Random Observations

Random observation #1: I have great friends.

Random observation #2: I realised I have a tendency to assume that if a couple is middle-aged (in their fifties) that they are married.  As I unashamedly eavesdropped on the couple next to us, I realised that they weren’t (as she asked about his wife) so either they were having a wild affair, were on an early date or were the equivalent of me and my friend only twenty years on.  Scary.

Random observation #3: You can’t beat M&S for underwear.

Random observation #4: I’m fairly certain that had I hit the guy playing the music really loudly in the train carriage with my empty plastic water bottle that I may have gotten away with a temporary insanity plea.  (Obviously in a very British way I only tsked and gave him a “how rude” stare).

Random observation #5: There was a section of estate as the taxi drove up Princess Parkway where evidently the neighbours are in a “who has the biggest election poster competition”; the Labour poster I think just had the edge over the massive sized Lib Dem diamond but only just.  Of course, this being the heartland of Manchester there wasn’t even a small poster of the Conservatives anywhere to be seen.

Random observation #6: The cat throws up with his whole body.  It was his way of saying “welcome home.”

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Runaway Story

So, my fanfic story has taken on a life of its own and is just massively longer than I had anticipated.   The plot didn’t seem this convoluted when I sketched it out in my head but I still feel like I’m only just half way through it.

I may have to put it on hold so I can do my articles and essays.

Hmmm.

The good news is that I got 88% on my last assignment so I’m planning a nice celebratory lunch with a friend tomorrow.

Countdown

Everything is now on countdown to the holiday; the study assignments I have to get completed and submitted before I go; the TV reviews I need to write and submit before I go; the organising I need to do before I go; the fanfic story I need to write before I go; the updated business plan I need to do (I’ve decided trying to get the website up and running properly would be a foolish additional stress I don’t need)…

Not to mention packing.

Seeing friends.

Exercising.

Remembering to eat.

And blogging.

There’s just so much to do and so little time to do it in.  And I’m exhausted just thinking about it.  I may need a holiday…

Is it only ever entertainment?

Today, through a series of meta links (thinky posts on a variety of topics but in this instance race in literature) ended up in a post critiquing Twilight and the rest of the series from the viewpoint of whether Jacob Black was portrayed well as an American Native.

In all honesty, the post in question (and I’ll have to hunt around to see if I can find it again to post it here) did make me sit up and think possibly for the first time about Stephenie Meyer’s use of an American Native tribe from a racial standpoint.  In fact it made me think – which is a good thing because I think that’s actually the intention of the post (to make people think), and because up until that point I hadn’t really thought about it at all beyond idly musing the first time I read Twilight that American Native=werewolf is a trope that has been done before.

I actually do think Meyer is a good storyteller – her books wouldn’t be so popular if they weren’t.  Is she Literature with a capital L?  Well, no but I’ve never had any book snobbery which tinges some remarks I’ve read about the books.  I’ll happily read anything from a classic Austen to Mills and Boon, Asimov to Asprin.    I have my own issues with the portrayal of Bella from a female stand-point but I’d never considered it from a racial standpoint.  Possibly because I love the character of Jacob and contrarily get completely irritated with Bella.

Then I realised that I usually don’t stand back and consider much literature or television or movies for that matter from a racially critical perspective.  And I guess the post today made me question why that is. 

I’m mixed race.  I’ve been subjected to racial taunts.  I remember a brick being thrown through our living room window when I was a child because of racial hatred.  I’ve been one of only four people of colour at one school.  I always identify myself as mixed on Equality forms.  So it’s not as though I don’t identify myself as being a person of colour. 

Yet I never critique what I read and watch racially.  Possibly because I am mixed race, my exact racial heritage is unlikely to appear in literature, TV and film, and so while I may absently note the lack of racial variety or the overabundance of racial stereotypes in TV shows (or sometimes the quite evident pains that have been taken to include racial variety/exclude racial stereotypes), and tsk unhappily at times, I never really do more than that idle musing. 

Is that a bad thing?  Shouldn’t I be looking at things with a much more critical eye?  And when I write, shouldn’t I be thinking of these things in a proactive way?  

Weirdly, I do sometimes view things critically from a female standpoint (usually when something has annoyed me), so I will objectively stand back and say Star Trek 2009 disappointed me in its use of women or that Bella irritated me because in the end she wants to change who she is for a man or that Stargate Universe was very slow at establishing its female characters.  Perhaps I identify more as a woman than as a person of colour.  Or maybe subconsciously I’m just prioritising my battles, and hitching my wagon to an equal playing field on the basis of gender as something more achievable…

On the other hand, I admit, normally, my standard for a book/TV show/movie is: did I enjoy it? Two of my favourite films are Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, and A Few Good Men.  Yet in both films the use of women and people of colour is possibly on very shaky ground.  But, they are entertaining movies which have good triumphing over evil –  and importantly I can switch my brain off when I watch them.  Maybe the truth is that sometimes I don’t want to think critically about what I’m reading and watching; I really do just want to enjoy it.  Isn’t this a bad thing?  To just blindly accept images of women and race in art without question or challenge?

Perhaps the best path lies somewhere in the middle: maybe it isn’t a bad thing to switch my brain off sometimes and simply enjoy it, so long as I remember to switch it back on sometimes and really challenge what I’m reading/watching – and more importantly in some respects; what I write.

Reading and Writing

Well, the title pretty much sums up what I’ve been doing today.

I have been ignoring the books on my bookshelf though which I’ve bought ready for the holiday and I’ve been reading stories online when I haven’t been writing a story for the ficathon I’m helping to organise which will run in June.  The story has the potential to end up being much longer than I originally anticipated but I’m hoping I’ll get it wrapped up before I go on holiday. 

The usual forum I hang around on has been down all day doing database server updates which means I’ve suddenly been aware of how many times I do visit it.  Nothing like a database server update to wean you from an addiction.

White Collar…

So, one of the new TV shows this week was White Collar which has a mastermind criminal being teamed up together with the FBI man who arrested him in order to help catch other masterminds.  It seems to be a really good premise for a buddy-buddy TV show and as I loved the film Catch Me If You Can, I’m liking it so far.

But it is weird how many of these  “expert” who has no business being out in the field teamed with cop/agent TV shows there are out at the moment; Bones (which may have started the recent trend), The Mentalist, and new show Castle.  All of them have a special “expert” who is skilled in making connections and has an unorthodox approach to investigation, almost a savant-like brilliance helping to solve crimes alongside a more dogged but gets there eventually type of cop/agent.  Clearly the model in some respects is based on Holmes/Watson; brilliant genius who works with his “normal” sidekick.  I can’t quite help feeling sorry for the sidekick’s though.

Any way, something new to watch which is always a good thing.  It’s nice after the slow start to the year to have things to watch again.