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Dyslexia for dummies

I have at times (more often than not) an evil demon in my brain, it uses its pitchfork to stab into my brain and dares me to prank, often calling me a pussy if I resist. Sometimes I give in; just the idea of friendly pranking is overwhelming. I also tend to do this as a form of justice, but more about that later. The image you see is not mine, it was Facebooked to me and good ammunition is hard to come by, so when I was in a bookshop getting the idea that someone looked bored, I asked for the book and showed the image. She was busy for at least 5 minutes before she figured out that she was being pranked.

There was no evil from me, it was not to give a person an intentional hard time (the one exception which will be mentioned soon), and there was no aftermath, it was a little harmless fun, whilst letting the victim know that they did nothing wrong and of course, the mandatory ‘I’m sorry‘ was added on my side, it was all in good fun. The exception to that rule was when I witness some manager dress down an employee too loudly in public on how their knowledge lacked. At that point my demon did not need to alert me, I looked around and whilst I appealed to his ego, I pleaded for his help to find something and of course as the so called boss he was ready to comply. It was about two minutes later when he gave the task to a worker there. He had been unable to locate the Vegan Beef Burgers in any of the freezers, I cautiously informed the worker what I had done and tears of laughter dropped to the floor, he was able to refrain from loud laughter, it was priceless.

So there I was asking for Dyslexia for dummies and as the salesperson knew me, I wasn’t going to get far. Yet that was not why I was there. There was a sale going on and I got my fingers on a really nice book for $5, sometimes one gets to be lucky. So there I was holding onto a pre-owned copy of The Leper of Saint Giles. I saw Cadfael on TV, but never read it and that is why I got at it. It was then that it dawned on me that I had lost the pleasure of reading to some extent. There was Tolkien, Deborah Harkness, Stephen Fry but those are the older books, during my law degree, I was ‘forced’ to sit down and read so much that the pleasure of relaxing and read a book had faded to some degree. Whether it was merely that or the mountains of digital information that were offered to me on an hourly basis, I cannot tell. The age of me being a bookworm had faded to some degree. There is the notion that I currently find writing more fun than reading and the 1200 articles I have written so far seem to indicate that. I think that creating articles, working on Intellectual Property concepts, as well as an idea for a TV series, and three video games; it seems that the creation bug is in me and it is taking its toll in other ways.

So why write about it?

The Guardian gave me something this morning that lighted the spark of reading and feeling that spark is a little overwhelming. It was yesterday’s story (at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/02/jack-the-ripper-victims-had-to-be-whores-anyone-saying-different-deserves-a-trolling) that links to the February article called ‘The Five by Hallie Rubenhold review – the untold lives of Jack the Ripper’s victims‘, I was always intrigued by that era (as well as the individual known as JtR from L) and any detective reader will feel the pinch when Jack the Ripper is called for. I believe that the first movie regarding it was Murder by Decree with Christopher Plummer (Sherlock Holmes), it is the Michael Caine version (Chief Inspector Frederick Abberline) with Lewis Collins (Sergeant George Godley) and Jane Seymour I liked the best. It has a whole range of top notch actors and the premise of the setting of the movie is also quite unique, as such it was an excellent mini-series to watch on DVD and this all leads me to the book.

The book gives rise to a lot of issues that the movies never got to, the fact that there is that historian Hallie Rubenhold took an actual look at the women, the five victims, she sets a stage that the police had worked on assumption on a few levels and it also gives rise as the two movies had inclined to some degree.

In murder by decree, there is a stage that one of the women gave birth to a son from Prince Albert. The mini-series gives rise that there were questions, but I never looked at it from certain sides in depth, because I never had any reliable materials to read, as such and through exposure on a multitude of ways, the five were merely prostitutes. Now we see Hallie Rubenhold digging into historical records and we are confronted with: “In three of the cases, there is no evidence to suggest that they were professional prostitutes, and convincing reasons to believe that they were not“, this is huge because it implies that not only was the entire matter a joke towards investigation, there is every chance that the police had been looking in the wrong direction and the fattening of the stories through newspapers did not help much. The fact that I am also exposed to “Ripperologists have devoted lengthy blog posts and podcasts to attacking her research and her credentials” is just unacceptable. whether it is a true work of history, or even a dramatized writing based on published fact is open to debate, but I am not willing to do that until there is credible evidence (actual evidence) that this is a mere work of fiction. I particularly like the quote: “Rubenhold’s book quotes the judge in the 2008 “Suffolk Strangler” case, who instructed the jury considering evidence against the serial killer of sex workers to put aside their “distaste” at the victims’ “lifestyles”, an extraordinary echo of the same sentiment, 120 years after the Ripper murders“, it seems that there is a correlation of ‘sex workers’ and ‘they deserve whatever they get’ and the fact that it survived the tests of time for centuries. An aspect I had never anticipated. I find one other part disturbing, the view that the writer Stephanie Merritt has when we see Ripperologists and the enigma of Jack the Ripper his enigma lends a macabre glamour, and to shift the story away from sex to the more mundane Victorian social issues of poverty, homelessness and addiction, as Rubenhold has done, is to interfere unforgivably in a narrative they feel belongs to them. I would argue that nothing of any of it belongs to them, history belongs to all, and we can do with it (to some degree) what we like. Historians tend to redress those times into a framework that we today can relate to, fictional writers add pizzazz to it and as such we now know that there were 15 commandments, not 10 (Mel Brooks), some try to adhere to futuristic endeavours like Jane Webb (1827) who would give us the original story of the Mummy and how Brendan Fraser and Arnold Vosloo modernised it well over a century and a half later. History has a great edge, what has happened has been open to interpretation for the longest time, you merely need to read the factual Treaty of Clermont (1095) and how it led to centuries of pillaging of the Middle East.

History can be read in many ways, so what is to state that Hallie Rubenhold is reading the right or wrong historical facts? First to consider is that (as the story goes) that Rubenhold has been trying to get a fix on their lives and even as most will focus on the Ripper and partially ignore the fact that there is serious doubt on the five victims in more than one way, we see one part with: “There is no evidence, Rubenhold argues, that Nichols or Chapman or Eddowes ever worked as prostitutes; the police conviction that the killer targeted women of “bad character” perverted the inquiry. The Ripper’s victims, she suggests, were targeted not because they were soliciting sex but because they were drunk and homeless and – most importantly – asleep. The killer preyed on women whom nobody cared about and who wouldn’t be missed” the stage is a setting that is true even today, the homeless will be targeted more often than anyone having a decent roof over their heads and consider that street lights were rare in 1888, the fact that people in the dark are an open invitation is a given.

The partial fact that we see with: “Nichols, daughter of a blacksmith, spent her first years in Dawes Court, where Dickens had imagined Fagin living with his pickpockets in Oliver Twist.” is a part that almost no one would know. The Charles Dickens fans optionally, yet how many of them are that as well as Ripperologists? Some of the records that are available, or used a quote giving rise to the fact that Police surgeon Dr Frederick Gordon Brown and Police physician Thomas Bond have been in disagreement regarding Catherine Eddowes and there is another part that struck me when I was reading some of the accounts. The fact that I read: “instead of turning right to take the shortest route to her home in Flower and Dean Street, she turned left towards Aldgate“. My issue is not with the route, but more about the reasoning that the police might have had. What was the difference in illumination? A woman would shy from dark alleys and short cuts, especially in those days. A 10 minute longer walk where there are lights would be a common sense reason and this is merely speculation because the streetlights in those days were rare and in poor area’s unlikely to be there or working. In addition, as we look at the autopsy, we see that Thomas Bonds version is supported by both Local surgeon Dr George William Sequeira and City medical officer William Sedgwick Saunders, and what else has been ignored? What more do we not know and that is where the book comes in, because is all versions I have seen the women were downplayed and trivialised as prostitutes. The version of them being down on their luck and more important pushed into a life of self-medicating alcoholics have always been portrayed as the element linked to prostitutes.

Hallie Rubenhold gives us in ‘The Five’ a different stage, when did anyone realise that this was a much larger case riddles with issues linked to preconception and ego? When we see: ‘they came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden, and Wales‘, one was Scandinavian? London was filled with immigrants, which was no secret, but I never knew that not all these five were English; it opens another stage in all this. I am not claiming that the version of Hallie Rubenhold is the perfect or most correct one, but unlike other works, the victims are the full focal point and that needs to be placed first and that is where we are, a book that suddenly made me curious and gave me the spark and is driving me to read (that book), I have not had that feeling for quite some time and as such this work might be a lot more interesting than anyone is willing to admit to.

When was the last time that a book or a topic made you want to read something from a writer you never read before?

This gives an optionally needed call towards a ‘new’ version of Dyslexia for dummies, not because the person cannot read, but because writers relying on history are attacked without proper scientific or evidentiary support, giving a dangerous setting where the reader was in danger of not seeing this book at all. So perhaps we need a book (Dyslexia for dummies) starting with the premise that the world is flat and the centre of this solar system, and whilst the Hallie Rubenhold trolls focus on these amazing facts, the rest of us can relax and take a good look at the plight that 5 women went through, up to the moment they were confronted with a man who would later be known as Jack the Ripper.

 

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Rampling was the domino

It is a side I had not thought of for quite a while. I have my own views, movies I like, movies I go to see. When I do, there is no regard towards race or religion. I just want to see a good movie, for the mere reason that going to the cinema is expensive, so when I go there, it better be a good one. So when I initially read the article ‘Charlotte Rampling finds herself outnumbered in Oscars diversity row‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/jan/22/charlotte-rampling-finds-herself-outnumbered-in-oscars-diversity-row), I was not entirely sure what to think. For me, I am still slightly upset on the Golden globes, because no matter how much I enjoyed the Martian, it is NOT a comedy. A light-hearted drama at best. So in my eyes, the foreign press desperately wanted to get the Martian elected even though EVERYONE knew that the titanic achievement ‘the Revenant’ could not be equalled. So, they were willing to screw over Paul Feig or Judd Apatow, depending on your view of comedy. In that same light Matt Damon should not have won, not because his achievement was bad, it was quite excellent and I will look forward to own this achievement on Blu-Ray in 17 days, 13 hours and 14 minutes (roughly, but who’s counting). Yet, I will see this as excellent drama, not as a comedy. All the movies I saw, had a Caucasian caste. I thought nothing of it, no bad thoughts; no directed thoughts. There was an African American in Star Wars and he played his part really well, just nothing I would nominate a Golden globe or Oscar to. The day is young and I will look forward to him rocking my world as an actor in a future movie hr does. I have seen my share of excellent acting in Sidney Poitier (Heat of the night), Morgan Freeman (loads of movies there), Eddie Murphy (Beverly Hills Cop/Harlem Nights), and Don Cheadle (Traitor). Here I pause for a moment, you see, this is a serious piece of work based on an idea by funny guy Steve Martin. The result is a spy thriller of unrivalled proportions and until the very end, you have no idea what will happen. As Spy stories goes, this is a killer! We tend to look at Freeman in the Shawshank Redemption, or one of my favourites ‘I, Robot’ with Will Smith, but in all this, we are limited by the exposure we tend to see through marketing (trailers). Because of that element I almost missed out on a gem called ‘Seven Pounds’, which is an amazing piece of work. Yes, it is sentimental, and there are truths in the view Todd McCarthy from Variety has, but it seems that his world is about one view, it is his view. I try to see multiple views, not always mine, one I can agree with or a comfortable one, but the fact remains that we all have our own skeletons, sometimes they are dark and leave no sunlight or a shadow. In this his last ‘view’ was “an endlessly sentimental fable about sacrifice and redemption that aims only at the heart at the expense of the head” (at http://variety.com/2008/film/awards/seven-pounds-2-1200472723/), but in all this Variety forgets that movies are made to appeal an audience and in a directly addressable audience of well over 3 billion, there is a need for everyone. It is for that reason I have a similar appreciation for Lars von Trier’s ‘Dancer in the Dark‘ (and ended up being depressed for well over a week).

The question becomes, how correct is Charlotte Rampling. She is not wrong and I feel that the issue goes a lot further than is currently illustrated. That part is also shown in the Guardian article when you see the video on that page with Mark Ruffalo. But neither show the element I am aiming for. You see, it was not until the Golden Globes that I saw that Will Smith was nominated for a role in a movie I had absolutely ZERO awareness of. Wiki and the trailer of Concussion shows a drama that hits at the heart of America. It shows two sides, one, do not ever mess with their ‘sport’ and the second issue is that America remains in denial as long as it is convenient for their bottom dollar. In that Concussion seems to surpass several dramas. You see, this issue goes a lot further than what we see from either Charlotte Rampling or Mark Ruffalo state, although Mark reflects on the direction. You see it goes further than we see in the article. the quote “An analysis by the Los Angeles Times in 2014 found that the 6,000-plus members are 93% white and 76% male, with an average age of 63“, a system that is set around a nation where the median age is 39, state wise spread from Utah (29) to Maine (44). You see, the people looking at the entertainment industry are no longer representative of their age, which gives a new problem. It is their marketing and publication side. The fact that a gem like Concussion, a 2015 movie that only gets visibility after the nominations of the golden Globes is a bigger problem than many realise. Now we see in the Hollywood Reporter, the following quote by Charlotte Rampling “I simply meant to say that in an ideal world every performance will be given equal opportunities for consideration“, which is true and part of the problem, because that is unlikely to be the case. Equally true is the quote we see from Michael Caine “You Can’t Vote for an Actor Because He’s Black“, which is equally true. The actors I mentioned earlier did the work, the hardship and ended up with the nominations, yet in opposition I offer that my view is in equal measure that there is an indication that votes are lost, or not duly received because of colour. In that light I offer ‘the Color Purple‘ which in 1986 rocked da house! The Academy awards had given it 11 nominations, ZERO wins. Whoopi Goldberg did get her Golden Globe, but they lost out on 4 other nominations. One out of 15, which is statistically a joke. Yet is it mere fate? You see Out of Africa was good, but not great (a personal view). I feel this because I enjoyed both movies, but I have since (1986) watched the Color Purple at least 8 times on DVD and Out of Africa? Nil times! In other lights, it had fierce competition from Prizzi’s Honor (Anjelica Huston) and Ran (Emi Wada), yet are the other 9 times deserved non-winners? I feel I cannot state this for certain, but with the exception of Best Original Screenplay I have a few too many question marks.

In all this we see that the Color Purple is more than a failing marketing and visibility campaign. Which is at the heart of non-recognition. In 2016 there is another side that we see in the Oscars. Concussion gets zero nominations. Here is it harder to oppose it, because the Revenant, Spotlight and Bridge of Spies are massive pieces of Work, which does allow for the situation to exist, yet in that same light, as we see the group that represents the Academy Awards, how many were clearly aware of Concussion and how many of them would see Concussion as the gem it is? In that same light, did the failure of marketing and publications now propagate the situation that Concussion is not making the BAFTA list? We have to accept that this is about American Football and as such, when we see that the BAFTA’s stated purpose is to “support, develop and promote the art forms of the moving image, by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the public“, we have to consider that American Football is an American interest and as such, Will Smith could miss out for the interest group, not because of his quality or the fact that he is an African American. But the issue remains, has marketing and publications cut themselves in their American fingers?

An issue that will remains for a longer time, because as the power players are growing away from the average younger audience, the selection could become a lot more disjointed, which might actually be a little too strong an expression.

The truth remains that we all have valid questions at times, yet in that same light we must accept (to some degree) that the bulk have an opinion, an impression and a preference. It is at times influenced by marketing as the people are given the royal tour by the promoters of the movies. We see at PRSA.ORG “Oscar campaigns are not cheap — campaign budgets can run $24 million per film. Mailing DVD screeners to the Academy’s 6,000-plus members, advertising in trade publications, attending festivals, hosting screening events and conducting media tours are only the beginning“, the Public Relations Society of America is decently outspoken here. Money rolls, which means that the name alone will not do it. Will Smith is a bankable name, but in the end, it is more than just the name, the DVD screeners and opportunity here. It is a business model, which now implies that art is not at the heart of the matter, product marketing is. The question that remains here is that if a movie needs that kind of marketing, how memorable was it?  Perhaps that is the wrong question too. Not everyone has time to see all the movies and the fact that some movies are not released on disc long after the Oscars is equally an issue, so is that approach wrong?

I cannot vote against it unless it is more than the actual book, the movie or the soundtrack. Optimising any product is far enough, but in that light, was Concussion properly optimised for exposure to the public and the audience at large? If not, who was behind that part? It is a Sony production, yet should this be about the awards? I wonder if the really good actors really take a role for that reason. In this I like to quote Tim Mincin In his UWA acceptance speech. There he states “Happiness is like an orgasm: if you think about it too much, it goes away. Keep busy and aim to make someone else happy, and you might find you get some as a side effect“, which seems to be (in my mind) how the great actors could think. Will Smith has had 85 nominations and 45 awards. None of them golden globes or Oscars. In the Golden globe section he lost out to Russell Crowe and Forest Whitaker who both delivered amazing performances that year, yet as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air he lost out to both John Goodman and Jerry Seinfeld, both series I was never a fan of, but they have their own following. In the Academy Awards he lost out to Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker. A much harder choice, because both The Pursuit of Happyness and The Last King of Scotland are amazing works of art. I found the call between Ali and Training Day much harder because of my admiration of Muhammad Ali. So I know that I have bias here, I feel valid bias as the arts are about moments and ideals, Will Smith has been on that fine line many times. It is CNN (at http://edition.cnn.com/2015/12/18/sport/nfl-head-injuries-will-smith-movie-concussion/) that gives us “I probably won’t be getting my free Super Bowl tickets this year“, which is part of all this (apart from the fact that I never received ANY free tickets for any of the Ashes games), we see again that America will be in denial or in opposition as the NFL is the bottom dollar at least one day a week. I cannot oppose this. Yet reflecting on this, I feel a little uncertain when it comes to an outspoken #OscarsSoWhite. My issue in this case is that the opposition this year is massive, Spotlight, the Revenant, Bridge of Spies and the Martian are outstanding pieces of excellence. We can complain that these roles were too absent of African American roles, but that is based on different elements, in my view, not a #OscarsSoWhite view, or is it?

In all this we must see that we are not part of the actual world the actors and actresses live in. They would have a more realistic view, which makes the entire #OscarsSoWhite such an uneasy issue. You see, I feel that #OscarsSoWhite is almost a personal attack, I see the movies I like, and because of the reasons I see them. So, even as a written off product like ‘Seven Pounds’ is one I enjoyed, I enjoyed Gravity as well, and I enjoyed the Martian in near equal measure (the special effects in Gravity were just so awesome). In all this race was never a consideration. That is my personal view, I cannot answer for others, you must decide on your reasoning and your preference, which is as it should be with anything that comes from the arts.

This now gets me to the final part. As I saw it, from the first moment I saw the movie (not when it was released as I was 5 at that time), is that Virgil Tibbs made ‘In the Heat of the night’ the movie it was, the legend it became. Sir Sidney Poitier made the movie what it was (Rod Steiger was great too). So here we have our issue we want to feel that #OscarsSoWhite is valid, we do however want to base it on the now, not on 50 years ago. So can we question the issues, or is there a second layer that we are to some extent conveniently ignoring. One of marketing and PR, the other on the denial that the NFL (Americans with their idolisation of their sport in general) seems to bring. Two elements that seem to equally make the movie Concussion fall short. Those elements are not illustrated in equal measure here, which does not give any less value to Will Smith, it only impacted the topic Will Smith illustrated (as I personally see it).

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