Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Time to get off the cultural pot

I posted a piece today on cultural forms which leave me completely cold. Which now strikes me as being rather negative. So for balance, here are the things which do excite me. Some are 'highbrow', some are 'lowbrow'. Some are products of the capitalist system I so detest.

While you read, here's a song that's going round my head a lot at the moment, This Mortal Coil's Song to the Siren and their cover of Roy Harper's Another Day. I'd have hated them as a teen: tastes do change.

1. Church music and architecture. Even though I've not the tiniest shred of spiritual belief, resent the disinformation and cultural power of religion, they do (did?) have good taste in composers and architects. 

2. Teen dramas and comedy. My So-Called Life. Buffy. The Inbetweeners. Degrassi Junior High.

3. Mid-afternoon TV. Did anyone watch Ed on Channel 4: slushy, self-congratulatory, often smug, always great? Cagney and Lacey is brilliant. Jeeves and Wooster.

4. Science fiction. Once, all SF. Now, I can't stand fantasy with the possible exception of LeGuin, Gwyneth Jones and Tepper, though the generic boundaries are unclear. I do adore 'hard SF' though: the stuff that deals with the cultural and political effects of technology. Books and music.

5. Minimalist and atonal classical music. But there is also a softer side: Vaughan Williams, Stanford, Bax and co. are tuneful, somewhat old-fashioned and altogether wonderful. And of course Bach's Cello Suites are the creates pieces every written. 

6. Campus novels, which is very self-regarding. Also literary parodies, which are smug. I also collect an awful lot of children's literature. Given I haven't any children, it implies that I'm emotionally arrested. 

7. Conservative, expensively tailored clothes. Yes, I know I look like a slob exclusively dressed by Oxfam, but I've even got one tailor-made suit, and some shoes which are well above my pay-grade. I'd love a 1940s wardrobe.

8. Old films. Screwball comedies, SF, westerns, noir, WW2 propaganda films (Casablanca is my all time favourite, but I'll watch anything with a Hepburn (preferably Katherine), Bacall, Leigh, Bogart or Stewart in it.

9. British films. Brief Encounter. The Titfield Thunderbolt. Passport to Pimlico. The Mouse That Roared. The Man In the White Suit. The School For Scoundrels. Carry-On. Holiday On The Buses. The Doctor In The… series.

9. Quiz shows. Mastermind, University Challenge, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?.

10. Comics. But not cool ones. Unfashionable ones. Green Lantern. Atom Man. Etc.

11. Cricket, fencing, Stoke City, rugby league. GAA. Cycling. 

12. Whiny underpowered indie music. Tiny record labels. Side-projects. Limited editions on coloured vinyl. Memorising the messages engraved in the run-off groove of Smiths singles. 

13. Pork scratchings. Western civilisation's lowest point. Did I mention I have some scratchings-based chocolate?

14. Dumb pop songs. Symposium's Farewell to Twilight. Van Halen's Jump. Terrorvision's Oblivion. Tiffany's I Think We're Alone Now. Camper van Beethoven's Take The Skinheads Bowling. L7's Pretend We're Dead. Devo's Mongoloid. Jane Wiedlin's Rush Hour (she was also in Star Trek IV and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. All of Shatner and Nimoy's musical output. Songs from the Simpsons.

15. Star Trek. Not Star Wars. Falken's Maze. Mall Rats.

What a sad life.


The Plashing Vole said...

I forgot the 2 doctors, Who and Marten.

ed said...

You also mistakenly suggest that Star Trek is better than Star Wars.

The Plashing Vole said...

Not quite a mistake. Didn't say which one was better (though it's clearly the original series of Star Trek). I just happen to have grown up to love ST whereas Star Wars passed me by. And I'm allergic to Ewoks.

The Plashing Vole said...

And if we're on the subject of SF shows better than Star Wars, I give you Buck Rogers, the original Battlestar Galactica (not seen the new one), The Tomorrow People, Sapphire and Steel, Space 1999 (brilliant) and Captain Zep, Space Detective. For starters.

ed said...

Ok, I'm not going to spar with someone with far more SF expertise than I. But, in terms of action toys, intergalactic civil war fought by people with swords that are also LASERS trumps the rest...

p.s. Star Wars original trilogy that is. The prequels, not pork scratchings, are Western civilisation's lowest point.

The Plashing Vole said...

OK, Star Wars prequels are the worst products of the human imagination.
As to lasers: I say PHASERS!
And Battlestar Galactica is based on Virgil's Aeneid. Which seems quite cool to me (though a Mormon claimed to me that it's based on their history).