Friday, October 30, 2009
Hat tips to the Douglas Henshall fansite and MediumRob's daily news digest respectively!
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Tickets by ballot to members., with any left-over (pah!) open after that. As MediumRob alerts us:
This seems to be a new thing designed to cope with the fact that certain events are going to prove to be very popular. Members can enter the ballot for tickets by emailing email@example.com with the title of the event or screening as the subject. You'll need to include your membership and phone numbers and let them know how many tickets you want. Alternatively, you can fill out the form in your brochure.
If you're successful, they'll get in touch for payment for all tickets except for up to one free ticket to each of the screenings. You'll need to apply by November 6 to be in with a chance, and you'll hear by November 10, when any remaining tickets will be released for sale to the public.
Lordy. Oh to be a member. Oh to be in easier reach of London. Oh to be there.
Ah well. I expect there will be a heavy presence even if the Q&A guests are not yet announced...
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Think tanks such as Reform look at the cost savings, but I don't think they look enough at the big picture. At the social picture. At how we live alongside each other paying fair taxes on fair earnings. We need to stop ignoring the widening gap between the haves and have-nots and look at makes the situation more even-handed for all. More universality, not less.
Anyway: confronted by the question of 'David Tennant or John Barrowman? And why?' in the MediumRob competition (deadline 25th October 2009) I can only fall back on some trite thoughts:
- because he made my heart skip and my stomach turn when I saw him on a billboard poster
- because his physique is the kind that makes me smile inside
- because he has great hair
- because his native accent makes my mouth go dry and moves my womb
- because... I can't even say how other parts of my body react without getting obscene
- because when he smiles, honestly, perfectly, it is enough to dazzle my eyes
- because when he meets fans he is nothing less than kind and frequently generous
- because he seems to have a genuine affection and understanding of people's affection for him
- because he can turn emotions on the edge of a sixpence, from joy to despair
- because he knows just how to choke a line of dialogue to rip your heart out
- because when he laughs you never feel it is anything less than real
- because he believes in social justice and fairness
- because he loves what he does and can't get enough of it
Monday, October 19, 2009
We first saw Bellowhead approximately 1 year ago over at the Derby Folk Festival 2008. It was a wonderful experience, so it was with a certain expectation and trepidation we headed to see them at Nottingham's Trent Uni. Would we have room to dance? But would it nevertheless be full enough to raise a ruckus? In almost perfect balance, yes to both.
I mentioned in my previous review that frontman Jon Boden is a powerfully charismatic presence: he has slightly gaunt features, an intense gaze and a performing style that is utterly theatrical. Somehow even when busy playing the fiddle he manages to engage with the audience with dramatic gestures; when free of such strings commitment, his tambourine playing keeps a rhythm that involves both his body and hands. With 11 people on the stage, it almost seems unfair to attend to him, but dressed in his stark three-piece black suit and short -- and shocking pink tie -- it can be difficult to take your eyes off him.
Still, as I say, this is an 11-piece collective and it's worth remembering that it is Bellowhead that is the side-project rather than the individual performers who make up the band. So in a strange twist of typical group dynamics it is Belshazzar's Feast (the support act on this occasion) who are actually the real thing - alongside such acts as Spiers and Boden, strings player Rachael McShane, Kerfuffle with violinist Sam Sweeney, and Faustus and Boomarang with Benji Kirkpatrick.
What makes a Bellowhead concert so memorable is how they get audiences dancing: Nottingham took a while to warm up (though we were personally early adopters of jigging enthusiastically) but by the end there was plenty of full blown bouncing taking place (I even spotted the lovely Mike heartily bopping away). With tracks to sing along to - Jordan, London Town, Kafoozalum (with kazoos!) and lots more - plus all the instrumental boppy stuff too - Frogs Legs and Dragons Teeth especially has the 'boing!' factor - there was a lot to keep us going. And with their posing and their dancing on stage, the band themselves scarcely let a moment pass for the audience to rest up.
A thoroughly wonderful evening which left me so drenched from sweat that I washed my hair under the taps at the venue afterwards!
The Telegraph included a piece by jury member Ellis Woodman which stated:
Yet give us tedium any day over the witless antics of the runner-up. Make Architects’ expansion of the University of Nottingham’s Jubilee Campus incorporates a pair of buildings so wildly aggressive (they look like enormous Sherman tanks), blazingly camp (they are clad in lurid pink terracotta tiles) and punishingly inane as to leave one trembling. To top it all off they have contributed a 60-metre tower, billed as the tallest free-standing sculpture in the UK, that goes by the revealingly vacuous name of Aspire.Did the judges know that locally Aspire is referred to as the largest and most useless waste paper basket ever?
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Book reviews of Stieg Larsson (yes, I too am now a fully paid up convert to the 'oh-my-god-Lisbeth-Salander-is-awesome' club), a book review of Rashbre's highly entertaining book version of his NaNoWriMo production The Triangle (see Rashbre for copies!), commentary on Spiral, thoughts on gigs I will be off to soon (The Proclaimers this evening; Bellowhead on Sunday) and much more.
Apologies as ever for not reading or writing much. Start of term, blah, blah.
Plus, one year ago this weekend... Sigh
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Charlie Brooker points up the dangers of ending up not reading the same book twice (on which point, Neil have you even read one of the editions of Milan Kundera's Immortality that you ended up owning?); being oppressed by choice and by commitment - how do you justify watching comforting crap when you haven't yet watched that worthy drama? and DVD boxsets, we're looking at you; and the potential benefits of being limited in what you can watch and read.
The first comment ties up nicely to Susan Hill's point: that it is all too easy to end up just accumulating more rather than dealing with what we have. Indeed, although we're prodigious readers in our house, I suspect there may be far more unread tomes lurking on our shelves than Neil or I would like to admit. But Charlie's second point then kicks in: virtue over pleasure. I know there are things I should watch/read, that I am even fairly certain I would get something out of, but when time is short it is hard to justify finding enough time to appreciate. Movies of 3 hours plus? That's either an early start to the evening or a very late night. Long books, or worthy books? That's concentration and a lot of hours. Multiply by X for those seductive boxsets. Which of course ties up to Charlie's third point on choice: would it be better to have less choice?
It can be too easy to take for granted the freedoms we have in what we can watch and read, but that doesn't mean that aren't benefits in more controlled activities. I don't think I'd want to have 'the man' knocking at the door each month with my regulation text, but there is a lot to be said for the 'guided reading' of doing a course or joining a book/film club. Not least the communal aspect of communicating about the text with others.
And what of Susan Hill's ideas? Well, I was certainly reassured by her attitude on Jane Austen (not a great fan, likes Northanger Abbey best), especially since the most enjoyable Austen I've read recently was the hysterical re-visioning of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Definitely Austen's best work (with Seth Grahame-Smith making a significant contribution). And I liked the idea of re-evaluating works to see if they hold up to the passion and enthusiasm they instilled first time round. Or even just finding time to get into the rhythm of reading at length - something I've been trying to do more of recently, with some degree of success.
Above all, as much as I sympathise with the frustration of Brooker, I'm leaning more to the bookshelf filling enthusiasm of Mangan and the 'ways of re-evaluating' of Hill. I don't want to stop getting hold of new stuff, but I do want to find ways to keep up more with reading what I already have - or making the valuable decision to allow someone else to have the pleasure/pain of the item. I'm still seduced by the boxset and the appealing cover/title, but I don't want to be beholden to the new and yet more.
There has to be a middle way of appreciating what there is already whilst allowing the self to offload or admit defeat on all the things that we haven't got around to reading/watching.