"Our goal was not to get into Cambodia"

History One of the most iconic moments in US presidential history - apart from his later resignation speech - was the moment during the Vietnam war when Richard Nixon met protesters at the Lincoln Memorial. Up until now, the moment has been built on the quites from the youngster and second hand reporting of comments (which is how the scene in Oliver Stone's biopic was developed). Now, thanks to another release from Nixon's tapes, we have snatches of his account. Here's how PBS have covered the release and this is the key quote:
"And I said I was sorry they had missed it because I had tried to explain in the press conference that my goals in Vietnam were the same as theirs -- to stop the killing, to end the war, to bring peace. Our goal was not to get into Cambodia by what we were doing, but to get out of Vietnam.

There seemed to be no -- they did not respond. I hoped that their hatred of the war, which I could well understand, would not turn into a bitter hatred of our whole system, our country and everything that it stood for.

I said, I know you, that probably most of you think I'm an SOB. But I want you to know that I understand just how you feel."
This moment is probably the reason why heads of state rarely meet people who disagree with them. The last thing they want is to look like Richard Nixon.

"What they need is a reason to interact."

Life Hello me:
"Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite."
Well, ish. But isn't everying "ish"? [via a comment at this also accurate Diamond Geezer post]

columnist Suzanne Moore tweeted a ten point guide to journalism

Journalism As a useful corrective to my sentiments in the previous post, yesterday columnist Suzanne Moore tweeted a ten point guide to journalism which someone has usefully collected together on Storify. Point five says everything:
5) No one else has your voice. You may not be able to sing but you can love singing. Loving is much harder than hating in writing.
Point seven nearly made me cry.  Given the quality of writing in some commercial products, I'm not sure I agree with point nine.  But otherwise, Baz Luhrmann should remix the acoustic version of Jessie J's Price Tag with Moore herself reading this list over the top.  Yes, indeed.

the art form I love

Film The last time I posted anything which looked like a review with paragraphs about a new film release was for Inception in July 2010. For someone who has a post graduate merit in Screen Studies this could and should be regarded as embarrassing. But I've had plenty to keep me busy in the meantime and though my film watching rate hasn't diminished, my need to give an opinion has.

I had always planned to write something about exactly why, using phrases like "creative paralysis" and "original thought" but since it's not decision I've really taken on purpose and which is  index linked to my lack of being to an actual cinema (Of Gods and Men last Christmas I think), I didn't see the point.

But this excellent article by Charles Taylor, and specifically this paragraph probably crystallises my creative paralysis and how I fear my own lack of original thought:
"Part of the problem is the thing often cited to prove the strength of film criticism: the sheer number of people online who are doing it. But to use this as evidence of a new golden age is simply to play a new version of equating how good a movie is with its box-office receipts. There are too many critics writing too many pieces. And even the ones who have reacted against the shallowness of the current conversation, the ones who turn out long, detailed considerations of films have found a way to make themselves close to irrelevant. You can understand why a young critic would want to show off what he (and it’s almost always a “he”) knows. That’s part of a how a young critic gets noticed. But too many Web critics affect a donnish air ludicrously beyond their years. Whatever movies are for them—objects for analysis or gnostic contemplation—they don’t sound as if they’re any fun, and they don’t communicate to readers that movies, even difficult or unusual movies, can be a pleasure. A lot of the time they don’t communicate to readers at all."
  But I have to add that for all the new films I am watching thanks to LOVEFiLM, I'm only really enjoying about a third (you'll have to wait until the end of the year to discover which) and I'm not sure you'd be that interested in watching me become increasingly jaded about the art form I love.

a weekly title potentially called The Liverpool Post

Journalism  In case you haven't heard the story which broke at the Press Gazette earlier today, The Liverpool Daily Post which has been serving the city each morning for a hundred and fifty six years is to be reduced to a weekly title potentially called The Liverpool Post. 

Daily news will apparently still be served through the website, though that's no comfort to my parents for home the Post and the Liverpool Echo are their daily newspapers and who've never used computers.  They enjoyed both for, as Seven Streets notes, the different tones.

With the callibre of journalists working there (some of whom I'm acquainted with) I'm sure the weekly title will be an excellent read, might even become the Time Out of the area.  It's just a shame to see the narrowing of the legacy after so many years.

The Oxford Paragraphs:
Robert Browning
The Major Works

Books As the cover explains, at the back of this formidable collection of Robert Browning’s major works is a selection of “courtship correspondence”, beginning with the giddy fan letter Browning wrote to fellow poet Elizabeth Barrett and the communications the couple shared right up to the moment she became his wife. They’re dense, poetic but intensely reassuring things that demonstrate how even great writers are wracked by self-doubt, low self esteem and grumpy about the critical reaction to their work.  In other words, entirely human. The couple are also touchingly incapable of explaining exactly how they feel for fear of ruining their friendship, codifying their fondness until, presumably after having met, they’re finally capable of putting them into words.  And such words.  When a single noun “friend” is dropped from its usual prefixing adjective “dearest” as happens between 30th August 1845 and the 12th September, something has irrecoverably changed.

Owen's constant references to semen and sex faces

TV "the face she makes when she cums"  What was it with Owen's constant references to semen and sex faces?  The following is about 10% Out of Time review , 90% explosive self-awareness..  I realise from the off that I'm probably blowing some of its narrative deficiencies out of all proportion, not least the three plots ending simultaneously, but can't help myself.  I needn't have worried.  This still wasn't great television.  It made  Spooks: Code 9 look like a stone cold classic.

It's always very helpful when sitting down review something when one of the characters within has actually explained what's wrong with the episode. There was Jack, sitting in the hub, looking up at Tosh and actually saying (I'm paraphrasing) "These are just three people who are lost who can't go home. We don't have an enemy to fight this time." As he sat there, it finally felt as though the story had ground to a halt. I looked up at the clock and noticed that there was another twenty-minutes to go and wondered what the hell they'd be filling those twenty minutes of screen-time with.

Thing is, I was strangely upbeat going into this episode. I told everyone here I was looking forward to it and a particularly good episode of The West Wing tonight ('Hi, Senator. Why don't you take your legislative agenda and shove it up your ass. ' 'She's a fine looking woman.' etc) put me in a good mood. The episode began rather well with the lovely landing of the plane and the appearance of the three strangers in time and the explanations and then ... Asda? Immediately it began to become apparent that episode would once again be demonstrating the legion of issues the series has had so far. Having selected to retread one of the old, old sci-fi standard, off the shelf, plot-lines, they decided to trot through all of the expected scenes without putting a new spin on any of them whatsoever. Oh for goodness sake.

I should temper this a little bit by saying that even that opening scene in the supermarket was as funny as these things usually are with the accepted standards of our time being put under the microscope of another -- the children's tv presenter on the lad mag, 'smoking kills' and the price of eggs (or in this case junk food). Such scenes were splattered throughout the episode as Emma misunderstood the advances of the man in the club and John had to deal with the pipe smoking ban in the pub. The problem is that after a while they become repetitious and perhaps more damagingly for Doctor Who fans not anything that doesn't happen whenever the Doctor's companion appears in another time -- that misunderstanding of new rituals for comic effect.

Throughout I wondered if there would be a twist, such as that they're all aliens or they somehow planned the time slip or that there would be a way home or that they weren't time travellers at all just faking it for some nefarious gain. Perhaps the twist was that there was no twist in which case -- wah! I'm sorry but narratively chaining each of them to the one regular character who was most likely to empathise with them and their plight in the hope of illuminating a regular just isn't enough. It's all very well presenting what appears to be a grand romance about loss and sacrifice but you still need proper jeopardy, something to fight for.

I can absolutely see that this is supposed to be the episode about character building -- Gwen talked once again about having two lives and is seen to question her relationship to Owen; Owen on the other hand didn't seem to think anything about their relationship as he realised he actually had the capacity to fall in luurv; and Jack continued to come to terms with the fact that he too is a man out of time, as we gained some confirmation that he might have dropped through the rift and that he is indeed born in the future. The problem is, because of what I'm going to continue to describe as the random characterisation of the series, none of this seemed like a progression -- just an emotion of the week which could change next time. I can't simply start liking a character such as Owen when he's been so negatively written in the past, especially when he seems to have a silly walk - the whole wide shoulder thing is becoming increasingly old.

As with so many of these episodes, there was a tension too between the really great performances and the embarrassing dialogue. Example: No Angels' Louise Delamere sparkles away throughout the episode proving once again that she's one of the nation's hidden treasures and (I can't believe I'm typing this) actually some of the scenes with Burn Gorman had a light romantic touch. Except they're in the middle of one of the endless bed scenes, just as we're actually beginning to fall for the two of them, he gives a speech talking about how he's obsessed with her clothes, her look, what she's thinking about and oh yes, the face she makes when she cums, which strands the scene as you're simply not able to listen to anything else as you try to deal with the implications of that. It might sound real, and I'm sure it's perfectly good pillow talk in some homes, but it kills the mood of the scene stone dead. Was there any need for it?

The inability to close out an episode satisfactorily continues. In a bizarre coincidence, all three of the time travellers (whose connection at no point had been explained) decided to make big life (or death) decision at roughly the same time. It was almost as though they could tell that the episode was coming to a close. Although all television dramas with multiple plot-lines suffer from this issue (see nearly every episode of Boston Legal) here it jarred because with perhaps the exception of Emma none of them seemed to have a reason to make the decision right there and then. Diane didn't fly off because she'd heard about the death of John for example which would have made sense. And speaking of John what are we to make of Jack's decision to let him kill himself and actually sit in the car and watch? I can't decide if I really hate Jack now. And what are his colleagues going to make of the decision? Watching the series you'd never know (although reading the website you might). I guarantee it won't be mentioned next week.

I wonder if I've entirely lost perspective and I'm just off looking for flaws and unable to enjoy the show for what it's purporting to be. Whenever I write these reviews I'm always analysing the storytelling, how it fits within the overall structure of the series, the disappointments. Perhaps when I rewatch this I will be able to pay closer attention to the incidental pleasures -- the reappearance of Rees, Owen's charm (for once), the great performances. But I can't sit here and lie and say that I enjoyed these fifty minutes when I spent most of them literally groaning and shouting at the screen like a madman or a football fan watching their team go down five-nil in the FA Cup.

I just keep hearing that opening introduction:

"Torchwood. Outside the government, beyond the police. Tracking down alien life on earth and arming the human race against the future. The 21st century is when everything changes... and you've gotta be ready."

And wondering when we're actually going to get to see that series. That series sounds great.

PS, Television still hasn't decided what to do with Louise Delamere.  She'd be perfect for Wonder Woman but no one has noticed.

"a Faire attendee or D&D devotee"

TV I was too busy with the sonnets to mark the usual anniversary, so in an attempt to fill the gap, here's Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody reviewing Doctor Who in 2006:
"The term "geek" has lost its accusatory zing. Nowadays, if you lob that epithet at a Faire attendee or D&D devotee, he or she will likely cop to it—proudly. Blame it on Rivers Cuomo, Steve Jobs, or Kevin Smith; that throwaway beatitude about the meek inheriting the earth suddenly seems to have credence. Geeks exert major influence on internet content, box-office receipts, even fashion. Cool kids don Buddy Holly glasses and ill-fitting T-shirts, unwittingly aping the pariahs they mocked in high school. Sadly, a measure of social purity has been lost amid all this caste upheaval. Remember when geeks were dorks? Where does one find real, honest-to-Zool social outcasts these days?"
How did she manage to get the colour of the TARDIS wrong? [via]

Shakespeare's Poems (Arden Shakespeare: Third Revised Edition). Edited by Katherine Duncan-Jones.

Recently I’ve been pre-occupied with the question of whether I’ve ever truly been in love. Properly in love.  Head over heels.  The real thing.  Friends and ex-friends might offer a few examples of when it was perfectly possible that I must have been, because of all the talking, but it’s in these moments, right how, when I can honestly say that I’m not, that I wonder if I ever have. Then, I look at Shakespeare and he offers answers, just a few, as he did yesterday when I spent many hours reading this Arden Third Edition of his sonnets.

The reason Sonnet 116, “Let me not to the marriage of true minds…” is popular is because it neatly explains to us how when we are in love, the world can be falling about around us, the person we’re in love with might even be the cause and yet, something within us continues to see something within them that and to paraphrase Laura Fraser in the underrated sci-fi romance Virtual Sexuality, our heart goes “ping!” As he says, love “looks on tempests and is never shaken”.

Which is enough to convince me. But what’s surprising about Shakespeare’s Sonnets is that for all its reputation as a collection of “love” poems, it offers a vast spectrum of emotions, not just passion, but also the kinds of melancholy and disappointment which can only be caused by a lover or, um, prospective lover, especially when realising that they aren’t a paragon, a venus or in Shakespeare’s case, Adonis, or as a school friend once cuttingly said “and then she opened her mouth”.

That’s presumably why they’ve maintained such longevity and certainly considered in higher public regard than his narrative poems and A Lover’s Complaint which was included in the original 1609 Quarto edition and is reproduced here. Whomever the sonnets are written for and directed too, male or female, they capture the same universal truths inherent in the plays and if you’ve ever been as reticent as I have about diving in, as a body of work they’re indispensable.

Katherine Duncan-Jones co-edited the third edition of the poems, but her introduction to this edition is more closely related to her biography, as she wades into the various puzzles which the sonnets perennially throw up, the identities of the youth and dark lady, the dedicatee Mr. W.H., dating the sonnets, publication order and the authorship of A Lover’s Complaint, forever aware that she’s not the first and won’t be the last.

I’ve previously been convinced by Jonathan Bate’s suggestion that Shakespeare, instead of writing autobiographically when constructing the sonnets, had instead rather like Meatloaf and Beyonce created a character or series of characters and then wrote with their voice about fictitious situations and that since there isn’t any documentary evidence to prove anything, although speculation is fun, it has the effect of sullying rather than illuminating our understanding of the sonnets.

Perhaps sensing a potential reader will want something richer, Duncan-Jones dives headlong into her own a document trail (her Mr. WH is William Herbert, the Third Earl of Pembroke) before coming up for air to admit that she too is just speculating because there’s little in the way of hard evidence. The process is not unlike the madcap mayhem of an authorship theory, the key difference being that Duncan-Jones understand that these are just theories, not “solid facts” being criminally ignored.

More interesting are the passages related to how and when the sonnets were written. They’re a microcosm of the treatment of Shakespeare’s canon as a whole. Just as Hamlet’s dating has causes decades of controversy, so single sonnets have proved equally difficult to pin down. The scrutiny applied to these parcels of fourteen lines has been ludicrous especially since, as Duncan-Jones explains, many of them may have gone through the same kind of process of revision as Hamlet.

In gathering this work for publication, and Duncan-Jones is very clear that this is the order he chose even if he wasn’t directly involved at the printing stage, Shakespeare pulled texts from throughout his career in 1609 and arranged them for best expression. If a “story” can’t easily be constructed (though some have tried) there is at least an emotional narrative, especially in the opening hundred odd sonnets directed at the youth, from the first blossoms of infatuation to loss and disappointment.

As proof, there’s a startling section that suggests Shakespeare was also interested in numerology, thematically linking the sonnet to its number. “When I do count the clock which tells the time” is Sonnet 12 (the number of hours on a clock face) and although some of the other associations are looser, it’s clear that these weren’t just a loose collection of poems (a reputation brought about by poor posthumous editing) but as carefully structured as any of his best plays.

A thorough critical history replaces the usual production run found in other editions. The critical treatment of the sonnets have been typically inconsistent as writers and academics have found it impossible, even recently, to reconcile Shakespeare’s muse (or apparent muse) with societal prejudices about homosexuality, especially after Oscar Wilde championed them, by attempting to deny the textual evidence and suggest they’re all about the female even implying corruption by a later hand.

The ludicrousness of that position is highlighted by the fact those same critics are able to cope with the same authorial voice writing strong female characters who’re equally able to communicate their infatuations, females who would have been portrayed by male youngsters on stage. Only recently have critics been able to bring themselves to the point of realising that the muse is besides the point and that it’s possible to offer close readings without caring about the context.

So Duncan-Jones offers an important survey and contribution to these debates. Based more closely than usual on the 1609 Quarto (the exclamation mark is back in Sonnet 123, “No! Time though shalt not boast that I do change…”), each is presented with extensive notes on the facing page with a short explanatory note at the top. These compasses prove invaluable for navigating Shakespeare’s fragmentary maps of the human heart, another helping hand for those of us who’ve become lost along the way.

Shakespeare's Poems (Arden Shakespeare: Third Revised Edition). Edited by Katherine Duncan-Jones. Methuen Drama. 2010. RRP: £9.99. ISBN: 978-1408017975. Review copy supplied.

"We're going to try write it this year."

Film "Ethan Hawke Planning To Reunite With Richard Linklater & Julie Delpy To Write Third 'Before Sunrise' Film." Which is exciting but ...
"Well, I don't know what we're going to do but I know the three of us have been talking a lot in the last six months," Hawke revealed. "All of three of us have been having similar feelings that we're ready to revisit those characters. There's nine years between the first two movies and, if we made the film next summer, it would be nine years again so we're really started thinking that would be a good thing to do. We're going to try write it this year."
The other two films are such a perfect diptych, I'm actually concerned rather than elated about this proposition. But I do remember years ago Linklater talking about a sequel set in New York. But what to call it?

The Oxford Paragraphs:
Charlotte Brontë
The Professor

Books In The Professor, one of Charlotte Bronte’s earliest novels, which despite many revisions wasn’t published until two years after her death, a Yorkshire mill clerk describes fleeing to Brussels where he takes up employment as an English teacher. He falls briefly under the spell of the older Directoress but ultimately builds a fruitful marriage with one of his pupils. The density of descriptive passages make this a difficult but rewarding read, its loose structure pre-figuring the post-modern. Bronte had in mind the buck the trends of that era’s novelists by providing a realistic approach to characterisation and narrative, which was too new for potential publishers who all rejected it outright. What they missed is how the novel captures the sheer fecklessness of the male heart, seeking acres of meaning in a girl’s otherwise innocuous glances and how we might think we’re in control, but we’re really not.

"the GIT Award"

Liverpool Life  Local blog, Get Into This, have started a new award and I promised to post something about it.  So here's the press release:


SOME cities have wonderful pop music histories, some might be lucky enough to enjoy successful periods in the future, but few can confidently say, they have both. Liverpool is one of a select bunch of cities that can.

Like London, New York, Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles, it can accurately claim to have changed the complexion of modern music.

Now, a new prize, the GIT Award (named after the popular local music blog Getintothis - www.getintothis.co.uk), is about to recognise the best of the future crop of Liverpool musicians who may go on to do what Scousers have been doing for more than half a century – changing the course of history.

As award-winning writer and Word Magazine associate editor Paul Du Noyer, author of the peerless history of the city’s pop music culture, Liverpool Wondrous Place, says, “Music is not just the heritage but the heartbeat of Liverpool.”

But, it’s not just about rock and roll and the guitar bands the city has mostly been famed for, the GIT Award will celebrate Liverpool's current rich musical diversity.

From the thriving hip hop scene to its electronica artists, from its long-established country and roots community to punk, folk and metal, the GIT Award is open to all.

Peter Guy, Liverpool ECHO journalist and editor of Getintothis, says, “Think of it as the Scouse Mercury Prize - but, the only criteria being that it has a clear connection with Liverpool; ie: the record was made, produced or recorded by Liverpudlians.

"Unlike the Mercurys, there will be a transparent judging panel and as many grass roots musicians won't record a full album during the course of a year, we're asking for four tracks be submitted to be eligible for entry - think of it as an old school four-track EP."

And the prize? It's a little belter. Sandhills Studio is offering a day's free recording time with a top producer, while the winners will play next year's Liverpool Sound City and Liverpool Music Week.

Vice Magazine, meanwhile, has asked Getintothis to promote an exclusive gig at their London-based bar, The Old Blue Last, featuring the winners. 

On top of this, film-maker Ian Gamester, who has been shortlisted for the prestigious Virgin Media Shorts film, will make the band's video promo which will be screened by Picturehouse at FACT’s boutique Box cinema for the winners and their nearest and dearest.

Further goodies from sponsors will be announced in the coming months.

The GIT Award will have an official launch at Liverpool Music Week's spectacular closing party at the Contemporary Urban Centre on November 11 with the 12 nominees announced next spring before the winner is unveiled days before Liverpool Sound City 2012 where they will feature on the Getintothis stage.

In the meantime, spread the word, The GIT Award is officially ON - musicians, bands and creative types everywhere, send your four tracks to getintothis@gmail.com or alternatively post to Peter Guy, The GIT Award, Liverpool Daily Post & ECHO, PO Box 48, Old Hall Street, Liverpool, L693EB. If you're a business and would like to get involved with the GIT Award, please email peter.guy@liverpool.com.
The below the line stuff is below the line.

"Monkhouse announcing"

TV TV Cream celebrated the 75th anniversary of television with a list of great moments, simultaneously making up for the BBC's own understated celebration (I'm catching up on some reading -- can you tell?):
"58. Bob Monkhouse announcing the end of the power workers’ strike live during an edition of The Golden Shot (ITV, 1970)"
Imagine news being broken during The X-Factor. Imagine how awkward it would be for Dermot O'Leary to make an announcement from the stage. Yet somehow Monkhouse had the gravitas to pull this off. I assume. Anyone seen the video?

"Jolly Silver Haired White Telethon Man In A Suit"

TV Watching Mark Cousins critically deconstructing the promo for Video Killed The Radio Star on The Story of Film: An Odyssey this morning ("the screens") I was reminded of this similar but unrelated investigation on BrokenTV from a couple of weeks ago surveying a YouTube user channel surfing at the end of the 1980s:
"Onto the ninth second of the video, and the viewer finds themself confronted with another rich-looking white man in a suit, but this time a person who is somewhat less jolly, and is speaking in a language we can only correctly categorise as “foreign”, before another final fleeting glimpse of Jolly Silver Haired White Telethon Man In A Suit. Perhaps this is there in order to reinforce the view that the 1990s are lurking, and a deregulated Europe that promised to be simultaneously confusing, frightening, bewildering and brilliant was then just a few years away. It took ITV’s brilliant comedy drama series Root Into Europe about eight weeks to make the same point, but ever the auteur, ClassicGarth wraps it all up within five seconds of footage."
Connecting the two isn't an attempt to nullify Cousins' achievement, which has been to place western and world cinema on equal footing albeit within a Kenneth Clarke like "personal view" framework leaving various cinema greats without a mention or represented by their very earliest work.  It's just a while since I've seen Top Gun talked about with the same (apparent) seriousness as Distant Voice, Still Lives.