Avatar 3-D

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The first picture from James Cameron since Titanic, Avatar, hit our cinema screens this week with rapturous applause from critics and audiences alike. I went to see it today with my aunt and brother in the middle of a manic shopping session in a beautiful Christmassy York, knowing that we were in for a treat if friends' recommendations were anything to go by.

I had heard a review on the radio a few days previously and was genuinely excited about Cameron's latest offering; the film had taken ten years to make and the director had invented a whole new language for the purpose of making it more authentic. We were certainly not disappointed. The graphics are stunning, and made even better by the 3-D effects; Cameron has created a cinematic masterpiece in the new planet 'Pandora' which glisten in a mysterious magical way and ooze a beautifully natural charm.

As with Titanic, the characters are delightfully believable and the audience warms to them immediately, with a tender love story at the centre of the narrative. The fact that the majority of the cast were previously unseen actors is refreshing, and Sigourney Weaver's roll as aging scientist becomes more likable as the film goes on.

The soundtrack is equally stunning, with the immaculate score from James Horner which guides the viewer's emotions in all the right places, creating subtle nuances between the onscreen action and suggesting certain plot twists at particular narrative arcs.

There is however, a deeper meaning. The relationship between The People and their god is intriguing, and mirrors a lot of the ways in which the relationship between man and God plays out on earth. The way The People all sit and praise Eywa and try to connect with her is similar to corporate worship by men all over the world today, who yearn for some form of intimacy with their maker. I think it indicates that people need a higher power to connect to, and need a purpose for their lives in order to create a balance and a peace.

This is all just my opinion however, and I urge you to see the film yourself, if you have not already done so. And prove your superfanhood by learning the language...

Movie Trivia Here.


Like mother like son...

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Ever since Diana died way back in '97, I have had a keen interest in the activities of the royal family and how they are represented in the media. The family, especially the two young princes, have earned themselves a good public image over the years and are generally well respected. Aware of his influence on society, and struck with some kind of social consciousness, William has made the news today with a humble stance against the homeless situation in Britain, by joining the unfortunate street dwellers for one night in the harsh winter weather conditions.

The BBC have reported that he spent a night in a sleeping bag near Blackfriars Bridge in central London last week in order to raise awareness for the homeless charity that he endorses.

It will be interesting to see what he does with the more powerful influence of kinghood, if that ever happens.

See more on the homeless charity here: Centerpoint.



Monday, 21 December 2009

Two weeks off. Bliss.

The past three months at uni have been a whirlwind: staying up until the early hours to complete assignments; traveling around the country to see friends; helping to run the Christian Union; joining a new church and getting involved with various things that they do in the community; spending time with friends; turning 21 (!) and thinking of what to do after I graduate, only partly sums up the activities of Sep-Dec 2009. I am certainly not complaining, but it has been lovely to come home and relax with my family this Christmas.

Coming home and seeing my brothers again always makes me feel a little like an old Aunt who comments on how tall they have grown, how much facial hair they have sprouted (or tried to) and what their current interests involve... (some high-tech pastime which involves shooting things on a computer and getting angry, as the past couple of days have revealed). Tim endeavors to crack jokes about the 'rents being really old and harks back to the days when we had in-jokes about more or less everything and tries as hard as he can to recreate those lost days; Simon talks about Philosophy and we all shrivel up with boredom.

I love reading, and have grabbed the opportunity to spend time on my own catching up with some great material, at the moment I'm on Heidi and Rolland Baker's There's Always Enough, which near moves me to tears every few pages. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

I plan to sneak some films in over the festive period too, with Where the Wild Things Are, Avatar and Sherlock Holmes on the wish list at the moment.

There will also be much drinking of tea, after a lovely friend bought me some weird and wonderful packets of tea from The Mystery Tea House, including Mango Black Tea and Mini Rose Pu-erh, all of which sound, er, interesting to say the least.

I plan to blog more over the next couple of weeks, so keep having a nosy!


Childhood Memories

Sunday, 15 November 2009

I LOVE the new John Lewis ad... check it out. Song by folk band, Taken by Trees.


A Nice Cup of Tea.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

If you drink as many cups of tea per day as my friends and I then you will appreciate that in order to enjoy the full tea experience it helps if you are with lovely people and even more if you are in a lovely place. I have had many good tea experiences in my life. A particularly lovely time was when I was in Uganda over the summer and I lay on the grass in the front garden of the bungalow we stayed in, with a great book and a mischievous little Ugandan boy running around me, trying to engage me in a game of hit the football into the banana plant.

This tea drinking time could only be bettered by the occasion I was in Cape Town, South Africa on the most beautiful beach, as the sun was setting and my friends and I had just played a vigorous game of Frisbee... or possibly when I was in Canada looking over a frozen lake with two of my most favourite people and we had shivery cups of tea out of a flask.

However, I currently live in Preston, and have found that exotic tea drinking locations are few and far between. UNTIL... my friend Hannah introduced me to 'The Mystery Tea House' hidden somewhere in Preston. We walked into the little haven of tea delights and had our senses awakened by the tingling smell of fresh tea leaves, then stomped upstairs to a window seat where we poured over the menu and made our precious selection.

Mine was Rose Desire, Hannah's, Cinnamon Tea. The place was just perfect. There were candles on the tables, a rocky waterfall in the corner of the cafe, African style paintings on the walls, and some kind of dreamy mysterious music pouring from somewhere in the room.

Thank you Hannah for introducing me to tea heaven.


Can we have an encore?

Friday, 30 October 2009

I had forgotten how incredible Faithless were. I heard a live track on the radio this afternoon and went mad on Youtube trying to find it. I wish I'd been at this gig, it looks immense. Enjoy!



Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Sometimes I like painting pictures. Here are some of my favourites.


Quote, Unquote, Fantastic Mr Fox.

I thought my life would take a turn for the better today, as my friend and I decided to break with culturally accepted norms and go to the cinema in the morning. We knew we wanted to take advantage of the delightful gift from Orange, only available on a Wednesday, and so popped on down to our local Odeon for a glance at some filmy goodness. Something struck me, as we kicked back in our moderately priced seats, all set for an eyeful of Universal Pictures' finest work, that living life like a child is extremely refreshing. The trailers were in full swing when we sloped into screen 10, and were just a delight for the senses. It was all aimed at people not much older than seven, with ads for Alvin and the Chipmunks 2, some space cartoon film, and the aforementioned Where the Wild Things Are, and I loved it! There was no bad language, no violence, and no 'scenes of a sexual nature', all things which have just become too commonplace in the usual sort of feature on offer.

Thrilled by this jovial slice of childhood innocence, my excitement was maintained at the prospect of watching a lovely little animation about foxes, but alas, my expectations were thwarted at the terrible eighty-seven minutes which were to proceed.

Fantastic Mr Fox has the potential to be incredible. The story came from the twisted and beautiful mind of children's author Roald Dahl (also responsible for Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), and has captivated several generations of youngsters who enjoy his curious method of unraveling tales of wonder.

However, this film just does not work. The characters lack a great deal of sincerity and their likability factor is close to nil; the purposely bad animation could be seen as endearing, but instead is just difficult to watch; the actors' voices do not compliment the characters, apart from the young, unconventional hero Ash (voiced by Jason Schwartzman), who only has about three good lines; and the quote, unquote Fantastic Mr Fox (George Clooney) has the most irritating habit of squeaking and twitching his mouth which is meant to be humorous, but instead is just outrageously grating. I'm shocked that this has received good reviews from certain critics, and hope that you all read this and decide to spend your money on something else! I suggest laser eye surgery. It will be more enjoyable.



Thursday, 22 October 2009

Favourite song at the moment...


Old vs New Media

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

I was having a browse through The Guardian news website today, and came across an interesting article about new media and the power of online social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. In the article, media commentator Emily Bell, highlights the growing trend of news reaching people via web 2.0 sites before they hear about it through traditional platforms and the two versions of access becoming rivals rather than working together.

Bell notes in her piece, the two most recent stories where this has been the case; the Trafigura incident in which The Guardian received an injunction to prevent them from reporting anything about their plans to dump waste oil over the Ivory Coast, and all the Twitterers (or Twits?) under the sun getting hold of it and spreading it like a fine home made jam, all over the hot crumpety-like Internet. (You can tell I haven't had lunch yet.)

Then there was Moir-gate, in which Jan Moir of the Daily Mail made homophobic comments about Stephen Gately, and caused universal outrage on the net at her insensitive comments published shortly after his death. This caused many Internet users to barge their way onto the Mail's website and give them a piece of their mind, some people actually vomited onto their computer screens out of sheer indignation.

I think the statement that old media will be entirely replaced by its shiny, friendly, accessible contemporary is a rash one, but one that may have a fair few ounces of truth. The general public have grasped an extremely useful tool, and are using it as only human beings know how, to cause trouble. I for one, am more likely to learn of breaking news from my peers' Facebook statuses rather than by catching it on the wireless, and I don't know about you, but I sometimes prefer the brutal honesty that my friends tend to use to blurt out their tit bit of information. I heard about Micheal Jackson's death first on Facebook, and Obama's Nobel Peace Prize, and as soon as I knew, I told everyone I could, and assume that the ball just kept on rolling.


Boing Boing

Monday, 19 October 2009

I have been subscribed to this blog for a while now, and it's capacity to entertain, surprise and thrill its audience is always intriguing. Boing Boing is a definite hidden treasure of the internet, and has multiple interesting, multi-media posts on a daily basis. It's no intellectual giant, but it is good to peruse while coffee-breaking.

Find Boing Boing here <-----

PS. Here is an amazing animation they posted yesterday, I can't stop watching it!


Where the Wild Things Are

New movie, Where the Wild Things Are, inspired by the delightful 1963 illustrated childrens' book by Maurice Sendak, is out in December, and I urge everyone to go and see it.

The trailer is just beautiful, accompanied by the song 'Wake Up' from alternative indie band Arcade Fire and the special effects which create the 'wild things' look really impressive.

Max Records, the young actor who plays the lead character, Max seems well suited to the task of playing the adventurous explorer and is set to win the hearts of housewives all over the country. Click here for a link to an interview with the little starlet. And here for a link to the trailer. Enjoy!


Bat for Lashes Gig... Only in Liverpool

I was taken on a secret mystery day out for an early birthday present last week, and it turned out to be a very good surprise. As you may remember from an earlier post, I raved about new indie/hippie/crazy singer Natasha Kahn in her band Bat for Lashes, and last Saturday I got to see her! Happy.

She was on top form, sporting a cute blue T-Shirt dress, black 'wet-look' leggings and silvery- blue eye make up which only woodland fairies would dare to rival. She began her set with a mellow version of Horse & I, seated at her fairy light-adorned piano, tapping her feet and wincing occasionally as the mikes fed back with a slight ear-bending shriek; it all seemed to blend in with the weird and wonderful sounds that emerged from the other instruments on stage. It was girl power ahoy, with a female drummer and (ex-Ash) guitarist/ pianist who rocked out to even the most somber tunes. There was also a violinist who drew out haunting solos and added an orchestral atmosphere to the already mystical vibe on stage.

As with any gig, however, the audience make up a large part of the experience, and this time was no exception. The party goers insisted on chattering all the way through the quieter songs, and whenever Kahn stopped to take a breath, some loony would yell oafishly 'Marry me Natasha!' to which the elfish little female would blush and whisper 'thank you...' then continue with her haunting melodies. It all seemed a little incongruous, as if these Liverpudlian louts had smashed their way into a little girl's birthday party and thrown her dolls at the wall then stomped around a bit more. Tip of the month: do not go to melancholic gigs in Liverpool, unless you are indeed an oaf, then go ahead and stomp away.



Wednesday, 7 October 2009

This week my friend Sam, and I received the exciting news that we have a one hour slot on the Student Union radio station, Frequency, to begin broadcasting next week. The initial excitement was short-lived however, after we had bounded, gazelle-like back to Sam's house to begin recording some ground-breakingly phenomenal jingles for our show, only to find that both of us are fairly petrified of hearing the sound of our own voices and are often overwhelmed with bouts of crippling self-consciousness.

We also discovered that the seemingly relaxed and natural conversation that flows like a babbling brook from the mouths of seasoned professionals like Wogan and Moyles, is actually rather a tricky skill to grasp, and to couple this with an ability to co-ordinate the several thousand buttons and nobs which enable the actual show to be heard by anyone and enjoyed, is well, confusing to say the least.

Time will tell I suppose... tune in at www.frequencyradio.co.uk on Monday 12th October at 5pm.


The Pearl Of Africa

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Spending two and a half weeks in Uganda was both incredible and humbling. The country is beautiful, but at the same time, straining from the pain of poverty, war and corruption. For those of you who don't know the exact reason for my trip I went with eleven other people from various churches in York to work with a charity called Food for the Hungry International. In the months leading up to our visit, the group ran several fund raising events and were able to raise enough money to pay for the materials to build two classrooms for the school in the community we were to stay with. While we were in Kyoga (name of the village, pronounced Chogga), we built the two classrooms with the help of the people of the community and also ran kids clubs for the children in the afternoons and taught the parents English, as this is a valued skill for Africans who wish to work in the big cities and earn money to support their families.

Although I was present on the building site every morning, I felt as though the main reason for me being there, was to help run the kids club, which consisted of an afternoon of teaching songs with actions (a good way of the children picking up English), playing games such as Cat and Mouse, Tug of War, Duck Duck Goose and other such exhausting pursuits, a drama performed by members of the team (mainly for the children to laugh at us) and then a craft activity at the end of each day.

There is a definite need for hope in the community of Kyoga, as FHI have been aware; in the several years of participation in regenerating the community they have understood that the native people are always encouraged by Westerners actually travelling to them and getting alongside them in everyday activities. However, it seems that despite the heart wrenching poverty and the terrifying prevalence of life threatening diseases, the people of Kyoga are resilient, defiant and amazing. They are vibrant, loving, joyful, caring, excitable, curious, faithful, hardworking and delightfully zealous for life in its fullness. We have much to learn. In comparison, we in the west are selfish, greedy, competitive, jealous, cynical, lazy and too fat. This is of course a severe generalization - but one which many will identify with, to one extent or another. It is only when one is wrenched out of one's own culture and comfort zones when we realise how much we have and assess our lifestyle.

If you think on nothing else today, apart from this then I will have achieved something... Do one thing that takes you out of your comfortable life. Buy a beggar some food, or even better, buy him a new coat, or even better, give him your coat. Buy a Big Issue, or even better stand and chat to the vendor who is hailing the title down the high street, and show him you care. Smile at people while you walk down the street rather than putting your head down and striding swiftly forwards. Do something different, and love your neighbour as yourself.


How far is too far?

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

It's been too long. How the devil are you. And all that jazz.

I've just watched a film that on first glance seemed like the usual sloppy predictable Hollywood drivel but turned out to be a bit of a hidden gem and made me think. The film is called Fever Pitch, or Perfect Catch if you're from Australia - the alternative title is so helpful when IMDB-ing - and the main plot line is about a man who is unhealthily obsessed with the baseball team, Boston Red Sox that it has driven women away left, right and centre whenever he has tried to engage in a relationship until now... enter Drew Barrymore's career-driven workaholic character, Lindsey who proves to be a 'cool' alternative modern woman who seems to be able to put up with Ben's passion.

At first all is well and Lindsey starts to come along to games with Ben, even donning the Red Sox team kit and missing prior engagements to please her man and support the Sox, but eventually the cracks begin to show and Lindsey begins to wonder exactly how much she has to share in her partner's obsession before it begins to change her.

This made me wonder, how much are we willing to change for our other halves? We all have a passion for something, and when we begin to share our lives with another person, we tend to share everything about ourselves, and expect them to enjoy what we enjoy. But how far should we go to change for the one we love? I think there comes a point in every relationship where you take stock and think about the sacrifices you've made for this person, the passions you may have given up, the things you've started to take an interest in because they do, and so on. I suppose the point I'm trying to make, ever so articulately, is that however much you love someone, you shouldn't let them absorb vital elements of your character or identity, you should hold onto those passions that you once held dearly and - all being well - your significant other will embrace these elements and love them as much as you do. Over and out from Ms Agony Aunt.


A dedicated follower of... fashion?

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

I am currently enjoying experimenting with clothes, and having lots of fun. (I don't often go girly on you but thought I'd make an exception... if you're a boy who doesn't care about such things then I'll try and make my next post extra man-orientated and write about farting and/or beer). As a firm believer that dresses are for losers, or rather - firmly acknowledging that dresses don't suit me, I have decided go go against the grain of my own decisions and start wearing them, and have loved it! I like the whole teaming of a short dress and leggings (of which I have acquired several pairs, some more outlandish than others *ahem* silver...) which tends to connote an 'eighties rocker' vibe, or the maxi dress with beads and gladiator sandals, for the 'festival chic' look, or indeed the long t-shirt-type-dress thingy that goes equally well with leggings or skinny black jeans and a black pump. I don't really like writing or reading about fashion, so will keep this short, but I thought I would introduce you to a new acquisition to my wardrobe, 'Harem Pants' (pictured). They're like leggings at the bottom but they have a massive baggy crotch, and these ones from American Apparel turn into a full outfit if one casually pulls the waist band up over the chest area and turns it into a one-piece - nice one. They come to me in the post on Friday, so watch out York, they will either look ridiculous or super ridiculous, either way I will enjoy.



Tuesday, 30 June 2009

It's that time of year again where I suspend everything I do in my life and watch some incredible tennis for two weeks. I was fortunate enough to go to Wimbledon with some friends for a day this year, and wasn't disappointed. We queued for around 5 hours in the blazing hot sunshine, and when we got in, headed straight for Court 3 where we saw American/English James Blake go out in the first round to Seppi, it was a good game, shame Blake didn't make it past the first round. We also caught the first round Haas game which was enjoyable and showed that height can be a very useful weapon.

The first week was good, what with Djokovic, Hewitt, Roddick and Federer storming into the fourth round after playing some sublime tennis, and of course Murray winning four games convincingly to earn him a place in the hallowed Wimbledon quarter finals. However, I can't help but wonder how Nadal would have altered the landscape of the tournament had he been participating... perhaps the second-best left-handed Spaniard, Verdasgo would have been shown the door a little earlier than the fourth round, or maybe the oldest remaining man in the tournament, German Tommy Haas, would have been out-played by the 22 year old Rafa. Who knows.

So, for some predictions...Djokovic and Roddick will make it to the semi's but will face fierce competition from Haas and Hewitt, it all depends on the draw (click here for the Quarter Final draw) but Djokovic is definitely on form at the moment and Roddick's serve is still unbeatable, although the irritatingly tall Croat, Ivo Karlovic may prove to be a dark horse this year with his terrifyingly speedy aces. I think Federer has to win it, but will meet Murray in the final. The Scot will put up a fight but I believe that the five-time champion will pip him to the post; the Wimbledon trophy still belongs in his cabinet for the time being.

And as for the women's, well who cares. The Williams will both be in the final and we will all suffer from ear ache at their intense grunting... let's hope they take a hint and retire soon.


I've got love for you, if you were born in the...

Thursday, 11 June 2009


A while ago I wrote about the time when Jon Snow came to speak to the students at UCLan, and noted how he had mentioned about the tendency for the people of London, especially in the media industry, to have an extremely 'London-centric' mindset. This idea has been brought to my attention once again with the most recent public interest story absorbing most of the news headlines at the moment about the tube workers going on strike and Londoners having to cycle/walk/row to work - the poor dears.

Now, I completely agree that we as a nation should support our capital city and should show an interest in what's going on there, but there comes a point when I wonder if any other part of the country - especially the north - matter to the country in the slightest? It seems as though the only time us poor stupid northerners receive any coverage in the press is when there's a bomb scare in Manchester or Swine Flu in Ripon.

Northern folk are constantly being portrayed as commoners who are disinterested in anything of cultural value and ignorant about matters involving race and homosexuality (something which can be true in some cases but is not an attitude necessarily confined to the north).

I find the general snobbery of many southerners distinctly narrow-minded and I can't help but feel indignant about the misconceptions generally held by most.

PS. A lot of my good friends are from the south - this is not aimed at them, I love them all dearly!



Sunday, 7 June 2009

I know I won't be alone when I say that this year's Apprentice has been great. The contestants were all enjoyable to watch, some more so than others; what with Lorraine and her 'instincts', Debra and her terrifyingly arrogant manner, Ben and his harping on about his scholarship to Sandhurst and who could forget Nural and his tendency to not to very much at all.

My favourite contestant however, was undoubtedly James, the extent of his idiocy was incomprehensible at times but always highly amusing, I think he even made the unflappable Margaret have a good old chuckle. Here are some memorable James quotes....

You can get polyesters manmade?

One thing that is really important when you're breastfeeding is the mother needs to be happy. Because if she's anxious there's something in nature which switches off the tap in her breast.

The lid's open so the baby can jump out.

I’m skating on thin ice – and I think Sir Alan might be waiting for it to crack.

I wonnid to win this task. I really wonnid to. There's no point... That other lot are out there now riding round on horses and I'm sitting here having to look at you and I didn't mean that disrespectfully.

The thing that I enjoyed most about tonight's episode was the interview with Sir Alan himself, he turned out to be quite nice in real life, and commented on the media's ability to turn on the contestants and write slanderous things about them, treating them more like Big Brother contestants than serious business people (apart from Lorraine... jokes), which should cause tabloid journos to sit up and *shock-horror* understand that they can't just publish anything in order to promote their own want.


Loose ends

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

I've been pretty busy over the past week or so, but I haven't neglected the world of the blog, no no. Many photos taken at (some not so) poignant moments, enjoy.....

So we had a Masquerade Ball t'other day and I got all dressed up and stuff, don't usually get my hair done for this sort of thing but I thought it was worth making the effort... and the quiff stayed in for about three days!! Defo got me money's worth there.

My excitement at buying a new notebook and ten chunky fat marker pens was a tad on the geeked-up side but I do very much love a new notebook, this actually made my day better.

I had a little potter around the Cornerhouse bookshop after I finished work today and couldn't resist these beauties... The Independent Cinema book looked pretty interesting, and may be something that I base my dissertation on, good to read on the train. The Little White Lies mag is a must for any film buff, with excellent graphics on every page and quirky little interviews and quotes from directors and actors, really witty, honest film reviews, right up my street. And the final magazine is a present for my bruv's birthday, a bit pricey but it has that 'special' feel to it, like every page was hand crafted by a wise old woman from the depths of Peru then flown to the moon for a while so it glows all shimmery like.

My friend Dan looking a little bit silly in Pizza Hut. (My shades) (His beard)

I went to Alton Towers the other day. We stopped at a random car sales place on the way so my friend could be sick and I laid eyes on the most beautiful thing crafted by man.... drink it up guys...

The other day in my lunch break I wandered down the road from Cornerhouse, avoiding Sainsbury's and their meal deals, and I bought a sandwich from the most posh sandwich shop ever, on the corner of Oxford St in Manchester. I kept the packet as a memory of the amazing sandwich. (Brie and Bacon Baguette for all you sandwich fans out there)


Amazing Grace

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Recently I've been made aware of the incredible work of the 'Invisible Children' charity. The charity was founded by three young filmmakers from California who visited Uganda in 2003 and were appalled by the situation they found surrounding the northern part of the country's children. They discovered the tragedy that is the Lord's Resistance Army, a terror organization fronted by Joseph Kony who kidnap children and train them to be killing machines. The three young men have since become involved in a global campaign to create awareness of the so-called 'Invisible Children', in an attempt to gain political support and raise funds to care for the children and put a stop to the injustices that are happening in the country.

Their marketing campaign is driven by people's personal stories, stories which us in the Western world can empathize with and that may lead us to make a stand for these desperate children. The story that came to my attention is that of a young woman called Grace. I bought a bracelet from the website and received with it a DVD of her story, which is tragic but also signifies a new hope despite the terrible situation.

Here is an extract from the booklet...

"Grace, the story of a child mother... Abducted from her home at 10 years old and forced to fight as a soldier, Grace was beaten repeatedly for three years, and at 13 was forced to become a sex slave to a 40 year old commander in the L.R.A, After her narrow escape from the bush, with a gunshot wound to the leg, she discovered she was pregnant with the commander's child.

Once rescued, girls like Grace are taken to a rehabilitation centre where they are given just three months of psychosocial therapy, before they are returned to the family they may or may not have.

Due to the severity of Grace's medical condition (a shattered tibia, and her approaching birth), she remained at the centre for over a year.

But returning home will not be easy. With an absent father, she will live with her uncle, left to care not only for her own child, but for her own disabled mother as well. Grace is a child, but she is a mother.

The idea of Grace is about choosing to forgive when others have done nothing but hurt and let you down. Grace has a smile bigger than the size of her pain."

The question I ask, is this. How can we sit back in our comfortable, over indulgent lives, and hear these children's stories and not do anything to help them? It disgusts me that we are so stinking rich and stupidly ignorant in the 'better' part of the world while our fellow human beings, our fellow brothers and sisters are being treated horrifically and we do nothing about it.

Buy a bracelet, make a difference....


Jeremy Deller

I feel a bit smug writing this post, as I do believe I have landed the best work placement that exists (well, in Manchester anyway). For those of you who don't know, I work at the independent arthouse cinema at Cornerhouse in Manchester, as a marketing intern, as part of my film course. Yesterday I trotted down to the Whitworth art gallery - beneath the stormy Manc skies - with a few of my colleagues to listen to a talk given by Turner prize winning artist, Jeremy Deller.

He was speaking in a lecture theatre at the gallery, and was introduced by some arty geezer with a German accent and long hair in a ponytail, who announced that Deller's work partner, Anne, had given her presentation in high heels but that Deller was going to give his barefoot. Outlandish, I know. The young London born artist sat on the stage, pushing his floppy hair back from his face, behind his Mac and a desk littered with discs and bits of paper, and began to speak with an air of sophistication that told us he was from 'That London...'.

He is responsible for such works as 'Memory Box' - a documentary about George Bush's hometown in Texas, but as a rule tends to make 'rock-umentaries' such as the coverage of Depeche Mode fans in Eastern Europe (definitely watch this if only for the opportunity to see loads of Russians dressed like a young Dave Gahan). He told us that he was highly inspired by the Baroque art movement and especially its tendency to encourage audience participation (mostly religiously motivated) and that his break in the industry came when in 1986 he met Andy Warhol in a bar in London who offered him the chance to go and work in his factory in New York for two weeks.

Deller seemed most proud of the documentary about a brass band who played acid house music to an audience at a trendy London gig venue in 1997. We were shown an extract from the film, which was genuinely fascinating, and as Deller pointed out, was especially focused on the people, both in the band and in the audience. He took a back seat as the documenter, and let the action happen without intervention. Jeremy claimed that he was doubtful whether he would be able to achieve success with this piece as he was taking a huge risk in shaking up two very separate genres in such a way, but admitted that it turned out to be one of his best pieces of work.

Oozing with charm but also capable of appearing to have his feet firmly on the ground, he expressed his passion for northern cities and the people who make them so interesting. He told us of the plans for an international procession that will take place in the summer throughout the streets of Manchester, in which he hopes to create a memorable occasion, which will really draw people in and generate a lively new atmosphere in the city.

For a chance to take a little nosey into the creative mind of Jeremy Deller, click your mouse on this part here > http://www.jeremydeller.org/


New Beginnings and Happy Endings

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Finally, a film that isn't so sickeningly transparent that you feel like Alice in her wonderland; stuck in a dark rabbit hole. Last night I watched The Holiday with my favourite girl friends (minus a few), thinking that I really couldn't muster the enthusiasm to watch another drivelling rom-com with predictably dopey characters and a distinctly unimaginative plot that makes you feel like you're going to do an Elvis. (Get a stonking great gun out and blast a hole in your TV screen... then die on the toilet).

This little beauty entered my eye space last night and I absolutely loved it. I'm the hardest person to please when watching a film; as a film student I subconsciously analyse everything, from the depth of the characters to the continuity of the shots, my mind ticks over the whole time. (Probably why I'm such a miserable old git about most Hollywood films) But this one stood out like a snow drop on a moor covered in heather.

Jack Black, Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz and Jude Law provided an odd combination, but work brilliantly with the storyline. The driving force of the plot comes about when Iris (Winslet) and Amanda (Diaz) have troubles with the men in their lives and need some way of escaping their own disaster. They meet online, after Iris puts her house in Surrey on a house swapping website, and decide to swap lives for two weeks over Christmas. They each need to rediscover something about themselves to get out of the hopeless mess their in; Amanda is a big shot movie trailer producer who lives in a huge house in L.A, but has no capacity to fall in love or feel real emotion, she can't cry. Iris is still in love with her ex boyfriend who cheated on her three years ago and she still hasn't moved on. These problems, which do sound rather trivial, are dealt with in the most honest way, with Winslet admitting that she needs to move on but just can't let go and Diaz doing anything just to feel some real emotion.

Although this is a love story with inevitable outcomes, the most beautiful relationship is platonic, shared with Iris and Arthur - a ninety year old film writer whom she meets in L.A. Their friendship is just delightful, and she spends time at his house, helping him out with everyday things while he imparts wisdom and anecdotes from his days in the film industry.

The characterisation is sublime, with the charming Winslet playing a true English rose, someone whom I really connected with; her honesty at her own problems is refreshing and her recovery from her case of unrequited love is inspiring. She blossoms into a new woman, captivating and beautiful.

The combination of English and American actors, locations and situations work superbly and the outcome of the story is just lovely. I think I'm gushing a little too much but I was quite excited at the discovery of a real, honest film. Definitely a must see.


Leave well alone

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Watching old people with anything more technologically advanced than a pair of nail clippers is - hilarious. Here I am, on a train from York to Preston, presented with both ends of the spectrum within a matter of of inches from one another. There is a man to my left fully eqipped with a tiny laptop, wired into an ipod, bashing away at his keyboard, occasionally glancing out of the window to glean some inspiration, then quickly back on with whatever he's doing (don't want to look too closely... bit weird)

In comparison, there are two women sitting opposite him - both over the age of fifty, trying to work out how to send a text message. They both appear fairly professional with freshly pressed Marks and Spencers trouser suits and neatly filed nails. They look as if they would be perfectly suited to holding meetings or pitching an idea in a boardroom but as soon as a mobile phone is placed in front of them they rapidly regress back to stone age creatures. Pressing buttons here and there and laughing (loudly) everytime they've been outfoxed by something as complex as predictive text, I can't help but wonder if there's a gap in the market somewhere; a phone especially for the over 50s. Dragon's Den here I come.


The Island Of Inspiration...

Monday, 20 April 2009

I've always planned to go and visit my Aunt in Tasmania, but never thought it would become a reality, always been tied down with one thing or the other... but due to a recent change of circumstances, it's actually going to happen and I'm very excited.

For those of you who don't know much about the country, here's a bit of background... (nicked off Wikipedia)

is an Australian island and state of the same name. It is located 240 kilometres (150 mi) south of the eastern side of the continent, being separated from it by Bass Strait. The state of Tasmania includes the island of Tasmania, which is the 26th largest island in the world, and other surrounding islands. The state has an estimated population of 500,000 (as of December 2008) with almost half located in the greater Hobart area, and an area of 68,401 square kilometres (26,410 sq mi), of which the main island covers 62,409 square kilometres (24,096 sq mi).[4]

Tasmania is promoted as the Natural State and the "Island of Inspiration" owing to its large and relatively unspoiled natural environment. Formally, almost 37% of Tasmania is in reserves, National Parks and World Heritage Sites.[6] The island is 364 kilometres (226 mi) long from the northernmost point to the southernmost point and 306 kilometres (190 mi) from west to east.

The state capital and largest city is Hobart, which encompasses the local government areas of City of Hobart, City of Glenorchy, City of Clarence and generally included is the satellite town of Kingston, part of the Municipality of Kingborough, into the Greater Hobart area. Other major population centres include Launceston in the north and Devonport and Burnie in the northwest. The subantarctic Macquarie Island is also under the administration of the state, as part of the Huon Valley Council local government area.

I'll be staying near Hobart with my Aunt who lives in a random jungle, with an outdoor shower (arghh) and will hopefully go and stay in Melbourne for a while too!

I'll keep you updated :)

PS. The picture is from google images of St Columbia Falls - WOW. It won't be long before I get some of my own pics up!


Bat for Lashes

Friday, 17 April 2009

Natasha Khan is beautiful. Dubbed by the Guardian as a weird hippy, I think she's my new role model, and her music is awesome. Break beat, floaty and incandescent, everything about it is chilled and lovely. If you haven't heard her music yet, go and pour it down your ear tubes now.


The Boat That Rocked

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Richard Curtis, responsible for such British classics as Nottinghill and The Vicar of Dibley, has excelled himself in this feel-good, character driven comedy. The film is firmly set in late 60s Britain, when the war time generation were trying to maintain old British Tory values while the youth wanted nothing of the sort. The story revolves around a pirate radio station based on a boat, "Rock Boat" in the North Sea and is about a recently expelled public school boy, whose mother sends him away to the boat to 'get clean'. The nostalgia factor is forced through the roof with wall to wall 60s music playing both on the radio station and as part of the non diegetic soundtrack. Classic rock n roll in the form of Kinks, Beatles and Stones are blasted across the airwaves to eager teens who consider themselves to be at the height of rebellion for tuning into the station.

The film has an essence of the old Carry On films with cheeky sex references and names such as 'Twatt' and 'Miss Clitt' but manages not to be vulgar as a result of the lovable characters involved in their sexual antics. Nick Frost, the overweight, arrogant, yet entirely likable primetime DJ, is excellent and draws on his comedy roots to give a masterclass performance. Other outstanding members of the cast include Philip Seymour Hoffman, who plays the imported American DJ, The Count, who provides a taste of Hollywood, Bill Nighy, whose brilliantly flamboyant character plays the gaffer of the radio station, and comic genius Rhys Darby (Flight of The Conchords, Yes Man) who play the unfortunately ginger and unlucky-in-love, Angus. His best line, "How would the world live without my comedy?"

It was refreshing to hark back to a more innocent and less self aware time, when people felt liberated and had awesome music to dance to in the process. The film has come out at exactly the right time; I think we all need a lift during the whole recession business and this seems like the perfect remedy to twenty-first century cynicism.

Favourite Scene (Spoiler!):

The best part of the film for me was when Bob, the hippyish mysterious early morning breakfast DJ was clutching onto his box of records while the boat was sinking. The underwater shots are really well executed and create a sense of wonder and serenity amidst the silly comedy moments. The old man struggles to keep hold of his record collection while the water levels are rapidly rising and there is a beautiful moment where he loses grip of the box and all his records start floating away from him. He tries to grab them back but is not successful and it is incredible to see someone so passionate about their music that they would be willing to die for it. The sixties ignited a passion for rock n roll that still lives in the best of us today. Manufactured pop bands should take a leaf out of the old rock n roll handbook and get some of that passion back.



Thursday, 2 April 2009

I saved this picture to my desktop under the title, 'Idiots'. These people are some of the most powerful men in the world and here they are posing as if creating a new facebook profile picture. I half expect Mr Blobby to pop up at the side with his thumbs up and a stupid blobby grin. Get a grip guys. (Image courtesy of BBC)


I <3 MCR

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

As part of my internship at Cornerhouse in Manchester I had to mooch around the Northern Quarter for the best part of today, putting up posters for their exciting new Chinese photography exhibition, State Legacy.

I set out at about ten-thirty this morning with a small grainy map freshly printed off of Google, a pile of posters and leaflets, a wadge of blu-tac and a list of the places I needed to visit. I'd never experienced the Northern Quarter before and had a lovely time (when I stopped panicking that Thomas Street was nowhere to be found and that I was lost in an alleyway full of sex shops). This part of Manchester rivals London for the sheer amount of kooky independent coffee shops and clothes and music stores. I popped into a little vinyl shop and sheepishly asked the uber cool looking blokes at the counter if I could stick my poster to their desk and they were lovely! I met some really interesting people and decided that this was my new favourite place in the north west (closely followed by the abandoned insane asylum in Clitheroe).

I also discovered new coffee delights in Coffee Republic which was lurking on the corner of Oldham Street... or maybe Hilton Street, they all became a blur after a while... But it was great and had a hippy slash rocky vibe with pipes all over the ceiling and hearts painted everywhere.

Highlight of the day had to be in Chinatown when I walked into a little Chinese restaurant, thinking it was deserted at first but then noticing a tiny old Chinese man sitting in the dark shadows at the very back of the room. I tried to ask him if I could put a poster up and he looked fairly intrigued to start with, but didn't say much. I was about to give up on the idea and go and rest my weary feet somewhere comfortable but then a very lively and camp young Chinese man came downstairs and told me, in the most enthusiastically expressive way, that of course I could put the poster up, daarrrling, and don't worry about him, he doesn't understand English. The whole episode was fairly ridiculous and when I stepped outside the restaurant I had to pinch myself to check I was still on planet earth.



Sunday, 29 March 2009

Nostalgia is great. The senses can be awakened by various things such as taste, smell and sound, I would say the most evocative is sound. Where am I going with this I hear you cry! Well, I was listening to the radio whilst doing some work (distinguishing fact from opinion in The Telegraph... only faintly interesting) and the song, Club Foot by Kasabian poured out of my laptop and into my ears which instantly dragged me back in time to Leeds Festival '05 when I was 16!

It was the summer of 2005 and I had just completed my time in secondary education and discovered true independence; going to Leeds Festival with just a couple of friends (and NO PARENTS) was a pretty big deal at the time. The atmosphere was warm and happy (the amount of weed everyone had absorbed may have added to this happiness) and my friend Clare and I were running around from stage to stage trying not to miss a thing, when we accidentally but wonderfully stumbled upon the Radio 1 Stage that Kasabian were playing in at the time. We jumped around amongst the sweaty people and I remember feeling wildly free and excited.

Music is delightfully evocative and I was taken right back to that moment with the lovely Clare in that smelly tent in 2005. Good times. Back to the Telegraph...


Student Cinema Screening - Princess Mononoke

Friday, 27 March 2009

Last night I was involved with the screening of a Japanese anime film at the on-campus cinema, Mitchell and Kenyon. The film, Princess Monononoke, drew a small audience of around thirty people and the evening was a definite success.

There is something about the arts industry that generates good feeling and positive thinking. This may sound like a load of nonsense but I really believe that it's the best area to work if you're enthusiastic about meeting new people and being creative or innovative.

My friends, Dom, Hannah, Kath and Emma and I had so much fun last night, during the set up of the cinema, meeting people on arrival and posing for photographs next to our tiny exhibition of Japanese-type regalia.

I am so excited about starting a career in the filmy-art industry, if it follows last night's theme of having a friendly, fun atmosphere and not having to sit in an office all day then I'm all for it.

Also, I am LOVING Japanese cinema, any recommendations for the next film I should watch, let me know!


An extremely stupid boy

Thursday, 26 March 2009

I was fortunate enough to sit in the same room as Jon Snow last week. The sixty-one year old journalist and news presenter came to Preston to talk to journalism students about career options and the like. The room was rammed with people, something that surprised me slightly as UCLan is well known for it's apathetic nature and lack of interest in anything mildly educational.

His train was late and as I waited, impatiently tapping my biro against my notepad, I actually felt a sense of excitement, this man had changed the face of television news reporting and I imagined he would be able to have an entire lecture theatre in the type of silence that drips with anticipation and belief.

He walked in eventually and, as I expected, held his audience completely captivated for over an hour, with tales of his childhood, great journalistic memories and hopes for the future of an industry, like many others, that has been feeling the pressure of the current economic climate. One thing that really interested me was his experience in Uganda during his gap year, from which he "emerged a radical revolutionary". These kind of tales are so inspiring for a budding journalist on the cusp of a career and fueled a new sense of enthusiasm for me.

He described himself as "an extremely stupid boy" when talking about his early years at a private school and pointed out that he was somewhat of an "accidental journalist" who was a rebel at university and worked in Soho, London with heroin addicts. He made his break in journalism when he wrote about his experiences and sent it to The Guardian, who published it. I think all the journos in the room shared a little of his excitement when he told us the joy he experienced the first time he saw his work in print.

The thing that really shone from Snow's entire persona was his absolute passion for what he does. I could see the fire in his eyes and the enjoyment he found in answering questions from eager students. I could really go on forever about his enthralling charisma and hilarious wit but fear that you may get a little saddened by my deep and pathetic love of this man so will cease my rantings here.

Interesting fact - Jon Snow blogs and twitters! I'll try and get a link up for you soon.


The timely death of Reality TV

Saturday, 10 January 2009

I am the first to admit that reality TV grabs my eyeballs by the squishy bit and reels me in, hook line and sinker. However, I don't think I'm the only one who's getting just a little bit bored of the format. I caught the latest Celebrity Big Brother last night, after fervently swearing to myself 'that I wouldn't watch that trash if someone paid me - but being nosy and tuning in anyway' and surprisingly found it dreadfully dull. Let's be honest, we've seen it all before... literally. I can't count how many times I've willed the page three girl to be booted out in the first round because of the sheer amount of air between her ears, and the times I've rooted for the cheeky Scouser who appears 'real' and down-to-earth... how many more times can the producers use this exhausted line-up before the public ditches it? I think we're just all too lazy to protest. It's mildly entertaining and we don't need to exert too much brain power to follow it. But I won't take it anymore!! I quit, and I urge you all to join me. We need to do other things; turn off the box when this mind-numbing mush elbows its way into the schedules and have friends round or go out for a walk or play board games. (Irish snap is currently a favourite... although don't play if you have a disposition to blood) OK, rant over. Just get a life and stop watching the stuff.


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