The Eleven O’Clock News: Dog Snuggles Help Students.

Recently I’ve been the sort of busy that makes me think of people in the City clutching Starbucks at six am with their clacking heels and superduper handbags and eighteen hour days. I don’t have the clacking heels and I’m working on finding the perfect handbag but eighteen hour days are becoming quite normal. Which is okay, because it means that Life Stuff is happening. You know, writing essays and making plans and trying to find the ideal washing machine/tumble drier time system.

Don’t overload the washing machine; your jeans will take two days to drip dry because tumble driers aren’t actually a gift from God.

Anyway, that’s all good. I can go to bed with a sense of achievement, you know, because I’ve revised so well that my grey cells are dancing and I’m organising my homework properly and I can sleep knowing that this is life, ladies and gentlemen, and I am living it to the full with every one of those eighteen hours used to their maximum potential…

Except they’re not because a) I can’t sleep properly, which means that b) between the hours of ten and twelve and four and seven I am basically a zombie, which means that c) I’m consuming twice as much caffeine and sugar as usual to work properly, which means that d) I can’t sleep properly. I’m also starting to worry about my arteries.

Oh and it’s affecting my concentration. During the making of this post I have so far taken two BBC quizzes, made my bed, checked Tumblr and Googled handbags. It’s getting to the point where sitting still, quietly, isn’t an option – I’ve had Sherlock on in the background while I work for the last week (all live TV has adverts, which means I’ll switch over, which means I’ll get even more distracted). So is it that if I learnt to concentrate or made myself work fewer hours I’d find it easier to concentrate and therefore work fewer hours?

You know what, these handbags are cutsie.

Right, right, the news.

Well, some universities have provided opportunities for students to cuddle animals as a way to combat stress. I know for a fact that dog snuggles are an excellent method for coping with anything, except maybe fleas, so well done universities for cottoning on. I did a few searches about meditation, which I do because Emma Watson suggested an app on Twitter that is actually incredibly helpful (except I keep forgetting to do it) and there seems to be a general consensus that mindfulness is good. Plus nobody has any, possibly because we’re all watching Sherlock while filing papers and triple-checking our iPads for work-related emails. Apparently stress-related illness is now such a big thing that companies have decided it’s in their interest to promote healthy living – some are even investing in gadgets that measure employees’ stress levels.

Hmm.

You know, I’m not quite sure what I’m trying to say here, because busy people struggling with being busy isn’t exactly up there with the Syrian refugee crisis or potential CAR genocide. It’s marginally more interesting than, say, Bieber getting arrested… but a large part of me knows that if I turned off all my electrics, tidied up the trail of crap I’ve left around the house and went for a run (don’t look at me like that, Tim says it’s a good idea), things would be better. Less existential angst, less chance of contracting a cold and more productivity for my time. Possibly with more time spent sleeping, or giving Sherlock my undivided attention.

Remind me that I have a really great header for a blog post that involves Benedict Cumberbatch’s film career. I was going to use it in a six degrees of separation post about King Lear.

Okay, I’d better turn off all my electrics and pencil in time for a run. Thoughts about how to be busy and well and sleep occasionally?

The Ten O’Clock News: a Debate About Scottish Independence

Had a few issues with my laptop earlier so instead of being the link-and-image-filled collage I’d planned, this is going to be a nice discussion post!

Tomorrow is Burns Night  and since it is potentially the last one with Burns as a Brit, I think we should talk about the referendum. Ask the Important Political Questions about Scottish independence. The questions that matter.

Should Scotland keep the BBC if it becomes independent?

Clue’s in the name, love. No Britain, no Sherlock or Strictly or ad-free TV. Get yer own broadcasting service and buy it in like they do in the States.

Should Scotland keep the pound if it becomes independent?

The pound is British currency. (I sense a theme.)

Should Scottish people keep their knighthoods and government-or nation-based awards if it becomes independent?

Hmm. I think foreign nationals can become honorary peers of the realm or something, so it should be like that. I mean, “ex Sir Whatever” sounds a bit crap.

Will each nation be able to extradite or deport shitty residents?

For example, if Andy Murray loses badly.

Will all the cool, shared things become contested and start conflict? 

Conan Doyle was Scottish. Holmes and Watson are not. Everyone likes whiskey. Everyone likes David Tennant. Alex Ferguson ran Manchester United. We all use telephones.

Will those “cute British accents” become more ‘British’ or ‘Scottish’? 

Wait a second. Cute British accents. Tea with the Queen. The Loch Ness Monster. Union flags with punk rock slogans. Tartan. A mutual distrust of everything that may attack this tinny island with rapidly-waning international power. You guys, all the things that endear us to the world are generally British. They are specifically Scottish or Welsh or English or whatever but to the schmucks we sell t-shirts to on bus tours, we’re all British. All of us. Aww.

Will Scotland place higher or lower than the UK in Eurovision?

Now that is worth a referendum.

(It is probably worth noting in the interest of general politics that a) the best economical and military and scientific successes to happen to all four British states have happened while they were British, b) the last time a sovereign nation came into being without conflict and hatred as a cause was probably never so why bother we’ve stayed together this long, babe, we love each other really – let’s just get counselling and a fresh start and c) not one of the pro-independence politicians has demonstrated an ability to found a nation, or even a nation that already exists.)

Plus also I don’t want my ethnicity and nationality to be any shittier to categorise on forms. Anyway, thoughts?

The Six O’Clock News: You Really Can Escape the Winter Blues!

It’s cold. It’s dark. School is very much back and no one can quite believe that it’s only been three weeks since the day after Boxing Day. We all sort of want a summer holiday, but we cannot take one…

Students Edward Bunyan, Indira Gainiyeva, Who Ran Away To Caribbean From Stonyhurst College ‘Found’

Or maybe we can! A couple of students at a very nice school (one year’s tuition costs about two-thirds of a degree) “escaped” from their trappings and ran away… to the Dominican Republic.

Well, if you’re going to bunk, you might as well get a bit of winter sun. The Huffington Post has helpfully provided print screens of Tweets fellow students posted while they were MIA… yolo indeed.

Stonyhurst College runaways: teenage couple who escaped to Dominican Republic ‘located by local police’

According to The Telegraph, ‘one friend described their departure as an “incredible stunt”, likening their avoidance of the school’s security measures to “escaping from Alcatraz”.’ Hmm. Still, I’d love to know what the other students are saying. I mean, I’d probably be secretly rooting for my friends if they upped sticks to the Riviera instead of doing mocks, not that any of us are that proactive.

Teenage lovebirds ‘found’ in Caribbean after bunking off college to escape rainy Britain

The Metro has even provided an image of the island to which we all could escape if we had a parent’s credit card, the guts for a flipping long plane journey and a Catholic boarding school to wake up to.

Young love huh.

I sort of want to set up a ‘bonkers news corner’ where people send in the weird stuff they see reported in the media. I mean, is this sort of thing a regular occurrence? How many adults do it? What are the average phone-in-sick stats for January compared to the rest of the year?

These are the questions we must ask if we are to work out how to do it ourselves… and get away with it.

Titling This Took Three Times Longer than Writing It So Please Just Read and Put Us Both Out of Our Misery

I’ve not got the energy to devote another news post to The Media Versus Sherlock, but you guys really need to read this. 1) Everyone satirises politicians 2) Everyone satirises – or dramatises – the Murdoch empire (see Reichenbach for more tabloid fun!) 3) Journalists need to quit using popular culture as an excuse to spew their political ideas. It’s okay to just say things… 4) Sorry but Sherlock can’t even identify the Queen let alone a ballot box 5) “Take his drug of choice: cocaine. Hedonistic, vacuous, self-important and delusional. And still as beloved by the well-connected of today as it was by them back then.” Is it just me or do all those adjectives describe the press?

Ah, television.

I was revising the Transmissions page earlier and noticed that I’ve not mentioned MCR’s endeavours for a while. Ah, television. But, their greatest hits are available to pre-order next week! Let’s play guess the tracklist! I’d like:

Your turn…

The Six O’Clock News: a Quick Lesson Borrowed from an Actual Lesson

As I hauled myself out of bed this morning the newsreader bloke mentioned that some higher-up in the EU had spoken out against the British government for spreading “myths” about immigration. I thought a few swearwords that are usually too foul for that time of day except I was late and did not need to hear about it before I had found my slippers (remind me to write a post about slippers). I thought “I better do something on Indifferent Ignorance on the EU because no one knows what in the [swearword] is [swearwording] up with it hey I forgot to draft the Six O’Clock News EU time!” and went to find some Oatabix.

Or something.

Fast forward to fourth period and my Politics lesson was about the history of the EU! So since it’s fresh in my memory and I need to be academic for the betterment of my brain and career prospects, here is a lesson on the EU with some vague relevance to today’s news.

Fun Facts With Frank

  • This thing’s been around almost as long as the papers that ridicule it. First known as the European Coal and Steel Community, it was established in 1951 as a method of rebuilding Europe, which looked something like this when the war ended. It was generally agreed that a good way to prevent another war would be to get bickering neighbours to share wheelie bins, by which I mean that West Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy and the Netherlands all signed over a bit of power (supranationalism, snowflakes) to the ECSC. With no political involvement, it was just a free market for coal and steel, so that war would be, to quote French foreign minister Mr Schumann, “materially impossible”. Basically if countries rely on one another for resources (interdependence), they are less likely to invade one another. Cool huh.
  • Like a decent band, the ECSC evolved over the next few years. NB: Britain hadn’t wanted to join because racism xenophobia miners didn’t want to relinquish control of their mines. In 1957 the organisation’s remit expanded, creating the European Economic Community and the Atomic Energy Community. Ten years later they did (made? Signed?) the Merger Treaty and called the whole lot the European Commission. Still with only six member states, there was growing reticence – word of the day, means ‘wary’ – about states giving up their power. Sound familiar? Good.
  • In 1973 Denmark, Ireland and the UK joined. Having not consulted the public about joining, a referendum was held in 1975 to see if people wanted the UK to remain in the EC. Sound familiar? Good.
  • 1979 saw the first elections for members of European Parliament, which had not previously occurred because who needs democracy an every governmental level. Interestingly, Spain and Portugal weren’t allowed in until the eighties because until then they had dictatorships…
  • Allowing more free and standardised trade, the Single European Act was passed in 1986, expanding the process of the easy peasy wheelie bin sharing with the neighbours. Germany unified in 1990 and in 1992 the Maastricht Treaty was signed, which further expanded the remit and lead to that shining example of excellent currency, the euro.  It also made the whole organisation more political and renamed it the European Union.
  • As of 2014 the EU is home to 500 million people (that’s more than in the entire USA, folks), 28 states and 24 official languages.

Here is a mildly inappropriate loop video of politicians dancing to help you digest that information.

Now, you will all hopefully be aware that lots and lots of people like to say “what in the name of Mr Johnson’s dancing does the EU do for us absolutely nothing those immigrants just want to take our jobs and cash and housing and they don’t even integrate let’s send them back where they came from who cares if they came here smuggled under a coach we don’t want them taking up our school places and giving the kiddies Eastern European ideas blah blah etc. etc.”

But ladies and gentlemen, Vivian Reding is totally right about political rhetoric! I’m not sure how right in terms of legal stuff because I’ve only done one lesson, but if you can’t see past the political hand-waving or tabloid crap pertaining to immigration then a) you need to learn how and b) you probably shouldn’t have read this far because I probably can’t change your mind. But have a wee look back at that list. The EU was formed in order to help Europeans prosper. Or at least not kill each other. The recent influx of Eastern European nations is due to the fact that for the majority of EU history they were part of the USSR, which wasn’t really pro-Western trade. In terms of GDP, EU is the richest area of the world, so the prosperity idea seems be if not succeeding then not failing. Plus the migration thing works both ways. Imagine you were to go on holiday to, say, Greece. You meet a nice guy and decide to stay and open a bar there. You could. Unless you were a convicted serial killer or something anyway. Remember those E111 cards you’d get on school trips to the trenches? They give you access to free or almost free healthcare in the EU, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway. So if you get sick from a dodgy cocktail in Marbella, you don’t have to pay through your vomit-filled nose to get your stomach pumped.

Fun.

Okay, that’s enough politics stuff for one day. Just do me a favour: when you are next watching the news and some white dude in a suit says something about the EU, think about this: three Members of the European Parliament are Nigel Farage the UKIP guy, Geoffrey Bloom the other UKIP guy who called women sluts and got thoroughly ridiculed by Victoria Coren on Have I Got News for You and Nick Griffin the  bankrupt BNP guy who is possibly even more racist than the UKIP guys. They have been elected because the majority of voters (and there aren’t too many to start with) hear the rhetoric or read the papers, believe the words and vote in someone who will cause a ruckus in Brussels. Which doesn’t accomplish anything except embarrassment.

Happy first week back! If I never blog again it’s because Sherlock broke me.

Internet Stuff and Stuff

What is this ‘school day’?

I wish it would just go away.

Like Christmas has.

And Sherlock will.

Though Christmas will be back first.

With less death.

 Probably.

A few weeks ago I took part in a virtual panel discussion, aka an email, which has recently been published here. Some of my answers got cut, which is good because the published one has less sarcasm but bad because the sarcasm made the pretentious nature of interview slightly more bearable. Basically if you want my whole answers, let me know and I’ll post them.

In the mean time, the Shorty Awards are open for free-and-Twitter-based nomination. There are a variety of awards which are very fun to read through but one cannot nominate one’s own work, so I’m letting you know because an interview wasn’t enough to make me feel super duper about my very important life and work.

Haha, work.

The Eleven O’Clock News: TV Reviews Are Funny (and so is the fact that this took ten hours to make)

This is so not-at-six-o’clock because every time I went near anything Sherlock-based online I either tried to lift everything from Sherlockology for The Webways or sat watching Benedict Cumberbatch interviews.

Hardest name I’ve ever had to type.

Very interesting in interview.

Anyway, I had so much fun reading reviews that I decided to highlight them instead of just a round-up. Television reviews are a weird and wacky type of writing… the hyperbole and metaphors are like how I imagine Fifty Shades to be.

The Guardian

Guardian1

Guardian2

Den of Geek

I had never previously heard of Dan of Geek but I might go back to see if all the language is as… bright.

DanOfGeek1

DanOfGeek2

DanOfGeek3

The Daily Mail

Here we go.

Mail1

Mail2

Mail3

Mail4

You’re welcome. Now I’m completely excited for Sunday night (best man speech!) and dreading Monday (school! With a day spent  not homeworking but on a fansite or watching the shitty Percy Jackson film! Not you, pre-Charlie Logan. The screenplay. If actual Annabeth could see film Annabeth she’d launch into some moves with her knife. Ugh).

I would also like someone to give Mark Gatiss an award for publically complaining about Les Mis. Holy shit I thought I was one of maybe five people who can’t cope with the child death and utter lack of hope. Or not if you’re a theist/character, but whatever. Happy Friday.