The Bran Report

It's good for parts of you that you'd probably rather not think about.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Upshot of a conversation on the stairs.

Things my housemate apparently believe:

1) All white Americans, regardless of their words or lifestyle or voting record in the Democratic primary, are (in their heart of hearts) afraid of "The Blacks" and want to oppress them. (Citation: Bowling for Columbine).

2) Immigrants, regardless of their words or behaviour, in their heart of hearts, don't respect England and they are ruining the country and should be deported immediately.

3) Time is a social construct.

To be fair, she didn't use the exact words "social construct", but when I asked "I measure the time interval as X seconds. You measure it as X+5 seconds. Is it possible for us both to be correct?", she answered "Yeah, why not?".

Friday, August 03, 2007

A Cautionary Tale

Peter Griffin: Holy crap, Uhura's black?
Me: Ha ha! How remarkably oblivious to his surroundings that character is. Anyway, that's enough animation. Time for some space westerns.

(Later that day)

Me: I wonder if it's significant that there is only one black character on Serenity, and he's a mysterious outsider? Kind of like Othello, in a way. You see...
P: What about Zoe?
Me: Oh.

In my defence, I had noticed that she is a) Conscientious b) an unstopable avatar of war and c) super-hott, so I'd like to argue that this just represents an enlightened set of priorites. Think that'll fly?

Thursday, August 02, 2007


I had a variety of objectives in mind when I stopped shaving. One of them was saving a few minutes every other morning. I have achieved this admirably. Another was to acquire a nickname taken from the Star Wars franchise, and this was accomplished partially. A third was to get some kind of enhancement bonus to WISDOM, but it turns out that real life doesn't work that way and looking back on it, I do recall coming up with this plan while staring at a gallon of milk.

I've had this hair on my face for a little over a year now, and since there are still no signs of magical powers, I can only assume that I have learnt as much from it as I am going to.

I am going to shave on Sunday, August the 12th.

What should a man do when he knows he'll only be bearded for ten more days?

(I regret to inform that "take a plane" is unlikely to be achieved. It looked sketchy when I was late for my ship and thought I'd have to buz into John Lennon International and say "Hi, I'm a haggard bearded young adult travelling alone without luggage. Any chance you can sell me a one-way ticket to Belfast with no advance booking on this fine Friday midnight?" Fortunately, it turns out that Norfolk Line Ferries employ much more lenient check-in staff than Ryanair do.)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Whiteout Theatre

Lately I have been thinking about the role of the unsaid in art. Well, kind of. I've actually been thinking about Four Thirty Three and humming The Sound of Silence. As I understand it, someone has tried the same chortle with a blank canvas at some point.

What's the point, you might ask? (Not about the Sound of Silence. That's an awesome song.) Well, you could argue that by putting a little blank in a frame, you're making a statement about framing, an attempt to divert attention to the artistic beauty of leaves and pies and fire hydrants. Sometimes, it's a statement about authorial intent and primarily of interest to the kind of academics who spend their budget on tea and biscuits rather than on lasers and steam engines (known in the trade as slackers). Sometimes, I like to think, it's a statement about the Emporer's New Clothes.

The real value of the unsaid, if you ask me, isn't about blank canvases and silent songs. You need material to make a framework, and the viewer fills in the gaps with their own virtual reality.

This, incidentally, is something that humans are already doing every waking moment- in fact, we do it on levels higher than the neorological: in evidence I present the fact that Homestar is reognisably human, and can display a wide range of emotions, depsite lacking almost every feature. I'd go so far as to say that our perceptions are "really" a spotlight, constantly darting from faces to hands and most everything else goes unnoticed.

More relevant to art, though, are the gaps we fill in our ridiculously non-sequiteur conversations and the agent thinking that is behind (among other things) animism, cartesian duality, and Freaky Friday.

So, not at all originally, I thought I'd take a piece of communication and destory some of it's message with some digital tipex. I think the new version carries a strong story not intended in the author's vision, because it is supplied by my (and hopefully your) social library.

I call it Li'l Suzy and the Pink Pistols1. (For sanity reasons, it'll only display on the post page: click here if you don't see it.) For context, the original unexpurgated Li'l Suzy is here, but I warn you: I don't think she's half as cute when you can hear her.

1. I'm a bad internet citizen. A simple google-search would have taught me that the Pink Pistols name belongs to a real group of people. In fact, they are jolly interesting people who I may discuss at another time, though fans of terror and mayhem will be disappointed to learn that they don't seem to be out for the blood of every straight person. Instead it's self-defence, sense of belonging, rights of the idividual, blah blah blah. Since my original choice of name is misleading, how about... Li'l Suzy and The Isle of Saphos? Li'l Suzy and Her Audition fort Hallmark?2
2. I really hope that Hallmark don't object if I compare them to cute kids over-acting a U-rated love scene.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

You have to say it in Block Caps, because that's how it is in the source text.

My most recent posts have concerned, in order:

Lord of the Rings
Harry Potter
Final Fantasy VII
Star Wars

As they say in the trade, SO MUCH FOR KISSING SUPERMODELS.


I am rewatching Return of the King, and today I am struck by the change in culture between now and the forties.

(I don't know if I've talked about this before, so bear with me.)

In the books, I always got the impression that Merry and Pippin were pals, while Sam and Frodo were brothers-in-arms.

In the films, I think the Took and Brandybuck are a couple. Having just seen Pippin leave Edoras, I have a hard time seeing it any other way. In the appendices they both get off-screen wives and children, though it has been remarked that this is not as watertight as argument as it seems, and even less so in the forties. (That's right, viewers at home. Return of the King has hours more material they cut out of the films, detailing people's grandchildren. Peter Jackson may not have hurried, but he didn't keep more text than he needed to either).

Sam and Frodo's relationship is much the same as it ever was: even in the books, it was never quite clear if Frodo did or did not have the love that dare not speak its name. Maybe his peculiarly celibate lifestyle are meant to show how messed up he was by that Morgul blade. Sam has always been unambiguously keen on the ladytypes- a dramatic neccesity, given that subservient devotion is his defining characteristic.

In many ways, I wonder to what extent the extended explorations of the varieties of male affection are a consequence of its origin in the pre-feminist era- when you only introduced a female character because she was going to be praised for her beuty or deliver a line that approximates to "Ha ha, I don't have a penis so good luck with that prophecy pal, P.S. please eat this sword".

Well, Tolkien phrased it a little more elegantly.