Monday, July 29, 2019

Abandoned plane graveyard at Predannack Airfield, Cornwall

We ignored large signs saying M.O.D. DO NOT ENTER (what would we say if caught? Foreign? Dyslexic? Lost?) and, well, not exactly high tech security – we opened a farm gate and walked onto Predannack Airfield.

I’d actually tried the front entrance from a main road before and been refused entry. This time we had a beautiful walk along the coast from Mullion, on the Lizard, taking in a coffee at the cafe on the stunning Kynance Cove, already over-run with tourists – bizarrely, they all stick to the same beach, the one next to the cafe. There’s another one, far more enticing, thirty seconds away around the corner... and completely empty. As we say, often: tourists love cafes and car parks.

From the cove it’s quite a strenuous yet stunning walk along the coast until we cut inland and headed towards the airfield, seen some way away once you get on flat land. If you didn’t know it, though, you probably wouldn’t believe your eyes: those can’t be huge, rusty aeroplanes in the distance. Well, they sure are.

We walked cautiously for a minute and soon saw helicopters, planes and jets strewn across a runway. It was like we'd entered a dystopian film set or an abandoned aviation theme park. They were rusted, burnt, broken, missing bits, on their sides. Some date from the Second World War, others are more recent. Planes include an English Electric Canberra and an SA Jetstream; there are two Westland Lynxes and a Sea King helicopter. The aerodrome is still used for fire and rescue training.

Previously on Barnflakes:
Abandoned gunpowder works at Kennall Vale, Ponsanooth, Cornwall
Sound mirrors
Straight Outta Imber
Putting the War in Warminster
Tyneham ghost village

Notes on Hedluv + Passman

It seems everyone in Cornwall – even if they haven’t heard of Aphex Twin – has heard of the Redruth “Casio rap” duo Hedluv and Passman, though most are unsure if they are a proper band or a comedy act. Most agree they are crap. Me, I love them, and though an Aphex Twin tune or Fisherman’s Friend song would probably be a more appropriate national anthem for the county, I agree with Cornwall Live that M.I.C. (Made in Cornwall) is the only real contender. All together now:

From the engine houses
To the lighthouses
We've got it made in Cornwall
Like the lighthouses
Forged in serpentine
Where they work the mines
And the dress code is informal
We've got it made in Cornwall.

Like with Ant and Dec, I am unsure who is who, but one of them came into Oxfam the other week; I lugged downstairs a load of classical music LPs for him to browse through – he bought two. The manager was quite excited; it was like having someone famous come into the shop.

Flickagram #10

Notes on cars and dogs in Cornwall

Presumably there are more dogs and cars in, say, London than Cornwall, though it never feels that way. In Cornwall, being sans voiture, I can often be seen enjoying myself cycling or walking along country paths or roads. The only thing to disturb my bucolic bliss is... yup: dogs and cars. They're both everywhere. If I'm walking on a country path, I hear dogs everywhere, I see Beware of Dog signs* on walls and fences, where guard dogs suddenly jump up and bark excessively loud at me, and finally, dog owners on a walk with their canines happily running free, usually use that freedom to run after me, bark at me and jump up on me. Finally there is the curse of the dog poop bag tied up and left on beautiful country paths all over Cornwall (and other places too, presumably, to be fair).  Let it be known: I don't like dogs.

It's the same with cars. I'll be happily cycling (or walking: I'll actually probably start off on a pavement which will completely and suddenly vanish as soon as I leave any town or village) along a quiet country road and though there might not be that much traffic, it's the sudden roaring of a car going past me – far too close – at 80mph that is somewhat terrifying. Let it be known I don't like cars either.

So, dogs and cars. As I said, there are probably plenty more in big cities, but per capita, people own more cars and dogs in Cornwall than London. And they're just so much more noticeable, perhaps because they both spoil the so-called tranquility of the countryside.

* I ignored one such sign recently on a farm, figuring just because they have a Beware of Dog sign doesn't mean they actually have a dog. There was an abandoned engine house in the corner of an overgrown field. I climbed over a fence and walked across the field. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I glimpsed a large animal shape nearby and thought – okay, this is it, I am going to get attacked, no way around it. I faced my fear – it turned out to be a wild deer; we were both just as scared of each other.

Previously on Barnflakes:
Notes on dog poop bags
Top ten worst inventions
Top ten dislikes

Friday, July 19, 2019

Random Netflix review: Stranger Things 3

There was much excited anticipation for the new season of Stranger Things. But the only question on my lips was not what new characters or plot developments would emerge but what pop cultural references would be pillaged from the 1980s. Well, it's two years since the last season, and the kids have progressed to John Hughes movies and shopping malls. We are in 1985, year of The Breakfast Club and Back to the Future; the guys have discovered girls and the girls have discovered shopping.

With three separate plots running parallel with the inevitability that they will all join together in the end, it's a rather predictable and soulless if fun series (a sort of paint it by numbers; compare it, if you want, with the third season of Twin Peaks, which took the viewer places they had no idea they wanted to go, building from the first two seasons and creating something wonderfully original), again wallowing in 1980s blockbusters and bad music (the first series had far better tunes).

However, what's even more shocking than the tacky '80s music or fashions is the strong anti-commie stance and the pro-capitalist message of its numerous product placements – Coke, Burger King, Gap, Adidas and Casio are just a handful of brands seen so repeatedly in the show that it comes across just like in The Truman Show, where products are awkwardly woven into the storyline. But whereas The Truman Show uses product placement for satirical means, there is no such irony or comment on society (or movies) in Stranger Things. It really does want you to Enjoy Coke, It's The Real Thing. As more than one website has quipped, it's now Sponsored Things.

Netflix insist they receive no money for product placements, though these free placements have been valued at $15 million. The Duffer brothers have also said the products are there as part of the narrative, but more than once the products actually interfere with the narrative flow.

Cinematically, again the Duffer brothers wear their references on their sleeves – no, make that their foreheads. Alongside Back to the Future and The Breakfast Club, other films mentioned or referenced range from Dawn of the Dead, Red Dawn and Invasion of the Body Snatchers to The Terminator, The Evil Dead, Christine, Rambo, The Thing, Alien and The Karate Kid. There's even a scene where one of the characters, Robin, names three old, black and white films as her favourites in an interview for a job in a video shop (Kurosawa's Hidden Fortress, Carné's Children of Paradise – I’ve literally never heard it by that title and didn’t know what the hell it was until I realised it was Les Enfants du Paradis – and Wilder's The Apartment. All extremely unlikely, but hey, if any films mentioned in the series – all of which are more rewarding than Stranger Things – actually get watched by viewers, then it's a success).

To be fair, it's impossible to be original nowadays, though some do it with more...erm, originality. Horror director Jordan Peele* also wears his pop culture references tattooed on his forehead, citing such influences as The Shining, The Goonies, The Lost Boys and Hitchcock for his latest film, Us. I also saw Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Lady from Shanghai and Big, and noticed it was handy for actress Elisabeth Moss to go seamlessly from acting in The Handmaid's Tale to Us without having to change her red costume. Nevertheless, what comes across is an original, thoughtful and terrifying journey into the night (I've mentioned this before with the horror film It Follows, which transcends its John Carpenter-influenced origins).

But most stuff, especially if it comes out of Netflix, tends to be derivative. I saw I Am Your Mother recently, a Netflix sci-fi film, and virtually every scene reminded me of other, better, films (it's a curse having watched so much cinema): 2001: A Space Odyssey, Moon, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Retreat, Ex Machina, Aliens and Jurassic Park were just the obvious ones. Likewise, Spanish road movie 4L is Little Miss Sunshine meets Road Trip. Extinction is a bad and cliché-ridden District 9. The Perfect Date is sub-John Hughes garbage. You get the idea.

Earlier in the year Netflix were accused of plagiarising A Quiet Place, the hugely successful horror film, with their own version, The Silence. The plots are virtually identical – except A Quiet Place is good, and The Silence is terrible.

Netflix used to get accused a lot of showing 'mockbusters', low-budget films with similar titles or stories to proper blockbusters. They were usually made by film company The Asylum, who produce films such as Triassic World (based on: Jurassic World) and Tomb Invader (based on: Tomb Raider). Anyway, nothing wrong with a rip-off B-movie. All I have a problem with is every Netflix release calling itself A Netflix Original. Surely this should be A Netflix Unoriginal.

– 2.5 / 5

*It feels like Peele can do no wrong, but I have mixed feelings about his upcoming remake of Bernard Rose's classic horror Candyman. It reminds me slightly of the Italian director, Luca Guadagnino, who, after directing A Bigger Splash and Call Me By My Name, seemed like he could also do no wrong, until he remade the classic horror film Susperia (I was actually one of the few who enjoyed it as an interpretation rather than a remake – he tones down the original's colour palette and gives it some depth).

Previously on Barnflakes:
Random Netflix TV reviews

Friday, July 12, 2019

Boycotting buffoons

Hot on the heels of Kim Kardashian – Who Thankfully Looked Stunning On A Night Out with Kanye 17 Hours Ago – insulting an entire culture with her Kimono range, rapper-husband Kanye – who makes most of his money from sneakers, his first love – is hoping to cause similar offence with his low-cost homeless accommodation “inspired by the Star Wars slave architecture on Tatooine”.

If there was a media boycott on Kim Kardashian, Kayne West, Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, they would annoy me a lot less. If you took the four buffoons, stupid at best, dangerous and offensive at worst, and banished them to an island with no form of communication to the outside world for the rest of their lives, you know what, it might even make me happy. They can all live happily ever after in Kanye's Star Wars huts.

Notes on aptronyms

It was whilst sorting through some books at Oxfam that I noticed the title Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm, was written by one Isabelle Tree, and then a book called Full Moon was by someone called Michael Light. An aptronym (or aptonym or euonym) is used to describe someone whose surname is linked to their profession, in a usually humorous way. Although the concept was initially suggested by Carl Jung, the word was apparently coined by American columnist Franklin P. Adams (featured in Alan Ruldolph's movie Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle) who simply made an anagram of the word patronym (which pertains to the part of a personal name based on the given name of one’s father or other male ancestor – such as Johnson, as in son of John), to emphasise the 'apt' part.

The term Nominative Determinism was first used in New Scientist magazine in 1994, and takes aptronyms a step further by looking at cause and effect; mostly, it figures, people are vain and obsessed with themselves. This is known as implicit egotism.

There are numerous examples of aptronyms, many of which we come into contact with everyday (on TV – usually the news – and in real life), from doctors and lawyers to meteorologists and sports personalities (which all seem to be the most popular aptronym occupations).

William Wordsworth, poet
Rem Koolhaus, architect
Russell Brain, neurologist
Usain Bolt, runner
Mark Avery, RSPB Conservation Director
Margaret Court, tennis player
Mark De Man, footballer
Igor Judge, judge
Bob Flowerdew, gardener
David Limb, doctor
Les McBurney, fireman
Sara Blizzard, TV weather presenter 

(An inaptronym is an ironic or inappropriate form of an aptronym, such as Don Black, white supremacist, and Jaime Sin, who became a cardinal in 1976, and hence known as Cardinal Sin.)

Traditionally, though, and certainly by the end of the fourteenth century, as populations increased, surnames had come into general use and people were named after either where they lived (John Woods), their patronym (Johnson, son of John) or by occupation: Carpenter, Smith, Baker, Butcher, Potter, Parker, Weaver, Mercer and Miller are all job examples. This trend eventually died out when children (usually sons) stopped following their father's trade.

There's something worryingly fatalistic about people – consciously or not – taking jobs because of their surnames, rather than named after their occupations, so it's probably time some new surnames were created to reflect current jobs. This would also mean having more than one surname in a lifetime as we rarely stick to the same job throughout our working life.

So Sarah Admin Assistant becomes Sarah Marketing Assistant and eventually moves onto Sarah Marketing Manager. When she marries she becomes Sarah UX Designer-Marketing Manager. You have to feel sorry for their unborn children.

Previously on Barnflakes:
Name that name