February 2009 Archives
In January, Jez Collins of the Birmingham Music Archive & Paul Long of Birmingham City University met up with me to discuss the cultural importance of the Birmingham music scene, past and present.
The discussion was recorded and put in a series of 4 podcasts at http://interactivecultures.org/, the first two are online now. Click here to download part 1, and here to download part 2, and don't forget to subscribe to the podcast by clicking here to get hold of parts 3 and 4 when they become available.
Well the Oscars are over for this year, and for the most part the right films got the awards, Slumdog was crowned king of the millionaires and Kate Winslett finally ascended to the top of the pile.
The ceremony was served up with the usual glamour and glitz, big hair, big frocks and big egos, now that's exactly what we have come to expect from the biggest movie event in the film world, actually it's the biggest celebrity event anywhere on the planet full stop. So how did this year's show perform? Well it was dull, the highlights went with the awards, which is as it should be but never is. My highlight was the wonderful song and dance number performed by first time host Hugh Jackman, I have to say I was and am a big fan of the best film montages featuring Billy Crystal who is still my favourite Oscar presenter, but I was very impressed with Jackman's performance, problem that was it, the rest of the show was just by the numbers, kind of; no highs, no lows just ordinary.
For me Slumdog Millionaire winning the night was a massive highlight, but in terms of a spectacle in was all so very safe, Danny Boyle was touching and honest, Kate Winslett was cute, but needs to have a word with her dad about the hat, but it was all so very, very safe.
Funny and dangerous would have been Mickey Rourke winning the best actor and then having to go on stage to receive his award, the censors would have been more nervous than singer Chris Brown at a hen night party, but the academy didn't see fit to award the best male acting performance of the year, instead they went with the second best and almost had a heart attack, when Sean Penn started his speech with "Thank you, you commie, homo-loving sons-of-guns. I did not expect this," and used it as a platform to voice his support for same sex marriages and equal rights for all. It was a speech that called out for respect for all but was an acceptance speech that was lacking in respect for one important person, his wife! His body language when he won the award was just amazing, she had to grab and kiss him as he strode toward the stage without any hesitation or acknowledgement to the beautiful woman sitting lovingly next to him, and then he thanked everyone and the world involved with the project for their work and support except his wife who just sat there and smiled.
By the way this is a just personal observation, But I just thought if you have the time and presence of mind to advocate same sex marriages, equal rights, president Obama, Mickey Rourke surely you have ten seconds to thank the mother of your children and the person you have shared your life with for the last decade and a half.
It's been a day's night 'n I've been travelling like a dog. Nothing to do with the Beatles, but at various points I had to smile about my last blog (what do you mean, you didn't read it?) which mentioned the legendary opening chord of the famous song from the Fab Four.
Actually, on the well-tried basis of getting your retaliation in first, I may as well digress immediately. The other sound I've been living with over the past day is the equally epoch-making final chord of Day in the Life. After a few hours of drifting in and out of sleep over Greenland and the wastes of northern Canada, giant 747 engines seem to play that chord endlessly through your synapses, your skull, your thigh bone, your soles, your soul.
Before the big show news you can now link up with me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Brumcast
And now the show I've wanted to do for a while now......it's Brumcast 117 Special show! Unsound's 2000 album 'Everything for a Reason' in its entirety, contains Trip Hop, Industrial, Ragga, Punk, Ska, Techno, Turntablism, Ambient, Acoustic , you don't get many albums like this one and it's now ready for listening and FREE download. Go to http://brumcast.podOmatic.com for download & audio stream links. Download it free and direct from http://brumcast.podomatic.com/enclosure/2009-02-22T15_36_33-08_00.mp3
Here's this show's playlist :-
UNSOUND - EVERYTHING FOR A REASON
1. Unsound - Induction (2:25)
2. Unsound - Innocence Released (4:46)
3. Unsound - Interlude (3:58)
4. Unsound - Zanzibar (3:23)
5. Unsound - Seven Ages (6:44)
6. Unsound - Gone Fishin' (2:10)
7. Unsound - Skit (0:37)
8. Unsound - August (2:51)
9. Unsound - Floating Rhodes (6:07)
10. Unsound - Japanese Shoes (1:08)
11. Unsound - DJ Kwong's Ferocious Shinogi Style (3:41)
12. Unsound - Bleeding Heart '99 (2:38)
13. Unsound - Red Was The Colour (3:30)
14. Unsound - Adagio For Sampler (4:26)
15. Unsound - Technology (3:00)
16. Unsound - Ehsan Kutir (1:42)
17. Unsound - Another (5:43)
18. Unsound - The Zanzibar Suite (14:56)
Brumcast RSS feed for itunes etc - http://brumcast.podOmatic.com/rss2.xml
With my old friend and very rude blogger Richard McComb going public with his new-found addiction to guitar, I thought I would indulge my own deep-vein nerdery.
It's not the sort of thing I normally condone in a hack. Most women writers I have worked with are really bad in this respect. They get engaged and immediately write about it. Get married - ditto. Have children - ditto. Have an affair - ditto. Change of life, knitting, alcoholism, child abuse, plans for assisted suicide (three cheers!) it all goes into the great grinding mill of angst and emotional turmoil.
Well with a few hours to go till the Oscars, the juries; according to the organisers have submitted their ballots and the auditors are now counting the votes. Yeah right.
Who are they trying to kid? Are we really expected to believe that one of the most carefully scripted events on the face of the planet will leave it to the last couple of hours to make sure that there are no cock ups. That they will just leave it up to chance that the editors have not selected the correct music and clips to accompany the winners on their walks up to the stage. There was a list leaked onto the internet this week which is supposed to show a number of the winners, the academy has dismissed this as a fake, they are probably telling the truth, but when you look at the list it names Slumdog Millionaire as picking up best film and best director for Danny Boyle, Mickey Rourke for best actor and Kate Winslett as best actress, strange how they are the favourites in each field. I would have to say that most of them are probably right, with the possible exception of Kate Winslett who may lose out to Meryl Streep, but I would like Kate to win it.
If I had to chose the big prize Winners I would go for;
Best Film: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Director: Danny Boyle
Best Actor: Mickey Rourke
Best Actress: Kate Winslett
Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger
Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz
I think that Slumdog Millionaire will be one of the big winners taking home five possibly six awards out of the 10 nominations. But if you look at my choices, you will see that most of them mirror the leaked list, that's because this year we have a very wide selection of films vying for the big prizes, but the potential winners stand out in their field, I will be gutted if The Curious Case of Benjamin Button picks up more than a few technical awards, though its not a bad film, it really doesn't live up to the level of hype surrounding it.
There are two awards that I think are locked down, Best Supporting Actor, Heath Ledger, because he deserves it and Best Supporting Actress, Penelope Cruz, because her performance lifts the film to a new level and her only real competition is Amy Adams for Doubt, her one problem is she is completely over shadowed by two towering performances.
Look for one suprise tonight. The best animated film will go to Bolt over the big favourite Wall-E, though Wall-E is a great film, if the voting was just based on the first two thirds of the film, it would win the award hands down, but its not and that's what makes Bolt the better film, its complete from start to finish, great premise, great animation, and wonderfully well done.
More than anything, tonight I hope that the awards go to the right films, no underlying themes, political trends, just credit where credits due.
Birmingham Stage Company has had huge success with their shows based on the books of Terry Deary. The Horrible Histories series has been touring widely for four years and the company is now in the wars with two new productions covering both great dust-ups of the 20th century.
Frightful First World War and Woeful Second World War finished a week at Coventry's Belgrade on Saturday, when we caught them back to back. Among many other places, the shows will be at Peterborough, Nottingham and Leicester, but perhaps the best venue for families in the region who want to catch them (and you all should) will be Birmingham's Alex in June and Hereford's Courtyard the week after.
I stared into the gates of hell and this is what I saw:
Reporting duties took me to the National Exhibition Centre for the grand opening of the National Caravan, Boat and Outdoors show. My (almost) full take of the event is featured in the Birmingham Post tomorrow (Feb 20) but I held back this shocking image for fear of scaring the children.
I'm a total hippy at heart; so was overjoyed to meet the talented, art graduate Dave Nevard a few weeks ago. According to his flickr profile, he wants his art 'to affirm and celebrate life, beauty, justice, truth, love, peace and humility' Right on, bro! I like people who actually believe that art really can change the world.
He was telling me his plans to create some street art on the side of the disused pub opposite the Selfridges building; which sounded amazing. But being the right-on good boy that he is, he wanted to clear it with the council/owners/whichever relevant authority before going about plastering his creation all over the walls.
His plans have not materialised yet. I can only assume that the powers that be forbade it; sadly. Which made me think about the moral/legal stance of street art. Now this isn't going to be a rant against the council/property developers/the law or blinkered approaches to 'urban art'. I realise that if everyone went around spraying whatever they wanted everywhere the whole place would look a mess. Unless, that is, we were all as talented as Dave. Which is kind of the problem - you can't just make 'good' graffiti legal and 'bad' graffiti illegal; not least because who exactly would get to decide what's 'good' and what's 'bad'?
Tea for two: Hannah Yelland and Milo Twomey, picture by Steve Tanner
Wow! I'll repeat that just to make sure you understand my meaning. Wow! Yes, definitely with the exclamation mark. If I didn't think it looked either chavvy or from a teenage chat room, I'd use two.
Everything I've ever seen by Kneehigh Theatre has been terrific. Entertaining, thought-provoking, messing with your mind as much as your emotions. But the new version of the company's smash hit Brief Encounter qualifies as an event rather than a show.