La Dame aux Camellias

Sunday, 29 June 2008

It’s a day for being elegantly ill.  I don’t feel elegant but I do feel ill.  It started early yesterday evening with being sick.  Over and over, until there was nothing left, and having a dull ache around my tummy and an ache in my back which wouldn’t go away howver I repositioned myself.  This morning the aching was mostly gone but I have a temperature, feel so listless I couldn’t be bothered putting the computer on until about 15 minutes ago, and have slept most of the day either on the sofa or in bed.

Don’t know where it came from – might be a reaction to the pneumococcal vaccination I suppose.  I’ll see the doc in the morning if its no better.

I’m not very good at being a romantic heroine really!

What follows is part of a comment I made in another place, trying to explain my sense of alienation, isolation and frustration.  I thought a more general audience might like to read it and tear it to bits if it so wishes.

I tend to feel that intelligence is one of the few assets that I possess.  I’ve never been very good at sport, for example. The society we live in doesn’t seem to have a problem with promoting one’s sporting prowess, but on the other hand it seems to me (and I’m prepared to accept that this is about my perception based on personal experiences) that intelligence is regarded as a disability, as something to be looked down on.  When I was young I was bullied – by teachers as well as other kids – for not being good at games, and bullied again for being good at academic things.  Schools, after all, pile kudos on the kids who are good at sport, but seldom do anything (well, my school didn’t) for those who are good at maths, or poetry, or photography.  In the adult world, consider the relative status of professional footballers and of professors of philosophy.

So, I perceive that what I regard as my only asset is regarded by society as a disability.  So I fight back, by flaunting my disability.  And in many ways it is a disability.  I feel excluded from much of wider society – there’s nothing on the television to challenge, for example.  The cutting-edge drama and Ascent of Man-type didacticism is extinct.  Although I love film there’s seldom anything worth watching at the cinema because the cinemas are full of lowest common denominator tosh (and I don’t mean they aren’t putting on Jean Vigo retrospectives, I mean that they are not showing recent Oscar winners and nominees.)  If I seek out forums for discussing film I find they are dominated by recent shoot-em-ups and I don’t find an outlet for discussing older films, independent films, non-American films, and so on.  Dare I say that book discussion forums I join are seldom interested in anything more than a few years old?  Bookshops banish all but the most recent titles to a ghetto.  I can’t find a camera club that will share my continued interest in working with film.  I can’t find a writers group that isn’t preoccupied with the popular and terrified of the experimental.  I’d like to find a group of people to engage in discussing mathematics with at a more than superficial level, but that is a really good joke!

I’m not trying to say here that I am being done a great injustice, and I’m certainly not trying to put down others who want top work on a different level (if that’s how it comes across then it’s not what I intend and I’m sorry) but I am saying that I find life very frustrating because like anybody else I want to interact with people on a similar wavelength and it seems to me that it’s harder to find people on my wavelength than it is (by definition) for those who want to work on a more popular level.  So I end up feeling isolated and frustrated, and then it boils over into depression and anger from time to time.

March of the Marketeers

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Note: if you think this or any other post is opinionated and/or unreasonable, then say so and make your case – I don’t bite and I’m interested in what you have to say.

Until recently I’ve been getting my fix of DVDs from Amazon.  Amazon handled this very efficiently.  The DVD’s arrived in a functional envelope that said what it was and no more, could be used for returning the DVD when finished with while the outgoing address portion could be torn up and fed to the wormery.  They let me know when they had sent something off with a simple email in plain text that said what it needed to say and no more,  Thus:

Dear Rosalind Mitchell,

We’ve dispatched Boys Don’t Cry. You can expect to receive it in 1-2 business days. Please remember to save the envelope in which the DVD arrives–it doubles up as your pre-paid return envelope.

When you’ve finished with the DVD, put it in its plastic case and return it in the pre-paid return envelope. When we receive it, we’ll dispatch the next available DVD from your Rental List (up to your monthly limit).

Note: DVDs are fragile. To keep DVDs in top viewing condition, keep them in their plastic cases when not in use.

Note: this e-mail was sent from a notification-only e-mail address that cannot accept incoming e-mail. Please do not reply directly to this message.

Warmest regards, DVD Rental by Post

There – a model of simplicity.

But now, Amazon have “outsourced” their DVD operation to an outfit called “LOVEFiLM” <em>[sic]</em>.  This operation seems to assume that I am a semi-literate pubescent child, and appears to be run by semi-literate marketing types<sup>1</sup>.  The first thing that you notice is that the notification email is not in plain text – for some reason they assume that their dumbed-down recipients won’t understand it if it’s not glitzy.  So it arrives as gibberish, thus:

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN””&gt;
Your next rentals are on the way
<meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html;charset=iso-8859-1″ />
<style type=”text/css”>
#lfemail a { text-decoration:none; }
#lfemail a:hover { text-decoration:underline; }
#lfemail table.nomargin td p {margin: 0 0}
<table width=”500″ cellpadding=”0″ cellspacing=”0″ border=”0″ align=”center” id=”lfemail”>
<td><a href=”; title=”Visit LOVEFiLM”><img src=”; width=”500″ height=”80″ border=”0″ alt=”LOVEFiLM”></a></td>
<table width=”100%” cellpadding=”0″ cellspacing=”0″ border=”0″>
<td height=”1″ width=”1″ bgcolor=”#C01403″><img src=”; width=”1″ height=”1″ alt=””></td>
<td style=”padding: 3px 7px; font-size: 11px; font-family: verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif;”>
<font face=”arial,helvetica,sans-serif” size=”2″>
<table width=”100%” cellpadding=”4″ cellspacing=”0″ border=”0″>
<td valign=”top”>

<!– begin ad tag–>

<!– End ad tag –>

<br />
<p><strong>Dear Rosalind,</strong></p>
<p>Good news! We've just posted the following titles to you, so please look out for them.

And a lot more in similar vein.  Why? What purpose does it serve?

The envelope, when it comes, is glossy and so not suitable for the wormery.  It’s covered, inside and out, with the kind of busy graphics that pervade everything these days, but especially tabloid newspapers, gossip magazines and the tackier kind of supermarket.  Inside it’s full of tabloidese, demanding that I ‘rate’ the films (as if my review blogs weren’t enough.)  There’s a glossy booklet inside.  Its covere says “Prepare to be entertained…”  No, no, and thrice no!  I don’t <em>want</em> to be entertained.  Entertainment is spoon-feeding of the brain-dead with mindless pap to prevent them from thinking for themselves.  I want to watch films because (if they are any good anyway) they are stimulating, challenging, works of art that require some effort on my part. The content of the booklet does not seem to acknowledge the existence of films made more than three years ago, nor does it acknowledge anything by independent directors or those made outside the US.  (I will say in partial defence that they do use the proper word ‘film’ and not the wretched Merkinism ‘movie’)  They also want to flog me whole series of soap operas, and even computer games, for heaven’s sake!

What is the world coming to?  We don’t need this kind of thing.  What was wrong with simple and functional?

<sup>1</sup>  If you are a marketing type, you should regard this as a distinctive manner of speaking.  Please feel free to respond – I’d be very interested in hearing a marketing point of view on what I am complaining about, but please do so in words I can understand.

Personality test

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

the dreamy idealist

This meme comes courtesy of elhamisabel over at Livejournal.

Dreamy idealist indeed. Perhaps that’s my problem. I’ve been having a bad time over the last 24 hours, as some of you will have read elsewhere. Getting better now though, I think, and I’ll be seeing the doc in the morning for a chat. What a moody old thing I am.

Good morning, world!

Monday, 23 June 2008

Morning, Tosca!

I kept the Nikoff by my bed last night, so that I could capture the first thing I saw on waking. Tosca is in her customary morning station, and note the protruding toes!

I had a busy morning once I emerged. I went for a run – much nicer doing it today in sunshine and a light breeze than it was yesterday in drizzle and a howling gale.. I hoovered my living room, from which the ‘pooter has been removed so that I can slob out with a book without needing to know what (if any) email has arrived in the last thirty seconds, and pretended to do some work.


Wednesday, 18 June 2008

I went for a run at about 2pm and was out for about half an hour. That was just as well because although I ran in a light drizzle (which is quite nice), not long after I got home it started chucking it down and is still doing so.

Unfortunately I had to go into town. Fortunately I had an umbrella. Unfortunately it was quite windy too. That’s Barrow for you. Except that here it hasn’t rained properly for weeks.

We need it. It will help to slow down the bowling greens!

Rosie on the Road

Monday, 16 June 2008

Still very breathy and husky, but I’ve got a little bit of voice back. Not a lot. I need to rest it, but it’s not entirely debilitating. A lot of people are no doubt glad that I’ve shut up at last!

It’s not gone to the chest, anyway, so I could do another little run. Seven reps of ones-and-twosies around Barrow Island Park this time – that’s three circuits.