A Bit Lost

Like everybody, I have a number of completely pointless skills. For instance, I can move my left eyeball independently of my right. I can’t see much and it’s really quite painful but it does have the additional bonus of either impressing boys or sending them wailing to their mothers. It’s dependent upon age and temperament.
Another skill is my ability to score 173 lines on the original GameBoy version of Tetris. I can bring swift swat based death to flies and other buzzy insects (although I prefer not to on account of being a hippy) and, if the occasion should warrant it, discourse knowledgeably on the development of the Protestant Church in England.

This is not all though. My most useful of my pointless skills, if you can forgive the oxymoron, is an ability to follow the plotlines of films and television shows upon first viewing. It may not sound like much, but I am the only person I know who fully understood the entire plotline of the original Matrix film and was able to explain it to Mammy on the way home.
It upsets me then, that somebody has seen fit to create a television show that I am entirely unable to follow, understand or even manage to remember what has happened in. Thank you very much, creators of Lost.

Lost is a show I would have happily remained ignorant of if it weren’t for Strider. She get into it as soon as it aired and, having requested and received the first half of Season One on DVD, demanded Mammy and I watch it with her. Having watched it, we were then required to have conversations which ran along the lines of “Yes, but what about that Polar Bear, eh?”
As the final season begins, we are still left wondering about that Polar Bear. Well. Strider is. Mammy can barely manage to remember what she watched last night, let alone an American TV drama she watched five years ago.

Happily, Sky One, who are responsible for broadcasting Lost in the UK (I don’t have RTE. I did once but it was so close to brain death it scared me. Judging Amy was Prime Time viewing for crying out loud), devoted an hour to reminding us who everybody in Lost was, what they’d been up to, and getting our heads prepared for the shiny new final season. Rather gratifyingly, between that and the “Previously On Lost” bits of the actual program, we got to watch stupid Juliet being sucked into a hole five times in just over two hours.

I’ve never been a fan of the American TV serial format. I become annoyed by advert breaks kicking in 4 minutes after a program has begun, particularly when many of the adverts were shown immediately preceding the program. I also dislike the mix of standalone episodes and 24 episode story arcs. I’m all for great epic stories, but in any 24 episode series, there are four or five episodes that have nothing to do with anything and which have been written to be filmed as cheaply as possible so the spare funds can be directed towards the season finale. I dislike it immensely.

The second biggest gripe I have with Lost is the nagging feeling that the writers have taken their story and spread it into as many episodes as they could get away with. Rather than sitting down and thinking about pacing and how it relates to plot, they’ve teased the story into a thread so fine, even I am unable to follow or remember any of it. If five series can be comfortably condensed into an hour-minus-advert-breaks minute program by Sky One, one can only suppose that much of what went before probably isn’t important to what will happen after. I’m very grateful for this because my mental prompt card for “Lost: The Plot” reads “Plane Crash. People Live on Beach. Scottish Bloke pushes button in case of Egyptian Hieroglyphics. Annoying Child with Improbable Name leaves Island. Annoying Child with Improbable Name ages 18 years in a series for reasons that have nothing to do with the plot and more to do with lack of foresight on writers’ part when they wrote a child as a major character. Blond Bird even more annoying than Dark Haired bird looks anxious. Repeats. Ooo, look! Jim from Neighbours!” It’s good to know none of what I can’t remember matters.
Were it not for the helpful people at Sky One, I wouldn’t have remembered Jacob and the mysterious bloke in black at all. I’m still struggling to remember what happened to the French woman and her curly haired sprog. I remember them dead but I can’t for the life of me remember why, or whether it’s important.

Also, what is it with all of these “clever” names? Locke, Hume, Faraday… they don’t seem to mean anything. It’s more a way of generating discussion. Good marketing, sure, but a good show doesn’t need such cynical tactics.

The single most annoying thing about Lost though, has to be their portrayal of women. I’m sure that the writers’ believed they were creating feisty women who stood up for themselves. Unfortunately, they then committed the cardinal sin of creating women who are ultimately dependent upon men for their redemption.
If Kate stopped pouting long enough to realise that if couldn’t decide between Jack and Sawyer she probably didn’t really want either of them, she probably would have got much more done. Why does it have to be an either/or choice anyway? Does her brain explode if there isn’t a man who fancies her within 100 metres?
What about Sun? She speaks English, she’s got half a brain, yet she ultimately needs her bloke. It’s dressed up as love and all of that gubbins, but sensible girls remember that a relationship which forces you to compromise who you are is not a relationship you want to be in. Why does a heroine have to “save” a man? Why is it only then that she is “rewarded” with love?
Then there’s Juliet. Clever, educated, brilliant at her job, yet controlled by men. By Ben, by Jack, by Sawyer. Only achieves happiness after ditching the science job for mechanics and shacking up with Sawyer, who is incidentally higher in the Dharma hierarchy than she is despite her years of formal education and hard work. At no point does she tell them all to get bent and take control of her own life.
I suppose we should all just be grateful they haven’t written in any random lesbians to boost viewing figures.

So, with all of these complaints, you could be forgiven for wondering why I am bothering to watch it, particularly when I can’t get through an episode without shouting something abusive at the screen.
There have been 103 episodes in the first five series. Each episode runs at 43 minutes. 4429 minutes of my life have been wasted watching this stupid program which makes no sense. That’s 73 hours. Three days. Three days of my life that I am unable to get back have been invested in this. I have to watch it to the end, otherwise that time really would have been wasted.

Thankyou, And Goodnight

If Forbes magazine is to be believed, Ireland is the perfect country for blogging. Its people are naturally loquacious and in a time of great socio-economic change, they were the ideal nation to narrate their stories in a clash of wit upon wit, unfettered by the threat of invitation to take it outside. It would also, although Forbes did not make this point, give them something to do of a Friday night if the plans to reduce the drink drive limit come to fruition.
If Forbes magazine is to be further believed, Irish blogging is dead. They cite an article from the Irish Sunday Times as evidence. Can there really be any rebuttal to such a compelling line of reasoning?

To be honest, I’ve don’t really understand what position blogging is supposed to hold in the world. The impression I garner from the print media is that bloggers should be an online equivalent of them; blogs should break news, give analysis and opinion as well as producing high quality content on a regular (preferably daily) basis. This is clearly nonsense. The day I start delivering content on a daily basis is the day I have been locked in a room with only word processing software for company.

Also, unless a person is directly involved in an event, they are not going to be able to get a story online more quickly than a news organisation. At best, they will have a few hours head start. Once this head start is lost, they will be competing against specialist analysts who are able to pull their factual information from the wire agencies rather than finding it out themselves. No blogger is going to be able to consistently provide a breaking news service to rival the networks and yet, this is what the print media seems to think they should be doing.

Another complaint levelled at bloggers is their failure to hold politicians to account. Forgive me for being sensible about this, but surely that’s the job of the free press. I know that the British liberation forces spent many, many years suppressing the Irish media so there isn’t quite the print tradition there is in other countries, but it’s been the best part of a century since then. You can’t tell me nobody has managed to get a grip on the idea that they can print what they want to, yet.
Perhaps the print media feel that bloggers have more freedom than they do. After all, a blogger can’t be sacked if the person who owns their blog plays golf with the person they’ve just written an exposé on. A blogger can, if they wish to, retain a degree of anonymity or, if they are particularly tech savvy, create almost total anonymity.
However. A blogger is also denied the protection of a publisher. Anything they write, they are responsible for in the way that print journalist is not.

Let’s say I am a journalist. I drink too much and my wife has left me. When we met she was the greatest broad on the block but she couldn’t take my obsession with Big PJ O’MacDonagh. I knew he had something mean going down in those Waterford back alleys but I needed to find the proof. If I spent enough time in those dark underbellies, I’d find it for sure, but all she wanted was a trip to Ikea Dublin and eventually, she found a man who’d take her there and assemble her flat pack furniture when she got back.
So there’s me, in the pub, with a cigarillo. There’s Big PJ O’MacDonagh in the corner drinking a Cosmopolitan. Sean Og Cumhail is next to him with a Long Island Iced Tea. Both men have a white wine spritzer chaser. I know there’s something going on. I remember what went down in Wexford. Some nights I still wake up screaming with the smell of courgettes in my nostrils.
So, I move closer until I can overhear their conversation perfectly and when I get home, I immediately write down all the nefarious schemes they are planning. I don’t have any proof but my editor publishes it anyway. The following morning, the paper is sued.

By contrast, if our hero were a blogger who wrote something without any proof and published it on the interwebs, they would be the person being sued. It is the publisher who is held responsible for what is printed, not the writer. Is it any wonder then, that bloggers are unwilling to put their necks on the line? Even if they did, what would it be for? A temporary surge in blog traffic?

The other reason there are no investigative bloggers around here is because the Irish have what He Who Knows Everything refers to as a “peasant mentality”. When they come across somebody doing something a bit shady or underhand, they do not immediately away to the Justice mobile and bust the whole thing wide open, they try to work out how they can get in on the act.
Heaven alone knows how many euro are drained from the social welfare network each year by people who live together but pretend not to because single mothers get more welfare than married ones. The amount of people I’ve heard openly boasting about this kind of thing is unreal and that’s just people. Add in all the schemes the Travellers get up to and it must equate to millions. Not so long ago I read a story in the local rag about a traveller family who were caught trying to get their child christened a week after they’d had him christened in a different parish. The only reason they were caught is because the priest performing the service was filling in for the regular priest and just happened to have performed the first service from the week before and recognised them. This is why christening certificates tend not to be accepted as proof of identity.

So, what if blogs are not intended to challenge the status of the traditional print media? What if they are merely a pleasant diversion from whatever important job is awaiting your attention? Well the canny print media has already thought of this one. There is no need for blogs like that because newspapers already have amusing comment sections and in any case, goes the argument, blogs are not as well written, nor as funny as something which somebody gets paid for writing.
There, the print media may have a point. Blogs are not as well written as the print media tends to be. I’m incredibly good looking and clever but I make a heck of a lot of typos, malapropisms and factual inaccuracies. Yes, most of it is to do with the dyslexia but some of it is down to not having a sub-editor who is not me. Unless you are Giles Coren, you need a sub-editor.

It seems to be generally considered that the top Irish humour blog is Twenty Major’s. He has won best Irish blog for two years running and would probably have one it again this year had he not kindly put himself out of the running (or so Wikipedia tells me). He already has one published novel based upon his blog and a second is forthcoming. You would, in that case, expect the blog to be quite good.
It is… sort of. Were I to describe it I would probably go for “nothing particularly wrong with it”. I can appreciate why people like it but I’ve never read anything on there which is funnier than a column written by Charlie Brooker or Tanya Gold. It’s certainly not going to rival some of the genius available around the interwebs (Awkward Family Photo, anybody?). Yet, this is held up as the best blog Ireland has to offer.

To claim that Irish blogging is dead is the kind of vague, badly researched statement that remind us the print media needs just about anything to fill the pages. Irish blogging isn’t dead, but it’s not exactly world class either.

*If You Have Enjoyed This Blog Post, We At A Trivial Blog For Serious People Would Like To Take This Opportunity To Remind You That Nominations For The Irish Blog Awards Are Open Until The 5th of Feb. Should You Know Of Any Irish Blogs or Blogs Based In Ireland You Think Deserve A Nomination, The URL Of The Blog Is www.atrivialblogforseriouspeople.blogspot.com And The Contact Email Is atrivialblog@gmail.com We Thank You For Your Attention On This Matter And Promise Not To Mention It Again. Until Next Year.*
Irish Blog Award Nominations