Big Torchwood Finish.

Audio Not too long ago there were rumours of things going astray, and a great confusion as to where things really are, and nobody will really know where lieth in relation to new radio Torchwood. Here's Gen of Deek reporting John Barrowman mentioning them during an Arrow press conference. Everyone and but probably not his mother assumed that it would be in the form of another Radio 4 thing.

No. Actually in a moment which probably took everyone surprise which I missed because I was watching the astonishingly rubbish horror, Grace: The Possessed, Big Finish have announced they've secured the license from BBC Worldwide and are producing a series of six audio dramas starring Barrowman initially (and in the first one John Sessions, Sarah Ovens and Dan Bottomley).

Good grief.  I'm actually very pleased about this.  Other than Children of Earth, some of Torchwood's best hours were on audio both in the Radio 4 series and the linked audiobooks produced by AudioGo.  David Llewellyn wrote the very good PC Andy focused installment of those, Fallout, and he's the author/writer of the first release The Conspiracy (directed by Scott Handcock).  Here's the synopsis:
"Captain Jack [REDACTED] has always had his suspicions about [REDACTED]. And now [REDACTED] is also [REDACTED] about [REDACTED]. Apparently the world really is under the control of [REDACTED]. That's what [REDACTED] says. [REDACTED] have died, disasters have been [REDACTED], the [REDACTED] have disappeared.  It's outrageous. Only [REDACTED] knows that [REDACTED] is right. [REDACTED] has arrived."
Along with the UNIT news (and dare they cross them over?) this is Big Finish making strides into new Doctor Who. How long will it be now before we have announcement of new material for the 10th or 11th Doctor (with 9th about twenty years in the future when Eccleston mellows)?  We feel closer and closer to the tipping point.  McGann was five years on from his TV appearance when he began.  It's five years since Tennant left...

Black Widow Trailer.

Film Funnily enough I've been "campaigning" for years for MARVEL to make a rom com set in the MCU. Just not this. Obviously. The meta-irony in this is overwhelming.

Jury Final.

Music The BBC's press release for this year's Eurovision has something I hadn't noted before and I haven't heard mentioned much at all:
The Jury Final – Friday 22 May

All qualified countries, including those automatically through to the grand final will perform and each national jury will award their scores based on this performance. The Jury Final is not televised.
Aficionados will already know about this presumably but I'd always assumed the juries judged on the Saturday night along with the braying masses. How long has this been going on? The Wikipedia says it's the second dress rehearsal and the Eurovision's own website suggests tickets are available. Presumably it's this that Graham Norton et al watch so that they can comment ahead on the night. But does this mean that someone has a fair idea of whose won even before the show goes out?

Making Slow Television.

TV BBC Four has a slow television season in the coming week, documentaries without narration and very long shots of things happening which is just the sort thing they used to do a lot back in the day before everything became repeats of Timewatch and Michael Portillo on trains (although then they would have given it wall to wall coverage and included a parallel film season with Le Quattro Volte and some late Tarkovsky).

In any case, here Ian Denyer, the director of one of the strands, Handmade, to talk about the process:
"The brief was brief: no words, no music, long, very long held shots. I added my own restrictions to this – no shot less than ten seconds, and no movement. On the first recces I investigated the possibilities of single shots lasting five minutes. Having grown up being constantly asked to move the camera more and cut faster, this was a joy. All the action would come to the frame. This was a chance to celebrate craft on both sides of the camera."
The season kicks off with Frederick Wiseman's National Gallery.

Carey Mulligan on Suffragette.

Film In one of their experiments, the Kermode & Mayo show filmed this week's interview with Carey and uploaded it to the celestial cinema. Although the bulk is about Far From The Madding Crowd (and from the clip the photography looks ravishingly painterly) towards the end there are a few minutes dedicated to Suffragette.

Victoria Coren Mitchell on Bohemians.

TV She's back. Or rather she's back making documentaries. Only Connect is fine, but since the end of Balderdash and Piffle, I've really missed watching VCM walking between things. Well, she's presenter-leading again on BBC Four:
For a word used to describe a wide range of eccentric individuals, not many people know how to precisely define what it means to be bohemian and whether it's a label to aspire to.

Victoria Coren Mitchell is attempting to find out with a three-part series on the history of bohemians for BBC Four, made by Wingspan Productions.

'Bohemians confuse me tremendously,' the presenter and journalist says. 'I don't know whether to find them exciting and inspiring, or annoying and threatening. Possibly all four at once.

'From these mixed feelings, I know I must be a bourgeois. But I've never been fully immersed in bohemian circles before. I'll be interested to find out whether I end up running into their open-minded embrace, or running screaming away.'
Let's hope it's as good as her documentary about The History of Corners (featured above).

Soup Safari #24: Harrira Moroccan at Kasbah Cafe & Bazaar.

Lunch. £3.95. Kasbah Cafe & Bazaar, 72 Bold Street, Liverpool, Merseyside L1 4HR. Phone: 0151 707 7744. Website.

Public Art Collections in North West England:
The Contents Page.

Art On Tuesday I posted the final visit report for this project and since it has gone on for a very, very long time I thought you might find the following useful. It's a list of all the venues as they appear on the contents page of the book along with links to the blog posts.

Accrington - Haworth Art Gallery
Altrincham - Dunham Massey
Birkenhead - Williamson Art Gallery and Museum
Blackburn - Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery
Blackpool - Grundy Art Gallery
Bolton - Bolton Museum, Art Gallery and Aquarium
Burnley - Towneley Hall Art Gallery and Museums
Bury - Bury Art Gallery and Museum
Carlisle - Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery
Chester - Grosvenor Museum
Coniston - Brantwood and Ruskin Museum
Grasmere - Wordsworth and Grasmere Museum
Kendal - Abbot Hall Art Gallery
Knutsford - Tabley House and Tatton Park
Lancaster - Lancaster City Museum and Ruskin Library, Lancaster University
Liverpool - Walker Art Gallery, Sudley House, Tate Liverpool, University of Liverpool Art Gallery and The Oratory
Macclesfield - West Park Museum
Manchester - Manchester City Art Gallery and Whitworth Art Gallery
Oldham - Oldham Art Gallery and Museum
Port Sunlight - Lady Lever Art Gallery
Preston - Harris Museum and Art Gallery
Rawtenstall - Rossendale Museum
Rochdale - Rochdale Art Gallery
Runcorn - Norton Priory Museum
Salford - Salford Museum and Art Gallery and The Lowry
Southport - Atkinson Art Gallery
Stalybridge - Astley Cheetham Art Gallery
Stockport - Stockport War Memorial and Art Gallery
Warrington - Warrington Museum and Art Gallery
Wigan - The History Shop

My Favourite Film of 1998.

Film After having waited eagerly to see Shakespeare in Love since seeing a preview in Empire Magazine (welcome to the 90s), I inadvertently managed to see a snippet of its concluding moments having blundered into the wrong screen at a multiplex. In the late 90s, I’d often travel out to the newly opened Showcase Cinema on the East Lancs Road and spend an afternoon seeing two or three films and on this day at the beginning of February 1999 (which also included A Bug’s Life) my excitement got the better of me and I managed to not bother to look at whichever screen was listed on the ticket and blundered into the wrong one. I saw Will and Viola kissing and which as everything shook out didn’t turn out to be too much of a spoiler.

Although I can trace my love of Doctor Who to a single moment in an audio episode, there isn’t really one single incident which led me to offer myself up as a fan of Shakespeare. There was studying Othello and Measure for Measure at school of course and I was pretty impressed after seeing the BBC adaptation of the latter but I think that probably had more to do with a crush on Kate Nelligan as Isabella, which is ironic considering what the play is about. But it was enough of a spark for me to want to see more of his plays especially in adaptation, especially if directed by Ken Branagh. Plus I remember watching a lot of the BBC’s Bard on the Box season in 1994 and still have the VHS of the Playing the Dane documentary from then.

Shakespeare In Love must certainly have also helped. Although I understood the whole thing to be an artifice and a fiction, the screenplay, which aided by Tom Stoppard’s rewrite has enough in-jokes and truths which coupled with my own shaky memory of background reading at school to convince me that it might as well be mostly true. Not the love story or the process of writing Romeo and Juliet. But the recreation of the theatres, of London, of customs, of costumes and the way people presented themselves. The cleverness of Stoppard utilising many of Shakespeare’s own narrative devices, a model utilised again later by the makers of Becoming Jane, which deliberately has the style of a film adaptation of an Austin novel.

There have been other versions of Shakespeare’s life, the BBC’s A Waste of Shame, ITV’s Will Shakespeare, Anony … (cough) and taken together they offer different facets of the man and his time. But none of them quite capture the romance of what it must have been like to be a playgoer in that period, version that attendees at the Globe in London must have in their heads. From the opening pan across the rafters of the Rose and the opening bars of Stephen Warbeck’s music, I ache and it’s an ache that continues throughout. Few films have given me that sort of emotional reaction before anything related to story or character have kicked in, even Saving Private Ryan which I know everyone now thinks should have won the Oscar that year.

The release came and went and then six months later I won a VHS copy of the film from Empire, which I must have watched a dozen times. Then when I bought my first dvd player from Tesco, the venerable Wharfedale, one of the first films I hired from the Central Library in town (along with Ghostbusters) was Shakespeare in Love so I could enjoy the settings in the correct aspect ratio again marvelling at the detail and watching all the audio commentaries. Like so many of the films on this list, I can trace them through the various formats I’ve owned them in. Not that I have the blu-ray of it, which is something I must to rectify. But I do have Stephen Warbeck’s score on cd, which was the soundtrack to my visit to Stratford-Upon-Avon.

To complete this narrative thread, the other project which really crystallised my love of Shakespeare and made much of that visit to Stratford so familiar was Michael Wood’s series In Search of Shakespeare broadcast in July 2003 (and even which I oddly failed to mention on this blog). Here was the pageant of the writer’s life spread across four hours and a real explanation of why his words were important and mattered but with just enough mystery for someone like me to want to go off and read more and to see more. Which I did, purchasing the complete collection of BBC adaptations not long afterwards and that was pretty much my fate sealed and that’s how Shakespeare In Love helped me fall in love with Shakespeare.

Public Art Collections in North West England:
The Walker Art Gallery.

Art  The final end. Back in 2007 when I began this project, to visit all the venues listed in Edward Morris’s book Public Art Collections in North-West England, I hadn’t actually planned to visit all the venues listed in Edward Morris’s book Public Art Collections in North-West England. As I said in that original post, for the Atkinson Gallery in Southport, I originally planned to “take some trips to a few of these local smaller galleries and report back on what I find”. The blog doesn’t then have a later post where I actually say I’m going to “catch them all”, but there was definitely a moment some time in about 2007 or 2008 when I decided that I might as well.

It’s probably about then I determined that it would be best to leave The Walker until last because having worked there, being so familiar with the collection, it seemed more valuable to head out and visit the places where I’d never worked and was unfamiliar with the collection. Then, I was only seven years out from that employment. Now it’s fifteen years. Of course, I’ve been to the Walker in between, many times, for temporary exhibitions, but on each and every occasion I’ve avoided looking too closely at the permanent collection because I knew at some point I’d be approaching it as part of this project. The quest is the quest. Or rather was. Now.

Do I need to talk about my time at the Walker? Perhaps I do. This was at the end of the 90s, when I was contracted for one or two days a week and my business was collating together various volunteer projects in which items in the collection were added to a computer database together and completing the job by giving every object in the collection a thorough computer record based on internal archival documents. Ultimately I was cataloguing the collection and readying the data so it could be uploaded to the newer systems coming on streaming. As I wandered around, I wondered if the information on the walls was the same as I typed in back then.

In truth, I visited the Walker twice for this project in the end. My first attempt was last October with the idea that I’d complete the project before my fortieth birthday. But the gallery having so much art and an eye infection (yes, really) meant I only managed the first three rooms that day. So I returned yesterday to complete the survey noting that some of the paintings I’d seen in those first three rooms were no longer on the walls.  I could have spent even longer but at a certain point I have to put a stop to all this and if the gallery wasn’t as geographically convenient I wouldn’t have had a choice anyway. I had to wise up.

As you might expect given that he was a curator at the gallery until his retirement in 1999, two years before the publication of the book, Edward dedicates fourteen pages to the Walker including four for illustrations. I’ll provide the usual synopsis in a moment, but it’s important to stress that unlike most of the other galleries in the book, the Walker as with Sudley House and the Lady Lever is a national institution with the same status as the London galleries. As of 1986 it stepped outside of local authority control, gaining its funding from central rather than local government.

Yet despite that, it still retains an element of obscurity. Perhaps I should whisper this, but there are still people I’ve met visiting Liverpool for the first time from the south, who I still have to recommend the Walker to or have stumbled into it and told me afterwards how surprised they were not just that it exists but also the quality of its collection. Even now. Even in 2015. When I began this blogging project, it was with the aim of promoting these local venues, to demonstrate the quality of the work on display and that’s still vitally important, reminding people that as they glance towards London with envious eyes, there’s some fabulous art on their own doorstep.

The Walker’s collection began with a bankruptcy. In 1816, William Roscoe found himself at the sharp end of an economic downturn and his art collection, much of it from 1300 to 1550, was liquidated. Luckily for us it was sold to a group of his philanthropic friends, Liverpool merchants with nonconformist attitudes who then presented them to the Liverpool Royal Institution, a cultural club founded by even wealthier merchants and this then became the first public art collection in the country (albeit on technically own privately and with a visitor charge) and the model for many of the future examples in the book.

But despite the publication of a number of thorough catalogues and the purpose building of a venue to house them between 1840 and 1843, Edward says, the collection did not prove popular and in the early 1850s, Liverpool Town Council attempting to take over the institution and its collections as the basis for a municipal art collection as per other local authorities. But the institution’s members resisted, negotiations collapsed and by 1893 they were deposited on-load to the Walker Art Gallery then finally presented to them in 1948. At which point, I think you will have noticed, the narrative becomes slightly more complicated.

The Town Council, with the support of Roscoe had already been holding exhibitions of contemporary at various intervals between the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century, which began with the support of the Liverpool Institution but continued under the control of a group of local artists calling themselves the Liverpool Academy. These ongoing exhibitions, from which the town council was also purchasing items for its permanent collection, were originally presented in the old Liverpool Museum until in 1873 the local brewer, Andrew Barclay Walker gave the council £25,000 to build a new dedicated art gallery which opened in 1877 for them.

So the initial foundations of the collection were built from the Royal Institution and the local council’s purchases from the Liverpool Academy’s Autumn exhibitions and years before the Tate and other major provincial cities. But the process of increasing the collection doesn’t differ markedly, a mixture of purchases and bequests though with the eye of a national gallery, with concerted efforts to bolster various aspects of the collection to reflect various art eras and movements. In 1961, for example, a £70,000 appeal specifically directed at industry and commerce in Liverpool was for the purchase of impressionist paintings.

Which explains why the collection has such range and depth and punching above its weight as a “local” museum, why it seems so surprising to visitors who might not otherwise know of its existence. As well as the medieval collection, which is as good in some aspects as the National Gallery in London and the pre-Raphaelites which rivals Tate Britain, we have Murillo, Rubens, Hogarth, Poussin, Seurat, Degas, Monet, Cezanne, Matisse, Freud, a few Gainsboroughs, some Stubbs, a Rembrandt and a Hockney (thanks to the John Moores Painting prize arguably the successor to the Autumn exhibition and also the source of many purchases).

As you can see from the room guide, the gallery arranges its collection in chronological order beginning with the Medieval and Renaissance period through to “1950-now” the final room offering a series of changing displays. There’s also a semi-permanent display of John Moores Painting Prize winners, a sculpture gallery and a relatively new Craft and Design gallery installed in the space where my office used to be. There’s an overall atmosphere is of grandeur and unlike some other regionals, after navigating the massive entrance hall there is a display area to match, large rooms filled with massive art works.

All of which means it is impossible to really approach the “what I saw and what liked” section of these posts in usual way since as with Manchester Art Gallery, it is collection of range and depth. The BBC’s Your Paintings lists 2,254 oils and clicking on any of the search pages reveals a platter of works that would be the entire display of some of the places I’ve visited in the past decade. So I’ve decided to utilise the same arbitrarily chosen theme and concentrate on the works either directly or somewhat related to Shakespeare, concentrating on those items which are actually on display (sorry, Robert Fowler’s Ariel).

In the first set of rooms we find next to each other a portrait of Henry VIII attributed to the Workshop of Hans Holbein and of his daughter Elizabeth I attributed to Nicholas Hilliard.  The former is the classic, iconic image of the king as appears on dozens of different portraits all with the same grand pose if different costume.  The Walker version is especially similar to the portrait at Petworth House.  The National Portrait Gallery website has a lengthy article analysing the "Hilliard" portrait along with its twin from their collection after they met for the Making Art in Tudor Britain research project though it won't categorically agree on who they were painted by.

For all Shakespeare's parody in the final act of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Ovid's story of Pyramus and Thisbe was a popular subject in the 16th and 17th century, especially amongst painters and in room three we find Gaspard Dughet's version, Landscape with Pyramus and Thisbe.  It's the moment when Thisbe discovers the dead body of her lover Pyramus sealing their mutual suicide, just the moment when the best productions of Shakespeare's versions allow the actors playing Flute and Bottom, Thisbe and Pyramus to drop the comedy and play the emotion for real, confronting the audience with the reality, sticking the metaphoric knife into us, as well as each other on the stage within a stage.

Arguably the most important or at least famous Shakespeare painting in the collection, Hogarth's portrait of David Garrick as Richard III (in room five) dispenses with the audience altogether.  Rather than depicting the actor on stage, the artist chooses to place him within a war torn landscape as though he's part of history.  Nathaniel Dance-Holland would utilise a similar approach later and although in his version Garrick brandishes his sword aloft, Hogarth has the moment of greater drama as Richard awakens from his nightmares of being visited by the ghosts of his victims which must have been en electric moment on stage.  Note this is the sort of painting which has its own wikipedia page.

Into room six and the thick of the pre-Raphaelites and their successors.  Emma Sandys's Viola by contrast to the Hogarth doesn't faithfully depict a moment from Twelfth Night.  The frame has the moment when the Duke Orsino question's Viola about Olivia, ("And what's her history?" "A blank, my lord. She never told her love") with its double meaning as Viola talks about the concealment of feelings in which she's really talking about herself and Sandys chooses to portray this as the character showing her true feminine self rather than the boys clothes she would otherwise be wearing during that scene as directed in the text.

Finally, Arthur Hughes's As You Like It is a painting I'm already very familiar with.  Having seen it during a visit during my school days, it's the version of the characters that flashed through my mind when I first listened to the play from a vinyl copy of the British Council productions released by Argo borrowed from the Central Library and I now have the postcard on the wall above my desk.  It's a tableau, various scenes from the play against one another and although I now prefer the more realistic landscape in John Everett Millais's Rosalind in the Forest displayed nearby (its an age thing), there's no denying the romance of the Hughes painting and I can see why my young heart leapt.

Usually in these posts I mention some anecdote about the visit, something else which happened.  Well, the lock on the cubicle in the men's toilet doesn't work so I did have someone pay me an embarrassed visit ("Ooh oh, I'm sorry, um ...") which I mentioned to an attendant and there was an "out of order" sign when I returned.  Oh and the air conditioning machines which have appeared in some of the rooms are amazingly loud though I listened to music all the way round (Priesner as usual) so that was pretty fine.  But like this is really just me wanting to continue writing so that the project doesn't end.  When really it's about time for the project to end.  Here.  For now.

Soup Safari #23: Sweet Potato and Chilli at The Walker Art Gallery Cafe.

Lunch. £3.50. The Walker Art Gallery Cafe, William Brown Street, Liverpool L3 8EL. Phone: 0151 478 4199. Website.

Talks Collection: Film Distribution at Tiff Industry.

Film The Toronto International Film Festival has what seems like an annual talk about the distribution and especially digital distribution of films. To watch your way through this series is to hear people in the industry describe the landscape changing across time.

 If you're only going to watch one of them, I'd choose 2012 if only because its the one in which the distributors have an actual, passive aggressive literal tiff with the US contingent looking at the British contingent in the form of Curzon as though he's landed from Mars.

Oh and notice throughout how Netflix is pretty much treated with the same courtesy as the Germans in Fawlty Towers.

This is what I've been able to find but you could have a glance through this search in case there's anything I've missed.

How to present the news using Autocue.

TV From the BBC Academy, a short video:
BBC presenter and trainer Maxine Mawhinney says the key is to ‘tell’ the story rather than ‘read’ it. So it is important to understand your running order and scripts and be clear about how the words will appear on the prompt screen.

Check in advance who will control the Autocue, and that the size of the font and the speed it scrolls suit your presenting style. Be aware of any technical instructions that will appear on the screen, and make sure you have enough time to read through and rehearse before going on air.

Maxine demonstrates some of the basic rules for presenting using Autocue, including how to switch between cameras with ease and cope when things go wrong.
Things like this.

One of the most important articles Buzzfeed has ever published.

People An example of I can't believe this has to be said and we still live in a world in which this still has to be said, Bim Adewunmi (of The Guardian and Buzzfeed here) writes one of her best pieces about the perception that articles about non-white people should for some reason be described as being about non-white people. For some reason.
For those who urged the inclusion of the word “black” in the headline of the beauty tutorial article, I want to ask: Do you require the lists elsewhere on the internet to include “white”, ever? Does “diversity” matter to you when these kinds of lists, and others, are populated entirely by white people, sporting “fair n silky hair” and “super pale palettes”? On how many posts have you felt the need to call for diversity, when those posts had black and brown faces sprinkled through them like stray beans in a pot of rice?
Yes, exactly.  Why doesn't something somehow become not for you or about you if it doesn't feature someone who looks like you? 

We Need To Talk About Joss Whedon.

Film Yes we do. Hey Joss. Thanks Joss. Somehow in the midst of everything you still managed to create in MARVEL's The Avengers: Age of Ultron something which is comprehensively, comprehendingly and colossally a Joss Whedon film, tonally and philosophically different to the other films in the MCU franchise and with all the Whedoneque stuff which permeates all of your work.  Not that you're reading this, but thanks all the same.  It's just the pick me up I needed.  Now for the rest of you here's a big long list of discussion points which is full of spoilers so should be avoided if you haven't seen MARVEL's The Avengers: Age of Ultron yet.

(1)  There is no end of credits sequence.  There's a bit after what would have been the opening credits sequence in the olden days which now seems to be slapped on the end of films now with the actors names and so forth but no, as Joss and Kevin have widely publicised in interviews there is no Shawarma II.  Not that this didn't stop the twelve of us in screen one at FACT's Picturehouse this morning sitting all of the way through the credits anyway.  Just in case.

(2)  Can we stop with the creating of so many brilliant characters who we know will and can only have a limited amount of screen time?  Elisabeth Olson's Scarlet Witch is magnificent creation and although she'll apparently be turning up in Captain America: Civil War (along with pretty much everyone left on Earth at the end of The Avengers) at close, as with Black Widow as with Hawkeye as with the Ruffalo Hulk, you really, really want to see them in their own film.  Or television series.  Or whatever.

(3)  Something the film does especially well is in foregrounding the characters who don't have their own film franchises without really short changing those who do.  In the first film, Joss and the gang quite rightly put their stall in the excitement of seeing Iron Man, Thor and Cap in the same film together.  That's especially true of Jeremy Renner whose distaste for how he was used in the first film actually becomes a plot point in the second.  Giving him a wife and family grounds him and also makes him the heart and humanity of the team putting him in line with Xander or Cordelia.  Plus there's the appearance of Julie Delpy (goodness) in what's essentially a version of Jeanne Moreau's character in Luc Besson's Nikita during Romanov's dream/backstory.

(4)  Rolling Stone has a good interview with Joss about making MARVEL's The Avengers: Age of Ultron where he eludes to a slightly manic editing process.  I think you can tell.  It is a film in which potentially useful character moments and exposition aren't there.  Apparently the original cut was about three hours and it's not so much that anything is underdeveloped but some of the pacing is all over the place.  Just every now and then I wished it would stop so we could see more of something (see (2) above).

(5)  Isn't it roughly the same plot as Buffy's Once More With Feeling?  Which I'm about to spoil?  At the end of Once More With Feeling it becomes apparent that all the singing and dancing and death and the emergence of Sweet is as a result of Xander dabbling in magic.  As he says, "I didn't know what was going to happen.  I thought there would be dances and songs.  Just wanted to make sure we'd work out, get a happy ending."  In MARVEL's The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Stark and Banner meddle with science which results in action and death and the emergence of Ultron for similar reasons.  They too don't really know what's going to happen.  In both cases the super teams are actually spending most of the story clearing up a mess made by one of their own number.

(6)  If there's a problem, and this has nothing to do with MARVEL's The Avengers: Age of Ultron, it's that it doesn't especially change any games in the same way as MARVEL's Captain America: The Winter Soldier or MARVEL's The Guardians of the Galaxy or indeed the first film.  Although the destruction of the Hydra base may have some effect on Agents of SHIELD (is Henry Goodman's Dr List dead now?) there's a business as usual feel to the thing.  Of course, it's amazing business and it is important to pace yourself.  But we're being wowed in the Iron Man 3 or Thor: The Dark World sense of the word.

(7)  For all Joss has said about the film being complete in and of itself, it does still quite rightly feel like a middle film and also an "episode".  Plenty of the story is as a result of the first film and there's a lot of 'splaining ready for Infinity War and also foreshadowing for future other installments of the franchise, not least the fractures in Rogers and Stark's relationship and that slightly odd moment in the middle when Thor buggers off and picks up Selvig so he can go and stand in a magical cave pool.  There's a lot of trust put in the audience here that we understand the language of these MCU films now, the interconnectedness and that we're willing to going along with these narrative detours.

(8)  What happens after 2019?  It's a bit soon of course, but pretty much everything in all of these films since 2008 is leading up towards Thanos presumably visiting Earth with that glove (probably chased by The Guardians of the Galaxy for measure).  My guess is that MARVEL's hedging.  It knows that every genre has a cycle and that however much money these films are making now fatigue will set in, especially with so many, what could be deemed, third string characters in the Third Wave.  In that case the Infinite War films could become the massive finale wrap up for the franchise as is if need be.  They'll certainly presumably be the last of The Avengers films although ...

(9)  Anyone know why the film has two composers?  Brian Tyler's score has been augmented by Danny Elfman or vis versa.  Was Elfman's contribution it just to rework Silvestri's The Avengers theme?

(10)  Did anyone else with a like mind think of Doctor Who's The Sontaran Stratagem when SHIELD's Helicarrier put in its appearance?

How to draw a dragon using your Dragon 32.

That Day It's St George's Day and a twittervesation has just reminded me of the old Marshall Cavendish part collection, INPUT Magazine which was all about how to programme 8-bit computers using BASIC and after about two seconds of looking at the scans on the Internet Archive, found this article about drawing a dragon sprite. They're from the third issue.  Click on them so you can read what they say should you want to:

Must have been a real pain to be a TANDY user and have to make those sorts of modifications each and every time.

Art of the Title on Orphan Black.

TV Good lord, I hope BBC UK hurry up and announce the broadcast:
"It was a bit overwhelming at first, trying to create a concept that would complement the show in a cool way. I tried to keep certain guiding principles in mind during development. How to create a pretty blossoming flower based on fungus, was the first thing that jumped out at me. I felt this image was important to convey, for it was symbolic of Tatiana."


Film Animated Spider-Man. At a moment when it looked like everything was becalmed in the MCU in relation to Spider-rights, Sony have announced an animated Spider-Man film for release in 2018. My initial thought was "Lego!" after seeing Phil Lord & Christopher Miller were involved, then I thought it might be a way to wrap up their version and Andrew Garfield's Peter Parter's story. But there's a sentence in the press release which is supposed to be a denial but opens up an intriguing prospect:

“The film will exist independently of the projects in the live-action Spider-Man universe, all of which are continuing.”

Which projects?

Does this mean we might still see a live action Spider-Man film with Garfield et al alongside the MCU version? Or was the press release prepared before the MCU announcement and what this should read is something along the lines of "live-action Spider-Man in the MCU universe" or some such.

Kevin Feige's name doesn't appear anywhere on this film which has roughly the same executive team as the Garfield films which is also rather confusing, just as the project will doubtless create confusion when its released in three years time.  "So is this Thor going to be in this?" that sort of thing.


My Favourite Film of 1999.

Film How often do you analyse films? I mean really analyse them with a pad and paper and enquiring mind? My film studies degree demanded this of me, especially my dissertation which as we've discussed, at length, investigated network narratives, ensemble pieces and hyperlink films of which Magnolia is a prime example.

One of the inherent structural problems with these films is in allowing their various characters to have complete stories. In some cases, usually if Robert Altman's directing, the strategy is not to bother, to demand that the audience fills in the blanks, force us to utilise our imagination to explain potential inconsistencies or time gaps.

But mainstream films won't allow this.  Mainstream storytelling wants, needs, complete stories with a beginning middle and a satisfying conclusion which often leads to systematic works in which narratives pile up on top of one another and in the case of Crash or Love Actually have multiple climaxes mechanically ramming into one another.

Characters are also often very insubstantial.  Because we're essentially watching a bunch of short stories edited together, they rely more than most on casting shorthand, Aston Kutcher playing the kinds of characters Ashton Kutcher usually plays.  Or Matt Dillon.  Or Sandra Bullock when she has her serious face on.

Magnolia sits somewhere in the middle of these extremes.  At three hours long it doesn't seem terribly mainstream and the casting with the exception of Tom Cruise doesn't either.  But director Paul Thomas Anderson still realises the inherent problems in the form and makes a single, magnificent leap to deal with it.

Knowing it was a key "text", I watched the film several times during that dissertation summer looking for various things, trying to recognise how the various characters interact, how their stories fit together.  Pages and pages and pages of notes all of which pointed to it being a classic of the form.

I'd remembered how substantial all the characters felt when I'd first seen the film and after viewing again, whilst mapping out the relationships, I noticed it again.  All of the characters had depth and none of the stories really felt short changed, with proper arcs and completely satisfying conclusions.

One the fourth pass, I realised why.  The middle hour of the film is only half an hour within the world of the film.  Or in other words, it takes us a whole hour to watch a half hour quiz programme.  Paul Thomas Anderson does the reverse of what's usually expected and slows down time within the world of the film.

Here's how I explained that within my dissertation:

"During the second act of Magnolia, Paul Thomas Anderson reorganises time to such an extent that the plot duration is actually slower than the screen duration.  With the intercutting of scenes, the moment when Jimmy asks Stanley to join him for the final round of the quiz lasts nearly five minutes and the closing titles for the television programme over three minutes.  This allows all of the plotlines to receive due attention, experimental editing actually defragmenting the narrative making it far more coherent than if the plotlines had been allowed to run in the usual causal manner, missing out those events that run in parallel.  The dissolution of these barriers, using avant-garde editing to clarify the narrative is another example of hyperlink cinema flirting with post-modern ideas."

"Plot duration" might need some explanation.  In film, narrative manifests itself in two ways.  The "story" is all the story that a narrative is about.  In a murder mystery this is everything from when the motive shows itself right through a conviction or not.  The "plot" are the sections of that which actually appear on screen.

In Magnolia, Anderson essentially shows us a bunch of scenes which are happening simultaneously one after the other doing what films rarely do but comics all the time, the "meanwhile" which allows him to show us the scenes which might otherwise have to be inferred later or explained in exposition.

Which is brilliant.  Brilliant.  Plus it's done in such a way as to be hidden from the viewer.  It's not obvious because in these scenes there isn't much cutting between characters and stories, everything is relatively self contained, keeping everything within separate worlds.

It's not until the credits roll on the quiz, once the final credit runs that everything speeds up again, and mayhem breaks loose with the frogs and guns falling from the sky and Amiee Mann and once you've noticed this, the whole film becomes even richer.  Oh and I first saw this at the Odeon on London Road should you be keeping track.

Gyorgy Kepes at Tate Liverpool.

Art My first encounter with a photocopier was at Tate Liverpool. It was during an school visit, when the education staff utilised various example of Manga, which was the comic trip ascendancy at the time, to illustrate how Roy Lichtenstein and the Pop artists chopped and changed and as we’d describe it now, mashed-up, various images and themes to create new images and themes. They demonstrated how the photocopier could isolate various colours, or reduce or expand images, edit together characters and frames to create new implications. For speed, this was usually done without the lid down, so you could see the giant strobe scanning light shift back and forth below the paper.

But I didn't stop there. I put my hand against the glass or my cheeks and which created strange human-like shapes against black backgrounds and for ages whenever I saw a photocopies, or scanner, I’d want to use it for something other than creating facsimiles of paper, for seeing how various objects looked when pressed against the glass how the light refracted against them in conjunction with one another and how they looked within the resulting imagine. To be honest, the results weren't ever that remarkable but every now and then there’d be some surreal or abstract image created in which that strobing light had hit something at an unusual angle and produced an attractive effect.

That’s presumably why out of the three exhibitions in Tate Liverpool’s current Surreal Landscape season (with Leonora Carrington and Cathy Wilkes), it’s Gyorgy Kepes I’m most drawn to. Back in 1937, the late Hungarian-born artist, designer and educator hit upon the idea for “photograms”, a sort of “camera-less” photograph in which images were developed in the dark room by as the press notes describe “arranging and exposing objects directly on top of light-sensitive paper; juxtaposing geometric, industrial and organic forms to create images that are poised between abstraction and representation.” Like me, he was interested in seeing how a model for capturing images reacted when faced with disparate objects. Unlike me, Kepes was an artist.

The exhibition includes eighty of Kepes’s photographs, photomontages and photograms from his Chicago period 1938-1942. After fleeing Nazi Germany in 1935, he settled in the city of big shoulders and became head of the Colour and Light department at the New Bauhaus School. Also during this period he wrote a book, Language of Vision, which was about his theories of how the new technologies of photography, cinema and television were having on visual culture. As this New York Times obituary notes, Kepes had a “long-held view that traditional art forms could no longer adequately speak to the problems of the modern world, a world too much conditioned, he believed, by chaos and alienation.”

If anything informs the work most, it’s the human eye. Although this features very specifically in two works, a photograph of an eye ultra close-up and a photomontage of various eyes from numerous sources, throughout the works are motifs of lenses and the mechanics of vision. Leaf and Prism exemplifies this, with its refraction patterns mimicking (albeit at the wrong angle) the veins of an organism which needs light to survive. There are also straight photographs of collections of objects, usually with an inventory of them for a title, Cone, Prism, Rock or Prism, Compass, Grid 2 in which the shapes of items rather than the items themselves which are important, how they merge into one another as we stare at them for longer than a glance.

As Kepes said himself (I’m quoting from in gallery text), “the master of nature is ultimately connected with the mastery of space; this visual orientation. Each new visual environment demands a reorientation, a new way of measuring”. We shouldn't look at all of these images in the same way. We have to recalibrate our expectations and perceptions as though we've never encountered something quite like that before. That’s important to keep in mind when encountering the exhibition. Few people stop to look at the close-up of an ear presumably because they've seen a few ears in their lives, but what is it about this ear? What’s important about this ear? What are its distinguishing features?

For old times sake and because there are a lot of images of what we must assume are Kepes's own hands in the exhibition, I decided to scan my own.  Using the HP desktop scanner next the computer I stood with the appendage on the glass and waited for the light to stutter across the glass trying not to more.  There isn't a black and white setting on the machine which is why its in colour.  I'd expected it to be surrounded in black but I think the grey area is actually the ceiling above my hand.  I suppose i'll have to take another scan with something pinned up there to check.  Which suggests that my experimentation days aren't over yet...

György Kepes is at Tate Liverpool from 6 March – 31 May 2015. Admission Free.

Soup Safari #22: Spiced Roast Tomato with Carrot, Garlic & Borlotti Beans at Tate Cafe Liverpool.

Lunch. £3.50. Tate Cafe Liverpool, Albert Dock, Liverpool Waterfront, Liverpool L3 4BB. Phone: 0151 702 7400. Website.

The Last Reel: An Ode to 35-Millimeter Film.

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.


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:

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 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:


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....


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.

Updated 22/04/2015  Someone's bothered to ask their leader about it.  “I would like to see the BBC cut back to the bone to be purely a public service broadcaster with an international reach, and I would have thought you could do that with a licence fee that was about a third of what it currently is.”

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.

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


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:

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.

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)_/¯

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.

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.

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.

"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 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.