Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Return of Mad Men

I've barely been able to pick up a newspaper or magazine in the last week, which hasn't featured an article on the return of the US Drama Mad Men.

There's been a huge amount of coverage mainly because it's been almost 18 months since Season 4 ended. The wait for season 5 has created a huge wave of anticipation.

My highlight of Tuesday's episode. Don's new wife Megan singing Zou Bisou Bisou

I got into Mad Men a few years after it first aired in 2007. The reason for that was that my attention had been taken up watching the Sopranos and then The Wire. You can only watch one critically acclaimed US drama at a time.

I always knew I'd love Mad Men. It's a slow burner of a drama, where nothing overly spectacular ever seems to happen, but things are always happening in a quiet understated way.

Shows like Mad Men are like telly novels, which appeals to me. Unlike in films you've got so much time in which to explore characters and storylines, there's a real sense of depth to the show.

Although the show is set in the advertising world of the 1960's - at times it feels like that's just a backdrop.

Sometimes I wonder what the show is really all about, but then I think it's just about people. Different people and their lives and characters and at the centre of it all is the enigmatic Don Draper.

It's an incredibly stylish looking programme and it's set at an interesting time. The 1960s is now an era that's still close enough for many people to remember and identify with; but at the same time it's becoming quite distant.

Watching the show, you're reminded that political correctness didn't exist, there's the rampant sexism, and the endless smoking and drinking. It's like looking at an old version of our selfs and seeing just how much we've changed.

After such a long wait, I will eagerly be tuning into Sky Atlantic every Tuesday night at 9:00.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Fabrice Muamba: Football's reaction

I was at home last Saturday, when I decided to check the score in the Tottenham/Bolton FA Cup match. When I saw that the game had been abandoned, I immediately knew something very wrong had happened for the game to be called off.

Like most people I was totally shocked to find out that Bolton's Fabrice Muamba had suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed on the pitch.

Thankfully as I write this, it appears that Muamba is making a remarkable recovery, and we all hope it continues.

I got to see a lot of Muamba during his two years playing for the team I support, Birmingham City. He did well at Blues.

He certainly isn't the most gifted player you'll see in the Premier League, but I admired his battling qualities and the hard work that he put in everytime he played for Blues.

It's that hard work and determination that have helped him in his life and career and partly explains the amount of support and respect people in the game have for him.

I've been reading a lot of articles about Muamba this week. The ones that have interested me the most, focus on the reaction of the footballing community and what last week's incident says about football in this country.

The first piece is from the Gaurdian's Richard Williams:

Be proud we're home to Muamba and end this talk of 'stealing' football,

I liked this article as it looks at how the UK has become a country where someone like Fabrice Muamba could succeed and become the person that he is.

In some ways it takes a typical Guardian angle, in that it celebrates the contribution of someone who came to England as an immigrant, and doesn't conform to some of the stereotypes people like to have about immigrants.

The other two articles I've picked out take a different approach.

As a football fan, I felt a certain level of pride that I belong to a footballing community that has come together to show their support and respect for Muamba. We all know football is very tribal, with bitter rivalries existing between fans and clubs.

What i found interesting about Marina Hyde's article in the Guardian:

Why all this self-congratulation over duty of care to Fabrice Muamba?

and John Nicolson piece on the website Football365.

'Can This Bring Long-Term Perspective?'

is that they both argue that the compassion and support shown for Muamba is only what should naturally be expected from right minded people. As Hyde argues, what was the alternative?

There is a lot of mindless abuse, hatred and bitterness amongst football fans. But when a player is clearly dying on a pitch, what other response are we meant to have? It's great that football has come together to show it's support and that should be celebrated, but I do understand the argument that we shouldn't celebrate basic expectations of decent human behaviour.

For all the passion that we football fans have for the game, we all know deep down that it's really only a game. There are more important things in life even if it doesn't always feel that way.

How do you feel about football's reaction to Fabrice Muamba. Have a read of the articles I posted, let me know your thoughts.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

My favourite blogs: The rise of Mashable

I've been a bit quiet on the blogging front in recent weeks, but thankfully I'm back.

So what's been catching my attention. Well one of my favourite blogs has been in the news this week. If you know anything about some of the internet's most poplar and influential blogs, you've probably heard about Mashable.

Mashable is a tech blog set up in 2005 by Aberdeenshire born Pete Cashmore, and has become one of the most popular blogs in the world, with an estimated 20 million visitors a month!

The news network CNN is reportedly bidding for the site with the Times quoting a figure of $200 million (£127 million) which will turn Cashmore into a multimillionaire. Impressive stuff from someone who's still only 26 years old, and started the blog in his parent's house as a teenager.

I was reading that one of the reasons for Mashable's success, is that it talks about the internet and the world of technology in an easy accessible style that's understandable for people like me who aren't tech geeks.

If you want to know about the latest app, how to make the most of twitter, facebook or new social media sites like Pinterest, Mashable is where you need to go.

When I first started on my blogging journey, Mashable was one those blogs that I just seemed to stumble upon as I tried to learn more about the world of blogging, social media and the internet.

I now read Mashable everyday through my Google reader feed as well as following the site on Twitter. I have to say its become an essential read.

So why is a company like CNN prepared to pay such a huge figure for a blog?

It's all about Mashable's readership! Readers of Mashable are hugely attractive to advertisers (I feel flattered) They're seen as being highly influential; people who know all about how the internet works and are the first to be up to date on the latest trends.

I don't expect to be receiving any bids for my blog that will turn me into a millionaire, but sites like Mashable are a bit of an inspiration for bloggers like me.

It's great to hear stories about people like Cashmore. A blogger who starts off writing about a topic he's interested in and passionate about - before turning that passion and interest into a highly successful and lucrative business.

It gives us all hope.