Developed World Problems

I wanted to go to Liverpool a couple of weeks ago, but there was a conference on the Saturday so I either had two early starts or would have to stay over night. There were no rooms in Liverpool to be had for under £200, so I figured I ought to be able to get something near Euston for under £100. That way I could be in Liverpool by noon, without having to get up at 6am two days running. (Of course, I probably could have gone to Liverpool on the Friday, but when would I write the paper then?)

As if by magic, the booking appeared on my phone, and so I could use Google Maps to plot the walk there from the soon-to-be-lamented Bree Louise. It might be worth noting I was already exhausted and my left knee was giving me aggro.

Everyone seems to want your opnion of how your stay or travel or whatever was, so I filled in the feedback webpages and it suggested that I share to Trip Advisor via the link below.

There was no link below.

Trip Advisor’s loss is your gain.

Lucky you

Possibly this is GoogleMaps’ fault, but living in the twenty-first century I was pleased to see that GoogleMaps knew where and when I was staying, so I could navigate a route. Unfortunately, this took me to one of the other three or four Premier Inns near York Road. Thanks, Google.

When I found the right hotel, check in seemed fine and I descended into the bowels of the hotel to find a compact room, with a comfortable bed if you are tall enough to clamber into it. (I think it was a metre off the ground.) The bed only has one side which is accessible, so if you have a bunkmate who lost the toss and gets the wall, they either wake you up or clamber over you, possibly both.

The first thing I noticed was a lack of kettle (there was a mumble about free coffee in the restaurant area, but I’m not sure I want that at three o’clock in the morning). Having just stayed in a cheaper hotel with kettle, fridge and microwave, I think someone is getting away with something for £100 a night. There isn’t a beaker in the bathroom, so you couldn’t even drink from the tap.

There’s a double shower in a single cubicle, but the door to the cubicle is rather narrow — I just about squeezed through.

All the lights are controlled from a touchpad on the wall by the bed. This requires much groping around in the dark, and not in a pleasant way, as that sound much more fun than it really was.

On the positive side, there is a socket by the bed, so you can recharge your phone as you sleep and have the phone by you. Most hotels seem to put the sockets as far away from the bed as possible.

(I note also the stylised map of London on the wall — which rather straightens the Thames and is rather approximate about anthing approaching accuracy)

Thirty-Five Years On

If you were in New York or another big city in the US thirty-five years ago, 25 June 1982, four films opened:

  • Blade Runner (Ridley Scott)
  • MegaForce (Hal Needham)
  • Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (Terry Hughes/Ian MacNaughton)
  • The Thing (John Carpenter)

It would be pleasing to note that MegaForce was the only hit — it’s got Barry Bostwick in it, guys — but it tanked, too.

I suspect the others made their money back on the video/DVD long tail — but where’s MegaForce 2049?

Butler’s First Law of Research

Write it down.

No, seriously, write it down.

In the bibliography to my thesis I quote Walter Benjamin, “The only exact knowledge there is is the knowledge of the date of publication and the format of books”.

(Of course, date of publication isn’t always clear — see Endangering Science Fiction Film with its copyright date of 2016 that I got in 2015.)

Quoting this to other people, it occurred to me I didn’t have the source. Pah.

Ironic, but. Pah.

It seemed likely to be in Illuminations, if only because that’s the book I know best. But could I find it?

A year ago, perhaps reading about Benjamin, maybe for the stuff on special effects and Brecht, I relocated the quote.

But I still didn’t write it down.

Double pah.*

Last week I was talking to Rob McPherson about the materials he’s been turning up about pubs and brewing, and I was sat at my iPad, occasionally searching for webpages to clarify details. One of these was from the Canterbury Archaeological Trust and had an interesting quote which I want to follow to its source. There’s a copy of that book in Ashford Library. The quote related to a Canterbury family who either brewed or owned pubs or …

I still didn’t write it down.

Cue frantic searching through Kent County Council Libraries catalogue.

By a miracle, the name reappeared in my memory.**

I am the kind of person with a physical memory of the “it’s halfway down p. 222” type, but I should know not to rely on it.

* And ironically it turns out that I actually misremembered that. The quote is “‘The only exact knowledge there is’, said Anatole France, ‘is the knowledge of the date of publication and the format of books'”, complete with a reference. I clearly never thought to check.

** The Flint family, if you’re wondering. The volume is Brief Records of the Flint Family.

How to Suppress #94

Back in the day I wrote a chapter on postmodernism and science fiction for The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction. Space, as always, was tight, and as I recall, my focus was on the three key thinkers who characterise postmodern theory — for better or worse Jean Baudrillard, Fredric Jameson and Jean-François Lyotard. I certainly knew about Meaghan Morris’s The Pirate’s Fiancée: Feminism, Reading, Postmodernism (1988) and Donna Haraway’s “A Manifesto for Cyborgs” (1985) but it looks like neither get a mention. It might have been I assume one or other would be in a chapter on gender or feminism, but that’s no excuse.

More problematic — and I’m not going to go and check — is that all my fictional examples were by male authors.

The editors did not notice, but someone did:

Butler fails to mention even one science fiction text author by a woman or even one female literary theorist. How to suppress women’s writing? Butler’s article supplies an egregious answer. (Barr 153)

Yes, bang to rights.

Continue reading →

Shit Academics Say

Having finished all three lectures for Monday by close of play Thursday, I can take the weekend off.

Well, I have a meeting on Saturday, which doesn’t count.

 I can take the weekend off.

There are the portfolios that need marking, and I can get a few done on the train. But apart from that  I can take the weekend off.

And I’m going to see a comedian Sunday night, which might feed into research. But that doesn’t count.

And I’m so close to the library, I might as well look for the other book I wanted yesterday.  I can take the weekend off apart from that.

And I want to read the book I did take out.

But apart from that, I can take the weekend off.