Rounding up 2016: Two years in film

I love films, but I’m currently not a regular cinemagoer. My cinema visits in 2016 can be counted on one hand, and involved only one new(ish) release:

Because I watched everything else at home — hence waited for films to become available for (legal!) downloading or streaming — I’m going to list two Top 10s of 2016: one of 2016 films and one of 2015 films watched in 2016:

My personal top 10 of 2016 films

  1. The Brand New Testament
  2. Weiner (documentary)
  3. 10 Cloverfield Lane
  4. Midnight Special
  5. Sing Street
  6. Hail, Caesar!
  7. Eddie The Eagle
  8. Holy Hell (documentary)
  9. Zootropolis (also known as Zootopia)
  10. The Secret Life of Pets

My least favourite film of 2016: Imperium (I wrote and posted a review of this film here).

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My personal top 10 of 2015 films watched in 2016

This Top 10 “goes to 11” with two titles sharing third place:

  1. The Hateful Eight
  2. Je Suis Charlie (documentary)
  3. Brooklyn
    Spotlight
  4. He Never Died
  5. Janis: Little Girl Blue (documentary)
  6. Bone Tomahawk
  7. What Happened, Miss Simone? (documentary)
  8. Creed
  9. Concussion
  10. Spectre

My least favourite film of 2015 that I watched in 2016: The Witch

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Rounding up 2016: 30 days of music

Recently I posted the 30-Day Music Challenge to my Facebook profile. It was one of my Sunday afternoon projects: I scrolled through my music collection and made a list, then used Hootsuite to schedule thirty Facebook posts, one to go out each day at 4pm.

The full list is as follows:

DAY 1: A song you like with a colour in the title

Monday 21 November 2016: Amy Winehouse – Back To Black

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DAY 2: A song you like with a number in the title

Tuesday 22 November 2016: The Selecter – Three Minute Hero

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DAY 3: A song that reminds you of summer time

Wednesday 23 November 2016: Rainbow – Catch The Rainbow

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DAY 4: A song that reminds you of someone you would rather forget about

Thursday 24 November 2016: Red Hot Chili Peppers – Wet Sand

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DAY 5: A song that needs to be played LOUD

Friday 25 November 2016: System Of A Down – Chop Suey!

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DAY 6: A song that makes you want to dance

Saturday 26 November 2016: James – Laid

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DAY 7: A song to drive to

Sunday 27 November 2016: Ministry – Jesus Built My Hotrod

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DAY 8: A song about drugs or alcohol

Monday 28 November 2016: The Verve – The Drugs Don’t Work

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DAY 9: A song that makes you happy

Tuesday 29 November 2016: Outkast – Hey Ya

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DAY 10: A song that makes you sad

Wednesday 30 November 2016: Janis Joplin – Piece of My Heart

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DAY 11: A song that you never get tired of

Thursday 01 December 2016: Rammstein – Sonne

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DAY 12: A song from your preteen years

Friday 02 December 2016: Duran Duran – Friends Of Mine

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DAY 13: One of your favourite 1970s songs

Saturday 03 December 2016: Funkadelic – Cosmic Slop

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DAY 14: A song that you would love played at your wedding

Sunday 04 December 2016: The Damned – Love Song

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DAY 15: A song that is a cover by another artist

Monday 05 December 2016: The Lightning Seeds – You Showed Me

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DAY 16: One of your favourite classical songs

Tuesday 06 December 2016: Delibes’ Flower Duet from Lakme

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DAY 17: A song you would sing as a duet on karaoke

Wednesday 07 December 2016: The Beautiful South – Song for Whoever

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DAY 18: A song from the year that you were born

Thursday 08 December 2016: Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run

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DAY 19: A song that makes you think about life

Friday 09 December 2016: R.E.M. – I’ll Take The Rain

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DAY 20: A song that has multiple meanings to you

Saturday 10 December 2016: Pearl Jam – I Am Mine

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DAY 21: A favourite song with a person’s name in the title

Sunday 11 December 2016: Madness – Michael Caine

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DAY 22: A song that moves you forward

Monday 12 December 2016: The Killers – Everything Will Be Alright

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DAY 23: A song that you think everybody should listen to

Tuesday 13 December 2016: Triggerfinger – First Taste

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DAY 24: A song by a band you wish were still together

Wednesday 14 December 2016: The Smiths – There’s A Light That Never Goes Out

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DAY 25: A song by an artist no longer alive

Thursday 15 December 2016: David Bowie – Absolute Beginners

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DAY 26: A song that makes you want to fall in love

Friday 16 December 2016: India Arie – Ready For Love

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DAY 27: A song that breaks your heart

Saturday 17 December 2016: Bette Midler – Stay With Me

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DAY 28: A song by an artist with a voice that you love

Sunday 18 December 2016: Selah Sue – Crazy Sufferin’ Style

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DAY 29: A song that you remember from your childhood

Monday 19 December 2016: Phil Lynott – Old Town

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DAY 30: A song that reminds you of yourself

Tuesday 20 December 2016: Catatonia – Strange Glue

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Ron and Mike

Sometimes – not often – I bump into something so good that it would be bordering on criminal not to share. On this occasion, I felt that just passing on a link would be insufficient, as the original piece was in a language that only a small portion of the world’s population is able to understand. So I approached the author with the question if I could reproduce his piece in English, and he kindly gave me permission to do so. I really hope I’ve done his work justice. (If at any time and for whatever reason he chooses to withdraw his permission I will remove this post. This is, after all, his work, not mine.)

Ron and Mike
Original by Derek Otte
(translated into English by Jo)

Once upon a time, in a society not dissimilar to ours, a select group of people was legally in charge of maintaining public order and providing assistance to those who needed it. This group officially went by the name ‘police’, although society referred to it by other – less neutral and at times unfair – monikers. After twenty years of serving the community, none of these were new to Ron, an armed, uniformed veteran of the irregular shift pattern.

Ron was no stranger to anything anymore; verbal and physical assaults, stabbings and shootings, murder and manslaughter, suicides, road traffic accidents and other gruesome stuff, he’d seen it all. Over the years he had built a mental shield to protect himself against other people’s pain and hurt, although his compassionate nature prevented him from shutting off his emotions altogether. At times he’d find himself being kept awake by echoes of victims’ cries for help he had been unable to answer, and memories of moments when his own life had flashed in front of his eyes.

Ron had seen it all, yet never stopped doing his job. He felt it was his calling, and it had become second nature to him; a call of duty he had been born into coupled with an almost insane hunger for excitement. Ron wanted to serve a purpose. He witnessed the worst, experienced the impossible, dealt with inhumane situations and processed even the most awful of cases, always with the utmost sense of pride and duty. Nothing could get him down, not even the aggression – bordering on hatred – he felt his uniform provoked among some memers of society during every shift.

The hatred was something he found understandable, but nevertheless tough to deal with. He himself would find it difficult sometimes to distinguish right from wrong. Still, he would try to look beyond his occupational bias, knowing that respect is reciprocal – “You get what you give” – and his awareness that, at the end of the day, everyone’s human. Just like him. Though not so much like his colleague Mike.

Mike was a country boy who, upon graduating police training academy top of his class five years ago, had moved to work in the big city. Mike did everything by the book and particularly thrived when it came to maintaining law and order. During coffee breaks he would visibly revel in telling wild tales of his heroics on the job.

In reality Mike’s days were mostly filled with issuing tickets to ‘chavs’ and ‘muzzas’. Or ‘wogs’ and ‘gyps’, as he would call the ‘scum’ as well. Mike was an immoral prick. On cases of persistent domestic violence, where a woman would keep going back to her abusive spouse, he loved to come out with trite remarks of “fistfuls of love” and that “a man shouldn’t have to repeat himself”, which would always garner laughs among two-thirds of his colleagues.

Mike was a self-absorbed, narrow-minded dick who would sell his own mother if he believed it might get him ahead. Within the ‘macho’ police culture he’d stopped just short of sleeping his way to the top: he had bullied, elbowed, brown-nosed, arse-kissed and sucked his way up to a dominant position in his team and within the department. His job wasn’t his calling, it was just his job. A job with authority and a weapon – that’s what it was about for him.

It was that sense of power – and nothing else – that had made Mike join the force. A natural progression from his childhood days of being bullied, which had left him with a deep-rooted sense of inferiority that no one knew about. His self-esteem had long ago made way for a sense of emptiness that he’d been trying to fill with reproach by way of a big mouth and a pointing finger. Because he “ruled the street, god damn it” in a town he’d never even visited before he took on the job there.

In the past year Ron had been sentenced to Mike whenever they were partnered up on duty. Mike would often give civilians a pompous rollocking, thus escalating perfectly peaceful situations into explosive scenes in a heartbeat. Whenever the proverbial brown stuff hit the fan, Ron would be there to clean up the mess, only to hear Mike boasting afterwards to colleages and supervisors how “he had sorted it out”. In reality, the likes of Mike were the main reason behind society’s ever-diminishing faith in the police force, and as such in Ron.

Society would make no distinction between Ron’s professional demeanor and that of Mike, because the likes of the latter determined the police force’s public image. Ron would increasingly hear self-appointed experts spout their opinions in which he would find himself tarred by the same brush as the twits in uniform that generally deserved to be mocked, ridiculed, abused and condemned. Ron and at least 40 percent of his colleagues had given up the battle against this. They had either resigned themselves to this state of affairs or been slowly ground down by it until they could no longer cope.

I would have liked to have been able to talk about how Ron successfully managed to plead for stricter selection of candidates recruited for any roles with a level of authority. I would have loved to have been able to break the news that he had been promoted to a coordinating position within the police force. I would have liked to have been able to tell that the media and society were shifting their attention to what the likes of Ron had to say. But nothing could be further from the truth. Even I have to conclude that politicians have shown no interest whatsoever in the stories told by Mike’s victims.

After Mike beat up a drunk homeless man one day, supposedly because the guy had been resisting aggressively (even though another officer had stood and watched), local authorities sent Mike flowers as consolation to the public outrage poured onto him so undeservedly. Media and society were given yet another reason to pass their one-size-fits-all judgement on police as a whole and as such Ron found himself on the defensive again. Which was tragic, but understandable. Why?

The higher up in the echelon of police you look, the greater the proportion of Mike-like characters you’ll find. Every ‘Mike’ incident like the one above further deteriorates the police’s public image; in turn society’s faith in and respect for the force diminish. As this vicious cycle goes on and on there will be less space for nuance, and an ever-growing gap between government and society, no thanks to political and media intervention.

The solution for this problem is written between the lines of the above narrative. I think we’ve got a long way to go.

© 2012 Derek Otte. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission.