Monthly Archives: September 2014

Rolling in the Deep

Since I finished my dissertation, I’ve been MEH. Sure, I’ve had thoughts, I’ve even started some posts, only to run out of steam after the first sentence. Maybe I was a bit burnt out….?

Then today, I heard Aretha Franklin ripping up Adele’s Rolling in the Deep and I couldn’t help but write a little something. Now, my critques: it’s a bit overproduced, in the way that producers seem to do when they have a legendary talent in the studio. It’s as if they panic about keeping a person relevant and current and forget that this person can actually sing. So… the production values are a little too slick. And others have raised the spectre of autotune. Perhaps a touch? But you can’t deny the best part of it….

Her voice. Aretha takes Rolling in the Deep, which I love anyway, and gives it edge and soul. I do love Adele’s pared-back (by comparison) version which is moving and defiant, but when Aretha sings:

Go ahead and sell me out and I’ll lay your shit bare/See how I’ll leave with every part of you/Don’t underestimate the things that I will do….

…you believe it. She brings out a deliciously threatening quality to the song (in the same way that Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings’ song Retreat gives me exquisite chills) until Aretha stalks through it and lets her voice into every nook and cranny of it.

I’m also not sure about the foray into Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, but her treatment of the song just has me in ecstasies. I’ll forgive that.

 

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Soft (Panda) power

I’ve finished my dissertation now, but thinking is like wading through treacle. The only thing to permeate the fog (as I come back to myself) is a very interesting articles on pandas.

Yes, clearly I don’t like pandas. This is well-documented. But I hadn’t fully appreciated how they were used as a diplomatic tool by the Chinese government, which actually rents them out to trade allies. Naturally, zoos get a bump in visitor numbers, but I hadn’t realised the animals were being rented.

The Observer article has a  great quote from researcher Kathleen Buckingham:

“A new phase of panda diplomacy is under way. Panda loans are associated with nations supplying China with valuable resources and symbolise China’s willingness to build trade relationships,” said Buckingham.

She likens the loans to Asian rulers’ traditional gifts to foreign powers of rare white elephants in the knowledge that they would cost a fortune to keep but ensure closer relations. “The panda may be the modern-day white elephant – a powerful emblem of the modern Chinese nation,” she said.

So – to recap, these furry white elephants (didn’t know that was the origin of the phrase!) are an expensive, but also unreliable (phantom pregnancies) diplomatic tool.

*ponders this* Yup – still don’t like them.

 

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And I’m still writing

Still writing my dissertation. My brain is utterly addled. Thinking is like wading through treacle. I have had many shifting deadlines, but for now it’s Monday. Again.

But I’m still watching the news. My reactions, in brief:

Oscar Pistorius verdict: Whisky. Tango. Foxtrot.

Scotland: I actually think  the arguments for independence are very compelling. I also think that this issue is as much emotional as practical and all the whataboutery (Why can’t England vote? Why shouldn’t London vote for independence?) is pretty insulting and historically illiterate. This isn’t happening on a whim. The real question is, how can roughly half of Scotland (the polls change day by day) be so disenchanted with the UK? Why doesn’t the union work for everyone? (OK, let’s be honest, everyone who’s north of London) How can we be better? Even if you’re a happy right-winger, it says a lot that the Scots see this as the only way to realise some sort of social justice. (maybe social justice not a left-wing plot, guys?) Either way, a bum-squeak of a vote isn’t good for either camp. A slim yes vote means independent Scotland is bitterly divided at the outset. A slim no means that about half of Scots are “meh” about the union. That’s a real problem, whichever way you look at it.

IDS: Haven’t heard much from him lately, meaning he and DWP are probably out on the tiles, wasting money and making poor people feel bad about themselves.

Summer: Hello, my lovely. You’re back. I love your bright little face.

 

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