops a little further) but I can see using this if I need to get to unfamiliar parts of the city. #link
On the Internet Archive's (and others') attempts to preserve some kind of fixed account of a web that's constantly in flux – with new information replacing old, or merely hiding it, not to mention the scourge of link rot. #link
If Irène Némirovsky’s novel is about the complications of love in the midst of conflict, Saul Dibb’s film adaptation strives to make it as uncomplicated as possible. The result is boiled down to the blandest of ‘forbidden passion’ clichés, padded out with the usual tropes (the hunky heel with a heart of gold; the nasty, sadistic counterpart; the ice maiden who atones for her sins… the list goes on). It’s romance-by-numbers, beneath the talents of a cast who either play it too safe (Michelle Williams does little more than model vintage wear) or lay it on thick (Kristin Scott Thomas as the aforementioned ice maiden). Don’t even get me started on the accents (so the French are all English, and the Germans are all… German) or the offensiveness of its rose-tinted view of a country under oppressive occupation.
For the first two thirds of this flick, there’s a real sense of a good film trying to get out. Yes, the plot moves too fast for some things (we never get a strong sense of why it matters) and too slow for others (it’s forever before we see the turtles in their ‘glory’), and the colour timing is atrocious (blame Michael Bay). But at least it takes its story cues from the right sources, and you get the notion director Jonathan Liebesman and the writers (some of whom started in Profiler, remember that show?) are at least trying to pay respect to the material. Then the third act comes along and it all goes down the sewer: plot, editing, effects, any hope for redemption, the whole lot. Yikes.
I feel like this is far more a concern on the other side of the pond. For sure, on both sides sports are for the enjoyment of the masses, but there's a confluence of situations that create very different circumstances, things like the clique culture in schools that doesn't really exist along the same boldly demarcated lines over here, or the long-standing higher-cultural appreciation for football, boxing and the like. It's quite common round these parts to find avowed geeks by any definition who are similarly geeky about soccer or any sport of choice, whereas in the States it seems almost an initiation rite of geekdom to loudly dismiss the low culture of 'sportsball' while failing to appreciate the inherent irony in that. #link
Box Brown’s remarkable manga-influenced sequential art biography of the wrestling legend lies somewhere at the intersection of the graphic novel as pioneered by Art Spiegelman, the confessional comics of Harvey Pekar and the illustrated reportage of Joe Sacco. Okay, that sounds as grandiose as a wrestling promo, but there’s truth in it. What we have here is a larger-than-life story that could be told in text alone, but it’s a tale that really benefits from being seen sketched out on the page to be believed – even if much of it’s a work in the end.
More good stuff from Vaughan and Staples, who appear to have developed the perfect partnership of plot, imagery and dialogue with their jointly realised world. I’ll be picking up Volume Four as soon as I can find it.
This is a scary situation: we need security journalists to protect us from the awful, awful things our governments are all quite willing to perpetrate on us beneath the cover of technological ignorance. #link
There are so many YES lines to pick from this, but right now I'm going with number 117: We, the People of the Net, cannot fathom how much we can do together because we are far from finished inventing how to be together.#link
Everybody's talking about this as the game to get. Bonus that it's a two-player game. But it's a tad expensive, and the playing time is quite long. 1960: The Making of the President, from one of the same designers, looks like a swifter play. #link
From a Q&A with video journalist Philip Bromwell. It's still amazing to me how much you can do with just an iPhone, it's a proper multimedia tool intrinsic to the kind of media innovation being nurtured at Northwestern. Though of course, with the whole concept still in its infancy, much of it still resembles the journalism of old only with some bells and whistles attached. How engaging is that in the long run? #link
Walking on water, Grand Canal at Ashtown, February 2015. #image
Amy Poehler makes it clear from the start of this book that it’s not much of a memoir or autobiography, more a disjointed collection of essays, musings and reminiscences. And that’s exactly how Yes Please should be judged, especially as its later pages see her try to draw a portrait of herself beyond the comedic image that’s naturally earnest but, in my case, not much fun to read. It’s still worth a go anyway, because Poehler is an awesome person. And she doesn’t hold her cards as close to her chest as Tina Fey.
Seven hundred weeks, eh? That’s a long time blogging. More than 13 years, in fact. Which reminds me, I completely forgot my blog became a teenager on 1 November last. That’s crazy! So is the fact that I’ve had a website in some shape or form for more than 15 years now. Whodathunkit?
The latest instalment of my very irregular heavy music column for Thumped; 3,500 words on 50-something releases I was acquainted with over the past 12 months. Let's see if I can get the next one done before summer. #link
So MetaFilter caught on to the Royal Rumble shenanigans, and I contributed a couple of cents to the conversation, partly to answer and contextualise other users’ questions about the whole wrestling thing in general, and party to elucidate, for myself as much as for others, why I’m into this crazy world.
And at the moment, it’s the politics of the situation that intrigue me the most. I mean, where does WWE go from here? This Monday’s Raw, after last week’s fortuitous snowstorm interruption, we got the first indication. It was an exercise in damage control, but more nuanced than we’ve come to expect from their direction as of late.