Strangeness


Strangeness12 Feb 2006 06:12 pm

Haunted house on a hill Reader, I have a question.

Do you believe in the supernatural and/or the paranormal?

I’m not going anywhere with it, just wondering what your views are.

What are your views, dear reader? Have you time to elaborate?

Self&Strangeness14 Nov 2005 11:10 pm

Lamp post OK. Would someone please tell me which of the following options is true:

(1) Some modern street lamps are equipped with movement sensors, so unlit lamps will light up when a person walks near them.

(2) I have recently developed psychokinetic powers.

Anyone?

Strangeness18 Oct 2005 12:41 pm

Like Red, I asked for the moon and it appeared in my sidebar.

It’s full moon today. Apparently this is the time when you should do your most important spells. But apparently not the best time to plant things in your garden.

Perhaps someone more mystical, like Spinsterwitch, would know more about this sort of thing than a mere Muggle like me.

Has anyone here ever had experience of strange lunar effects? Speak now, if the fangs aren’t too obtrusive.

Random life&Self&Strangeness19 Jul 2005 10:46 pm

I just got this in my email inbox:

Great forces are directing you to conform to the patterns of your society. You have DNA that has been handed down from generation to generation, coding repeated behaviour patterns into your being. You have archetypal energies setting the standards for how you behave as a man or a woman, as husband or wife, as father or mother …. You are immersed in consensual reality, whereby the world around you reflects societal understanding of how life has been and is to be.

At the same time, you have an even greater force within you inspiring you to wake up and recognize the reality of who you are. This force, the creative power underlying the entire universe, is urging you to create brand new standards of reality.

The status quo is blind to our creative power. Create a brand new world for yourself, one that meets your deepest needs, and you will help raise the quality of consciousness of the entire world.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
— Gandhi

Gosh.

Soundtrack to this post: I’d Love To Change The World – Ten Years After

Strangeness&The art of blog24 May 2005 05:29 pm

I can post but I can’t see my own blog. It’s a blank white page. I can read yours though.

Can you read this? Am I here? Is this an existential crisis or no. 750 of a series of Blogger glitches?

American politics&British politics&Europe&Strangeness&The art of blog21 Apr 2005 01:48 am

The Pope post comments below appear to have spontaneously combusted. Perhaps it is a sign?

*auctions divinely mutilated web page on eBay*

EDIT: No, they’re back again. They were just moving in mysterious ways for a while.

Speaking of Condoleezza Rice, as we recently were, it appears she’s still obsessed with states of the former Soviet Union. This time it’s Belarus, one sixth of the “axis of evil”. Perhaps it would be less work for her if she just let us know which countries America doesn’t plan to remodel?

In other news, it appears the unpleasantly arrogant George Galloway (Respect party) has a good chance of ousting the sycophantic careerist Oona King (Labour party) from her Bethnal Green seat. Whoopee. Yawn.

Lastly, here’s what George Monbiot has to say about why reluctant tactical voting is unnecessary. You can make up your own mind about whether he’s right or not.

Right, that’s the politics out of the way. Now we can talk about religion again. Wait, where are you all going?

Pop culture&Race&Random life&Strangeness01 Mar 2005 01:00 am

When I was a youngster, I loved Michael Jackson. Not just in the general way I loved all pop music. I mean I really loved Michael Jackson.

For a couple of those formative years, my best friend and I hoarded every scrap of memorabilia and newspaper cuttings we could get our hands on. When it came to Christmas or birthdays, we arranged between us which of his commercial output would go on each of our request lists. Our plan was to ensure no duplication, so we’d both have access to his entire oeuvre.

Our parents didn’t quite understand the urgency of our requirements at times, but we did pretty well nonetheless. In those days, I’d have no qualms about skipping out of school at midday to buy 7” singles with my lunch money, so it wasn’t long before we built up a sizeable Jackson stash.

Of course, we wanted more than just his recordings. In 1988, aged 13, I went to my first ever gig. Michael Jackson at Wembley Stadium. Quite a spectacular start to a lifetime of live music. It gave me very unrealistic expectations. At my first grotty Camden indie gig a couple of years later, I was perplexed by the shambolic ordinariness of it all, wondering when the pyrotechnics were going to start.

You see, what Michael Jackson offered was the sort of cool oddness you didn’t often see in the suburbs of southern England. Thriller defined the zeitgeist in a way no musician has since replicated. And the man could dance. Really dance. His audacious talent, coupled with the natural glamour American superstars seemed to exude, left us awestruck. I even – ahem – taught myself to moonwalk. (Yes, I can still do it. No, don’t ask me to demonstrate at your wedding reception.)

In the summer of my 14th birthday, during the Bad era, I read his ‘autobiography’ Moonwalk on holiday. In it, he claims that his gradual facial changes were due to the natural growing up process. He goes on to say that he has only had 2 nose jobs and a cleft put in his chin, and that anybody who accuses him of having extensive surgery or bleaching his skin is lying. Despite the evidence of my own eyes, I believed him. I even defended his position to laughing detractors. “He wouldn’t be allowed to say that if it wasn’t true,” I naively protested.

Looking at the cover of the book now, I’m astonished at how easily I believed his word against the evidence of my own eyes. He’d transformed himself from shy, black, sweet-smiling teenager to milky-skinned, wire-limbed, doe-eyed alien.

Sometime around the start of his solo career in the 70s, Michael Jackson must have decided his own face didn’t fit. So he set about redesigning it. The first sign was when his nose began to narrow. Then, shade by shade, his skin grew lighter. Looking back over his many faces, it is horrifying just how dramatic the transformation was.

From the late 80s onwards, the newspapers carried endless “WACKO JACKO” stories, all about Jackson’s pet chimp Bubbles, his oxygen tank, his odd pseudo-parental relationships with ageing stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Diana Ross and the comical hygiene paranoia which meant he only appeared in public if masked. His dissatisfaction with his appearance, his perpetual facial reconstructions and his changes of skin colour were considered a joke, proof of the incorrigible eccentricity of millionaires.

It wasn’t until many years later that I realised just what a grotesque freakshow my former favourite had become, and how none of his family or entourage seemed to think this disturbing behaviour warranted intervention. Scroll through the pictures in this post from top to bottom and reflect on the fact that the British press did little more than jeer at him for this self-mutilation, and that professional surgeons saw no ethical conflict in continuing to take his money.

At no point did anyone mention the fact that Michael Jackson is almost certainly suffering from body dysmorphic disorder.

A close friend of mine has also battled the debilitating symptoms of BDD for many years. Thankfully, she has now managed to achieve stability after a long struggle and occasional relapses. It helps that she has no private fortune, nor access to unscrupulous surgeons. If she had been granted every delusional whim, rather than being forced by sheer self-loathing and desperation to seek treatment, she would undoubtedly look similarly unearthly now.

By the time I was 15 or 16, I was no longer interested in Michael Jackson. Hip hop and indie had captured my attention. Sequinned gloves and moonwalking belonged to the 80s. The 1990s, I surmised, held no place for him.

I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Jackson’s sales were already dropping. His public behaviour was increasingly strange, and his face changed shape from one month to the next. The tabloids stopped alternating teasing editorial with expedient respect for his popularity, and started really laying into him.

And then things got even weirder.

He married Lisa Marie Presley. He married Debbie Rowe. He produced blonde, blue-eyed children like rabbits out of a hat, claiming they were his own. He gave two of them the same name. He dangled one of them off a hotel balcony.

He was accused of molesting a young boy named Jordy Chandler.

When the child abuse story hit the headlines, what surprised me most was how certain I felt that he was guilty. And how guilty I felt at assuming the worst about someone I used to admire, without hesitation.

As a former fan, I could have automatically given him the benefit of the doubt. I might have been among the legions who dismissed the allegations as ridiculous. But I wasn’t. And when he silenced his juvenile accuser with money, I didn’t cheer along with his loyal public. I wasn’t glad the charges had been dropped. I was disgusted at his amoral cowardice.

As you know, 46-year-old Michael Joseph Jackson has been accused of child molestation again, and he couldn’t fix it with dollars this time. The LAPD is out to get him. The biggest celebrity trial in recent history has just begun.

(Read the case against him here.)

Did he do it this time? Yes… I think he probably did.

Yet at the same time, I also believe it’s possible he is convinced he has done nothing wrong, and is being honest when he denies the charges.

Michael Jackson is clearly a damaged man, plagued by mental health problems and deeply scarred by a traumatic childhood. His eternal child/Peter Pan complex is more than just a marketing gimmick, it’s evidently an obsession. His ability to relate to children as equals is probably also real. The sinister side of these obsessive childlike delusions is that a grown man, with adult hormones and adult sensibilities, may genuinely believe anything he does with children is therefore normal. Little boys often play strange pre-sexual games with one another. In the crazed parallel universe of Neverland – a universe in which he only has to make a wish and it is granted by a paid lackey – Jackson may see no difference between that and his own behaviour. He may genuinely think it impossible for such activities to be child abuse, because he believes he counts as an honorary child too.

Or perhaps I’m still being naive and he’s just a really good liar. Perhaps he knows exactly what he’s doing. Who knows.

So, you see, the start of Jackson’s trial and the ensuing media circus makes me feel a little sad. Michael Jackson was once a disproportionately significant figure in my life, in the way childhood heroes often are. I discarded him long ago, but he still figures in the story of my life in the same way a memorable teacher might.

I’m hopeful that justice will be done this time, but it really depends on just how low the defence team are prepared to go. And given that they are employed by a superstar, they will probably stop at nothing to destroy the reputation of their opposition. However, the prosecutors seem equally determined to prevail, so we shall see. (Whatever happens, it will be played out in public for all the gawping world to see. Inevitably, the criminal justice system is no more than light entertainment when the protagonists are familiar faces.)

But even more than this, I feel sad at the sheer tragedy that is Michael Jackson. His body of work is packed full of genuine pop classics. (Who can keep still when the bassline of Billie Jean starts? Even you guitar boys have to concede that one.) He seemed to have so much promise. He was a naturally good looking young man, who hated himself so much he carved his face to pieces. He was blessed with rare gifts but exploited his position to gain the trust of children and their families, and used his fortune to build a huge child-friendly lair. If even one of the children’s allegations is true, somewhere along the line a talented, sweet-looking boy turned into a monster. Who – or what – made him that way?

A psychotherapist friend (who specialises in treating abused children) informs me that it is almost guaranteed that a sex offender who preys on children will have been abused him/herself as a child. According to her, abusers will procure children of the same age they were at the time their own abuse started. For example, if a man sexually molests boys of 11, it usually means that he was abused himself by a man from the age of 11. It also usually means he will not be interested in his victims once they grow out of that age group, for example when reaching puberty.

This information is irrelevant if Jackson is innocent. But if he did it, the next question we should be asking is: who abused Michael?

British politics&Strangeness30 Nov 2004 06:44 pm

I know I was asked to find pictures of angry Brits. But I can’t resist giving this picture another outing first.


First person to name this fine specimen of manhood wins an imaginary prize.

American politics&British politics&Europe&Human rights&Middle East&Strangeness13 Oct 2004 02:48 am

I just don’t understand it. Our generation is desensitised by a million violent horror films, this we know. But to the extent that they’re able to download and watch a real life snuff movie, a human being hacked to death in real time? Without vomiting, fainting or being traumatised for life? It is just… staggering.

Death is pretty repulsive pornography, thrillseekers. And the most indecent invasion of privacy imaginable. Can’t imagine how it would feel to be part of a dead hostage’s family, knowing their relative is being slain over and over again on computer screens worldwide.

Sorry to go all moralistic, I don’t normally. But this is just repulsive.


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