Listening to: Love on a Farmboy’s Wages – XTC

I was just browsing Flickr (looking for pictures of Earth shoes, actually – mine make my feet look enormous and rectangular, and I was hoping for some sort of reassurance. All I figured out was that other people’s feet don’t look enormous and rectangular in them, but I’m not sure how this helps me), and I found this reference to curry-flavoured cupcakes! Isn’t that an intriguing idea? I mean, I guess in the end it’s just a cupcake modelled on an Indian dessert, but still… The Bleeding Heart Bakery‘s own Flickr description is here. Hmm. Could I pull this off?

Films watched this week:

The Future is Unwritten (finally! Why didn’t I get around to seeing this at the movies? I meant to), which made me love Joe Strummer more than ever. There’s an IMDb thread (I know! What was I doing reading the IMDb message boards, anyway? It is a truth universally acknowledged that they are awful) expressing dismay at discovering that Joe was a “poseur” – I think it’s fascinating to find out how people create these identities for themselves, and wouldn’t it be boring if Joe Strummer was just born cool (and born Joe Strummer)?

The actual structure of the documentary was engaging and there were lots of cool, unusual (you might say “pretentious”, but I really enjoyed the film, so I won’t) touches, and Julien Temple had a lot of great archival material to work with. My biggest complaints are that that none of the interview subjects were identified, so if you didn’t recognise someone you just missed out on the context of what they had to say, and that Bono showed up again.

The Way We Were. Disappointing! I didn’t know what to expect, but it’s one of those films that everyone seems to have seen, and it has that awful song in it… I was actually pleasantly surprised by the political issues it tackled, and I liked Barbra Streisand (this is the second Barbra Streisand film I’ve seen – I don’t really remember much about the movie itself anymore, but I once stayed up until some absurd hour of the night watching The Owl and the Pussycat on TV because of her, and I gave it a pretty good IMDb rating at the time), but it didn’t all hang together for me. It may just be that I’m unaccustomed to 1970s filmmaking, or that Robert Redford’s unconvincing portrayal of a college student put me off-side from the beginning, but it just all seemed a bit disjointed. Also, I had never heard Barbra Streisand sing before, and it was pretty underwhelming. Do you love this film? (When I borrowed it from work, everyone who saw it in my hands gushed about how wonderful it was.)

I read a young adult novel (Someday this pain will be useful to you by Peter Cameron which I really liked initially [I like that whole precocious New Yorker thing – witness my obsessions with J.D. Salinger and Norma Klein] until the protagonist’s emotional detachment dragged on a bit too long and my empathy waned – it does have some quite clever, funny lines, though, throughout), and I am about to start Bertrand Russell’s History of western philosophy. I suspect that’ll be a long-term project.

[Oh! Exciting! The full text of Bertrand Russell’s In praise of idleness is available online. I love it because it’s so optimistic and lovely and it makes sense to me (vive l’idéalisme! [sorry, French-speakers]):

“Since men will not be tired in their spare time, they will not demand only such amusements as are passive and vapid. At least one per cent will probably devote the time not spent in professional work to pursuits of some public importance, and, since they will not depend upon these pursuits for their livelihood, their originality will be unhampered, and there will be no need to conform to the standards set by elderly pundits. But it is not only in these exceptional cases that the advantages of leisure will appear. Ordinary men and women, having the opportunity of a happy life, will become more kindly and less persecuting and less inclined to view others with suspicion. The taste for war will die out, partly for this reason, and partly because it will involve long and severe work for all. Good nature is, of all moral qualities, the one that the world needs most, and good nature is the result of ease and security, not of a life of arduous struggle. Modern methods of production have given us the possibility of ease and security for all; we have chosen, instead, to have overwork for some and starvation for others.”]

Finally, rather than just talking about it, I have actually set the whole thesis thing in motion! I’m enrolled, I’ve corresponded with my supervisor, I’ve set up meetings, I’ve discussed the whole project with our friend L. (who’s just finished hers, and was full of useful advice). It could still all go a bit nowhere, but so far so good.

P.S. The other point I meant to make with the Joe Strummer thing was that I’ve been listening to podcasts of his BBC World Service show, and if you’re looking for something to listen to, I recommend it.