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My song and video of the year is Sia’s Chandelier. A fascination with the video came first. Part dance, part gymnastics, 11-year-old Maddie Zieger’s remarkable performance is more about cathartic emotional expression than classical ballet.

Like Wayne McGregor’s Random Dance, it appears spontaneous even though it was meticulously choreographed by Ryan Heffington.

His own video about how he put these moves together is full of unconventional instructions like ‘wounded dog’ and ‘robot bird’. Zieger got the call after Sia saw her on Dance Moms‘ reality show – a fame academy-style TV show featuring aspiring starlets. stroppy coaches and pushy parents.

The song itself initially sounds like the type of formulaic pop song Rihanna or Beyoncé might perform, not so surprising since Sia Furler has written tunes for both these artists (Diamonds and Pretty Hurts respectively). View full article »

haveyourwayNowadays it often seems increasing redundant, even prudish, to claim that there’s anything wrong with pornography.

In essence, sex has become just another commodity to be casually consumed then discarded.

In my view, the typical check list of arguments against porn don’t get at the heart of the matter.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights (1997) and the casting of porn actor James Deen in Paul Shrader’s The Canyons (2013) is a measure of the more laissez-faire attitude to the so-called ‘adult entertainment’ industry. View full article »


CARLYLE’S HOUSE & OTHER SKETCHES by Virginia Woolf (Hesperus Press Ltd , 2003)

carlyes_houseIt is fair to say that 1909 was not a good year for Adeline Virginia Stephen. She was struggling to complete her first novel and was increasing fearful of turning into a frustrated spinster. Later, following her marriage to Leonard Woolf, she would look back and write: “I was unhappy that summer and bitter in all my judgements”.

It was just the summer months where she hit a low ebb. Her notebook of that year, from which the seven short ‘sketches’ come, consisted of 214 pages but over 150 of these were left blank. View full article »


This being the festive season, this tree looked from a distance as if someone had decked it out with seasonal lights – close to it turned out to be a trick of a lamp-light.

arI have committed myself to the Advent Running Challenge which is to run for at least 30 minutes every day from 1st to 25th December.

Actually, I doubt that I’ll actually be running much; you are more likely to see me striding out briskly.

A couple of years ago I pulled a calf muscle badly which meant I was laid up for 2 months. I am more or less healed now but after this injury I decided that I should take up fast walking rather than slow jogging. I soon discovered that the benefits to mind and body were on a par.

I swim and go to the gym regularly but there’s something special about exercising outdoors. This December challenge appealed because it’s a month whent it’s all too easy to hibernate and avoid going out when the weather is cold and wet.

‘Tis the season to be lazy but I reckon wrapping up and facing the elements is preferable to nodding off in front of some crappy TV show.

Normally, I would go out first thing – at about 7am –  but today I had a dental appointment at 9am and had to work afterwards. The best time was therefore directly after my lesson at 4pm. I parked my car by a riverside path and stripped Clark Kent style from teaching wear to  walking gear. It had rained on and off all day so there was the need for some puddle dodging but the gravel paths were not too muddy.

To clear my head like this straight after work was invigorating and I now look forward to another three and a bit weeks in the run up (literally!) to and including Christmas day.

INTERSTELLAR directed by Christopher Nolan (USA, 2014)

Looking to the stars for hope.

Should we stay or should we go?

Brion Gysin , the English-born painter and poet who introduced William S Burroughs to cut-ups believed that leaving the planet was the only thing that gave any purpose to life on earth; “we are here to go”, he said.

This perverse notion is one that Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan transform into the interstellar overdrive of their extraordinary cinematic vision – a space odyssey of epic proportions.

Reasons to go are indeed pressing since Earth is rapidly becoming uninhabitable with crops literally turning into dust. We are not privy to the precise reason for this state of affairs but Professor Brand (Michael Caine) alludes to humankind’s selfish tendencies as being a primary cause. This is also something Naomi Klein, in her book This Changes Everything, has rightly identified as a key factor in climate change.

If, as seems probable, the future of humankind is due to the largely man-made catastrophe of global warming, it begs the question as to how we are going to prevent fucking up another planet too. The mysterious Eureka solution that saves the world suggests that a last-minute reprieve is possible; a central message that is as delusional as it is dangerous. View full article »


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