Posts by Matthew Littlewood

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  • Hard News: The Big 2012 US Election PAS Thread, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It was extraordinary. There were a number of familiar motifs in there, but it seemed born of conviction. The climactic message of diversity and inclusion – with its historic shout-out to disabled citizens – was powerful and moving. I cried at that point.

    What's so remarkable about Obama's speech is its sense of history- and the way he calls on so many great American orators before him- and how it's brought into the Now. It's in the way it just builds to this crescendo.

    That said, the tone was distinctly different to his 2008 acceptance speech- how could it not be?- there wasn't the sense of grand expanse, more of a call for communality. As an aside, not only did he come onto "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)", his speech also referenced Sly & the Family Stone's "You Can Make It If You Try". Small detail, but pretty cool

    And to be fair to Romney, his concession speech was gracious, well-judged and succinct.

    I do worry, given the fact it's essentially going to be electoral status quo ( solidly Democrat Senate, solidly Republican Congress, Democrat president) that the US is going to be locked in four more years of GOP legislative brinkmanship and filibustering. But that's for another debate.

    On the other hand Ezra Klein's take is more optimistic- as he says, this victory for Obama (and increase for the Dems in the senate) essentially "locks in" his three major pieces of legislation- the Affordable Care Act, Dodd-Frank Bill and the repealing of the Bush-era tax cuts.

    I guess the US continues to live in interesting times.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 434 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Media3: Whistleblower Season, in reply to Russell Brown,

    In Savile’s case, girls who complained of their abuse were ignored or even persecuted. Carers were instructed to ignore Savile selecting victims from hospital wards and taking them to his “bedroom” at the hospital because he brought in so much money in donations. There were eyewitnesses and people he told. He sexually assaulted disabled kids who couldn’t resist. There are now victims giving very clear, consistent testimony of being raped. There are, for fuck’s sake, actual broadcast TV pictures of Savile feeling up young girls

    Yes, it was the sheer calculated and systematic nature of the abuse-- and the levels of the cover-up -that sickened me the most. You wonder why and how it got to the stage where Savile became (ironically) beyond reproach. I mean, it clearly went beyond the usual "that was a different time then" social mores: people knew about it, and knew it was bad. Even the notorious Louis Theroux doco tiptoed around him- although ultimately its portrait did poke somewhat under the supposedly harmless "eccentric" exterior, suggesting a man who cultivated everything for effect. The clip showing him boast about his "no tolerance" policy as a DJ (look it up on Youtube) was quietly chilling.

    Oh, and good show this week Russell: the discussion around whistleblowing, particularly Hager's comments, were instructive.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 434 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: H4x0rs and You,

    How are journalists trained these days? Is it an undergrad degree or diploma? Could the quality of journalism be improved if it were postgrad and would be journalists did a degree in something else first?

    I can only speak for myself, but I did the postgraduate course (Grad Dip.J) at Canterbury University (better known for years as "Jim Tully's course") in 2008, and that course had been running in that format (or something similar) since 1987 (it wasn't held this year due to a number of, largely earthquake-related, factors, and will return next year). Massey University's is also a GradDipJ.

    Here's a good website with the list of available academic courses in journalism in NZ, as you can see it's a mix of polytechnic and University options.

    My honours degree was in the Arts (English Literature and German), I'm not sure what percentage of the journalism DipGrads held arts degrees, (at a glance), but I wouldn't be surprised if it were a majority or pluarity.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 434 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Music: New in the Neighbourhood,

    That SJD track is great.

    I know this has been around for ages, but I reckon this "fan-made" video for Brian Eno's "King's Lead Hat" is just perfect. It couldn't capture the manic feel of the song better- and it also features a few cool musical jokes (including the obvious Talking Heads reference).

    Indeed, it seemed to be a trend a while back to make awesome video collages to Brian Eno tracks. Here's an equally stellar one for Byrne and Eno's "America is Waiting".

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 434 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Fox News: I know, right?,

    I've become increasingly in awe of Tom Tomorrow's (AKA Dan Perkins') ability to wring absurdist, jaw-dropping satirical humour out of US politics, when it's already plenty absurd and jaw-dropping as it is, but his latest cartoon riffing on Mitt's gaffes is just beyond fantastic.

    Seriously, how does he make the long-hanging fruit seem so exotic and delicious?

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 434 posts Report Reply

  • Cracker: What Would Charlotte Do?, in reply to Hebe,

    The official online channels like Stuff couldn't touch Twitter - and probably Facebook if you were attuned to it already -- and talkback radio

    Although, to be fair, a lot of the best people to follow on Twitter are actual journalists. The NOTW saga was a classic case in point, Nick Davies, who had spent close to seven years on the story, was suddenly aware that the dam was starting to break, and there was almost a spiky energy in his updates. Similarly, the better work on the London Riots was done by reporters in the field.

    Ironically, I think a lot of the best twitter users are those who point you to longer-form pieces (such as articles etc), as well as engage in the short form conversations.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 434 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Flying Again, in reply to Bruce Wurr,

    My wish is definitely for the reissues........early headless chickens, early bailter space, maybe early everything!

    Indeed! If they sort out the contracts issues, I'd like to see reissues of Able Tasmans, Birds Nest Roys, Snapper and the Skeptics. And in CD or LP form, if possible.

    (I know I really should accept good digital versions, but for some reason, I still like stuff I can hold and put on the stereo too.)

    I hope the semi-partnership with Arch Hill works out, it sounds like it's probably the best option for getting more stuff out there. And like Grant, I really hope that new Street Chant arrives soon. Been hanging out for that for ages- along with the Transistors' upcoming LP.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 434 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Fox News: I know, right?, in reply to Russell Brown,

    There is a great piece on the finger pointing of both parties later in show that shows people’s willingness to spout the party line blindly.

    Yeah. It's telling. Almost hard to watch.

    And the way Jason Jones and John Oliver just let it speak for itself (to the point where they were cross-cutting to both Dem and GOP delegates accusing each other of literally the same things) was acutely handled.

    I think the Daily Show is at its best when it lets its team of "correspondents" make hay. Stewart might be the front-man, but he's been blessed with some of the sharpest comic actors around- some of which- such as Steve Carrell or Ed Helms- have gone onto big screen success subsequently. Aasif Mandvi has long been a favourite of mine. Such good timing. They're also lucky to have guys like Hodgman, Lewis Black and Larry Wilmore in reserve.

    It helps too, that they have very good writers- including many former (and present) Onion staffers.

    But that Stewart clip was something else, he's usually not that furious in his own turf. But he's right- it's astonishing how Roger Ailes's message-machine almost went it meltdown and somehow came out the other side completely contradicting itself without batting an eyelid. The cognitive dissonance is quite jaw-dropping, really.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 434 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Tired and emotional, for reals, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I subscribe to two magazines: Vanity Fair and the New Yorker. I find American newspapers fairly pompous, but their best magazines are just … the best magazines. Granted, there is the odd disappointing issue of VF.

    I first read The New Yorker when I was minding my ex-girlfriend’s flat in Paris in 1987. Reading its vast two-part story on the New York art scene was a revelation with respect to what magazines could do and be.

    Vanity Fair__’s journalism in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis has been superb. Bethany McLean and Michael Lewis aren’t just great journalists (McLean’s first coup was breaking the Enron scandal while everyone else was still cheer-leading for them), they’re also great __stylists. They take what could be very dry topics and find all these fascinating, flawed and occasionally foolhardy characters that get caught up in them. But somehow it’s never at the expense of the nitty-gritty. You can tell that they’ve done their homework, but they’ve also figured out how to tell the human stories.

    (Cards on the table: Bethany McLean is a personal hero of mine. And she’s also a fox.)

    True, you have to take it as read that “cover” article for each issue of Vanity Fair will almost always be a fawning celebrity profile (or yet another piece on the Kennedys. Or Marilyn Munroe) , but the actual long-form journalism inside is frequently vivid, well-researched, spell-binding stuff. It’s no surprise that some of their best articles have inspired some excellent films– e.g. The Man Who Knew Too Much, which provided the basis for the Russell Crowe-starring “big tobacco” conspiracy thriller The Insider (still his best performance, for what it’s worth).

    The US version of Esquire can still do a pretty good low-rent version of Vanity Fair these days too. Their political coverage is pretty sharp. Hell, even that noxious corporate irrelevancy that is Rolling Stone employs guys like Matt Taibbi, whose pieces are often so savage, well-thought-out and hilarious that I just have to stand back and admire their chutzpah.

    Oddly, I can only do The New Yorker for its arts reviews, humour writing and cartoons these days. Something about their house style for feature writing doesn’t quite sit with me–too self-involved, perhaps? (I know, pot calling kettle black, etc).

    Anyway, sorry about the digression, but here’s time for another one- everyone should pick up a copy of the latest Listener for Rebecca Macfie’s feature on the State of Our Water. A robust and timely piece.

    (Sorry about this Russell, as you can tell, I’m a fan of good feature writing, so I like to plug)

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 434 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Before Lust, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    If you get the chance, catch the recent Michelle William’s film Take This Waltz for the shower scene featuring female bodies of all kinds of shape. So rare in movies.

    Yes, I wonder whether the fact the film was directed by a young woman ( the excellent Sarah Polley) had something to do with that. I found the film's relaxed and frank attitude to female nudity quite refreshing, actually- particularly in the sense that most of it was shown in "domestic" and decidedly non-sexual settings. I guess it heightens the fact that most of the sexual tension in the film is implied, rather than acted upon (until near the end of the film, where it does, briefly, get sexually explicit). The film relies a lot on the power of suggestion, and for once, it implies that nudity in and of itself isn't always suggestive. I mean, in other American films, it would be a really big deal that the lead actress appears "full frontal" in more than one scene. In this one, the inference is yes, people are sometimes naked around the house.

    But I won't lie- Michelle Williams looks amazing naked (and fully clothed- I like her array of pretty dresses).

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 434 posts Report Reply

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