Saturday, 14 May 2011

One of the true heroines

I posted some time ago about Aung San Suu Kyi's release.

And today was heartened to find this story posted on my facebook wall.

It is amazing to hear her speak and not just read an interview.

Although the guardian interview by the wonderful Polly Toynbee that I read of hers was very thought provoking, also.

I love the positivity that she has and the strength and confidence she has in her thoughts and feelings.

Truly, an inspiration.

Friday, 13 May 2011

When will the British press learn to handle terrorism sensitively?

Ok, the title here is a little incendiary and there are some papers that manage not to use the words 'Gotcha' when referring to death and destruction, but some of the reaction to Bin Laden's death has been as looney as Muslim fundamentalists themselves are preported to be.

I am not supporting the repression of women or the destruction of western civilization, but neither do I really want to gloat about anyone's death, no matter how evil they are supposed to be.

Plus I'm sick of hearing reasoning that throws all Muslims into the same category.

We can not talk of how Muslims are anymore than we can talk about how Christians are.

Both religions are broad and encompass many different views and levels of strict adherence.

I certainly do not consider any of the Muslims I know to be in any way akin to Bin Laden, because they are not and to even loosely suggest that they are is wrong and stupid.

As for the Bin Laden killing, vengence is a dangerous thing and rarely brings a positive result.

The White House seem capable of being considered, why not the media at large.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Since when was encouragement immoral?

I was looking on youtube to find some uplifting music and I came across this.

It shocked me and so I went to the site.

And it turns out that it's promotion for a Bret Easton Ellis novel.

I was going to leave it there, but there was a game attached, so I had a look.

Evil encouragement

I was even more perturbed to discover that for having 'encouraged' the actress in the clips I was marked for having made an immoral choice.

Is there something morally wrong with encouragement?

I always thought it was a way of helping people find their own confidence.

I'm sure the book is a good one and the way it has been advertised is innovative, but I'm still confused as to why saying good words to someone is a bad thing.

The world wouldn't be a good place if we only threw insults at everyone...

Sunday, 20 March 2011

The BSkyB merger is NOT a done deal

The decision is not yet made on the BSkyB merger.

It is possibly the most significant thing happening to the media in this country at the moment.

The campaign against it, or at least to make it properly considered and unbiased is still going on.

I am biased.

I'm biased against bias.

Watch just one single clip of Fox news.

It is surely not what any sane person would want.

Even if you agree with every word a broadcaster said, would you really want everyone else to only ever hear that point of view?

Honestly, would you?

I don't want to hear my point of view all day, it would drive me nuts and I, would, learn, nothing.

Please sign the petition, add your own perspective, write to your MP or just send the template.


This is so important.

Also, Big Up to Polly Toynbee for her great comment pieces and taking my flier, I am rarely so star struck.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

To no-fly or not to no-fly...

The eruption of open activity in the Middle East left me shocked, in a hopeful way.

The crackdown that I feared is howling in Libya.

So, what do we do?

In all honesty I didn't feel qualified enough to comment.

An article in the guardian on the issue of a no-fly zone has given me the confidence to form some kind of opinion.

Have a look if you're feeling a little at sea.

It won't make you an expert, but it will make you feel a little less clueless.

I'm probably not going to post on it, but my thoughts are also with those in Japan.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

And then there was Saudi Arabia

I can't quite believe this is all happening.

It just doesn't seem real.

I really hope this is the beginning of something good, but it's scary.

For calm engaging analysis turn to Radio 4.

Many more posts in the offing, but I just had to say it, to anyone who's reading.

If I prayed I would pray, but I don't so just know it's on my mind.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Black Swan

Black Swan has been lauded by everyone it seems and it has a lot going for it, but I'm not sure it deserves quite the level of praise it is getting.

Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is a committed member of a ballet company who are about to put on Swan Lake. The role that she wins proves to be the start and not the end of her problems.

Her insecurities run wild and spin her into destruction.

Portman puts in a brilliant performance as both sides of Nina that I would struggle to fault, but the film overall doesn't quite seem to deliver on my expectations.

What is being played out is all too clear and the characterisations are truly wonderful, but at times it is simply too brash and stilted.

It is hard to put my finger on exactly what I didn't like about this film, after all the supporting actors are perfect and the characterisations life like, but I just wasn't left as wowed as everyone else seems to be.

I guess I just feel it's almost there, but not quite, ironic in the extreme for such subject matter.

It seems to want to be as much horror as drama and I'm not sure it works.

It doesn't help that Swan Lake has never been a favoured plot of mine.

I prefer Coppelia, the woman is still standing at the end of that one.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

A shocker hidden inside The Guardian

Turn to page 16 of The Guardian today and you might just find yourself smiling.

Admittedly their front page leads with "Defector who triggered war on Iraq admits: 'I lied about WMD'", a worthy front page.

But you have to go 16 pages in to discover "Berlusconi sent for trial over paying for sex with teenager"

They are actually putting Silvio Berlusconi, who has been in power in Italy for what feels like forever, on trial.

Berlusconi oftens gets himself into hot water where women and prostitutes are concerned, but it is normally brushed off as a case of an important man being a bit naughty - good for a joke but nothing is really going to be done about it.

This time they're doing something.

The case will be presided over by three female judges, which gives me confidence that it is being taken seriously.

Also, this might finally spell the end of the man who seemed undefeatable.

I guess anything is possible if you wait long enough.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

127 hours of absorption

I imagine a lot of you out there will have heard of 127 hours by now.

Unfortunately all you may have heard is: "I had my knees up to my chin, it was horrifying."

I think that is a shame for such a well crafted, moving and insightful film.

Danny Boyle has to be up there with my most loved film directors, I'm not sure I've ever seen him make a film that puts a foot wrong.

The plot

127 hours essentially focusses on the true story of one man getting stuck down a canyon and having eventually to go to extreme lengths to survive.

But that makes this film sound grim and interminable.

In fact it is the most gripping, absorbing and hopeful piece of storytelling that I have seen in a long time.

The character portrayal is well rounded and infinitely believable.

And yes there are some fist biting moments, but there is also a lot of complex emotions played out on screen and felt as an audience member.

Final word

Both Danny Boyle and James Franco should be given awards for this film.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place is the next book to be added to my reading list.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Whipping up a storm

Gig time again.

I spirited myself (via tube) to The Old Queen's Head in Islington to see Sound of Rum perform in celebration of their single release of Slow Slow.

Kwaking in anticipation

I'll get to the rum lot in a minute, but first I need to dedicate a bit of word space to Kwake who Kate introduced with such great respect.

Kwake normally plays with The Speakers Corner Quartet, who I stumbled across playing for free at Tate Britain sometime last year and was truly impressed.

His solo performance was in the same spirit as the work of the quartet: trippy, haunting and inventive.

Kwake being a drummer was perhaps more beat driven, but I was still transported back to the feeling of calm and inspiration that hit me on stumbling upon him playing in Tate Britain.

A bit of poetry

Kate Tempest (Sound of Rum lead vocalist) gave an equally warm reception to Chester P, with the words: "If you don't know who this man is I don't know what to say to you."

I guess we won't be having many conversations from now on then...

The man certainly had swagger and the kind of biting anger that is good to see in a poet, but he needs to build the kind of command that means his words leave people awe struck.

Rum time

After greeting each performance with a gusto and love that is hard to match Kate Tempest was left to introduce...

Herself and the rest of Sound of Rum.

It's a good job she's such a funny compere.

I have reviewed Sound of Rum before and a lot of the comments still apply.

The music is masterfully, yet talentedly understated.

The lyrics are passionate, um, lyrical and relevant.

And Kate sweeps you into a journey of enthusiasm and anger that leaves you buzzing and hopeful.

Modern day orator

It is a delight to hear such heartfelt and original lyrics, but I was really very near to tears of joy and laughter when Kate launched into the story of Prometheus.

If Homer and his like had been alive now, they would have told it like that.

Hats off to you girl.

And great respect to Ferry and Archie for weaving their instrumental magic to finish it all off.

Go and buy the single, go on...

Monday, 31 January 2011

Forests for sale

I apologise that this is a more creative or insightful posting in advance, but with all the rubbish this government is coming out with I might find I increasingly just have to list causes for you to support.

The coalition, in its grasping, short-sighted 'wisdom', wishes to sell off our forests.

Yes, our forests, they belong to us, they are publically managed.

You can go and walk in british forests if you can reach them as easily and freely as walking on a common.

They are part of our collective heritage.

Money, money, money

This is being sold as a money saving necessity.

Someone wiser than me pointed out that they were saving about the same amount that had been donated to defend against deforestation.

Maybe our own back yard might be a good place to invest that money - just a thought.


38 degrees, in their people empowering, sustained and true wisdom are seeking to stop this plan from going ahead, by proving that most of the voting public are against this lunacy.

So stand up for some sanity, sign their petition.

The Green Hornet

Adding to the list of comic book adaptation that seem to be oozing like super power bestowing radioactive waste out of America, Michel Gondry has decided to bless us with The Green Hornet.

The Green Hornet was never going to be particularly groundbreaking, but it did look fun and Gondry is a bit of a visual genius.

Britt Reid (writer and actor Seth Rogen) is the wayward son of a newspaper man.

For those well versed in comic book heroes wayward son of a rich guy is fairly standard.

His father dies leaving him the newspaper and low and behold one of his staff (Kato) sticks around to help him into his role as unlikely crime fighter.

However, what is perhaps less common is that Britt is sent up quite a lot throughout the film through his juxtaposition against his 'sidekick' Kato (Jay Chou) and well qualified secretary Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz).

This film may be unashamedly gun slinging action nonsense, but it has its tongue firmly in the back of its cheek.

Making all the surreal and overblown plot that follows infinitely palatable.

The plot doesn't bear much scrutiny, but it's a hilariously fun ride.

Perfect for switching off and giggling to at the end of a hard week.

It's in 3D for those who care.

I don't.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

You can say that again Mr Burns

It's Burns' Night, enjoy:

Lines on the back of a bank note

Wae worth thy power, thou cursed leaf!
Fell source o a' my woe and grief,
For lack o thee I've lost my lass,
For lack o thee I scrimp my glass!
I see the children of affliction
Unaided, through thy curs'd restriction.
I've seen the oppressor's cruel smile
Amid his hapless victims' spoil;
And for thy potence vainly wish'd,
To crush the villain in the dust.
For lack o thee, I leave this much lov'd shore,
Never, perhaps, to greet old Scotland more.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Why you've got to love Bruce

The BBC iPlayer had a little delight hidden away for me today, a documentary on the making of Bruce Springsteen's album Darkness on the Edge of Town.

My relationship with Bruce Springsteen has been a complicated one.

I grew up listening to his music, particularly on long car journeys due to my Dad being a fan of The Boss, as he's known.

However, on reaching my twenties I felt the need to distance myself from what I perhaps unkindly began to think of as Dad rock.

Now that I'm sufficiently old enough to be secure in my own identity and not bound by what other people think is cool I have let Bruce back into my life.

Why Bruce rocks

The BBC documentary encompassed all of the things that convinced me to start loving Bruce Springsteen again.

He is a genuine artist: he is a committed and prolific song writer, he crafts his work to an idea of perfection in his head and keeps going in an attempt to create it.

He is grounded: he creates songs for the everyman and his struggles without patronising or sentimentalising them.

He works bloody hard: he let the work on the album featured in the documentary take over his life, but also anyone who has ever been to one of his concerts will know that his sets are tight and delivered on time, every time.

He has heart: his songs scream of emotion in an articulate yet gut wrenching way and he lives his life according to his beliefs.

It's the way it makes you feel

When someone I know realised I'd been watching this documentary they were surprised, they hadn't realised I liked his music.

When it came to explaining why I liked it, all I could think to say was that it made me feel good inside.

His music reminds me of being a kid, it reminds me of my Dad and it makes me feel however difficult the world might get I'm strong enough to take it on.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Murdoch and media monopolies

I wrote a letter to my MP today, on the issue of the BSkyB merger talks.

Personally I can't believe this merger is even being considered.

You may think that I'm getting this out of proportion as an egotistical journalist, but I don't think I'm being that self obsessed.

Unless you live in a hole a lot of what you choose to talk about over a week is shaped by the media.

The media can help shape election debate, the quality of media drama, the news you do and don't receive...

If I went on I could write an essay, but I've been writing solidly all day and eventually that coffee is going to wear off; plus I'm sure you're intelligent enough to recognise its impact and significance.

Rupert Murdoch's empire

Rupert Murdoch for those of you that might not know owns News Corporation.

As you will see from that link, they, are, massive.

The issue is about him owning more.

More than that whole list.

You can't have one person owning all that, it's madness.


A variety of different voices inspires intelligent democratic debate.

One man owning all of that doesn't stimuate a variety of different voices.

If you're reading this I want to encourage you to make some noise, write to your MP, do something.

Why the urgency?

If this goes ahead without proper consideration turning back is extremely difficult and at the moment Jeremy Hunt, who seems to be far from impartial - you'll notice The Guardian reported he had been holidaying with BSkyB - is conducting this matter away from the public eye.

Make them listen, keep the media varied.

Sorry if this is a bit polemic, by all means research it, but I'm tired and hungry now.

My three song review

I went to another Chekhov's Rifle gig last night; I did say I'd seen them a lot, sue me I enjoy it.

Anyway this isn't about them.

This is my three song review of the Brown Brogues, the last act on the bill.

I would have loved to stay for more than three songs, but I had to leave.

The three song review

I was uninspired by seeing two young guys, one with guitar, one with drums.

My first thought, so they think they're The White Stripes...

My second thought, what is that awful noise the guitarist is making soundchecking the mic, oh please, my head, my head.

My third, oh he's actually making warped but recognisable noises now, that's quite fun.

The gig proper

To me they sounded a bit like The White Stripes mixed with The Hives.

It was very infectious and promised some variation as the third song managed to sound slightly psychadelic despite the paired down instrumentation.

I had fun, I didn't want to leave.

For the music geeks

The distorted mic two piece has apparently been done before by Lightning Bolt.

However, I think these two weren't carbon copies.

Influenced quite strongly perhaps, but not complete rip off merchants.

All in all a good night at The Silver Bullet, next time I'm staying longer.