June 2009 Archives
Beijing is full of examples of magnificent architecture; the infamous CCTV tower, other known as 'the trousers', the birds nest, the water cube. And these are just the world famous ones! In reality, when you live in Beijing everyday is a full of surprises. Every week new buildings appear as if from nowhere, none of which, however, remind me of home...or so I thought. This new building, which has recently been completed, or recently landed from outer space, reminds me of a little place I once knew called Birmingham. Take a look at the pic and let me know what you think!
I've met Carlos Acosta, the Cuban dance star currently working in England, so I know he's not an overly modest man. Lovely guy, great dancer, but not exactly modest. So when he popped up on the box at the weekend during the Jacksonfest saying that the former resident of Neverland was a much better dancer than him, I took him at his word.
Of course, like anyone with a passing interest in modern music, I didn't need to be told of Michael Jackson's genius. But I'd rather taken the video productions and the choreography for granted.
For BBC Director-General Mark Thompson, the death of Michael Jackson must have felt like manna from heaven. I'm guessing that Thompson was girding his loins for a merry-go-round of media interviews on Friday, following the release of his expenses claims, and those of his senior colleagues, but fate had other plans and the news agenda set off on a very different direction.
I've had a good look at the claim forms, helpfully posted on the BBC website, for reasons I'll come on to. While some of the expenses seem rather petty (23p for parking? I'd love to know where that car park is), some rather unorthodox (spending best part of ÃÂ£500 on meeting expenses with future colleagues BEFORE he started work at the BBC?) - and others must be the result of some seriously robust negotiations over his contract (paying his annual congestion charge, presumably just so he could drive to work), the majority of the published expenses are pretty damn boring to my mind. Which is exactly why they've been released.
Farrah Fawcett of Charlie's Angels fame passed away at 09.28am in America this morning, she had been battling anal cancer for the past two years she was 62.
Thought never known for her fantastic acting ability, she was the ultimate 70's pin up. The shot of her posing in her red swimsuit is an image which graced millions of bedroom walls around the world and she became the acceptable face of sex for dads and teenage boys alike.
Though her poster never hung on my wall, (70's icons for me was Bruce Lee) Farrah Fawcett - Majors was the talk of the playground, alongside Lynda Carter who played Wonder Woman, for many she was the perfect woman, she was a Charlie's Angel, she was married to the Steve Austin; the Bionic Man and she was in our homes every Tuesday night and the topic of conversation in playgrounds and offices across the UK the following day. She kept hairdressers in business during the 70's with tens of thousands of women around the world walking into salons and asking for a 'Farrah Hair'. How many 70's retro bars have her image on their walls? How many groups of women have struck the pose made famous by the television series while on their nights out? We see it from a distance and straight away we know it, though many know Charlie's Angels from the 2 films starring Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu, I am old enough to say that I remember it from my youth, and you know what I remember it fondly.
I think I only ever saw her in two or three films at the cinema after she left Charlie's Angels, I remember her being in a Sci Fi film called Saturn 3 which she had a major roll and smaller roles in Cannonball Run and Logan's Run, but for me she will always be Jill Munroe one of the original Charlie's Angels which ran from 1976 - 1980 and even though she was only in it for the first series, she is the image the series will always be known for, And for me she will always be part of my childhood and one of my first ever icons.
A friends writes to reassure me after hearing me lament that I haven't done any "creative work" since having a child.
But parenting is creative work, she says. It's miraculous work. Just look at your son, what more creative a job could you be doing than raising him?
I find myself wanting to quibble.
Yes, creative parenting is a term very much in vogue and while I certainly have no doubt about the value and importance of bringing up children, I find myself asking if the task really is a creative one?
To be brutally honest, most of the time, it doesn't feel like it. It feels chaotic, hit-and-miss and about day-to-day survival.
Being comfortable with chaos, I grant you, is all part of the creative process but when you're writing a book or making a piece of art, there comes a point where you start to shape the madness. You limit the possibilities. You focus. You move into a phase where you know what you're doing. There comes the happy day when you look back and think: "Ah - so THAT'S what I was making."
I can't imagine I will ever know what I'm doing as far as parenting is concerned. Will it ever take shape or will it continue to be about dealing with each incident as it arises on a minute by minute basis?
There aren't many moments during a theatre production which could prompt me to barge my way through the audience (pushing cast members aside as well, incidentally) to see what is going on. But, yes, the prospect of watching fascinating actress Lucy Briers performing solo hardcore porn is one. Purely professional curiosity, you understand.
But I restrained myself. It was happening on a VHS tape being played on a TV at the other side of the, performing area, you see. An extraordinary, unsettling, hilarious, and weirdly moving moment in a show which is all of those things and more from the moment you enter the auditorium of the Royal Theatre at Northampton.
Capsule have been at it again...Supersonic festival is back in The Custard Factory in Birmingham on the 24-26th July and Brumcast will be providing you with TWO podcasts featuring the talents on show this year. Download the first one direct by clicking here
With unique performances from such influential artists as Italian legends, GOBLIN, their first show in the UK in 20 years, the reformation of the original line up of HEAD OF DAVID, who bring their driving bombast to proceedings for the first time in 23 years, the notorious Japanese band CORRUPTED who have yet to play on UK soil as well the reawakening of Greg Anderson & Stephen O'Malley of Sunn 0))) maiden voyage into darkeness: the cult black doom act THORR'S HAMMER, not to mention splatter rock band THE ACCUSED, unruly trio MONOTONIX, the expansive drone-noise of GROWING; Brighton's prog adventure, DIAGONAL; the wild avant futuristic jazz of ZU; the stoned pysch of EARTHLESS, the Virginian sludge rock of PONTIAK, the industrial experiments of 65 DAYS OF STATIC, the immense duo that is FLOWER/CORSANO DUO, occult noise act SKULLFLOWER, also joining the line up is SCORN aka Mick Harris (king of the blast beat) and the new project combining Russell McEwan of Black Sun & the electronic-vocal attack of Lea Cummings (Kylie Minoise) in the form of ATOMIZED, added to this are the power violence duo IRON LUNG and one of the finest folk vocalists NANCY WALLACE will be featured in the line-up, once again highlighting the highly eclectic booking policy of the festival.
information at http://www.supersonicfestival.com
Here's the playlist for part one
1. Tweak Bird - Shivers (2:12)
2. Caribou - Melody Day (4:11)
3. zZz - House Of Sin (4:59)
4. Venetian Snares - Gentleman (4:33)
5. Arbouretum - False Spring (5:50)
6. Taint - Hex Breaker (4:41)
7. Scorn - The End (P.C.M. - "Nightmare" Mix) (7:40)
8. Pontiak - Shell Skul (4:01)
9. Zu - Ostia (5:05)
10. Tartufi - Boat Of Armor (4:42)
11. Pre - Dudefuk (2:03)
12. Corrupted - An Island Insane, Part 1 (6:28)
13. Kim Hiorthoy - As if (3:03)
14. Army of flying robots - Try Reading A Good Book (3:13)
15. Diagonal - Child of the Thundercloud (8:48)
16. Rose kemp - The Unholy (9:22)
17. Iron Lung - White Flag (0:30)
18. 65 Days Of Static - Drove Through Ghosts To Get Here (4:18)
19. Head of David - 108 (5:24)
20. Goblin - l'alba dei morti viventi (6:04)
Here's all the proof you need in this link
Quite by accident, that's the Langley grey hair and checked shirt captured on a random YouTube video on Saturday at the London Uke Fest world record - 851 players plus various non-combatants crammed into Dorchester Square to set a new record for the most ukuleles played at one time - and raise cash for various charities.
Daughter and her two daughters can also be glimpsed (the very blonde head is ten-year-old Jessica). I think the girls set a new record of their own - eating the most complimentary cookies from the jars scattered throughout the rather classy hotel we stayed at just over the road.
We all had to have a number and have our picture taken and then we had to be counted in to the square for the strum-in - it took ages! But, of course, uke players are hugely sociable types and we had a chance to hear the legendary Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, who had their registration numbers to take part in the record as well.
Hester Goodman did her usual brilliant take on Teenage Dirtbag and George Hinchlife did a splendid Steve Vai lead guitar imitation on the smallest uke in the world, as well as the inimitable Yorkshire folk song/modern jazz hybrid version of Wuthering Heights. Ace, by gum.
Dreadful acoustics, one of the worst sound systems I've ever encountered, but nevertheless a great day out. One of our fellow recordbreakers was, like me, an old geezer guitar player from a neighbouring street who didn't know what was happening until he saw hordes of people turning up.
He and wife promptly nipped over to the gig, bought cheap instruments (ÃÂ£20 gets you a perefectly serviceable uke) and had a couple of hours to learn the three-chord song we performed - Sloop John B, of Beach Boys and Kingston Trio fame. While we were filing in past the Guinness World Record adjudicators, he and fellow geezers spent much time discussing obscure versions of Bob Dylan covers. I made my excuses and left.
Kids in Hawaiin fancy dress enjoyed paddling in ornamental ponds near the stage, the MC had his blue suede winklepickers half-inched and some of the support bands were not actually fit to audition for the auditions for Britain's Got Talent. And going to the portable loos was like a ride on a fairground cakewalk.
But overall a genial, laidback and hugely satisfying afternoon. Loads of videos etc on YouTube. One young woman had flown in from Chicago to take part.
We were able to stroll over to the Whitechapel Gallery after the record to check out the tapestry version of Picasso's Guernica and Sunday morning saw us strolling through vile and newly-salubrious parts of the East End to reach the V&A's Museum of Childhood at Bethnal Green - highly recommended.
And so, tired but happy, we were able to enjoy the joys of Sunday engineering work on British rail as we made our leisurely way back to the Midlands. It would have been quicker on the Sloop John B.
It was as though a black bin bag bursting with issues had been dumped on my doorstep. I had been watching BBC2's Mary Queen of Charity Shops and, much to my surprise, found myself feeling overwhelmed as the closing credits scrolled up on the screen.
Mary Portas, the retail fashion guru, had taken over a charity shop in Kent and turned it into boutique style store by spending ÃÂ£15,000 on a re-fit and employing a full-time shop manager.
She succeeded in increasing the shop's weekly take from ÃÂ£900 per week to ÃÂ£2,000 per week but not without its costs - and I don't just mean financial. Five of the volunteers felt so alienated they walked out.
Does this matter?
The family is slowly getting into the right frame of mind for their (its?) world record attempt. Well, actually, it'll be us and at least 996 others. Pictured is Joe Brown, a great guy, splendid guitarist and champion of the uke who'll be performing on the day, which runs from noon to 6pm. Go here for full details and links to various YouTube goodies.
The basic info is that on June 20 at the London Ukulele Festival there will be an attempt to set a world record for the number of people playing the uke at one time. At the moment 1,000 is the target. The song chosen is the old Kingston Trio and Beach Boys hit Sloop John B in a dead basic three-chord version. There are a couple of others you can throw in if you want to.
Full details on the site and instruction on YouTube.
Joe Brown, incidentally, is credited with the following, a great mantra, I think:
When everything is at its worst
and troubles plague you daily
Just give yourself a little burst
upon your ukulele.
In other important uke news, on July 14 and 15 The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain will be at Lichfield Festival performing "Ukulelescope", a new show with original UOGB music and unusual archive films. It received its debut at the BFI on Saturday and Lichfield is lucky to get it.
Book now, because it is guaranteed to be a sell-out.
Box office: 01543 306270 or go here