Back to Year 12 (for real this time)

19 06 2008

Today was my first history lesson I’ve had since my exams finished.  Mrs. History Teacher was supposed to be sorting me into a class, but unfortunately wasn’t in today.  Instead, Mr. History Teacher told me to attend his class.  I’m pretty sure the class in question isn’t the one Mrs. History Teacher wants me to be in, and since I don’t even know what the timetable is, it’s probably best not to get too used to being in that class in case it clashes with music tech.

My classmates were all Year 12 girls.  I recall that Mrs. History Teacher didn’t think it was a good idea for me to join in the set containing only girls; maybe she thought I would find them intimidating or something.  Or else she thinks I’m some kind of pervert who would be a liability in a class of girls.  It’ll be one of the two.  There were only four of them, so maybe there are other boys in the set and they just didn’t bother to turn up.

Us Year 13s have never really gotten along particularly well with Year 12s.  That might be something to do with the fact that they kept throwing stuff across the study area at us (such as mints, rubbers, pens, and contraceptives), or it might just be because they had the nerve to invade our territory study area, the little gits.

In any case, it was a relief to find that this particular class were friendly, seemingly well adjusted and reasonably normal.  There was a cheerful girl who struggled to operate a pair of headphones, accidentally fused the words “deacon” and “vicar” together so that it came out sounding like “dickar”, and got called a “freak” a lot.  There was a tall, slightly scary girl, who talked a lot about obscure historical events and figures that nobody else had heard of, and expressed a fondness for “chavvy music” and gory horror movies.  Then there was a girl with a grey hoodie who listened to loud, extremely heavy rock through a pair of headphones, described various violent scenes from movies as “hilarious”, and offered everyone chocolate.  The other girl was fairly quiet and said she might be dropping history the following year (oddly enough, there was a girl just like that in my old Year 12 class).  They all seemed like very nice people.

Unfortunately, hopeless case that I am, I can’t remember their names.

In class, we will be selecting and researching a historical period of our choice.  Last time I wanted to do something to do with the Mughal Empire in India, but struggled to find any relevant books, so this year I’ve decided to restrict myself to Western history, preferably no further back than the 1500s.  I’ve narrowed my selection down to three possibilities: The Golden Age of Piracy, street gangs and organised crime in 18th century London, and nobles and duelling in France between the late 16th and mid 17th centuries.  I need to choose one of those by next lesson, so I’m going to have to research them and see which is the most interesting and which I can find books on.

After the lesson, I went to the cinema with some friends and we watched the new Indiana Jones movie.  I’m thinking of doing a post about that; I know a lot of other people have already done posts on that subject, but I saw it from the perspective of someone who knows very little about the Indiana Jones series and has never seen an Indiana Jones movie before (I had meant to see Raiders of the Lost Ark first, but somehow I never got around to it).  Maybe I should write a media studies type analysis, to “make up for the lack of drama in my life”. 😉

In any case, it was a good movie, and we had a great time mocking all the implausible scenes.  We had the theatre pretty much all to ourselves – there were about 2 other people in there – which meant that we got the comfy seats at the back.  I guess everyone else must have seen it by now.  We did go in the middle of the day though, so maybe it’s more crowded outside of work and school hours.

Anyway, I realise this post has been one long ramble, so I’m going to finish it now.  I’ve got to, anyway; Heroes is on in a few minutes.


MEPs reject anti-piracy proposal

11 04 2008

As reported by the BBC, European politicians have rejected the plans to throw suspected file-sharers and illegal downloaders off the Internet, because they were deemed to infringe on “civil liberties and human rights”.  This narrow vote is not legally binding, which means that individual governments (e.g. France and the UK) can still implement anti-piracy laws if they see fit.

The battle wages on.

Current listening: King Crimson, “Fallen Angel”.

Obtained legally, on CD, naturally.

“Spring Break” sucks!

5 04 2008

No, not the holiday, the phrase, silly!  I mean, Easter was only a bank holiday weekend.  We’re having our Easter Holidays now, but how can they be Easter Holidays if they don’t involve Easter?

Some of my more secular, less traditional friends pointed out that there’s no reason we can’t celebrate Easter now, eggs and all, but it wouldn’t be the same, and I’ve already had Easter.

So, what to call this holiday?  One girl at school (a somewhat, er, unusual year 12 girl) has taken to referring to it as Spring Break.  Several teachers were using the phrase as well, but it just feels kind of weird, like some strange American, PC thing.  “Spring Break”.  “Spring Break”.  I don’t know, it’s just not something that rolls off the tongue easily, probably because this holiday has always been the Easter Holidays, as long as I can remember.  Some people at school were actually calling it Half Term, even though that’s something completely different!

So, anyway, it’s “Spring Break”, and I’m in a bit of a random mood, as you probably guessed.

It was rather a shock logging onto WordPress the other day and discovering that they’ve changed the dashboard screen (that’s the behind the scenes stuff that readers don’t see).  The new design is probably easier to use, but it’s less easy on the eye, dominated by pastel oranges and blues.  I also miss having a link to the forums on the dashboard.  I expect I’ll get used to it.

Anyway, I haven’t seen GoodFellas yet.  We were going to be watching it in class, but a certain teacher couldn’t be bothered to show up to teach us.  Perhaps I’ll be able to borrow a copy from a friend, but otherwise I’ll have to wait until the holidays are over.

Oh and, almost forgot: DoctorWhoseriesfourstartsinlessthananhour!!!

*Sighs*  I’m such a hopeless Doctor Who fanboy.

Current listening: Feeder, “Comfort In Sound”.

Half term holidays

15 02 2008

It’s half term, and tomorrow morning we’re heading off to the Costa Del Sol for a week, during which I’m unlikely to be able to access a computer, so there won’t be any more updates for a while.

Well OK, technically it’s not half term but the end of a term, since they recently changed the way the year is organised, but it comes to the same thing: a week off school.

I’m hoping to see some Spanish culture, and enjoy the sunshine (please let it be sunny!).  Of course, it won’t all be fun and games; I’ve got an English essay to write, to be handed in first day back.  I’ll also probably go into CD player, webcomic and piano withdrawal, and I don’t know what I’m going to do about the two episodes of Primeval I’ll be missing.  Yes, I know, this is a really exciting holiday, so I shouldn’t worry about trivial things!  *Shakes head in dismay at own nerdiness.*

In the meantime, I feel I should leave you with some media-studies relevant material.  Here are the Wikipedia articles on Public Service Broadcasting and PSB in the UK.  The latter provides an answer to Adam’s homework question of whether digital channels are required to provide some PSB – apparently not, since Wikipedia specifically says that it’s terrestrial channels.  Of course, that’s only in the UK, so other countries might require digital channels to provide PSB.

In the news, the BBC report that net firms are rejecting the government’s suggestions that they monitor Internet use to reduce piracy, both on legal and technical grounds.  All stations monitor how much is downloaded, but the 2002 E-Commerce Regulations define ISPs as “mere conduits”, which means they aren’t responsible for what is downloaded; on the contrary, there may be laws preventing them from being so.  The confusion continues, and the war on piracy rages on.

 Current listening: Iron Maiden, “Aces High”.

The Searchers

13 02 2008

Yesterday, I finally got around to watching The Searchers.  It’s a classic Western that frequently ranks highly in “best film ever” charts.

The Searchers contains many of the elements you expect from a classic Western.  OK, so there’s no showdown, but you can’t have everything rip off High Noon, or all films would start to look rather similar.  Everything else is present and correct (or politically incorrect, as the case may be, but it is a ’50s classic, and it’s set in the 1860s) – lone hero, post-civil war backdrop, “Indians”, guns, horses, desert, a revenge motive, you name it.

The plot is a familiar one (spoilers for early parts of the film follow).  A group of Comanche raid a farmhouse, killing the occupants, burning the building to the ground, and kidnapping a young girl, Debbie.  Debbie’s uncle Ethan (John Wayne) and her adoptive brother Martin (Jeffrey Hunter) join forces to rescue her and revenge themselves upon their family’s murderers.

What is interesting about this film is the way in which it handles race issues.  Ethan, on face the hero, is initially somewhat hostile towards Martin because Martin is one eighth native American, and is shown to hold the Comanche in contempt, doing all he can to diminish their number.  Martin, by contrast, is a much more traditional hero in terms of morals.  He is determined to rescue his sister from the Comanche known as “Scar”, and concerned that Ethan’s hatred of all things native American will cause him to put Debbie’s life in danger.

OK, so the Comanche are still vilified, but it’s not clear that Ethan is in the right either, although he does get a moment of redemption, and remains a sympathetic character.  In this way, he’s something of a deconstruction of the classic Western hero.

Visually, the film has aged well, although the fight scenes may look a bit silly to viewers raised on Star Wars lightsaber-duelling, The Matrix and Jackie Chan movies.  There is some hilariously hammy acting from Ken Curtis as Charlie McCorry, but whether intentionally or not, the result is funny enough to avoid getting on one’s nerves (much).

For me, the film’s key strengths lay in its portrayal of families, and in the epic scale of the adventure.  This is a film which will provoke emotions.*  You really do get drawn in by the drama, which is what makes it such a good film.  If you haven’t seen it before, I would definitely recommend checking it out.

I already think I understand the popularity of Westerns.  Sooner or later, I’ll be watching revisionist Western Unforgiven (fingers crossed, anyway), and I’ll be able to write a comparison and see what elements are universal to both films.  Of course, that’ll be after half-term.

*If watched in the ideal environment, which is perhaps not a media studies class.

 Current listening: Deep Purple, “Super Trouper”.

A quick post

11 02 2008

OK, I want to write something, but I’ll have to be brief, since I want to go to bed early this evening.  I have now seen the second half of The Searchers, and read a synopsis of the first half.  However, I realise that this is not the best way to experience a film, so I’ll be sure to watch it in full before I attempt to give a detailed view of it.

The film struck me as being very much of its time – that is, 1950s America.  Given the race issues at the time, the film would probably have been groundbreaking in its treatment of those issues.  However, by modern standards it still seemed somewhat racist, which I can only suppose is a characteristic of many old Westerns.  What interested me, though, is the way that The Searchers was a revisionist Western of sorts; a twist on the Western form.  It just struck me as interesting that, even back in the ’50s, people were playing with the formula, perhaps attempting to create something truer to life than the traditional Western fantasy as portrayed in dime novels and Wild West shows.

I’m feeling absolutely rotten at the moment; headachey, sore throat, the works.  Man-flu?  Maybe, but it is blooming horrible, hence the early night.  I am, however, disproportionately excited that a new Gunnerkrigg Court chapter has begun – the first one since I started following the series.  I would like to commemorate the moment here.

Should I be embarrassed about liking a webcomic like GC?  Nah, because it’s excellent.  Seriously, I’m hooked.

Anyway, going to bed now.  Good night all.

Current listening: Neil Young, “Ordinary People”.

Blogging about the weather

6 02 2008

Well, I haven’t blogged in a while, so it probably seems like I’m just being lazy; sorry.  I was planning to have a “first impressions” article on The Searchers written by this time, complete with my notes on the Western conventions displayed by that film.  Unfortunately, due to various circumstances, I haven’t actually watched the film yet.  That’s right – I still haven’t watched a proper Western.

So, if I haven’t been watching Westerns, what have I been up to?  Well, I’ve been trying – and thus far failing – to complete my Music Technology recording 2, which has to be finished by Friday or I’ll be dropped from the course.  I’ve been preparing for an English essay involving a comparison of the way that a chosen theme is presented in two novels of my choice (I’m comparing the consequences of man as creator, as portrayed in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein).  I have failed to see Cloverfield, which is a movie I was really interested in seeing (I’m hoping I’ll be able to see it soon), although I did get to see a very good school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  I’ve stormed dramatically from a classroom, seriously annoyed the daughter of a well-known British talk show host, and finally gotten hold of a copy of Radiohead’s Airbag/How Am I Driving?, which I’ve wanted for ages.

I’m writing all this from one of the school computers, because this morning the anti-virus checker spotted a virus on my home computer, and I’ve left it to deal with it.  The school computers are not without their drawbacks; I am, for instance, finding it difficult to read BBC news at the moment, because one of the most popular current stories contains the word “r*pe” in the title (that “*” should be an “a”, but I don’t want this page to get filtered too).  I don’t know what the idea is behind Impero filtering that word.  I mean, it’s a pretty negative expression, so the filter is more likely to be blocking serious news sites than dirty ones.  I did manage to read enough to know that repairs are underway on the damaged Internet cable, although they still can’t confirm the cause of the damage; Egypt are denying that it was a ship’s anchor, but then they probably would anyway.

It’s been raining a lot lately.  Monday it kept drizzling, but the sun was really bright.  I couldn’t see a rainbow anywhere though.  Yesterday was just near-constant downpour, though.

I’m blogging about the weather.  Perhaps I’d better draw this post to a close.  Don’t worry, this blog will be back to normal once I’ve got more organised, and then regular, relevant updates will resume.


Current listening: Pendulum, “Girl in the Fire”.