Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Knitted pop-star outfit

Most women's magazines these days feature outfits worn by celebrities and pop stars, replacing high-end designer brand garments with high street copies, so fans can 'get the look'. It's not difficult to dress like Kate, Jordan or Posh (should you want to) even if you're on a tight budget.

Trying to dress like your favourite star isn't a new phenomenon. Devoted fans of The Tornados (of Telstar fame) in the early '60s could re-create exactly the same woolly jumpers (sweaters) worn by the band on their record covers, from this knitting pattern.

Did anyone actually knit one? I'd quite like to know. Or maybe got their grannies, mums or girlfriends to knit one for them, as I'm guessing that it wouldn't have been seen as very 'manly' to take up knitting back then.

The band were apparently sponsored by the knitting pattern company. I've been trying to think of an equally domesticated contemporary comparison, where a pop group is sponsored by a company as homely as this, but I can't. Maybe pop stars just aren't very wholesome these days.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Nice Bank Hol..?

Just wondering how other people's Bank Holiday Weekends went... ?? I bet you've all had a nice relaxing weekend... a fun-packed weekend getaway, ... or a lovely sunny Saturday afternoon, before the wind and rain started, maybe?

Well, I've been a bit of a work-obsessed saddo, I suppose, though I do like it at the moment, perverse though it may sound. I've been working solidly for days on this chapter to send off to my supervisor tomorrow. I was allowed out to get a bit of shopping, but printed out my draft to read on the bus, so as to save extra time doing corrections on my scrotty wad of paper stuffed in my bag. Time well spent, too! The highlight of today (apart from the wordcount creeping upwards, which is a delight to see... ) was a little Blue Tit hopping along my balcony wall (it was very sweet, actually). I'll miss the end of year student fashion shows tomorrow at the rate I'm going, but there'll be another one next year.... oh blimey, I dream of having my life back, I really do.... money... time...social life.... TV detective shows whenever I like... drool... sigh... whimper... ooh it all sounds SO tempting at the moment.... one day it will all be mine again... well, more than it is now, anyway. PLUS some seriously hefty 'outputs' as we call them (articles, book, odd projects and what have you).

(Oh, I'd better mention that it's just a career-changing thing, I haven't chosen a weird life for the sake of it. I'd better finish the damn doctorate ASAP, otherwise what's the point in giving up 3 days per week of a job years ago to do it? )

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Swinging London newsreels

I've just watched a brilliant DVD compilation of British newsreel items about Swinging London, from 1959-1967. It's great, much better than I thought it would be, and all in glorious technicolour. I ordered it for an item about 50s Soho coffee bars, it's excellent footage and exactly what I have been looking for. There's one feature about scooter culture (Scooter Commuter) for any mods out there, and also a good fashion one (In Gear), with clips of Biba, Granny Takes a Trip and various other shops from the 60s. I'm afraid I fell asleep during the "stunning display of the crown jewels" in the Tower of London feature, but I've been up and writing since 6.00am and it was my only break in a day of hideous oncoming-deadline stress.

I'm a bit surprised that the easiest and cheapest way for me to watch old British newsreels is to get them from America. The BFI National Film and TV Archive database only has the title of the series and the years, with absolutely no mention of the content. And to view it, I would have had to pay a viewing fee per hour, assuming I could find what I wanted (and I couldn't, because I've already looked). It's the same for a lot of old music programmes from late 1950s/early 60s British television - you might be able to find them in the BFI archive and book an appointment to view them, as they're not widely available over here on DVD. But once again, it's easier and cheaper to get them from the US.

I think it's rather shocking that we can get better access to some of our own cultural heritage via other countries, rather than here in the UK, the actual place of origin. Does that mean some people here are still lingering under the influence of a rather outdated, elitist idea of popular music and television and what its cultural value is? Or maybe just not very entrepreneurial, or don't actually care anyway?

(I got the DVD from The Videobeat, which specialises in 1950s/60s films, rock 'n' roll, teen delinquents, youth culture stuff, that sort of thing. And it played ok on my not-very-sophisticated DVD player. My parents and Auntie Ig will like it too!)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Paranoia unintended, but a bit worrying

I'm not intending to induce paranoia in anyone with a blog, but do you ever think about what it might mean for you personally if your blog content surreptitiously ended up elsewhere, without your permission? Or was used in a way you never intended it to be when you posted it?

There is an interesting post on Zinnia Cyclamen's blog about the problems a number of UK bloggers have had recently with national newspapers publishing their work. She draws attention to several cases. Rachel of North London reports how the Daily Mail misrepresented a blogger by publishing part of a blog post to illustrate an article about women using blogs to take "E-venge" on ex-partners, without her permission. Apart from printing 26 inaccuracies, the paper took the work they published completely out of context by using part of one post the blogger had written, ignoring four years worth of other blogposts, thus effectively portraying her unfairly as a "cyber-bunny boiler". Worrying if you're not an anonymous blogger and an occasional rant ends up in a national paper, only finding out when your neighbour tells you he's read it.

On the Guardian website, Zoe Margolis (of Girl with a One Track Mind blog) discusses the problems of copyright emerging from a a recent case where The Mail on Sunday printed whole posts from one blog, without critical comment from the paper or as part of a review, with no permission sought and no fee offered to the blogger, due to the assumption that bloggers are "amateur writers" and the blog was "in the public domain." The invention of the blog must have been a wonderful event for lazy journalists.

I find this a bit problematic, as I'm supposed to be persuading students to start blogs about their research. It is difficult to be enthusiastic when you know there are various pitfalls to negotiate first - try to be interesting and actually enjoy doing it, but don't reveal stuff that you might regret at a later date; use it to help create a web profile to make your work known, but at the same time, protect your intellectual property by keeping your core ideas to yourself in case someone pinches them. Difficult to get a balance between just being a noticeboard and doing something a bit more interesting or creative with it. And avoiding full-blown paranoia too!

Depends partly on their work - whether it is text-based (writing), digital arts or traditional 3D media, and the stage the work has reached. Ok to put a jpg of your completed large stone sculpture on your blog, but not very sensible to work through your intellectual ideas for a written thesis as work in progress.

A colleague remarked once that ideas are your currency in Higher Education in today's competitive, research-orientated market, so be careful what you do with them. Copyright issues aside, if newspapers start publishing parts of people's blogs out of context, it can only restrict even further what people choose to write and how they use their blogs in the future. A bit depressing really.

(And I've just realised that I really dislike the term 'blogger'. I don't know what the difference is between being a person who happens to have a blog, and being a 'blogger', but it matters, for some reason.)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Bad choice of typeface?

Someone at work yesterday thought it was a bit politically dodgy to use an Arabic-style font for the graphic design of this poster for a film festival, given this year's theme (crime, clothes and violence). Was she being over-analytical....?

The actual programme of film and events is great though - more details on their website. I am really annoyed that I will miss things I would love to see, due to my ridiculous workload... sigh...