Flicks

Flicks? I love out-of-date slang.

I also know that “film” is pronounced “filmmm”. Not the way I say it, i.e., “filim”. However, leaving out the second spoken ‘i’ turns you into a ponty-mouthed prck.

My top 10 pieces of music runs into hundreds. It’s a never-ending minor personal clusterfuck of rampant musical infidelities. By contrast, I do not have that many favourite films.

I have excluded much of the low and middle-brow stuff I love to watch. Not “High Plains Drifter“, again, exclaim my family : ) When I was a student, and had no responsibilities, I veered towards intense movies. But as an adult, I mainly want entertainment, ffs. I like my violence to be of the comedy variety, and ideally prefaced by an improbable quip. The violence of e.g. a Clint spag-Western, or Pulp Fiction, primarily is entertainment. I love the foregoing kind of film, but I can accept why critics can pick holes in them. I like them, in the way I love James Herriot’s vet’ books, but I’m not pretending that they’re art. For some reason, film, poised emotionally betweeen music and literature, permits less catholic shared enthusiasms than music.

Some films are too searing to be mere Friday-night entertainment, but are well worth a watch anyway, e.g., the English skinhead movie, This is England, the N. of Ireland Troubles movie, ’71, or the Irish revolutionary movie, The Wind That Shakes The Barley.

Apart from pretty much everything the gun-slinging and Dirty Harry versions of Clint Eastwood ever made, and the Godfather Trilogy (and Platoon and Gran Torino and A History of Violence are up there too), see below for 5 disparate films that have stood the test of time for me. They have very little in common with each other. If you like or dislike one, there is no guarantee that you’d have a similar reaction to any of the other 4:

The Day of The Jackal (Dir. Fred Zinnemann, 1973)

I watch this annually. I always love it. Possibly, this is my favourite film of all time. Such ruthless cutting and such taut directing. Not an ounce of fat in this film. All shot on location too, and some wonderful performances by the cast, including the supporting cameo performances. Even the car is a classic! If you ever wish to assassinate somebody, watch this carefully (here available full-length for free – the quality of the amateur upload is not perfect, but it’s acceptable, and perfectly OK if you don’t super-size the screen):

Come and See (Dir. Elem Klimov, 1985)

Tough going. Powerful anti-war movie. Here available full-length for free:

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (Dir. Peter Greenaway, 1989)

I went to see this when it came out, and never watched it again. But I have not forgotten it. An un-hinged revenge tragedy. View <here>.

Un Coeur en Hiver (Dir. Claude Sautet, 1992)

I’ve watched this several times down the years. Think of every Hollywood love story cliché, then do the directorial opposite. One of the most (satisfyingly-unsatisfying) French films ever made. In a Hollywood love movie, the central problem is “getting the woman”. She’s a challenge to be overcome, a puzzle to be figured out. You look at such films, and you wonder if the writers and directors thereof are all male virgins, stuck in a 1950s time-warp, so far removed are they from a world where women have any agency. (Ironically, today’s wokesters are also all stuck in the ideological 195os, with their quaint notion that only men chase and only women need to “consent”, lol.) The bloke in such Hollywood movies is always a bit of a likeable idiot – invariably, pantingly-eager, and there is no limit to the self-abasement and nonsense he’ll go through to “get the woman”. The woman in question, naturally, always requires an amount of persuasion. The French come to this narrative from a position of much greater equality. In this film, the central problem, one which Stéphane cannot figure out, is how to reconcile his Stoicism (which has served him well thus far in his cautious life) with deep fulfilment (which, shockingly for him, has landed in his lap). How do you re-invent yourself to cope with the conceptually-untidy reality that the woman of your dreams clearly is interested in you? Stéphane needs a massive kick up the arse, of course, but as an insight into the self-defeating dynamics of actual relationships / counter-dependency, as opposed to the clichéd active-male / passive-female conservative shallowness of Hollywood, this film takes some beating. Here available full-length for free:

Black Cat, White Cat (Dir. Emir Kusturica, 1998)

Never figured out what it was about, and it may be rubbish (there’s no great plot or insights), but I love the vibe – the entire thing seems drunk, a bit like a Swordfishtrombones era Tom Waits song made into a film. View <here>.

How you know a band is crap:

  • They regularly do chord changes for the last chorus
  • At a gig, the lead singer always says “HELLO [name of city]” in a hearty voice
  • Their fast songs are slow
  • Their drums sound like fresh eggs being dropped on a tiled floor
  • They are pretty, look healthy, and are well-groomed
  • They wear designer clothes
  • Their albums are about their “journey” and their godamned love-lives
  • All their songs are quiveringly sincere
  • They interview well on mainstream chat shows
  • They do that fake sob thing to show how deeply they feel stuff
  • They call the person they’ve cheated on “baby”
  • They win music awards
  • They like fashionable causes
  • They end gigs with a massive singalong, like <this lot>

Lydon was right about them: https://gigwise.com/news/54956/

A jolly day out

In the late 1970s and 80s rock concerts were almost still exclusively youth events – anyone over 30 would have been regarded as a “weirdo” – and violence was commonplace.

There were riots all the time at gigs,” recalls Peter Hook, former bass player with New Order and before that Joy Division.” (From <article>.) 

I went to a fair few rock and punk gigs in the 80s, and, yes, they were often somewhat edgy occasions. Security was poor to non-existent, and organisation was casual. I remember coming out of a gig in the Ulster Hall with a shoe missing and my clothes torn. I didn’t even realise until I was out on the street (“where’s my fucking shoe? “lol). I knew a fellow Joy Division fan in Belfast, big bloke with a biker jacket, and his thing was to go up to the front row, wait until the gig started, and then randomly start punching people.

From this:

To this:

Nothing against the pleasant and lightweight Mr. Styles- but <headlining Slane>?!

Used to be, going to Slane (and other iconic rock venues) was a vaguely cool thing to do.  Part of this was because gig-going was often countercultural.  The bands often were made up of people who were viewed as “misfits” or “wasters”.

Your mere attendance at such events spoke of a desire to align yourself with a way of being that eluded conventional dreams, and to be present in solidarity with people your parents, teachers, and careers adviser probably would not have viewed as role models lol.  Which is how it should be.  

Nowadays, by stark contrast, gigs are safe spaces, in every sense of the word. They’re big bourgeois days out.  Styles could headline at a N Korean event.  No cultural threat to anyone or anything.  The average golf tournament would be more rock n roll than most singalong modern pop love-ins, despite the presence here of some landfill indie and the well-marketed Wet Leg.  

As they note here, the famous Glastonbury festival in England is now <“more middle-class than a Waitrose olive counter“>.

Modern pop is in probably a worse state than it was before punk in the mid-70s.  It’s a respectable career option for beige bourgeois jollification for young people with pension plans.

More Brexit freedoms on the way

So much for cutting red tape lol – Brexiters now proposing <number plates for bicycles>.

Presumably, all cyclists will now need to be fitted with compulsory speedometers, or people will be required to carry expensive GPS trackers on their handlebars.  Otherwise, how would you now what speed you were doing?  If you’re using an app, you only see your speed etc. stats at the end of a ride, not during.  

Further, while an average cyclist can get past 20mph briefly, out on the open road (hills, potholes, tiredness, headwinds), most run-of-the-mill cyclists will not sustain 20mph+ speeds for long, so this is pretty daft.  

Further, crashing into a pedestrian at 12mph will injure them anyway, so, logically, all cyclists should be below 10mph.  

If this lad had half the brains he was born with, he’d propose something like the <Idaho stop law>.

Consistently, at red lights in an urban setting on a bicycle, it’s much safer for cyclists to treat them a yield – pause and go.  You’re already in tight on your own side, and, unlike a car, are not obstructing other cars turning in anyway; and, on an uphill stop, it’s dangerous to have to wait until lights changes, as there’s always the possibility of a jerk in a battery car, massive torque and distracted with their massive screens, driving over the top of you, as you will never be as quick away from the lights.

Crashes and cycling-related injuries reduced significanly in Idaho when they wised up and introduced this change.  

Nobody in authority / officialdom gets this though.  Blind adherence to rules desiged for trucks, buses and cars, driven by a mix of stupidity and cultural dislike of 2-wheeled road users.  

I guess based on his “reasoning”, all people out doing a road run will need numberplates and insurance as well, in case they barge into somebody.

Pop will eat itself, using the correct cutlery

This was <written in 2015>:

When I worked at the NME in the early 1990s, writers from leafy suburbs would affect proletarian tropes, trousers and vowels to ingratiate themselves with Oasis, New Order or Happy Mondays. Nowadays, adroit navigation of the wine list or the ski slope is probably a more useful way into a band’s confidence.

The current economic climate is returning the practice of art to what it was 300 years ago – a rich fellow’s diversion, a pleasant recreation for those who can afford it, rather than the cultural imperative it should be. Nicky Wire of Manic Street Preachers, one of the last great bands to emerge from working-class Britain, put it memorably: indie should not be gap-year music
.”

Reading this <interview> with Black Sabbath, it’s apparent how ordinary / poor their upbringing was:

Iommi and Butler worked in factories after leaving school, Ward delivered coal and Osbourne, after stints in a slaughterhouse and car plant, turned his hand to burglary.

This was typical enough in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and earlier.  You always had posh artists, but they tended to be of the individualistic type, like Beckett, or like Nick Drake, in revolt against the strictures of their upbringing.  Even middle-class Mick Jagger, with his bohemian mores and fashion, and his love for Delta blues artists, was breaking the mould of his upbringing. 

Most of the bands I grew up listening to (The Undertones. The Fall, Joy Division) were working class.  In the last century, British pop / rock was an escape route for blacks, for second-generation Irish (from Johnny Rotten to Boy George), and for the British working class and the disaffected British middle-class alike.   

However, in this century, if you are middle-class, and making your living in pop or rock, you’d no longer bother to conceal your class origins.  Mainstream chart music has become bourgeois. 

Used to be, Chris de Burgh was the epitome of bourgeois naffness.  (Nick Drake, who knew him at school, recalled de Burgh’s “vile” taste in music.)  Nowadays, the hammy Burgher would fit right in. 

Here is a picture of The 1975, a successful and popular band of this era – what a bunch of stiffs:

And here is a band from the actual 1970s, Black Sabbath – they have that exuberant working class look about them, as if they can’t quite believe their luck.  You don’t get heads like those in popular music nowadays:

Are you over-qualified, sorry 40 / 50?

In Britain, young employees lack basic literacy and numeracy:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-57499286

In Britain, there is also a shorage of employees, and they want the (numerate, literate) over-50s back into employment:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-62471260

Good luck with that, when the reality is that, all over the world, over-50s are well-nigh unemployable (sorry, “over-qualified” lol). It’s the discrimination that nobody gives a shit about:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-02/ageism-rampant-discrimination-problem-in-the-workplace/10550704

Gimme me a shout sometime

That headline is a thing of the past.

From 1978, here’s Debbie Harry – to an average voice-call phobic millenial, the gist of this normal-in-its-era song will appear deranged:

Interesting <article> on the RTÉ website about how millenials are afraid of voice-calls.

However, in typical 21st century woke mode, instead of suggesting some basic self-help routines, the article reads as an extended apologia / justification for their various inadequacies.  Some quotes therefrom, and comments:

As humans beings we need certainty and predictability, says Dr Elaine Kinsella, lecturer and researcher in the Department of Psychology at the University of Limerick. “It’s one of our basic, human, social needs. We like to be able to make connections between what happened yesterday and what happens tomorrow… and receiving a phone call often comes out of the blue” and although it might seem like a mundane interruption, any sort of unpredictability or uncertainty can knock us off guard, says Kinsella. Some experience social anxiety which can extend to phone calls and others experience anxiety only about phone calls.”

Eh, not necessarily.  As a kid, from about age 7, I would run to answer the house landline, and prided myself on being able to do so.  Obviously, we all like a measure of predictability, but this should not be to the granular and trivial extent that you need to vet your callers in advance, ffs.  In the landline age, the only people who needed to vet their callers were a minority of people with good reasons for doing so, such as those people being pestered by cold sales callers, or by malicious prank callers. 

In an analogous context, as a student, I used to “thumb” (stand at the side of a major road and hitch lifts with random passing drivers).  One of the aspects I particularly enjoyed when doing so (apart from the free travel) was the glorious unpredictability of the random conversations that would ensue, with strangers.  I always had the idea that you “paid” your fare through engaging the helpful driver in lively conversation – and the conversation should be on their terms.  It was fascinating.  (And, as an introvert, it was always more fun for me to have authentic conversations, with new people one-on-one, as opposed to the kind of cliché-ridden tripe that passes for conversation in group settings between people who already know each other, such as in workplaces, pubs or parties.) 

Once, hitch-hiking in the South of France, an old famer (with a very non-Parisian accent) said: “expliquez-moi la situation politique en Irlande du Nord”.  Another English bloke who gave me a lift wanted only to talk about cricket, for around 100 miles.  And one of the things you learned as a young person in my era was the necessity to take off the blinkers of your own interests, and to have a magpie-like interest in the world, and to be adaptable.  Why shouldn’t I be able, at the drop of a hat, to talk about other people’s interests?  I’m afraid that nowadays, folks are barely able to talk about their own interests, and are sufficiently focussed on their own navels to consider that they should have no social obligation whatsoever to have any enthusiasm for another’s interests.  (In any event, if the other person wasn’t woke enough, or didn’t share their particular sub-brand of identity politics, the millennial might be so disgusted and triggered that s/he’d be unable to speak anyway lol.)   

Anyway, I have zero interest in cricket, but I can spoof on almost any topic, so off I went, asking questions about the Duckworth Lewis method, and pretending to be interested in the best way to hold a cricket bat.  And, of course, in return, I learned more about cricket, and the guy, grateful at my seeming interest in his obsession, as a kindness, drove me on past his stop.  Win-win. 

Another truck driver, a former (or, as we used to say, a “failed” priest), wanted to chat about scholastic philosophy and architecture for miles.  Someone else might be an old farmer who wanted to chat largely about the price of livestock.  Or a middle-aged couple who were worried about their son or daughter not doing enough work at university, and, unfeasibly, asking my advice. Seeing my mohawk haircut, one guy discussed 195os pop music, and how it compared to punk. You could end up chatting about anything.

The point is that, whether on phone calls or thumbing lifts, far from being panicked by the “unpredictability” of such social interactions, it was that very unpredictability that I most enjoyed.  It all depends on how you look at it. “Unpredictability” is a synonym for spontaneity. Even when I had the bus or train fare, I always preferred to hitch anyway, unless the weather was truly awful.    

How boring are you, if you only like talking about the same stuff that you always talk about, to people you already know.

Fucking pathetic. 

If you think about it, you probably already know what makes phone calls more difficult. “I can only hear your voice, I can’t see your face, I can’t see your facial expressions, I can’t see your body language, I can’t see any gestures,” says Kinsella. “I’m fully reliant on your voice to give me cues and to explain where it is that you’re coming from, what it is that you’re trying to communicate with me. Face-to-face its easier to read between the lines and get a clearer sense of what you’re trying to communicate that perhaps you aren’t saying in words …  When we’re talking to somebody we build a relationship with them quite quickly. If a person is awkward or nervous, often the other person will pick up on that and smile, nod, offer encouragement through their facial expressions or body language, and that can help to make somebody feel more comfortable. That’s very difficult to do on the phone … It’s synchronous, you have to respond immediately, you can’t just say nothing for half an hour.”

“… that you aren’t saying in words”.  Fuck me.  The whole point of a phone call is that it is a verbal medium.  “Words” are the point! Being on a voice call forces you to cut out the passive aggressive shrugs and silences, the poisonous euphemisms, and the deliberately-leaving-things-unsaid-and-expecting-the-other-person-to-mind-read bullshit.  You’re obliged to be cheerful, frank and articulate.  If you can’t manage that, in my view, you’re intellectually and socially inadequate, and in need of remedial educational and psychological attention.   

Being on the phone can be an intense experience. We can become very conscious of how we sound, thinking about whether the other person understanding what we’re trying to communicate, says Kinsella. “Human beings, we want to feel a sense of belonging, a sense of connection with other people. We don’t want to be left out, we also want to have a positive feeling about ourselves, we don’t want to be judged negatively by other people.”

Oh here we fucking go.  The writer has as good as admitted that the millennial problem is unbridled narcissism and an unwillingness to focus on the other person’s informational or social requirements.   Whether you’re imparting information, or having some banter, it should be driven by a focus on the other person.  But if you’re obsessing about yourself and how you might come across, I’m sorry, you’re a selfish, self-obsessed, po-faced bore. It’s OK to be that self-conscious for a period in your early teens perhaps, but to posit this short-lived developmental awkwardness as a reason why telephone calls are difficult and “intense” for everyone is worrying.   

There’s always moral panics around new technology anyway. Most people adapt and learn how to use them really well,” Holohan says.

I’m not panicked at all.  I just feel sorry for them. 

And here’s Feargal Sharkey, wondering, since you have his number, “why don’t you use it“?

Sadly, nowadays, the answer to that particular question would be that the would-be caller is scared to call, and in any event has convinced herself that to do so would be unpardonably intrusive.

Why consent is not enough

Ireland is clarifying its rape laws, in particular, re the definition of consent.

As you’d expect, this is being generally lauded.

As if consent was all people need to have an ethical / satisfying sexual encounter.

The classic left-wing / liberal view of sex is that pretty much any kind of sexual behaviour is acceptable, so long all the participants therein consent to it.

Provided the people involved both consent (and I mean “both” – no apologies to swingers and polys, you’re arseholes), then what they do, or how soon they do it, is none of anybody else’s business.

From reading press reports of various unfortunate encounters over many years, the typical scenario involves drunk people having sex within a few hours, or less, after meeting. The unspoken context is that old fashioned stuff – fascination, delight, commitment, wonder, eroticism, respect – either is explicitly ruled out, or is, at the very least, just very old-hat and entirely irrelevant.

But once you abandon all objective standards, once you declare that all behaviours ethically are equivalent, then consent is all you have left. Provided everyone involved consents, then being courted and, months later, made love to by someone who adores you is no wiser or better or worse than having choke / chem-sex in a toilet with someone who may or may not be a psycho and whom you met 3 hours previously. .

Consent is the necessary standard-substitute in a culture which de facto encourages people to have sex with each other way too soon, because the culture is too timid to distinguish loving, ethical sex from cheap, nasty, jerk / jock sex. Having rejected traditional morality, it has been hoisted thereafterby a petard of its own “my truth” subjectivity-extremism, one wherein we must validate all perspectives and behaviours equally. In other words, a cop-out.

This creates a culture wherein we merely can facilitate, but must never pass judgement.

Liberals view casual, drunk, sex as a human right.  You’re not allowed to say that its cheap, exploitative and dumb behaviour. You’re certainly not alowed to say that it’s profoundly un-erotic.

Instead, we must maintain the fiction that wanting to shag someone the same night you meet them is decent and acceptable behaviour, and that it doesn’t mean that you’re an immature, timid, selfish, asshole. That’d be judgemental, right?

But if you really are interested in someone, you don’t even want to have sex with them too soon anyway.  You’re so blissed out even having a coffee with them, and the wonder of seeing a relationship develop. Eroticism primarily is a slow-burning meditation on the loved one. If you want to bag someone right away, it’s always because you’re planning to dump them shortly afterwards, if you’re being honest about it. Apart from the shag, you have no other plans for them, no other interest in them, so why wait?

But if you wait, and *get to know the person first*, over, say, a few months, you will then be so attuned to them that both of you will just know and be able to read each other very well, without needing all this absurd, autistic, contract-theory approach to “consent”.

We used to call this “courtship”, and “dating”, and we need more of it, instead of the cowardly “get drunk, hang out and bang” tawdriness – and tedium – of today.

Consent, as a substitute for ethical behaviour, is a sticking plaster of liberal despair on an ethical vacuum.

If we started treating other people as people again, instead of treating them as wank-aids, then none of this robotic consent rubbish would even be necessary.

They hadn’t invented self-pity yet:

Interviewer, in 1981, asks bloke with polio what barriers and problems his condition created for him.

Were it someone similar being interviewed today, there’d be an avalanche of self-important self-pity, a litany of micro-aggressions and a diatribe about able-bodied privilege.

Listen to Ian: