The Party Manifestos 2015: SNP.

Politics And finally ... I've decided just to cover the parties featured in the original leader's debate on ITV because otherwise I'd be here until election day.

We end with the SNP.

The BBC.
We believe that responsibility for broadcasting in Scotland should transfer from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament and we will support moves to more devolved arrangements for the BBC with greater powers and funding for the different national and regional broadcasting areas, such as BBC Scotland.

We believe that the licence fee should be retained with any replacement system, which should be based primarily on the ability to pay, in place by the end of the next BBC Charter period.

BBC Scotland should receive a fairer share of BBC income, reflecting more accurately the licence fee revenue raised here in Scotland. This would provide a boost of over £100 million, which we believe will provide important new opportunities for production companies and the creative sector in Scotland.

The Scottish Government and Parliament should have a substantial role at all stages in the review of the BBC Charter and we will work to ensure that any new governance arrangements for the BBC better reflect Scotland’s interests.
We believe the licence fee should be retained ... but ... this is about what's expected. There is a problem in general in terms of national coverage and how programmes are made although it's also notable (and I've said this before) that England doesn't have an equivalent of BBC Alba or an "England" genre on the iPlayer either.

Global Emissions.
As the Scottish Government, we are consulting on measures to reduce emissions in Scotland, including looking at the creation of Low Emission Zones. We will continue to develop our zero waste strategy, supporting a range of initiatives, for example the ongoing pilot project for reverse vending machines to encourage rewards for recycling.

We will use our influence at Westminster to ensure the UK matches, and supports, Scotland’s ambitious commitments to carbon reduction and that we play a positive role in the UN Climate Change conference in Paris. We will also look for the Bank of England to continue its work on the potential impact of climate change on financial stability in the UK and report on how it can best respond.
Which is all fine, as is backing of renewables, except there's also a fair amount of backing for the oil and gas industries. Generally the policies here align with Labour and the LibDems because of those inconsistencies. They do support a moratorium on fracking.

Libraries

No specific mention of libraries at least based on a text search.  Note this is a document without a contents page (or index as per the LibDems).

Film Industry
We support the creation of a Creative Content Fund for the games industry to encourage the formation of new studios and also back the retention of the Video Games tax relief. We back industry calls for an increase in the SEIS investment limit and changes to the Shortage Occupation List to recognise specific skills needs in the sector.
Nothing about the film industry exactly. The creative section is the BBC paragraphs above and this about the games industry.

Gender Equality
We have also called for early action on Equal Pay audits for larger companies to ensure women are getting the salaries they are entitled to. We will demand that section 78 of the Equalities Act 2010 is commenced and that regulations to compel employers of more than 250 people to publish annual gender pay gap information, starting in 2016-17, are consulted on and brought into law.

With powers over equalities devolved, we would bring forward an Equal Pay (Scotland) Bill to finally deliver equal pay law that works for women in Scotland. It is unacceptable - 45 years after the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1970 - that the gender pay gap remains. This would include consultation on how new regulations or structures can be created by the Bill to expedite the equal pay claims process, and ensure that settlements are enforced quickly.
Aha, so that's where the 250 figure from the Labour and LibDem manifestos is from. Again, I don't understand why it isn't 200 or 150 or some other arbitrary figure (even having had a glance about online). There are some other useful policies in this are including, "50:50 representation on public and private boards" and the abolition of VAT on sanitary towels.

Anyway, here's a direct link to the manifesto:

http://votesnp.com/docs/manifesto.pdf

I can't vote for them.

Talks Collection:
James Shapiro.

Literature James S. Shapiro is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University who specialises in Shakespeare and the Early Modern period and is on the front line of scholars defending Shakespeare's authorship. Here is a partial bibliography.

Shakespeare and the Jews (1996)

For Columbia University's Theatre Talk:




1599 : A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare (2005)

For Columbia University's Theatre Talk:




Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? (2010)

For Simon & Schuster:



For Blackwells Podcast:




For The Aspen Institute:



For WNYC:



For Columbia University's Theatre Talk:



For The Old Globe in San Diego:



For Shakespeare Brasil:



For Ohio State:



For Daves Gone By:




Shakespeare in America: An Anthology from the Revolution until Now, ed. James Shapiro, with a foreword by Bill Clinton. (2014)

For the Baker-Nord Center for English at Case Western Reserve University:



For 92Ynd Street Y:



For Columbia University:



For The Library of America:






Misc:

On the Sam Wannamaker Playhouse:



On Macbeth:



On Richard III:




On Andrea Chapin's novel The Tutor:

Cornerhouse Memories.

Film Chris Payne of Northern Soul has canvassed staff members at Cornerhouse for their memories of working their and looking forward to the new venue HOME. Here's the chief projectionist on meeting Richard Attenborough:
I met Dickie on two occasions. Each time was a BAFTA event, as he was chairman at the time. Whenever he had a film out he would screen it for members and give a little talk afterwards. In 1985 he presented A Chorus Line, then in 1987 Cry Freedom. I was in projection room 2/3 and he came in and chatted a bit.

I can’t remember exactly what we said, but he was interested in the projectors and everything. He also came in during the interval for Cry Freedom. Perhaps we should have left out the intermission. As everybody got up to leave he said something like ‘Oh dear, I do hope they’ll come back.’ We waited a while and gradually they filed back in. I remember he had his arm around my shoulders in true ‘luvvie‘ fashion.
As I said a couple of weeks ago, I'm really going to miss the place.

Laurie Penny on Voting.

Politics In the New Statesmen. This paragraph pretty much sums up the situation:
"What are we supposed to do with this rotating cast of political disappointments, this hydra with a hundred arseholes? How do we express our disgust for this antique shell of a democracy? I wish, more than anything, that there was a simple answer. The truth is far more complex and infinitely sadder: whatever the outcome of this election, there is a battle ahead for anyone who believes in social justice. The truth right now is that there is only one choice you get, and that’s the face of your enemy. The candidates aren’t all the same but they look similar enough if you squint: a narrow palette of inertia and entitlement. We made the mistake of thinking they were all the same in 2010, that the Tories could not possibly be worse than New Labour. Turns out we were wrong. The question on the table isn’t whether we’ll ever get the government we deserve. The question is whether we want the next five years to be disastrous or merely depressing. The choice is between different shades of disillusion."

Soup Safari #21: Sweet Potato, Aubergine and Marissa at LEAF.







Dinner. £3.95. Leaf, 65-67 Bold Street, Liverpool L1 4EZ. Phone:0151 707 7747. Website.

Why You Must Register To Vote.

Politics Voting registration closes on the 20th April so I thought it was about time I posted again this letter which I originally wrote ten years ago and even if some of the details have changed (and how) it is still incredibly relevant. Register. Do it, do it now. Here.

Dear Disaffected Voter,

There was a survey today with said that only one in three young people will be making the effort to vote on Thursday. The turnout is generally going to be about 60%. My own consistency, Riverside, had the lowest turnout in the whole country. There are many millions of people in the land who just don't see the point in voting.

There'll be some of you who won't be voting because for some reason you simply can't. You recently moved house and didn't have enough to time to get your vote moved to your new house. You'll be on holiday and the whole postal voting thing couldn't be scheduled properly with while you're away. Those and a whole raft of perfectly good reasons. I'm not talking to you.

I'm talking to the rest. You'll be split into two camps. Those who can't be bothered and those who don't see the point. Yes, you. You idiot.

If you're insulted by that, you should be.

The biggest idiots are the ones who can't be bothered. The ones who have the facility to vote, aren't impeded, but simply can't be arsed walking all the way to the polling station, even though there are enough of them that the local will be in the next street. Do you realise you're screwing things up for the rest of us? Here is a list of the knock on effects of you not showing up.

(1) It makes us all look bad. There are certain parts of the world were people don't have the choice of more than one party, for that matter the ability to vote at all. Not naming any names. In some of the these places people have been killed whilst they've fought to get the chance to choose who they want as a leader. By noting voting yourself, you're pissing on their fight because you're devaluing what they're fighting for. You're like Cameron's dad in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Lovely car parked up in the garage being wasted. Take it out for a spin once in a while.

(2) It's not a fair contest. I was watching the Olympics last year, and in one of the races a rank outsider won a gold medal. But he was seriously pissed off -- because the great runners in the sport hadn't been there to contest their title so it was sort of a default win. By not showing your support for a party, whoever wins won't necessarily have won because the country wants them to be there. It'll be because the majority of 60% of the country wants them there. Which isn't the same thing.

(3) It makes you look bad. If you can't be bothered spending twenty minutes of the day going into a room in a school somewhere to put a cross on a slip of paper, a process which has been made as easy as possible now (now that they even print the name of the party on the ballot paper) what frankly are you good for?

Now there are the rest of you who are making a point of not voting. My Father believes that everyone should be forced to vote by law, even if they show up and spoil their ballot paper. Within the current system it's your choice and right not to vote. So there will be a percentage of people who don't vote because they believe it's sending a message that you're unhappy with the political process in this country. There are a couple of flaws to this plan:

(1) Politicians won't give a shit about you. Because you didn't turn up at a polling station, come the day they don't even know you exist. If you don't like the political process the only way to develop it is to engage with politicians and ask for that change. Some of the parties have ideas for reform using systems such a proportional representation which means that every vote is counted.

(2) Your plan only works if no one votes. Like that's going to happen. No matter what you do, someone will be Prime Minister on Friday.

There are some, such as the 66% of students I mentioned earlier, who aren't voting because they say that the manifestos and party policies aren't offering anything to them. What doesn't occur to you is that manifestos are written to interest the various demographics of voters. So if you don't turn up, you're not a voter so why should they try and attract you with tailored policies? So effectively if enough of you people turned up and voted, it'd frighten the shit out of the politicians and they'd have to start listening and developing useful policies so that they can keep you on their side. There were no policies effecting women in manifestos until women got the vote. It's pretty much the same thing. You turn up, so will they.

I know this has been a bit freewheeling. If I'd wanted to I could have found a bunch of statistics and anecdotal evidence to back up some of these things. But I thought I'd go for the simple, direct approach because don't think I've said anything which you don't already know.

I'm just trying to give you a nudge.

Even if you turn up and vote for a man dressed as a banana you'll at least have the satisfaction of knowing when the announcements are made, someone who just wanted to have a bit of fun hasn't lost their deposit.

Just don't waste you vote. Pick a party and go.

And if the one you pick doesn't win, there's always next time....

Stu.

Females are strong as hell.



Film Here's the trailer for Suffragette which foregrounds Carey Mulligan and Anne-Marie Duff whilst giving Meryl the final line. "Never give up the fight." Yes indeed. Although the film isn't out until the day before my birthday, the release of the trailer now is to coincide with the election, as indicated by the closing hashtag #votingmatters. Yes, yes it does. But the slug line's also a perfect piece of marketing "Recruiting 2015", because as the recent Amanda Vickery documentary demonstrated (and the political party manifestos), the fight goes on.

Extraneous Text.

Politics Unlike a lot of parties, the Liberal Democrats are at least committed to making their manifesto available to as many people as possible to the extent that they've released an audio version, which I downloaded out of curiosity.

I haven't listened to the whole thing but it seems to be machine generated utilising an electronic, if pretty convincing approximation of a female voice intoning in the Queen's English. She sounds a bit Anneke Wills with a much deeper voice.

The tracks also sound like they've been knocked together by machine. The first one simply says "Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2015". Track two says "title page". Track three repeats, ""Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2015" before going on with "Stronger Economy. Fairer Society. Opportunity for Everyone."

Then track four begins with: "Extraneous text" before continuing into all of the key policy areas outlined on the cover which clearly suggests no one's listened to this or done some editing before it was put up on the website.

Except, after reading out the policy areas as they appear on the cover, "Extraneous text" we're told again before Ananova's successor heads off into reading the note from the back cover about devolved issues. Which either means it has been edited or it isn't reading the text exactly as it appears on the pdf but from some other version which has lots of "extraneous text".

The rest of the audio seems to follow the manifesto as is starting with Nick Clegg's letter then ends with the text from the back about alternative formats as the machine voice falls over as it attempts to read the web address as these things so often do.

But yes, "extraneous text". Let's see how true that is come the coalition negotiations.

The Party Manifestos 2015: UKIP.

Politics Oh god.  Here we go...

The BBC.
Currently, British intelligence is fragmented between a number of agencies, including MI5, MI6, GCHQ and BBC Monitoring. All have different funding streams and report to different government departments. This generates a significant overlap in work and resources and risks exposing gaps in the system.

UKIP will create a new over-arching role of Director of National Intelligence (subject to confirmation hearing by the relevant Commons Select Committee), who will be charged with reviewing UK intelligence and security, in order to ensure threats are identified, monitored and dealt with by the swiftest, most appropriate and legal means available. He or she will be responsible for bringing all intelligence services together; developing cyber security measures; cutting down on waste and encouraging information and resource sharing.
The BBC's only mention. BBC Monitoring becomes part of an Orwellian restructuring of the intelligence service. Scary.

Global Emissions
While our major global competitors - the USA, China, India - are switching to low-cost fossil fuels, we are forced to close perfectly good coal-fired power stations to meet unattainable targets for renewable capacity. If we carry on like this, the lights are likely to go out.
Pretty much as you'd expect. Investment in fracking, investment in coal and the withdrawal of investment and subsidies in renewables apart from hydro (weirdly) and where contracts have already been signed. Withdrawal from the Climate Change Act. They essentially seem to think they know better than 97% of the world's climate change scientists.

Libraries
Local authorities have significant power in matters concerning planning and housing, education, local refuse and recycling facilities, parks and leisure facilities, transport, libraries and keeping local people safe.
Yes they do. And?

Film Industry

Nothing.

Gender Equality
To increase the uptake of science learning at secondary level, we will follow the recommendations of the Campaign for Science and Engineering and require every primary school to nominate (and train, if necessary) a science leader to inspire and equip the next generation. This role will also help to address the gender imbalance in the scientific subjects.
Nothing on equal pay though.

Here's a direct link to the manifesto:

http://ukip-serv.org/theukipmanifesto2015.pdf

I wouldn't vote for them either.

The Party Manifestos 2015: Liberal Democrats.

Politics The Lib Dem manifesto cover somehow manages to encompass versions of the colours from all the other main parties apart from the UKIPs. Not sure what to make of that.

The BBC
Protect the independence of the BBC while ensuring the Licence Fee does not rise faster than inflation, maintain Channel4 in public ownership and protect the funding and editorial independence of Welsh language broadcasters.

To promote the independence of the media from political influence we will remove Ministers from any role in appointments to the BBC Trust or the Board of Ofcom.

Maintain funding to BBC World Service, BBC Monitoring and the British Council.
Pretty similar to the Labour manifesto though the BBC would still be fucked financially here even if the mention of the licence fee at least confirms the LibDems still believe in the licence fee. Saying you'll maintain funding to those things doesn't indicate where that funding would be from, top slicing the licence fees or central taxation as it used to be.

Global Emissions
Pass a Zero Carbon Britain Act to set a new legally binding target to bring net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.
As the cover indicates the environment runs right through the manifesto and is mentioned in relation to most areas, in transport policy for example with the replacement of older buses with "low emission ones". There are also two pages outlining "five green laws" covering such things as recycling targets and promoting electric cars. Sadly all of that is underdone somewhat by essentially promoting fracking, still, even if they want to hand completed wells over to geothermal heat developers for renewable purposes afterwards. But it doesn't really explain how you can have zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 with thirty-five years if we're still doing it now. They're banning fracking in national parks though. So ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Libraries
Citizens expect a good service from their public services, and rightly so. While many schools, hospitals, libraries and other public institutions offer world-class standards, we could do so much better: integrating services and making them more accessible, as well as improving the response when things go wrong.

Complete broadband rollout to every home, and create an innovation fund to help keep local GPs, post offices and libraries open.

Develop the Community Budgets model for use in rural areas to combine services, encouraging the breaking down of boundaries between different services. This will help keep rural services like GP surgeries, pharmacies, post offices and libraries open by enabling them to cooperate, share costs and co-locate in shared facilities

Support local libraries and ensure any libraries under threat of closure are offered first for transfer to the local community.
The biggest mention of libraries I've seen in the manifestos but its still an afterthought with little understanding of what a comprehensive library service requires. When they say "transfer to the local community" what they really mean is donated building and volunteers. This used to be a profession. Sigh.

Film Industry
Support growth in the creative industries, including video gaming, by continuing to support the Creative Industries Council, promoting creative skills, supporting modern and flexible patent, copyright and licensing rules, and addressing the barriers to finance faced by small creative businesses.
The Arts and Culture section of the manifesto is utter garbage to be honest. "We are proud of the arts in Britain and will support them properly" it says without any detail at all. Apart from committing to free museums there's nothing. Sigh again.

Gender Equality
Set an ambitious goal to see a million more women in work by 2020 thanks to more jobs, better childcare, and better back-to work support.

Challenge gender stereotyping and early sexualisation, working with schools to promote positive body image and widespread understanding of sexual consent law, and break down outdated perceptions of gender appropriateness of particular academic subjects.

Work to end the gender pay gap, including with new rules on gender pay transparency.

Continue the drive for diversity in business leadership, maintaining momentum towards at least 30% of board members being women and encouraging gender diversity among senior managers, too. We will work to achieve gender equity in government programmes that support entrepreneurs.
Pretty close to the other parties though the section about positive body image is welcome, especially in schools were it's so often an excuse for bullying. Elsewhere there's a commitment for "swift implementation of the new rules requiring companies with more than 250 employees to publish details of the different pay levels of men and women in their organisation" which is the same as the Tories and on which I once again ask why 250? Why not everyone?  One other thing worth mentioning is that they want to "create a national helpline for victims of domestic and sexual violence – regardless of gender – to provide support, encourage reporting and secure more convictions."  Good.

You can download the whole manifesto here.

https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/libdems/pages/8907/attachments/original/1429028133/Liberal_Democrat_General_Election_Manifesto_2015.pdf?1429028133

Still wouldn't vote for them though.

The Party Manifestos 2015: Plaid Cymru.

Politics Having entirely missed the Plaid Cymru manifesto, it's time for some catch up. I really like the cover. Reminds me of the Reyes Pedro poster which was at FACT during the Liverpool Biennial in 2012 (which I wrote about here) (and you can glimpse in the back of this shot).

Anyway, let's get on with the show.

The BBC
We will devolve broadcasting to Wales and implement recommendations on broadcasting made by Plaid Cymru to the Silk Commission.

These include establishing a BBC Trust for Wales as part of a more federal BBC within the UK. Trustees would be appointed by the Welsh Government and the appointment process including public hearings held by the National Assembly for Wales.

Responsibility for S4C, the world’s only Welsh language channel, would transfer to the National Assembly for Wales, as would the funding for the channel that is currently with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. We will ensure that S4C is adequately funded and that the channel maintains editorial independence. Again, the Welsh Government should appoint the board members of the S4C Authority following public hearings.
Yes ok. Essentially, I think, what they mean is, that the BBC would essentially be split into different national sections rather like the old ITV network. Quite how that would work in relation to the licence fee, I'm not sure. Would enough money come in from Welsh viewers to fund Welsh programmes? Or would it still be a central pool? I've included the S4C stuff because its now shifted under the BBC's wing and this about it being funded by central taxation.

Global Emissions
We should have full powers over our natural resources. We do not accept the imposition of artificial limits on Wales’s responsibility for its own energy generation, whether that be 50MW as at present or those recommended by the Silk Commission.

We will introduce a Climate Change Act for Wales, adopting challenging but achievable greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2030 and 2050.
The ensuing section about renewables is entirely sensible, about phasing out fossil fuels in favour of tidal and hydro sources and the like (presumable in reference to the Tidal Lagoon in Swansea), recycling targets and working with supermarkets on package.

Libraries
"We will create apprenticeships in the field of historical documentation and culture so that staff skills, knowledge and experiences are retained and nurtured."
Arts, Media and Culture gets a single page at the back and doesn't say anything about libraries specifically though the above sentence is interesting. I don't think any of the other parties have a manifesto commitment to archiving.

Film Industry

Nothing which is interesting consider how important film and television production is the Wales now, especially in relation to the BBC's commitment.

Gender Equality





I've posted the whole of this because the gender equality especially in relation to pay is integrated into everything and I especially like the commitment to raise the status of work which happens to predominantly carried out by women, which would presumably include increasing wages.  Also the commitment to the removal of VAT on women's sanitary protection products.  I had no idea that existed.  Why would any humane society do that?

But of course the most eye-catching bit is the photo.  Why on earth did they choose a photo which looks like a splash page for a photo story in Jackie?  What is the bloke whispering to the lady in the background?  What has the lady at the front discovered from reading her smart phone?  Was this taken especially for the manifesto or is it as I suspect clipart?  It's odd.

My Favourite Film of 2000.



Film Some films are impossible to return to in their theatrical cuts once you've visited their director's cuts or extended versions and Untitled, the longer version of Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous is one of them. As The AV Club identifies in adding forty minutes, Crowe doesn't really make substantial changes to the story, "much of it in the form of short conversations and anecdotal fragments depicting life on the road. But those small additions make a huge difference, fleshing out the hero’s unrequited attraction to super-groupie Penny Lane (played by Kate Hudson), and showing more clearly how his evolving relationships with the people he was supposed to be covering wound up compromising his objectivity."

After seeing Almost Famous originally at The Filmworks in Manchester, I've since bought the film three times.  Firstly the theatrical, full price mind you, from the old Music Zone in Liverpool's Williamson Square (the company which is now essentially trading as That's Entertainment), then Untitled in Region One with the cardboard cover and additional Stillwater EP via playusa.com when that was thing and then again in R2 in an HMV sale (and I can't remember which one).  The blu-ray's a confusing animal with its extended version on disc, but no extras and the artwork featuring Penny Lane from the theatrical version.  Such are the vagaries of film publishing.  Of all of them, the R1's clearly the most beautiful, with its sepia set images plastered across the interior and some effort made to make the Stillwater cd look like a re-release of some old album.

One of the cornerstones of the Untitled's extras is an epic deleted scene of William Miller (Fugit) convincing his mother to let him go on the trip by playing her Zepplin's Stairway to Heaven as a way of demonstrating that rock music is an artform, has depth. As an addition to the film itself this would have been incredibly brave; having the audience sit and listen to all seven minutes of a record in this way isn't something you'd usually see in a relatively commercial film. In the event we didn't have to, the band denied them the usage. As the wikipedia explains:
"Crowe took a copy of the film to London for a special screening with Led Zeppelin members Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. After the screening, Led Zeppelin granted Crowe the right to use one of their songs on the soundtrack — the first time they had ever consented to this since allowing Crowe to use "Kashmir" in Fast Times at Ridgemont High — and also gave him rights to four of their other songs in the movie itself, although they did not grant him the rights to "Stairway to Heaven"."
And so the scene appears without sound, and a direction so that viewers can begin listening to the song at the correct moment. Now, fifteen years later, someone has cheekily uploaded the scene to YouTube with the song added for speed:



If nothing else this is a reminder to me that perhaps I don't listen to enough music or rather I don't listen to enough music whilst not attempting something else at the same time even if it's simply trying to get to work.  But long ago I made peace with films demanding my sitting time, that I'm more likely to spend ninety-odd minutes in the company of pictures and sound and a narrative.  Which isn't to say I haven't had a similar reaction to Frances McDormand in this scene when faced with something of such inarguable majesty.

The Party Manifestos 2015: The Conservatives.

Politics First things first with the Tory manifesto. It has a better cover than last time. George Osborne has his back to us for one thing, but the text is also slightly better balanced even if it's arguably missing some commas and a conjunction. As it stands:

STRONG LEADERSHIP
A CLEAR ECONOMIC PLAN
A BRIGHTER, MORE SECURE FUTURE

because of the comma in the final line looks like a run on sentence. Though I appreciate that the more logical,

STRONG LEADERSHIP,
A CLEAR ECONOMIC PLAN AND
A BRIGHTER, MORE SECURE FUTURE.

is less aesthetically pleasing.  Maybe next time, eh Tories?

But what about the policies?

The BBC
"A free media is the bedrock of an open society. We will deliver a comprehensive review of the BBC Royal Charter, ensuring it delivers value for money for the licence fee payer, while maintaining a world class service and supporting our creative industries. That is why we froze the BBC licence fee and will keep it frozen, pending Charter renewal. And we will continue to ‘topslice’ the licence fee for digital infrastructure to support superfast broadband across the country."
BBC still fucked then. Less money to make programmes that sort of thing.  Top-slicing from the licence fee for something which arguably, iPlayer accepted, has nothing to do with the licence fee.  Certain other media companies will be very pleased with all this.  The section is called We will support our media.  It should actually be We will support certain media because they agree with us politically.

Global Emissions
"We have been the greenest government ever, setting up the world’s first Green Investment Bank, signing a deal to build the first new nuclear plant in a generation, trebling renewable energy generation to 19 per cent, bringing energy efficiency measures to over one million homes, and committing £1 billion for carbon capture and storage. We are the largest offshore wind market in the world. We will push for a strong global climate deal later this year – one that keeps the goal of limiting global warming to two-degrees firmly in reach. At home, we will continue to support the UK Climate Change Act. We will cut emissions as cost-effectively as possible, and will not support additional distorting and
expensive power sector targets."
Keeping commitments but everything elsewhere is disastrous.  Commitments to fracking, investment in oil and nuclear power, "halting the spread of offshore wind farms" because they're unpopular.  There is investment to renewables but support only significant if they offer "value for money" rather than you know, keeping a habitable planet available for us to live on.  Across the two pages about the environment everything is about the business aspects of it rather than what it means for the planet.

Libraries
"We will help public libraries to support local communities by providing free wi-fi. And we will assist them in embracing the digital age by working with them to ensure remote access to e-books, without charge and with appropriate compensation for authors that enhances the Public Lending Right scheme."
Libraries still fucked too then. If they really, as the title of this sections says, "continue to support local libraries", they'd reduce the cuts to local councils who're then closing the buildings and putting staff out of work or replacing them with volunteers in donated spaces.  Free wi-fi in libraries has nothing to do with libraries. Offering remote access to e-books doesn't help either. It's suggests a move towards removing a comprehensive service in favour of directing people to a website.

Film Industry
"The creative industries have become our fastest-growing economic sector, contributing nearly £77 billion to the UK economy – driven in part by the tax incentives for films, theatre, video games, animation and orchestras we introduced. Our support for the film industry has resulted in great British films and encouraged Hollywood’s finest to flock to the UK. We will continue these reliefs, with a tax credit for children’s television next year, and expand them when possible. We will protect intellectual property by continuing to require internet service providers to block sites that carry large amounts of illegal content, including their proxies. And we will build on progress made under our voluntary anti-piracy projects to warn internet users when they are breaching copyright. We will work to ensure that search engines do not link to the worst-offending sites."
Except the "support" is through the National Lottery funnelled through the BFI, so there's a bit of a grey area on that though there are the tax breaks, I'll give them that, even if they're not as generous as some.  But overall the cuts to the across the board pretty much invalidate anything written here since the film industry is at its strongest when its part of an cultural ecosystem.  There's much talk of how they're keeping museums and galleries free to enter whilst quietly glossing over the damage done to back offices because of the cuts.

Gender Equality
"We now have more women-led businesses than ever before, more women in work than ever before and more women on FTSE 100 boards than ever before. We want to see full, genuine gender equality. The gender pay gap is the lowest on record, but we want to reduce it further and will push business to do so: we will require companies with more than 250 employees to publish the difference between the average pay of their male and female employees. Under Labour, women accounted for only one in eight FTSE 100 board members. They represent a quarter of board members today and we want to see this rise further in the next Parliament. We also want to increase the proportion of public appointments going to women in the next Parliament, as well as the number of female MPs."
Why not all businesses? Why do they have to be over 250 employees? All looks a bit weak I'm afraid and nothing as definite as is could and should be. Women's issues (for want of a better phrase) (sorry) are mentioned throughout the manifesto but in a lot of cases its in the realm of "We don't do this already?" When they say things like "We have made protecting women and girls from violence and supporting victims and survivors of sexual violence a key priority" all I can think is, "and why wouldn't you?"

Anyway, here's a direct link to the manifesto:

https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/manifesto2015/ConservativeManifesto2015.pdf

Still wouldn't vote for them though.

The Party Manifestos 2015: The Green Party.

Politics As I type this, the Green Party launch is live on television. Has this happened before? Across all the news channels? That's the Green surge. In some polls they're neck and neck with the Lib Dems, which some would suggest says more about the Lib Dems than the Green.  But having these policies in the public realm, being discussed in the mainstream is a good thing, even if most of them have little chance to be put into practice. It causes people to question the other politics with which they're being presented.

They've also produced a BSL version:



Now on to the policies. The pdf of the Manifesto doesn't have a search function and also won't copy/paste the text which is why this is all going to look a bit ropey.

The BBC



Vague and deliberately so. The Greens' media spokesman made a poor showing on The Media Show the other week were he seemed to suggest that The Greens would abolish the licence fee which they view as a poll tax for something in the region of central taxation so that richer people would pay more than poor people though as I think presenter Steve Hewlett noted if its being funded directly by the government that suggests the potential for more interference not less.  As a side note, I'd also point out that if rich people are paying more towards the BBC, there's more likely to be an objection by them to the BBC making the kinds of the programmes they're less interested in.  The licence fee creates a level playing field in those terms.  Hewlett also noted that their indication that "no individual or company owns more than 20% of the media market" is a bit vague too in that it does actually say how that would be measured.  The spokesman couldn't explain that either. [Updated later: The Guardian has a clearer description of their proposal. Still doesn't make any kind of sense.]

Global Emissions



Which is what climate change policies from all parties should look like. But here's my favourite part of the manifesto. They actually bother to explain the science:



Amazing.

Libraries



No problems here.  My entire sector's been fucked since 2010 if not earlier.  The only problem I'd see is organisations being convinced to start paying people for work again now that they're used to utilising volunteer and intern labour.  As the architect Frank Geary once said when asked why his practice was so small, it was because he would rather pay people because free labour becomes an addition (I'm paraphrasing from this).

Film Industry



Nothing specific though the above is interesting. It's an initiative to make sure that people working the creative industries aren't taken advantage of and that is important in relation to film where there are loads of low budget productions that exist because of the good will of participants.

Gender Equality



There are pages and pages and not just here - as with the environment, equality is threaded through all of their policies.  So it's easier just to highlight the section of the contents page. Oddly some of it isn't quite as on point as the Labour manifesto. They say they'll promote equal pay but don't go as far as to shame companies into it or some other approach. What's perhaps most interesting is its placement in the manifesto right after environmental policies and above the NHS. They pretty much understand that if you sort out the environment and the inequalities in society everything else becomes much, much easier.

Here's a direct link to a pdf of the whole manifesto (they didn't produce a printed version because it wouldn't be environmentally conscious).

https://www.greenparty.org.uk/assets/files/manifesto/Green_Party_2015_General_Election_Manifesto.pdf

I'm voting for them.

Elizabeth Wurtzel on The Good Wife.

TV Writing for The Guardian for the first time since 2010, Wurtzel explains why it should be lauded just as much as Mad Men if not more so. Mild spoilers unless you've already worked out the Hogwarts like structure of the series (or indeed aren't at the beginning of season three like me):
"From the first episode, when Alicia was a first-year associate making her way at Lockhart-Gardner, I was rooting for her. I root for her when she is wrong and awful, which is all the time. Alicia is difficult and demanding and unfair – with herself and with everyone else – because she would rather be right than nice. The Good Wife invents a rare female character: Alicia is not interested in good intentions because they have nothing to do with the correct result, in fact they are the enemy of it."
Alicia's the focus of the piece but Kalinda's probably The Good Wife's secret weapon. Whenever a story is flagging sometimes, or the legal stuff is a bit thin and the writers clearly know it, they'll throw in a scene where Kalinda does something completely outrageous and we're back. Incidentally, the lift scene at the end of season 2 is one of the best pieces of television as a visual medium I think I've seen.  Onward into season 3.

The Party Manifestos 2015: Labour.

Politics Yes indeed. In an attempt to be relevant I thought I'd test each of the general election manifestos in the five key areas I'm interested in and which clearly won't get the same coverage as some other things even though they're arguably just as important. They're also interrelated to some degree. Today, Labour published their initial coalition negotiation document [joke (c) several dozen people on twitter]. Let's see how convincing they are.

The BBC
Our system of public service broadcasting is one of Britain’s great strengths. The BBC makes a vital contribution to the richness of our cultural life, and we will ensure that it continues to do so while delivering value for money. We will also commit to keeping Channel 4 in public ownership, so it continues to produce vital public content.
Bit too fucking ambiguous I'm afraid. Doesn't say "will protect the license fee" which is what I would have been looking for.  Plus the opening chunk of that section talks about media plurality and "no one media owner should be able to exert undue influence on public opinion and policy makers" which could be seen as having the potential to diminish the BBC through the back door.  Too, too vague.

Global Emissions
We will put climate change at the heart of our foreign policy. As the terrible impact of the floods in Britain showed last year, climate change is now an issue of national, as well as global security. From record droughts in California, to devastating typhoons in the Philippines, the world is already seeing the effects we once thought only future generations would experience.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has made clear that if the world is going to hold warming below two degrees (the internationally agreed goal), global emissions need to peak in around 2020, and then decline rapidly to reach net zero emissions by the second half of this century. The weaker the action now, the more rapid and costly the reductions will need to be later.

The effects of climate change hit the poor, the hardest. If we do not tackle climate change, millions of people will fall into poverty. We will expand the role of the Department of International Development to mitigate the risks of a changing climate, and support sustainable livelihoods for the world’s poorest people.

We want an ambitious agreement on climate change at the UNFCCC conference in Paris, in December. We will make the case for ambitious emissions targets for all countries, strengthened every five years on the basis of a scientific assessment of the progress towards the below two degree goal. And we will push for a goal of net zero global emissions in the second half of this century, for transparent and universal rules for measuring, verifying and reporting emissions, and for an equitable deal in which richer countries provide support to poorer nations in combatting climate change.
All of which is pretty strong language and laudable as it stands.  Except the rest of the manifesto is a clusterfuck for the environment. Examples:
Following the Davies Review, we will make a swift decision on expanding airport capacity in London and the South East, balancing the need for growth and the environmental impact.
Hedging are we? Not simply saying no?
"For onshore unconventional oil and gas, we will establish a robust environmental and regulatory regime before extraction can take place. And to safeguard the future of the offshore oil and gas industry, we will provide a long-term strategy for the industry, including more certainty on tax rates and making the most of the potential for carbon storage."
Err ok. Still a commitment to fossil fuels then. Also fracking isn't mentioned at all.

Libraries

Not mentioned specifically.

Film Industry

Not mentioned specifically.

Gender Equality
The next Labour Government will go further in reducing discrimination against women, requiring large companies to publish their gender pay gap and strengthening the law against maternity discrimination. Where there is evidence more progress is needed, we will enforce the relevant provisions within the Equality Act.
That's pretty good actually. If you can't win the moral argument, shame them into it. Good, good.

"Women" are mentioned fifteen times and there's a general sense of providing extra protection for women through laws against domestic violence, " the indefinite detention of people in the asylum and immigration system, ending detention for pregnant women and those who have been the victims of sexual abuse or trafficking" and increasing investment in care. It's all pretty impressive to be honest.
This commitment to universal human rights will be at the heart of our foreign policy across the world. We will continue to promote women’s rights. We will join with those campaigning to attain gender equality, the eradication of poverty and inclusive economic growth. We will appoint a Global Envoy for Religious Freedom, and establish a multi-faith advisory council on religious freedom within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. And we will appoint an International LGBT Rights Envoy to promote respect for the human rights of LGBT people, and work towards the decriminalisation of homosexuality worldwide.
No problem with much of that either even if it's a bit short on actual detail. Since it's in there let's ask what a Global Envoy for Religious Freedom actually do and would their remit include the freedom to not have a religion since atheists and non-denominational spiritualists are being persecuted too.

You can read the whole manifesto here.

Still wouldn't vote for them though.

Talks Collection:
Professor Alice Roberts.

Science Professor Alice Roberts doesn't need much of an introduction.  She's a clinical anatomist and Professor of Public Engagement in Science at the University of Birmingham and also a busy television presenter, debuting on "Extreme Archaelogy" back in 2004 through Time Team, Coast and Horizon as well as her masterpiece, Origins of Us.

Let's begin with a couple of videos in which Professor Roberts talks about why she's a scientist. Firstly, for the Science: [So What? So Everything] campaign:



Introducing a monthly column for The Observer:



For Longform, an impressionistic portrait piece:


'Where i went right': ALICE ROBERTS from Longform on Vimeo.

A BBC Knowledge showreel:


Showreel - Alice Roberts BBC Knowledge Interview from Phil Bowman on Vimeo.


When Professor Roberts became a professor at the University of Birmingham she gave the opening lecture of that year's Darwin Day celebrations, elaborating on ideas from her tv series Origins of Us:



Later that year she offered a talk at Bournemouth University about public engagement:



As part of her professorship at Birmingham she's also presented these short pieces about studying at the university, other things:






"An exhibition at the British Museum features sculptures made up to 40,000 years ago. Professor Alice Roberts meets curator Jill Cook to discuss three artefacts in the collection; the Lion Man, a group of female figurines from Siberia, and the oldest known flute":




At the Times Cheltenham Science Festival, Alice demonstrating "a novel and beautiful way of demonstrating anatomy":




Here she is being mighty on Newsnight in relation to creationism being taught as part of science teaching:



And on The Daily Politics:




The Young People's Forum at the Think Tank Museum in Birmingham produced this short documentary for which Alice is a contributor:




In 2009, Alice presents a "mini documentary about the discovery and current use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for the Medical Research Council":



Also from 2009, here's a sample entry created for Famelab, a competition to find new communicators of science in the media. It's about the similarities between three skulls:




The Royal Institution asked a group of celebrities to talk about their favourite chemical element. Here's Alice on Calcium:




Here's an excerpt from Dinosaurs: The Facts and Fiction in which she visits Crystal Palace and discovers how bones are married together:




Finally, here's her episode of Robert Llewellyn's series Carpool:

We Need To Talk About Matt Murdoch.

TV Or do we? Even before Netflix uploaded Daredevil at 8am GMT, news sites were posting reviews of the pilot or the first five episodes released to journalists and IGN has posted thorough interrogations of every episode of a quality which actually made me want to watch the whole thing again with a fresh eye despite having binged my way through all thirteen episodes on Friday eventually going to bed about about 1am.  I won't yet.  I'm just near the end of the second series of The Good Wife and a bit worried about Kalinda.  Here are a few brief comments anyway.

It probably doesn't need to be said that you should have seen the whole thing before reading any of the below.  While it's not going to be as lengthy a post as the one about earlier exploits in the MARVEL universe, Daredevil is still the kind of work which must be seen without much in the way of foreknowledge even if, I suspect, you're a fan of the comic.  Part of the relish fans of the books will have is in seeing which parts of the story have been chosen to be included and what's been changed.  So yes, go back to the binge now.

The first thing to say, I think I have about five things to say, and the first thing to say is that as a work it isn't as earth shattering as either of last year's films.  There are no MCU changing events here in a similar way to The Winter Soldier impacting on Agents of SHIELD and it continues the message from The Guardians of the Galaxy that MARVEL is the shit.  The shocks and twists are internally within the series because we like the characters and are involved in this story rather than wider concerns of the impact they might have in the wider universe.  Apart from one element which I'll talk about later.  I think it's going to be last.

If anything the announcement of its existence was the seismic moment, deciding to make five series minimum for Netflix which interrelate with each other and the wider universe.  Even before light hit sensor on the 4K cameras you could feel the swagger in the MARVEL's step and Guardians hadn't even been released and we'd experienced the moment when it seemed like the studio could do what it liked about anything.  A cartoon series has recently been announced set in the universe and the reaction's been pretty much, well, yes of course.  I'm hoping for Squirrel Girl.  Finally.

The biggest surprise for me was how my expectations were and weren't met.  Having been watching The Good Wife for weeks and with the 2003 Affleckathon in my head, I'd expected a relatively generic courtroom show which just happens to also have its lead character fighting crime in his off hours or indeed taking the law into his own hands when his abilities as a lawyer had failed him.  I'd also expected loads more superheroes and villains and certainly an appearance from Elektra with also perhaps a jokey episodes where he meets Jennifer Walters or some such.  Boston Legal with powers.

Instead, it's a single story spread across thirteen episodes, with the Kingpin as the single antagonist and aspirations towards The Wire and the Nolan Batmans.  Which is a different approach which also works.  This is the kind of mature, adult drama Torchwood always aspired to be within the Whoniverse and SHIELD can never be.  Daredevil isn't a courtroom show because the conceit is that he and his partner don't have any clients.  They're too poor, too green, too new to have any of that.  It's the antithesis of The Good Wife.

It's also tonally completely unlike most superhero series we've seen before.  In places the pacing is leisurely.  Some scenes last for minutes upon minutes, with lengthy speeches and theological, existential discussions brimming with import.  It's almost filmed theatre or at least old Hollywood adaptations of theatre and when there is crosscutting between parallel scenes its generally only when the writer is making a point about something rather than through narrative necessity.  It's mesmerising.

Fight scenes matter.  They hurt.  When Daredevil is creamed, as he is on multiple occasions, he's out of action until he's able to fight again.  Some episodes go by in which the only fight scenes happen as part of some intricate flashback structure and as part of the back story rather than for the sake of it.  Indeed pretty much every fight shown has some narrative or character importance.  The incidental, reputational pieces of daring do happen off screen, as when Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) talks about treating the aftermaths of his fights.

And at least the series tries to subvert gender politics.  On a couple of occasions there is some straight up damselling of female characters but on neither occasion do we find female characters who simply sit around waiting for be rescued.  But again its also import to note how when they do take action, with everyone else, it has consequences.  When the shockingly shocking, amazing thing happens at the end of episode eleven, it isn't shrugged off and we see it's emotional toll.  Not the first time you've fired a gun?  Wow.

But the show is still connected with the MARVEL universe.  The US version of Gen of Deek has an amazingly thorough few pages noting what they call "easter eggs" from across all the episodes mostly from the comics but also in relation to the rest of the MCU.  The emergence of The Absorbing Man from SHIELD as Murdock's father's final boxing opponent is well publicised, but they notice that the orphanage that Murdock was brought up in as a child is the same establishment which housed Skye from SHIELD at what has to be roughly the same time.  They may well have met.

I've already seen grumblings online that Dawson's character is underused.  But of course as with loads of elements of the series, we have to look at it in the context of the other upcoming series, and in the comics Temple is the ex-wife of Luke Cage who has his own series coming as part of this run which suggests she'll return for that.  As ever with an MCU property you must always view everything both as a narrative incident in and of itself and also as part of the wider universe.  Given everything which upcoming at the cinema, it's inconceivable that the Netflix series will be a work in and of themselves too.

Which brings me to the last point, which is Wilson Fisk's cufflinks.  Within the series, they're used as a symbolic connecting tissue between Fisk and his father.  But the design of them and the shape and the frequency with which they appear in close-up on screen makes me wonder if they'll have some wider significance, if perhaps and I'm probably overexcited but nevertheless, they'll be revealed to be one of the infinity stones, Netflix's contribution to the Infinity War.  There's a useful primer in this graphic and the "soul" gem would seem to fit the bill...

Who created Monopoly?

Games One my most vivid television memories is from the early eighties and the educational programme Eureka, which was a series about inventions. I remember an episode about the creation of the board game Monopoly, of a man becoming very excited after noticing the patterning on his table cloth and turning it into the familiar game board with properties and such.

The BBC Genome now tells me this was broadcast on BBC Two England on 25 November 1982 at 6.10pm and was written by Jeremy Beadle and Clive Doig and was the story of how "Charles Darrow got his inspiration for the game Monopoly from Atlantic City in America."

Except their version of events was wrong or at least glossed over somewhat the contribution of an earlier inventor.

As this book extract from The Guardian explains, "in 1903, a leftwing feminist called Lizzy Magie patented the board game that we now know as Monopoly – but she never gets the credit":
"To Elizabeth Magie, known to her friends as Lizzie, the problems of the new century were so vast, the income inequalities so massive and the monopolists so mighty that it seemed impossible that an unknown woman working as a stenographer stood a chance at easing society’s ills with something as trivial as a board game. But she had to try.

"Night after night, after her work at her office was done, Lizzie sat in her home, drawing and redrawing, thinking and rethinking. It was the early 1900s, and she wanted her board game to reflect her progressive political views – that was the whole point of it."
Mary Pilon, the author of the book has also written this opinion piece on the debacle.  Little by little, the history we thought we knew based on patriarchal propaganda is slowly being rewritten.

Knock on Torchwood.

TV There were rumours of a radio return but it looks like we'll never see a resolution to the end of "Miracle" Day. The Backlot asks the question:
I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask about Torchwood. Every few months there seems to be another story about how we may get more Jack Harkness. What’s happening?

RTD: I know! Bless that show, but I’m afraid not. John Barrowman is busy on Arrow. I can’t believe he’s actually joined a show that’s got his name inserted in the title. [laughs] Just call it Barrowman and be done with it! But I’m afraid no plans at the moment. But anything can happen because it’s a funny old world. But I know what I’m doing for the next two or three years and it doesn’t involve Torchwood. But who knows, the BBC is going in a different direction so who knows. Keep your fingers crossed.
Well, ish. Blames Barrowman for being busy (not that this stopped him ever) and doesn't rule out Torchwood without RTDs involvement exactly, but yes, that looks like it could be it. For now. Possibly.

Soup Safari #20: Chicken at Maggie Mays Cafe Bar.







Dinner. £2.75. Maggie Mays Cafe Bar, 90 Bold Street, Liverpool L1 4HY. Phone:0151 709 7600. Website.

Phantom Photo Storage in iProducts.

Technology Recently I've been having dire warnings of my iPad's memory being over extended both because of Twitter's insistence of keeping a cache of all the tweets including images that it looks at (only fixable by deleting then reinstalling the app) and photos. The Usage list in Settings suggested my photos section was a bloated, bloated place.

Once I'd convinced the Windows 7 machine to find the relevant folders and copy the images I wanted to keep over there was then the problem of deleting what was still there. But even after having visited the Photos app and deleting everything, the app itself indicated that it was still holding a mass of data of some sort I couldn't see.

To Google and once of the most bonkers technological quirks since Y2K and a fix found on Apple's discussion boards from a user called scabthepoet which I'm going to reproduce below so that it's in more than one place.  I can't find more identity details for them so if it's you and you stumble here and you'd like me to take this down or provide better credit, let me know, but know you're an utter, utter genius:
  • Go to Settings
  • Date & Time
  • Untoggle "Set Automatically"
  • Manually change the date back. For example, if today is March 15, 2015, choose August 1, 2014. (You can change it back once we're done)
  • Close out of that
  • Open "Photos"
  • Select "Albums"
  • If, like me, you had already cleared out everything from the Camera Roll and "Recently Deleted" folder, you'll smile to see that your "Recently Deleted" folder now has thousands of images back. Those are your phantom photos
  • Open it, "Select" and start deleting
  • Now, go back into Settings - General - Usage - Storage - Manage Storage - and you'll notice your Photo & Camera is empty if you deleted everything
How messed up is that?  Sure enough, following these instruction I did indeed find two hundred odd images I thought I'd deleted hiding away which I was then able to clear.  Turns out 2gb of my problems had been to do with such files, which is quite a lot on an iPad 2 with just 16gb memory.

Just as an aside, the trick seems to be to take the date back to way before you bought your product - I went to 2012.  Later than that doesn't seem to work as well.  Let me know how you get on.

My Favourite Film of 2001.



Film Some films I simply remember the date and place that I first saw them because of something else which happened in proximity. My first viewing of Moulin Rouge! was on the 10th September 2001 in a double bill with A Knight's Tale. It was in screen six at the Odeon on London Road and I wrote about it on this blog that evening (and also A Knight's Tale)  I also remember the two films I watched the following day, Bullitt in the morning, then the first hour of Ever After, the rest of which I didn't see for six months after having turned it off in the middle for a toilet break something which didn't happen for ten minutes anyway because I'd happen to have the news channel tuned in on the VCR.

One of the repeated themes of this series is whether it's possible to uncouple your memories of seeing a film for the first time and the circumstances from your later ongoing appreciation of a film itself.  This depends.  Having waited for months I finally saw Luc Besson's Lucy during an otherwise quite boring day and I know that in the future I won't remember anything about that day but the film itself or even which day it is (for the future version of me that was the 18th March 2015 so I'll remember that now).  This blog certainly helps the memory too, though it's worth noting I'd remember that I saw these films on these days without the younger version of me's record of the event.

In the case of Moulin Rouge!, no I haven't.  I can't.  The events of the following day are too significant, not just in and of themselves but also everything which resulted from them, the effects of which are still being felt depending on your socio-historical perspective.  Each time I sit down to watch this mostly melancholy, often quite jolly musical, there is always a strange moment when I remember what it was like on September 10th, which in terms of events and context and the actual process of living as me wasn't that different, I wasn't directly affected, but the feeling of being pre-9/11.  Which is silly.  Or might be silly.  I don't know.

But why Moulin Rouge! ahead of all the other films released that year?  Perhaps because it's robust enough to move beyond that, for me to become lost in Luhrmann's day-glo post-modern interpretation of Paris, the way it, as is so often the case with the films in this list, and it is a list, presents images and sound and performance in ways which hadn't been seen before, reinventing what cinema is capable of.  Contemporary critics couldn't interpret the kinetics of the editing, with Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian typical of the cry for the everything to slow down so that the viewer can see the scenery  criticising "the great undifferentiated roar of colour and light and noise" as though they're bad things.

The great undifferentiated roar of colour and light and noise are the point.  Moulin Rouge! along with the other "red curtain" films (with Strictly Ballroom and Romeo+Juliet before) and his concept album, Something for Everybody (which is a spin-off from his A Midsummer Night's Dream stage show) which as this interview from the same paper explains is about appropriating certain elements of Hindi filmmaking within a Western format, throwing a mess of shapes at the screen whilst at the same time engaging with deeper, heartfelt themes.  If I'm being honest, I've never really seen a satisfactory explanation of "red curtain".  It's more of an attitude than a definable cinematic language.

It's an odd coincidence that I saw it in conjunction with A Knight's Tale, both of which utilise the trick of shifting contemporary music into an anachronistic setting as a substitute for what would be the popular music of the actual period.  They both successful at it in different ways, but it's the whole thing of Moulin Rouge!, whereas its just odd sectors of A Knight's Tale.  In any case, the reason I love Moulin Rouge! is because it dares you to engage with such things, or not.  To go with it, or not.  Too many films are timid now, unafraid to strike out and fail and ultimately fail anyway because of this.  I'll never know, but perhaps this would have been enough to keep it's initial viewing in the memory anyway, without the subsequent tragic events.

Talks Collection:
Andrew Graham-Dixon.

Science Intevitably then. In recent years, plenty of the enthusiasm I have for paintings and sculpture is as a result of watching Andrew Graham Dixon's various television documentaries, his Art of [Insert Country] series and escapades on The Culture Show and in Italy.

Short PR interview with Penguin Books on the occasion of the publication of his book about Carravagio:




A short piece from Big Think about Carravagio:




To the Jaipur Literature Festival where Andrew gave a talk about Carravagio:




And joined a panel about the art of the biography:




As part of the Arts & Literature Festival in King's College last November,Graham-Dixon and historian Antony Beever are joined by literary historian Lara Feigel in teasing out the history of sheltering in the Second World War in London:




Finally, in January he was interviewed at the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne:



For completion sake, there are also two channels here and here which collect together much of his television work from across the years.

"affable chitchattery"

Lifehacks As I think we've well established I'm a semi-introvert who doesn't drink but there's no denying I'll be trying the trick in this Conde Naste Traveller article suggested by someone who boastfully indicates they're a near opposite:
"I have a strange problem: I’m too approachable. I’ve always been big on small talk, never lost for words at parties. It’s turned me into the de facto seat-filling stopgap among my friends, the man seated next to an awkward guest to help smother their anxiety with affable chitchattery. In response, I’ve mastered an array of techniques to politely slip away from anyone who sticks to me like social chewing gum. One tried-and-true example: Never leave a bar without two drinks, so you can use the second as an exit strategy. Would you excuse me? I have to deliver this wine before it gets any warmer!"
I'm rubbish at smalltalk too.

"Was it just another performance?"

TV The NYT has a profile of the mighty Tatiana Maslany on the occasion of the new series of Orphan Black. I've italicised one interesting nugget:
"Wavy-­haired and theatrically dirty, Maslany spoke in Sarah’s lower-class British accent between takes. (She kept it up until they broke for lunch.) She was warm and self-­assured and modest and frank. She exuded a contagious ease. In our very first conversation, we bonded over the unsung virtues of the adult onesie. “I had one that had the butt-­flap until after high school,” she told me. I was as charmed as I was suspicious. Was it just another performance? Or an admission that she would prefer to be covered up?"
If I draw anything from the piece it's that in order to play each of these characters it's almost as though she becomes a different actress for each, that they're a performance shelled within a performance with the real Maslany hidden or obscured still further beneath.

The Conservative Manifesto 2010.

Politics As I've just mentioned on social media, I bloody love an election, especially a UK election. The chance for four-six weeks of empty righteous indignation in the face of specious political chicanery, the powerless ridiculousness of shouting at a press who're even more nakedly partisan than usual and living in a safe seat where it doesn't really matter how I vote because the same party will win again. Once you've decided to vote Green whatever happens because of climate change and their leader was nice to you on Twitter once you can pretty much let rip. I await the manifestos with a mixture of great and no interest.

But here's something which has been bugging me for five years. Here is the cover of the Tory party manifesto in 2010:



Apart from the hollow bullshit of "we're all in this together" and "the big society" and the rest of the fiction inside its pages, I've always remembered this cover because and here it is, that text looks misaligned to me.

Speaking as someone who's spent years trying to decide how to space the text in titles to blog posts before realising the process of finding the right place to put a "br" tag is ultimately futile, the weighting in the legend seems ill chosen and I've often wondered how it ended up that way.

If it had been me, I would have written:

INVITATION TO JOIN
THE GOVERNMENT
OF BRITAIN

or indeed

INVITATION TO JOIN
THE GOVERNMENT
OF GREAT BRITAIN

which seems even more balanced.

It's the same on the interior title page so Lynton Crosby's predecessors have to have chosen that design even though it looks like something which has been slapped on at the end rather like a student might on a report or dissertation five minutes before its due to be handed in, seconds before its comes bursting from a campus printer.

My guess is that they wanted to emphasise "join" in the reading to bunged it before "government".

But it's also closer to the margin than the outside edge on the pdf though I suspect that's just to do with making sure there's enough of a margin on the hardcopy even it would look utterly stupid if someone decided to print it out (I'll let you fill in the rest of that sentiment).

The slogan also has editorial problems outside of its meaning.

Why simply "invitation to join" not "an invitation to join" or "the invitation to join"?

Why Britain and not Great Britain?  I did wonder why not the United Kingdom for a while, though the Wikipedia set me straight.  Why seek support in a place where you have no sway.  Not that it's stopped the SNP this time.

None of the covers of the manifestos in that year were any good.  Labour had purple children in piece of screen printed socialist realism, the UKIPs had meaningless clip art, the Lib Dems looks like a junior school work book and the Greens this strange lower case italicised motif.

But none of them stuck in the memory like that damned Tory monstrosity.

"basketball-scene mannequin double of Michael J Fox from Teen Wolf"

Film Dazed & Confused visits a movie props auction. It's not exactly a ship of dreams:
"Premiere Props isn’t Sotheby’s: that much is apparent from the moment we step into the warehouse. Throughout the building, black curtains have been hung from ceiling to floor to hide clutter, but the debris that pokes through is surreal. An already sold, basketball-scene mannequin double of Michael J Fox from Teen Wolf faces the wall next to the copy machine like a punished wolfling. A box stacked high up in the lofted storage area reads “Indiana Joenes and the Tempel of Doom” (sic).

"In the back room area, a preview of the auction’s secondary items lies in chaotic disorder inside a display case. This is where things get really weird. Mundane objects jostle with important fragments of film history: a random jewel box from the set of the TV show Friends sits cramped next to a dragon maquette by legendary effects designer Ray Harryhausen from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958). Plastic bagels from Seinfeld rub up against a 105H shell MI mortar round projectile from the insignificant Johnny Depp vehicle Transcendence (2014)."

Dazzle Ferry.



Art At 9:30 this morning I was stood at the ferry terminal at the Pier Head in Liverpool for the press launch (literally in this case) of Everybody Razzle Dazzle, or what's otherwise known at the Dazzle Ferry, Sir Peter Blake's new dayglo design for Snow Drop one of the boats which commonly shifts commuters across the Mersey in the morning and tourists for much of the rest of the day.  Unlike some people there for whom its a daily means of transport, the last time I ferried across the Mersey (got there in the end) was for the Doctor Who exhibition at Spaceport in Seacombe in 2006 (review) (this happened later that same day) so I was more than a little excited about this short cruise.

The ship itself is very pretty.  I've always been a fan of visual chaos, of apparently otherwise relatively formal objects becoming canvases for patterns and shapes and colours.  That's why I like Sinta Tantra's work so much, why I much prefer it when otherwise blandly corporate vehicles are covered in sponsorship and advertising.  In his design, Blake applies some of the iconic symbols which have appeared in his art since the 60s, the target shapes and green/red/yellow/blue check whilst applying the wavy lines which are more traditionally part of Norman Wilkinson's original dazzle ship design.  Wouldn't Liverpool be a much jollier place to live if we let artists run creative riot like this on the surfaces of our buses?

After speeches we eventually embarked for a quick trip around the Mersey.  Living where I do, I have a permanent view of the Wirral side of the river so this was a welcome chance to see it from a different perspective.  Back in 2006, I was able to see the place where I do live but recent developments, especially the arena have blocked those views.  But it's still visually thrilling the mix of old and new architecture, the various towers contrasting with one another, distracting enough that there wasn't really time to see the display on board about the original dazzle ships and this particular project.  Snow Drop will look like this until the end of December 2016, so there's plenty of time to go back and have another look.