Posted 1082 days ago by John Gunders in |

Well that seems to be about it then.

I’ll turn comments off and we’ll discuss what to do with the content: either leave it here to gather dust, or to take it down and archive off-line, or just trash the lot…

Thank you to everyone who has been involved with this project over the years, as writers, readers, and commenters. Big thanks especially to Nick who floated the original idea and has maintained the backend for seven years. Not a bad innings for a blog, given that I think the moment was on the point of passing back in 2005 when we started this.

So that’s goodbye from all of us. Over and out.

To Blog or Not to Blog?

Posted 1143 days ago by Lisa Gunders in |

That is the question we’ve been tossing back and forth for some months now. We’ve been involved with this blog since it launched in 2005. When it started, it was intended to be a “Cult-stud group-blog frenzy” enabling “more practical engagement between the wider world and that of cultural studies” and it had fifteen invited staff writers. While not all invitees took up the offer, the number of active writers dwindled fairly quickly and for the last few years John and I have pretty much been the only contributors, while Nick has had continued input into editorial decisions.

Maintaining a blog, as many of you already know, requires a considerable time and energy commitment, which we have had to fit into the small gaps between teaching and writing frenzies, and the moments that we can salvage in the midst of doing other things.

The blog has also drifted considerably from its original remit so that what we post now is often related to things that are on our mind at the time or the things that we find interesting. Consequently, the connection to Cultural Studies as a discipline has been, at times, tangential at best, even though it is still a discipline that we love and in which we continue to work.

Our main reason for persisting so long has been the desire to connect with others over issues that we regard as important and to get conversations going. However the number of conversations, like the number of authors, has also diminished over time.

So we’re really wondering if this is a boat worth keeping afloat. We know that we have a couple of faithful readers who we appreciate greatly and with whom we can connect in other ways. Beyond that, we really don’t know who is reading the blog and whether our posts are of any interest to anyone other than us.

So, if you swing by the blog on even a semi-regular basis, let us know that you’re out there. Otherwise, if we are just talking to ourselves, we can do that just as easily over the kitchen table.

So Much I Don’t Know

Posted 1147 days ago by Lisa Gunders in |

These past few months I’ve been teaching again for the first time in three years, and loving it. I have always enjoyed teaching, but a three-year research contract meant not doing any for a while. The course I’ve been teaching in is a first-year communication course. I love first years.

Two things struck me: first, how few people knew anything about the historical and political issues that I raised in classes (and not just because there was a high number of international students); and second, how little I knew about the issues.


Freedom in Azerbaijan

Posted 1160 days ago by John Gunders in |

Guest post from Sam Gunders, media and journalism student at the University of Southern Queensland. This report went to air on Phoenix Radio Online on Friday morning, 25 May, and is reproduced here with Sam’s permission.

On Sunday night we might be enjoying a drink or 10 and watching the Eurovision song contest for 2012 from Baku, Azerbaijan. It will of course be a fun night of gratuitous changes of both the musical and costume varieties; there will be a bit of singing and a lot of watching votes being counted and you can bet that it will be an entirely politics free zone.

Politics and Eurovision have mixed in the past, but it is usually frowned upon. In 2009, Georgia withdrew after they were told to change the lyrics to their song “We Don’t Want To Put In” no political grounds.They refused and took no part in the contest.

Beyond the stadium in Baku though there is a nation in need of attention from the wider world. Azerbaijan was rated in the 2011 Freedom in the World Report as being “not free”, scoring 6 out of 7 for political rights and 5 out of 7 for civil liberties. Just to be confusing, a 7 is actually the worst score in that report, 1 is the best. So Azerbaijan is not performing well.


Nebula Award Winners 2011

Posted 1168 days ago by John Gunders in |

The Nebula Award winners for 2011 were announced overnight:

Novel: Among Others, by Jo Walton (Tor)

Novella: “The Man Who Bridged the Mist,” Kij Johnson (Asimov’s Science Fiction, October/November 2011)

Novellette: “What We Found,” Geoff Ryman (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September/October 2011)

Short Story: “The Paper Menagerie,” Ken Liu (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March/April 2011)

Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation: Doctor Who: “The Doctor’s Wife,” Neil Gaiman (writer), Richard Clark (director) (BBC Wales)

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book: The Freedom Maze, Delia Sherman (Big Mouth House)

Eurovision 2012 - Semifinal two contestants

Posted 1181 days ago by John Gunders in |

Part two of my brief assessments of this year’s Eurovision contestants (part one is here).

In this second half of the draw, the piano ballad is king, although there is a fair range of styles from Eurodisco to bat-shit crazy. It also contains the favourite, Sweden, although it remains to be seen if the bookmakers have to pay out on that one.

Tomorrow I’ll post my opinions about the “big six”: that is, the five western European countries that bank-roll the event and the previous year’s winner, in this case, Azerbaijan.


Eurovision 2012 - Semifinal one contestants

Posted 1182 days ago by John Gunders in |

Well it’s that time again. Yes, we are off to Baku in Azerbaijan for Eurovision 2012. This will be the most easterly Eurovision ever, and the first time it has been hosted in Eastern Europe—Latvia in 2003 and Ukraine in 2005 are the closest the competition has come to the countries that seem to take it the most seriously.

Below the fold are my frankly ill-informed assessments of the first semifinal contestants, based on a single hearing of the Youtube video. There are presented in alphabetical order rather than performance because… well, because. I was going to add links, but I couldn’t be bothered. The Eurovision site is here.

I’ll be back in the next couple of days with the second semifinal contestants. In the meantime, enjoy :-)

Watching The Avengers

Posted 1192 days ago by Lisa Gunders in |

A group of us went to see The Avengers last night. The movie was fantastic, the night was fabulous, and hey, even if the plot was a little light on, I can happily sit and watch Robert Downey Jnr as Iron Man for hours. I thoroughly enjoyed each of the movies focusing on individual characters that led up to this one, even Captain America, which surprised me somewhat. If you’re after a good night out, I’d certainly recommend going to see it.

In spite of all this, I find it hard to put the media scholar in me to bed long enough to avoid analysing it.


Thanks for the Reminders

Posted 1198 days ago by Lisa Gunders in |

Well, I did it. I wasn’t going to, but with all those friendly reminders, how could I not? I filled out the Government’s marriage survey (which closes today, by the way).

I don’t know whether it was someone forwarding me a letter by Jim Wallace that was the final straw, or the assumption that because I am a Christian I would automatically share the same views as my Christian family members.


Challenge for Who?

Posted 1205 days ago by Lisa Gunders in |

Apparently Senator Rachel Siewert is going to try living on $17 a day for a week to highlight the plight of people trying to survive on dole payments, which are well below the level they realistically need to be. ACOSS on Twitter is asking what everyone thinks of this. 140 characters is not nearly long enough to for me to say what I think, so I’ll do it here. And a week is not nearly long enough for a challenge, well intentioned though the Senator may be.