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A fourth Matrix film? August 31, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I’m conflicted by this news, that a fourth Matrix film may be in the works. I liked the first one a lot, an awful lot, the second wasn’t bad. The third… oh dear God no, what a mess, leaning far too heavily on that which had come before to no useful effect. And there’s been quite a gap of years between then and now – a good 17 years or so.

Variety reported yesterday that The Matrix 4—a sequel rather than a reboot—was officially a go, to be directed by Lana Wachowski and starring Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss.


As late as 2015, the idea of reviving the Matrix franchise with Reeves might have been perceived as box-office poison. The actor hadn’t had a major hit in more than a decade. The Wachowskis had similarly struggled to replicate the success of their breakout sci-fi action series; and even the last Matrix movie, The Matrix Revolutions, had underperformed relative to prior entries, suggesting a drop-off in audience interest. When the first Matrix came out in 1999, it felt genuinely extraordinary, a mash-up of genres and heady ideas that was easier to experience than to explain. Twenty years on, perhaps the franchise can be the spark to revive a creatively stagnant Hollywood yet again.

So what has changed?

Keanu Reeves is box office material again – with John Wick reviving his career very nicely. And in fairness it’s not a bad franchise at all with a neatly stylised world worked out, albeit perhaps for some the violent subject matter is off-putting (and for a lesson in how not to do that approach consider the pretty soulless Atomic Blonde). One of the Wachowski sisters is involved, so there’s a degree of continuity and Carrie-Anne Moss has produced some interesting work, not least appearing in…

If it’s better than the third, well, that’s something I suppose.

Alan MacSimóin Memorial Talks – September 7th and 14th August 31, 2019

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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A fantastic initiative and fitting tribute to a great anarchist, trade unionist and lovely person, and a very strong lineup of contributors… and as the docs note:

The events have been organised by Alan’s partner, Mary Muldowney who worked with him on many campaigns and learned so much from him about history and politics, like many others.

Speaking of Woodstock August 31, 2019

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And in that vein for me the finest song of Woodstock was written in response to it – Joni Mitchel’s peerless eponymous track. Famously she wasn’t there – watching the coverage on televisions and regretting her non-appearance, but somehow I think she got it.

Covered almost from the off in various arrangements…

This Weekend I’ll mostly be listening to songs… from Woodstock August 31, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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50 years ago today… okay, not quite today, some months back, but we’re still in August and that’s Summer, so, let’s wind back to the first Summer of Love.

Actually I’ve mixed feelings about Woodstock. I remember seeing the film in the very early 1980s and while it was enjoyable enough, man, did it seem archaic. Now, with the benefit of another three, or is it four, decades having passed it seems to have acquired a more interesting resonance. I’d have heard the soundtrack album sometime about the same time – I seem to recall skipping a lot of tracks to get to Hendrix and the Who.

Without question the line up was fascinating. And I’ve subsequently dug deep into some of the back catalogues of those there (perhaps to the greatest extent with Crosby, Stills and Nash). But I find it telling that when I first saw it it was Ten Years After who I liked best, because they were – in truth – the loudest, the most rock-like. And even still I enjoy them. But I’ve never gone digging their back catalogue.

Arlo Guthrie (beloved of proto-proto-stoners for some reason back c. 1980 in Dublin at least), Tim Hardin, Ravi Shanker, Joan Baez, Canned Heat, Santana, Creedence, Janis Joplin, Sly and the Family Stone, Jefferson Airplane, Joe Cocker, Country Joe, The Band, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix. Then there’s the list of those who declined invitations, I like the rationale from Ian Anderson best of all (it’s on the wiki page), and you could make a pretty great compilation of those who didn’t attend.

All that said Woodstock has always seemed to me to be the symptom rather than a cause – that it reflected enormous changes taking place not just in US society but more broadly where what is understood as youth culture was coming to the fore in a way that would have significant ramifications subsequently. What is astounding is how little actually changed in the political or economic context, or perhaps for those of us who still have a smidgin of Marxism in our make up that is no surprise at all. When later there were the complaints that some counter-cultural figure or another had deftly moved into full-on capitalist mode that almost seemed inevitable (though to personalise it is to misunderstand the all-embracing nature of capitalism itself).

I can understand the idealism, but as noted before on this site for me the Ladbroke Grove crew of Hawkwind, the Pink Fairies and so on were always if not quite attractive, somehow more resonant of a cynicism and sceptical approach that I’d find more my speed. Part of that, is doubtless, the memory of hippy refracted through the utter antipathy towards it from punk.

The music? Nowhere near sufficient women on the line-up. Without question a snapshot of a particular moment and with some real stand-outs albeit not hugely edgy.

Still, I can’t listen to Wooden Ships or just about anything from Santana without feeling the tug of nostalgia for a time that I didn’t encounter in the slightest at the time (being about four or so). Would I have enjoyed being there? I do not think so, being someone who hates open air gigs and who likes my comforts. Am I sorry I wasn’t. Not in the slightest. But I’m kind of glad it took place.

Jefferson Airplane

Janis Joplin (with The Kozmic Blues Band)

Arlo Guthrie

Canned Heat


Jimi Hendrix

Ten Years After

The Who

Crosby Stills Nash and Young

A polity coming apart at the seams… August 30, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

In a way, compared to the proroguing of Westminster this is small potatoes – and yet… and yet… the story that Dominic Cummings had a hand in the sacking of Sajid Javid’s media adviser – a sacking that Javid was not involved in and which saw the unfortunate ‘was escorted from No 10 by an armed police officer after a meeting with Johnson’s top strategist, Dominic Cummings, in which she was accused of being dishonest about her contact with the former chancellor Philip Hammond and one of his ex-advisers, who have been trying to block a no-deal Brexit’ is more than passing strange.

And it’s not entirely unprecedented in the new dispensation, but add in a strange gender aspect and it becomes even more curious:

Khan is the second adviser working for Javid to be sacked by No 10. She is also the fourth young woman in a month to be axed from the prime minister’s network of advisers and senior staffers.

On Friday evening a furious Cummings was reported to have told special advisers that he was “pissed off” about “bullshit briefings” on pay and gender balance.

Some of the (self-perceived) great and the good in the Irish media have been tut-tutting about analyses suggesting that the British polity is in deep trouble but looking at stuff like this what other rational conclusion could one arrive at? For Javid is – of course – Chancellor.

Uncivil wars… Brexit August 30, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Speaking of Dominic Cummings I’m hoping to get Brexit: The Uncivil Wars – the TV drama which focuses on Cummings and Vote Leave. But if you want to hear more about him check out this Today in Focus podcast from the Guardian where James Graham, the screenwriter of the Uncivil Wars talks about Cummings.

Interesting point made by Graham, who is clear that Cummings is a right radical figure. And he argued that this was of a piece with Brexit ‘this is an ideological movement not based in pragmatism, it feels relatively reckless and all the things the right accuses the left of being’.

Rhetoric, meet reality August 30, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Matthew O’Toole – former No 10 spokesperson – in the Guardian had a troubling quote from Dominic Cummings. Cummings, the self-proclaimed man of the people and anti-elitist, opined on his blog that:

..the last administration had “aided and abetted bullshit invented by Irish nationalists and remain campaigners that the Belfast agreement prevents reasonable customs checks on trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic. It does no such thing.” The senior Brexit strategist went on to describe arguments about the complexity of the Irish question as “babble”.

I guess now is when the rhetoric meets the reality.

Speaking of which – Cummings might like to pay attention to this contribution from the PSNI Chief Constable who:

…warned that the return of a hard border in the event of a no-deal Brexit could revive paramilitary groups.
It could become a “trigger and a fuelling point” for more people to join extremist groups, Simon Byrne told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Thursday. He said: “If we get this wrong we could drift back to almost a paramilitary style of policing.”

It’s almost as if someone on the ground on this island might actually know what they are talking about.

Johnson rhetoric August 30, 2019

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It’s funny. I was looking at the headlines on RTÉ and they carried the likes of ‘Labour plans to use parliament to thwart no-deal Brexit’ and ‘EU’s duty to protect Irish peace and stability – Barnier’ and ‘Ruth Davidson resigns as leader of Scottish Conservatives’ along with ‘Johnson urges EU and UK to up tempo in Brexit talks’ and it struck me how the latter ignores the others entirely. The pointers to reality simply don’t exist for Johnson et al. And this is, in a way, the great failing of the Brexit project. From the off rather than engaging with the contradictions and paradoxes of the situation it developed in it has sought to ignore their reality.

That this now leaves the UK in a situation arguably unseen in any of our lifetimes is depressing but hardly unpredictable. If you try to simplify politics down to soundbites it is hardly surprising if politics shows up how simple your analysis is in the first place.

A modern European state. Rushing towards self-immolation. The thought struck me today that if one sought deliberately to divide Britain on economic, political and social/cultural lines one could hardly do better than the current situation.

Where this leaves us, of course, is quite a different matter again.

Signs of Hope – A continuing series August 29, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Gewerkschaftler suggested this recently:

I suggest this blog should have a regular (weekly) slot where people can post happenings at the personal or political level that gives them hope that we’re perhaps not going to hell in a handbasket as quickly as we thought. Or as the phlegmatic Germans put it “hope dies last”.

Any contributions this week?

Solidarity with the North August 29, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Good to see the reference to, and quotations from, Brian Hanley’s excellent The Impact of the Troubles on the Republic 1968-79: Boiling Volcano? in Diarmaid Ferriter’s column in the IT at the weekend.The column itself asked the reasonable question:

The Irish government has continually referred to the “solidarity” of the EU with Ireland on the question of the Border in Ireland, but is solidarity closer to home really considered at all?

The slogans of 50 years ago do not fit the current circumstances, especially given the substantial growth of the numbers in the North who do not identify as either unionists or nationalists.

What does exist now, unfortunately, is a new version of Northern Ireland in limbo and a fundamental denial to its people of self-determination. It is a subject that requires a lot more honest and frank discourse and not just in London.

And on that topic an interesting and thought-provoking comment BTL:

David Roe

Excellent article by Diarmaid.
I’ve spent a lot of time recently talking to people about the prospects for Unity and the lack of empathy in the South with the people of Northern Ireland is deeply depressing. On the one hand, irredentist Republicans who voice contempt for the views and fears of nearly 1 million Protestants who may soon be joining the Republic. From many others, disdain for the other half of the population who were promised a peaceful democratic path to a United Ireland under the Good Friday agreement.
The notion, which I hear voiced everywhere that we might refuse to take on Northern Ireland seems callous and childish.
The slogans of 50 years ago do not fit the current circumstances. We need new thinking, and a new policy. Northern Ireland’s people are soon going to ask to be our people and we will have to navigate the tricky path between the fears of unionists and the expectations of Nationalists. They are equally valid. It is time, finally, for the Republic to grow up and accept that Nationhood and sovereignty means sometimes having to take on difficult, thankless tasks. Not to mention expensive ones.
Nobody else is going to solve this for us. Nobody else has to live with the consequences of getting it wrong. It is time for us to grow up.

That point re difficult thankless tasks is well made. And if sovereignty does mean anything it has to be exercised. Needless to say the above evinced a predictable response in the form of the following:

Reply to @DavidRoe: Still on the Catholic-Protestant-divide. There are lots of Protestants in the Republic. Never wanted to emigrate North.

I liked the following reply:

David Roe

Reply to @UliMarggraf: Not sure what your point is? I am one of those Prods. If you’re chiding me for dividing the population on religion rather than Nationalist/Unionist, it’s because, on these cultural and political questions, I think it’s more appropriate.
Maybe you meant something else.

But it kind of proves his original point. This is going to be difficult and thankless.

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