Wednesday, 27 September 2017

We're QUEER and we're HERE (to stay)

(Part 1 of 3)

Well we have always been here but the time for hiding, being quiet and not drawing attention to ourselves and staying in Narnia is over.  Now, more than ever before, with the lives of LGBT people around the World in such jeopardy we cannot relent.  Let’s not even mention the hate and vitriol coming out of Australia at the moment.  Quoting Panti Bliss in her Noble Call:

“They are being imprisoned and beaten and tortured and murdered and executed”. 


We cannot and should not be silent.  In fact, with Irish LGBT people being in such a minority – that is of being protected in law and mostly accepted in society – we more than others should not be silent.   As the saying goes, bad sh$t happens when good people do nothing. In this blog I recall some of my proudest and toughest moments of the last 12 years.  Of course, there might be a little touch of hindsight and rose-tinted glasses but I'm allowed that.  This is my blog and my opinion. 

In 2005, myself and a group of friends set up a support group for the LGBT community of Wexford.  We had lofty ideals and our name echoed our aspirations – EAGLÉ – The Equality Alliance of Gays & Lesbians in Éire.  We had a manifesto, aims, objectives and everything.  The inaugural committee consisted of gay and straight people, some friends before EAGLÉ and others to become great friends during and after that time.  As with most groups, we had strong people with lots of ideas, we fought, made up, dispersed and regrouped.  But a couple of ideals we never lost.  Most importantly, we were a group for LGBT people, their family and friends.  We were no longer going to hide and organise ourselves in private groups, back rooms in pubs and each other’s houses.  We were going to be out, proud and strong.  We were going to provide a place for LGBT to be comfortable but also, and most importantly, an exercise in “normalising”, for the rest of Wexford the idea that LGBT people lived in their community.  Whilst I hate the word “normalise”, part of the Equality fight is breaking down barriers and smashing up those pigeon holes that separate us.  We all needed to become normal in that regard.

For decades before EAGLÉ there were groups in Wexford (GLOW comes to mind – Gays & Lesbians Out in Wexford) but they were never out, mainly because they couldn't be.  But, the problem was this was perpetuating into my generation.  This needed to change.  We wanted to change the public perception of “The Gays”.  There was no need to be scared of us and we were just like our peers in mostly everything, we wanted to go out, have a few drinks, shift someone by the end of the night and go home.  Were we talking to our parents about who we shifted?...hell NO...but “the straights” didn't go home and talk to their parents about who they ended up on the dance floor with for the last slow song of the night.  You see, we were no different really.

The country was alive. Unemployment was low, people had jobs, college was free and banks were throwing money around to buy your first house.  This was the same for everyone.  Again, we were no different.  So we started working in the community, breaking down barriers, aligning ourselves with other community groups fighting for equality and socialising like everyone else.  We had regular social nights, in the pub (mostly South 51).  Anyone could come along.  There was very little trouble and the jugs of cosmo were flowing.  It was also important for businesses, bouncers and bar staff to see us and treat us well.  For the most part we behaved (yes, in every group there's always one...) we brought a lot of business with us and earned respect.  It was also a common occurrence for our social nights to be covered in the local press, in the same was as any other party was covered and this was great.  Positive publicity for a group of people having a fun night out.

We also had fundraisers & teamed up with other groups in the town.  We organised group art exhibitions during the festival with a good mix of LGBT artists and straights.  Again, more positive and fun things, whilst providing a forum for the LGBT community in Wexford which promoted integration.  We officially launched on 20th July 2005 and the EAGLE well and truly landed.  Wexford Borough Councillor Anna Fenlon launched the night with a video of some fireworks but this cemented a political relationship.  It didn't hurt that Councillor Fenlon was wheelchair bound and was leading the fight for equality and access for disable people in Wexford, EAGLÉ and the Disabled Association in Wexford continued to work well together.  It also gave us some great exposure.  Myself and Val Scallan-Walsh continued to push the political agenda of Equality whilst the rest of the group continued with organising the social element of EAGLÉ.  We had meetings with TD's and County Councillors.  We made presentations and submissions to the County Council for the community section of the County Development plan.  We worked with other groups in Waterford, Carlow and Kilkenny.  All of these things were gently but irrevocably changing the World for LGBT people, well at least in Wexford.  We were no longer hidden and couldn't be ignored.  Hell YES, we were here to stay. (I'll pick up on this later)

Then, as with most groups the inevitable happened.  New people came on board and things changed.  Oh Well.  Of course, in the meantime, it was now normal to see LGBT people out (in every sense of the word) and not unusual to see them dancing in Moonies, the Stores & Chocolate.  Also many of us partnered up and began long term relationships, so the need for organised social nights, for us, was at an end.  EAGLE as we knew it ended.  But myself and Val Scallan Walsh didn't stop, myself joining Labour and Val joining Sinn Fein, we continued the fight, jived each other for joining the wrong party but still agreed in the fundamental equal rights for LGBT people.

For me meeting amazing passionate people like Dr. Ann Louise Gilligan (RIP), Senator Katherine Zappone & Senator David Norris were my highlights whilst working with EAGLE.  I still get a lump in my throat when I think of the huge loss Dr. Ann Louise is to the people of Ireland and I cannot imagine how far we would have gotten if we did not have her and her beautiful strong wife Katherine “fighting the good fight” as they say.


In 2008 EAGLE became a limited company in an effort to become more organised and make funding streams available to us.  We had great fun and again made some important contacts. 

Equality Alliance of Gays & Lesbians in Eire, Taken in Wexford

To be continued

#LGBT #Equality #Wexford

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

IT - I Love Remakes.

We all float down here.


Remake of Stephen King's IT

Firstly, let’s get rid of the notion that movies & TV series shouldn’t be remade, rebooted or re-imagined.  That’s just rubbish.  Since the dawning of man (and woman) over 200,000 years ago in the Middle Paleolithic period we have told and retold stories.  You know, sitting around the campfire, char grilling bison and “storytelling” about how you speared that bison to death and how you hoped to be chosen by the good looking woman in the next door cave. 

Drag your humanoid body along to more recent times of around 1600 and there was a famous Bill (not Clinton) writing poems and plays.  Somewhat impenetrable for the reader today without a dictionary and abridged notes (Just read the notes I say) William Shakespeare’s works have been reprinted, re-imagined and made into numerous movies and plays.  Every year there are hundreds of stage productions all across the globe.

Then drag your sorry cantankerous (The original is the best and everything else is rubbish) ass to the middle of the 20th century.  Everyone has heard of Rogers & Hammerstein.   They were responsible for writing over a dozen musicals, over 300 songs, that spawned numerous movies and many stage productions (go on start humming “How do you solve a problem like Maria”).  To date there are over 480 Broadway musicals and this list is growing all the time.

So you see, remakes are not a modern phenomenon.  We hear or read a story. We then retell, embellish, add-to & sometimes take away.  Go back to old Willy Shakes (that’s his contemporary name for his new Rudai23 blog), he wrote fantastic stories but some would agree with me that they are bloody hard to read.  Now, if they were rewritten in today’s English I think that would make them more accessible and open them up to a whole new audience.  Throw in a 140 character description to tweet and you’re on to a winner.  You wouldn’t take away from the original, it would actually give the reader the motivation to check out the original work.  Ebooks have done something similar.  With a lot of old material readily available to download for free, it has opened up a whole new genre of books to people.  If you read Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray for the first time on your kindle I can bet you will download some more of his work. 

Stephen King’s IT is the perfect example, published in 1986 with a mini TV series in 1990, the remaking of the film has generated interest all over again.  Stephen King, The Master of Horror is responsible for many sleepless nights but some of the most amazing and unforgettable books (and subsequent movies).   And those are the titles and famous lines you associate with King... 

Memorable moments in Stephen King movies
IT                                               The Shining                                            Misery

And then think about the stuff you don’t associate with Stephen King.  Shawshank Redemption (Get busy living, or get busy dying), Stand by Me (movie with River Pheonix), The Green Mile, The Running Man (Arnold Washyknickers), Under the Dome (yes, it was before the Simpsons).  

From a librarians point of view and picking up on a previous point about interest getting regenerated for an original book.  On 14th September 2017, 6 days after the release of IT across the Irish Public Libraries there were about 100 copies of IT available and more than 130 holds.  There were 10 new copies ordered to help meet the demand. This from a genre that was once viewed (and sometimes still is viewed) as “not proper literature” for a library.   


But let’s get back to the remake of IT and a little about movie adaptations.  So, you should now agree with me that we should embrace and welcome remakes.  If the recent version is great, brilliant, something new to watch.  If it’s crap, don’t worry because it will regenerate interest in the original.  Everyone wins and of course most importantly the author wins again with more royalties.  As to the remake of IT, go see it for yourself.  It's the best horror film for years breaking all previous box office records for a horror movie and the next chapter is already confirmed.  Whilst I loved Tim Curry in the original movie, Bill Skarsgard is amazing although unrecognisable in this remake.


Pennywise 2017
The new movie is scarier and flows much better.  The previous version is told through a series of flashbacks which were quite jarring and just didn't work.  The newer version is the first half of the story, told through the kids with no flashbacks, altogether a much easier to follow premise. King's work has for decades translated very badly into movies due to the complex layering of the storyline, intertwining plots and memorable & monumental characters.  Unfortunately, both movies fall down in one area of the adaptation, Pennywise is the manifestation of fear and therefore should be different for everyone.  The character of the clown is developed too much in both movies rather than trying to show each person's fear.  However, this is the only negative I have for IT, it's not enough to lose a planet.  

Final Verdict:  A massive success that will instill a fear of clowns for generations to come.
Movie Review by The Captain. 

(Rating - 10 out of 10 planets)




#wexworlds #weallfloatdownhere #rudai23 #remakes #IT

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Copy Right or Wrong (Thing 3)

Copyright research

As part of the Rudai23 course I am currently undertaking, I have researched copyright and common usage material.  The following blog contain my thoughts, (warped as they might be) experience & findings.


I am a budding artist and amateur photographer, so have always been acutely aware of the use of other people‘s images.  Outside of Dublin, Wexford has a lot of artists; regular exhibitions and festivals are a common thing.  This exposure to art & artists gives one an insight into an artist’s life.  They can’t all be Andy Warhol’s but they all need to try and make a living & pay the bills.   

My general rule of thumb has been; if it is a piece of work created by an individual I do not use it unless I have expressed permission and credit the artist.  I would never alter or change an original piece of work by an artist.  When dealing with an organisation or business, I would consider the fair-usage and non-commercial aspect of what I was doing.  But, I do have a bit of a rebellious streak and hate when (IMHO) huge companies overstep their boundaries in trying to impose their ownership and rights of a product.  Being a huge Scrabble enthusiast, I organise Scrabble tournaments around the country.  Mattel who “own” Scrabble attempt to ascertain complete control over the organisation of tournaments and events but around the World they are regularly ignored.  Every club, active retirement meeting, tournament, school club & LIBRARY CLUB is supposed to get written permission from Mattel to run events and weekly clubs/events.  Like this is practical!  When you have something as ubiquitous and popular as Scrabble, Scrabble itself and the geeks who play it takes on a life of their own

But most clubs and organisations ignore Mattel’s demands, sometimes because they are not aware of Mattel’s attempted complete control, or sometimes due to the fact they refuse to support or sponsor any events but still try to tell clubs what to do.  In Thailand, China & America there are now alternative names on clubs and organisation to circumvent Mattel’s authority (e.g.  International Thailand Crossword Games King's Cup is one of the biggest annual events). A perfect example of Mattel’s over reaching was their case against artist Tom Forsythe and his use of the Barbie doll in his work.  Just Google it for more information, I don’t want to link to it because there is some adult content.  Think of it this way...nobody owns Dominos (not the pizza), Chess, Poker or Go. 

Too often I see photographs from people I know used on the internet and print media that have basically been stolen.  On one occasion, after a community exhibition I had organised I saw a piece by a local artist altered and used on an event poster for a disco night.  In this case I contacted the creator of the poster and told them they had stolen the image and informed the artist also.    This misuse and stealing of work has led to photographers putting small resolution pictures on the internet to show a sample of their work.  Others have websites that lock the photos to stop it being saved (although, as like everything there are ways around this too) and have a watermark on the work also.   This is the cause and effect of stealing on the internet.  Let’s look at this sequence for example:

1.      1980’s & 1990’s - Public likes a song but doesn’t want to buy the whole album.  Solution; use a cassette tape to record the song off the radio.  Woowoo mix-tapes are born.
2.      Early 2000’s – Websites created to illegally distribute music on the internet (Napster being the most famous).
3.      2001 (Mac based) & 2003 (windows based). Apple iTunes Store opens to legally sell individual songs.
4.      Torrent File sharing – whilst in existence since the 1970’s really comes into its own with common formats of files. E.g. MP3 used for music. 
5.      Since the 2000’s there has been ongoing battles between illegal torrent sites and companies who create and control original work, in gaming, music, movie and TV.
6.      In the last couple of years there are legal providers of TV series and movies, e.g. Netflix & Sky Boxsets.

It’s really a shame that the distribution changes in the music, movie and TV industry have only happened due to the illegal activity by individuals and groups on the internet.  Whilst not in any way defending the actions of illegal groups it has meant that I can get access to my favourite Star Trek episodes for pennies instead of paying over £100 Irish punts per season “back in the day”. So in this case the “wrong” usage of copy “right” material has led to better access and better value for the consumer.  Do I agree with the method, no, but do I like the outcome, YES. 

There are of course extremes to every argument, from the industry side “Piracy destroys us, we employ lots of people and we will go out of business and not be able to create new original material”.  Show me any multimillion Hollywood company gone out of business because of piracy and I will consider this argument.  On the other side you have the anarchist that doesn’t believe in private ownership or copyright.  Ironically enough you will find they all own state-of-the-art computers & networks to hack (steal) and share what they want.  So I don’t agree with this argument either.  It all boils down to greed.  The company wants to make as much profit as possible, the anarchist wants to stop them (and maybe make money out of on-line advertising themselves or a manner of distributing their own viruses or bots).  The consumer is stuck in the middle, some happy to avail of everything they can on the internet whilst others abide by the law. 

A gripe I have is, as an avid reader I still buy a lot of books.  I’m a huge Stephen King fan and spend up to €30 on the hardback edition of every book that is released.  But, I also own a Kindle.  I think publishers/writers under a fair-usage deal should allow me a digital version for my Kindle rather than having to buy the digital copy of it when I am going on holidays.   Schlepping around the hard back, unabridged version of “The Stand” is your whole Ryanair hand luggage allowance  (Yes, my surname is Ryan, no I’m not related).


In the same way that Apple saw the changes in the music industry and designed a way for music lovers to buy a song separately from the album at a reasonable price, I think the publishing industry will have to do the same.  Again cause and effect is happening here too.  Books are expensive...e-books provide an alternative...there is now a common file type (MOBI)...illegal sharing and downloading will happen.  Even if Amazon come up with some way to “lock” a kindle from using illegally downloaded material, as always, people will find a way around it.  I can’t see any solution except for libraries to get more involved with digital material and to constantly provide material at a cheap or free rate to encourage readers to properly avail of the material they want.  This, of course means the library will have to provide more digital material, for example, Stephen Kings The Stand is not available on Borrowbox. 


Returning to Scrabble for a moment, a written piece of work can be copyright if it is a group of words in a unique order. Mattel produce a dictionary and word source for Scrabble players with Collins.  The argument can be made that Scrabble or Collins doesn’t own the words.  However, the dictionary and word source has a selection of words in a unique order and that is what is copyrightable (see ISBN 978-0007589081).  Simple really until you use a digital device to check your words played rather than buying the book.  Mattel or Collins will not sell the wordlist in a digital format so to get your digital device to check the correct lexicon of words one has to illegally get hold of the dictionary and add it to your device.

Screenprint of Scrabble Checker on phone

(Scrabble Checker Screen Print, Google Play App store, App developed by Pisanu Chaaloemrattanaporn)

And this brings us neatly back to the use of images (as I’ve used a couple under fair-usage).  At least the “image industry” is easier to navigate and understand what you can freely use under creative commons licence.

Initial study material provided for the course is fairly good but with so many options & so many websites it can be difficult to figure out what you can use.  After more research I found the following useful...a chart from TheVisualCommunicationsGuy (which, I later found in the Evernotes also) and a chart from Mason East Library website.

Can I use this image?

Can I use that picture by The VisualCommunicationsGuy here

Different types of Creative Commons


Now, as my understanding of the different types of creative commons is better, I’ve started searching for images.  And wow, what a choice, with over 70 sites listed for us, for a regular user of Google things get interesting.  Lots of websites and lots of choice with varying degrees of success & quality.  My favourite website is Foter.  Why, well go back to the rule of KISS.  This website is easy to navigate and

·       * Easy to download the image (Blue Circle)
·       * Easy to see more details of the image (green circle)
·       * Easy to understand how you can use the image (yellow circle)
·       * Easy to attribute the image as they have it done for you (red circle)

Screenprint

So, in the future I won’t be changing how I source my pictures much, but at least I now know how to find and attribute creative commons material.  I’m also going to make some of my images and photos creative commons material.


I’ve set-up a Flickr account & I’ve uploaded some material and given them a CC of BY NC SA here:


I’ve created a gallery & added a photo here:



Fini.

John "The Captain" Ryan. 

#Rudai23

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The Girl with all the Gifts (Thing 2)

The Girl with all the Gifts (2016)



(No Spoilers I promise)

Collage of book cover, movi poster and main character

The burgeoning genre of zombie-post-apocalyptic movies and books out there is awash with the good, the bad and the dreadful.  This movie is definitely the former. 

Based on a book of the same name by M.R. Carey, I haven’t read the book yet so cannot comment on the adaptation but it contains an interesting plot, although a tiny bit predictive.  When you watch this movie you get the same feeling of grittiness (but still high production values) that the viewer experiences watching 28Days Later. For those who have read James Cronin’s awesome Passage trilogy this will ring a bell, with the main character of Melanie similar to the character of Amy Bellafonte. 

Melania, played by Sennia Nanua is a 2nd generation “hungry”.  You are never sure of her motivation but she makes for a fantastic killer.  With a dual role in the film, she does the brunt of the work and carries the film really well. 

With a great plot, interesting characters and a feeling that you don’t really know what’s happening from the start (again like 28Days Later) it’s a realistic portrayal (and scientifically plausible) version of an apocalypse.  For those who have read Speaker for the Dead (Orson Scott Card) there is a similarity between the lives of the piggies/trees and the virus, again a little predictable but still is different than most other zombie/vampire offerings available.    

English born actor Paddy Considine (Worlds End, Child 44 & the Bourne movies) makes a great Sergeant Parks, with little time for sentiment, but does of course mellow by the end of the movie, the perfect hero.

Glenn Close, playing the role of a struggling scientist trying to produce a cure was amazing, as she is in nearly everything, but well outside of her comfort zone.  Of course she is such an accomplished actor it would be difficult to find a role she wouldn’t be great in.  I suppose with an acting career spanning more than 40 years you learn a little, I especially loved her portrayal of a ball-crunching precinct captain in The Shield – her first TV role in a series.

Ultimately, this movie deals with the big question of “Science Fiction” really well.  I like to think of science fiction as two-fold.  The subject is of course fiction (i.e. made up) and it also has a scientific make-up that is plausible.  I know some people go on too much about plot-gaps and inconsistencies but there’s a reason why.  If there is a glaring plot-gap, implausible occurrence, or an instance that just makes you scream at the television or flick back a few pages in the book to see if you have missed something, it distracts you from the movie or book. Let’s not forget, we watch and read this genre to forget about reality for a while and relax.  You can’t do that if there is a huge glaring mistake or plot gap.  The Girl with all the Gifts is an intelligently told story, with a plausible “what-if” that works and flows nicely.  Again for those who have read or watched “The Strain” series by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan you’ll know what I’m talking about.  

Final Verdict:  A must see ASAP. Tiny bit predictable hence looses 1 planet
Movie Review by The Captain.
(Rating - 9 out of 10 planets)





#Rudai23 #wexworlds #SenniaNanua #GlennClose #thegirlwithallthegifts #mrcarey #thepassage #justincronin #28dayslater #zombie

Shake Dog's best burger in Wexford town.

By far the best burger and shake in town. Shake Dog in Cornmarket, Wexford, just opposite the Art's Centre is Wexford's A...