Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Saturday, July 22, 2006

What happened while you weren't looking

1. Roger Silverstone, convenor of the media and communications department at the LSE, died suddenly last weekend. He was one of pioneers and foremost practioners of the academic study of the media (note: not the study of how to join the media), and was one of the giants of the field. There will be a memorial service in October. An obituary can be found here. A tribute I paid is as follows:
I just wanted to record my shock and sorrow at the news of Roger's passing. It was only a few weeks ago that I saw him in fine fettle, with customary elegance chairing a session of Meet the Media.

Although not directly taught by him, I benefitted from his thoughts and ideas: my copy of 'Why Study The Media?'was one of the more regularly-thumbed tomes during my year on Houghton Street. And rarer still, time in his lectures was neither inert nor wasted: with lightness, charm and good humour, he guided us through the wider edges of the theory and practice of media, treating his subjects with seriousness - never a misplaced reverence - and insight. It was a pleasure to be in those lectures with him.

His leadership of the department, as it became under his stewardship, was always visible, but despite the pressures on his time one got the feeling that his door would always be open if you needed to talk over an essay, a thought or an idea.

He will be greatly missed, and my condolences to his family and friends.

2. Thanks to Ms OHB for the piece about Gregg Toland, cinematographer on Citizen Kane, from The New Yorker of 19 June 2006. The following is excellent advice, which I think should be taken by all:

The following year, he [Gregg Toland] heard that Orson Welles, who was twenty-five, and already a highly regarded actor and stage and radio director, was planning to make his first feature film. Toland sought the boy wonder out. "I know nothing at all about filmmaking," Welles admitted when they met. "That's why I want to work with you," Toland replied. "That's the only way to learn anything - from somebody who doesn't know anything."

3. Martin Kettle, in his column last Saturday, had two biting paragraphs, which act as a very accurate summation of the political febrility in the UK at the moment. Early in his piece he writes:

And yet, as the finer details of the loans-for-peerages scandal and of John Prescott's embarrassing rodeo ranch getaway begin to blur in the memory over the summer, one simple verdict deserves to remain. It was delivered on the Today programme on Thursday. And it consisted of Lord Falconer telling John Humphrys, after a long and repetitive line of questioning: "This is playing games. This is embarrassing for both of us."
Which is stinging enough. But he concludes with the following:

France is bored, announced Alphonse de Lamartine shortly before the revolution that carried away the last French king in 1848. An editorial in Le Monde presciently repeated that phrase in March 1968, and a few days later the streets of Paris were full of barricades and rioting. Today there is something of that mood in British political life too. Britain is bored. There is a yearning for a different kind of politics - or perhaps for no politics at all. That's why I say be careful what you dream for, lest your dreams come true.

4. Anthony Lane of The New Yorker is in fine fettle at the moment. As evidence, witness his elegant meditations on Mission: Impossible iii and Pirates 0f the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.


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