December 15, 2004

It's just not cricket

Today’s announcement that the ECB has sold all rights to England’s home test matches exclusively to Sky is the latest disgrace to the sorry authorities that pervade English sport.

The thirty five days or so of circket screened on BBC/C4 each summer birghtened up many people’s miserable childhood and, indeed, introduced them to the game. Apparently future generations will be deprived of this, while the pensioners who make up one third of the game’s audience will be forced to read books about the good old days or turn over their heating costs to Rupert Murdoch. In a world where “there will always be people in certain walks of life who cannot afford certain things,” to quote ECB board member Michael Leach, perhaps it is better to freeze to death.

In an act of incredible short termism, the ECB seek to cash in on England’s recent success by depriving viewers of enjoying it after sitting through years of mediocrity. Support your national team, but don’t expect to see them win anything.


November 20, 2004

What exactly is the point of A–Levels?

Certainly not to prepare one for an English university.

There’s little need to work hard until the end of the year and hardly any coursework. Furthermore, it turns out that half of A-Level Economics is covered in one chapter of the EPAIS degree course, while the Maths A-Level seemed so skate around everything important and provide enough easy marks to avoid anything difficult. And they wrote a syllabus-specific textbook to provide the answers.


November 17, 2004

How does the Spanish coach get away with it?

Ive fed black people at the table in my house," was part of Spain manager's Luis Aragones response to accusations that he exhibited racism after branding Thierry Henry a "black ." Clearly, he doesn't make his black guests eat off the floor then. The rest of his defence was similarly irrelevant, launching a tirade against the British colonies.

For all the campaigns and hollow words of plastic/ape man Sepp Blatter, football's authorities don't seem to be doing anything about racism. Ron Atkinson was forced to resign after his questionable comments, despite an unreserved apology, but Aragones does not even seem to have to bother defending himself.

The top men who rule football, who incidentally at the FA are all white, must treat their underlings as proles, left to their own devices with no hope of behaving a manner befitting their position.


October 26, 2004

I hate the library

Take out a three day loan on Friday and it’s already due back Monday, try to renew it 2 hours after it was due back and discover than a twenty pence fine has already been accrued. Fair enough. Knew the rules from the start.

But it seems a rather draconian way to have a stick but no carrot. Seeing how BlogBuilder automatically sends an email every time a comment is posted, surely it can not be that difficult to send an automated reminder, say three hours before closing time, on the last day a book is due is back?

Even Robert Peel, a ghastly Tory, recognised that there was no force without accompanying conciliation. It seems that the full potential of technology and the wonderful Warwick website is being wasted in favour of revenue raising. Perhaps we’re meant to learn the ways of the real world at university but that is a convenient excuse to hide behind for lack of improvement.


October 24, 2004

Things I Hate: LOL, OMG etc.

The use of these new age so-called abbreviations is worse than those who don’t know the difference between it’s, its and ITS (IT Services, perhaps).

And then on MSN, there’s this awlful emoticons things which allow people to just reply using strange, meaningless symbols, leaving me to, effectively, talk to myself. First sign of madness.

How difficult is it to use English words, capitalise proper nouns and the start of a sentence and generally type in a respectable manner? Do you people actually type at a speed of three letter per minute such that it becomes impossible to do so? And wouldn’t a few words offer more comfort than a picture of an image of a smile?

It all very bad.


October 20, 2004

Top Five Most Overrated Films

1. Lord of The Rings – all three of them
There as so many words for this. Awlful. And every other synonym for it. I'm all for novels coming to the big screen – One Flew, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1984 are excellent – but this film wasn't long enough to do the text justice and was far too long for the average attention span.

2. Star Wars – All of them
OK, there were a couple of good lines, but that's it. Otherwise everyone who paid to watch this did a service in giving life to a cow, a giant cash cow that was milked by Luke Skywalker or whatever movie studio made this.

3. The Exorcist
The subtle analysis of Catholocism is Brighton Rock was easy enough to see, but whatever there was here passed way over my head. Otherwise, there's not much point in a horror film if not scary or scarily funny or has a Jack Nicholson-esque performance as in the Shining.

4. Moulin Rouge
Have nothing against musicals per se, the Madness one sounds quite good. But filling a film with awlful music is murder.

5. Farenheit 911
A craze against mass corporate culture has turned into mass corporate culture but Michael Moore's one-side vitriolic rants only hint at the truth and are about as balanced as the Sun's coverage of asylum seekers.


October 04, 2004

1984

Title:
Rating:
5 out of 5 stars

Nineteen eighty-four transcends literature. It is a book on political economy, metaphysics, human instinct, love, the lust for power, the meaning of life and complete totalitarianism. Ultimately, nineteen eighty-four is so beautifully constructed that it leaves the reader simultaneously appreciative with love of basic human emotion, the joy de vivre, and gripped with fear that in Orwell’s society there is no emotion. Only fear.

Protagonist Winston Smith’s fight for love with Julia, always juxtaposed against the fear and surveillance of the system encapsulated in the use of a paperweight as Winston’s metaphor for his life, elicits sympathy from the reader, who also wishes his yearning to make 2+2 equal 4, by joining the insurgent ‘Brotherhood’ succeeds. Is there a supernatural force of luck enabling the couple to escape the omniscient eyes of Big Brother’s telescreens? Does love conquer all? Will human nature inevitably rise up against oppression? Orwell pains to contrast the pure, instinctive joy of love and sex between the central characters against the cheerful indoctrination of the Outer Party and the rest of the proles – the mass of working-class uneducated humanity who Smith eventually pins his hopes upon. As the novel becomes more blackly satirical, the writer implies more and more questions. What’s the point of this system when even the inner party receive modest material gains? Will Smith’s uncanny connection with inner party member O’Brien lead to a successful revolt?

In the end, however, Orwell crushes all the inferred hope with the clinical omnipotence of the system. The insurgency is a trap set by Big Brother, O’Brien is a member of the Thought Police, Winston and Julia are arrested and the former is sent to Room 101 where his most unendurable fear forces him to abandon his love for Julia and kill all emotion in him, leaving his soul an empty casket to be filled in the propaganda of Big Brother and then vaporised and erased from the records. The system is based on a lust for power. War is used to exhaust material goods and keep the working-class subservient. Two plus does not equal five but equals whatever information the party gives. There is no freedom in death.

Orwell has created the ultimate oxymoron, the perfect dystopia.


October 01, 2004

Top Ten Albums (Part 3)

Oasis
(What's The Story) Morning Glory?
Seven: Mid-nineties Britain was brilliant. Classic British comedy such as Only Fools And Horses was still going, England sang Three Lions as Euro 96 colourfully reached a tearful climax and Oasis revived the pure rock 'n' roll tradition of the Beatles. After their intensely rockable debut Definitely Maybe, WTSMG became the standard bearer for nineties Britpop. Packed full of anthems, including the classy trio of 'Don't Look Back In Anger', 'Wonderwall' and 'Champagne Supernova', Noel Gallagher's melodies sweep listeners away. The stylish 'Cast No Shadow' and the light-hearted 'She's Electric' give this album pure consistency.

And who said Oasis weren't innovators? This is the only album in this top ten to have not one but two tracks without a title. Imagine that. Two untitled tracks. Unthinkable before Oasis. In truth, much of Oasis' game was borrowed, but borrowed from the best, and had that refreshingly British Britpop feel about it. This album is not only great for what it is but also for what it represented. If only Britpop lived forever.

Pixies
Doolittle
Eight: The only non-British album on this list, though REM's Automatic for The People arguably should be here, the American rock act provided the type of album that defined its genre. The lyrics and moods on this album range from irresistibly catchy pop/rock such as 'Here Comes Your Man' to surreal madness like 'Debaser.' When this range is brought together, we get the ultimate Pixies song, 'Wave Of Mutilation,' a singularily captivating tribute to driving a car into the ocean. Francis Black takes a break from changing his name to move into new lyrical territory with his slightly barbed environmental masterpiece 'Monkey Gone To Heaven.' Mixed in with references to religion, dementia and plain noise, Doolittle is both pure rock fun and set apart from the crowd.

Blur
Parklife
Nine: Refer to the above for tribute to Britpop. Parklife's title track was perhaps the Britpop anthem, closely trailed by Live Forever. The lyrics better Oasis and no listener can ever forget the numerous classic lines on this CD but giving examples would involve reciting the whole of 'Parklife.' That's not to say the album is a one trick pony with Girls & Boys, End Of A Century and Tracy Jacks also embodying the Britpop ideal, while songs such as 'This Is A Low' show us the arty side of Blur. Damon Albarn sprinkles his social commentary about but, in short, "It's got nothing to do with your vorsprungdurchtechnik, you know."

Pulp
Different Class
Ten: Different Class is essentially about two things – Jarvis Cocker's love life and working class dissatifaction set to spiky, instantly catchy melodies. When the two are combined, we get the hilarious 'Common People,' another Britpop classic, about a rich girl slumming in down with our narrator. "I took her to a supermarket, I don't know why but I had to start it somewhere." 'Disco 2000' and 'Sorted for Es and Wizz' espouse quality while 'Misshapes' should go down as the best working-class protest song since The Clash. "Mis-shapes, mistakes, misfits, we'd like to go to town but we can't risk it/Oh 'cause they just want to keep us out/You could end up with a smash in the mouth just for standing out


Top Ten Albums (Part 2)

Radiohead
OK Computer

Four: There is absolutely no point trying to read into Thom Yorke’s usually impenetrable lyrics. The music talks. Jonny Greenwood’s often screeching, desperate guitar and Yorke’s sweet and vulnerable yet disdaining voice turn Radiohead’s third effort into a classic. With more textures than your average patchwork quilt, OK Computer retains its guitar rock feel and enjoys singalong moments like “her Hitler hairdo is making me feel ill” on the anthemic Karma Police. Paranoid Android is a varied, desperate lament, demanding “come on, rain down on me.”

The Smiths
*Meat Is Murder*
Five: The pseudo-polished production of the Smiths’ second album serves to illustrate the soul-filled beauty of Morrissey’s voice. Marr’s guitar is up to his brilliantly high standards leaving many listeners questioning whether it was even possible to compose and play the intro to ‘How Soon Is Now?,’ the sweeping near-seven minute epic jammed into the middle of the cd release of the album, with its classic lyric “there’s a club if you’d like to go, you could meet somebody who really loves you, so you go and you stand on your own and you leave on your own and you go home and you cry and you want to die.” .

The song fits in nicely after the melancholy ‘That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore’ which is Morrissey’s stinging riposte to the pesky journalists who suggested his self-pitying lyrics are simulated – “Time’s tide will smother you/And I will too/When you laugh about people who feel so very lonely/Their only desire is to die.” Touching. But, as always, while the misery isn’t fake, there’s much more to the Smiths. Rusholme Ruffians and Nowhere Fast are somewhat rockable with lyrical gems not far away like “And when I’m lying in my bed I think about life/And I think about death/And neither one particularly appeals to me.” Every song, from the rejection in ‘What She Said’ to the over-the-top ‘Barbarism Begins At Home,’ tells a story. The title track is also rather excessive and, in a rare failure, fails to get its point across. Nevertheless, Meat Is Murder sees the Smiths raw and unvarnished and exposes their talent magnificently.

Joy Divison
*Unknown Pleasures*
Six: Joy Division started off as an average punk band named Warsaw, then were castigated for alleged Nazi sympathies. Those pesky journalists again. Unknown Pleasures showed they had developed into something special. The music from Hook, Morris and Sumner lurches from a terrifying feel of impending catastrophe to edgy rocky lines, often underscored by the forbidding keyboard. Melodies turn to silence. Rhythms turn to noise. Coupled with Ian Curtis’ despairing lyrics – “where will it end?” repeated over and over for instance – Unknown Pleasures can be truly scary at times. This was how music could be special. Dark. Twenty-four years later the Darkness came and gave music a bad name.

Maybe Ian Curtis had a vision of the future when he committed sucide at the tender age of 24. In fact, his death is attributed to a growing frustration with fans turning up to his gigs to watch his epileptic fits rather than his brilliant performances. “I’ve been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand,” as the opening track, Disorder, says. Curtis offers a sample of his agony in the insightful ‘She’s Lost Control.’


September 30, 2004

Top Ten Albums (Part 1)

The Smiths
*The Queen Is Dead*
One: The third of the Manchester quartet’s four studio albums, The Queen Is Dead captures the Smiths at the crest of their wave, scaling Everest-like heights. Morrissey and Marr capture everything about the unique cocktail that made the Smiths probably the best band ever, especially the depressing resignation of ‘I Know Its Over’, morbidly voted the second best song to commit suicide to in a recent 6 Music poll, curiously behind Bowling For Soup’s “classic” Girl All The Bad Guys Want. ‘Never Had Know Ever’ is similarly maudlin with the lyric “I had a really bad dream/It lasted 20 years, 7 months, and 27 days/I never, I’m alone, and I never, ever oh … had no one ever” clearly setting a challenge for some listeners to beat.

But the Smiths were never just Morrissey’s unique snapshot of isolation and, indeed, there’s always a whimsical song like ‘Frankly, Mr. Shankly’ and ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ round the corner, while Morrissey’s moves from the ridiculous to the sublime by demonstrating his literary talent in the beautful ‘Cemetry Gates’ encompassing its references to Wilde and the inferior Keates and Yates. Perhaps the standout song, however, is the penultimate of ten tracks of unsurpassable quality. ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand as Morrissey sings “And if a double-decker bus crashes into us/To die by your side/Is such a heavenly way to die.” Or maybe a little over the top.

The Clash
*London Calling*
Two: The Clash, especially their highlight album London Calling, executed the ideal plan for a punk rock band. Influences: anything that sounded good. Lyrics: Laced with disaffection and rebellion. Thus, behind London Calling’s aesthetic cover lies music containing spoonfuls of punk, reggae, R&B, pop, jazz and hard rock baked in the late Joe Strummer’s and Mick Jones’ positioning of the band as, constrasting with the fleeting Sex Pistols, rebels with a cause. ‘Spanish Bombs’ and ‘The Guns of Brixton’ are political without limits – “When they kick at your front door/How you gonna come?/With your hands on your head/Or on the trigger of your gun.”

The leaders of Rock Against Racism, The Clash infused London Calling with working class rebellion. In essence, The Clash were punk rock at its best and ‘Clampdown’ is a wonderful stadium classic, relentlessly driven by Jones’ guitar. Most of London Calling enjoys an universal theme. Pure defiance. “But I know, there’ll be some way/When I can swing everything back my way/Like skyscrapers, rising up/Floor by floor, I’m not giving up” to quote ‘I’m Not Down.’ No-one could accuse London Calling of being one-dimensional and their sensitive side is encapsulated in ‘Lost In The Supermarket,’ a personal favourite, which details a zombie existence alone in the city. It’s all the fault of Seventies supermarkets though, if only they’d put informative signs up – “I’m all lost in the supermarket/I can no longer shop happily/I came in here for that special offer/A guaranteed personality.”

The Manic Street Preachers
*The Holy Bible*
Three: How can you capture the myriad of horrors of this world of ours on a single album?

Four perceptive Welshmen harrowingly disect the suffering and hopelessness of humanity. The journal of anorexia, 4st 7lb, makes a listen that’s more sickening an open wound than a suicide note. The lyrics insert contains a black and white picture of a gate marked ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ with a snowed concentration camp in the background next to the words to ‘The Intense Humming Of Evil.’ The image may speak for itself but Richey James and Nicky Wire hammer home the thoughts that are too hurtful for you to think – “6 million screaming souls/maybe misery – maybe nothing at all/lives that wouldn’t have changed a thing.” Wire never skips a chance for a political rant but “Churchill no different/wished the workers bled to a machine” offers the most devastating finale to the most chilling song.

‘Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit’sworldwouldfallapart’ is a tirade against society and politicans, while ‘PCP’ is the clinially blunt dissection of politically correct appearance over substance – “systemised atrocity ignored as long as bilingual signs on view.” Along with the ‘Revol’s ‘celebration’ of various dictators and ‘Faster,’ PCP enjoys spiky music in contrast to the atmospheric claustrophobia that dominates most of this album.

Or some may say another example of musicians trying to be overly deep. Who’d want to listen to that?


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Who Am I?

I am a 23-year-old Economics, Politics and International Studies student at the University of Warwick, born and bred in Sunderbans, where I studied at Mount Hermon for several months.

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