Finished the first volume of celebrity art critic Brian Sewell's autobiography Outsider. It's gathered a lot of attention, largely due to his frankness about life as a gay man in the Fifties and Sixties. The book seems frank, and is fairly shocking in some places, in particular the scenes of rape and intimidation. There's always talk about homosexuality in public boarding schools, but it's rare to see it described so honestly.
I thought the most interesting section was where he described his National Service: it's hard to imagine Brian Sewell in the army, but he seems to have actively enjoyed it.
The second half of the volume is less interesting though, as he describes his time as a junior staff member at Christies auction house. A lot of it seems to be settling scores with appalling but generally long-dead people. As a book, it might have been better to edit that down and combine the second volume into one.
The books definitely a powerful reminder of how much damage the mid Twentieth century's attempts to suppress homosexuality did. The actual prosecutions weren't so much the problem, as the double lives and the havens for abuse that secrecy created.
Overall, an interesting autobiography. Worth a read, though you can safely skim some of the less interesting chapters.
What I'm Watching
Saw Pacific Rim at the cinema. Giant robots punch giant monsters, as is pretty clear from the trailers.
Seemed pretty decent entertainment. Maybe aimed a bit more a kids than most blockbusters, especially in the broad comic characters.
I think it's got somewhat better reviews than it deserved though. I noticed the same thing with Steve Soderbergh's mainstream movies: former art movie directors seem to get treated much better by the critics, even when they're not doing a better job. As an action movie, "Man of Steel" seemed better than this: there was more variety of settings and scenes, more creative fight scenes, more crunching battles. "Pacific Rim" is intended to be like an old school Godzilla movie, with CGI monsters designed to look like actors in rubber suits: a nice conceit but gets a bit dull by the n-th battle that's a recreation of two guys in rubber suits slugging at each other.
Again I only saw the 2D version because the schedule was better: it might have worked better in 3D. The rest of the audience didn't seem that keen either: two or three groups from the rows in front of me walked out and didn't come back.
Overall, decent enough CGI effects movie, but a bit overrated.
The Amen Corner at the National Theatre. Classic Fifties play about a female pastor at an African-American church, whose leadership is challenged when revelations appear about her past. Stars Marianne Jeanne-Baptiste, best known for her Oscar nomination in "Secrets and Lies".
Liked this a lot. Very well acted, with characters who are acutely observed, sometimes grotesque, but always plausible. The play has a lot of Gospel music, which Girl B tells me was well sung, with a chorus from a community choir.
Overall, good play, well worth seeing.
Saw the local amateur dramatics society do The Merry Wives of Windsor, outdoors in the park on a warm Sunday evening.
Good performance, with some of the actors really throwing themselves into the roles. Very solid for amateurs, I've seen professional actors struggle a lot more with Shakespeare. A couple of them did need prompting with their lines though.
Definitely a good night out if you're in the area.
I haven't seen the play before but work in Windsor. It's a long-ish walk from Windsor to Datchet, I wouldn't like to carry half of Sir John Falstaff all that way.
Socioeconomics. Wealth Taxes could return as wealth/income ratio rise: "While virtually every government could pay off its debts by taxing wealth, such taxes are often politically unacceptable". Falling crime worldwide. Fiscal impact of immigration in UK, why. "Crack babies" problems mostly down to poverty. When male CEOs have daughters, relative pay for women at their firms goes up. Nerdy posters put women off computer science. Homosexuality Doesn’t Spread Via Social Networks.
Sci/Tech. How Microsoft Lost Its Way, as Understood Through The Wire. Help fight the war against terrible software patents. Android hack, via Thin electronics. The Great Firewall of Cameron. Yahoo-owned Tumblr tries to de-porn.
Politics. Seems to be one guy behind the mosque bombings and murder of Mohammed Saleem. Chomsky v. Zizek, via. Habeus Corpus has "withered" in the US. Peter Sloterdijk's philosophy. Libertarian populism.
Articles. Myths of Renaissance Martial Arts, via. John Gray on the recent Machiavelli biography. 1996 John Mortimer interview. The Banu Sasan: Islam's medieval underworld. Las Vegas' first racially integrated casino.
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