Class Vs Race, As Examined Through Fantasy

This week I finished a trilogy of fantasy novels, and one of the things I was trying to work out, Was the writer English or American? Spelling wasn’t an issue, as the book had obviously been edited for the British Market, but what tipped the balance for me was that more than one of the main characters was elevated from peasantry to lordship instantly, but there wasn’t really any class struggle to go with this elevation. No plotting lord talking about commoners getting above their station etc.

But one of the differences between the US and the UK is that class discrimination isn’t really an issue in the US, that a lot of social barriers stem from race, and the roots that discrimination had coming from slavery.  And that theme was present in the books I read this week, the brutality of slavery and persecution because of race (in this case from a prisoner of war aspect) was gone into in detail, while any issue of class struggle was, whilst not ignored, was certainly not as much of an issue as it should have been.

I think in terms of issue, racism is less of a problem in the UK (not to say it doesn’t exist) but, but we tend to look more at class, working class, middle class, aristocracy and so forth. Black and Minority Ethnic groups have become parts of most classes, and are generally accepted, but trying to cross that class gap is a different matter entirely.  I say this as a lower class, heterosexual, white, relatively able bodied, male, but it remind me of a joke by a Black comedian whose name eludes me at the moment, but he said “In England, they don’t have racism, no, they’ve got a class system, so that way they can be racist to white people too.” and I honestly think that sums up the class system almost perfectly, and this aspect is something I find is missing from a lot of American fantasy, whether its the Riftwar saga that I read this week, or A song of Ice and Fire, where the liberation of slavery is a key element across the series, tackling the idea’s behind racism, but aside from a few phrases like up jumped sell sword the idea of class is left behind (although I notice it has been made more prominent in the TV series).

But going the other way if you look at some of the British and Australian works of fiction, but race won’t be a big deal, looking at the works of Trudi Canavan like the Black Magician series, on of the key themes throughout is class struggle, but the issues of race hardly come up at all, to the point where even slavery is shrugged off. (Although one unique fantasy theme in the Black Magician Series is the theme of homophobia, which is something I’ve never really seen addressed in a fantasy series).

Of Course British Authors do attempt to look at the race aspect, but in the case of JK Rowling and the Harry Potter books, what you see here is a sort of blending of both class and race, establishing Wizards and Witches as the upper classes, and then other races as being below them, and quickly establishes this as a negative, the series could be seen as a study in the combating of oppression and discrimination, in the series, you see the elitist attitude of the older established wizarding families, like the blacks and the Malfoy’s representing the class aspect (probably a little bit influenced by Ms Rowling’s time on benefits), but then you see the brutish violent aspect of the Death Eaters (forming posses to attack those who’re different while wearing pointy hoods, come on JK that’s a little on the nose don’t you think?)

And who is to say which is the more important to focus on,  as both are real issues for those that have faced them, but I just find it interesting how the issues that surround the author in their real lives has an influence on how they write.

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Happy Martini Day: A Guide To Martini Variants

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Today just so happens to be Martini Day, And I was going to write a piece about how to make the perfect Martini but it turns out that I’ve already done  that…. Twice (see the previous posts here and here )

Judging from the previous posts you now know that I know how to make the perfect Martini, So here is a look at some of the variants that can put a spin on your classic cocktail.

Vodka Martini

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What annoys me most about the vodka Martini is that most people think that this is a proper Martini, yes it is probably the most iconic version of the drink owing to a certain fussy spy making it his trademark. So what you need for this abomination is:

3 25ml shots of a decent Vodka

1 25ml shot of dry vermouth

1 lemon slice

And to make said abomination, all you do is slosh your vodka and vermouth into a cocktail shaker full of ice, shake if you’re a pussy who wants watered down booze, or stir gently if you’re a real man, then strain it into a cocktail glass and add your lemon slice, and then wonder why you ever thought James Bond a man of taste.

Coffee Martini 

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I was asked to make this at a cocktail  function a few weeks ago and have since perfected it, or some I’m told, hating the taste of coffee, I wouldn’t actually know if this was good or bad, so you’ll have to try it and see. You’ll need:

1 mug of black coffee (allow it to go cold)

2 shots of any old vodka

1 shot of Tia Maria (or any other coffee liqueur)

Its pretty simple to make really, shake it all over ice and strain into a cocktail glass its simply a cold Russian Coffee but it does the job, people seem to think its nice, to turn this into an espresso Martini, all you need to do is switch out the coffee for an espresso pod and shake well.

Appletini

Appletini

If you are completely secure in your masculinity and feel the need to make an Appletini for yourself, or have cause to make one for some one else, all you need are: 

4 25ml shots of vodka

2 25ml shots of Apple Schnapps

1 Apple slice

If you can avoid making fun of the recipient of this drink for long enough to make it, again all you need to take this to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake, you could stir, but no one ordering one of these things can handle alcohol that hasn’t been watered down, so shake away and strain it into a martini glass, then garnish with the apple slice, and then shake your head in sadness at the knowledge that someone actually asked for this drink.

Passion Fruit/Porn star Martini 

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I don’t know why these have become so popular of late, but every cocktail bar I go to they seem to be on the menu, so if you’re going to attempt to make one here’s what you’ll need

2 ripe passion fruits halved

4 25 ml shots of vanilla vodka

3 25ml shots of Passoa

1 tablespoon of lime juice and

1 tablespoon of brownsugar

1 teaspoon edible glitter

250 ml of sparkling wine (use Prosecco or Cava or Asti Spumante, don’t go wasting good champagne on something like this)

 

Making it is a bit of a buggerance however so listen carefully what you need to do first is scoop the seeds from one of the passion fruits into the glass of a cocktail shaker, then add the vodka, passoa, lime juice, glitter and sugar. Add a load of ice and shake well, strain into martini glasses, and then top up the bugger with some prosecco or whatever sparkling wine you have to hand and then finish it off by adding half a passion fruit to each.

Conservative Party Leadership Contest: Some Thoughts

With the tearful resignation of Theresa May earlier this week I find myself thinking, who is going to be the next Leader of the Conservative Party? There are the obvious front runners. Boris Johnson of the floppy haired flip flop. Dominic Raab, Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom, and maybe even Jeremy Hunt. All these names are being thrown around as favourites to take the helm. And whenever I hear any of their names being touted as a potential leader of our nation, I can’t help but cringe. In my humble opinion though, every person who has had a cabinet position since 2015 has been tainted, Brexit has divided the nation, but it has also tarred the top tier of government with a stench of infighting, immaturity and incompetence.

 

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So if the Conservative party is to move forward what they need is a complete fresh face, someone who doesn’t have ties to May or Cameron and hasn’t be contaminated by their cabinet colleagues. In essence what I’m saying is that the Conservative party need to find their very own Tory Jeremy Corbyn. Someone who party members can rally around as a breath of fresh air for the party.

A few names that spring to mind are Rehman Chishti, Lucy Allan, Jo Churchill, Richard Drax or possibly Matt Warman, all of whom would pose problems for the opposition parties in Westminster. But at the same time these potential candidates that I’ve mentioned could potentially be seen as compromise candidates, a place holder until someone better comes forth to take centre stage.

However if the Conservative Party do just go along with one of the front runners, its very likely that we’d see a Labour Government by 2022.

Why Is The World Such A Horrible Place At The Moment?

Humanity seems to have given in to its worst instincts over the last few years. We seem to be taking what is easy over what is good for us and giving in to our most narrow minded, selfish and xenophobic views.

Ignorance and stupidity seem to be given pride of place and intolerance and lack of knowledge and basic civility are worn like a badge of honour. Apparently a lack of credible facts are can still provide the basis of an opinion and to be quite frank I am sick of it. I can’t believe that its 2019 and I have to say this but:

  • Bigotry and Xenophobia are bad.
  • Skin colour and religion are not acceptable reasons to dislike someone
  • Climate change, whether man made or a natural phenomenon of nature will still have dire consequences for humanity. Don’t believe me ask all the creatures that died during the last ice age.
  • vaccinations are a good thing. They don’t autism, and even if they did autism is better than dying from diseases that were cured decades ago.

I seriously can’t believe that this shit needs to be said.

But what I really can’t fathom is how we’ve got to this level of hatred and stupidity, who do we blame? Politicians? The TV? Newspapers? The Internet? Ourselves? Or maybe all of the above?

The internet is a wonderful thing, it allows me to shop in my underwear for many wondrous things that I never knew existed, without getting arrested. But it also gives a worldwide platform for any nut with an axe to grind or conspiracy theorist with and ill formed and ill typed idea that hasn’t quite made it to science fiction yet. And it really highlights the collective IQ of the world that people are actually buying this crap. It makes me weep for mankind that the very worst of us seem to be pushed to the forefront of society, just by the exploitation of the very worst aspects of our being.

Happy Shakespeare Day

I have somewhat ambiguous feelings when it comes to Shakespeare, sometimes I think that the man is one of the most overrated blowhards to ever walk on gods green earth and then there are other times when it really annoys the crap out of me that someone can find the perfect summation of my feelings in words far greater than I could ever conjure, centuries before I was born.  Here are some of my Favourite quotes.

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My Get Psyched Playlist

I’ve been feeling down in the dumps lately, I’m sleeping all the time, and to be honest I feel for my wife I’ve been a right moody git. So what I need is a real get psyched playlist, here are the songs that always get me pumped up and ready to party.

You’re The Best -Joe Esposito

You Can Call Me Al-Paul Simon

Mr Blue Sky- Electric Light Orchestra

I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Wont Do That)- Meat Loaf

Rasputin- Boney M

Weapon of Choice- Fatboy Slim

Sk8er Boi- Avril Lavigne

 

Some left field choices here, but they are all songs that put me in a good old fashioned partying mood.

20 Greatest Albums Of All Time

In the plans for my redesigned man cave one of the key features is a working gramophone, One of the key parts of having a Gramophone is having the right vinyl collection to play on it. I plan to keep the vinyl collection pretty tight so here are the 20 greatest albums of all time (according to me) that I’ll limit my collection to.

The Definitive Blues Brothers Collection

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Pink Floyd- Atom Heart Mother

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Johnny Cash- At Folsom Prison

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Iron Maiden- Brave New World

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The Rat Pack- Live And Dangerous

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Nightwish- Once

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Donald Byrd Quintet- Parisian Thoroughfare  

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Roger Waters- Pro’s and Con’s of Hitchhiking 

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Misfits- American Psycho 

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Paul Anka- Rock Swings

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Hugh Laurie- Let Them Talk

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A Twist In The Myth- Blind Guardian

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Paul Simon- Graceland 

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Emilie Autumn- Opheliac 

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The Glenn Miller Orchestra- The Glenn Miller Story

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Jeff Wayne- War of the Worlds

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Frank Sinatra- Songs for Swinging Lovers

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John Coltrane- Blue Train

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Bruce Dickinson- Tyranny of Souls 

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Hole- Celebrity Skin

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