Wednesday, August 17, 2005

My iBook: 16 June 2002 - 16 August 2005 RIP

So my iBook G3 700 mhz has officially given up the ghost. A replacement of the logic board would cost some $350 USD plus labour, which would be at least $65 CAD for consultation and probably another $130 for the installation. So now, I fear that I will need to delve back into the Windows world and buy a PC. The only reason for this is that it isn't the best time in the world to buy a Mac, with the Intel switch coming up next year and powerbooks probably being updated in the next few months (as the last of the PPC powerbooks).

My dilemma is whether to pick up a Mac Mini or something like that, or a much cheaper Windows box, running a low-end Sempron64. The attractive thing about a PC is that I can run WordPerfect, my favourite word-processor. I am, after all, writing a PhD dissertation.

It pains me nonetheless to leave the safe and enjoyable world of OS X for the extremely unenjoyable world of XP. Perhaps this experience will not be a terrible one; after all, I will be able to edit video and burn DVDs, something which, surprisingly, I have been unable to do on the inadequate iBook (processor-wise and in terms of HD space).

Finally, this transition means that I might end up buying a CRT screen, since they are much cheaper than the LCDs. Since my wife and I are going to Florida in September, it only makes sense that we try to cut costs (of course, this never applies to the many DVDs we buy, or our tea excursions, as is only right).

I only slept about 5 hours last night because of this. There might not have been real reason for my insomnia, but nonetheless I had trouble. Hopefully all goes well today.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Fountain Pens

My wife was gracious enough to offer to me a new and slightly more expensive fountain pen for my birthday, so we recently went out and looked for one. I, of course, first thought of a Mont Blanc, but quickly thought against it considering the price. So, what about Waterman? The first store we went to had a nice Waterman, green in colour, metallic and quite nice. The price was right as well, but I wanted to hold out to see if we found another. At the next store, we saw some that were quite nice, and then my eyes beheld this nice Waterman.

It was metallic blue, a bright blue, nice and bright, unlike some of the other pens we saw. The finish was like a satin finish--not matte, and not lustre-y. But a really nice, bright blue with silver clip and little accents. I thought the pen felt nice too. So we bought it and found out it came from the "Ici et La" ("here and there") line. Upon further research once we got home, I find out that this pen is targetted at women. In other words, the pen that I so liked is actually a woman's pen.

I don't think it really does look like a pen for a woman, but it does come in a little case not unlike something a girl might have, and the finish on the pen is "satin"-y. But I like it and I'm sticking to my story. I chose the pen without thinking that there was such a thing as a girl's pen, and I still like it.

Although, in doing my research, I did see that the original green Waterman we had seen was not as bad as I thought, and it would have been cheaper. Oh well, too late now.

Thank you, Antonella, from the bottom of my heart, for buying me a pen. And I appreciate the fact that you still love me even though I do things like choose a woman's pen. And I'm glad you like the pen too.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

A piece about celebrity ...

In Richard Dyer’s book, _Stars_ (London: British Film Institute, 1988), he presents the notion of the celebrity and notes that film actors performa as characters; Dyer suggests that one can distinguish between a star’s “total image” and a character he or she plays on the screen. (88) In an earlier discussion, Dyer notes the manufactured nature of the star-image itself. He explains:

"Stars are, like characters in stories, representations of people. Thus they relate to ideas about what people are (or are supposed to be) like. However, unlike characters in stories, stars are also real people. . . . Because stars have an existence in the world independent of their screen/'fiction' appearances, it is possible to believe . . . that as people they are more real than characters in stories. This means that they serve to disguise the fact that they are just as much produced images, constructed personalities as 'characters' are." (20)

While agreeing that “characters are not real people, that they are an effect of the text constructions,” it should be noted that star figures are nonetheless constructed as well. (89) Dyer discusses the notion of the film star, where he or she performs a particular character in the context of a fiction. Dyer’s model of the celebrity may be useful when discussing popular musicstars, although the latter case may prove to be more complex.

It is true that celebrities exist in popular music as they do in cinema, and that a celebrity is constructed by various factors including the music one performs, also not unlike a cinema star. There are notable cases in which musicians perform in specific character: Bowie became Ziggy Stardust in 1973; Marilyn Manson seems to follow in Ziggy’s footsteps; the band Kiss take on individual personas and characteristics apart from their “actual” identities. What is interesting in the case of popular music are those musicians who choose to perform a “fiction” without stepping out of his or her star-image. In other words, a performer does not always enter a character: James Taylor is James Taylor in concert, no matter what song he is singing. Note that the audience is only privilege to a particular image of James Taylor—not the actual person—but neither does he enter into a particular character in the same way that a film actor does.

Dyer’s analysis of Jane Fonda illuminates the manufactured quality of celebrity which, in the case of Fonda, may be based partly on fact. Dyer suggests that her star image revolves around her connection to her father, sex and political radicalism. From her father Henry, Jane carries connotations of left-wing liberalism and a strong sense of Americanness. This national sensibility is reinforced by her physical likeness to her father, her upbringing on a farm, her attendance at a top women’s college and her film portrayals of college icons such as student, cheerleader and majorette. Her film characters inform her star-image, and her star-image informs her characters.

This kind of slippage between star-image and character occurs in a particularly pronounced manner in the case of Frank Sinatra. Keir Keightley, in his doctoral dissertation on Sinatra [“Frank Sinatra, Hi-Fi, and Formations of Adult Culture: Gender, Technology, and Celebrity, 1948-62” (Doctoral Dissertation, Concordia University, 1996)], discusses the singer’s role as Barry Sloan in the 1955 film, Young at Heart. Keightley states,

"Note the slippage between Sinatra and the character he plays in the film: … it is noteworthy that 'Frankie' (as much as the character he is playing) is here seen as “tormented,” experiencing “misery,” and “wearing a chip on his shoulder,” ideas which were commonly associated with Sinatra’s star-image at this time." (204)

Sinatra is an interesting case since he is both a musician and a film actor, conflating the notions of star-image and character.

A fragement I wrote quite a while ago...

Mike Featherstone, in his book _Global Culture: Nationalism, Globalization and Modernity_ (London : Sage, 1990) [I think], begins by asking if a global culture actually exists. There certainly doesn’t exist an integrated global culture (like a nation-state of cultural homogenaety and integration). Featherstone discusses the changes in the world economy in the 1970s and 1980s which have been represented by the de-monopolization of economic structures as well as the deregulation and globalization of markets. This globalization resulted in the formation of a new line of professionals, such as international lawyers and accountants. This, in turn, led to a process of interconnectedness between national legal systems. Featherstone suggests that this destruction of barriers favoured the strongest performers: North America. These professionals work outside of the traditional nation-state framework of commerce and experience difficulties of intercultural communications first hand. They demand the creation of a new form of habitus.

He discusses the global flow of tourism, in which the experience is sanitized and controlled. Neither of the above examples (professionals and tourists) are particularly cosmopolitan. Featherstone adds, “we can posit varieties of cosmopolitanism, such as in diplomacy, in which other culture is largely mastered and there is the capacity to communicate the fruits of this competence to others via third languages, such as diplomatic languages.” (9) He is discussing a kind of capital regarding the assumption of culture. The stranger is a figure which cannot be integrated into the local/cosmopolitan model: the stranger is indeterminate. He concludes:

"The varieties of response to the globalization process clearly suggests that there is little prospect of a unified global culture, rather there are global cultures in the plural. Yet, as several contributors have pointed out, the intensity and rapidity of today’s global cultural flows have contributed to the sense that the world is a singular place which entails the proliferation of new cultural forms for encounters." (10-11)

Featherstone suggests the notion of the local versus the cosmopolitan, and that the global context demands a new global habitus. He throws the stranger into the mix as one who doesn’t fit into the binary model. Where would one place Morrissey? Is he a cosmopolitan or a local, or is this binary problematized when there is only a small cultural change, as in diasporic movement within Western society? Or is he a stranger? He doesn’t seem to fit any of the three figures completely, whether it be local, cosmopolitan or stranger. He forces his audience towards a “slight” cosmopolitanism, a kind of Morrissey “third language,” to use Featherstone’s terminology for diplomacy, and perhaps a greater habitus for those audiences who are latino, or culturally further from the North American experience of England.