Ant Man...A Quick Critique

Ant Man is a very enjoyable movie. Superman, Spiderman, Batman and the Hulk were the four superheroes of whom one was aware growing up. By one, I mean me.

Captain America, Thor and Iron Man were lesser heroes. I had perhaps heard of Steve and Tony, but I would've struggled to recall their names. We all knew Clark and Peter.

Comic book cynicism was parked long ago, when a quite good Smallville came along after the dire Lois & Clark crapfest. Expectations of an epicfail were never vindicated, and they've rarely been since, by either the DC or Marvel adaptations, even the ones that aren't sposeda be good, like Ang Lee's Hulk.

All these people are doing entertaining work. Ant Man is pushing it in terms of name recognition, although it's great fun. Both the human dimension and comedy elements are among the strongest of all the Marvel movies.

My problem with the Marvel Cinematic Universe Notwithstanding the TV shows - the massive Marvel **** - is that it has too much going on. If these movies and series were not made without the others, then I'd prefer they're all in it together. If one helps to bankroll or justify the next, that's super.

But Norse mythology is unlike the harder science fiction of Hulk or Iron Man. One might argue that NONE of it's possible, that you're about as likely to get an hour out of a jetpack as you are to find a eugenicist's wet dream buried in ice since WW2, or a hammer from Asgard in the desert. Speaking of the expanding Marvel universe, how does Thomas the Tank Engine fit into things, in Ant Man? I'd like to see how that one plays out.

Ant Man is more rooted in the hard sci fi camp. If they invest enough time and money in Scott Lang and his pals, they've every right to use the character as one of the next generation of Avengers. But I think Ant Man would be a superb standalone franchise. It didn't sit well with me that I almost wet myself like a fanboy seeing character cameos from other movies. The story was solid, the performances great, and it worked without the other bells and whistles. In Ant Man, Thomas's bells and whistles worked just fine.

A Diminished BBC, you say? By Gum, no!

From Part One. In 2008, Ireland was the only country in the EU whose people got to vote on the Lisbon Treaty. All the reportage and analysis at the Irish edition of the Sunday Times was against the Lisbon Treaty.
Most of the main political parties were pro-Lisbon. And one of the paper’s journos, Sarah Carey, wanted to write a pro-Lisbon piece, but she was effectively told she couldn’t. She quit the paper.

But who wants a weak Europe outside of the Sunday Times?
There were rumours afterwards that Predden George Dubya Boosh had Rupert’s ear, and he was asking him to go anti-Lisbon in Ireland coz they could do without a European syoooperpower.
Whatever the reason for the lack of balance, is this the kind of independent media we want to be paying for, signing in through a firewall for the privilege? If people have to pay for stuff, there'd better be breasts on page 3.

Meanwhile, the BBC appears to spend its news budget attacking ITSELF lately, and when it attacks Cameron, it gets itself in the shit.

Thatcher went after the BBC just a little. Blair went after it too, through Alistair Campbell, over the sexed up dossier and suicide of an expert witness on whom the Blair government had apparently put an immense amount of pressure. Spin doctor Campbells went ballistic at them.

British governments sanction the BBC, but they also want to sanction the BBC. This sort of battling with the prime ministers of the day wouldn’t happen if the BBC wasn’t actually independent. 

It clearly needs to be able to attack or expose when other news editors are busy licking the gickers of the powerful or being sold shite by Max Clifford types.

Here’s something though: Where does the money go for selling the
franchise for Dancing with the Stars, or for peddling Doctor Who overseas, or for Downton Abbey boxed sets on the DVD? 

How are BBC Worldwide, and BBC America, “for profit”? And couldn’t they use some of those profits to reduce the cost of the licence, and remain “independent”, and continue to deliver quality news, and adhere to the public service remit? Who the hell made that decision, to have an investment banking arm of Hollywood stars at the BBC, that the TV licence public don’t benefit from? Rein that back in, and you retain independence, Shirley?

Much of this piece harks back to earlier times
Maybe Murdoch was right on Lisbon. Maybe he's right when all of his papers support the Tories or Labour or the Republicans in 'Merickyay. But the BBC weather app isn't about to sell me a timeshare in Greece that’ll be a fraction of what it’s worth today, in 2020 hindsight. Sky might try, through its ludicrous premium rate help lines.

A Diminished BBC, you say? By Gum, no!

Kudos to Rupert Murdoch for the Sky Box. He went into tv in the late 80s, piping crap from the 70s into our living rooms. The qualitatively dire programming was a risk, a placeholder for better things to come. No doubt he’s taken the odd punt on himself, and put money into the technology. Fared income. 

As I was watching BBC Newsnight yesterday evening, Evan Dragon’s Den was grilling a BBC guy and a Daily Mail guy about why the BBC needs to be so big. Does it need a weather app? They’re talking about reducing the BBC’s size. Hmmm. I don’t think we want a smaller Beeb, but a Beeb that supports local independent media a lot more (as suggested by the BBC guy) might not be a bad thing.

Montgomery talked shit too!

Rupert Murdoch owns Sky and Fox and the Sunday Times and the London Times and a few red tops and the Australian meeejia. These are the words of Rupert’s son, James Murdoch, in 2009:

"Dumping free, state-sponsored news [ie, the BBC] on the market makes it incredibly difficult for journalism to flourish on the internet. We seem to have decided as a society to let independence and plurality wither. To let the BBC throttle the news market and then get bigger to compensate."
He also claimed that independent journalism ought to be able to charge a fair price for its news.
Well: Is it fair that the Beeb can provide news services free of charge, given that it’s funded by the TV licence of the great Great British Public? They pay for it! They don’t have a choice.  
And for decades, Auntie Beeb WERE a bunch of perv enablers! Even worse, one of their journalists could’ve outed the pervs a few years earlier, As. They. Reported. On the. BBC.

But let’s look at independent journalism – and we’re not talking local or regional newspapers. We could, but James Murdoch is a Sky man. A Fox dude. A Sun* boy.

A couple of years after his 2009 speech, in which he also suggested less and self-regulation for the media, James Murdoch resigned from one of his News Corp Megaglobe positions in part because of the phone bugging hijinks that the Murdoch-owned tabloids got up to. Hijinks is three dots in a row. Makes you think…

The Murdochs had to bury one title entirely, well over a century old till the mucky Murdochs got their grubby hands on it. You might’ve heard about it. It was the news of the world. [GETS COAT.]
Rupert was going on the record as far back as the early 70s with his philosophy on the price of fame. Not a direct quote, but it was like “The dirt can be dished on you if you’re famous coz you can afford to take the hit.” “The price of fame is the loss of privacy” sort of stuff. Right?

Three or four decades later, tall and lovely Elle MacPherson reads about herself in the papers, and she calls a security consultant so that the guys can run high tech gadgetry around her home to make sure she doesn’t have a bug in her lampshade or a ghost in her wardrobe. ’Magine! All coz you’re reading in the Sun about what you told your Ma in a phone call the day after you tell her. Or whatevs. 
Over forty odd years, there are any number of far more insecure slebs out there who most likely ended friendships coz they thought they couldn’t trust their pals, or they turned into paranoid lumps coz they couldn’t deal with both a monstrous cocaine habit AND wonderfully accurate news reportage, or they ended marriages coz they believed lies. It was often that their phone messages were being hacked, and scumbags were spinning a grain of truth into a loaf of fibs. Countless criminal invasions of privacy or just plain nastiness undertaken over decades.

So this same criminality encouraged a culture from other newspapers to get scoops in a similar way. Meanwhile the Beeb was - most of the time - exposing dodgy cowboy builders at worst, and doing some of the best investigative journalism in the world at best.

A long list of politicians and celebs have privacy invasions on the record. All caused by Murdoch and his nasty philosophy. That’s just the tip, though.

And many’s the time they’ve dug up muck on regular people too. People already devastated by bereavement, or dealing with other issues.

The News of the World, the Sun and Daily Mirror editors* and Murdoch childerreddedden were all on LOLling terms with HRH David Cameron. Nobody at the Beeb was LOLling along with him. The BBC IS independent. 

It doesn’t need to lick anyone’s caviar-shitting arse.

Read more if you want an Irish spin on things as the rant continues here

APOLOGIES: The Mirror is NOT owned by the Murdochs. But it WAS edited by Piers Morgan, who subscribed to the notion of privacy entitlement withdrawal from slebs.

Book Review: Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent

There's a little disappointment that often comes with word-of-mouth book reviews that suggest a book is brill. So don't listen to the reviews from the book clubs. If you plan on buying this book, don't read beyond this sentence:

Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent, published 2014, is highly recommended, so go out and buy it if you don't have it already.

The fact that the third last word of this book review is "piss" is no reflection on the book itself.

If you don't intend to read it, you may eat the opening two chapters in a café, after buying it as a gift in a nearby bookshop, while quaffing a quappuccino. Do that, and you'll soytenly be borrowing it from the gift recipient after they've read it within a few days.

The book's multiple POV narration (with a character getting a chapter, most more than one, to tell events from their perspective) allows for a couple of twists and turns. And there are more than a few twists in this tale.

A teensy crit on the twists: One could suggest that each of them - difficult though not impossible to predict - is too slow in being revealed. There was never a point where it was like a sledgehammer from on high, cracking this reader over the head with revelation. Although these plot turns are often shocking, perhaps pacing could have made more impact.

A prediction that there was a certain amount of box-ticking going on - an institutionalised, physically-attractive, highly-intelligent boy with an unwarranted sense of entitlement becomes a psychopath - didn't really hold true. Here's the thing. Nugent's story-telling capacity is excellent. Oliver Ryan isn't in an orphanage but raised at a Catholic boarding school. His sense of entitlement springs from a justifiable source. One could argue that he's reasonably intelligent, rather than an outright brain-eating Hannibal Lecter - although his intellect in terms of social skill is certainly the right side of genius for a serial killer. But nobody's grey matter gets eaten. Ray Liotta is in the safe zone if there's a part for him in the movie. And there could be a movie. The story plays out over a half century and more. But one can envision Young Oliver and Older Oliver and Oldest Oliver in the credits now. Oliver aged 5. Oliver aged 10. He's a very rounded and charismatic character, albeit not particularly sympathetic, with a touch of the hero syndrome thrown in.

The very imaginative storyline is both Irish and universal. Church-bashing is not a central preoccupation, but it's there. The marginalisation of minorities is there. Class is hit upon. Not a particularly Irish thang, but the vagaries of genetic inheritance play a great role here too. And it's all done with lots of spit and polish, vim and vigour, and piss and vinegar.

A bit of a double standard, methinks

Seen on radio journalist and all round dayyy-cent chap Bob McKenzie's wall was an article he'd shared about one girl's dating fail that she's turned around for the betterment of humanity, and has gone viral. She's exceptionally beautiful. I had a few pictures of her here, but they're her photos, so it's certainly not right to share given the opinion I want to give.

But check out her blogpost. It appears that they had a really great date, but he messaged the next evening to say that he was very taken with her face, personality, and everything about her, but he wasn't attracted to her body shape. He signed off by telling his date that he adores her.

On Bob's wall alone, the guy has been branded an arsehole, a prick, a body nazi, impotent, a fuckwit, small-willied, an arsewipe, and his sexual orientation has been questioned.

Women are, person for person, better than men. Generally, they're better bosses. They're more competent. They cope better with stress. They are more decent and more sympathetic and more intuitive.

Body size is extremely personal. There's a fierce double standard. Broadly, women can't eat the way men can. Men aren't pressured to bother about their own weight gain. Yet female slebs (for instance) are held to far higher standards in order to avoid a cellulite celluloid glitterati paparazzi showdown. If all men had to keep weight as low as women, there'd be a lot more slebs looking like Mick Jagger and Iggy Pop, only younger.

But reversing the above blog's gender roles, if a girl said she isn't turned on by a boy coz he's not her body type, and the guy turned that message into a campaign where thousands of strangers were in a position to suggest that she has lubrication issues down below, or that she's a bit too lesbianic by the sounds of things, or she's clearly a horrible mother to her son as she's insensitive to men...there's a strong possibility that that guy would (and many would say quite rightly) be crucified by social media.

This man says he likes skinny women. Not "skinning". He's not Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs. Now he's a monster, being called all sorts of things on the InterWeb, his words twisted to fit an agenda. Does this guy need to learn? People are asking "Why would he say that [about body size] if not to hurt the woman?" Hurting the woman is not the only reason for telling her that he likes stick insects. Maybe his preferences (now shared with the world) are - in fact - a flaw in his own capacity for relationships. And that's pretty much what he actually says. Maybe he was brutally honest about himself. Maybe he falls on his sword to let her know this.

The ludicrous expectations of the Size Zero culture (for those who feel it matters) - driven as ever by outrageous male expectations, encouraged more broadly by a society which is exceptionally misogynistic - happen to match(dotcom) up with his proclivities. But this guy isn't Tucker Max.

And if he instils in his teen daughter (mentioned by his date) responsible use of social media, and how the Internet is written in ink rather than pencil, and how vicious journalism can be in this day and age - rather than giving a shit about body-size coz there's somebody out there for everyone - he'll be doing very well for himself.

Billie Holiday Centenary Show: Jess Kav and Friends perform in Dublin

1915 was the year of Billie Holiday's birth. A little known fact about Ms Holiday is that her mother had some Irish heritage. Billie was born Eleanora Fagan to a 13-year-old Sadie Fagan, and a 15 year old jazz-plank* man Clarence Holiday. Babies makin' babies!

Back at a time before women had the vote, and having premarital babies at 13 was "frowned" "upon", her folks booted Sadie out of the family gaff and - also entirely abandoned, some claim, by her plank-spanking boyfriend - Sadie took to single parenthood against all opposition, sharing duties when she could with a half-sister. This is the cruel world in which Billie started life.

And while not quite as Full Irish as a delicious pork-based breakfast, the Fagan ancestral link is a good excuse for a hooley in Dublin! Sure why not? The voice on her! We want a bit o' that! 

In celebration of her wonderful, frequently-cracked but never broken spirit, Billie Holiday, the voice and icon, will be recognised at what looks to be a terrific gig with the singer Jess Kav (with Nigerian heritage), the poet Clara Rose Thornton (hailing from Chicago, mahhhhn!), and a band, whose Irish musicians are themselves organisers of cultural events according to the press release which is replete with mind-blowing talent: 

Johnny Rayge (guitar; Dublin's Underground Beat)
Aidan Murphy (flute; The Monday Echo) and 
Enda Roche (bass; The Brownbread Mixtape).

Recently, I've seen Enda plucking the acoustic geee-tar accompanying Clara Rose Thornton and her poems, just plain improvising. Nary a bum note in sight. Impressive shtuff.

When's this epic event on?


Book your tickets now, buttercrunchers! They are selling like very warm baked goods.

There'll be a discussion about race and lots more banter too.

There are also opportunities for sponsorship of the event itself - so far, these have been by private invitation to organisations that fit the bill (such as companies with international profiles, international target demographics, feminist agenders, racial-awareness agendas. You know yerself.). If you want more info, contact the venue.

*Plank is slang for guitar here. "Plink-plonk man" would imply piano. They're my rules, and I am sticking to them.

7 Billion People Survive Cahirciveen House Fire

As many as over 7 billion people have survived a County Kerry house fire which saw owner-occupant, Mrs Agnes McGann, 73, die of complications arising from furniture combustion following apparent misuse of a cigarette last week.

            The vast majority of the world’s population escaped unscathed when Mrs McGann, a widow survived by three children, fell asleep in front of the television while holding a standard, filtered, lit cigarette. Cigarettes, consumed through “inhalation”, must be “ignited” “at one end” using “fire” before being “smoked” through the “filter” at the “other end”. It is believed that “Mrs McGann” may have accidentally failed to extinguish the cigarette she had been smoking before drifting into a kind of unconsciousness called “sleep”, thus starting a fire that was somewhat larger than the one that is initially produced when lighting a cigarette.
            Cigarettes can be lit using naked flames, some cooker hobs and many toasters. However, mature student Charlie Sheehey, 34, makes the claim that electric bulbs will not produce enough heat to light a cigarette in most conditions, although he admits that he hasn’t tried to ignite a cigarette in that manner since 1992.
            Neighbour Mick Taylor, 62, also died in the blaze. Taylor passed away after alerting the emergency services by telephone and attempting to effect a rescue before a response came. Regarded as a local legend, Mick’s existence has since been verified through identification found in the wallet that was melted into his right buttock when his body was removed from what was left of the home.
            In spite of the two deaths, the world population continues to grow apace. As recently as yesterday, Dolores Harbison, 19, gave birth to twins, Malaika, 0, and Crystal Meth, 0, in the Coombe Hospital, Dublin, effectively replacing Mrs McGann and Mr Taylor and adding to her brood of three (Consuela Biaz Cudden, 1, Piper Preston Harbison-Piskorski, 2, and Brittany-Leigh Harbison-al-Usaq, 34 months).