February 20, 2006

Life without webmail

OK, its time for me to add my two-pennorth on this ITS thing. I woke up yesterday morning and as is my habit, I switched on my computer and went to check my email. I should explain, I'm a twenty-times-a-day girl – I get a little shaky when I can't get my fix, you know? So I couldn't log in – I sighed, but its not an unusual occurence these days. I check the ITS website – apparantly theres nothing wrong, I try again. I'm beggining to get a little nervous. I leave it a while. I check back around midday – oh, now theres a problem. So I keep myself busy. Do some work, try not to think about the possiblity of 50 emails piling up, important things being discussed that I can't take part in, that kinda thing. I check back last night, still buggered, but they plan to have it fixed by 'this evening'. I check back at half twelve – they still want it fixed by 'this evening'. Fat chance – I even manage to laugh at the irony. It'll be fixed by tomorrrow, I reassure myself.

Apparantly not. And now, they have no guess how long it will take to fix. A day? A week? Years? My foot has been twitching ever since I got up. I'm grinding my teeth. I had to ask a friend on the exec whether anything important had come over the listing. That reassured me. But not much. I need to send emails.

So now, you see, I'm all worked up. ITS has crossed me again. They persuade you to rely on the email they so 'thoughtfully' provide you, then systematically fuck it up on a regular basis to remind you that they are in charge.

Of course, this does beg the usual questions about our modern, consumer driven society and how we can't survive indeperndantly without mass communication. Some might see my inability to cope with being exempted from discussions on the exec listing a sign of the usual work anxiety about 'getting ahead' and being 'left behind' (see my entry on the Corosion of Character for that, folks) and they'd probably be right. Lets be honest – someone who can't cope without email for two days probably needs psychiatric help, perhaps even a nice new jacket – one of the ones with the real long sleeves. But I don't care. I want my email. I want it now. And if I don't get it soon, I'm gonna scream and scream until I'm sick.

So there.

Elizabethtown@ WSC

3 out of 5 stars

Elizabethtown sees the divinely yummy Orlando Bloom finally pretending to be an American, starring against the wonderfully southern Kirsten Dunst in this most peculiar romantic comedy. A fellow audience member likened it to the Garden State – it has the same note of off-key peculiarity, even though I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Blooms mother tap-dancing at her husbands funeral to 'Moonriver' is perhaps one example, the paper eagle that flew accross the room on a pulley system catching fire also provides that off-key humour which prevented this film being dull. Bloom acquitted himself well as a shoe designer facing ruin, going to face an army of southern relatives to claim his fathers body for cremation. Dunst plays chirpy and slightly bizarre commitment phobe Claire Colburn, an air hostess who seems insistent on helping the young Drew Baylor from the moment she sees him on the phone.

Claire's quirky-ness begins to grate by the end of the film, and I began to wonder whether she was psychotic. Similarly, Drew Baylors tragic self pity had the potential to be annoying. In traditional holly-wood style, each helps the other past their neuroses, and the film ends with Bloom being led on a treasure hunt, at one end of which, Dunst has placed herself. Unusually, I did not invest in the relationship as I would have expected to – instead I was absorbed by the quirky details and outer story of the film.

Perhaps my biggest objection is that we never hear what was so terrible about Baylors shoe – it suugests lazy-ness on the part of the writers, and leaves one black mark on a pretty unsmirched copy-book.

Sweet, funny, and quirky – definatly worth seeing once!

February 10, 2006

Stuart: A life backwards

Alexander Masters spent years working with the homeless, and even more years learning Stuart's story. As with most biography, he finishes the book intimately aquainted and 'in love' with his subject – 'his friend, Stuart'. Stuart is a psychotic, alcolohic, criminal, drug abusing homeless man with a serious affection for knives and a tendency to go loco for no apparant reason. He has spent his life in and out of prison, on the streets, and running away from wherever he has found himself. Masters' first draft was rejected by Stuart, who decided it was too dry and academic. He suggested that Masters write it backwards 'like a murder mystery' – who killed Stuart, and left this nutter in his place? Before Masters could finish the second draft – the backwards draft – Stuart had stepped out in front of the last train from Kings Lynn, intentionally or otherwise – and never got to see the finished article.

The backwards structure of the book works well – it doesn't feel contrived, and once you have got the hang of it, it flows smoothly enough. It is intwined with the story of the writing of the book, of Stuart and Alexanders relationship, of the campaign they worked on, and the places they went. Stuart is not romanticised as an ex-chaotic – he is right there – still drinking, drugging, being arrested, assualting others for no apparant reason, and sleeping rough rather than pay for a cab home. Masters work is 'stapling him to the page' – he is wary of mis-representing Stuart, from his bourgeous, middle class, privelidged and 'ordered' life.

Stuart's anxiety to be properly represented is shown, and Masters desire to understand this is touching. The need to understand why certain people turn out certain ways comes up again and again in thier conversations – and Masters' tries really hard to avoid jumping to such a conclusion. As a reader, its also important to try to do the same.

The characters of Masters and Stuart are wonderfully illustrated and endearing, and the death of Stuart, suicide or accident lends the book a tragic poignancy, which ironically, I suspect Stuart would have hated.
its sweet, its smooth and it pulls you in and resisits the urge to shock you with the harsh realities of life on the street. Its not a political tract, its a human life story.

And its good.

In her Shoes @ WSC

In Her Shoes
4 out of 5 stars

Hmm, well what to say about a film I've never heard of before. A predictable chick-flick, two sisters, disastrously are thrust together, etc etc. Cameron Diaz stars as the lazy yet disastrously attractive floozy Maggie, while her sister Rose (Toni Collette) provides a picture of virgoan anality with a career as a lawyer, nice apartment and secret collection of beautiful, impractical, and unworn Jimmy-Choos. Chucked out by her outraged step-mother, Maggie seeks refuge at her sisters house, slowly driving her round the bend with her attention seeking, slovenly behaviour. Things come to a head when Maggie gets Rose's car clamped, and is unceremoniously chucked out. As she packs, Rose's secret partner (a senior colleague) comes to the door, and is faced with a scantily clad Maggie, who is quite happy to step in in her sisters absence. Cue messy break up scene. Boyfriend rapidly exits, stage left, Maggie goes to visit her mothers mother, mysteriously absent after her mothers death at an early age. Rose, by some happy coincidences begins a dog-walking service, which manages to maintain her previous lifestyle. During her stay with the Miami old folks, Maggie learns to care for others, and we slowly realise that she has long suffered from Dyslexia, slowly overcome by an elderly patient with an obsession with Elizabeth Bishop. Anyway, long story short, eventually the whole family get back together again – Rose finds love with an old, slightly peculiar colleague, and eventually the two sisters realise that blood is thicker than … whatever.

Perhaps slightly over long, the film has a certain quality which resists dismissal as yet another chick flick romance. The two sisters performance is genuinely touching, once I got over wondering what precisely they had done to make Diaz's boobs so big! It also avoids the major pitfall of most films of the genre – having a man provide the solution to Rose and Maggie's personal dilemmas. Instead the two sisters have to work out their own problems, before they can set about salvaging Rose's relationships. Maggie's portrayal of a 'slow reader' is again convincing and emotional – not a massive tear-jerker, but a couple of single drops might be expected. Certainly better than quite a lot of things I've seen recently!

February 04, 2006

Serenity, at WSC

3 out of 5 stars

Hmmm, well tonight I finally saw Serenity. Am I right in thinking it Joss Whedon's first venture on to the big screen? Its certainly not Buffy, anyway. Definately a lack of cool, well groomed women in this one (I mean, River, the lead girl is quite hot, but in a waifish, largely pathetic way. And her face is always lined and her eyes are always baggaged) I guess some of the other peripheral women were kick ass. Anyway, fisrt thoughts were:

'She looks rough' (river)
'He's the guy from Kinky Boots' (Chiwetel Eijofar – when you've seen him in a dress, you just can't take him seriously)
'This is fun'

So yeah, the movie is fun. I wouldn't say its mind-blowing, or that its rocked a genre, or any other of the astonishing reviews it seems to have gotton. (See the filmsoc review archive for example). But it is fun. And some of the one liners got a roll-around laugh from the audience, which is always brilliant. The storyline is not original, but interesting, and the characters of the reevers are genuinely inspired – not only thier existence – they are creepy and pretty terryfying, but also their creation – I won't ruin it for you, but its a nice little nuggest added in towards the end.

Back to the cross dressing Chiwetal Eijofar (what a name!) who plays the Operative. The Operative is one of the most interesting characters – a danger because he is a true believer that what he is doing in right. Eventually, of course, he is 're-educated' but this is perhaps the greated tragedy of all. Like Javert, in Les Mis, The Operative has his entire belief system pulled out from underhim, although it is one of the greatest weaknesses of the film that he basically lives, makes friends with the rebels, and seems to go on existing in pretty much the same way as he has before. A symbolic death, 'falling on his own sword' was called for, and Whedon disappointingly didn't deliver.

RIver, as I have mentioned was a little disappointing – perhaps more of the human river would have been appreciated, although it would have been hard to achieve. The floaty dresses are also a bit much – whoever heard of an assassin dressed as a peasant girl?!?! Her brother had an almost abnormally masculine chin – a small marr on an otherwise remarkably attractive man :) The captain, Mal, while having most of the funny one liners was too much a 'tortured leader' to be truly interesting.

The real kudos however goes to the more peripheral characters – the other crew members. The death of the pilot (whose name I can't remember) is perhaps the most shocking that could have been devised. All the crew members were characters well crafted and well played, and they certainly deserve a round of applause for thier human portrayals of thier 'rebels'

Overall, I'd say enjoyable but not earth-shattering. A good action sci-fi, well written and directed, with some moments of genius, and some poor choices made. Engaging and good fun – and an excellent and smooth transition for Whedon to the big screen!

After that last one I got gastric flu

Hmm. As my title suggests, after that last post I got gastric flu. And missed most of Jimmy Carr cause I was busy throwing up. And then cleaning up. Today I did my second trainee DM show at the cinema. It was ok – I didn't lose any money, so that was a definate bonus. Then my bus broke down, and I had to get the later one after waiting half an hour, but I didn't really mind. I wrote a lot of navel gazing on my phone which I won't bother to repeat here.

Today I said that when it was cold, I started to doubt myself. This was a lie, and I feel bad about lying, but on the other hand, the truth is far worse. The navel gazing beginneth here. Actually, thats not fair – and its ok, I know that breaking off like this makes it seem like I have a huge dramatic secret, but I don't, honest – I just can't face any more navel gazing matyr-dom. I'd be much better off letting loose on current affairs, or mentioning I just found something white in the bottom of my wine glass. I did, honestly. its a little gross. I try not to think about these things too much.

I should blog more. i think it would be healthsome to my lack of style and voice. Thats something I should sort out as a wannabe writer – well, thats what my report says anyway. Everything else is great – the writing not so hot. A good report for a creative writing student. Dammit.

I felt aggressive earlier, but the wine has made me sleepy. I just put the heating on, so I should wait a while, and not fall asleep with it still chugging stuff out. mmmm, gas headache.

Today we did a coffee drinking on art and freedom of expression. Luckily for me, the danish have just published a load of cartoons that have the muslims up in arms (again). Some of them were actually quite amusing. Now, my argument is that people should both respect others beliefs, but also be able to criticise them – people should be free to believe what they want but not force others to think the same (but thats a whole other issue). But anyway, I was quite chilled. But then, I'm an atheist or and agnostic (it varies with my mood), so in a way, I'm safest, having no beliefs to shoot down. No danger of me getting hurt by cunning cartoons, no siree. But anyway – live and let live, man. I have this theory that …. well, i can't remember that theory. I have a lot of theories though. A lot of theories, and a lot of 'all time favourite' people. I seem to be fornd of hyperbole. And the word, like. Like, I can't seem to like, contruct a sentence, like without that additional comma, and like, like. See how damn annoying it is. A lot of what i do annoys me. Perhaps that is an issue.

Hmmm, back to the navel gazing. On that note, I have my cute dragonfly ring in today. i want to buy more. On an entirely seperate note I wrote a truly abysmal 'poem' on wednesday, during Lawrence of Arabia. But Rob put me to shame – a maths student writing poetry in his lectures – i'm so embarassed. If only I could just change a lot of things, it would be better. But maybe not. Everyone has problems – some people are better at dealing with them. Ooopsie. Damn is my navel annoying tonight.

I think its time to disappear and review Serenity


December 16, 2005

WHy does it need a title?

Well here I am on a friday night, sitting in and watching a cheesy movie. Actually, its not quite so bad as all that – the movie is analyse this – a classic, and funny to boot. More importantly, I'm waiting for the living legend that it Jimmy Carr for his live stand up thing on channel four. Oh yes. I may not have got to see him at the Arts Centre (twice), but goddamn it, I will see him now. I'm ridiculously sleepy though. Its hard work being a working girl. Although, I am a bit concerned that all work and no play is making ray a dull girl. Not that I'm not having fun, obviously. Yay, Gillette. Yay Toplines, Quanvert, and the joys of table checking. Well, 6 1/2 working days left. 10 under my belt. I'm over half way through. I can do it.

I'm too tired to carry on now

November 15, 2005

The Massive, huge annoying–ness of Anti–Narrative

I'm sorry but I feel the need to get this off my chest. What precisely is the point of encouraging people to spend several hours constructing something which makes no logical sense. Whatsoever. And any logical sense which is in there is boring as hell. Becuase its a fluke. And trying ti write something out of a list of a hundred words, which don't include the worlds 'and' or 'the' is basically impossible. Trust me. Or don't. In fact, try for yourself. The words are:

Fat (n)
Fly (v)

SO go on, try it. Its bloody impossible – unless you like lists. Of course, if you do manage it, please let me know, so I can steal your work and pass it off as my own – i mean, appreciate your talent and take it to show one of my tutors who will be uber-impressed. Obviously.

Oooh, it was the AllNighter at the weekend. That was fun! There were lots of people, and it went on forever. Very sleepy-making that. But I think I'm recovered now. Well, except the long lasting psychological scarring that is. Oh Well, can't have everything.

Oooh – even more exciting, Andrew and Monica have had their baby. Its a bit scary. He's called James and everyones very healthy and excited about it. I still can't quite believe it, but thats cause i'm a feckless student and don't think about those kinds of things. Eeew. Thinking of things growing inside you. Alien moment. Bacteria. Babies? I dunno. I think I approve wholeheartedly of contraception.

October 22, 2005

Things to do when you don't want to do an essay

NUmber one: write a Blog entry!

Number Two: Do some laundry

Number Three: Go shopping (food, at least)

Number four: Pay people stuff

Number Five: Sort all your emails into lots of little folders and delete stupid onese

Number Six: Paint your nails.

Number Seven: Think about all the things you can do to put off doing the essay

Number Eight: Go round again, and again, and again.

My essay is supposed to be about this poem which is about some old dude going to visit his son in hospital who is dying, but the old dude is all noble and patient and whatever. In three lines, i have said all I feel the need to say about this poem. I think as an english lit student, I may have some problems. Perhaps its time for me to come out of the closet and admit that I'm …..

Wait for it


Really a social scientist at heart! But no, i can hear the angry mob even now. They'd rip me limb from limb and eat me for breakfast (oh yes, I know what your thinking. But English lit students only look mild mannered – inside they're animals, beasts just waiting to escape and devour you whole. Arggghhh)

This entry is decidedly unisteresting.

I'm so bored, I can't even be bothered to finish it

September 15, 2005

15th Sep – The Real World

I suppose I have not written enough about sections A and B. TOday I have not been outside, so I cannot talk about real people.

But the UN have bowed to basically all the USA's demands so its all pointless and the best meeting in the world was a waste of time. Apparantly TB stood up and said we should make it all count. But he never said anything real and he didn't piss of the americans, so it obviously wasn't enough.

They're going to test teachers which is a stupid, ridiculous thing to do. SOmeone in the metro actually thought children should do it. I'm glad I got out when I had the chance. Schools will be terrible soon. I wonder if Ghapson or Coyle will do well?

We're about to break a million human rights now for the terrorist thing, which is nice, and all the nice things happening in Ireland were all a lie.

And the palestinians are being mean and destroying synagogues. This is because they are muslims and they do not like synagogues, but it is never right. Why do people ruin victories by acting like that. Calm and polite is always best. So many Mobs, so much high feeling all the time. and all the time people die.

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