The girls of NausicaƤ

Nausicaa has become one of my favourite films. It's an explicitly Eco-feminist story; at one point a cargo-hold full of refugee mothers pleads with her to stop the men from fighting their idiotic wars. That blunt moment comes at the heart of a thorough examination of war, environmental destruction, and petty nationalism.

I worry that she is a little too perfect. She's an expertly sword fighter, an expert pilot, a botanist, friend to the animals, an ecologist, a lover of everything, a steadfast worker towards peace who holds her principals through thick and thin. In other words, she has the kind of character stats it would be impossible to roll-up. That makes her a little bit less sympathetic. 

She's also built.  I'm not sure how I feel about how 'well drawn' she is. On the one hand, she's a woman, and women have bodies, and to deny her female physique would be to deny her gender.  I think there are a few unnecessary shots of her in the film, but then I hear how my lady tracks about Tom Hardy, an I think 'well, maybe it's ok for a hero to be beautiful'.

All that is a bit vague. I mainly wanted to provoke a discussion About her foil, Kushana, and how she's different in the comic - and which representation is more feminist..?

In the film, Kushana is a pretty straightforward baddie. Having a female baddie is I think an especially good move, because it makes the gender axis more complicated and less black-and-White. Having a female hero and villain shows that women are not one easy-to-define group. Whilst nausicaa is fighting overwhelmingly male forces - both physical and socially - the film puts men and women on both sides of the conflict, and is richer for it.

The comic complicates Kushana's character. In the film, the only excuse for her behaviour offered is that she lost some limbs to an insect when she was young, and this has made her a less empathetic character. On the other hand, In the comic, she has been sent to fight a lost cause and die by her father the emperor and her domineering brothers; she might be the local baddie, but she has been sold out by what can only be described as Patriarchy. This puts her back into the 'smash patriarchy' camp in the story (which i haven't finished reading yet)

 The film works because it sells you a feminist message and gives women screen time on both sides of the conflict. The book works because it provides another example of women being put down by men. So which of these depictions is... Better? 


On watching star wars for the first time

from 2 years ago:

Ez and I watched star wars - the film, that is - and I have much to report.
Watching her watching the film has given me some fresh insights that, over thirty-odd years of exposure to the star wars universe, I have overlooked.

This event was spurred on by meeting her friend Wilfred in the park, who has been eaten by the franchise to the point of running around the park dressed as a storm trooper.

For comparison, the version watched was the rip of the final VHS release, as this is the only way to watch the film as seen in cinemas (even if the quality is not great). I'm currently downloading Harmy's despecialised editions, but we'll have to wait for that.

Firstly, to get out this out of the way, it is a massive honkysausagefest and that's a real shame. Ez found it hard that, despite Leiagh being a princess and kick arse, she does only have about 10 minutes of screen time in the whole film. I plan on channeling his frustration into a song called 'white space conflict'.

Ez - being under 4, at time of watching -'s attention did wander, but always came back and when asked said she wanted to keep it on.

Firstly, it's full of psychobabble that simply wasn't make to make sense. Words are invented in completely throwaway sentences, in quite a method-acty way; we don't know what the words mean, but we totally get what they mean, if you follow. 

An early example:
"This R2 unit has a bad motivator." 

Well, a motivator is easy enough to process, but do we know what an r2 unit is? Well, yes and no. We can infer very quickly, from context, that it's a particular type of robot, and that from this specificity, there must be lots of other types of robots - like all the ones seen in the jawa's land crawler. They probably all have names and manufacturers too. But we don't need to know. It's just a little glimpse, enough to know there is a big detailed universe here, but actually it hasn't been instantiated yet. In fact, you think, when they need to, they will simply procedurally generate more names and information. 

Another example, same scene: uncle Owen is looking for android that speaks the binary language of moisture compactors (or whatever) and Baachi. I have a strong feeling that no one involved with the making of the film knew or cared what Baachi is. They just needed a word, and that was the word. 

More than the odd word, there are whole lines or short scenes of untranslated alien dialogue. Lucas gets a lot of well-deserved stick for the Star Wars holiday special, starting with the half hour of untranslated wookie-speak. But sections of untranslated dialogue are all over the tattooine section of SW - like the droids in the sandcrawler, or the aliens in the pub. In these contexts, it definitely feels method acty, because although we don't understand the specifics, we get the tone, the intention, and the point, and that's really what they're trying to communicate; as well as the confusion itself, the dizzying strangeness of the unknown.

But even then, it's full of nameless images that are great ideas and haven't yet been nailed down. They never use phrases like 'x wing', 'tie fighter', 'star destroyer'. All of that came later. Let me stress this; a tie fighter in SW is simply an 'imperial fighter', described as being 
short range. TIE of course stands for 'twin ion engine', an imaginary method of propulsion of this craft that looks like it could never fly in atmosphere. But that isn't in SW; in SW, it's just a cool looking space ship.

All of this, as well as the spit-&-polish, cardboard-&-sawdust special effects, gives the film a free-wheeling punk feeling. They've got a classic story, but thickly smeared on top of it is a tonne of spontaneous nonsense. In the time since it's release, all the gaps have been filled in, and I think that's a shame. It detracts from the feeling that there wasn't a master plan here at all - it was just crazy random ideas, and that's a good thing. The film, SW, doesn't pander to viewers by explaining what all these things are - it doesn't know either, but every little made up reference and bit of lingo hints at an as-yet non-existent wider universe. The sense you get is that of being lost in this exciting world without a guide - luke skywalker is the closest thing to one, poking at a falcon's console and asking what the buttons do, but even he talks in the invented references of this galaxy. 

I mean, who cares that a parsec is a unit of distance, not of time? I mean, I do, but I love that they didn't know or care. Like I said, punk, but also my often made point that SW is not sci-fi (or even the more general speculative fiction).

It's not all good news though. The violent 'goodies and baddies' script of the film deeply affected the games she began playing, and I didn't like it - I'd go as far as to say the over-simplified, black and white, good vs evil tone of the film is something that should have been left in the fifties and boys-own stories.

It's not that the film is especially violent by modern standards, but it is very much about the good guys shooting and killing the bad guys (even if it's in self defence). All of this fed into ezme's imagination for some time, although I think she's out of that phase now. It's also more evidence that boyish behaviour is a cultural, rather than genetic, phenomenon.

One more up-shoot of this, that really strikes me, is that in SW, Vader is not Luke's father, and he's definitely not Leiah's dad either. He's just a big baddy (and don't forget, Peter Cushing's Grand Moff Tarkin) was billed above Vader at the time). I will be writing up a quick post in future about the differences between reveals, twists, and retcons, as it's something that irks me when people confuse them, but there is nothing to say that in this film, that was the plot line. 

That's part of the joy of watching something that was sequelled into being less good than it was at the time. I plead with you, parents: When your child asks you any questions about this film, don't fill in with knowledge from after the fact, or the prequels, or the expanded universe. Just relish in the joy of being lost in space.

Confusion and partridge-like geek frustration reigned however, when Mum told Ez that Obi Wan was really Luke's dad. That's one we'll have to shake off when I think she's old enough to watch Star Wars 2 (as I am calling Empire).

edit: SW2 scared her and now she doesn't want to watch any of the films anymore. Fine, say I. Just wait until she's old enough for Mononoke.

One final thought: When I wrote this, you saw kids wearing Star Wars Tshirts all of the time; but 9/10 are Lego Star Wars. Now they're  back to wearin greal star wars; but 9/10 of them are plastered with space nazis. It makes me really uncomfortable that they make the baddies look so merchandisable.


referendum 2

The tories who have ended up in charge are interpreting the 'exit' vote as a 'hard brexit', although they have nothing to base this on. Given that the vote was not a big lead - and only half the country voted - it seems opportunistic to only listen to the most hardline europhobes.
Given our complete lack of leverage, a hard brexit seems like maybe the only option, because Europe keep saying to us things like 'you can't have access to the free market and not have freedom of movement' which ends up with us cutting off our nose to spite our face, throwing our toys out of the pram, and ultimate crashing the country. Of course, a ruined economy would only increase the government's push for continuing austerity - they're running out of fictional reasons to prolong it, so they need to manufacture some more bad times for us. And of course when I say 'austerity', i mean 'transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich'.

It would only be in the character of our democracy (such that it is) to have another referendum, this time with more options:

the 52% - surely diminished, now that the obvious lies of the exit leaders have been exposed - will be split between three options, and the reamins side will win, and we can all get on with our lives without deliberately taking our country back into some sort of alternate reality where the winter of discontent never ended.


War bastard

We went to a story telling festival in Martineau gardens today. The final story was a Levantine folk tale about people are afraid of the truth but love stories, so every story should contain some truth.

Jeremy Corbyn is the weary truth-teller the media have ignored. I don't know if I blame him for being ignorable, or the monolithic media - who have learned that all attention is good attention and so the best way to damn a labour leader is to silence them. Plus, how vile his party were towards him destabilised the whole party.

He is a leader who was supposed to have unified his party as pro-European. Europe is usually the downfall of the tories, the issue that exposes how fragmented and infighty they are. Labour officially declared as 'remain', and yet allowed individuals to argue the other way, apparently without looking turbulent. But then, labour didn't look anything throughout the campaign. Sitting back and letting the tories tear themselves apart looks like it could have been quite a good strategy. Unfortunately, the result is that the bullshitters won, virtually unopposed.

The emergence of the scatter-shot-bullshit politician, in the age of big data, is an absurdity that should not stand. Fact-checking organisations, Programmes like 'more or less', shouldn't be fringe news, they should be mandatory. Corbyn took his authority from an educated position, compared with anti-intellectual tories, who dismiss racism and innuendo as 'the rough and tumble of politics'. He spoke honestly, and when he countered the bullshit coming from Cameron, was ignored with attacks on his appearance.

The victory of 'leave' shows us people listen to strong stories. Corbyn's absence from headlines shows us the truth is not enough. We need a labour leader with not just the truth of the sold-out generation, but the anger of them too.

The working class of this country have been abuse and neglected by their governments, then set loose on a bystander, like a tortured dog attacking the first thing in sight rather than the person who has been twisting it for years. 

I think we need a labour leader with the outrage to make the headlines but the academic clout to back it up. We need John Hurt as the War Doctor; not the one we got in the 50th anniversary special, who actually was a bit of a Corbyn, but the one we were promised: a soldier who had the bravery to do what it takes against an abominable foe. We have to face the fact that Blair is the only labour leader to have won an election in - what is it now - 40 years..? We need a war bastard. Can Corbyn be that war bastard? 

But I don't think it'll make any difference. In the fight for votes, the tories and the anti-labour papers will still rubbish whatever labour says, regardless of the truth. They can make a story of any strength they like, because they are not bound by the truth. Do we just have to wait until Rupert Murdoch dies?


experiment in creating a bandcamp playlist with html

It's great how the bandcamp system works, interacting between tracks and even between pages, however it doesn't seem to flow through between these individual tracks. What's more, creating this flow-through page took too many clicks to add each track and I long for a quick and easy bandcamp playlister.

There would be complications with releases that request you purchase after a couple of listens, but actually, that's less of a problem and more of a great thing, if you're listening to a playlist too much you probably should open your wallet and buy those tracks.


on Crimson Peak for those who have watched it.

If you haven't watched it, what ever I say below, I think it's worth a watch. I liked it.

If you have, well...ell, Crimson Peak is a film built almost entirely out of references. It's Rebecca, Macbeth, Usher, Dracula, woman in black, Amnesia the Dark Descent (or just shares influences, I doubt gdt has played that), and every other gothic thing you can put into spot (makes me wonder what I missed). The main character's surname 'Cushing' tells you all you need to know; if you don't know why that's significant, maybe you're not going to understand this film beyond the surface level.

It does this to a point that begins to feel a bit Alan Moore; the point where one character finishes one sentence with 'the horror', and starts the next with the same phrase, feels like the 'showing your work gone mad'ness of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

There's another plot area that really felt Moorish to me too; the protagnist Edith is an author and near the start spells out the point of the film. 'Its not a Ghost Story', she says 'it's a story with ghosts in it. The ghosts are just metaphors for the past'.

Indeed, like any good GDT film (i.e. not Pacfic Rim), as grusome as the ghosts are, it is the people who are the monsters. Edith's comment is not just a snarky 'ooh i'm so clever' one-liner, but a massive shovel in the face telling you THIS IS FICTION, A METAPHOR, IT HAS A DEEPER MEANING IF YOU LOOK FOR IT.

There isn't much discussion of the nature of her book in the film, apart from one pivotal dialogue, where she tells Tom that she doesn't control her characters - they make their own minds up. This transforms him into a character who has free will, and from this point on he is able to make his own decisions, steering the final act of the film. It is after this final act that we see the cover of the book 'Crimson Peak by Edith Sharpe', which makes you wonder how much authorship our protaganist has had all along. Remember she was writing a story with ghosts in, and was forced to introduce a love plot to pelase the publisher - well how forced does the romance feel in the film?

There's loads of symbolism - the shock of industrialiastion (also a theme of Dracula) in the form of type writers, wax cylinders, and digging machines, meant to liberate us but rendering us lifeless. The butterflies every where - dying or pinned or being eaten alive (the most grusome moment, I thought) or merely on wall-paper. The 'nobility as parasite' idea, again introduced right at the start for obviousness, is woven through the film in a surprisingly literal way.

The first act, in New York State, i think is my favourite. It's pretty much a straight period piece with some interesting characters and bits of conversation - if there's one thing I felt this film could do more of, it's dialogue. Scenes are often too short and economical.

I didn't like the final act where it was all stabby - it didn't move me. And I didn't like the shocks that were entirely for the benefit of the audience - The Woman in Black did this too and it feels too much like a non-interactive roller coaster ride. Compared to the other great meta-horror film Cabin in the Woods, it pales. That film is funny, and cleverly reference heavy, and has a lot to say about horror, to the point of being an essay or even manifesto. Crimson Peak is certainly reference heavy, but without humour, and I'm not sure to what extent. It's given me a lot to think about, but I haven't yet figured out if GDT is trying to say anything with the film. I don't know if he's trying to push horror forward. And it failed the 'scared going to bed' test...

Case in point: Edith hears something from the bath. we see a ghost, but she does not. The ghost, a rotting near-skeleton, comes right up to her whilst her back is turned, then vanishes when she turns around. Just at that point, her dog runs back up to her - and from the empty darkness, its ball is rolled back to it. The second part is the unsettling, not going to sleep tonight bit, but it's undermined by the gorey OTT prelude.

And maybe I've seen too many GDT DVD extras, but when the first ghost turns up I thought 'ooh look it's Doug Jones'. And that's good because I love Doug Jones, but also, when your monsters always seem to have the same figure and posture, maybe you should branch out more. Or is it a reference to GDT's earlier films?

(That reminds me, I don't think I've seen Andy Serkis play a human for ages, and that's a shame because he's great as Hannet and Dury)

Still, I liked it, and I'm intrigued enough to come back to it later to see if there's anything I missed. I suppose like a Half man half Biscuit song, if I watch it in five years time maybe I'll get more out of it.

It's a frankenstein film, almost the cinematic equivalent of Paul's Boutique, that wears it's sewn-together stitch marks so blatently that it 's a confident sign that there is more depth to be found.
It's certainly a rich enough film to provoke these midnight ramblings.


Lovecraft dreams

A couple of nights ago, I dreamt the children were possessed by elder gods who had been imprisoned in pillars, but were still alive, perhaps dreaming, at least psychically accessible. Somehow this was Gillen's fault. 
The possession seemed to manifest itself by mood swings, and playing computer games on the phone.

Last night, I had a really terrifying dream. I read a book and it went like this:
There was a iron structure that went across a valley, like a train bridge that linked to tunnels. It bore a remarkable resemblance to a picture of a fictional submarine dock, and this was evidence of a psychic link. Although I can't remember the exact steps, i was being mentally stalked, and as my awareness and power grew, the thing got closer. It was like, the more aware of it I became, he more power it had over me. I checked with several beings - the first two I can't remember, but the third was the Minotaur, who gave me a dire warning - my 'psychic guard' was gone, this apparently was a figure I was semi-aware of, who was the last layer of defense. The next thing I knew, my consciousness itself was being peeled away. The end.

And then I visualised the whole thing as a graphic novel.

I was terrified. And when I woke up, esme was standing at the end of the bed in the darkness. Shiver.


Clubbing inspiration

Hello again.

Inspiration is a funny thing.
I have an idea see, to do a track called 'Burnt Ogre' as the opening track on a debut album 'burnt ogre' by a band called Burnt Ogre, that - crucially - does not feature the lyric 'burnt ogre'. And I've just moved to Birmingham too, how funny.

The music is written. The cover art is sorted. The trouble is, writing to a brief is hard, even when it's your own brief. So I had these images of a forest cottage, some sort of traditional fairytale ogre. But it didn't go any further than that.

Then I remembered a few ideas, that sort of drifted in; the line 'moor reclaims the graveyard'; an old image, of a sort of darth christ, the broken body of the annoited one encased in heavy sauron-style armour, ruling cold and tyrannically for 1000 years.

And then I remembered the programme I'd watched last night, although I hadn't watched the whole thing because the presenter appeared to be played by Robert Webb; it was about the history of archeology, and started with Constantine. Apparently he sent his mum off to find hard evidence of Jesus. Quite an interesting idea. What was really interesting was that after that anecdote, the programme skipped forward 1000 years - literally a millennium - to the next interesting thing that happened.

What I learnt was that from the secession of Xtianity, you could basically skip to the lead up to the Renaissance and the enlightenment. 

All of that came stirring into the mix, and I had an idea. The iron christ, leading an army into Rome, ruling Europe for the promised millennium, but then being supplanted by nature - that is to say, science. The realisation that the world isn't black and white, the gradual embracing of chaos. The fight between the Hammerites and the Pagans from Thief, and the fight between the cathedralic and humourless forces of order and the viney, forest-dwelling forces of chaos. 'Moor reclaims the graveyard' suddenly became a line that describes this exact conflict, and the fall of the living god himself. The only thing is - who is the burnt ogre? Is it the christ, burnt like anakin skywalker and living on life support? Or some woodland god, the cottage dweller of tradition, coming back to the city to take back civilisation? That is still to figure out (although I think that in writing this I've basically figured it out).
And this concept even chimes in with the cover picture I want to use: Blake's Orc, the spirit of rebellion against the dry conventional Urizen, which is obviously influenced by milton's conception of the lame and moribund Jahweh.

And all of this is a proof-of-concept for Kno; a metaphorical epic poem set to a post-prog track. I'm excited. 


Silent Tattoo

I want to get a tattoo. I want to embellish my skin with something I find meaningful.
The trouble is, I've been thinking, and other than the Tetractys, (which would be pretentious, as I'm not really a Pythagorean) what I really want most of all, is a tattoo of nothing.

I'm willing to take this to a John Cage level of going to a tattoo parlour and 'getting' an entirely empty tattoo 'engraved' on my arm; spending my own 4 minutes, 33 seconds, of thinking about which of the infinite possible variations of tattoo I could have.

4'33'' is one of those growers, I have found. right now, it's probably in my top ten favourite pieces of music of all time, no joke. not because of the simplistic reasons that you originally think are the point when you first here of the idea - that it's 'just as arbitary a piece of music as any other', but the freshness of your listening that your ears are heightened to when they're instructed to listen gives so much meaning to all the little things you can hear. when I close my eyes, all of a sudden my ears realy switch on, and I'm aware of so much more than I thought I was. 4'33'' does that to you, with your eyes open.

mindfullness is a bollocks fad right now, but from times like this, or when I've tried meditating and tried to be aware of every sensation in every part of my body, I know what the original point of it was. It's being concious of everything that passes through your brain - impossible, but progress towards the ideal is achiveable.

Back to the tattoo, another interpretation would be to have a square of random noise engraved on my arm. that would be just as arbitary, and just as meaningless. 

Perhaps another way to look at it is how sometimes a little noise can define silence. Sometimes I long to hear music that sounds like something barely more than silence, as another way to appreciate the lack of things. Analogously, perhaps an empty frame on my skin would work; or just an angle of a square, not even completely connected up. Perhaps a frame, but pointing outwards, so that my entire body outside the definition is the tattoo.

Or perhaps, just another way to represent a blank space, such as the symbol for the empty set, or my old "%20" tshirt. A defined lack of something. 
So is what I'm effectively saying, then, that my mindset has reverted to that of a 24 year old?


Notes on fragments of a portrait

i think this is my favourite program ever.

Hyper-portraits of time worms

Hints of skulls, arbitrary flesh

Someone who can assault life through his hatred, and still love people.

Aim for something - miss - create something unique. Fail spectacularly.

Furious nihilism, fatalism; but only furious at others' persistent beliefs. The crucifixion as a barbaric carnal act, rather than a spiritual one. Rational atheism combined with a social fury, like the disparity between Dawkins' logical rhetoric and his outspoken diatribes.


Footnote to Bohemia

Watching 'how to be a bohemian' has been quite a revealing look at the origin of some often contradictory views I hold quite dear.

The stories regaled about Eric Gill, however, don't strike me as all that bohemian. A man who takes several lovers, all of whom appear to be exclusive to him, fathers dozens of children, and even has 'affairs' with sisters and daughters - this isn't counter cultural. This is just an extreme form of patriarchy. Men behaving irresponsibly with their penis, regardless of consequence and impact to others, is just the status quo.


Cars is the worst

There's been a listicle ranking the Pixar films from worst to best doing the rounds recently, and I was amazed to see that 'cars' was not at the absolute bottom. I hate Cars, I find it a repugnant, small-minded film, because

1: Jeremy Clarkson.
Jeremy Clarkson is in this kids' movie. A racist contrarian, wilfully ignorant to the point of inanity. This film gives him money. 
He has a small part as the main character (a serious wassname)'s bad conscience, the part of the main character that it is easy to blame for his selfishness, and easy to jettison at the end. He's not playing a nasty person though, as much as a motivated and successful agent - exactly what the racing world needs to keep it going.

It's the way that in Cars, he plays a character that's meant to be the embodiment of everything that's wrong in the world, but relative to the cars world, he's not - he's just a normal consequence of their values. So it's not really believable that he's a relatively bad character. However, from my point of view, he does represent everything that's wrong with the world, because being normal in the cars world is awful, as detailed below.

2: focused nostalgia
The worst thing about this film is it's adherence to a very particular sort of nostalgia. This is a racing film that decries the motorway, because of the way it demolished communities that existed on older roads, and what's all this obsession with speed anyway?

Clearly the second point is facetious, the film is entirely based on an obsession with speed and winning and MEN. There's a reason why I love the film Saturday night fever, and it's because it's really an anti-disco film; all of that stuff people love about it, John travolta's dancing, clothes, and dancing, is gone by the end of the story, as the lead character had undergone an arc that has taken him away from his obsession. It has shown disco to be a shallow and lonely place. Not so in Cars, which wants to show us how shallow racing stardom is, but without giving up the excitement of being a racing star! (Ironixclamation)

The bigger point is the nostalgia, specifically for a particular decade when our grandparents were young and drinking malt shakes at the store. It's hard for me to express this because I think it is so painfully ignorant, but I'll try: that was new once, too. There was a time before those roadside towns were built. They were not the apex of human society.

Before cars, we all road horses, but this film doesn't care about that. Before cars, localities were much more important and people walked and bumped into other people and made connections and started conversations, but this film doesn't care about that. It only cares about the specific time period after the construction of Route 66 but before the construction of the road that superseded it. It doesn't mind the fact that Route 66 probably destroyed loads of communities too, or that social change is constant and inevitable, or that of people weren't so hung up on the past they could actually be liberated by transport, rather than being caught up in a role that you think the world owes you. It's such a wierdly fetishised affection for a specific time that its target market will only have seen in Hairspray Days and American Grease.

I say all this, as a particularly anti-car person. I'm no fan of big roads, but I do quite like logically consistent emotions and arguments. That's what's wierd about the film, it's the paradox of the Amish; it's fine with progress up to a point, like jonathon swift declaring that science had gone far enough. It's conservative, not for a raw state, but for a certain level of progress. My point is, you either like progress or you don't. You can't decide after the fact which bits you want to cherry pick and which bits you want to complain about. 

And in a way, all of this is what's wrong with Jeremy Clarkson too; the inconsistency. The reactionary character that only goes as far as it suits this one man. The solipsistic 'what I grew up with is the way things should be' attitude. And as such, Jeremy Clarkson doesn't just have a 2 minute cameo in Cars, but embodies it's entire shitty small-minded unphilosophy. 

3: sausage fest/cars are boring
Yeah. We get that boys like cars, when they're socialised to. We get that women are only ever peripheral characters in Pixar films (until it got complicated with brave). So this all fies together quite well. But like space jam, which as a non-sports fan I found moribund, this just seems to assume you think cars are in themselves fascinating. Point over.

4: If the sheriff hadn't have turned out to be a famous racer too, would McQueen be in the right to dismiss him and be rude?

According to cars, growing as a person is only useful as long as it helps you win the next race. Again, compare this to Saturday night fever; the character goes through his shallow obsession and out the other side. 

In any decent monomyth, when taken out if their comfort zone (1st act),a period of struggle allows a character to grow (2nd act), and thereby defeat whatever challenges them (3rd act). However, Cars demonstrates the weakest possible implementation of the monomyth, as McQueen doesn't overcome the empty heart of his career, he just goes further into it. 

It's meant to be a zen thing, right?  'Sometimes you have to steer away from something to learn control' or something. So a period in a small town, learning folksy ways and having simple fun with idiots, is meant to ground our hero, make him develop empathy, and round him off. It just so happens that none if this actually changes his life. The zen trick is only good for achieving the goals he had before, like yoga and mindfulness being used to make you a better insurance salesman.

5: it led us to cars 2
Cars 2 isn't a bad story, over all, with a decent enough conspiracy, Eddie Izard, and Michael Caine being a James Bond type. However, the opening has the most offhand sexist treatment of a female character I've seen in a cartoon. The intro runs thus:

McQueen comes back of the old folksy own which is now doing a roaring trade, because he has somehow manipulated the economic system to make that make sense. He spends the day with Mater, doing things like cow tipping (honestly), then goes for a date with his long distance girlfriend. Mater can't take this however, and despite having to be told explicitly not to interupt the date, he comes along as a waiter. McQueen gets to spend 5 minutes with his lady before mater ruins the whole night by calling a talk show in support of McQueen; who is then challenged there and then to a race. He accepts, and has to leave for the foreseeable future, immediately. The girlfriend's reaction? 'Oh well, I've go things to do.' Treated like a doormat, clearly given the signal that his male friends and his hobby are more important than her, and her reaction is 'I'll be waiting right here'. 

She is then replaced in the plot by another lady-car that looks completely the same.

Utter, utter garbage. I had heard this was a bad day for Pixar, but I hadn't realised it was this kind of bad.
[insert pinkie pie "oh, they're THAT kind of off" gif here]


The Mitchells

I don't normally talk about slebs, but this isn't about the people as much... 

So David Mitchell and Victoria Coren seemed a great match for each other when they got married - the kind of arrangement where you don't know who to be more happy for. 

I was a bit surprised to see Coren becoming Coren Mitchell, it seemed unnecessarily traditional. I was then doubly disappointed to see Mitchell didn't also become Coren Mitchell - triply so, since it was a perfect opportunity to resolve the 'David Mitchell' conundrum, that is, the pause when someone says 'David Mitchell' and you try to work out which one. I think there are two david Mitchells, but there might be more - I don't know how you would know.

As well as simply being a measure of equality, that two people take each others' name, this was a rare case of having a logical incentive to change one person's name, only to change the other 's.

Names are important, both politically and usefully, and they have knock on effects; their daughter is now, because of this set up, an out and out Mitchell. All very traditional, conventional. An opportunity missed to do something more radical.

My personal favourite solution to the name problem is, upon unity, to create a new family name. I think this sums up the  independence from a person's parents that having children/getting married (which ever comes first) brings. Any 'sign of commitment' that a woman shows by taking the man's name is amplified by him doing the same, except that it's a name they have both agreed on that reflects their new life together. It's more creative, more equal, and it creates a new tradition to follow. 

I know people will argue that this makes family trees harder to follow, but that's always been the case for women - it's only traditional hereditary principles, that *not even the royal family* use any more, that have emphasised the male line. This system is more modular.

It might get messy, but not unduly; it would reflect the messiness of real life, instead of simplifying the male descent by erasing the female descent. 



Man is about the 60th most common word in English; woman is about 250th.

Whilst massive evidence for the need for feminism, many would argue that this is on part due to the use of 'man' both as a male term and a gender free term. This, of course, is yet more evidence of male being considered the default.

What i propose, therefore, is not a new word for the general term 'man'. Human should not be the general term; Man, without a suffix, is the perfect term to be gender-free. A gendered term should be a mutated instance of the purer idea of 'man', essentially being another word for 'human'. So if 'man' would mean 'a human (of no, or of unknown, gender), I propose 'moman' as a new word for a male man - or as I think we should call it, a momale. Because otherwise, a female sounds like an exception to the male norm, and a woman sounds like an exception to the man norm. 'Man' and 'male' should not be easier to say than 'woman' and 'female'.