”I have opinions of my own - strong opinions - but I don’t always agree with them.”
George H.W. Bush
I recently finished watching 'The Sopranos' (highly recommend by the way) and it's an interesting insight into Mafia culture in the modern world. The idea of being a "rat" as the worst thing you can ever be is interesting, especially given how common a thing it has become in the advent of the witness protection programme and the rise of FBI influence since the 1960s. The Mafia is full of rats, but the code still stands. And it is punishable, deservedly, by death, members would say.
'You know my methods, Watson'
I've recently re-read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories and was going to write a review, but tuning into the news at any given time has given me a different idea. Think of this as an advice column for the media. A response from a hypothetical 'Dear Sir Arthur,' if you will.
The Slytherin Approach to History
Two recent news stories got me thinking about cancel culture from an odd perspective. One was the resurgence of calls to topple troublesome statues, this time about the Rhodes statue at Oxford again, and the other was the reported falling out between Stephen King and JK Rowling, owing to the latter’s controversial remarks about trans people. There may not appear to be much of a link here, other than a reminder that cancel culture isn't going away anytime soon, but it reminded me about how I used to feel about JK Rowling before she was cancelled, back when she was a prominent Twitterer and, quite frankly, a hero on the left for her takedowns of Trump, among others. To me, she essentially embodied all that online culture wars thrive on. Until, as is often the case these days, it came for her. And she saw the light. But what's this got to do with statues, you might ask? Well, the whole statue controversey brought to light an interpretation of the extreme negatives of this approach to history that I got from the 'Harry Potter' books, and one that I always found odd that JK Rowling didn't seem to espouse in her real-world politics until she she experienced the full force of it.
What Everyone Gets Wrong About Harper Lee
This is something I've been wanting to write about for a long time and recently I've seen things that have made me decide to really make an effort and write it. I was looking for stuff to watch and saw that during lockdown a show called ‘Lovecraft country’ had been popular. I saw Jordan Peele was involved and I enjoyed 'Get Out' and although I don't think I've ever read anything by HP Lovecraft, I've heard of him and his work sounds interesting. This led me to be linked an article in Vox about the show. I was soon informed, via the article, that, among other things, Lovecraft was a huge racist with absolutely no argument, something that the show explores in what sounds like a creative and interesting manner. However, the article then started talking about 'complex literary legacies' in relation to racism, specifically referring to the fact that the central character in the show is named 'Atticus,' which the article claims 'saddles him with a complicated relationship to the flawed white saviour of 'To Kill a Mockingbird.''
"But they're family"
Throughout history and culture, people have found ways to forgive things that they wouldn't usually forgive because the offender was family. This stretches from little mistakes to horrendous crimes. And, of course, the opposite has always taken place too. Parents throughout history have disowned children and vice versa. But this isn't easy, and I think it's fair to say that there is a pressure in society, both internally and externally, to find understanding when the conflict took place with a close relation. Now, I think an exception that proves the rule more often than not is divorcees. Many people who divorce do not want anything to do with their ex and feel no pressure to. In fact, the opposite is prevalent in many cases. But what is common is for people to make amends when children are involved. And that illustrates the difference. It doesn't need to be stated that most people care very deeply for their relationships with their children, because their children are their blood. That's why, say, a childless couple who bitterly divorce may often have no desire to make amends because their is nothing to lose. This societal and personal pressure is something you feel to those whom you are blood-related. Fiction has often shown this, too. Look at the plot of 'The Godfather' (SPOILER ALERT), where Michael Corleone changes from the nice guy to the ruthless mobster all because of his family and his father.
Realist or Royalist?
The recent turmoil and tragedy facing the British Royal family has caused me to reflect on what my opinion of them as an institution really is. And it has caused me to question and consider the truth about a lot of my deeply held beliefs.
University Attendance Officer circa 2017, I Can Explain
Before my successful burger-flipping career took off, I used to be an English student. As a quiet, bookish person with a fear of the opposite sex and a tendency to blush at the tiniest piece of attention, many university experiences led to awkward situations for me. But, as I endured such experiences, I think I somewhat gained confidence in myself, and gradually became more comfortable contributing to groups or talking to other students. Or so I thought.
Why a Little-known 2004 Medical Drama Is My Go-to Recommendation For 'Game of Thrones' Fans
Disclaimer: Spoilers for 'Bodies' do not appear. Some (clearly labelled) spoilers for 'Game of Thrones' do appear, but then if you're reading this (or are alive) you've probably seen it already . . .