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Category Archives: Journalism

Eye Believe That!

I saw this in the newsagents…and this in no way a filler post until I get around to writing another review.

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Posted by on 27/01/2017 in Journalism

 

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The Wire: The Thin Line Between Heaven and Here.

Thanks for reading this far, I’ll make this my last post of The Wire, with what I judge to be have been a reasonably in depth look at the show without going too overboard on the whole topic.  Summing up this show with all its depth would take up more blog space than I am prepared to give on account of books piling up but with such a wide range of things to mention I will venture to add a few more, just to make the show more enticing in case I have failed thus far.

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The directors and writers are of a high calibre such as well-known authors like Dennis Lehane and George Pellecanos, David Simon and Ed Burns have the experience of being a journalist and homicide detective respectively.  It is worth noting that Simon wrote Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets and with Ed Burns, The Corner:  A Year in the Life of an Inner City Neighbourhood which are both excellent reads, adding more to the real life inspirations behind the show.  There is an experienced excellence to all this work which demands more of an audience and from an audience in thought .

The lack of soundtrack means all those everyday noises are more distinctive and this adds to the realism allowing the actors to take centre stage rather than having their performances enhanced with emotive music.  It’s a case of showing how powerfully an actor can influence the viewer’s feelings without the crutch of any outside influence moving us, highlighting once again the exemplary ensemble cast.  There is music but it is part of the natural order, tunes blasting out from a car or on the radio and so on, the regular soundtrack to life.

Season One does not put a foot wrong, its impact not only on the TV landscape but on the audience has changed the way that police procedurals are viewed, not that The Wire sits easily in any genre, it transcends  the need for being pigeonholed by being all things effortlessly at once.  By the end of the first season it is easy to think that although it will continue to be a challenging watch it’ll also have an established pattern.  Simon is one for changing up his themes though and giving us something new to explore constantly.. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 17/09/2016 in Crime, Journalism, Politics, True Crime, TV

 

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Arguably – Christopher Hitchens

AnotherHitchSlapChristopher Hitchens (1949-2011) was a matchless writer, debater and humanist. Throughout his life he shone the light of reason and truth into the eyes of charlatans and hucksters, exposing falsehood and decrying hypocrisy wherever he found it. With his passing, the world has lost a great soul, the written word one of its finest advocates and those who stand for freedom everywhere have lost one of their clearest voices.

Arguably collects Hitchens’ writing on politics, literature and religion when he was at the zenith of his career; it is the indispensable companion to the finest English essayist since Orwell.

The joys of learning about scintillating new books, of stories both fact and fiction is tempered by the sheer amount and scope of the eclectic selection already on offer.  The never-ending list of books I need to read has grown by around fifty books since reading this tome but on the other hand I will never be short of a quality read..

It turns out, if this book is anything to go by, that I am distinctly under read, despite my best efforts to the contrary.  I shall not let that soul-destroying revelation ruin my enjoyment of what is a magnificent set of essays, that should be required reading for all those who love to learn and think for themselves.

The finite amount of time that the reader has to tackle such a broad base of literature is at best daunting and at worst obscenely short.  As one who rushes from one to the other in a futile battle to read and process them all; whilst simultaneously collecting even more avenues of enquiry, it occurs that all I can do is horde these treasures (read and unread) to one day pass on to another enquiring mind who will appreciate them.

In these days of ignorant and woefully ill-informed internet commentors and the prevalence of lazy journalism, it is refreshing to not only be able to read a literate and educated voice but also one that knows no fear in not only arguing but backing up said points with actual facts and a clarity that is most welcome.  Being critical is a right afforded to citizens in  many (not enough) countries and it should be used in debate to better ourselves, Hitchens was one man who never shied from giving his opinion and we should be thankful for his body of work. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 14/08/2016 in Essays, History, Journalism, Philosophy, Politics

 

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Plagiarism as an Art Form

Have you in the last year or so looked for free essays to plagiarise? Have you adapted what seemed to be attractive material into your essay or dissertation without properly checking or referencing…

Some of you may have asked these questions of students before and some of you may have taken part in the Koolhaus discussion on my review of ‘his’ book Creative Theory, Radical Example, well now the link between these two is revealed and discussed over at Jeff’s blog pertaining to the use of technology and how it’s changing education.  Check the link below.

Source: Plagiarism as an Art Form

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Posted by on 10/08/2016 in Art, Blogging, Essays, Journalism, Life

 

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Mail Order Pride

BlackOverBill'sMother'sFor the first time in over a decade, I’ve allowed myself to use Amazon to get my sticky mitts on some books.  To most people this is probably a regular occurrence these days, if not on that site but on others, yet I have always held a deep mistrust of shopping online.

Part of it is down to all those horror stories of people losing all their money and having to sort that out with the bank and such but more importantly, for me it ruins the fun of questing for books.

It’s the sense of drama that is lacking online, if the shopper can get their hands on any book at anytime then does that devalue the experience of shopping?  Not knowing is part of the thrill of going to the local purveyor of dreams wrapped up in paper. How many times have you looked for a book not found it and come out with several other great sounding books? Which is surely much more rewarding.

It’s magical, the expectation, the coveting and when you finally get a prize that’s been on the list for ages, or even better  one that was forgotten about until that moment when you came across it on an unassuming shelf somewhere.

That feeling, the split second of unreality as you hold it in your hand disbelieving, before the gushing feeling of victory bursts forth and perhaps a little leap of TheCornervictory escapes you no matter how many shoppers are around…or that could just be what I do.

Having said all that, sometimes after exhausting the local bookshops and every other one you’ve come across, it is good to fall back onto the safety (inter)net to source those elusive editions. The two pictured I’ve been hunting for, for a fair while and it’s a joy to see them now adorning the shelves.

Tally’s Corner came to my attention after reading the excellent The Corner:  A Year in the Life of an Inner City Neighbourhood which I reviewed a long while back here and is one of two books that eventually spawned the best series TV as ever produced The Wire, a review of which I will get up in the next month.

To offset this 1967 anthropological investigation of the place of African-Americans and their relationship with society, I also picked up a fiction piece full of solitude and reminiscences set in a village on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees.

All in all, a great haul after ten years away from internet shopping and two books I am looking to get my teeth into and which will possibly accompany me on the plane journey.  It’s between four books these two, Burke’s The Evils of Revolution and Children’s book Devil-in-the-Fog by Leon Garfield.  A strong field and a conundrum with which to sign off for a week, although I will be around for a day or so yet so don’t start pining yet.

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Posted by on 17/06/2016 in Fiction, Journalism

 

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The Emperor – Ryszard Kapuściński

KapuccinoAfter the deposition of Haile Selassie in 1974, which ended the ancient rule of the Abyssinian monarchy, Ryszard Kapuściński travelled to Ethiopia and sought out surviving courtiers to tell their stories. Here, their eloquent and ironic voices depict the lavish, corrupt world they had known – from the rituals, hierarchies and intrigues at court to the vagaries of a ruler who maintained absolute power over his impoverished people. They describe his inexorable downfall as the Ethiopian military approach, strange omens appear in the sky and courtiers vanish, until only the Emperor and his valet remain in the deserted palace, awaiting their fate. Dramatic and mesmerising, The Emperor is one of the great works of reportage and a haunting epitaph on the last moments of a dying regime.

Ethiopia was brought to the world’s attention by both Jonathan Dimbleby’s The Unknown Famine (which brought pressure and condemnation to the Selassie regime from the international community) and the original Live Aid concerts.  The former is an imperative moment in this emotive book.

Kapuściński planned this as the first part of a prospective trilogy depicting the fall of the three rulers, the other two being the fall of the Pahlavi the last Shah of Iran and a third book that never made it to publication – owing to perestroika – exploring the eventual downfall of Idi Amin.

As a journalist, Mr K. took it upon himself to risk visiting the remnants of the old royal court hidden away for fear of reprisals all around Addis Ababa.  Through their eyes we enter an archaic world of paranoia, competition and sycophancy, where constant palace maneuverings and the gaining of power are more important than the running of the country which is polluted by corrupt officials and a poverty-stricken populace.

Haile Selassie was treated as if he was a God, he played a cunning and repulsive game of division through inter court machinations in order for his rule to be properly cemented and go unchallenged.  Whilst the fawning went on, there was little in the way of reform unless it becomes necessary to appease the masses.  The opulence of the courtiers when contrasted with the rest of the country makes for a terribly sickening side by side with those images of famine victims we remember so vividly. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 28/05/2016 in History, Journalism

 

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Germinal – Émile Zola

GerminatingThoughtsÉtienne Lantier, an unemployed railway worker, is a clever but uneducated young man with a dangerous temper. Forced to take a back-breaking job at Le Voreux mine when he cannot get other work, he discovers that his fellow miners are ill, hungry, and in debt, unable to feed and clothe their families. When conditions in the mining community deteriorate even further, Lantier finds himself leading a strike that could mean starvation or salvation for all.

I can safely say that this book fits into the great tradition of journalistic classics.  It complements Dickens’ portrayal of the poverty and struggles of the working class and also reminded me of the depiction of English mines in Orwell’s harrowing but ultimately rewarding The Road to Wigan Pier.  The mention of the Davy lamp in the text also brought to mind Sir Humphrey Davy’s selfless experiences during research for his life saving Davy lamp.

Although Germinal is book 13 in the 20 volume Les Rougon-Macquart series, the earlier books aren’t required reading as this one stands alone perfectly well, this was my introduction to Zola and from the outset it pulled me straight in.

From the beginning we are introduced to a brutal work life of the pit workers, the place where they reside is a blight on a denuded landscape and the mine is depicted variously as gorging on human flesh and is also likened to the Greek underworld of Tartarus showing the nature of our relationship with the earth or at least our imagination’s interpretation.  Zola’s almost hellish imagery doesn’t shy away from the struggles and the horrors that people struggled through and sets the scene for a book story in which life is changed for all in harrowing and profound ways.

Buried like moles beneath the crushing weight of the earth, and without a breath of fresh air in their burning lungs, they simply went on tapping.

The vivid depictions of mining encourages that feeling of pity for the workers in their terrible conditions which aren’t overstated in their treacherous nature, in fact Zola’s depictions of all classes are accurate and even-handed, his considerable cast show many facets of bravery, love and hate across the board, yet strangely some of the minor characters get storylines that are more interesting than the main plot. The continued changing of my feelings for the characters as they grew or revealed their true colours, throughout the book kept me just off-balance enough to not fully like any of them but appreciate their motivations all the same. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 26/07/2015 in Classics, Journalism

 

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