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Passing me by
Church Square
I saw the news that Philip Seymour Hoffman had died. I looked at his face on the news, and thought it was mildly familiar, then looked at the list of films that he is best known for, and came to the conclusion that I hadn’t seen any of them.

(After delving into IMDb, I determined that I must have seen him in Mission: Impossible III, but I have no strong memory of that film, other than that it had something to do with the Vatican. Maybe.)

Anyway, it struck me that it is very easy to pass through life without sharing the cultural experiences that many people would regard as normal. I don’t watch many mainstream modern films. I’ve never watched an episode of Coronation Street, or listened to the Archers. I’ve never seen an episode of Big Brother, I’m a Celebrity, or the X Factor. I’ve never watched a football match, a rugby match, or a cricket match.

I am unfamiliar with many of the best known sportspeople or soap-opera actors.

And I suspect that this unfamiliarity with mainstream celebrity can only become easier to attain, as we increasingly find our entertainment on Netflix. There is no distinction between old films and new films; between old TV shows and modern TV shows. All are just a button-press away. And often an old TV show is more rewarding to watch, as there will be full runs of seasons available to watch, and a pleasant feeling of completeness about the experience.

It is entirely possible that I could find myself watching a Philip Seymour Hoffman movie next week or next year, and that I might yet become as familiar and as appreciative of his work as those who are mourning him today. It is rather exciting to know that there are great films and great actors that I have yet to discover.
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I'm glad I'm not alone there - I was starting to wonder if he'd appeared in something really popular that I would definitely have seen, but no - I've never seen MI:3, though I vaguely recall catching the original on TV at some point.

In December, my local council spent a staggering sum on bringing in some "famous" actor to switch on the Christmas lights. I had no idea who he was, either.

I have seen a few articles now pointing out the increasing "customisation" of our life experiences. A century ago our experiences were all filtered by physical proximity: you'd get your news from the nearest town's newspaper, talk to the people who happened to live and work within a mile or two of home, and that was it. Now, we have online communities like those on LJ where you can talk to fellow Dr Who fans or Ruby programmers on the other side of the planet - with the result you *do* talk to those people, instead of to Coronation St fans who happen to live nearby. Most commentary on that seemed to regard this as a bad thing.

Our ISP is famous, however, having been mentioned in the House of Lords recently!

In 1986 Joshua Meyrowitz wrote a book titled "No Sense of Place" putting forward the view that the rise of television in the US had remvoed informational barriers between classes, genders, races and geographic groups and in doing so had undermined the "sense of place" (in the same meaning of place which the John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbert sketch meant with "I know my place"). I've been thinking in the last few years that therise of multi-channel television and the Internet has created a "New Sense of Place" which is different from the one which we had before the rise of television (books, radio and movies had had some similar effects but Meyrowitz argued that TV as it developed in the US in the 50s-80sin particular was a quantum leap beyond their effects). So, instead of Lucille Ball and TV news anchors as whatMeyrowitz called "media friends", "we" now have hundreds of "Facebook friends".

Ah how true that rings.
We are constantly being asked " Did you see" and it is not necessary to let them get any further because the answer is "No".
We did see a football match. It was the world cup final at Wembly. It's a long story but the match struck us a dull, very dull.
It has been reported that the English team won but as that did not improve our bank balance we see no cause for celebration.
We also "missed" the Olympics but don't feel deprived.
A friend asked recently if we did not "Enjoy the atmosphere".
Struggled to find a polite answer as being stuck in a mob of Banderlog yelling and screaming is close to our idea of hell.
As for unrehearsed out of work actors bumming around a set... Why?. Just Why?
It is not fair to say that there is nothing worth watching on the TV but given the relatively low cost of DVD, the fact that they are advert free and you can watch the whole series in a sensible time period, that is our option.
We might do the equivalent on some computer site but our broadband isn't and in any case the amount of messing about required gives us the hebi gebies.

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