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Their, Their Sex.

1 Jul

My closest school friend turned 24 yesterday (happy b’day, deevan!). I am not scheduled to do so for another five months, but her birthday has always seemed like the onset of mine, splitting the year into neat halves: until June 30 I am 23-and-a-bit; on July 1, I am almost-24. For most of my life this was eagerly anticipated: it put me closer to the adulthood I was so eager to acquire so I could live wildly and do all the exciting things I had in store for myself. Ever since I have been able to actually do those things (and chosen the indubitably wastrel life of living in front of a laptop) it has seemed far more menacing, cancer and wrinkles looming at the distant horizon. I envision losing my taut skin, my non-existent figure (I look like a tall potato) and my hair; my terrible eyesight weakening further, my voice assuming a wavering quiver, and my typing fingers swollen with arthritis (in more vainglorious moments, I picture the blind Milton composing extempore at his benighted daughters, replaced in my imagination by dictaphones ).

This is, you will understand, the best time to be watching television about women twice your age with hot bodies and hotter men, and it is why I have always loved Samantha on Sex and the City (hereinafter, Sex). I don’t identify with her- how do you identify with an alien superwoman? The closest I come to these New York women is Miranda in the early cynical years when she’s still something of a klutz. Samantha is my ultimate fantasy for myself (with a less.. tiring selection process and more alone-time) as alluring as she is impossible for the chronically shy. Charlotte I dismiss, while Carrie has always been the show’s central mystery. In some things we are similar: irrepressible diary-keeping; unfortunate dress-sense (well, at least she has some); a suspicion of Society (hers is far less pronounced than mine); good luck in friendship. In others- sociability, interests, cultural taste- we are impossibly dissimilar. In season one I was utterly taken with her: she was my adolescent idea of a zany thirty-something. Big I viewed as a pleasant aberration: I too hoped to have a tycoon in my stable one day. After that magical first airing on HBO India, sans all sex and watched sneakily late at night, Big has annoyed the crap out of me every time I try watching the first season (he gives her a glittery duck-purse!); the surest testament, in my experience, to the injury of hindsight.

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The Would-be Medici.

28 Jun

It is the desperate moment when we discover that this empire, which had seemed to us the sum of all wonders, is an endless, formless ruin, that corruption’s gangrene has spread too far to be healed by our sceptre, that the triumph over enemy sovereigns has made us the heirs of their long undoing.

        Calvino, Invisible Cities.

It can hardly be a secret that all things medieval fascinate me right now. Inveterate telly hound that I am, showtime’s recently deceased Tudors was almost the first thing devoured. I might have started Wolf Hall before, but there is no doubt which was finished first (as well I could, given the final season had barely begun back then).  I wasn’t really interested in the television show post Cromwell’s execution (the end of the third season). Besides, even Michael Hirst began to think it was unconscionable to make Henry look like the delectable Jonathan Rhys Meyers by 1540; and Henry finally got crotchety and fat, which was my cue to exit. He had run through four wives by then, the onset of the fifth being well underway.

The Tudors has Katherine Howard (wife 5) played like the original valley girl, though contemporary portraits indicate a rather more sober woman. She was the one who infamously cuckolded Henry with his valet, and who can blame her? Imagine being 17 and married to a man three times your age. An obese man with a stinking leg wound; who, in words of a contemporary Reformer “celebrates each wedding by burning someone at the stake” and has a history of disposing of wives like so much short change. This Katherine must have realised her young life was not long for this world, and proceeded to enjoy it as best she could. This is, of course, assuming that the charges against her weren’t as trumped up as those against her Boleyn predecessor.

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Lost Ended (praise the lord).

18 Jun


Short Version: Jack Shephard had daddy issues. The boy in black had mommy issues. Go figure.


Longer Version

The great thing about Lost was its ensemble. Even conceding the mythology was complex for a television show- if you’ve spent your life steeped in spec-fic, well, *shrug*. The science was wonky, the fantasy clunky.  The only reason I followed the show (in fits and starts- I watched all of season five and six in three nights) was that you had your pick of hero: Doctor Jack, Hunter Locke, Brooding Sayid, Cowboy Sawyer, Happy Hurley, Complex Linus, Genius Faraday, Romantic Desmond. However you like your eggs, you could be sure Lost had the recipe. When it came to the the women, sadly, the pickings were ever slim and the stereotype thickly laid on. Primal Kate, Civilised Juliette, Happy-Married Sun, Willowy Shannon, Crazy Claire. The cryptic ones- Eloise Hawking, Ilana, Ana Lucia- disappeared almost as soon as they arrived. Lost was not, for all the gun-toting damsels, a woman’s show.

Lost consistently thrust its protagonists into the heat of battle. Its heroes are the ones who’ve stuck out all the fights, either by wit or by gun or by compromise. Its god, by contrast, hides and shirks human contact, and its devil is scary smoke-monster, the big bad who can be any dead person it wants. On the whole, one feels compelled to come out for smoke-man, who is defeated by the first clause of evil: embodiment is death. Any Buffy fan knows the best way to overcome something is to define it, and the minute smoke-man appropriated a corporeal body his game was up. Insofar as his point is that Jacob cruelly uses his candidates to no discernible end, smokey is right- Richard  being the best example. After declaring to the man that all he wants is for humanity to tell good from evil for itself, Jacob then turns around and appoints Richard as his ageless intermediary. Yeah, that’s not controlling at all.

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