Trisha Noble

So, it’s a Saturday so I’m obviously watching Columbo on Channel 5 and the ep is Playback. The baddie is a awesome Oskar Werner and this was probably the first time I saw him if I saw this when I was a kid, his Truffaut turns were unknown to me then.

In the gallery scene, I’m hypnotised by this beautiful actress:

Who is, apparently, Trisha Noble, an Aussie actress. BUT wait, she was also a singer and had many hit records, including two number ones in Australia. Here she is, looking very young:

What a beautiful voice! And she was only seventeen here, bless!

So, she was a successful pop poppet and eventually ended up doing telly and that eventually lead to this appearance in Danger Man in 1966:

She was also in Carry On Camping and I’m pretty sure I remember her fromBuck Rogers In The 25th Century when I was a nipper:

https://youtu.be/bLyb1qQQ-OA?t=17m17s

And then we’re up to where she appears in Columbo:

In 1975, Noble appeared in the Columbo episode “Playback”, where she meets the murderer (played by Oskar Werner) in an art gallery wearing a low-cut dress. She was cast by the director who had spotted her in a party wearing the same dress. (Source)

I’m completely unsurprised that director Bernard Kowalski was as beguiled by her beauty as I am. But, as pretty as she is, it’s her presence as an actress that is electric. Watching her in Columbo and the other titles I’ve managed to find, Noble is an accomplished and powerful actress, whether it’s bawdy comedy, McGoohan-style terse flippancy or the glorious kid-SF of Buck Rogers.

Oh, and she wasn’t done with major films yet. Here she is as Jobal Naberrie:

 Yep, that’s right ~ she’s Padme Amidala’s Mum. Which means that Trisha Noble is Luke and Leia’s Granny!

So, from teenage pop sensation to respected actress who is still now, at the age of 71, doing theatre.

Now that’s a life! 

Destination Star Trek 3

This weekend just gone, 3-5 October, I had the wonderful good fortune to be able to go to Destination Star Trek 3 at the Excel Centre, London.

I arrived a bit before my mate and fellow Trekkie, Matt and I quickly got changed into my Voyager costume. Once we’d got ready, we hit the main hall and were quickly surrounded by all manner of geeks in a variety of uniforms and outfits.

IT WAS AWESOME!

This was my outfit:

My #trek #cosplay today! LLAP! #dst3 #destinationstartrek3 #tos #tas #tng #ds9 #voyager #enterprise #williamshatner #patrickstewart #jeriryan #brucegreenwood #karlurban #nichellenichols #jonathanfrakes #brentspiner #levarburton #michaeldorn #marinasirtis

The pips aren’t quite right but I was very happy with it for the forty-five quid it cost from Cosplaysky. I added the metal badge myself, that was quite expensive at twenty-one quid but worth it.

So, we walked round the exhibits, spotted stars, stood at the end of massive queues trying to spot other stars, took pictures of random splendidly-costumed fans: everything you’re meant to do a con.

The whole weekend was full of fun and surprises, I met so many lovely, new people there and have since added a few of them on Instagram and Tumblr. I also met this suave motherfucker:

#karlurban was a total babe! #dst3
KARL FUCKING URBAN! One of my fave current actors and beautiful as McCoy in the reboot films.

There were also parties on the Friday and Saturday nights and they were silly fun, too. Loads of people asked to get their pic taken with me and I didn’t really understand why but Matt said it was because I stood out and looked quite imposing? I have no idea but here I am towering over fellow trekkies:

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Looking at that pic, I guess I do look like I could chuck someone out of an airlock fairly easily. I swear, I’m not that big really. I mean, I’m fat, obviously but I look like Starfleet Security here. (HEY, ABRAMS, IF YOU WANT FAT, BROWN SECURITY FOR ST3, GIMME A RING!)

Then, courtesy of the lovely girl on the bottom right of this pic:

04-10-14 at 23-22

I GOT MADE UP AS A VULCAN! BOOM!

I find Matt Swan highly illogical

 

Although I think I look a bit more Romulan, should have had some tatts put on.

I felt good but I couldn’t compete with the effort these peeps had gone to:

#nibirans #dst3 #destinationstartrek3 #tos #tas #tng #ds9 #voyager #enterprise #williamshatner #patrickstewart #jeriryan #brucegreenwood #karlurban #nichellenichols #jonathanfrakes #brentspiner #levarburton #michaeldorn #marinasirtis #gatesmcfadden #johnd

Or these:

Love across the barricades!  #cardassian #bajoran #dst3 #destinationstartrek3 #tos #tas #tng #ds9 #voyager #enterprise #williamshatner #patrickstewart #jeriryan #brucegreenwood #karlurban #nichellenichols #jonathanfrakes #brentspiner #levarburton #michael

Or:

#dst3 #destinationstartrek3 #tos #tas #tng #ds9 #voyager #enterprise #williamshatner #patrickstewart #jeriryan #brucegreenwood #karlurban #nichellenichols #jonathanfrakes #brentspiner #levarburton #michaeldorn #marinasirtis #gatesmcfadden #johndelancie #d

Or:

#borg #dst3 #destinationstartrek3 #tos #tas #tng #ds9 #voyager #enterprise #williamshatner #patrickstewart #jeriryan #brucegreenwood #karlurban #nichellenichols #jonathanfrakes #brentspiner #levarburton #michaeldorn #marinasirtis #gatesmcfadden #johndelan

There’s really waaay too many pics to post up on here but they’re all in a handy little gallery which you can see by clicking here.

The whole weekend was inspirational for me. Star Trek remains the most powerful vision of a utopian future in popular culture. Where other films / TV shows are dystopian, with us being killed off by nukes / viruses / uppity AIs, Trek offers hope. Trek posits a future where we can learn from our mistakes and eventually end up with a moneyless society where war, poverty and disease have all been eliminated. No guesses for what I think that economy is based upon.

This vision of a better future, of a future where humanity isn’t segregated by all the -isms that fracture us now, was mirrored totally in the Trekkies at the con. Yes, I loved meeting Denise Crosby and Brent Spiner and Karl Urban but the main attraction of DST3 was the other fans. Intelligent, funny, inspiring, silly, adventurous, the people of Trek are diamonds.

So, if you’ve never been to a Trek con before, make sure you don’t miss out on the next one near you. Honestly, you won’t meet a nicer bunch of people in your life.

Switching From iOS To Android, Audi To Nissan ~ I Pulled A Garfinkel

2014-audi-tt-three-quarters-view-2

A couple of years ago, I px-ed my Volvo S40 for an Audi TT.

Initially, I’d been looking at family saloons but then I realised my brain was stuck in the mode of thinking I was still part of a couple, maybe we’d be having kids sometime. It was only a couple of years since my divorce had become final and I guess I was still living in the past. So, I went slightly crazy and went entirely the other way, buying a car that was beautiful but not exactly practical: an Audi TT.

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In around three weeks, I’ll be px-ing that TT for a Nissan Qashqai. 

Through the late ’00s, I started using phones that would eventually morph into the smartphones of today. This phone was one of the first:

Yep, that was a state of the art touchscreen smartphone fourteen years ago. It was great! Well, I went from that through various others until, in 2007, I wrote this review of a new phone I’d had for a week:

The iPhone had landed and within a few years, it had revolutionised the smartphone landscape, to such an extent that it’s quite hard to find anything that qualifies as a dumb phone nowadays.

Exactly a week ago, I swapped from my iPhone 5s to an LG G3 Android phone. 

Relating these two purchasing choices to friends, the reactions have been the same for both conversions: why? Switching from perceived high-quality brands like Apple and Audi to LG and Nissan seems, to most people, perverse.

As a sociologist, this reaction fascinated me. There has been much written on the role of consumption in defining identity in late modernity and it appears simply by choosing items which I was not meant to, I was serving up a steaming, heaped plate of of role dissonance to my friends.

“But you’re an Apple person!?”

“You’re going from Audi to Nissan?? That’s the wrong way round!”

And so on and so forth.

What I thought was entirely in character for me (choosing utility and function over brand cachet) was completely illogical in others’ minds. But before delving into that world, let me explain my rather more prosaic reality.

I haven’t had a good experience with my Audi TT. I had an A3 around fourteen years ago (yes, the same time I had that lovely prehistoric smartphone) and that car felt solid and well-engineered. With the TT, I haven’t had that feeling. Too many rattles and trim malfunctions. And then there’s the demister which actually mists the screen for the first thirty or forty seconds of use. I say “use” but it’s actually useless and quite dangerous. There are many other points but I don’t want to write an even longer essay.

When I went to research cars for my Dad, a Qashqai was sitting there, resplendent in its gadgetry. It had me at 360º camera. So I took a test drive and… I loved the feel of it. It felt far more luxurious and solid than my TT. Yes, it was slower but I’m not competing in Le Mans this year so that’s not an issue. Everything in the interior was better designed, more integrated and the UI was actually modern and intuitive, unlike Audi’s which is like using CP/M through some fiddly buttons on a wheel stalk. Plus, it’d be quite handy having four doors and a usable boot again.

Onto the phone…

10apple6-tmagArticle

Like millions worldwide, I watched Apple’s hopelessly crappy streaming keynote. At the time, I was caught up in the religious fervour of what has to be the biggest worldwide evangelical event.

The day after, I was more sober. I looked at the iPhone 6 and was unimpressed. All the features that were lauded (bigger screen, NFC, third party keyboards) weren’t innovations, they’d already been around on Android for a couple of years. I wanted more storage and a bigger screen but if I wanted to do that with Apple, I would have to pay £800 for a 6+ with 128GB of space.

lg-g3

So, I went online and did some research. Finally, I bought an LG G3 for £400, new. I also bought a 128GB micro SD card for around £50. So, for £450, I had a phone with a better screen (538ppi vs. 401ppi), more storage (144GB vs. 128GB) and lots of gadgets like laser focus, wireless charging etc. that just aren’t on iPhones. Yet.

To me, these choices were no-brainers. I chose what had higher utility and felt like better design. 

I use Apple gear for all my music making, video production and photography processing. I’m typing this on a Macbook Air, which I love to death and is my daily laptop as well as being my DJing laptop. So, I’m not an Apple hater.

But I only buy their products if they are better than competitors’ products. 

I don’t like Windows as an OS. I particularly find 7 and 8 infuriatingly fragmented and unintuitive, all this knobbing around between touch screen and mousepad, I never know where to go. So, OSX is what gets my vote, still, even though it’s first iteration launched in 1999. But when I see a a phone that looks better specced than the top of the range iPhone for nearly half the price, you know I’m going to buy that phone.

The couple of years I’ve had my TT, I’ve had nice comments about it. Some women have actually cooed when they’ve seen it. I understand this: it’s a pretty car. But I bought it mainly because I wanted to own a small car that had stupid acceleration, that’s it. I didn’t buy it as a status symbol or to impress women because that just isn’t me. I also understand that a lot of blokes do buy cars for precisely that function but that’s pretty pointless for me as I would never be attracted to a woman who was most interested in the possessions a man had amassed.  That’s an instant eurgh. 

This whole switcheroo has opened up so many fascinating attitudes that I hadn’t even imagined before. Maybe part of the reason I’m switching from Audi is that I don’t want to be perceived as an “Audi driver.” Maybe anonymous Nissan family car stuffed with more gadgets than an NSA ops room is how I would prefer to roll ~ less obvious, more power. Maybe I’m switching to Android because I miss tinkering with OSes and I can spend the rest of eternity sorting through alternate SMS clients now.

The depth of reaction as well as breadth has also been fascinating. Why do these choices have these impacts? Could it be that cars and phones are both primary signifiers in our consumption-based identities? I couldn’t imagine people getting so worked up if I’d changed my brand of coffee or washing up liquid. I could imagine them being equally puzzled if I switched from, say, The Guardian to The Daily Mail or Vans to Converse. Does this mean there’s a central hub of brands/products that are identity-signalling, surrounded by layers of increasingly less important items? Obviously, these whirling orbs of signification could not be universal: I don’t give a crap about beer but I know beer heads have their own format wars.

lossy-page1-800px-Garfinkel2.TIF

Then yesterday, I realised that I had unwittingly pulled a Garfinkel and performed my own breaching experiments. 

I had broken the rules of the unplayed game I was in with my mates. I was Apple, I was Audi, I was premium brand ~ this was how my player played and my performance shored up the values and norms of the whole game.

Throwing that script away brought uncertainty to the situation: one friend even gave me the line, “I don’t even know who you are any more.” She was joking but the root of all humour is, of course, fear/uncertainty. The joke had released the real tension she had in my disruption of the image that she had of me.

And the corollary is the killer: if I can change or if they were wrong about me all along, what else is unstable?

55c

If I’m not me, then who are they? 

Our identities as Westerners living in late modernity are myriad and desperately contingent. Even former monoliths such as ethnic and gender identity are fragmenting and blurring as all culture becomes diasporic and eclectic. None of us are natives, we’re all immigrants. We have become so alienated that we have become actual aliens, trying to pass for human, perpetually living with the fear of being unmasked as not belonging. So, we form tribes online to denounce the unbelievers who don’t see the light. Apple vs. Windows, iOS vs. Android, Xbone vs. PS4, this brand vs. that brand, my team vs. your team, even thoughdeep down inside. we know we don’t actually give a fuck.

Is it any wonder that we replace the stolid quotidian of productive identity with a magpie’s nest of shiny trinkets; cars and phones and shoes and games consoles. We declaim our public persona by documenting our props online, via tweets or instagrams or vines. We’re scrabbling round at touchscreens and jewellery, hoping these talismans will grant us totemic protection in a world which is nothing more than the static of dead airwaves.

And I am no different, no better.

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When I first thought of switching, both car and phone, I felt a great deal of unease. I anticipated that my switching would be questioned, attacked, lampooned. And I was right. Once you’re on those rails (which both you and your peers have built,) it’s hard to jump to another track.

The whole episode has been tremendously enlightening for me, in making the unconscious social processes that surround us conscious, if just for a conversation, just  for a minute. You may wish to consider what choices you could make that would provoke a similar reaction in your peers, you know, just for shits and giggles. Or you may not ~ whatever, man, get off my back!

Ethnomethodologically, it’s been a little goldmine and I’ve yet to sift nuggets from nougat in my head.

Possibly, I need to consider buying a better head. Hmmm… 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fuck The Police

Alleged to have threatened customers, John Crawford, 22, was talking on his phone while holding an unloaded BB gun

Read the whole story. Heartbreaking.

Basically, if you are a black American, the police do not see you as a human being. You are, to them, an animal they will execute as they see fit. And they will get away with it because the white power establishment will back them to the hilt. Paid leave and backslaps all round.

I say it a lot but it holds up to repetition: fuck the police.

GoTenna Networking

gotenna1

A gadget for text messaging without cell service sees a spike in interest from the pro-privacy crypto and Bitcoin communities — even though that wasn’t its creators’ intention. (Source: cnet.com)

I can’t help but feel that de-centralised, ad hoc networking like this is one possible alternate future. Including, of course, the internet of things, everything alive, responsive and addressable.

But that’s a future the major telecomms companies really, really don’t want to see happening. Or the FBI, CIA, NSA, MI5, MI6…

It’s going to be an interesting century.

Yet Another Racist UKIP MEP

Comments made by a UKIP MEP about a Thai constituent have been described as outrageous by the woman’s husband.

South East MEP Janice Atkinson described Fa Munday, a UKIP-supporting mobile food seller in Ramsgate, Kent, as a “ting tong from somewhere”.

Her comments were recorded by BBC South East Today following an interview. (Source: bbc.co.uk)

The weirdest part of this story is not that yet another UKIP leader is outed for their racism, it’s that they were racist to a party member.

And that any Thai person could be so naive as to not recognise that UKIP is a racist party. 

What next? Jew outraged by chilly welcome at Nazi Party fundraiser?

Racist Gear

Top Gear’s Burma Special in which Jeremy Clarkson used a racial slur broke broadcasting rules, Ofcom has said.

The show featured a segment showing the hosts looking at a bridge they had built on the River Kwai as a local man walked across it.

Clarkson remarked: “That is a proud moment. But there’s a slope on it.”
(Source: BBC News)

So, any time someone says they’re a fan of Top Gear, just replace that in your brain with:

“Hi, I’m a racist and I’m a fan of racism and racists like Jeremy Clarkson.”

And of simpering toadies like Richard Hammond.

You all have to watch this again:

On Cultural Appropriation

I don’t fall into an intense rage when I see white girls wearing mehndi. Or, for that matter, when white people wear pyjamas, use the word ‘thug’ or the numeral for zero, Indian things that have been so absorbed into Western culture that their roots are forgotten.

As long as they’re not doing it in a racist, demeaning way, I also find it cute when white people dress up in Indian clothes, like the Beatles in their Nehru jackets. If a white woman goes through the effort of donning a sari, it’s a compliment and I take it as such.

BUT

(There always has to be a but, doesn’t there? Sorry!)

We can’t leave issues of imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism un-addressed. Here’s an example:

When a white musician/band ~

  • Uses Indian instruments
  • Experiments with African rhythms
  • “discovers” gamelan
  • “discovers” K-pop
  • Then no-one bats an eyelid. Critics will probaby praise them for looking further than their own culture. They will be seen as innovative, challenging, embracing multiculturalism. Fair enough.

    Now wind back to the first White Town gigs I did. White people asked me:

  • Why are you playing indie music and not bhangra?
  • You’re with the band? Are you their manager/accountant?
  • Why don’t you have tablas?
  • Why aren’t you wearing a turban?
  • Do you see my point? Now, that was a long time ago but even now, being non-white in a lot of popular music cultures is to be in an eternal minority. To be in a band in one of those genres is to be ultimately exotic. I’m still, weekly, the only non-white person in the club or at the gig.

    White people can go where they want, take what they want, do what they want because they are heir to hundreds of years of colonialism, cultural imperialism and appropriation. There are no gatekeepers to their entry to any culture. There are even Nazi hip hop and reggae bands, such is the arrogance of white cultural appropriation.

    I believe in multiculturalism the way I believe in rain: because it is the truth of the world. We have always lived in a melting pot, ideas cannot be owned by any one ethnic group, they exist as memes in the original Dawkinsian sense of the term, spreading, mutating, evolving. Indian numerals were transported to the West by Arabian traders and scholars where they blossomed because they were more efficient than the clumsier alternatives. Mathematics doesn’t care about borders or the colour of a person’s skin (although mathematicians may do). African and European cultures met and collided in America to produce jazz, arguably the single greatest artistic innovation of the 20th century. Similarly, four white, German blokes in a band called Kraftwerk became the seminal influence in electronic music, including electro, hip hop and every other genre driven by electronic instruments.

    All that is beautiful, all that is why humanity makes me happy and hopeful.

    But when non-white people like me are told we can only act or speak or dress a certain way or we’re “acting white,” that’s where I see that neo-colonialism lives on in our culture today, never questioning white right to anything, anywhere but always, always trying to put the uppity natives back into our little huts where we belong.

    There was a recent post I saw on Tumblr which was basically laughing at a Korean rapper for no other reason than he was Korean. If he’d been doing exactly the same thing and been black or white American, no-one would have cared. The hilarity was specifically directed at his non-Koreanness. When I watched the video, I thought of the effort it must have taken this person to get where he is, the hours of practice, the love of hip hop and all he’ll see in his comments are jokes about his ethnicity.

    Even though I’ve grown up in England, my Indian-ness will always be questioned because I don’t make bhangra (which, by the way, originates a thousand miles away from my part of India). I’m old so I can brush this ignorance off but it makes me sad when I see younger people getting shit for not conforming to the neo-colonial coolie ideal.

    So, stick those bindis on, white girls (and boys, if you feel like it, hijra-style), flaunt those dreads, mangle those kanji in your tatts but please, please allow us the same freedom in return.

    No-one owns anything. It’s all out there for grabs.

    For everyone.

    Saves The Day @ Hit The Deck, Nottingham, 20/4/14

    As you may know, I’m a little obsessed with Saves The Day. But, until, Sunday, I’d never seen them live. The truth is, I think I was scared. I’ve often loved a band and then a desultory live experience has put me off them and I’ve stopped listening to them at all. I really didn’t want that happening with STD as their music is so important to me.

    So, it was with equal parts excitement and trepidation that I squeezed as far to the front as I could at a packed Rock City main hall to pop my Saves The Day live cherry.

    They were magical.

    They started off with newie ‘Remember’ and instantly, we were all seduced. Everything about STD live works. Firstly, there’s the assured grace that musicians have when they really, really know what the fuck they’re doing. On top of that, there’s Conley and his pitch-perfect vocals. He’s probably second only to Ben Gibbard in the way he can make live versions of songs sound better than the recorded tracks.

    Saves The Day live are the classic two guitars, bass and drums lineup ~ no backing tracks, no choirs, no redundant synth player noodling away. And within that essential configuration, they give the audience worlds of songs. So deft is Conley’s songwriting and the band’s arrangements that you never stand there, thinking, “Hmm, I’m liking this but it’d be BRILLIANT with a synth rave preset tacked on the end.”

    They are perfect. They were perfect. When ‘Anywhere With You’ was followed by ‘Freakish,’ I did, indeed, lose my shit and do proper emo crying, smiling as I was singing as I was crying as I was remembering who that song will always make me think of and how much I miss her.

    The whole set, old or new, was loved by the crowd and pretty soon I was ejected from my prime position by kids moshing their tits off. Which is entirely as it should be: I’m an old man, I should be left out for the wolves to gnaw. What does Conley, who’s 34 now, think when he sees all these teens totally in love with his songs? Probably the same as me when I get asked for an autograph by someone who wasn’t even born when ‘Your Woman’ was released: ‘FUCK, I’M OLD.’

    After the gig, I spotted Palma doing the merch just by the Rock City doors, totally chilled. I went up, mumbled some bullshit, took the pic above and shook his hand. He was sweet, I was tongue-tied. I’d just seen songs I’ve loved for over a decade come alive before me, I’d heard them a way I never have before.

    If you get the chance to see Saves The Day live, don’t be hesitant like I was. Go! You won’t regret it!