Monday, December 24, 2007

Never fly United Airlines if you can help it

Christmas Eve. Sitting in my apartment on the phone with a computer that enjoys hanging up on me. Flight to Los Angeles has been cancelled now twice. They called me the first time at 6am this morning and rescheduled my flight for 10am tomorrow. I prided myself on being extra nice, since I knew that most customers on the cancelled flight were probably pretty irate. I didn't mind the extra day because most of my family is flying in tomorrow anyway.

The second cancellation they didn't call me. I just went to check online before going to bed so I could get some sleep before my 1am taxi to take the 2:20am bus to get to the airport I need to fly out of, and noticed that it said "cancelled" before my flight, and that the new time was 8pm tomorrow, to arrive at 10:30pm.... and the trip to the airport from where my brother and cousin live is at least an hour. Since then, I have talked to a variety of agents, one of whom kept giggling and sounded like he was on pot. Have been hung up on at least 10 times. The first person I talked to confirmed that this was a "crew" problem, not a weather problem. So, when I asked if there was some sort of compensation, she talked to her supervisor, and they told me I could get a $25 voucher on United. "For two days worth of cancellations!?" I ask her incredulously. "That's the best we can do, maam," she says. "All right," I say, "I know it's not your fault. Have a Merry Christmas...." My brother tells me I should call back and insist that they put me on another airline. My dad tells me that I should insist on talking to supervisors if they can't help me. And thus continues the saga (great swell of organ and piano on the staticky "hold" music)...

Now, if this last agent can't help me, I'll take it as a sign from God that I am supposed to spend Christmas studying for my prelims....


So, (and I type this live) I finally talk with this very nice agent, who tells me that THAT flight, apparently in the few minutes in which I had been trying to change to an earlier flight, has ALSO been cancelled due to "crew" problems (THIRD flight cancellation today), and that the only flight she can get me on is an American Airlines flight that will get into Los Angeles at 11:10pm. I take it, along with another $100 voucher. But, do I dare ever actually use the vouchers?

I look forward to American Airlines...

I don't think I shall ever fly United again if I can help it....

So, Christmas prelims studying... here I come...

At least I'm at home and not in the airport. We thank God for small blessings...

My conversations with the computer tonight (recorded from memory) at 1800-United1:

Welcome to United Airlines. Please listen carefully. Press 1 to make a reservation. Press 2 if you already have a reservation." If you need time, please say, "please wait," if you don't know it, say "I don't know" Please say the reservation number, since some numbers like B or V are hard to tell apart, please use them with common first names such as "M" as in "Mary."

I have a "v" in my confirmation, so try "v" as in "valentine." They don't get it. I think of names with "v." "Vera?" "Violet?" "Van Damme?"

Got it. What's the first and last name of the passenger. Would you like to confirm the trip, change it, request seats, request a wheel chair, or speak to an agent.

After the 10th time, I consider requesting a wheelchair.

Let me get a reservations agent for you. I'll make sure the agent gets the information you've already given me. Thank you for calling United Airlines, we apologize for the delay. Please stay on the line....

I am on hold for about two minutes and then I hear a polite canned voice (for the upteenth time)

I'm sorry for the difficulty. Rather than take up any more of your time, I'm going to go ahead and end your call....

So be it.... and so ends my relationship with United Airlines.

Photo Credits:

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Global connections in Music Video objectification of Women: adhiambo sinda

Ok, so, as I'm studying linguistics today... watch for visual motifs in this Kenyan song alongside the Sean Paul and Dare Art Alade that I posted a few weeks ago. I must say this one and Dare Art Alade are "funner" than Sean Paul's.

And what the heck is Che doing in the background. Is that Bruce Lee beside him? Any swahilli speakers out there who could shed some light on this?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

"In Defence of the Films We Have Made" by Odia Ofeimun

When I'm writing a paper, I have such a hard time stopping myself from reading and actually starting to write. There is just so much to read, and I love feeling my mind growing and expanding--of learning--devouring knowledge. Today, I sat down on my couch while the snow fell outside and hand wrote an extended outline, so as to keep myself from turning on my computer and getting distracted, and then instead of turning on the computer and starting to write, I had to read one more thing.

The thing I chose to re-read (having first read it about a year and a half ago) was "In Defence of the Films we have made" the keynote address given by Odia Ofeimun at the 2nd National Film Festival in Lagos on 27 November 2003. Both celebratory and thoughtful, It is simply the best essay I have ever read on the Nigerian film industry, both placing it within a historical context and theorizing towards the future. I have been reading it from issue 8 of Chimurenga (2005), which some friends of mine in South Africa sent me, but when I searched for it online, I see that it has also been published by West Africa Review Issue 5 (2004), so I'll cut and paste a few passages from that.

"In Defence of the Films We Have Made"
by Odia Ofeimun

Excerpt 1:

"Needless to say, the home-video has become the hegemonic means of defining the Nigerian film sense. Whatever is said about any other way of making stories on screen, it is the video film that will necessarily for the foreseeable future dominate the Nigerian film festival. For every day of the year, three new video films are unloaded upon the Nigerian market. Every year in the past half decade, about 200,000 to 300,000 new hands have been lifted from the throes of unemployment and underemployment by the gloss and glitter of the small screen. Conjointly, they generate about five billion Naira annually. Stranded artists, areas boys and area fathers, authors, dramatists, actors and closet fabulists have found their niche in the pack. Actors who had run away from the penury that haunted the stage have been brought back to life! Though they were dead now they are a vibrant part of a community that literally bubbles. Devotees of the stage who had been reduced to breaching their talents, and living near derelict lives, wondering what kind of society leaves her artists to suffer in so many distracting sectors, have acquired the gravitas of an established community. No longer are they among the artists who are sneered at by other moneyed professionals who are no better than what used to be called agbero bourgeoisie because they merely load other people’s wagons. Now the home video artist is not lumped with other artists who are ritually blamed for not being business-oriented. Within the norm of the home video, it is enough to be a scriptwriter, actor, dramatist, cameraman, director or singer although professionalism is still far away.

If you look at our hunger-besotted slums and our beleaguered villages, you find that many, so many, are finding their feet because of a trade that removes the duller moments from the depression of our neglected, unmanaged and generally manager-less towns and cities. Authors displaced by the collapse of the publishing industry have made a detour from the usual haunts in favour of the home-video turf. One look at any home video film, and the gushy life that it carries, brings a sense of how much of our society was dead and dying without finding a time to bloom. As such, gratitude must well up in the hearts of those enamoured of artistes who had given so much to the arts and are only just being saved for a season of eternity in the company of a vibrant younger generation by the home video films. This is to say that what appeared in the beginning as merely making do has opened floodgates to the peculiar Nigerian genius for creativity and enterprise. The burst of social energy that it has unleashed has very few parallels in any other areas of our national life except perhaps in the parallel growth of Pentecostal churches which it has serviced in many cities and which in an uncanny way services it."


Excerpt 2
"The avalanche of issues that films have covered bear testimony to unparalleled creativity which should make and have been making Hollywood buffs take notice. The sheer volume is unprecedented even if repetitious and not always obedient to the laws of professional decorum or excellence. For this reason, I would concede that the video films run the danger of merely supplying Hollywood with the raw materials to re-claim our shores in the not too distant future. But for now, in spite of a ritualistic slapdashness, there is so much energy and creativity that older motion picture industries have something to learn from. From boardroom struggles to political power play, military adventurism and godfatherism in politics, ritual murder, drug abuse and the rehabilitation of drug abusers, witchcraft and churchcraft, high living and low life, prostitution and AIDS, the home videos are brashly, even if self-consciously, seductive. They are turning out the Nigerian story in a no-holds-barred fashion which leaves no room for anybody to hide. In this, they recall the sass of junk journalism and, in a sense, what was called guerilla journalism under the military. Undeniably, they reveal an enormous lot about us and our society that is not beautiful. Not infrequently, they themselves are not beautiful or passable. But why judge an artistic culture by its commercial pulp rather than its outstanding performances. It is like the misbegotten booboo in literary criticism which takes the motley of self-published, poorly edited works, as basis for judging the vibrancy of Nigerian literature. In such situations, it is the judges who, inadvertently, are judging themselves."

To read the whole essay, see West Africa Review.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Global connections in Music Video objectification of Women: Dare Art Alade's "Fuji Music"

YES, I'm studying....

Note the visual connections between Dare Art Alade's music video "Fuji Music" and Sean Paul's "Ever Blazing," which should appear below this post.

Both songs feature obsessively catchy rhythms and "obscenely" shaking booty...

There is another paper waiting to be written here...

Global connections in Music Video objectification of Women: Sean Paul's "Ever Blazing"

Gidan Iko: House of Power

Em, so, I'm in the midst of studying for prelims.... and preparing for a film paper...

One of these days, I'm going to write a paper on the genre of the Hausa film trailer (and perhaps its use on YouTube), which becomes in itself a mini-film, woven together by the chorus of one of the film's catchiest songs and dances. Note here framing and composition (especially in that opening shot), use of colour, the rhythmic graphic matching in the editing. Through the use of the song to weave together significant moments of the film, we see a concern with the power structures of the nation, alongside the crowd pleasing rhymes about love.

And to make this relevant to my prelims studying, note the magnificent examples of linguistic code switching. I love being a scholar of popular culture! {-;

And to link this to my other research, here is a very bad video I took on my digital camera in Kano last year in an open-air theatre of Abbas Sadiq and Zainab Idris (the dancers seen in the video here) dancing to the playback version of this song "Gidan Iko." (I have heard that this open air theatre may have since been destroyed.
Apparently the lyrics of this song are by Adam Zango (Usher), the artist and musician currently imprisoned for trying to market his music video "BaHaushiya", that had not been censored, during the film ban in Kano. (According to his critics, he was defaming Hausa women by calling a song where a woman dances provocatively "BaHaushiya" (Hausa woman).