anghara: (coffee LOLcat from icanhascheeseburger)
She's all over the Internet. She apparently has a MILLION FANS on Facebook.

But somehow it's become about US, the rhetorical us, and not about her..

People are focused on the appearance thing. On how the audience at her audition looked sceptical. How she "won them over with the first note". How people on the Internet, in the media, in live audiences, judge her by the "cover" and how apparently astonished everybody is that someone with that "cover" has a voice like that hidden underneath - as though she somehow deliberately set out to disguise her voice by that appearance.. I've seen at least one rather patronizing article on how shallow we all, all are... and how "ugly people", you know, have rights too.

Did I need that pointed out to me?

Did Susan Boyle somehow miss the point of her audition and turn up at a beauty pageant audition by mistake? Because too many commentators on her performance on Britain's Got Talent (as well as other assorted bits and pieces elsewhere - she's sung acapella now for NBC and for Larry King and both clips are naturally on the web...) seem to hinge on something like, "Wow, you'd never have thunk it to look at her". Truth is, the voice that sings her recorded performance of "Cry me a river" sounds like it belongs to a willowy raven-haired and slow-eyed beauty with long legs and a full mouth brought into prominence by glamorous 30s-filmstar scarlet lipstice, singing in a smoky speakeasy where cheap bourbon is being sold in the back and the patrons in the ill-lit bar are wearing fedoras and have half-smoked cigarettes hanging from their mouths illuminating manly cleft chins. Yes, all that - from voice.

The point is, that's MY VISION OF IT. Susan Boyle owns the voice - she does not owe me the vision. And honestly, the vivid, wisecracking dame on that audition stage, sassing Simon for all she's worth, is the real deal. I've seen the clips of her on NBC, on Larry King, and omigod somebody - possibly even Susan Boyle herself - have tried to "prettify" her. She has this odd hairstyle that looks like it was sprayed on with two cans of hair lacquer, curling out in unlikely directions; she's wearing chunky jewellery, and she has this owl-eyed stare that speaks to me of unaccustomed make-up. They tried to make her "pop" on television and - as far as I am concerned - they just made her into an uncomfortable painted doll, a caricature, because dear lord she has to be beautiful in order to sing on TV we can't have anything other than that...

The truth is, Susan Boyle is not "ugly" - but she has committed the cardinal sin of being "ordinary". And they don't do ordinary in front of cameras. It's too weird for the rest of us, it might give the rest of us ideas of our own, it might seem possible to, you know, have a TALENT and not the looks that appear to be required as an accessory to it. Yes, it affects even those of us a little bit more behind the scenes, too, because these days authors stand a much better chance of success if they're photogenic and if they can show a good set of white choppers to a TV camera. We're all being turned into anchorpeople for the late-night TV news, ferchrissakes. Ordinary isn't bad. Ordinary is what we all are. Even the most extraordinary of us don't look extraordinary all the time - you might find, here and there, an Iman whose natural perfection leaves the rest of us in the dust - but by and large the perfect people we see in pictures or on camera are that way because they have just spent a couple of hours GETTING that way. And to be painfully honest... it shouldn't matter just what kind of package that voice which came out of Susan Boyle actually arrives in. She might have sung from behind a screen, we might never have seen her, we might have never had the opportunity to go, oh, wow, listen to that voice, who'd have thunk it that it came out of that dumpy little Scotswoman whose eyebrows I've seen compared multiple times to a pair of caterpillars in internet articles about her.

She might never get cast as Fantine in a production of Les Miz on stage, where, let's face it, you have to be able to reasonably LOOK the part as well as sing it. And no amount of primping and transformation is going to MAKE her into a candidate to be cast as Fantine in such a production. It is neither lookism nor ageism to try and cast an actor in a role for which they are suited or not cast them in that role if they are not - and the way the musical is put together it calls for a still reasonably young and attractive woman to play Fantine to the tragic hilt (but Susan Boyle appears to have a talent for being perky and comic on stage - she's perfect for those old English pantomimes - if we go back to Les Miz, she'd make a fabulous Mme Thenardier on stage, actually...)

I'm not quite sure what brought this particular little rant on - but it was, perhaps, just one too many of the fawning "who'd have thunk it to look at her" articles that crossed my screen. I would like to seen Susan get honoured for what and who she is - for the life experience she has ammassed - for being so fiercely ordinary and one of us in a world of so much that is fake and false - for the gift of that amazing voice. But please, for the love of God, give the woman her dignity. On American TV she looked depressingly like the way ET looked when the young Drew Barrymore dressed him up in finery which ill-suited him.

Susan Boyle may SOUND like a dark-haired speakeasy siren - but no amount of physical faffing in this world will transform her into one for the benefit of the TV cameras. I hope she wins the competition. I hope she wins because she can sing like an angel. Not because they desperately trued to glue wax-and-feather wings on her to make her LOOK like one.

There. Film at 11. Now I really have other rather important chores to do.
anghara: (coffee LOLcat from icanhascheeseburger)
Okay, couple of things, and then I'll shut up - with great pleasure I'll shut up because so much hot air is already being pumped into the atmosphere and we DO have global warming to worry about - but just a couple of things -

below cut so you can skip it if you've already had a bellyful )
anghara: (Default)
Okay, here's the thing. Back in OCTOBER (it's nearly January, how many months is this?) I took out my camera for a spin, with a brand new out-of-the-box 2-gig Lexar Pro memory card in it.

The camera rebelled. It gave me errors left right and centre, it would take a picture, occasionally, but even those it deigned to take would not be saved to the card - the camera would "See" the image and then it would go off into the ether somehwere.

Terrified that my camera was at fault, I took it to a camera shop. The guy behind the counter thought it might have been the camera, too, initially - but then took a closer look and it was discovered that the culprit was the memory card. With a new card, the camera functioned just fine, thank you very much indeed.

So I came home, much relieved, and basically shot off an email to Lexar about how disappoitned I was in their product. I got a response, to the effect of, "we will replace it, of course".

Today I get an email that the original service issue number has been "closed". Go to the website and find such and such a thing and figure out what the matter was. Please note, this is an email from one of those "do-not-reply-to-this" addresses. So I wander off to the website, look around, realise that it's a log-in thing, I no longer have a user ID that I can remember if I ever had one in the first place... so I see there's an option of live chat and I click on that.

I get an Indian guy whose grasp of English grammar, at least in written form, is shaky.

I learn that my original service request has "Been expired" and has therefore been closed - without any resolution whatsoever. I said to the guy, "I BEG your pardon?" He said, we will create a new service issue ID. GO to the website and update your address. I said that the address THEY ALREADY HAVE has not changed. I give him said address. No, he says, you will get a new email and you must go there and update it yourself. UPDATE WHAT??? there is nothign to update, the address is freaking well the same! But he was a broken record on the matter so I close the chat box and went back to email. Sure enough there it was, the new service issue email. I had raised the user ID login thing and he said there would login instructions in the email - there sure are - "go to *this website* and log in". No user ID, no password details.

Gnashing my teeth I go back and try a few generic passwords I use for things like this. I finally hit one that works. Guess what? The address doesn't need to be updated. I wander around the place a bit, find nothing I can do to update anything at all (but do discover that my original issue was logged in OCTOBER !!!) and return to my email - where I have just fired off a missive to Lexar support which is fairly smoking with fury. Their original email said they would respond "within 24-48 hours" - instead, three months later, they close the entire issue without liftign a thumb, and then tell me to waste MORE time going into their website and updating things that require no updating. If their original response to my original problem had been to shrug their shoulders and say, "sorry for your trouble, ma'am, but there is nothing we can do" I would have been annoyed but I would have just DROPPED it. Right now, I'm more than annoyed. I'm furious.

Their options were to replace the faulty card, once they promised that they would do that, or to simply blow me off and tell me that their customer service department is now closed and the mausoleum doors have been permanently locked with a rusty chain and a padlock for which there is no key. Instead, they made me waste my time. The first time, because they allowed a simple problem to simply lapse without stirring their tushies about anything, and now for the second time because I had to spend entirely too much time and nervous energy on this.

Note to companies providing goods and services relating to actual human beings - put the "customer" and "service" back into your company. You might think that farming off your problems to India makes for a bigger profit - but profit depends on people continuing to buy your products and services. I'm not being a snob here - but when there's enough of a language barrier between your customer and your technical representative or customer service person, i.e. when an accent proves to be insurmountable, especially over the phone, or if the company rep's iffy grasp of English grammar makes the customer unsure as to whether their actual problem has been grasped and understood in the first place - well, there comes a point of diminishing profit returns. Why bother buying from a company who only treats its customers as something money can be squeezed out of? If you don't stand behind your products or your services - and many of today's (especially electronics) companies appear not to care about doing so - you WILL lose customers, and therefore profits, and no amount of Indian cheap labour will compensate for it.

Feh. Cross and frustrated. Off to get a cup of calming coffee now.
anghara: (Default)
Back when I first came to the United States my then-not-yet-husband took me down to Key West to show me a bit of old Florida. One of my clearest memories from that trip was the visit to the Hemingway house and museum - quite aside from the intrinsic interest that I had for the place as and of itself, there were the Hemingway cats. They were famous. They were the descendants of Papa Hemingway's own cats, fully half of them were polydactyls (the "mitten cats" with the extra "thumb" on their paws), and they were... just... well, let's put it this way. It's a tad disconcerting but utterly delightful to walk up to the booth which is selling tickets to enter the museum and be greeted by a lounging calico cat spread out over the counter instead of the human being who should have been there but who had popped out for a moment. The cat motif continued inside the house and the grounds - cats stalked majestically through the garden, lay dozing in dappled shade, festooned themselves on lips of fountains, lay blinking at visitors from various armchairs, desks and windowsills, and one - obviously with a racial memory that stretched longer than some of the others - thought that [ profile] rdeck looked rather a lot like Papa himself, and followed the two of us from room to room keeping close to [ profile] rdeck's heels all the way. They were an utter delight, they were part of the place and always had been, they *lived* there. This was their home.

Enter the busybodies.

Full story here.

WHy oh why can't people leave beautiful things alone? Those cats are not shoved into a single room in a single house with a single litterbox between them, by some horrid mad old lady who wants to collect them. The cats are contented, well cared for, living comfortably in their own space. An exhibit? Give me a BREAK.

All I can say to those idiots proposing this godawful thing is, if you want to see miserable cats cofined behind bars, go visit your local pound.

Leave Hemingway's cats alone.

May 2009

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