Sunday, May 17, 2015

Black Widow and the Subconscious

I'm going to be a bit controversial here. I love Avengers: Age of Ultron. I think it's a great movie, and I think James Spader may be vying with Patrick Stewart for my favourite voice actor of all time (I didn't think I could like another villain as much as I liked Loki, but I was wrong). Now don't get me wrong, it's not a work of genius, but it's fun, it's clever, and has a rather wonderful moment when Iron Man and Thor are asked what their girlfriends are up to, and they respond, respectively, with "running my multinational corporation" and "earning a Nobel prize". And when Pepper is next mentioned, it's to point out she has the most control, of anyone, of Stark Industries; not even Tony Stark himself can override her. I do like those little touches...

Anyway, I'm going to be even more controversial here: I like what was attempted with Black Widow. Now, I'm not saying it worked, and I agree with a lot of the commentary out there, but I do like what it could have been.

Here's how I see it: Scarlet Witch's power seems to deal primarily with the subconscious. I say this because of Thor's dream; there were clues in it about the Infinity Stones. Thor has been chasing Loki's sceptre for some time at least, so an idea of what it might be must have been percolating in there. His inability to immediately interpret his dream further reinforces this; Thor's own mind is attempting to tell him something important, and he has to look for the answers. This is less obvious with Iron Man and Captain America, as their main subconscious concerns, the safety of Earth and lost chances, are also on their conscious minds.

Which brings us to Black Widow's subconscious, and her reflections on sterility. I think this works, but only in context of her budding relationship with Banner and the age at which she attended the spy school. Let's think about the first. What are the things to consider when starting a relationship? Well, the big things: do you find the person attractive? Do you like enough of the same things so you can spend time together, or does that even matter to you? And perhaps the biggest one: do you both want children? This, perhaps, is why she doesn't try to hit on Captain America; she knows he would like a family, and she's not going to have a relationship which can't last. Of course, she can't be sure Banner doesn't want children, but it's a pretty safe bet. It's reasonable of her to think this way; she's a smart woman and I can't imagine she'd waste her time on a long term relationship she knows is doomed from the start (and let's be honest, the children issue is probably one of the most common dealbreakers out there). So, subconsciously, she's thinking about how important this is.

Now let's move on to the age Black Widow was when she was sterilised. We can't be sure, but let's presume she was in her teens. I don't know about you, but I was pretty malleable as a teenager. Black Widow was told, during her training, they were turning her into a monster, and the sterilisation, as a part of her graduation, was part of that transformation. They could have sterilised her after her graduation, but instead it is integrated; it is intended to convince these girls they have been turned into monsters, used to convince them the loss of maternity makes them somehow less. This is a cultural stigma being enforced on them; I've been considered unnatural for not being pushed about having kids (at times in my life where intentionally having a child would be a terrible idea in many ways, not the least of which is financially). Black Widow's school is simply reinforcing this idea onto impressionable young girls; are we surprised it worked? In addition, Age of Ultron is full of references to whether or not the other characters are monsters. Black Widow still considers herself to have "red on her ledger"; monstrousness is on her mind. And when Banner brings up having children, of course this, which was already in her subconscious and brought forward by the Scarlet Witch, is how she responds.

Now, this, I think, is what Whedon intended. And you know what? We should live in a world where Black Widow can, occasionally, get a little down about not being able to have kids and not have it reflect on everything in her character. And I think the reason we can't have that is that she's the only woman on the team; as several other critics have pointed out, quite rightly, by positioning her as the only woman, she becomes the only option for heterosexual shipping with the male avengers. She becomes, by default, the sexual object, even though she is never in a relationship with anyone else on the team. It also gives us the problem with perspective; she's the only woman on the team, and she's thinking of how she can't have babies. The solution to this would have been another female avenger, and I'm hoping the addition of the Scarlet Witch will help to solve this problem in the next film. Because it would have been interesting to have another female perspective to balance Black Widow's; perhaps Wasp or Ms Marvel, both of whose powers could be considered monstrous (as someone with an insect phobia, I guarantee you there are people terrified of Wasp).

It is the omission of women in Marvel's cinema which causes Black Widow's subconscious preoccupation to be problematic; of the male avengers, we get at least three subconscious views: the hidden knowledge (Thor), the lost life (Captain America), and the fear of the future (Iron Man). Arguably Captain America's concerns are the same as Black Widow's; it's not only the loss of his own time, but also the married life he could have had with Peggy Carter, the children he won't have now. In fact, I'd be willing to bet, with the potential of a relationship with Black Widow, that Banner is having the same thoughts she is, that this disappointment at the impossibility of a normal life is what the Scarlet Witch taps into to unleash the Hulk. It is what Banner presents as the obstacle between him and Black Widow, and one she knows is not an issue. And again, given the age at which this happened to her, are we surprised she gets emotional talking about it? I wouldn't be surprised if that was the first time she'd ever said those words aloud.

So yes, I like what Whedon attempted, but unfortunately he did it in a franchise which is not one of his own, and that is the problem. If he were doing this in Buffy or any of his own creations, he would have enough other women with other viewpoints to balance anything like this. As it is, it becomes the sole female focus of Age of Ultron, and shows not as an interesting take on the character but as problematic all around.

Now, as for calling her a slut? Come on. She never flirted with Iron Man (in fact, when he hired her in Iron Man 2, everyone was worried about him behaving inappropriately, not her), kept suggesting girls for Captain America to date, doesn't seem to have ever had a conversation with Thor, and is so beloved by Hawkeye's wife that the latest baby is named for her (and let's not forget the kids love her too; this is clearly a good friendship and nothing more). The only avenger she has ever tried to date is Banner; clearly the woman is picky. Not to mention badass.

If only Marvel would realise that and give her a solo movie (or at least admit The Winter Soldier should be titled Captain America & Black Widow, because that's what it was).

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Return of the Shiny Nerd in Time for Marriage Equality!

So it has been an eternity since my last post, but I have emerged from the depths of the thesis an (almost) free woman, with only the viva. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

So what's happening here in Ireland at the moment is the referendum on marriage equality. Basically, we're being asked to vote on whether to allow gay marriage. I am strongly in favour of voting in gay marriage, because I believe in equal rights for all. You can read more on my thoughts here, on a guest post for Consider the Tea Cosy: While you're over there, take a moment to read through the other guest posts, and the ones which are coming; this is an important issue and part of what we're trying to do it address the concerns of anyone still on the fence, so go read!

I won't write about anything else today: this is important stuff. So more fun stuff later, but for now, go look at this. If you're on the fence, see if we can't convince you :D

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Intolerance Food of the Gods: Super Cheesy Pizza

So, for those of you who don't know, I have food intolerances, the worst offenders being yeast, milk, sugar, anything cultured/fungal, nightshades and spices. As you can imagine, this creates many difficulties in eating. I have discovered, however, the greatest trick to getting around this is substitution: soy and goat products instead of dairy, baking soda instead of yeast, and just avoid the cultures, fungi, and nightshades. I have decided to share some of my methods for substitution on the basis it might help others with food issues. Also, some of the substitutions make for very yummy dishes. Now, on to pizza!

I haven't yet found anything which can truly replace tomatoes, so when I say this is a cheesy pizza, I really mean it. My last housemate gave me her recipe for making a cheese sauce, and I substituted and now can have yummy cheese sauce! Let's start with the base though:

The recipe for the base comes from this site: I used soy milk instead of regular (for the love of your taste buds, be very careful of heating goat's milk, because it is very often vile when heated). Use whichever oil you like best. This time I used self-raising flour as I was out of plain, and didn't include any baking powder. You may notice my base looks spotty. I like to put oregano into my pizza base, to give it an extra kick. My conversion may have been wrong, but I seemed to have needed twice the amount of milk asked for by the recipe to make it nice and moist. Two good tips for the base: when it says 'oiled baking sheet', I suggest you use your fingers to spread a small amount of oil all over the sheet, because otherwise you have a mess. The other tip is to take your time spreading it out, and make sure you have a nice big ridge around the edge.

For the sauce, I don't have exact measurements, I'm afraid. I chopped up one rasher (unsmoked in this case, but any will do) and fried it until it was starting to brown up nicely. Then I took a dollop of goat's cheese (Lidl has amazing soft goat's cheese and slices for a very good price, so I highly recommend those) and melted it over the bacon. Once that was melted, I added milk (be generous with it, you need to fully cover the base), just over a tablespoon of flour, some more oregano, and let it thicken. As you can see from the picture, I also slopped it over the handle. After that, I poured it over the base and set to the toppings.

I added smoked ham and beef, and broke up some of the goat's cheese slices to cover it. Like any pizza, you can make this vegetarian. I've been trying to think of veggies to add, but as peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms are all out for me, it's difficult to think of anything other than spinach. Suggestions are welcome!

Half an hour in the oven later, and voilĂ ! Pizza for those of us who can't handle yeast, dairy, or tomatoes! Delicious and very quick to make (especially the sauce), and, of course, easy to customise.

If anyone has any recipes they'd like me to customise, let me know!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What I Really Want to See #1: The Warrens

This is the first in a new series of posts about things I would really like to see in my favourite media, which I think would be amazing and wonderful projects. In this post, it is the TV show which I feel should be made out of The Conjuring, to be named The Warrens.

For those who haven't seen it, The Conjuring is a beautifully timed haunting story, in which a vindictive ghost torments the unwitting family which moves into her old home. Pretty familiar fare. I find this is sometimes a problem with this type of horror story, because there is very little variety in the format (I find ghosts, like fictional serial killers, often have limited motivations and thus can be a little boring).

So, what makes this different? The Conjuring is based on a true case handled by a couple called Ed and Lorraine Warren, who were supernatural investigators, who apparently investigated over 10,000 cases during their career. Lorraine was a clairvoyant, while Ed was a demonologist. This couple, to my mind, were the most interesting part of the film for two reasons. First, they are shown investigating a supposed haunting and actually finding the problem is in the pipes. So they are intelligent, capable people. Secondly, they have a collection of possessed items in a locked room in their home (which I can't help but describe as a demonic Warehouse 13).

10,000 cases. A collection of possessed items and (presumably) a love story. This would make an epic television series. Picture it: in the opening we see their first encounters with the supernatural. Then it cuts to their first meeting (I have no idea of how this went, but I like to imagine they found themselves working on the same case, and decided to team up). There are so many things which can happen. Why did they start the collection, and why keep it in their home (in The Conjuring, Ed says they get a priest to bless the room regularly)? How did they make the decision to be so public about what they did? And how, exactly, do you manage any kind of a normal life when your everyday life involves ghosts, demons, and possessions?

Now, as with most television shows, it would veer away from real life, but the potential is there and wonderful, considering one of their books is about how they exorcised a werewolf demon. Consider it like Supernatural, but with a married couple and probably a bit more reserved.

It could happen, I think. Certainly Lorraine Warren seems eager for the work of her and her late husband to be known, so I think she'd be on board. And if it's as beautifully paced as The Conjuring (if you've seen it, you know the bit with the sheet is damned terrifying), then it would be a pleasure to watch regularly.

In the meantime, there is Annabelle, a movie based around the haunted doll from The Conjuring. I'm still holding out hope for the television debut of The Warrens, though (I'm open to suggestions on a better name).

Edited to add: For the record, I take an agnostic view of the supernatural. If it ever happens in front of me, I'll be sure to believe in it.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Final Stretch

I find myself approaching the final stretch of my PhD, as I'm due to submit in March, and I'm feeling a strange mixture of terror and jubilation. I recently got some great advice from a wonderful friend of mine, who told me she felt (like me) as if the amount left was overwhelming and too much. Her advice was to keep working on it every day and suddenly there will be a day when it's all done.

(I have found PhDs are, in many ways, the height of anticlimactic experiences.)

Hearing that made me feel a lot better; a PhD is an isolating experience, because in the last year, you're probably skipping most of the socialising with others at the university to get writing/research/other work done. With that in mind, I thought I'd share some of my top tips which have helped me, to hopefully help others keep their spirits up.

If anyone has any other tips, put them in the comments here!

1 - Don't panic if things change. This is so important, because what you submitted as your proposal is so far removed from what you submit, it'll probably be unrecognisable. In a recent chat with The Supervisor, I talked about how my initial proposal had me comparing the worldbuilding techniques of Ursula Le Guin, Frank Herbert, and Douglas Adams, including works from after the deaths of Herbert and Adams. Within weeks of starting I asked my supervisor if I could choose just one author because, frankly, thirty-plus primary texts was a ridiculous prospect. When I reminisced about that, The Supervisor informed me she would never have allowed me to do all that, but wanted to give me the opportunity to realise it. Since then, the focus has winnowed further, and I'm now analysing landscapes in Adams's worldbuilding. This is still awesome, but it is so much more manageable.

2 - Listen to your supervisor. For the love of whatever you do or do not believe in, listen to your supervisor. Not only have they done a PhD themselves, but they've also seen a lot of PhDs (presumably). They will know the standard of writing you need to achieve, what 100,000 words actually means in terms of work, and what pitfalls you will face. In my case, The Supervisor had seen me through my Masters dissertation as well, so she knew all my bad writing habits. For example, I can no longer write 'that' without feeling the need to delete it immediately.

3 - Sleep. Yeah, this can be a tough one, especially if, like me, you are prone to procrastination. It involves changing your habits, which sometimes means turning off the Internet for a while. This will not kill you, though if you're anything like me, you'll feel antsy and want to be distracted. This is your procrastination speaking. My method of overcoming this is to get myself into writing mood with this lovely orchestral piece from the last battle in Buffy the Vampire Slayer I find it's a great combination of 'Let's Kick Ass!' and 'Huh, I forgot that was playing'. A quick Google search will give you many pieces of advice for putting an end to procrastination, so find what fits for you. Once you do this, you'll find you not only have time to sleep, but you won't wake up with thesis guilt in the middle of the night. Yep, that is a thing I do. I also wake up with Christmas-present-buying guilt/anxiety, hence my habit of shopping early.

4 - Embrace the glory of the To Do List. Seriously, this helps, even if your list reads like this:

a) Wake Up
b) Eat Food
c) Find thesis books under pile of stuff which somehow multiplies in the night
d) Read one thing
e) Lunch
f) Write for two hours
g) Existential angst

I read an article which had a lot of the standard thesis advice (I suspect, like what I'm doing here, it was written more for the author than anything else) which recommended a program called Trello, which I now love. The joy of being able to drag something from 'In Progress' to 'Finished' cannot be underestimated.

5 - Make room for the things which make you happy. Even if it is one hour a week watching your favourite TV show, or reading webcomics, or knitting, or Skype calls with friends, find something which will let you disconnect from the thesis for a little while, and let your brain have a rest. The Young Man was bemused to find me, in the middle of a particularly exhausting week, turning on America's Next Top Model, which I consider a perfect chance for the critical part of my brain to recharge. (This has replaced Yu-Gi-Oh as my top guilty pleasure).

6 - Don't do too many conferences. This is coming from Miss I-can-do-seven-conferences-in-my-thesis. I loved them all, and I regret none of them, but maybe I shouldn't have let myself be sidetracked too often. Still, I really enjoyed them. Basically, do as many as you think you can. I like to make my conference papers different from my PhD, because it lets me explore something I get interested in without it mucking up the focus on the thesis. But, having done it and been quite brain dead after, I do not recommended three conferences in six weeks. Still not quite sure how I scheduled them without realising how close they all were...

7 - Write. I don't always keep to this, but it is the advice everyone will give you. Write when you are bored. Write when you are tired. Write on a day when it's sunny outside and you want to go out, but the stupid thesis is stopping you. Write when you hate the work, and write when you love it. Write when you have no damned idea what you are saying. Going over it with your supervisor later will help you figure out what you want to say, and how to do it. In the end, just write.

And delete almost every 'that' you type...

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Why Conference?

Unfortunately, moving house and a chapter deadline meant I was not able to do a conference report on CRSF 2014 immediately afterwards. Needless to say, it was, as usual, brilliantly organised, and there was always something interesting to go to. Highlights of the day for me included both keynotes, Dr. Mark Bould and Prof. Roger Luckhurst, the Female Roles panel (which I somewhat haphazardly chaired, my first time ever doing that!), the Video Games panel I shared with the awesome Dawn Stobbart, and the Performance and Building Fantasy panels in the afternoon (okay, it was all highlight for me). My only regret was missing the Young Man's first international paper as our panels were running at the same time, but I'm told he did well, so I'm as proud as punch!

I've been thinking a lot about conferences for the last two days, especially as I'm considering putting an abstract in for yet another one, which would make the eleventh conference I've spoken at, and my thirteenth overall. I've spoken in Dublin, Buckinghamshire, Aberdeen, London, and Liverpool. I've spoken on Battlestar Galactica, European Science Fiction, why science fiction characters have no science fiction of their own, the Scream series, Fringe, zombie narratives, Irish science fiction, The Lord of the Rings, All-Star Superman, and most recently, the Portal video game series.

Clearly I have a love of conferences. In fact, I like them so much, I did three in a six week period, two of them being a week apart. This love may pall when I organise my own conference someday, but I really do enjoy them. From these conferences, I've managed to publish essays on Battlestar Galactica and The Lord of the Rings. I'm still mildly disappointed with myself for not submitting my All-Star Superman for the book which came out of that conference, but timewise, it just wasn't possible (links to these books will be at the bottom of this post).

I have a particular approach to conference papers, at least part of which I'm sure is shared by many academics:

Step 1: Am I interested in this topic? Conferences tend to take time out of your usual academic work, so do something which interests you passionately, but which you can't devote a lot of time to right now. Remember this is not a journal article; this is your presentation of an interesting idea you've had, and what does everyone else think? CRSF is also a chance to present your thesis work for feedback, so if you're a spec fic researcher, start looking out for next year's cfp! (Seriously, this is an awesome conference, I'm already working on an abstract for next year.)

Step 2: No more than 8-9 pages, double spaced, Times New Roman, size 12. This keeps me within the 20 minute mark, and if it goes a little shorter, all the better. Twenty minutes is the outside limit, and having once had to adlib the last three pages of a paper, going under is a far better idea than going over. And going over is the absolute best way to piss off your fellow panellists, and questions at the end are a lot more fun if ye all get along. There's a picture of me and a fellow panellist chatting before our papers from the Tolkien conference, and someone (jokingly) captioned it as us getting into a debate. Perhaps I have resting bitch face, but we were wishing each other luck! Similarly, Dawn Stobbart and I had a nice chat before our panel at CRSF this year, so I felt really comfortable standing next to her and answering questions. In short, be nice to your fellow panellists! They are usually pretty interesting people.

Step 3: Try to practise, if there's time. Otherwise, just speak slowly and hope for the best. And for the love of all the gods in existence, try to look up. Some of us are half deaf and need your face directed at us to hear clearly. Some of my speech and drama training kicks in automatically for me, and I get the projection going, but some practise is still a good idea.

Step 4: No text on the Powerpoint except for the title slide. This is a personal preference. I want people to look at pictures and admire them, not read something while I'm trying to talk. For common Powerpoint mistakes, look at this hilarious video: Life After Death by Powerpoint. Simpler is always better.

Step 5: Take it as an opportunity to try to be entertaining. This is important, I think. Conferences are long days, and people's attention can wane. This is why Step 1 is important; if you are interested, so are others. I finished my zombie talk with a picture of me done up as a zombie. Sadly, the last audio clip on my video game presentation failed, so I had to let everyone know GLaDoS wanted to hurl a last insult at them. Dr Bould and Professor Luckhurst were fantastic examples of this; informative, but interesting and entertaining. Most of the speakers at CRSF this year were the same, though you can tell who's been doing this for years based on how comfortable they are giving the talks. I'm continually aiming for that level of 'look relaxed and make it clear I know everything about this subject'. I'm not sure I'm there yet...

Step 6: Avoid theory heavy stuff. This is not to say you shouldn't include theory, if it suits the topic. My first paper was on Judith Butler's identity theory, but I (surprisingly as it was my first conference) moved on as quickly as possible from the theory to talking about how it applies. I find theory heavy papers tend can be prone to running long (I've been fortunate enough not to see it happen often). Also, I think it's usually enough to mention the theorist and let your audience look them up if they want.

Step 7: Enjoy yourself. This is a chance to meet people other than the academics in your university, often specialising in your field, and able to give you feedback on your ideas. Yes, you can get this in your home university, but it is so important to share ideas and knowledge further afield, especially in literary circles. And if you're in a period of writing and no teaching, sometimes a conference might be the only place where you actually meet people for a few months, so the human contact is definitely important. And, as my conference buddies from TCD at CRSF 2012 will attest, you can get to know people from your home university even better when representing your home university and trying to look awesome.

The advantage of a going-away conference over one at your home university is you'll stay for the whole day (or as much as you can manage with travel arrangements) at the going-away conference. For the home one, you'll be likely to still be trying to finish your Powerpoint the morning of the conference. The disadvantage is you might find yourself not getting travel funding from your university. However, I've generally only taken on conferences when I knew for sure I could afford it (even if it was a stretch) without funding.

I love conferences. I love speaking in public on interesting topics in general. If I ever get offered a job as a paid speaker, then hell yes, I am doing that (provided it's talking about generally cool things). And I adore the experience of standing in front of my peers and knowing, no matter how deep into the academic argument I get, they are following along and are interested. I think it's one of the best experiences in being in academia, and what research should be about; the sharing of ideas and thoughts, and having people question and add to those ideas.

So again, to the lads at CRSF, and everyone conference I've ever attended, congratulations. I've always had a blast!


Tolkien: The Forest and the City, edited by Helen Conrad O Briain and Gerard Hynes
Battlestar Galactica: Mission Accomplished or Mission Frakked Up?, edited by Josef Steiff and Tristan D. Tamplin
Grant Morrison and the Superhero Renaissance, edited by Darragh Greene and Kate Roddy (forthcoming)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Sticking up for the little guy, or why I think Garth Brooks was right

First, a quick explanation. Life is insane and I've had to move house (but I'm living with my young man, so yay!), and thus the blog has fallen to the bottom of the priority list. Now things are more settled, I intend to update properly. Now, onto the post!
So, the big controversy in Ireland (or at least its music scene) these past week or so has been the hoopla over Garth Brooks's concerts. Here's the quick low down on what happened (if I'm inaccurate in any way let me know). Skip if you already know this.
As far as I can tell, Garth Brooks and Aiken Promotions agreed that he would perform on five consecutive nights in Croke Park, Dublin. However, when the license to perform was applied for, only three nights were granted (there were also protests from some local residents). The entire run has been cancelled as no one seems able to come up with a solution to this affair which meets everyone's criteria. Hopefully it can be sorted, as going by last year, the Irish like Garth Brooks.
What I want to talk about is perhaps the most inflammatory part of all this: Brooks's statement he would play all or none of his shows. A lot of the reaction (that I've heard) is people saying he should have agreed to only do three shows. Personally, I back him entirely, not because of him, but because of the precedent it sets.
Say Brooks agreed to do three shows. The next time an artist is asked, for any reason, to reduce their number of shows, his capitulation will be used against them, and we can be sure the legal side of what's happening now will be ignored in favour of the argument "But Garth Brooks did it, and you are not as famous as he".
Brooks is not only protecting his future earnings by sticking to his guns and making it clear that shows, once booked, cannot be treated as a pick and mix. He is actually protecting newer and younger artists, ones without any clout in the music industry. It is the flip side of the expectation that a musician will do the shows they promise to do, namely that they'll be allowed to do the shows they agreed to. And while this is all probably costing Garth Brooks a fortune, he won't be destitute after it. The same could not be said for a newer act who might sign up for a performance, turn down other work, and find themselves with fewer shows - and a smaller income - than they'd anticipated. This is about more than a single set of shows, and more than Garth Brooks's bank balance: it is about industry standards. And as long as people like Garth Brooks insist upon industry standards, younger, newer, and poorer artists are protected. And I am willing to bet Brooks learned this when he was a young singer starting out, and making a pittance until he hit it big. Many singers never hit it big. They need the protection people like Brooks can provide.
This can crop up in writing, too. Take the time to pop over to Youtube and watch THIS: This is Harlan Ellison explaining to young writers why they have to demand pay, namely that it undercuts older writers. As someone who was undercut by fifty percent while freelancing - and I was only working at market rate - I can tell you, it stings to have your work utterly devalued. It is a damned difficult thing to make money off. But imagine if all the experienced writers, the ones with clout, allowed their contracts and agreements to change at will. Imagine just how much harder it becomes for younger writers. If Stephen King were willing to allow his contracted number of books - his wages - to be cut, then no younger writer could ever enforce their own contracts. Child of Chaos once said she liked a group of books so much, she'd translate them for free. My response to her may not have been as vitriolic as Ellison (who is?), but it was no less emphatic. Doing something which adversely affects the wages of others in your industry is not only morally dubious, but foolish, as you are only hurting yourself in the end.
I'm not going to say it's not disappointing to see it all come to this. Many people were excited about having him to come to Ireland. If a pair of tickets came my way, I would not have said no (my attitude to country music being that I'll listen to it for a night at least). But I'm afraid I, for one, can't argue with the man's reasons.