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Diary
By TheophileEscargot (Sun Apr 01, 2007 at 09:58:32 AM EST) Reading, Consumerism, Theatre, Museums (all tags)
Reading: "Superman: Infinite Crisis". Watching: "Borat". Museums. Theatre: "Porgy and Bess". Consumerism.


What I'm Reading
Finished The Age of Consent by George Monbiot. I have a huge, half-finished writeup of it saved, but not sure how to write it up. I found the book to be the most insanely frustrating things I've read in ages. Basically, prominent "global justice" campaigner Monbiot has outraged some of his brethren by suggesting that capitalism and globalisation aren't necessarily entirely evil, and with radical limitations and modifications could be harnessed to help the world's poor. He makes specific, detailed policy proposals on how to do it, and seems to be having some success in getting support.

It sounds pretty good and is something I'd really like to see. The only problem is that almost everything he says is wrong. Even when I agree with the conclusions, I find the arguments ridiculous. More to come, hopefully: I've got 1,700 words in the writeup but not sure if I can make it intelligible.

What I'm Reading 2
Comics. Saw Superman: Infinite Crisis in the library, so thought I'd check it out. (Infinite Crisis is the big giant universe-changing crossover storyline that DC have been running for a year or so).

Seemed pretty awful actually. I'm not much of a die-hard comic fan, so hadn't really got a clue who half the characters were, or what the alternate universes were all about. Might have worked better as individual comics rather than a roundup, since this selection didn't make a lot of sense. There was some emoting by a parallel superman trying to break out of a parallel world; then we apparently jumped much further along the storyline after a lot of stuff had happened. Presumably this happened in one of the other comics, but it was hard to get up much interest in the denouement when you haven't had the build up.

There was a bit of dithering between a ruthless vigilante Superman and our own big softie Superman, but didn't really seem as deep as it was intended to be. Not recommended.

Watching
Saw Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. Moderately funny: definitely a lot better than the disastrous Ali G movie. Watched it sober though, which is not ideal. Not as shocking as the hype suggested, especially the frat boys who seemed pretty much just typical.

What's real in Borat.

Museums
Saw the Renoir landscapes exhibition at the National Gallery. Pretty good, some worthwhile things there. Renoir's not normally most renowned for his landscapes but they're interesting, in a similar style to his other paintings. They have a pretty loose interpretation of landscapes though: quite a lot of figurative paintings are sneaked in. Particularly interesting was two pictures of the same setting, one by Monet, one by Renoir, side by side.

Moderately crowded but not particularly bad. Low child count.

Theatre
Saw Porgy and Bess at the Savoy. It seems to sit in an uneasy middle ground between Opera and Musical: this production veers towards the musical side, with lots of big dance numbers. They've extended forward the Savoy stage giving them a huge depth to work with. Impressed by the size of the production: there were over 40 people on stage at the curtain call, and that doesn't count the near-buried orchestra.

Presumably because of that, tickets are pretty steep: £30 to £60 and there don't seem to be the usual half-price discounts around. All the money is up there on stage though. Singing seemed opera quality as far as my meagre ears could detect: no microphones. Impressed by the intricate set, which folds rooms and buildings in and out quickly and quietly.

I'm not much of a fan of either opera or musicals, so it was also impressive that the second half held my attention. It's nearly 3 hours including a tiny interval though, and found my attention flagging a bit in the duller first half. Kept wishing they'd just tell us what's happening instead of spending ten minutes singing about how they're going to go fishing / gamble some money / go take a shit.

Might still try more opera though. If I put some more effort in I could probably appreciate it more. Found some of the contrapuntal stuff when two characters are singing at each other to be great.

Consumerism
More enviro-rape from me. Bought a coffee machine a while ago and wasn't happy. The glass jug broke the other day (accidentally turned the switch on for two minutes with the machine dry, and the heat seems to have cracked it.

So, rather than try to replace the jug, I'm binning it and going for a name brand this time: the Morphy Richards Graphite Complements Filter Coffee Maker. Haven't tried it yet, but don't worry guys: will Keep You Informed. Stay tuned!

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WIPO: by ambrosen (4.00 / 3) #1 Sun Apr 01, 2007 at 10:55:42 AM EST
Can't decide between the first two.

DC crossover mayhem by BlueOregon (4.00 / 2) #2 Sun Apr 01, 2007 at 12:13:18 PM EST

I don't really keep up on the DC stuff -- one insane mega-continuity-mythology-mess (Marvel) is enough for me right now -- but before Infinite Crisis started I caught a bit of the 'prequel' stuff, which included the "Identity Crisis" mega-plot, I believe (itself involving retconning and rape-for-shock-value), and a not-too-bad mini-series involving DC's "magical/mystical" characters. I then skipped Infinite Crisis (which, I think, ended up rebooting things and also undoing some stuff from 20+ years earlier in "Crisis on Infinite Earths"), but have I been collecting the "52" series to read when it ends -- the series that covers what happens, week by week, in the DC universe in the year between Infinite Crisis and when the "heroes" return ... it's a Grant Morrison thing and supposed to be rather good, though most reviewers think it's begun to lose its charm (47 of 52 issues out now, I think). Of the rebooted titles, I've read the Wonder Woman issues so far, and they're strong enough, I find.

George Monbiot by jump the ladder (4.00 / 2) #3 Sun Apr 01, 2007 at 01:22:30 PM EST
Not too bad for fairly extreme lefty-green. He actually can be convinced to change his mind after being hit repeteadly with a clue stick.

I took the third. by Imperial Mince (4.00 / 1) #4 Sun Apr 01, 2007 at 11:47:53 PM EST
It doesn't really matter what you write about, it's usually entertaining.
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This space reserved for whining like a little bitch and being sanctimonious.
All good literature is by Dr H0ffm4n (4.00 / 2) #5 Sun Apr 01, 2007 at 11:51:29 PM EST
a victory of form over content.

[ Parent ]
The new new left by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #6 Mon Apr 02, 2007 at 12:04:57 AM EST
I've been reading another Guardian columnist's attack on the traditional left, Nick Cohen's  "What's Left?: How Liberals Lost Their Way." The general argument is sound enough but it's ruined by his hysterical writing style.

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It's political correctness gone mad!

Problems of the modern left by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #9 Mon Apr 02, 2007 at 08:40:30 AM EST
That's another great white whale of an article I keep trying to write. Basically as I see it: they can't/won't use Marxist economics anymore; but are too scared of market economics to use that instead. Partly because while you can justify 95% of traditional leftists beliefs, you do have to abandon some of them. Partly because they've bought into right-wing propaganda that it favours hard-right policies.

Problem is you have to explain so much stuff to get the point across, and activate so many defensive reflexes on both sides, that I can't see the article working.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Nick Cohen looks at the politics by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #10 Tue Apr 03, 2007 at 12:20:27 AM EST
For example, the Respect Party (which is an amalgamation of most of the old British radical left parties) supporting Saddam's Baathist regime in Iraq. The modern left defines itself as anti-globalisation and anti-western imperialism, so can't reconcile the idea of the west overthrowing third world dictatorships and establishing democracies. It sees America slyly increasing its sphere of influence, where the citizens of the actual countries involved see liberation.

This is a different kind of failure of Marxist economics - on paper increasing western influence in the developing world is a bad thing (and during the Cold War this was often the case) but actually, establishing democracies and bringing countries into the world economy is what the people of those countries want.

He's arguing that Marxist economics and old socialist dogma have taken the left to a place that isn't just wrong, but dangerous and verging on fascism. It's completely lost its moral compass.

Good luck with the article - there's a book in this though I think :) It's one of the most important political questions around at the moment. You say bringing in alternative arguments swamps the article - don't then. Clearly set out your argument, and let others try to disprove you.

Have you heard of the Euston Group?

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It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
Opera ? by Phage (4.00 / 1) #7 Mon Apr 02, 2007 at 01:53:36 AM EST
Just say no, kids.

Saw Caberet a couple of weeks ago at the Lyric.
5/10. It was heavy-handed, but fun in parts.

How do you get so much spare time ?

Browser-ist. by ambrosen (4.00 / 1) #8 Mon Apr 02, 2007 at 04:16:41 AM EST
I expect you're one of those Firefox nazis we keep hearing about.

[ Parent ]
Porgy and Bess by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #11 Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 05:12:54 AM EST
I saw a production of this last year. At the end of many operas, as I understand it, the two protagonists are joined in a frenzy of romantic love-in-death. In Porgy and Bess the protagonists go to New York, which was apparently much the same, to Gershwin.

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

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