Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Fees, Cuts, and Tory propaganda

The second post i want to publish tonight is of a much more serious nature.

This post is looking to address the issue of the student protests which have taken place over the last month. By that very admission of scale i accept that i simply can't hope to cover all the diverse and complex issues involved in the debates surrounding the cuts being inflicted on education.

I have a whole range of points to make on this topic so i'm going to separate them numerically.

1) There has been a suggestion, repeatedly broadcast by the BBC and other news media, that both current and prospective students fail to understand that the cost of fees they will have to pay is not immediately reclaimable and that this delay in repayment makes the figure of £45,000 somehow more manageable. First of all, when did an absolute minimum debt of £27, 000 become a figure which suggests future wealth and security. Secondly when did short term loans become a template for long term gain (i'm pretty sure the small print in dozens of different loans adverts have warned me against the precise concept of considering a loan as somehow a basis for a supportable income). Thirdly, when it is announced a mere 6 days after the amelioration of previous tuition fees laws that unemployment is in fact rising, where precisely are the graduates of university degrees meant to find jobs?

Those three arguments, among others, are the the reasons why the last month has seen a dramatic reassessment of the so called 'apathetic generation'. Turns out we aren't a generation prepared to be fobbed off with a substandard higher education which is paid for through an extortionate fee system. The older generations have spent years dismissing my generation as lost, a decade of teenagers who cared for nothing more than our most recent facebook status and are now horrified to discover that in fact we are extremely angry at the dismissive nature with which the education of the year groups to follow mine are being treated. Raise tuition fees, do away with E.M.A (A hugely important source of finance for a large number of people from lower incomes hoping to pursue further education), entrench the concept that higher education is something for the wealthy rather than anyone with the intellectual capacity.

2) One element i'll take issue with is the suggestion by countless BBC journalists as well as numerous reporters for other sources; that students want a free education. I've read more times than i can comfortably deal with that students expect unreasonably a free education. There's enough holes in this idea to form a pretty effective collinder. For a start a large percentage of students i know have completely accepted £3,290 fees per year as fair. I personally am happy to concede that some degree of paying for a further education is fair. However, by raising the fees to a potential £9,000 a year the government is instantly placing a value on higher education that many people will feel insurmountable.

I have seen several interviews where journalist have suggested that the students who are protesting are doing so because they don't appreciate that they won't have to pay back the loan until they are earning £21,000 or more. To the contrary, most current and future students not only appreciate the short term impact this will have on them but are also aware of the more long term affects they face.

The anger seen on the streets of London over the last month stems not from the ignorance of reality but from the disgust at watching the ladder of higher education being pulled up by a generation who enjoyed free university education

3) It has suited media outlet's to portray the protests as simply a product of Nick Clegg's betrayal but this is a pathetically simplistic view. Undoubtedly many students, me included, are furious at Nick Clegg for going back on a principle he was only too happy to foreground when in the pursuit of votes. I voted for the Liberal Democrats at the last election, in the hope that they promised something different to the alternating Labour/Conservative governments. I can't see myself voting for them again because to put it simply, they managed to reveal themselves as a more blatant version of the traditional political spectrum of lies and mistruths than even the Conservatives or Labour had managed in several years.

However to dismiss the anger as simply a product of his back-tracking is to over-simplify and dismiss the true power behind the unrest. Clegg is simply a manifestation of a more far-reaching anger at the political system. The anger stems from the fact that despite proudly offering something different to the populace, he managed to provide a sickeningly similar option. My generation are not apathetic but they are disillusioned.

4) The second major issue relating to the protests is the nature of the coverage when relating to the violence. Even the guardian, a paper which tends to be more sympathetic to the student cause than most, labelled a video of an assault on a disabled protester as an 'Alleged assault'.

The BBC a supposedly objective source of news coverage made their position clear with their interview of the victim of the assault, Jody McIntyre, . If the attempts to claim that a man with cerebral palsy being wheeled towards a police riot officer constituted a threat doesn't suggest a painfully clear bias in the BBC coverage i don't know what will. In what other scenario could the assault upon a wheel chair-bound man be justified by claiming that the disabled man was being threatening?

Alfie Meadows has only recently returned home after going through surgery on the brain after a hit to the head from a police man's baton. A large number of other protester's injuries have gone unreported in the last few weeks as the idea of the police assaulting defenceless young men and women doesn't fit within the accepted view of 'a violent group of "anarchist" students attempting to provoke violence'. Some papers have at least attempted to portray the other side of the protests but overall the national media has come down in favour of the Metropolitan Police rather than the protesters exercising their democratic right to protest against Government decisions they disagree with.

I am not for a moment condoning the actions of the protesters who have injured police officers, or the idiot who threw a fire extinguisher from the roof of Tory HQ , they are idiots and i reckon they probably deserve to be punished within the full force of the law (to the extent of their crimes, i'm unsure that extreme idiocy is the same as attempted murder).

However, I strongly believe that if the police can use the established media to publish the faces of those they believe were involved in the riots in London, it is only right that the student community pull together to make sure that footage of Police officers assaulting peaceful students is broadcast all over the internet.

I have a cynicism about the capability of the police to punish those within their own ranks who over step the mark, born out of the failure to bring the police officer whose actions killed Ian Tomlinson ( to any real sort of punishment.

It is my interpretation that at least during the initial few days following the protest, the media were only too happy to portray the December 9th protests as an all out assault on the police who operated solely within the boundaries of public interest and public service.

This ignores the simple fact that for every violent idiot among the protesters i would be willing to bet there was a violent policeman spoiling for a fight. What so much of the coverage, in their haste to take sides, has failed to acknowledge is that both sides have their violent, borderline psychopathic idiots and to pretend otherwise is inconceivably naive.

The portrayal of the student protesters as a violent, uneducated and ungrateful rabble, is precisely what has provoked the anger rather than what has explained it. The violence has been evident on both sides, yes there is a reasonable number of protesters who have made the decision to attack the police, but it can equally be argued that the afore mentioned decision stems from the aggresively defensive stance taken by the police. The decision to kettle people on Westminster Bridge until 11pm on a freezing cold December night (a fact gleefully ignored by the majority of papers) was one designed to provoke violence among the radicals within the protesters and discourage future demonstrations amongst the more casual of protesters.

It may sound like a conspiracy theory but i believe that the vandalism of the police riot van on the 25th of November ( was a exquisitely managed example of staged anger. I have been in enough cities where i have been a member of a group of away football fans or opposition to EDL groups to know how well the police tend to organise and protect themselves and their equipment. The fact that they 'accidentally' left a riot van right in the middle of the area they knew the students would be protesting in seems more than a little suspect to me. If there'd been reports of police having to genuinely flee the vehicle then my view would have been different, but the fact is most reports suggest the vehicle was abandoned. This leads me to believe it was a calculated ploy by the police service because they appreciated the impact photos of a trashed riot van would have in supporting their cause. Now many people will choose to believe they police line and i'm not conceited enough to believe that i'm categorically right. However i study politics and journalism at university and the effect of that is i am beginning to become cynical about situations like this due to the idealistic nature of the photo opportunity.

The third, and in some way simultaneously most ignored and most important, issue is the fact that a large proportion of students are protesting not because of fees (which has been reported as the sole issue at stake) but because of the 80% cuts to most universities funding. Now if the Conservative government (and let's be honest that's what we have seeing as the Lib Dems have performed one of the most graceful if depressing swings to the right) was really concerned with tackling the deficit in Britain it would attack the issues of tax evasion by big business' and wealthy individuals rather than putting such a high price on education. Vodafone, Topshop and Lord Ashcroft would all have to face up to the reality that their tax evasion is costing this country billions of pounds. If the amount owed in unpaid tax by those three evaders was reclaimed suddenly Britain's deficit would look a lot less ominous. However both the current Conservative government and the previous Labour one have shown a worrying reliance on big business, believing that free market economy is the way to solve all economic woes, despite a cornucopia of evidence to the contrary. Letting big business' and banks' act in their own self interest regardless of the national impact has appeared to become the accepted method of global economy and depressingly there is little evidence to suggest any chance being imminent.

Basically, the aim of this post is to attempt to make people realise that the student anger is not uniformed, non-specific or reactionary. The anger is knowledgeable, targeted and purposeful and despite the best efforts of the government and media under it's sway, is not just going to evaporate.

Life is far from shit

Right, the first post i want to write tonight is about one of the most broad and vague issues around. I admit and specify that so that anyone who reads on is braced for one of the more rambling additions to my blog.

I've been thinking a lot recently about life, about the way i look at my own life and about the way people in a more general way perceive their own achievements and limitations.

I've heard one particular phrase once too many times, and i see no reason to deny the fact that i've uttered it a couple of times; "Life is shit". It's a three word sentence that ever so succinctly sums up the frustration, anger and often sadness, I and other people feel about the life they live.

But i was thinking about this last night and i realised something, undoubtedly influenced by other peoples thoughts on the matter. Life is never shit. The circumstances you're faced with can be shit. The friends you have can be shit. So can your family. It can be utterly shit that your denied the romantic companion you so desire. So many factors and elements in your life can be shit, but life itself is never shit. Life in fact is the most incredible thing we possess. Surely if we measure all the good things that impact on our existence by whether they make our lives shit or not, surely that suggests that our lifes base value is pretty high, that life is a good thing until our choices and circumstance make it otherwise. This is something i'd agree with. I'm far from the most optimistic of people, as anyone who's met me would testify, but i believe in the basic sanctity and beauty of life.

While we're still alive we have a choice, we have a say and we have a determination to improve ourselves. I refuse to accept that everything is out of our hands. Undoubtedly some elements are, as in all walks and times of life, simply outside of our control. However this doesn't mean for a moment that we should sit back and accept what we face unquestioningly. We have a life and it is to a pretty large degree what we make of it.

I acknowledge that an appreciation of the wonder of my own life is not one of my strengths. Too often i focus on the negatives, too often i end up reading the worst possible interpretation into a scenario. However even the slightest bit of detached evaluation makes me realise that no matter how crap the current scenario facing me may be is, it doesn't mean that life in it's broadest sense if shit.

You see, i think that though many people manage to evaluate their own lives as separate from an individual circumstance, i am not alone in viewing a crap comparatively momentary issue as somehow representative of a greater concern in my life. Despite any advice or inference to the contrary, i struggle with the fact i'm single. I struggle not to draw conclusions beyond my own situation from the loneliness that that inspires.

In the end, for all my rambling, this blog post boils down to a fairly simple principle that i hope that anyone who reads this will understand. No matter how shit your life may seem at any one moment, no matter how much you wish you could change the circumstance you are faced with, no matter how insurmountable the obstacles in your way are, life itself is never shit. In fact life is the most incredible gift we have.

Now i'm a melodramatic and overly romantic chap so you may choose to ignore this post as simple hyperbole, and maybe there's an element of truth to that assessment, but it doesn't change the fact that i completely mean it and that regardless of any idealised stance on life, my claim that life is the most incredible gift holds true. There's so much crap that every human being has to face on a daily basis that could drag one down.

Maybe i'm just over sensitive but it seems to me that at some point in the not too long forgotten past it became uncool to care, to hope for more, to look at your life and want more from the future that faced you than may initially present itself.

So my basic, over arching point is this; No matter how much you may hate your life, no matter how desperately you might wish you could escape from the situation you are in, it's that particular situation that is shit, it's that day, week or month that is shit. Life is never shit, because from the most pessimistic outlook, the alternative is worse, and from a less negative view, life and the pursuit of a happier existence is actually the thing that makes our existence worthwhile. We have around 80 years to make our mark, and when you think of it that way surely it seems futile to limit yourself to a narrow and ultimately negative view of what our potential is.

I really hope that anyone who reads this knows me, because if they do then they'll understand that anything i write is as much advice to myself as anyone else, rather than a condescending critique on their attitudes. I never envisaged this blog to be a portal for projecting my views on other people, rather i'm simply trying to reflect my ever changing approach and values when it comes to life in the broadest sense.

Life is what we make of it, life is a relatively blank slate and life is a fragile sense of ideals and intentions which we have to protect against the inevitably degrading nature of existence.

Basically i hope that anyone who reads this will appreciate that no matter what their current outlook on life is, life is infinitely better to the alternative and so i pray (and i don't exactly make a habit of that) that they gain every possible benefit from that and experience every joy that our humble existence has to offer.

I'm an atheist (bordering on agnostic, i pretty much completely don't believe in god or any other higher spirit, however i refuse to believe that i have the degree of absolute wisdom required to rule out the afore mentioned higher spirit's existence.) This particular approach to the broader issues facing every human being have led to me taking a view which i would like to think is fairly pragmatic. I don't believe in a life after death but i do believe that our choices have an impact not just on our own lives. This means that i truly believe each and every person should do their best to ensure that, regardless of the religious outlook of the person looking in, you live what could be considered to be a virtuous life. I drink too much, i think too much, i in particular ways covet too much, yet i would like to think i have done a sufficient job of living a "good" life and i have come reasonably close to being a "good" person.

I put "good" in speech marks because i believe good is a highly subjective adjective and so I generally attempt to avoid it but in this case i find it kind of appropriate as it suits the very vague conditions i am considering in this particular post.

I could ramble on about the highly personal definitions of 'good' and 'bad' but this isn't the post and to be honest i'm not the writer to attempt to qualify those two concepts, even on a highly personal level. Instead i reckon i'll finish with one moderately simple sentence.

Life is not just good, but incredible, and it is each and every human being's responsibility to appreciate that fact.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

A decent day

I guess I'm getting in the Christmas spirit. I handed in both of the essays which I've been working on for the last couple of weeks today. It was the kind of winter day I love, with a clear blue sky, cold without being unbearable and a layer of frost covering most surfaces but thankfully not the pavement. There's something kind of beautiful about trees when every one of their branches has been coated white with frost, making them look skeletal and festive at the same time. It was one of those fairly uneventful days where the simple fact that nothing went wrong actually makes it a great day. Nothing big or dramatic happened, I went to Uni, handed in some work, played on the Xbox for a bit, went round to a friend's house and watched a DVD before wandering home well before midnight. But for once I've reached the end of a day without a single thing going wrong or frustrating me, without anything to dwell on or regret. It's a nice feeling and one I allow myself too rarely. It's not like the things that have caused me to feel a bit crap at various times this term have gone away or been solved, in fact they're completely unchanged, it's just I guess they don't seem to have mattered so much today and I'm grateful for that.

I watched 'Home Alone' this evening for the first time in ages and I'd forgotten how enjoyable that film is, simple, funny, charming and intensely evocative of a whole host of Christmas based memories and associations. It also struck me just how violent some of the traps the burglars fall for are, something which had passed me by when I'd watched it as a child, those guys would almost certainly have both died from the punishment they receive (don't worry though, I know that strict realism was hardly the aim of the film makers there and nor should it have been).

The main focus of this post, or at least the initial inspiration, isn't my improved mood. It's not about my day today either. It's another post about music, and the role it plays in my life.

I spent a lot of the last week sat in my room working on essays and it's times like that when I truly become aware of my reliance on music to get through a day. I had my iTunes library open constantly, listening to a whole range of songs and I genuinely think it would have been much more of a struggle to complete the essays had it not been for that. There was a fairly heavy emphasis on Frank Turner among the songs I listened to. I know quite a lot of people who simply can't work while listening to music, they find it too distracting but I am the exact opposite. I have a fairly inattentive mind a lot of the time, I quite rarely manage to focus on one thing in particular, even if I'm watching a film or TV show I love I'll find my mind is wandering and I'm tempted to check a few websites or read a magazine while watching them.

I have a theory that it's at least partly a defence mechanism; anyone who knows me properly will know that I have a tendency to over think scenarios. I quite simply think too much, and not in a intelligent or beneficial way, just in an overly analytical and often slightly self-destructive way. I also tend not to draw the most positive conclusions from these periods of thought, ending up with a fairly negative outlook on the way certain aspects of my life are going. It's because of this that I think I often end up doing two or more things at once, if I was to do just the one that would leave me too much room to think about the exact kind of things it does me little good to focus on. Recently I've not even been successful in transferring that energy into being creative and coming up with stories to write, it's just been a kind of self-perpetuating cycle of slight sadness.

Music seems to operate in the same part of my brain as the section which dreams up things for me to over-think (I doubt there's any actual psychological link, it's more just how it feels to me). So combining music with work is quite effective as it keeps the practical and over-imaginative sides of my brain busy and I am intensely grateful for music whenever I'm faced with work.

I was reminded of my gratitude for music at two separate points today. Firstly when I was walking into university, enjoying as I mentioned earlier exactly the kind of winter morning I love, accompanied by the Fleet Foxes eponymous debut album. It was just one of those moments where the music matched my mood and my environment so well. I genuinely feel sorry for all the generations who had to live without iPods and MP3 players. I know that could sound condescending or foolish, but seeing as I pretty much literally never walk anywhere alone without my earphones in, it's just hard to imagine a life without that. Some people might argue that people were more social or just enjoyed the sounds around them, but I never listen to my iPod when I'm with friends and if anyone can explain quite what I'm missing out on by drowning out the sounds of traffic and other people's unrelated conversations I'm willing to listen.

The second time was fairly similar, just about 8 hours later. Walking round to my friends house on my own I decided to listen to an album I'd not listened to for a couple of months. "Until the Earth Begins to Part" by Broken Records is an incredible album, but for some reason I'd not listened to it for quite a while so i enjoyed that wonderful feeling of re-discovering a love for a piece or pieces of music. I tend to listen to albums intensely for a while, then forget about them, and as a general rule the really good ones I'll re-discover, the more average ones tend to stay forgotten. In this case I was very glad to be reminded of just how much I adore that album and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who reads this.

The final musically related thing I can think to mention is the name of my favourite Christmas song atm, which is Christmas in London by Frank Hamilton. It's on iTunes and Spotify and I would really advise people to give it a listen, it's a really good folksy/acoustic Christmas song which so far is managing to make me feel festive without being nauseatingly over familiar.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

A Weekend Well Spent

So my plan of writing a blog every day until Christmas fell apart pretty quickly. In my defence when i decided to aim for that I'd forgotten that the combination of a energy sapping politics essay and a trip to Nottingham meant that I haven't had the time or inclination to post sadly.

It's been a great weekend, i got the politics essay done, i saw one of my best friends who i hadn't seen for more than 2 months, discovered an incredibly nice pizza (Deano's beano - from a takeaway place in Nottingham consisting of cheese, tomato, sausage and beans, it was so much nicer than it sounds) and went to a good gig (Pendulum live at Nottingham Trent Arena).

Definitely starting to look forward to Christmas now. Or more accurately i am looking forward to the holidays. I can't wait to be back in Sheffield, because no matter how much i love my life in Leicester (and i definitely like Leicester a lot more this year than i did last, for a whole range of reasons), it isn't home like Sheffield is. I'm excited for the first night out back home, with all the old faces, because there's a guarantee there of a good night in a way i rarely associate with a night out in Leicester.

There's two things I'm definitely looking forward to between now and when i make the relatively short journey home on the 17th.

First up is the coming Friday evening. I am seeing Frank Turner live. This is a huge deal to me, i really can't think of many, if any bands or artists i'd rather see right now than him. I've been listening to his songs pretty intensively for the last week or so. At the moment i'm going on my own, which isn't ideal but won't stop it from being a brilliant night. And afterwards there's "Battle of the Uni's", a bar crawl that tries to cash in on a fairly artificial and half arsed rivalry between the two universities in the city. Last year it was a really good night out, arguably one of the better of the entire first year at uni. Once i leave the Frank Turner gig i'm going to just meet up with a few friends and hopefully it'll be a really great night.

The second one is a Christmas dinner round at a friends house. Big group of us having a lovely dinner and just hanging out. It sounds like the perfect way to end the term, can't wait.

To end this blog I'm going to post 5 links, to 5 songs that I'm really loving at the moment. As it's the main focus of my excitement currently, the 5 today are going to be Frank Turner songs, the ones I'm most looking forward to hearing on Friday.

2. Ballad of Me and My Friends -
3. I Knew Prufock Before He Was Famous -

Thursday, 2 December 2010

They Came From Outer Space.....

This post is basically what I wrote in my journalism workshop this morning, with a few embellishments. We were tasked with writing an article for a magazine of our choice, so I chose to write one for Empire.


This winter Aliens are arriving on our screens in huge numbers and in all shapes and sizes.

The end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 are packed with the resurgence of the alien invasion genre. Our cities will be attacked relentlessly, famous landmarks will be blown up repeatedly and it will seem that all hope is lost on a monthly basis.

The genre has never truly gone away, mostly because people’s interest in things from outer space, and the likelihood that they would want to destroy us in a fiery apocalypse, seems certain to remain strong until the day extra-terrestrial life actually turns up on our doorstep, at which point rolling 24 hour news coverage will take over and provide us with a real life version.

This winter however definitely sees a surge of films that would fit within this bracket, though it has to be said, there’s an exciting variety in what’s arriving.

First to make it to earth is ‘Skyline’, a sci-fi adventure focussing on a predictably small and rag-tag group of people trying to escape a devastating alien invasion by heading out of the city, in this case Los Angeles.

Directors Colin & Greg Strause (Alien V Predator Requiem) have produced a generic but visually impressive thriller that has been met with a fairly dismissive critical reaction. Joe Leydon, writing for Variety magazine described it as: “Imagine a budget mash up of ‘Transformers’ and ‘Independence Day’ and you’re primed for skyline.” By all accounts the film suffers from it's familiarity, it's a perfectly well made film, but we've seen it all before. It lacks the set pieces of 'Independence Day', the grimly apocalyptic quality of 'War of the Worlds' or the charm of a 'Doctor Who' episode.

Following close on it’s heels is a completely different kind of beast. ‘Monsters’, released on the 3rd of December, is as it’s director Gareth Edwards described it to The Guardian newspaper: “A road movie set in a world with giant monsters.”

It’s an accurate summation of a film which constantly places it’s focus upon the two central human characters, a cynical journalist and the shaken tourist he is escorting, and their physical and emotional journey rather than the ‘Aliens’ which inhabit the land.

In ‘Monsters’ the aliens have been on earth for 6 years, quarantined in an area between Mexico and the U.S, which as you may have guessed, the two main characters (played brilliantly by Whitney Able and Scoot McNairy) are forced to travel through.

Made for around $200,000, a relative shoe-string budget in this genre, the film has gained critical acclaim, Mark Adams from Screen International referring to it as: “An intelligent sci-fi film that is absorbing, thrilling and ultimately moving.”

2011 will see several more alien based movies. One of the most hotly anticipated is ‘Battle: Los Angeles’ a big budget action film whose trailer seems to promise a cross between ‘Black Hawk Down’ and ‘Cloverfield’. The $100m production shows one squad of U.S marines attempting to fight back against the Alien invasion. It’s a refreshingly different take to actually see the battle from the point of view of individual soldiers (including Aaron Eckhart an Michelle Rodriguez) rather than government chiefs, top scientists or terrified civilians. My fingers are crossed for this because the trailer looks so promising.

With ‘Paul’ (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s comedy road movie about an encounter with a friendly alien), ‘Cowboys and Aliens’ (Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford fighting off aliens in the Wild West) and ‘I am Number Four’ (an action movie aimed at the teen audience soon to be available with the conclusion of the Harry Potter and Twilight sagas, with Alex Pettyfer in the central role) all due for release in 2011 it would appear the aliens aren’t planning on leaving anytime soon.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

It's that time of year again

I'm going to try and do a blog a day until christmas, though i'm sure i'll fall short at some point, so here goes.

1st of december.

Not long until Christmas, not long until new years, not long until the end of a decade.

Seeing as the snow seems to be dominating everyone's thoughts at the moment, for a mix of reasonable and nuts reasons, i feel like complaining. In Leicester it appears that we skipped right past the 'ooh snow, let's regress by a few years and throw snowballs, go sledging and generally mess around until we get so cold we physically can't continue (i know this seems like i'm slagging it off but i love that stage, i love that snow still makes me happy even though i don't really know why) and just moved into the deadly sheet ice stage where pavements and roads are more ice than anything else and everyone's reduced to cautiously waddling everywhere for fear of decking it and either if they're lucky just damaging their pride, if not then injuring themselves, thus making the next walk on the ice even more perilous.

I think it's a sign i'm getting old that now when i saw the snow start falling for the first time a few nights ago, though the childish excitement was still there, it was tainted by the thought of 'this will be bloody inconvenient when it all ices over'. I never used to think of that, snow used to be a pretty much unqualified good thing, but now the idea of slipping and sliding all over the place just popping across the road really depresses me. The fact that the snow hasn't really settled here at all just makes it worse, i feel like i've been cheated of the 'fun' bit and just have the crap after effect, like waking up with a hangover without having the night out before.

On a lighter note something that brought back a childlike level of joy without any negative sides was the arrival in the post today of Toy Story 3. I got it through love film (a scheme i've made a lot of use of over the past year and one that's definitely been value for money for me) and have made plans to watch it tomorrow evening. I actually can't wait to see it again, because at least on first viewing it was every bit as good as the first two. The animation even sharper, the jokes pitch perfect and often wonderfully complex and subtle, the plot involving and carrying a message without letting that spoil a damn good story.

For me at the moment, if i was to select one genre, director, company or actor i most trust to provide a quality film it's Pixar. Their hit percentage is insanely high, managing to make what are at least on the surface good children's films into simply great films. The Toy Story's are joined by Wall-E, Up, Monsters Inc, A Bug's Life and Finding Nemo. They're the ones i've seen, leaving 3 more (Ratatouille, Cars and the Incredibles) and out of the first list i can honestly say i loved every single one.

Pixar announced that a sequel to Monsters Inc will be released in the December of 2012. Now i'm not a big fan of much delayed sequels, i usually can't shake the suspicion that the decision to revive a concept is more born out of money issues than creative inspiration, much like i have only a limited interest in bands reforming to go on tour after long spells apart, especially when they're now missing integral members who made them great (but that's another rant for another time). However when i heard about this particular sequel i was just genuinely excited. Firstly Pixar are not scratching around for a dollar or two, they are i am sure, even in these economically tough times, filthily rich. Secondly as i said earlier i trust Pixar to do the sequel justice, until proven otherwise i will assume that the animation and writing will be of just as high a standard as usual.

Tomorrow is shaping up to involve a decent amount of journalism work (i might post the magazine article i'm writing for my workshop on here as a blog entry tomorrow if i like what i come up with), more work on my political theory essay, my luck/balance almost certainly failing me at least once on the ice and the promise of an evening watching Toy Story 3 to keep me going.