The Lion King

I’m one of the last people in the world to see The Lion King – or at least the first ten minutes of it. Plus – trust me – apart from it being a Disney film, I did not know what kind of thing it was.

I happened to visit Disneyland in 1997 when they were still promoting the film in street parades, so I knew it was some kind of big deal – I just didn’t know what kind.

It started off looking like a nature doco, with real animals (that’s how good the animation is) until I quickly realised that not even David Attenborough can get that cosy with wild animals.

And then someone started singing something repetitious, and I found I was a watching … an animated musical.

I was still quite impressed with the production values … until quite a bit of the dialog got going – and the enterprise bogged down into treacly Disney values – wholesome, sentimental stuff … at least on the surface.

Having discovered what TLK was about, I could gratefully switch it off and write this instead. …

I’m still impressed with the animation, but 🙂

The King

Night before last I watched (most of) The King, which is based on Henry IV Parts 1 and 2,  and Henry V, but without Shakespeare’s dialogue, and wanted to ask “Why was this film made? We didn’t need it. It’s pointless.”
To which you could reply, “You didn’t have to watch it.”

Treat or Trick

1800, 31 October 2019

Treat or Trick—that’s American foreign policy: give us what we want (world domination) or we’ll fuck you over.

I’m an Australian. We do not have a cultural tradition of observing Halloween. It is being imposed on us (mainly by commercial organisations taking yet another opportunity to try to sell us stuff we don’t need).

Treat or trick, in our streets, is a local version of global American imperialism.


See less Salinger

Having posted recently in Facebook so as to leave little doubt that J.D. Salinger was my ‘favourite’ author, I am now having to revise my opinion. I actually read Seymour: An Introduction all the way through (it’s a ‘novella’). It took three sessions.

I discovered (again, by the way) that the more I read about ‘Seymour’, the less I knew (or, more to the point, cared). His name is like a Zen koan. ‘Seymour Glass’. The more you try to see into him, the less you see, because you see right through him: ‘he’ is a glass window.

The case of his creator is not so different. Oh, you do learn a little about Salinger: his interest in oriental thought and art, and Zen Buddhism in particular, but he uses language partly as a barrier behind which to conceal himself.

Language – writing – is finally all you do get from this ‘Introduction’. It’s actually about the New Yorker (which even gets a mention along the way, no not by name). The piece is not much more than ‘something written for publication in the magazine’. It is the New Yorker style. Not much more than that.

AACTAs 2019

I predicted that the nominees for AACTA Best Film in 2019 would come from among these eight films: Ride Like a Girl, Danger Close, Hotel Mumbai, The Nightingale, Storm Boy, Palm Beach, Top End Wedding, I Am Mother. I even dared to say, ‘in that order’. Now that the noms have been announced, I see that I got only four right.

Danger Close did not make the cut (and I am sorry for Kriv Stenders, after all his hard work), nor Storm Boy, nor I Am Mother, nor – and I am really surprised – did Palm Beach.

But Judy and Punch has got in, and The King (the king, in this case, being Shak).

I shall have to continue to rethink my ideas about the real criteria. I started to in my previous post.

Girl Rides Horse

Cinema is an industry. Its income depends on the number of people paying for films, which logically depends on their popularity. Which in turn depends on the extent to which it conforms to the expectations (of a film) of a large number of people. Their mores include things they really care about (sport, money, life and death, nationalism—perhaps in that order) and things they think they should be seen to care about because of political correctness (indigenous issues, feminism, animal welfare).

This year’s top Aussie film has had an exemplary ride. It did very well at the box office, making far more millions than any other in 2019 … until the scandal hit the media. Never having thought about it, people were shocked to discover that horsemeat is being used for pet food. Not only that, people were actually killing the horses first.

The film will still finish first, but now rather ignominiously. I expect there will be demonstrations on AACTA awards night, and that people will say disparaging (or defensive) things about the racing industry in their speeches.

Footnote. What is done to racehorses during their working lives is far worse than what happens to them in the minutes before their deaths.

Detectives and their companions

I watch a lot of detective shows on TV. And I’ve being considering the relationships between the principal detective and her or his offsider.

There are detectives who manage to fill the screen with enough panache or gravitas not to need a companion: Poirot and Miss Marple come to mind. But the sleuth usually needs someone to explain things to (Dr Watson) or be assisted (Joe/Aiden, in Vera) or thwarted by (Valentine/Sullivan/Mallory, in Father Brown).

If the principal detective is not a professional (Fr Brown) the companion may be a policeman, in which case he (the cop) will see the amateur as an impediment and/or a competitor.

DI Geordie Keating (Robson Green) and Rev. Sidney Chambers (James Norton) on Clare College bridge

Said ‘companion’ will, however, always come round to seeing the strengths of the detective. In the last episode of Grantchester with James Norton as the vicar Sidney Chambers, his adversary in the force, Geordie Keating, is just about crying into his beer when Norton was leaving the show.

If it’s a policeperson who is the main character, the companion is never (?) a layman, but always another officer, whose function is therefore to admire the deducer, and sometimes care for her (Vera) or him (Poole/Goodman/Mooney, in Death and Paradise; Jimmy Perez in Shetland).

Anne-Marie Medcalf adds another, different kind of analysis:

I think the detective couples are a version of mythical dyads. Myths of origin dyads could be siblings of whatever mix, spouses, parent and child. They are usually immortal and live in some kind of beatitude. They are complementary and often represent two different faces of humanity. The wise and the happy-go-lucky for instance. Then one of them does something stupid – say, eat an apple, or break the jug containing the water of immortality. They are no longer immortal as individuals but thanks to all that going forth and multiplying, humanity keeps on going, becomes immortal itself … well until further notice anyway.
The police series dyads are often made up of complementary and opposite characters. They are not family but their relations reproduce family ties -mentor/father and disciple/son or daughter, for instance. Or brothers – I think the relation between Chambers and Geordie is a sibling one, Geordie being the older one. Their relations are complementary: the wise and the quirky, the aristocrat/ middle class  and the working class, the intellectual and the doer. In the series Inspector Morse, Morse is an upperclass Oxbridge man, fond of fast cars, crosswords and poetry. His methods are offbeat.  His offshoot /son/ disciple, Lewis, is working class and the epitome of the plod, with a systematic, no-stone-unturned approach. Poetry is not in his blood. The Inspector Morse series is replaced by Lewis. Lewis has his own offshoot, Sergeant Hathaway, an ex-seminarist Cambridge graduate, hyper-erudite and a misfit. Lewis is now the father; together they perform miracles. In the later series, Lewis is now retired, Hathaway’s sergeant is a no-nonsense young woman. And the beat goes on. They all complement and contradict each other. They never succeed in establishing a haven of peace and order, but they insure in some ways the continuation of society within their beat.

kith and kin

To deal with this, I had to get out one volume of the Shorter OED.  (It’s only of two large volumes, while the OED itself, if you can buy it in actual print, consists of a dozen or more books.)

‘Kin’ is straightforward in its meaning: it refers to the people you’re related to genetically. And in fact the Germanic ‘kin’ is related to the Greek ‘genus’  That’s a bit surprising, and not obvious, but it is in SOED. So that’s that.

‘Kith’ is less precise. The word is related to lots of words that have to do with ‘knowing’. Modern German ‘kennen’, to know – in the sense of have an understanding of or acquaintance with – is related, as is the Scots verb ‘ken’, as in ‘D’ye ken John Peel?’ … or whatever.

Kith and kin are the people you know, and the people to whom you are related.

Here endeth the lesson.

Workers Club website

I wrote in my previous post that I’m no longer going to support a separate Fremantle Workers Club website.  I’d like to use this medium to say why.

I was a member of the Workers Club in the early 1990s for a couple of years.  I took up membership again in 2012, when Donald Whittington saved the club from being wound up.

I saw the club as a traditional place of refuge for the Fremantle working man.  The original members were all unionists, and most of them were waterside workers.  So it was a heritage site for that reason.

The building was also the only 1950s building in the West End of Fremantle. I never liked the look of it much, but it was unique.  So that was a second reason to keep the building.

Less importantly, it was engagingly gothic in its internal arrangement.  It had innumerable doors leading mysteriously nowhere much.  There was a caretaker’s flat on the upper level which hardly anyone knew was there, and was not used for anything.  The second street entrance led merely to a corridor used for nothing but storing chairs.  There was a ladies toilet at the front of the building, behind the street wall, but it was never available for use.  There had been a library room, which in the 2000s had become a room containing a pool table (hardly ever used) and a TAB betting machine (used a great deal).  And there was a hairdresser’s salon! right next to the front door.  It was briefly staffed by an attractive man who spoke Spanish as well as Italian.

Mainly, it had a 30 metre long bar, and served beer cheaply and cold through well-maintained pipes.

I made my website, which I gave at no cost to the club, in support of Donald Whittington’s action in saving the club.  I had in mind both the club – with everything I’ve written above – and Donald himself, who is idealistic and altrustic.

However … it quite quickly turned out he apparently couldn’t manage to keep the building.  So it was made available for sale, and plans were made for the money from the sale to go towards buying part of a new building in Fremantle Park.

I went on supporting the club’s own domain and website for some years, but my motivations had evaporated.  Particularly when I came to understand what kind of building the Fremantle Park Sport and Community Centre is going to be, namely: boring.  It’s so boring I can’t be bothered thinking of a less boring word.

I’ll go on supporting the Workers Club sub-website on my Stuff website, but only because it’s part of the great Fremantle community.  I may never visit the new building. I don’t think I’d be welcome 🙂

A functionalist building, suggesting a high school in a country town

Big Day on the Internet

I decided that I was no longer willing to maintain websites for other people, and today was the day when I gave up on three sites for individual friends, and one for an organisation. I’ll continue to support all of them – but on one of my own sites – Fremantle Stuff.

One of the reasons I’m doing this is that my web design ability has barely got beyond the end of the millennium. I don’t know how to use a web authoring program, and still write all of my code by hand (as it were). Another reason is that I’ll turn 76 before the end of this year (deo volente) – say no more.