Well, here I am.
Why am I here?
Isn’t the internet a cesspit full of abuse and cyclical arguments, devoid of nuance and empathy?
I kind of suspect it is. I’m somehow even more socially awkward on the internet than I am in real life. But the compulsion to return and scream a little more into the void remains. I just hope I can scream a little happier over here in this part of the internet.
This post is to give you an introduction to the kind of interests this blog will feature.
I’m a medievalist by training, so if a few vikings creep in here and there don’t be surprised. Expect popular culture from the last 1000 years or so. Release dates don’t faze me much.
I reckon it’ll be mainly about film, at least to begin with. But they didn’t have cinemas in the old days, so there will be exceptions. Like galleries, plays, music, the great outdoors.
Again, you’ll notice this one tending to a broad base. My natural habitat is sci-fi/action/things where people have swords, but sometimes research forces me into other territory. Musically it’ll be easier to pin down: folk, indie and singer-songwriters.
Really, I should have started this blog about three months ago, so I could update in real time as I went to Caravaggio at the National Gallery, and then the Australian Impressionists there. And Paul Nash at the Tate. And the Moomins at the Southbank Centre. And Jim Moray playing his new album on tour. And when I went to see Hidden Figures. And when I actually first sat down and finished reading a Star Wars Expanded Universe book for the first time in over a decade.
But I dithered, and now there’s a bit of a backlog; I’ll try to jot down impressions of these things in between current enthusiasms.
What stopped the dithering was a combination of things. Two of the most significant factors were as follows:
- Looking up lyrics to The Diaz Brothers by The Mountain Goats on songmeanings.com
- A return to bad habits; my friend asking me to make a list
John Darnielle, when describing the inspiration for The Diaz Brothers, a wildly catchy track on the 2012 album Transcendental Youth, said some pretty cool stuff to Rolling Stone:
Clocking in at under three minutes, it’s a pounding piano number with an undeniable chorus – “Mercy for the Diaz brothers!” – and is based on the drug-dealing siblings referenced briefly in the movie Scarface. “Frank tells Tony he has to respect the Diaz brothers, and Tony tells him to eff the Diaz Brothers, and by the time we do see them, they’re dead,” said Darnielle. “I’m obsessed with people we never got to know but who we know about, because you have a sense of who they were and what became of them since they died, but they’re essentially blocking characters in this story we all know. And we’re all basically blocking characters in life, when you think about it.”
I haven’t seen Scarface. Neither the song nor the interview make me any more interested in seeing it that I was any way (which is not much). But ‘blocking characters’ have been a huge part of my research interests for longer than I’d care to admit.(1) And I love the song. Darnielle makes me curious about these unfortunate brothers, he makes me want mercy for them, although you know from the out that it’s not going to come. ‘Forbidden rosary prayers all night’ makes me think more of Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory than drug-running gangsters, and the setting, the sense of place evoked through sparse lyrics, is so vivid.
This is simply good storytelling. And a traditional, deeply-ingrained stubbornness drives me to pursue minor characters and supporting characters in a lot of the stories I consume.
It’s also behind the fact I’ve seen some truly awful movies.
An old friend is currently watching Rome. She’s sending me updates on Marc Anthony’s eyeliner and nudity. She’s catching up on an obsession I’ve nurtured on and off since I first saw A Knight’s Tale: obsession, thy name is (periodically) James Purefoy. But to begin with, it was Keanu Reeves. For a brief time it was Barry Pepper. Most recently it’s been Diego Luna.
I’m not proud of having watched an awful lot of movies simply because of a fixation on one cast member — some were terrible, some genuinely good, some I’d intended to watch anyway, but hadn’t until I’d realised [insert name here] was in it. The Matrix began it all; teenage hormones and a lot of spare time to browse the local library’s VHS shelf over school summer holidays led to the, er, delights of Johnny Mnemonic, The Watcher and repeated viewings of Point Break. Tragically, even from within a committed relationship, I found myself doing it again after seeing Chris Evans as Captain America, Matthew Macfadyen in Ripper Street and after delightedly falling back down the Star Wars rabbit hole in pursuit of Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso and Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor in Rogue One. (2)
Often, in delving into actors’ back catalogues, I’ve found myself watching someone I first encountered as a minor character playing a major role in something not very good, or watching someone I encountered as a main character cutting their teeth on minor and supporting roles. Hence this is another another aspect of my long-running love of those ‘blocking characters’ again.
So, the friend who’s watching Rome has been suffering through my updates on Diego Luna’s back catalogue. She asked me what the worst thing I’d watched just for an actor was, and this got me thinking about just how many films I’ve watched because of this stupid habit. And I thought maybe it would be fun to try and remember some of the experiences associated with each actor and the movies I watched.
And there you have it: the starting points for this blog. I have to go out and enjoy the gorgeous sunshine now, but I will return to begin enthusing in earnest soon.
(1) Reviewer #2: ‘I read the text your article is about at least twice, and I don’t remember these characters! This article is far too niche for publication’. IT’S MEDIEVAL LITERATURE. IT’S ALREADY NICHE. ALSO RE-READ THE %*&$”ING TEXT IF YOU DON’T REMEMBER THEM.
(2) That movie had the right ending. The perfect ending. I know. I do, I realise that it’s a better movie for this ending, that it makes more sense in the wider universe with this ending. But that’s not going to stop me from reading every single fic tagged ‘AU – Everyone lives/nobody dies’ on ao3.