"Ewan McGregor looked after me."

Life The Guardian's pulled together some of my favourite people to talk about their career firsts. For some reason I'd entirely blanked on Trainspotting being Kelly MacDonald's first film:
"Ewan McGregor looked after me. We had that quite intimate scene to do together. At every stage of the audition process, they'd told me there was a sex scene in the film. "Would you be OK with that?" "Yeah, of course!" But it didn't compute. It was only on the day of shooting that scene that I suddenly thought, "Oh shit, I've got to do this thing." I didn't want it to be a really gruelling, awful day, so I thought if I went for it 100% then I wouldn't have to keep doing it. But I was so naive that that was the day I got my mum and my brother to visit the set. How nuts is that?"
Perhaps in that case, when this happened, she was as nervous as I was.

The Opinion Engine 2.0:
Despite the fact that bloggers claim to prefer anonymity, all blogs are intrinsically narcissistic - discuss.

The Culture of Narcissism

Question asked by Franchesca Puehler.

About Before heading off into the psychoanalytical second half, it’s important to address the initial premise of the question, why bloggers claim to prefer anonymity. From my own experience, when this blog was very young, when even close friends didn’t even know what a blog was and my readership was practically zero, I felt much freer in my ability to write about myself.

That’s eroded over time as more people read the blog, especially people I know and although at first I attempted to misdirect and dissemble, now I simply send links to everything on my twitter feed and Facebook (both narcissistic media too) and try not get too personal It’s just simpler, if much harder.

Total anonymity is different, of course, because it increases the potential freedom even further because not even Google will make the connection (assuming you’re not using your Google account to post to Blogger).

Then you really do have the ability to say how you really feel and if you’re writing on a controversial topic still enjoy watching the feedback, perhaps even join in via a sock puppet.

In that case, anonymity is seductive.

This isn’t something I’ve ever done, but the few anonymous bloggers who’ve either outed themselves or been revealed against their will, have talked about the onrush of freedom it provides.

Which is the paradox.

You're much more open when you’re talking to no one, but blogging only becomes validated when it has a readership. Anonymous bloggers can retain a readership but a readership who don’t know who they are. We’re all narcissistic but in a sense it’s a narcissism which kills the very thing which fuels it.

It has been suggested to me that I should begin an anonymous blog if I really wanted to return to the past style, but my life is unfortunately far less interesting now and I enjoy the challenge of offering you something to look for between the lines, even if most of the time it is just white space.

But on reflection narcissism does provide a useful guide for when it’s about time to stop blogging, in other words if any of the following (seen at the Wikipedia and quoted from this citation) become true:
Positive: Narcissists think they are better than others.

Inflated: Narcissists' views tend to be contrary to reality. In measures that compare self-report to objective measures, narcissists' self-views tend to be greatly exaggerated.

Agentic: Narcissists’ views tend to be most exaggerated in the agentic domain, relative to the communion domain.

Special: Narcissists perceive themselves to be unique and special people.

Selfish: Research upon narcissists’ behaviour in resource dilemmas supports the case for narcissists as being selfish.

Oriented toward success: Narcissists are oriented towards success by being, for example, approach oriented.
Because arguably, now that I think about it, blogs are always at their most boring when they’re embracing these tendencies. Interesting.

Best give up now then.

"I always saw us having galleries in Liverpool, London, LA or wherever"

Art The Ceri Hand Gallery is soon to be moving from its base in Liverpool to the capital and Hand herself has given a useful interview to Double Negative:
"TDN: Why are you leaving? How are you feeling about it?

CH: I am in the middle of the experience, so it’s changing daily! On the whole, making the decision was the hardest thing. Now I have, I feel quite upbeat and matter of fact about it. We never had it planned… I always saw us having galleries in Liverpool, London, LA or wherever we thought best for our artists. However, we simply don’t have the resources currently to keep exporting our artists work to London and run our programme in Liverpooltoo. We aim to do ambitious shows, usually with big builds, so we didn’t want to scrimp on quality or do less in Liverpool, but we had to do something to increase visibility and sales for our artists, quickly.
It's easy for some us to forget that many of these independent venues are also businesses and have to go where the work can be sold. She mentions that the market has flattened somewhat here abouts which is certainly a concern.

the British Animation British Animation Awards screenings at FACT.

Plug! I've had an email from FACT Liverpool:
"Hi Stuart,

Just wanted to let you know about the British Animation British Animation Awards screenings at FACT. They take place on the 23, 24, and 25 Jan with a different programme of shorts being shown on each. They have always been really popular in the past and the audience is invited to rate each short on a scale of one to five.  I have attached the Press Release and here are a few links to some of the shorts."
Thanks. Excellent. Find below links to the videos and the fuller press release:

He probably had Virginia Madsen in mind when I was writing this.

Life  Putting Christmas decorations away the other day, I stumbled upon a bag of papers which had been bunged on a shelf during a clear out and completely forgotten about.  They're a mess of old GCSE and A-Level essays and scripts and other bits and bobs and I thought I'd embarrass myself or at least give myself a dose of perspective and post them up here in the coming weeks.

And so to the seventeen year old version of me in the first year of his A-Levels.  He's a lunchtime prefect in charge of the school computer room and has been studying John Donne for three months.  Both of these facts are the only way to account for the following attempt at metaphysical poetry using some kind of weird computer metaphor. He probably had Virginia Madsen in mind when he was writing this. 

Notice the dot-matrix printing.  If ink-jet had been invented then, the school certainly couldn't afford it.  He must have typed it in using 1st Word Plus running on one of the school's many Acorn Archimedes machines though goodness knows how he managed it without being spotted by one of kids in there playing the Lander demo.  Until he banned them for playing games.


As I deliver mail around our offices
So your computer pulses, telling its circuits what to do.
And as your fingers caress the keyboard
I wonder if one day I'll do the same to you.
The emerald words upon the screen which
Contrast against the bold azure within your eyes
Are as hidden from me as the
Thoughts you hold within your mind.

The smile you gave me as I passed
Is stored within my memory for all time.
And the warmth of coffee upon my leg
Is like the verve I feel within my heart.
Your voice is all I can hear
As the carriage liaises with the page,
And so the tape spools through the cartridge,
Your words flow into my mind.

As a socket gives your computer the power to process
So your touch has made me electric.
And as we dance I feel more than your caress
I feel your love as well.
The register opens as you have
Opened your heart to me.
And as I am given just my change
I hope I will not take more than I should receive.

The touch of your lips against mine
Is like a turtle without a shell.
And so a hacker violates a network
Am I violating you?
Our language now is faster
Than that between any terminals,
Our thoughts being a database
Of all we need to know.

Stuart Burns L6A1.

[The first four lines of the final stanza are just awful though to be fair to him, he probably wasn't aware of the implications.  He'd led a very sheltered life, what with going to an all boys school.  Either that or he'd been reading the Donne a bit too well.  This Turtle would have been the source of the imagery.  See what I mean?]

"Romney is kind-of okay, in his Stepford Husband way"

Politics Elizabeth Wurtzel on Mitt Romney:
"I'm not sure why it occurs to no one that the GOP electorate might actually plain and simple like Mitt Romney. In fact, I hate the Republican party, I probably complain about Ronald Reagan in therapy more than I do about either of my parents, but I think Romney is kind-of okay, in his Stepford Husband way. I like Mitt Romney because, forgive me, he is what he is. Romney is simply this guy who is a last bastion of something old-fashioned and good in some ways: he has had a world-class education -- of which he should be very proud -- he's been civil and decent, he's been bipartisan and tolerant, and he's been spinning like an unhinged weathervane for so long he probably does it just for kicks -- which makes him exactly like a politician. Yep, that's what he is."
Don't worry, all of his faults are also in there too but if you do hate the Republicans and you're watching a race like this you do ultimately do have to deal with a single question.  If god forbid Obama loses, which of these jokers would be the least horrific president.  It's awful to admit, but Romney fits the bill.  Unfortunately.

The Oxford Paragraphs:
Mark Twain
A Connecticut Yankee in
King Arthur's Court

Books With just a vague memory of the film adaptation starring Bing Crosby, some notion of the influences it has had on Doctor Who, and the cover illustration as a guide, I approached A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court expecting a typically structured but entertaining story of a man out of time and although Twain/Clemens’s tale begins in that mode, it quickly tips over into a far darker meandering satire on Western imperialism and industrialisation. The protagonist Hank Martin is a loathsome figure and even though the story’s told from his POV, I slowly became more and more protective of the Arthurian characters who barely seem to deserve the treatment the Yankee gives them. But that’s Twain/Clemens’s point I think; how the modern versions of us, apparently so sophisticated, are desperate to sap the magic from the world, be it in nature or man itself. A difficult read but a transportative one.  This is psychogeographical literature.