Tuesday, April 19, 2005

"He was prepared to meet Dr. Frankenstein, or the Mad Scientist. Instead, he met a reasonable man who explained calmly that the human race was doomed."

Suicidal zombies and science fiction saviours.

The first frenetic day of term! I always need a walkman to drown out the chatter: today, the CD of R. Crumb’s banjo music from this fine book (my new Bible don’t you know) and a Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band Cd I don’t have from the library. It was a day of ‘attending’* 3 meetings, teaching 2 classes and giving 1 paper, all on 2 hours of sleep, an equation for much pale-faced grumpiness and demented phasing in and out of conscious existence like some sort of suicidal zombie. The first bit of fun for the day was a student who asks me where my office* is and what my office hours are!. I just smiled with incredulity and told him. The Jimmny inner monologue went: "So, I’ve been sitting in a wee room from 11-1 every Tuesday for the last term, staring into space, hoping that some of my students would come by, ask me a question thus making this voluntary act of education all the more worthwhile, and at the last class you want to fucking talk to me—to ask about top tips for exams no doubt, my top tip...read some fucking books!".

Surprisingly, the bad classes just underline the real love I have for my subject--yes, even despite my procrastination tactics, which this weekend involved watching films and shows I had bought here**: The Independent & Wet Hot American Summer on one disc for £1! (both pretty good for 50p each!), and Gen X Cops II and Sworn to Justice, same deal (I would have felt ripped off if I paid 2p for this crap), oh and a video of Cleopatra 2525, just because Gina Torres is in it, one of the reasons that I love Firefly so much. A reason the Badbrute clocked right away, he knows me so well, for his sins.

Anyway, I taught TV studies class on cult TV and Buffy today. Here’s a wee example of the an indicative intellectual exchange:

Me (hapless earnest goon): Had everyone seen Buffy before yesterday’s screening?.
One Girl: No I hadn’t.
Me: well, what did you think?
Girl: S’alright.
[end of intellectual conversation, Vicky Pollard eat your heart out]

I was trying to apply this to my own era of cult TV, if I was in a class ten years ago that discussed Quantum Leap, you wouldn’t have been able shut me up, and still can’t—I have subjected more than a few to my theories on Quantum Leap. Apart from superheroes, my other great love is time travel and parallel dimension movies. I attribute this not only to my childhood love of dinosaur movies and The Time Machine but also to the first media studies essay I ever wrote, on La Jetée, one of the best films ever made, with lines that will haunt me forever. Science fiction ideas always keep me going, for every moment of poverty, despair or loneliness one endures there is a previous self amazed and what could happen and a future self laughing about the good old days. These two feckers ensure an existence. For every 'you' that got to work safely today, there's another 'you' in a parallel dimension that got run over (maybe)...by a big dinosaur driving a big Wellsian time machine..(also, maybe).

Don’t worry, there'll be more perverse prurience soon no doubt. As the great Bill Hicks said: "there’ll be more dick jokes coming soon, we pull our chutes and float down to dick joke island together, OK? And we will rest our weary heads against the big, purple, thick-veined trunks of dick jokes."

*I say my office but it is shared with about 10 other associate tutors so it’s my office for about 2-3 hours a week, I should really put up some dodgy superhero posters.

**Christ! I don't know what's sadder, actually buying audio visual entertainment in Poundworld, or actually confessing this fact.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

ow! or mmm?

Wee rooms and demented scribblings...

Because one person inquired as to my absence, he’s unleashed a backlog blog blab of rants—religious folks mourning old popey are advised to look away now. I have been writing on my never-ending Batman chapter and preparing for various conferences. George Lucas does talk a lot of shite*, but I always liked his quote that ‘movies are never finished, they’re just abandoned’. My chapters are like that. I have to be forced at gunpoint to leave them alone, I never think they’re any good. The above cover, of Greg Rucka’s The Hiketeia visually expresses the torment, as I look forward to finally starting the Wonder Woman chapter next week. Maybe I’ve been reading too much on fetishism (and there is a long tradition of dodgy comic covers), but the question that the cover raises for me is, is Batman smiling or grimacing?

I have also been to this amazing conference. As there was about 600 plus attending I thought it was going to be four days of running around rooms and not getting to meet anyone. Thankfully, this was not the case, and I got to meet some of the most important and talented people in my area. Far from being aloof, these academic heavy-hitters were friendly, approachable and fun, and I left the conference with renewed sense of purpose. Suddenly this staying in wee rooms surrounded by books and demented scribblings didn’t seem as lonely as once it was. It was also a great chance to talk to people from my own university away from the everyday departmental concerns and getting to know them better too. This seems like quite a lofty post, don’t worry, there’s more rants a coming…

* Like: “em err I meant the acting to be stilted because it evokes 1930s serials”, could it be George, that your scripts are humourless and make no sense?. Mitoclorians!..you forget about them in a hurry didn’t you? And why do all the Storm Troopers have to be clones of Boba Fett’s da and why doesn’t Darth Vader recognise C3PO immediately at the start of Star Wars? Oh I forgot, a wizard did it.

Fecking Christians...

So the Pope did pop his clogs. At first I was disappointed that I didn't feel 'a great disturbance in the Force' or anything. On second thoughts, why should I, since I long ago swapped my Catholicism for, you know, rationality and actually using my evolved, self-aware human brain to try figure out answers for myself. The Pope’s death and the mawkish crap that went along with it brought my usually contained anti-religious humanism more to the fore—‘Frail Old Man Dies….Exclusive!!’. My favourite coverage was from The Sun, who dug up an interview with the Pope’s ‘childhood sweetheart’ just to make sure everyone knows he’s straight before they have a front page with ‘our saint…farewell to the people’s Pope’ emblazoned on it. The people’s pope? Which people? the ones with AIDS? gay, bisexual, transgendered people? Since when did the UK become so pro-Catholic anyway? If the papacy ‘thinks in centuries’, wasn’t it relatively recently that Cromwell and co were trying to kill us all? We used to study The Penal Laws in history at school, not as much fun as it sounds. It gets one thinking what ‘Penile Laws’ would actually entail.

Superjezus from www.creativepost.nl

Fecking Christians II: Spider-Man is my Jesus…

All this reminds me of a time back in the day when I frightened some Christian Union types out of my bedroom. I went to a college in Ireland's equivalent of the fucking Bible belt. They were strong on wrecking your head about Christianity and pretty bad at, you know, doing anything vaguely decent towards other human beings. During holidays we were all kicked out of halls to make way for thousands of evangelical Christians so they could sit in a tent and talk about the Jesus. Anyway at one such time, my friend Danny and I got off the train at college after a jaunt to the 'big smoke' of Belfast, we were broke, it was pissing rain and we had to hitch about five miles to Portstewart. As ‘luck’ would have it, one of these God-love shindigs was just finishing. Excellent, we thought, surely some of these Christians would give us a lift. Hundreds of cars drove past. Behind windows emblazoned with inspirational quotes from the Bible, hundreds of these fairytale-believing fuckwits smiled and waved, but no one stopped.

Anyway, the Christian Union was pretty strong there so they used to come around your halls bedrooms to try and convert you. This bemused and entertained us Catholics from down south, we’ve had strict religion all our lives, we hardly want a fucking stricter religiosity top-up. Pride of place in my room was (and still is come to think of it)a large poster of Spider-Man by excellent British artist Simon Colby. I pointed to the poster and said to these CU mooks, that for me Spider-Man was a bit like Jesus (but with a better outfit), bestowed with powers he doesn’t quite understand, not quite human yet beset with human frailties, generally decent etc. etc. Lets just say, they high-tailed out of that prototype homuncu-lair pretty damn quick. I love to watch the God Channel; it’s a laugh riot of contradictions and bullshit, especially when they rag on science. How can anyone appear on television (which as we have established earlier, was indeed developed ‘by scientists’)and criticise science?