Posts tagged ‘rant’

in which i am point-y

1.  Calcutta is dirty, smelly, humid and utterly charming. Like one of those large licky, copiously shedding dogs that sort of knock you over and then stand over you with their mouths open and tongues dripping, simultaneously stinking at you and licking you with great affection. I wouldn’t want to live with one, but meeting one  for a few days is one of life’s major joys. Mine anyway. I dunno if it was the company (sadly I cannot link you to the two other people I really wanted to put here because they both think blogs are peculiar and meant for other people),  or the big ancient buildings, or the metro, or the food, but I loved Calcutta. I wish I’d had more time for book-shopping and jazz-listening. And LP hunting. Calcutta struck me as just the kind of wonderfully junky place where there’d still be piles of LPs.

2. It’s official: Bangalore is what causes my permanent cold. All of last week I was an easy-breathing, hankyless person. Not one sneeze. I felt like someone else.

3. So you know how awesome it is that wordpress lets you know intimate details of your visitors’ private lives like where they got their link to you from, and what precise combination of words fed into a search engine led them here? Today (ok, not today today. This post has been languishing in my drafts folder for a while, waiting for me to draw it a suitable animal) I logged in to find that not one but two (two! two!) people got here by using for their search that delicate, evocative phrase “donkey sex lion”.  I hooted hysterically for 10 minutes. I now want to cry, as I imagine all my fond literary aspirations being trampled on by a reputation for bestiality.

4. You know how some people talk about the book that changed their life? Then there are the people who’ve read more than one book.

Books, I have always found, are sociable people, and like company. The important thing is to read and to be reading – a continuous thing, implying that one has read in the past, is doing so nowish, and will continue to do so in the future.

Compare swimming. One doesn’t swim one breadth and declare: I have swum. It changed my life. One swims many breadths, many lengths, perhaps a lake, and says ‘I swim’ – or if you are desperately enthusiastic, ‘I like swimming.’

5. I love listening to Nick Drake on rainy days.

6. When we were small,  my sister and I went to a million music classes. We kept making excuses to stop taking them, on account of how they seemed (at the time) a terrible waste of our evenings. Plus I hated having a high, weedy voice. When I talk, it’s sort of inaudible and nondescript, but when I sing I attract bats. I wanted (still do) a deep bass full of fire and brimstone, something awe-inspiring and magnificent. As ever, my desire for grandiosity was matched only by my complete lack of skill. My singing voice was, I felt, more suited to a rabbit. I’m not sure what my sister’s hang-up was, since her voice was distinctly deeper than mine (but then the squirrel on the tree outside my window has been known to have a deeper singing voice than mine) but clearly she too had some vast singing shame, and we sulked in wondrous togetherness. It was the one thing we always agreed upon. Our lack of enthusiasm must’ve been contagious, because sometimes the teachers also made similar excuses and never came back.

And sometimes, our (oh so cruel!) parents would line us up and ask us to sing at random relatives.  We’d valiantly not look at each other, and start off ok – both of us have a respectable sense of tune. A line later (before the song could go high and my falsetto could sneak out) — and in my memories our embarrassment threshold was so neatly aligned that we never did need to look at each other for confirmation — we would just stop. And one of us would say very firmly, ignoring my parents’ fond promptings: paadiyaach. (“I’ve sung”. Past perfect, indicating that there would be no more singing in the future. We hoped.)

Apparently adulthood has made me no better at ending things.


August 25, 2010 at 4:22 pm Leave a comment

Wonder Woman – in which there is much (more) ranting

Dear DC Animated Universe People, I am going to be very mean now. And the reason I am going to do this is because I watched your Wonder Woman film. There was nothing wrong with the plot or the story, so you can stop worrying. What did annoy me greatly was the women in your film, which is clearly not something that you’re very fussed about. But if you’re feeling low and sensitive, and easily-upset today I suggest you not read any further.  If you try to sue me I will claim that my mind is unhinged.

I’ve always been a little iffy about Wonder Woman. I suspect everyone is. As the major female character in DC, WW is thoroughly weighed down by the need to be every kind of hero for every kind of woman, and every kind of man. And as if that’s not enough, she also needs to be a every kind of heroine, just in case we manage to forget for an entire second that she’s, y’know, a woman.

The distinction between a hero and a heroine, in my opinion, is a narrative one: the hero is the person who is making the journey; the heroine is the person who inspires the hero to make and complete that journey: sometimes it’s waiting at the end of the maze, sometimes back at home, sometimes it travels with the hero providing sympathy, food, advice, weapons, clues, inspiration, and generally being helpful. Please note that the hero isn’t necessarily a man, just as the heroine isn’t always a girl.  This is why when they are not attached to a specific character, I am calling them both “it”.

In Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle, the strands of hero and heroine are thoroughly mixed up. The story is told from Sophie’s point of view, and the eccentric Howl functions both as the person she aspires to be, as well as the person she aspires to be with. Howl is written as nice-looking, and as conscious of the fact: Sophie has been aged into a small, round, shapeless person, who keeps house of Howl. Howl is n full control of his (pretty impressive) magic powers;  Sophie (SPOILER!) isn’t even aware she has them, but acts, anyway, with compassion, honesty, and loyalty. Both Howl and Sophie, therefore, give each other something to aspire to. And both of them sustain each other with advice, jokes, food and shelter.

Wonder Woman, unfortunately, isn’t allowed to do something as simple and obvious as this. She is both the ideal woman Steve Trevor aspires to be with, as well as the person who must find and destroy the bad guy, with Trevor’s misogynistic nagging as her only support.  No one ever asks Batman to be Boy Scout and Dark-and-Angsty and Pointy-Boots-Barbie at the same time. But Wonder Woman is so busy being everything everyone in DC has ever expected of a superhero, PLUS bludgeoning the reader’s eyeballs with her breasts and boots (“She is a woman with a lasso! We are Progressive! Fetish Ahoy!” DC incoherently shrieks in every frame), that she has no time left in which to even create an archetype for herself, let alone the option to be one actual person. Not surprisingly she is a black hole of character suckitude.

Even on good days, DC isn’t terribly good at women. But they have outdone themselves this time. The Amazons are all little puppets with labels saying cheap things like “Butch!” “Bookish!” “Woman Scorned!” “Bitter Spinster!” Note to DC: The Amazons are an entire society of warrior women. Ergo: a) they will all be built differently from each other b) they are terribly likely to be muscular. Not necessarily all bulked-up, as some of them will be lean and sinewy instead. And it’s perfectly all right if some of them are stout, or short, or wiry-looking. Using a single template-body for an entire people is stupid. At one point the Amazon army is actually described as “supermodels in armour.” (probably by Steve Trevor but I lack the courage to check) I nearly stabbed myself in the eye with a blunt pencil. If you KNOW that they look like clothes hangers rather than warriors then why did you DRAW them like that in the first place? I honestly prefer the giant-breasted Diana in some of the comics – at least she has some muscle. This lot looks like they don’t even have bones.

As with most DC animated films, the backgrounds and battles are beautiful. Lovely colours, nice movements, some exciting fights, a dragon – all good things.

The film tries terribly hard to give Wonder Woman some character by making her a lot harder and more steely than she is usually written, which I like in theory. (I’ve always found it a bit silly when the comics try to convince me that a) Diana is a Warrior and that b) Diana is this super compassionate pacifist Mother Teresa figure and c) Diana is a supermodel. Stick to one archetype DC morons.) I was sort of charmed by her teaching a little girl how to injure her playmates with a sword. It was wrongheaded, yes, but it was one of the few “Diana-is-an-Amazon-and-is-therefore-puzzled-by-Man’s-World” moments that rang true for me. Also endearing was when I noticed she was fighting barefoot in an alley. Clearly someone on the writing team has tried throwing a kick in giant heels, I thought.

But these moments are soon crushed by the demands of the idiot plot: Diana needs to kill Ares, and Diana needs to kiss Steve Trevor. And so all Diana’s potential complexities of motive and selfhood are just ignored while she does the important business of bashing and making out. In the end, while Diana had to become this has-car-doors-opened-for-her girl, Trevor gets away with being exactly the same cheerful misogynist he is to begin with. He fell for Diana because she has a nice rack, and he continues to hang out with her for that exact reason.

There’re frequent and gross shots of the Amazons’ body parts in battle. Women dying in battle should not be about sex. No one dying in battle should be about sex. (And this applies to pretty much any fight sequence you have ever had, DC). Trevor, of course, does exactly this: “That was hot!” he leers as Diana finishes a fierce fight. Not strong, not quick, not skillful, not smart, not saving-his-life-awesome. Hot.


By the time the film ended and Diana had left her island (Which DC is determined to tell us full of bitter spinsters. Trevor actually calls it “chastity belt island” at one point. Diana looks lovelorn. I looked nauseous.) to stay with gross Trevor carry out her Mission of Peace, I was beginning to think she deserved him. Clearly this particular WW wants what every woman ought – in DC’s opinion – to want: a self-absorbed man to condescend to her constantly.

That this is the lot which gave us Harley and Ivy, high on my list of comfort TV (Also on the list:  Jeeves and Wooster, Monty Python, lots  more of this particular animated Batman, most of Buffy, Season 1 of Veronica Mars, some of Firefly, Merlin, Season 1 of the new Dr Who, some Arrested Development) makes me very sad indeed.

December 17, 2009 at 10:24 am 2 comments


Notice how there would be no whinging without hinging? I have a gross new shit-coloured door. It clashes with every single thing in my room, in addition to everything outside it. Clashing, thereby, with a universal set. My door is clashing with my universe. Clashing, smashing, clanging, hanging. 

And it has allies. 
Accompanying the door are the huge pits that are the remains of some nice shady trees (and the foundation to some new hell), and a tooth-gnashingly loud drill that smashes my brains to smithereens every time I dare have a thought. 

I also have shiny white floor tiles that my hostel seems to have stolen from either a) a hospital or b) a bathroom. Either way its moderately reprehensible of them. 
I tried to lighten things up a bit:
But you can tell it’s intimidated by the door. Piteous. Piping. Pipsqueak. Pathetic. Piqued. Pachyderm.
I hope the drill and the door die a thousand gruesome deaths, but mainly I wish they’d just go away. Especially the drill. 

January 4, 2009 at 4:24 pm 1 comment

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